The Day After

I jerked-up and stared at the clock, two-something in the morning was all that registered before I said, “It’s not time to get up yet.” Apparently, I said it loud enough to wake-up Dave. “Who are you talking to,” he asked when he saw me sitting straight up, staring at the clock.

Unable to comprehend exactly what was going on, all I knew was I felt like I did some thirty-five years ago, when my parents would try to wake me for school. Feeling a little confused, I said, “I don’t know,” and then laid down and went back to sleep. Less than two hours later, at exactly four a.m., my cell phone rang.

“You have an alarm set for some reason?” Dave asked me as I lunged across the room looking for my phone.

“No, someone is calling,” I said.

“At four in the morning?”

“Yeah,” I replied, “which means it can’t be good.” Seeing that the call was coming from Mom and Dad Mobile made my heart sink. Realizing that it would be 3 a.m. their time, did not make me feel any better. I then started to panic when my phone refused to respond to my finger sliding across it. “Answer, damn it,” I instructed my phone. It would not comply.

Within seconds, I was calling the number back. My mom answered, “Susie?”

“Yes,” I confirmed, “mom, what’s wrong?” I could tell she had been crying.

“We’ve lost your dad,” she exclaimed, and then started sobbing uncontrollably.

Part of my brain was not getting this. Part of me wanted to say, lost him where? although I knew that I knew exactly what she meant – my dad died.

“NOOO!” I cried at the top of my lungs, and then asked, “Where are you?”

Part of me was still hoping that her answer to this would clear everything up, and that my dad really was just lost or something.

“I’m at the hospital,” she said, solidifying the fact that I did not want to accept.

“Oh my God,” I cried, “what happened?”

“Well, he had an episode, I called 9-1-1, did CPR until they got there, and …” just then, the doctor had come to talk to my mom. I heard her say that she suspected the cause of death to be a pulmonary embolism. “Suze, I’ll call you back,” my mom said.

“Wait – what are you going to do,” I wanted to know. Suddenly, I was super concerned about my mom’s state of mind. “What hospital are you at, how did you get there, do you have a way home?” I felt a bit frantic as my thoughts shifted to, how in the world is my mom going to get through this?

“Harvey drove me to the hospital, and Pastor Adam came,” she informed me.

“Oh good,” I said, I’m sure sounding very relieved. “Okay, call me back.” That was the start of the saddest day of my life.

Twenty-four hours later, I was heading to the airport with a one-way ticket. That afternoon, on Halloween, my mom and I met with the funeral director to decide the details for my dad’s memorial service. It was still the saddest day of my life.

The following week, my spouse, my brothers, their spouses, and about half of our parents’ nine grandchildren arrived for my dad’s memorial on November 10, 2018. Approximately 45 family members stayed for lunch afterwards. Then I learned all about “Bedlem,” and as OU beat OSU, the saddest day of my life continued.

Two days after that, my spouse, my brothers – everyone was gone, heading back home – back to their lives. A deeper level of overwhelming sadness came upon me. For two days, I gave myself permission to do absolutely nothing. Almost. I wound up watching three seasons of “The Americans” on Amazon Video.

Over two weeks it took to complete the saddest day of my life – just in time for Thanksgiving. Which brings us to today – the day after. Standing outside today, in unseasonably warm 60-degree weather at one of my dad’s favorite places – a place he affectionately referred to as “The Buffalo Ranch,” I suddenly thought of my dad possibly feeling “left out,” if there were such a thing in Heaven.

Feeling “left out” is no stranger to me, although it has been a while since I have. Learning how humans either come from a place of love or a place of fear, changed all of this for me, and much more. I decided to think that my dad, being the loving person that he was, would be happy that we are here, even if it has to be without him. I also think he would be one of the first to offer me a sunrise in bed, especially knowing how I don’t do breakfast first thing.


Let’s Talk

I discovered my love for displaying memories in a scrapbook long, long ago, a trait I also loved about my grandmother. My first album I believe was from her – back when they were comprised of what looked like black construction paper. For my 13th birthday, I got a fancy one with hard plastic covering the photo; I still have both and just recently took the photos out. I will be making decisions on which ones to preserve and looking for ideas on what to do with the others, which will number in the hundreds, if not thousands.

