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Monthly Archives: December 2006

I am so ridiculously tired. All I want to do is sleep.

It’s been one hell of a week, a week I won’t soon forget. I know it may be a bit morbid to place my funeral experience on here, but it is a part of the process of my healing.

Christmas was sad. Someone was missing – Grandpa. The enormity of what had transpired in the past week only hit me Wednesday night, when we went to the funeral home to view Grandpa in his casket. My first glimpse of him was from across the room, a glimpse which made me burst into tears. The sobs came in fits and starts over the next half hour or so, and then we went home.

The next day was a nightmare of sorts. The power went off in Rosthern and surrounding areas around 8:30 in the morning. We later found out a semi had hit the ditch (why it veered off the road is still the subject of much town gossip) and took out a number of power poles.

My Mom and I (but mostly Mom) had put together a slide show of pictures of Grandpa, which was to be played to a CD of him and his band, the Silvertones. The Silvertones were a group of 60-something men who played ‘old-time’ music. They were very popular in their hay-day; Grandpa played the accordion. We went to the church in the morning to get everything set up as much as we could – without power.

1:00 came around and I made my way to the church to set up whatever else was left; the power had come back on. I started my prelude at 1:30, and shortly after that, the power went off again. 10 minutes later, it was back on, just in time.

During the prelude I began to cry. I was playing “Softly and Tenderly Jesus is calling” and the tears began to stream down my face. The pain was so acute at that moment. I managed to get it together in time to play the opening hymn.

The eulogy was read by my Dad and my Auntie Faye. It was heartfelt, with the right mix of seriousness and humor. The slide show was nice, except for some color issues; if the power had been on in the morning we would have had it all straightened out. Michelle and Jeff read the scripture readings, followed by one of the most beautiful sermons from Pastor Lynn of the Lutheran church. Prayer followed, and then came time for me to sing Grandpa’s favourite hymn.

I’d rehearsed what I was going to say before I sang. I’d gone over it so many times, with it becoming longer each time. I wanted to say how I’d come to realize that Grandpa’s office was a microcosm of his life, and how I hadn’t realized that until this past week. I also wanted to mention how as I reflected on my memories of Grandpa, some became blurred, blurred to the point where I wonder whether the memories are real or some idealized versions of what I wish they would have been. And I wanted to say the little German verse Grandpa taught me when I was 4 or 5, and which I can recite to this day.

I ended up saying a little of all the above. And I ended up crying again. But in true performer spirit, I ‘sucked it up’ and sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” Grandpa’s favourite hymn. My Mom later told me that she’d never heard me sound more beautiful. One of Grandpa’s friends began to cry later on as he told my Mom that Grandpa would’ve been so proud of me. My family was overjoyed with my performance, shocked I was able to carry it off. To me, it felt like nothing. Honestly. I think God helped my deliver that song that afternoon, for it felt too easy, my voice too strong.

The internment at the cemetery was heartbreaking. Having to leave your loved one behind is a pain beyond description. The odd part of it was the fact that I finally saw where my Dad’s brother, Uncle Perry, is buried. He died in a roofing accident in 1979; my parents had barely begun dating, and my Mom had never met him. I walked over to Uncle Perry’s grave with my Dad and said, “Hi, Uncle Perry.” I know he can’t hear me, but I wanted to say it anyway. It was as if I had met him for the first time. A small beginning in the midst of an ending.

We left the grave and went back to the church. It was there that I realized how exhausted I was. I had helped plan the funeral, helped set up, helped with everything during the week. Being involved in almost every part of the funeral had taken an emotional toll on me I had not foreseen.

I’m not sure I really believe Grandpa’s gone. I went through the motions, but as I sit here writing this, it all seems unreal. Maybe it’s because Grandpa wasn’t a part of my everyday life. Maybe it’s – I don’t know.

All I know is that life goes on. As Grandpa would say, “What it is, is what it is.” He would want me to go on with my life, enjoying every day, making my mark wherever I go.

My Grandpa Hamm passed away this morning. He was 82 years old.

I feel sad, but not really empty. It feels like something has been lost, but that I’ll be able to live without it. I’ve never lost anyone close to me before. Should I be feeling differently?

