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Journal for 25 Mar 2009: Fuckers Messing With Our Shit


Well, it’s been a few weeks since my dad died, and I’d say things are getting back to normal for Lisa and me except for some craziness from a few people who “are trying to help.” I’m lucky in that my friends and coworkers have been incredibly respectful and supportive, with an emphasis on supportive—none have turned my family’s tragedy into an opportunity for gawking or gossip. While Lisa’s gotten a lot of support from many close to her, her experience hasn’t been quite as good as mine, and has encountered some comments and inquiries from a few select people who could charitably be described as lacking common sense. I’ve given her some recommendations on how to screw with them in response, but she’s sensibly persevered and risen above such behavior.

My mom seems to be doing OK, all things considered. Speaking of people who are unhelpful, two of her neighbors, people my father feuded with on a number of occasions over the past decade, have now been trying to acquaint themselves with my mom. I won’t fault them for that, but their approach could be a bit more refined. Consider the post one of them put on my brother’s Facebook page, which was more than a bit weird considering their and my parents’ history:

Just to let you know…..I love my new found friend…your mom. We have her back for anything she needs! It was so nice to talk to her again yesterday! She is such a sweetheart! We’ve waited 10 years for this. She is the BEST! Look forward to the bon fires in summer with her! Can’t wait to meet you in person. Your mom is in good hands. If you ever feel she needs someone to come give her a hug….give us a call 920-793-____.

Well, OK, but all because our father has passed doesn’t necessarily mean we instantly like you, mmkay? We’re open, but slow down a bit. Then there was the piece of work she posted on the page of one of my parents’ close friends. (Emphasis mine.)

You know something ____? Kathy is such a sweet person. She is able to reach out to us and be able to just talk. To hear the joy in her voice….she is such an amazing person that I always felt she was. For her to call me and be able to talk about the weather, her future landscape,facebook, the snow….and to top it off…her new found freedom to express her love for her kids and grandchild is just beautiful! To know she will be able to express her unconditional love is amazing! We (____, _______, __, and I) are looking forward to adding this beautiful woman into our neighborhood “girls club”. We’ve waited 10 years for this! It’s her turn now and she deserves it! Thanks for being such a great friend to her. The BEST is to come for Kathy!

Seriously… My mom just lost her husband of almost 41 years, someone she stuck with through good times and bad, and this is their response? Holy crap.

Not that this needs to be said, but my mom never had any hesitation to express her love for her kids, or her grandson.  While fully recognizing that my dad was often not an easy person to deal with, my mom wasn’t a captive in their house and the suggestion as such is just bullshit.

~ ~ ~

Other than fuckers messing with our shit, life is pretty much back to normal this week, which means I’m busy at work and scrambling to get homework done. Lisa and Mathias are planning on heading down to visit her parents this weekend, which should give me some time to take care of some things around the apartment and to get ahead on my coursework. There’s also some travel planning that needs to be taken care of for our pending trip to Texas in a few weeks (my brother is getting married!), as well as a lot of thank-yous to write for support we’ve received from so many friends and relatives over the past few weeks.

And with that, I have a 7:30 AM conference call with colleagues in India, so it’s time for me to calm down a bit so I can get some sleep.  More later.

Posted in Journal at 9:20 pm

Items Noted Elsewhere: Dad’s Obituary


Peter J. Danielson

Peter J. Danielson, age 66, of 2918 40th Street, Two Rivers, died on Wednesday, March 11, 2009, at his residence.

Peter was born on July 14, 1942, in Manitowoc, son of the late John C. and Gretchen (Fuechsel) Danielson. He attended schools in Manitowoc and was a graduate of Lincoln High School, Manitowoc, class of 1960. He married the former Kathleen Farrell on March 21, 1968.

Survivors include his wife: Kathleen Danielson, Two Rivers; two sons and one daughter-in-law: Mark and Lisa (Michalski) Danielson, Minneapolis, Minn.; Michael Danielson, Oklahoma City, Okla.; one grandson: Mathias Danielson, Minneapolis, Minn.; two brothers and one sister-in-law: Eric Danielson, Fla.; John (JoAnn Duffy) Danielson, Racine; one sister and two brothers-in-law: Margaret “Margi” (David) Kindig, Madison; Patrick “Pat” Farrell, Green Bay. Nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends also survive. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Private family services were held on Saturday, March 14, 2009, at the Jens Family Funeral Home & Crematory. Cremation followed.

Memorials may be made to the National Diabetes Foundation.

Posted in Items Noted Elsewhere,Journal at 12:30 am

Journal for 14 Mar 2009: A Funeral For Dad


Well, the funeral is over. What else is there to say?

I saw a lot of people for the first time in years today, many for the first time since my grandmother passed.  The funeral itself was short and informal.  My mom spoke, then Mike and I got up together, followed by two of Dad’s siblings, Eric and Margi, and my dad’s good friend Rich. There were a few stories I heard for the first time, and part of me wished I could’ve heard my father’s comments on them

I no longer have a dad. That feels so incredibly weird.

After the funeral many headed over to my parents’–or I guess I should start saying “my mom’s”–for a reception.  There was a wide mix of people, and of course there were was a lot of laughter and crying paired with plenty of eating and drinking.  Kids in costumes were running all over the place, and in many ways there was more life in the house over the course of the afternoon than I think I ever saw there.  (Well, maybe except for the time my brother threw that huge drinking party when my parents were on vacation, but that’s a different story for a different time. At least no walls got bashed in this time around.)