By the time I graduated from high school, I had two large albums full in addition to the two I mention above. Dave & I got married and as our children grew, albums were added to the collection on the living room shelves. Our scrapbooks were often looked-through and thoroughly enjoyed by many. So I started to wonder, is there a difference in this digital age?

Well of course there is, is what I am thinking, but exactly what is it – I am not sure. A couple of decades ago, if your picture was in my album, then it was fair game to show it to whoever stopped by my house. So what is the difference if your picture is on my website, is it fair game to show it to whoever stops by the site? The obvious difference I see is whether or not I know the person. I am not going to invite strangers in to my house to look at my albums. So why would I on the internet?

While this is a good point, let’s look at the other side. I know a few people who are very adamant about their picture not being on the internet. I love and respect these people, and therefore, started wondering myself if there is some reason why I should refrain from posting photos on the internet. I asked a couple of my friends what their reasoning was and if they thought I should also have their concerns, and a definitive answer I have not heard. The more I searched for reasons on why I should not post, the more I felt a sort of paranoia, like there was something out there that would hurt me and I must find out what it is because being clueless was creating too much anxiety.

So while trying to come up with my own Photo Posting Protocol, I found many interesting lawsuits over people posting photos on Facebook; some of them I would have never believed, though every one of them had one thing in common – there was something that someone wanted to hide. The biggest issue according to my search results was about pictures taken at house parties and then posted on social media. This seemed to be a common suit. People thought they were in private and therefore acted in a way they would not want their employer to see and they did. And you know what? It seems that people have an expectation of privacy in many instances where it does not exist.

For me, I have finally found that I am fine with posting my photo online, for the only reasoning I could come up with for not doing so suggests that I ought get over myself. The sinful sort of pride and an over-inflated ego were at the basis of why I would refrain, and so therefore, I won’t. And while doing my due diligence to ensure that I don’t wind up in a suit, I found that when it comes to old family photos, most courts classify it as “de minimus,” meaning “of too little concern for the courts.” I can see Judge Judy yelling, “Don’t waste the court’s time!”

002-1What about an old family photo that was sent to friends in a Christmas card nearly 50 years ago?  Who do you suppose owns this photo, and can they do with it what they wish? I was surprised to find out, although it really should not be surprising, that the owner of a photo has nothing to do with who is in the photo or has material possession of the photo. It makes sense that a person could not possibly own all of the photos in which they appear, and many people could not own the same photo. No, a photograph’s owner is whoever pressed the button on the camera, causing the picture to be taken. In this case, my mom owns the photo, as it was taken with a tripod and timer. And obviously, this photo is before I came along. About two years later, I took the cat’s place. And about ten years after that, this very cat died in my arms on the way to the vet. Her name was Tammy.

The photos I will be posting, unless otherwise noted, belong to either my mom, my dad, me, or Dave. If you would like a copy of a certain photo or the right to use it somehow, please send me an email. You will find my contact information on the Information Station page, which you can find on the drop-down menu above.

At any rate, when I was presented with thousands of family photos a few years ago, I set out to do some sort of photo-blog online. For some reason, I felt angst about starting it, so I asked some. My parents, of course, and my brothers, I also asked my aunt, and three of them said, “Yes, go for it!” My brothers were more like, “Well it depends, what are you going to do?” And since I didn’t really have a clue, I did nothing.

Today, I have a better direction and am ready to get this project going. Most of the photos will be on Shutterfly and you can request access by sending me an email. If you find a photo of yourself on my blog or Shutterfly site and would like it to be removed, simply send me an email. No need to get me in a suit, and I’m not talking about a cat suit, nor in the way of 70’s style, but with the court of law you file.

And speaking of cat suits, I told you I took the cat’s place! See –


And you thought I was kidding… Nope, just crying.