I’ve been blessed to know all of my grandparents throughout my life. Grandpa Hamm is the first grandparent I’ve lost. And I feel badly. I should have spent more time with him last weekend. I should have spent more time with him period. I should have done this, I should have done that. But it’s too late. He’s gone.

I don’t remember Grandpa before his strokes. I only remember him in the hospital, being in good spirits and moving forward with determination. Any other man would have been frustrated by his new lack of mobility and inability to do the things he once could. Not Grandpa. He was a happy-go-lucky guy from what I remember, though I know this was not the case before his strokes. His strokes changed his personality, and for the better. I say this not to be mean, but because it is the truth. I wonder if maybe he finally realized what actually mattered in life.

Grandpa was so proud of me. He had all of my programs and pictures from my recitals, though he was unable to attend any of them. He would tell everyone who came to his room how his granddaughter was a singer, how she was in Vancouver studying opera. He was so proud.

We had a good relationship. I would bug him, and he would act goofy in return. I always told him to behave. He was a funny guy. He’d always sing this German song about his many ‘madchens’, his ‘maidens’. We’d always sing ‘The Bear Song’: ‘The other day (the other day) I saw a bear (I saw a bear) out in the woods (out in the woods) away out there (away out there)…’ Grandpa also liked to play crib with Michelle. He loved McDonald’s; a Big Mac was his favorite treat. He also loved to drive out in the country, looking at the land and commenting on the crops. We had a game we played after his strokes. His right side had been weakened by the strokes, so he would try and squeeze my hand with his right hand to gain strength in it. He always liked to hold my hand.

The last couple years were tough on Grandpa as he lost the ability to walk. He was confined to a wheelchair for the last year or so. You could tell his memory was fading; the same memories and stories came up again and again. He also seemed more distant and quieter. He didn’t visit like he used to, but he still seemed happy. He was always in a good mood when we went to see him.

Grandpa loved music. I owe him a great deal of genetic thankfulness for the ability to sing. He played the guitar, the ‘fiddle’ as he called it, and the accordion. He had a band called ‘The Silvertones’ who played gigs around the Saskatchewan Valley area. One of his favourite songs was ‘Harvest Moon,’ a song I will always remember Grandpa with…

‘Shine on, shine on harvest moon, up in the sky…Shine on, shine on harvest moon, for me ‘n’ my gal…’

I love you Grandpa, and I will miss you. Until we meet again…

What an original title. But I love National Lampoo’s Christmas Vacation. It’s a Christmas classic.

I’ve officially begun Christmas holidays, but I’m so freaking bored. I want some homework to do.
I mentioned this to my Grandpa this past weekend. He looked at me as if I was babbling like they did at the Tower of Babel.

Things are okay. A couple of people are on my “naughty” list right now (and I mean that in a strictly platonic sense – no sexual innuendo intended). Some people have no class, no integrity – nothing. I swear their insides are made of worms.

Walmart and I are getting along just fine, though. I’ve made a few mistakes here and there, but all in all, I’m actually enjoying it. It was ‘coupons and condoms’ night yesterday. Call me juvenile, but scanning a pack of condoms is rather hilarious. It just reminds me how commercial sex has become. And it’s funny.

I’m going to see “Little Miss Sunshine” tonight. I could use a little sunshine myself…

I love how when I need to study I somehow find the ambition and energy needed to clean my house. Why is that? Oh, gee, let me think – I’ll do anything to keep from studying any longer? Sounds like a surefire reason to me! The good thing is I have a clean house. Minus the vacuuming. I didn’t have the time to do that today, unfortunately.

My last final is tomorrow, my Canadian history final. I’m not overly worried right now, but I’m sure I’ll be freaking out a little bit tomorrow morning when I realize how little I’ve studied and am feeling a little unprepared. But I find it’s always that way with the last final. You’ve studied and studied and studied – and you don’t want to study anymore. But as of tomorrow at 5:00 I will be free! To work! Woo hoo! Actually, I don’t work ’til Sunday afternoon, so I have almost 48 hours of freedom. I will be completely bored within 5 minutes, though. I’m already itching to get back to class. It’s completely ridiculous and insane, but, I’m addicted to school.

