an actual conversation via email. after running up the emotional equivalent of ten flights of stairs or maybe more. twice.

My legs were shaking in the shower this morning….it was a good workout. :)

I am SSSSSSSSSSSooooooooooooooooooooooo tired this morning. I literally sat on my chair staring for twenty minutes. because I could. because I didn't have to get to work. talk about hardcore.

I love those workouts. :) :)


a rainy month (without an advocate)

Grief is not something in which I believe many can claim expertise. However, grief has been a primary player in my adolescent, post-adolescent and young adult life. I know the inner workings of grief in my heart. I know the process for myself, I know my mourning is in constant metamorphosis. My grief is lonely, personal, tired.

When I grieve, I find many words vacant and plastic. I often find the actions of others careless, hurtful.

I find myself bitter and hunkered into a posture of fear. But mainly, I find myself craving an advocate. Someone who doesn't say the dread four word phrase, "If you need anything..." But fills needs unspoken. Gives a ride, makes some tea, gives a few minutes, sends flowers frivolously, lends a hand. Stops and cares.

No call necessary. No "letting know" needed.

Just compassion in action.

An advocate for my heart.


she married a dashing navy pilot

Ruth B. Cropp, 83, of Nevada MO, formerly of Normandy, Missouri, passed away May 13th, 2007, at the Barone Care Center. She was born September 13th, 1923 near Gordonville,MO to Alvin and Elsie (Graden) Grossheider. Ruth was the third of eight daughters and grew up milking cows with her seven sisters on a dairy farm near Gordonville in southeast Missouri. She was the first in her family to complete High School, graduating salutatorian from college high school in Cape Girardeau, MO in 1941. When she wasn't milking or going to school, she was busy in the kitchen with her mom and sisters, making sure the men working the fields were properly fed. Her favorite stories were of the completion of the harvest when the neighboring farm families would get together and dance and sing and play cards. She cherished her memories of the farm but preferred the amenities of city living. And she never wore overalls again after moving to St. Louis. She married a dashing Navy Pilot named Ralph C. Cropp of November 18th, 1950 in St Louis, MO and lived 44 years in Normandy, MO. Ruth was a lovely wife, mother and homemaker in the truest sense of the word. Ruth ran her house like a tight ship, only a lot cleaner. She sewed her family's clothes, cooked wonderfully and was especially proud of her 1985 state championship pot roast. She set the good example of her four children whom she firmly raised in the faith. She served Zion Lutheran Church of Ferguson, MO in the Women's Guild, Church Choir, Married Couples Club and various prayer groups. After moving to Nevada, Missouri she attended St. Paul's Lutheran Church as long as her health permitted. Ruth is survived by her children and their spouses: Kenton A. Cropp and wife Sally, Edgerton KS, Cherie A. Kleinbeck and husband Mark, Poplar Bluff, MO. Dr Lance E. Cropp and wife Kelly of Mansfield, OH and Joyce C. Denman and husband Bill of Nevada, MO ; 8 and 7/9's grandchildren (one on the way) Kelsie Cropp and Trevor Cropp, Christina Kleinbeck and Alaina Kleinbeck, Nathan Cropp and Kate Cropp, and Lucas Denman, Emma Denman, and Jacob Denman (on the way) four sisters: Lorene Grossheider, Aiken, South Carolina Eleanor Haman, Cape Girardeau MO, Audrey (Jean) Mc Henry, Cape Girardeau MO, and Barbara Venz of Mc Cormick South Carolina and numerous nieces and nephews, relatives and friends. Ruth was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Ralph, three sisters:Edna Flanigan, Francis Mc Neely and Roberta Robinson; and one beloved grandson Douglas Kleinbeck.Services : Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 19, 2007 at Ferry Funeral Home, Nevada,MO. Interment will follow in Newton Burial Park, Nevada, MO. Friends may call now and until the hour of service and the family receives friends 7-8:00 p.m. on Friday, May 18, at the funeral home. The family suggests memorial contributions to Barone Care Center or to The Douglas Kleinbeck Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o Ferry Funeral Home. You may view obituary and send condolences online at www.ferryfuneralhome.com. Published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from 5/17/2007 - 5/18/2007.

Obituary by Bill Denman.


questions i have

Is it normal for a toothpaste to cause my cheek to shed its outer layer on a daily basis? (Because the new kind I am trying does and it is driving me crazy)

Who will succeed Jerry Falwell in driving less politically conservative Christians bonkers now that he has passed? Maybe this nut job (Read the first real paragraph. Prolific use of the word Illuminati crys out "desperate Dan Brown wannabe.")?

Can I get a few more hours of sleep at night?

Will I be able to find another quality leader for my youth servant event this summer?

What should I make for dinner tonight?

Why do some people keep talking?


the astoria alaina tuna salad

My sister was in town, visiting me this weekend, getting away from all of the family stress we've been bearing, and generally taking advantage of the open door policy I foolishly offered to her three months ago. I think she kept my key this time. Jerk.