Amanda’s Visit at Christmas 2016

Three hours north and then a half hour west in the middle of nowhere, was about all I knew of the road trip I was taking to go get Amanda from the Sanford Airport. Although not in the middle of nowhere, much of the two-lane road ran right through the St. John’s River.


And right through a fish camp.


Arriving at the small airport just north of the Orlando International reminded me of middle-school pickup back in the day. Almost immediately, traffic came to a complete stop, where, for about ten minutes, I waited.


Traffic started moving slowly and I inched my way closer and closer to the terminal. Then Amanda called, she had retrieved her luggage and was on the curb waiting. It was just like middle-school pickup.

The next day, back in our neck of the woods, I spotted a new sign I thought might interest someone:


One day, Amanda and I went downtown to take Dave to lunch. We went in to see the tree he had been telling us about, and of course, get a picture.

wp-1483302734740.jpegOur tree at home is a bit less traditional. Dave did all the decorating and I love it. “Dreaming of a black-light Christmas” is our song this year!


Presenting the Raffey Family Christmas Tree of 2016:
The “pilot” Blacklight Christmas

For Christmas, we went to Ft. Myers, where, Dave and John carried on Gus’ tradition of hosting a Prime Rib dinner on Christmas Eve, followed by opening presents. Fourteen people got their fill and there were leftovers. Costco came through once again.

Dave said Gus’ traditional grace, to which Jeff and I traditionally tacked-on, “Rub-a-dub dub, let’s eat this grub!”

wp-1483303257394.jpegThen we opened presents. Here, Dave is reading the tag – To David From Santa. At some point, he looked at me, confused. “You sure this is for me?” “Yes, finish reading the tag,” I told him. Because you will always be David first here, he read. And our gift tags confirmed this.

wp-1483317210859.jpegSanta got him cookies – Butter Pecan Meltaways – to be exact. In a round tin with the cookie maker’s name written across the top it and, “a bite above the rest,” I had to try one. The name of “David’s” was a plus.

wp-1483303310748.jpegMan, am I glad that Dave does not enjoy them nearly as much as I do. We would have to fight over them. But as luck would have it, or his big, kind heart, he allowed me to eat almost the entire tin of cookies.

On Christmas Day, we did the traditional get-together at Dave’s cousin’s house. After lunch we played games and then sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.


Visit my site on Shutterfly to see more pictures.

The following day we came home and planned out Amanda’s last few days here.

To be continued…

Saturday, in the Parker – Part One

Two memorials in three weeks with the Raffey clan – In 2016, November was a month of mourning. First, on the 5th, we had a funeral mass for my father-in-law Gus, and then on the 26th, a memorial for Dave’s cousin, Peggy. Emotions ran the gamut on that Saturday. Funny and sad were both had at both – Dave’s cousin’s house and at Parker Lakes.

While Dave was fixing the bike Saturday morning, the three of us started talking about the stuff they had at the St. Columbkille thrift store, where John had taken their dad’s clothes. I started telling John about how I had wanted Dave to take a particular pair of pants and before I could even describe them, John knew which ones I was talking about. Dave’s brother scolded me for not taking them or telling him that we wanted them. “No, we really don’t,” Dave was trying to interject. I won.

On our way to the thrift store, I shared how I could not believe we have never been to it. Gus had talked about this thrift store many times, and although we had been the the K-Mart many times, we had never walked next door to the St. Columbkille thrift store, run by the church Gus loved and served with all of his heart. And then there we were, buying back his pants for five bucks.

I knew I wanted the pants their parents had bought in Hawaii over 40 prior, though I did not realize how much until I could not find them (and I am still wondering why). After scanning the “men’s pants” rack twice, my heart sank a little. And then Dave, a couple of isles over, hollered, “Found them,” and I skipped over, excited as all get-out. Right next to them was a fun, colorful pair in my size – I just couldn’t resist. Of course you couldn’t, Dave was thinking. So now we both have a fun pair of pants from the greatest thrift store in Ft. Myers, Florida.


Ironically, Dave’s dad was very much a minimalist, yet he held on to these pants for over 40 years. Here are his parents in 1972, his dad wearing the pants.