Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Always something there to remind me.

It contained a list of all his medications, insurance info, chemo and hospital appointments, and any questions to ask the doctors.

I had wanted to throw it out once he passed away this summer but that seemed wrong....almost disrespectful, yet I didn't want to hold onto it and remember him that way.

I still have my pocket notebook with all the notes I took while my uncle was dying of colon cancer.

My aunt and I were his primary caregivers and that notebook helped me stay organized.

But it was also a reminder of the pain, frustration, hope, and tears we all endured. I chose today to let it go, which would've been his 73rd birthday.

So one by one I ripped out each sheet, glued it down as a collage, and transformed it into LOVE.

Paper and marker in Moleskine journal - (NFS)

This will be a rough holiday season for my aunt. Thanksgiving, his birthday, Christmas, New Year's. Special days reminding her that he's no longer here.

But as I told my aunt earlier this morning, "I don't think he's gone. He's still around....just in a different form."

So with that said.....

Happy Birthday, Uncle Bill!


Cat said...

My aunt also died of colon cancer and I know how aweful it is. Time passes and although I don't think you get over it, you learn to live with it and start really remembering the good times and forget the bad ones. I still catch myself getting emotional when I unexpectedly find a picture of her even though it has been 7 years now.

I thought I would share this and let you know that at some point you will remember him for who he was and not for what he suffered.

Corinna said...

R.I.P. Uncle Bill. I'm betting he loves the collage.

ricola said...

Brilliant way of turning something around and making it new. Cheers you.

Pandabear93 said...

Naw! That's really sweet. I never thought of doing anything like that with my dad's stuff....

n.lea. said...

What a beautiful, creative reminder that everything that was done to help your uncle was an act of love.
I am sorry this season is has been so hard on your aunt and I can only imagine on you your wonderful self.
I also think that you are right that he isn't gone he is there in every act of love that is given out.
This touches home for me as my dad who will be 73 on the 20th, has off and on battles with the C-word for the last few years.

I send you love and warmth and peace :)

Liz said...

I think your collage is just, beautiful ! :)

Those who have passed on are never completely gone. They live on, as long as we have them in our hearts :D

Someday, we shall certainly see them again !

Anonymous said...

That's a very nice collage. You could call it art!

Anonymous said...

This is my first comment. You're such a dear!

Hence72 said...

nice blog

come visit mine sometime

naturgesetz said...

That is a fine way to deal with those reminders, because the love was more important than the illness. And the love remains.

We can certainly hope that Uncle Bill is having the happiest birthday ever.

WOL said...

My dad had colon cancer 20 years ago and for major abdominal surgeries as a result. He turned 88 this year. After I read your post, I almost feel guilty that I still have him. He's nearly deaf, almost blind, and very frail, but he's still more or less "with it." He still gets around and lives at home with my 86-year-old mom. Each milestone of the year, I think, this could be the last (name of milestone) I spend with him. Slowly, but surely, the years are taking their toll. It's like watching a fatal fall in excruciatingly slow motion, knowing the outcome, but being powerless to change it. You do have the comfort (such as it is) of knowing that you were there for your uncle (and your aunt)when he needed you. A fitting memorial -- a piece that shows what love is all about -- being there for someone.

Anonymous said...

You are so wise. Uncle Bill is still around.
He lives forever in your heart.
Best to you and your Aunt.

JuJu said...

I think this is beautiful.

It is so hard to know what to do with the "things" our loved ones leave behind. You hit the nail on the head with this one.

Happy Birthday Uncle Bill!

Andytgeezer said...

Do you keep all your journal pages Dean? Or will you be sending them off?

Tammy's Studio said...

I love your tribute. It's perfect. I had to let go of my favorite cousin at a young age, shortly after she gave birth to her son.

I was asked to do her memorial service and did not include black in it at all. I used butterflies to symbolize her. I think she would have loved it.

It's painful letting those closest to us go but we do learn a lot in the process.

God Bless you and your family during this trying season of your lives.

Unknown said...

I think it is a lovely tribute.

Ro said...

This is beautiful. This is the first time I have read your blog and I love it already.

neora chana said...