Though today was Mother's Day, I surreptitiously avoided the topic with anyone other than my own mother. I have too many emotions wrapped up in mothers and grandmothers to uphold a standard of normal human behavior. Part of the avoidance was staying away from anything that sold food on plates by a waiter. Instead my sister and I cleaned out my fridge and with a quick run to the grocery store, we made a phenomenal tuna salad. A tuna salad that we dubbed the astoria alaina tuna salad. I think we were intoxicated on our own egos when finalized that name. At least I was. (typical.)

Here's the recipe (to the best of my recollection, we were really just making it up as we went):
1 large can of solid white tuna (12 oz)
1/2 apple (fuji, gala, etc.) chopped small
1 stalk celery chopped small
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 parsley, chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper

Holy yum on a fork.


coping skills (appearances aren't everything)

Tears come quietly.

They are closeted, tucked silently against the back wall, behind my pressed pants and dry-cleaned shirts. They happen without tissues, but with shirt sleeves and a deft finger swipe and a cool water splash.

While closeted, they are prepared for parade. They are explained to a room full of wide-eyed youth wondering why my eyes are a bit red, my cheeks flushed. They are lived out fully. Navigating the time spent closeted and the time on parade is delicate, occasionally tedious.

Tears careen between the two like muddied river waters. Sometimes destroying, flooding, withholding in dry spells. Sometimes creating, refreshing, bringing life.

Tears are worn as shawls to show where life has stained and where life has wiped clean a piece of previous pains. Sometimes the shawl is spread like wings. Sometimes it clings tightly, closely to me.

Tears come quietly to protect me. Sustain me. Refresh me.


in the swing

After a week of essential running-less-ness, this week has come on like a torrential downpour.

I have risen twice in the early morning hours to squeeze a run in before the May-in-Missouri heat strikes up momentum. This is record-breaking.

It is Thursday and I am only four miles away from my 16 mile a week goal. Yeah!

I have also jumped a concrete barrier on a busy street (don't tell my mother) and battled a horrific mid-run stomach-ache that ultimately led to indescribable things. Which I will not describe because gross.

Running this week has been a stress-reliever. It has been cathartic to beat my frustrations on the concrete sidewalks rather than the people around me. Running has cleared my heart and mind.

Running this week has been weight control. I don't weigh myself ever, but I know what feels healthy in my body. Sitting in a hospital and nursing home for a week left me sluggish and dull feeling. Running has cleared me of those feelings.

Running this week has been a reason to sleep. Sleep is my weakness. I am not good at going to bed and staying there. Running has made me tired enough to get some sleep.

This week has been a reminder of why I love running.


at her bedside

Ruth lays beside me. Her steady wheeze of breath stops.

My heart stops. Is this it? Will my grandmother pass while I am alone with her? Am I worthy of spending these last few moments with her alone?

When I was a little girl I always felt unworthy to be her grandchild. Not because I was degenerate or because she made me feel degenerate. Rather she had a little saying that she told everyone about how proud she was of her kids. “Not a single cavity in permanent teeth.”

She breaths a graveled breath. I, too, breath again. No death this time.

I always felt a bit of shame because I didn’t have great teeth and I didn’t have great dental hygiene as a kid either. I thought I’d let her down because I had a cavity. I was a serious kid.

Today as I hold her trembling hand, not knowing if she hears me, feels me, knows I am here, I know that this woman didn’t care that I had a cavity. She was just proud of her kids. I remember the way she danced around our house when she came to visit. She made it clean, too. I remember her fried chicken before fried chicken became a food unworthy of our healthy plates.

I remember the day she tried to teach me how to make her german potato salad. A little bit of this, a little bit of that... and a lot of me making a mess. If I told her that today I wouldn’t eat her famous warm salad because I don’t eat bacon, she’d look at me with a shrug saying, “I just don’t understand you people.” I imagine a heaven that involves lots of great food and her potato salad is there. I’ll eat it because pigs don’t fly out of semi-trucks in heaven and bacon isn’t made out of pig there anyway.

These days pass slowly, in a surreal passing of time. I wonder each moment if this will be a moment of mercy. If now she will be given the gift of peace and the end of suffering that she has know too well these past days. I analyze the way I pass my time. Is this what I want to be doing when she passes? Does it matter what I am doing when she passes?

Her breathing pauses longer. Then comes back steadily. This wasn’t the moment either.

A gentleman stops in. His wife is a resident here at the Alzheimer's unit, my grandmother’s home for the past two years. “I hope she does alright. She’s a dandy.”

Losing people you love must seem normal at his age. And somehow it still isn’t right.

It’s time to go to heaven.

When will you take her, Lord? When?

How long will I sing this song?

Will someone bring my dinner? I’m getting hungry and lonely sitting here.


not much to say

I'm spending my days with my grandmother, my mother, my family.

We're hoping that my grandmother's days will end mercifully soon, but no one can predict when that will be.

I'm wondering when I should go back to my daily life. When I should go back to my work, my friends, my home.

Besides all of that, there's not much to say.


every breath

The days are long.

My aunt is home, bound to her bed. Stress is unacceptable.

My grandmother breaths steadily, slowly on her side, grimaced in unknown unspeakable pains.

My mom slumped in a chair exhausted from wondering when my grandmother can finally find her peace.

My uncle chasing after kids. His mom helping him.

The kids a little lost in it all.

And me.

Praying it will soon be over.