~ ~ ~

The house was busy last night as well.  My mom’s friend Darlene was over, as were Ben, Beth and their kids.  Mike’s plan for dinner was scuttled after he learned at least 1/3 of those around for dinner didn’t like shrimp, and so we ordered out from Fatzo’s and ended up having a good time anyway.

After everyone had cleared out or gone to sleep–including Lisa and Mathias, who were back at the hotel–I headed back to my mom’s and she, Mike and I just stood around talking for a few hours.  We talked about all kinds of things–the trip our family made to the Packer’s SuperBowl in New Orleans, Mike planting his Delta 88 out in the middle of a farm field, Dad’s early exploits while working for a scorched-earth car dealership in Green Bay, Dad’s and my trip across the country in a 1950’s Plymouth, pink dollar bills, cribbage tournaments, golf trips, and, eventually, the effect of disability payments on dad and the family.  Looking back, more than anything else, those payments were likely where the problems as we eventually knew them really started, and their ultimate effects were probably seen this week.  If only we knew then.

Before I left, Mike and I sat down for a game of cribbage.  We used a tournament board, cards and pegs from when Dad ran cribbage tournaments all over the Midwest (the last of which, incidentally, was held in the hotel I’m sitting in now).  It had been years since I’d played the official family sport, and quite a while for Mike as well, and we were rusty enough on the rules that Mike had to google “knobs” to see what qualified.  The irony was that our dad was the one who first wrote the rules of tournament play for the American Cribbage Congress, and here his two sons were struggling to figure out what exactly they were.

In the end, I won by a pretty big margin, almost double-skunking my brother.  I kind of wanted it to be a closer game, but unfortunately Mike got one of the most ridiculously bad series of deals I’ve ever seen in a card game.  Cribbage is a mixed game of skill and chance, but last night my win was almost all chance.  We had one of the cardboard bracket boards they used in the tournament days, and to be completely proper about it Mike filled in the results once our game was over.

We left the bracket board, playing board, cards and pegs at the funeral home today, along with a few other items.  When they cremate dad on Monday, they’ll place those things with him.

~ ~ ~

I’m sure I’ll have more to write over the next few days and weeks.  My dad was a big man with a big life, and there’s so much to say about him and everything he did, but for now I just need to absorb the fact that his life is over.

He was only twice as old as me. It still seems that he went way too early.

More later.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 10:24 pm

Journal for 11 Mar 2009: A Death in the Family


(I’m writing this late Wednesday evening, but will be publishing this on a delay so proper notifications can be made. I hope you’ll excuse me for burying the lede on this one.)

~ ~ ~

Sunday began with Lisa and Mathias both falling ill, leaving me to care for both.  Mathias’ breathing was quite labored by Monday morning, resulting in me having to take him to his fourth respiratory-related visit to the emergency room.  After some treatments at the hospital, he was sent home and was doing better by Tuesday.

Lisa’s bout of the flu carried on.  Aside from a quick run to work to meet with some people who had flown in from out of state, I took Tuesday off to take care of her and Mathias. In the evening I finally finished our taxes, and found that our return would take a significant bite out of some debt we’ve been carrying since selling our condo and having Mathias.  That was fully expected, but to see the actual numbers was good news.

With me scheduled to head off to Austin for SXSW on Friday, Lisa and I went to bed in different beds in hopes of keeping me from catching whatever was afflicting her.  Three nights in a row of sleeping away from her made me restless, and I slept poorly.  Mathias waking screaming twice in the night didn’t help.

Today, Wednesday, brought a couple of important early-morning meetings at work.  My car responded by the ABS system locking up, requiring me to pull off the freeway and call a tow.  Both meetings were over by the time I left the Saturn dealership.

A few minutes later at the nearby Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the representative handed me the keys to a Dodge Grand Caravan–the only vehicle they had left–and mentioned that my spouse was automatically authorized to drive the car.  At the time, that fact didn’t seem important.

At work, I received an automated email congratulating me on my 10 years of service to Thomson Reuters, with a link to the site displaying the service gifts from which I could choose.  I picked an analog wrist watch with the TR logo.  While of a very different style, it kind of reminded me of the service ring my Dad got while working for Oldsmobile–as well as the watch he wore when I was a kid–although neither of those really played into my decision.

A half hour later I got the call from the Saturn dealership. It would be $1065 to get the brakes fixed.  I told them to go ahead.

A half hour after that my boss walked in and handed me a letter explaining my bonus for 2008.  It was good news, and with the tax return we’d be wiping out almost two-thirds of our debt.  I called Lisa to loop her in, and we talked about how it was kind of weird that within such a short period we’d gotten the good news about our taxes, the bad news about my car, and then the good news about my bonus.  “I guess we’re due for some bad news, then,” I joked.

20 minutes later my mom called to tell me my father had passed away sometime early this morning.

Tomorrow we’ll drive the minivan to Two Rivers, where we’ll meet my mom, my brother and his girlfriend (both of whom are flying in from Oklahoma), and our friends in the area.

~ ~ ~

It’s incredibly strange for me to think that 24 hours ago my dad, a complex, often wonderful man with an amazing story, was alive, and now he’s not.  He had so many tragedies, but nothing so permanent as this.

Posted in Journal at 11:00 pm

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