What a wonderful way to remember your uncle!

Unknown said...

What a great way to think about a loved one. I love the collage.
You are strong, powerful and confident! You can do anything.

Happy 73rd Birthday, Uncle Bill!

Mind Of Mine said...

Artists, can make something out of nothing. The empty space that your Uncle left when he died, has been turned into a memory vault full of love.


BB said...

He's still around is so right. My late husband believed strongly in that so his passing was easy for him and it made it easier for all of us to know that he's still there. I wouldn't want anyone to want me to hang around if I was very ill and had no quality of life. This was a lovely story.

Marty said...

Beautiful post.

Fikry said...

very thoughtful.. i really like the idea that "he's still around but in different form". sometimes, we just need to remember rather than forget.

Randuwa said...

Dean, This is beautiful and redemptive.

Jodie | Velour said...

I love your idea. What a beautiful way to move on. Very creative.

On a different note, I've been thinking of that day when you had the 50% off day at your much-loathed job. :) That picture of all your loot has haunted me. It's making me covetous. :)

Joanne said...

Beautiful...and I'm sure he's smiling wherever he is.

R. Burnett Baker said...

Yes. It will be difficult for your aunt and the entire family who cherished him. I'm not sure what to say in a situation like this. We lost my Dad in June, so this is my Mother's first Christmas without him. And I cannot be in Texas with her. That is heartbreaking. Don't we just love retail??

Yes, Dean my thoughts are similar to yours I'm sure. I just haven't been able to put them in any kind of order yet...

Wishing you and your family love and peace in your hearts this Christmas...


Melancholy State said...

It's absolutely beautiful that you took something so difficult and turned it into something good. Preserving the memories, but in a more positive way. I'm very sorry your family is feeling such a sense of loss with this. I can only hope that it brings all of you closer in time.....


Not blogging said...

You're interesting.

Sarahf said...

I'm sorry about your uncle. It must have been so hard to take care of him.

nameless said...

that is awesome, I was the primary caregiver for my aunt. She had breast cancer for 7 years and died a little over a month ago. its like a piece of art work, you should hang it on the wall :)

daniel said...

very interesting. you seem quite creative, and obviously a little eccentric, too. cheers.

Dylana Suarez said...

This is an inspiring blog post! Lovely blog!



ForeverBookend said...

I just wanted to say.... This ... I feel ya. On some form... Not completely the same. But with losing someone and dealing with the seasons..and the letting go. I love what you did. I find it beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Jaimie SKS said...

That is an amazing idea. I'm sorry for your loss. You really seemed to have found a way to transform a sad memory into something worth looking back on. Good job :)

kristine berlie said...

nice...at least you created it creatively..

The Real Housewife of Greensboro said...

You are exactly right about him being there with you. My friend died on June 30th of this year and I still feel him and he also appears in my dreams as well. I think it's wonderful that you made something that reminded you of a bad time into something that is beautiful. It's no comparison but my cat died after I had him for 19 years and up until a few months ago, I still had all his vet bills, medication, fluid bags, etc.. and this was like 2 years ago that he passed. But I just chose to throw it away because even cats stay with you after they die. He's in my dreams sometimes as well but I'll be praying that you and your family can get through this hard time.

Unknown said...

aww bless you what a lovely thing to do and a uique and clever idea. I just wanted to say Hi and i will pop back again. Take care dee ;-)

Harriett Starr said...

I love this . Its so moving and such a beautiful way to remember your uncle x

Wishing you and your aunt all the best over the Christmas period


Teci Pulido said...

Hugs and much love to you and your aunt, Dean.

I think you're doing what's best - choosing to celebrate your Uncle Bill's LIFE and LOVE, especially on his birthday. Because of you, he is being remembered and honored up to now.

Niraja said...

My dad died of cancer in April of 2009. When I saw the collage you made from your notebook, I cried.

Happy Frog and I said...

I can understand this time of year being very difficult for your family and for so many others to. I like the way you are handling it.

^ said...

I think transforming the pain from the notebook into love is a wonderful way of remembering your uncle and healing the painful memories.

Dean Grey said...