My new favourite thing has to be www.laineygossip.com. It’s so shameful – it’s great! It’s a site where you get all of your latest celebrity buzz – my guilty pleasure. Lainey and I are kindred spirits; we both detest Jennifer Aniston. Another good celebrity site is www.socialitelife.com. Fun, fun, fun…

This is the last thing I’m going to do before I really begin to study…

1.) Where did you ring in 2006?
In Saskatoon with my family.
2.) What was your status by Valentine’s Day?
I’m going to go with Lauren’s answer: single and grumpy
3.) Were you in school (anytime this year)?
Yes. I finished my Artist Diploma from the Vancouver Academy of Music in June. And I enrolled at the U of S this fall, trying to pursue a double honours degree in History and Political Science.
4.) How did you earn your keep?
The first half of the year I did one-on-one support work with special needs adults and taught music lessons. Since the end of November I’ve been working at Walmart.
5.) Did you ever have to go to the hospital?
No, but I went to the doctor numerous times for other things.
6.) Have you ever encountered the police?
Nope. Still don’t have any speeding tickets.
7.) Where did you go on vacation?
The Oregon Coast for a week. Cannon Beach is one of the prettiest, iconic oceanside towns in the world.
8.) What did you purchase that was over $500?
My new laptop.
9.) Did you know anybody who got married?
Yep. Jill!
10.) Did you know anybody who passed away?
My great aunt Delores.
11.) Have you ran into anybody you graduated high school with?
Yes.
12.) Did you move anywhere?
I moved from Vancouver to Saskatoon. It was a good move. 🙂
13.) What sporting events did you go to?
Rider game at BC Place. Canucks game at GM place. Numerous Rider games in Regina.
14.) What concerts did you go to?
Melissa Etheridge in Portland and the Dixie Chicks in Saskatoon
15.) Are you registered to vote?
Um, yeah. I wouldn’t be ‘Nicole Hamm’ if I wasn’t.
16.) If so, did you do your patriotic duty on Nov. 7?
No. I’m not American. But I voted in the federal election back in January. I skipped rehearsal that evening to watch the results.
17.) Where do you live now?
In a basement suite in Saskatoon.
18.) Describe your birthday.
Pretty sad. I went to school, came home, felt pretty crappy and spent the rest of the day on the couch, feeling sorry for myself that it was my birthday and all I could do was down cough syrup and Tylenol Cold and Flu to try and feel half-decent.
19.) What’s the one thing you thought you would never do but did in 2006?
Ha! Everyday this year has been filled with things I never thought I’d do. It’s been one hell of a ride…
20.) What is one thing you regretted this year?
I regretted the fact that it took me until 2006 to make some decisions in my life that I’d put off for far too long.
21.) What’s something you learned about yourself?
I’m one tough cookie. That for some reason we tend to fight the things we know are best for us.
22.) Any new additions to your family?
Nope. I would love a kitty or puppy, though…
23.) What was your best month(s)?
You know, it was certainly the toughest year I’ve ever experienced, but as crappy as life got, there were good moments in all of the months. And now I’m even thankful for all of the bad stuff that happened.
24.) What from pop culture will you remember 2006?
I will unfortunately remember that Paris Hilton was still famous for some inexplicable reason.
25.) How would you rate this year with a scale from 1 (shitty) to 10 (excellent)?
Started out as an 8, quickly fell to -100, and has since climbed back up to about a 5.

Michelle reminded me the other day that’s it been awhile since I updated my blog. So here goes…

I started my first actual shifts at Walmart this past week. Everything that could possibly happened, happened. From a lost girl to accidentally overcharging a customer – you name it, I dealt with it. The next day was much better, and I’m actually enjoying working there. I’ve met many interesting people and it’s nice to interact with them and be a part of their day. Spoken like a true cashier…

I wrote two finals this week, one yesterday and one today; both were Political Science. My next final is Wednesday, followed by my last one on Friday. Those are my history finals, and they’re going to be tough. I should have started studying this afternoon, but I didn’t. 🙂

Other than that, things are humming along. Christmas is coming quickly; it’s so hard to believe it’s that time of year again. With every year that passes that complete joy and abandon I had as a kid at Christmas time fades a little bit more. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older, but Christmas just isn’t the big deal it used to be. Or maybe I’m getting more joy out of the rest of the year that Christmas isn’t as big on my radar screen as it used to be. Does that make any sense?

Time to update my other blogs. I’m so behind…

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