So things will get easier for me and my aunt then, huh?

That gives me hope!


Fluid Idleness!

I hope he does!



Thank you!



What happened in regards to your dad?



Happy Birthday to your dad on the 20th!!



"Someday, we shall certainly see them again!"

This made me smile!



I agree. It's sort of an art collage!



Thanks for stopping by!






"And the love remains."

That could be a title to a book!



I'm sorry to hear about your dad's condition but am glad he's alive and still a part of you and your mom's lives.


Alex (Anonymous)!

Thanks for that!



I'm glad you think so!



For now my Crazy Journal only has a handful of entries in it. Once filled, I'm not sure what I'll do with it!



I LOVE that you used butterflies in your cousin's memorial service!

How touching!



Why thank you!



(((HUGS))) back at ya!


neora chana!




That's quite a compliment!


Mind Of Mine!

I'm flattered, Ian!


Bouncin' Barb!

I'm glad you understand where I'm coming from!



Thank you!






Thanks for that, Randy!


Jodie | Velour!

The arts-and-crafts store is having another employee appreciation discount starting this week!







(((HUGS))) to you and your family too!


C. Alvarez!

I appreciate that!



Interesting-weird or interesting-cool?



Yes Sarah, at times it was difficult and almost too much to bear.



I'm so sorry for your loss. You must know how hard it is to be a caregiver, watching a loved one die right before your eyes.




Is being eccentric a good thing?



I love your first name!



Thank YOU for taking a look!



I appreciate the kindness!



Yeah, I wanted to turn it into something artistic.


The Real Housewife of Greensboro!

Cats (and other pets) are family members too so your loss is just as real as mine.



Hello to you too!



That's very kind of you!



Thank you!





Happy Frog and I!

I'm trying to hang in there as best I can.



That was pretty much my goal for this post!


All of your supportive words are greatly appreciated!


Bailey said...

when my dad died from cancer I held on to a lot of stuff that had to do with the hospital and just recently finally threw it out. I finally realized that it's no good dwelling on death when we can spend our time dwelling on life that came before it.

jason said...

It's lovely...perfect.

Dmarie said...

what a lovely tribute!

Penguinia said...

Sweet. I must admit. It made me cry. Bless you. You're a beautiful human.

KRennelk said...

Love your idea of what to do with the notebook -that is lovely.

All the best to you and your aunty. I'm a new reader (thanks blogs of note!) but really enjoy reading your blog.

All the best

Lyla said...

I can understand how u must be feeling..my grandfather also passed away recently coz of cancer n this is our first Christmas without him...it hurts so much to even imagine that he won't be here this year with us..but life goes on...it has always been this way and always will be...

Mr. Bluehaunt said...

A beautiful tribute!

stanw said...

All the support you gave your Uncle and Aunt through that time was exactly as you say in the picture you created, LOVE. In love you spent your time and energy caring for their needs. Know that you are loved too.

inaluxe said...

Hi Dean, been a while, but I imagine you know what it's like - not having enough time for everything: life, bits and pieces, work, art, all jumbled into some sort of chaos we get accustomed to. And we forever keep trying to find more time.... :)

I love what you did with all the notes you kept, I'm so sorry about your uncle, but I really wanted to say how much I love what you said to your aunt.

Hope you're well, and hope the festive holiday season is a fun one for you too. Fun is so many things - and so many forms. xo K

Nick said...

My boyfriend died on brain cancer 1.5 years ago but I'm still not able to sort his personal things that are in a box. Maybe one day. I like your idea

Dean Grey said...


I'm so agreeing with you!



Thank you!



I'm glad you think so!



It made me cry too.....



Welcome aboard!





Mr. Bluehaunt!




Yes, it was love!



That's very kind of you to say!



I'm sorry to hear this. I know my aunt said she just can't go through my uncle's clothes just yet.

In time, I suppose. In time.


Thanks to everyone for adding their thoughts on this!


Aaron said...

This blog made me sad but happy at the same time. :)

Dean Grey said...


It did the same for me as well.


Unknown said...

So beautiful - meaningful.

Dean Grey said...


Thank you, sir!