I love having my daughter back. She's her old self again...the person she had suppressed for many years...the wickedly funny, extremely intelligent girl she used to be. The woman who for so long was allowed only the friends chosen by her husband, ones he could control. She has reconnected with so many of her childhood and teenage friends, friends whom SHE chose. She's back in school, getting a degree in nuclear medicine technology and doing great...getting all A's. I can have lunch or go shopping with my daughter whenever I want, something that hasn't happened in all those years. She is a part of our family once again. She is finally getting her life together. I have my daughter back!
Christmas was hard. We went through the motions and even enjoyed parts of it, but it was so different. I didn't send Christmas cards for the first time in forty years. A friend to whom I hadn't spoken since before Christmas pinpointed the reason for me yesterday...it was because I couldn't take the annual grandkids family portrait. There were no raucous and crazy portrait sessions as in years past. I know it wasn't fair to the other kids, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. There would have been too big a hole.
That space will be filled just a little come June. Jaye and Kelly are expecting a son! We are all so happy for them. They hurried just a little, because of Kelly's age (she's 42), and because they don't want Matthew to grow up an only child. He is so lonely. He clings to Kaitlyn when she visits. Aimee let her spend the weekend with them last week and she and Matt had a great time. But when it came time for her to come home, it was devastating for Matthew. He cried and cried, begging her not to leave. We're hoping this new baby will bring some solace and comfort to them...to all of us. We will celebrate his birth with joy.
Meanwhile, we're still waiting on justice to prevail. The driver who killed Lauren was charged with vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter, but after the arraignment, the prosecutor received the records from her cell phone company and they confirmed that she was texting at the time of the crash. Also, the crime scene investigators finally determined her speed...70 mph on impact. Jaye had started moving his vehicle, but was going only 10 mph. The prosecutor is hoping to use the new evidence to bump the charge up to aggravated vehicular homicide, which is a felony in Ohio, and carries a much more commensurate sentence. We have hope that the judge will actually apply the sentence, instead of giving her a slap on the wrist. There have been two similar cases in Ohio recently where the judges have cracked down on this kind of behavior and given the maximum sentence. I know that no amount of time in jail will bring our Lauren back, but maybe it will prevent someone else from being killed. Maybe our state legislature will pull their heads out of their collective ass and get a bill passed that prohibits texting while driving; indeed, prohibits all cell phone use while driving. It's not that hard to do. I've given it up, and so has my entire family. I was never a texter while I was driving, but I did do a lot of catch-up phoning to family and friends. I don't even miss it. It is actually rather freeing.
Our winter has been fairly mild so far. Kind of a crazy December and January with lots of rain. In fact, Ohio's all-time precipitation record was broken in 2011. I wish we could have sent some of that rain to the drought-stricken states. Of course, we still have two months of winter to look forward to, and our February is usually much worse than January, so I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities to scrape the driveway and shovel the sidewalks. We had a wood-burning fireplace insert installed in October, and we've been enjoying the wonderful heat, which is sometimes a little too wonderful. Thanksgiving Day I spent cooking in shorts and a t-shirt with the kitchen window wide open, while my in-laws huddled around the wood-burner with three layers of clothes. And it was 65 degrees outside. Lordy!
David retired in September after 37 years with the same company. They gave him a wonderful send-off. He loves being home, and I love having him at home. The only bad thing is that he started falling apart nearly as soon as the ink dried on his severance papers. He has been having severe pain in his right hip and pain in his back. After trying his primary doctor, and then an osteopath, who weren't able to help him, he finally saw an orthopedic specialist last week. The cartilage in his right hip joint is completely gone. He will be having a total hip replacement this spring. He's also seeing a neurologist/spine specialist tomorrow to rule out any spinal problems. He's very upbeat about the hip surgery. Everyone we've talked to who has had it done or knows someone who has, says it improves their lives about 99%. David has been so used to being active and doing whatever he wants, that this has been a real setback for him, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to get back to his normal self. He has been looking forward to his retirement for several years, and we have a lot of travel plans, and he wants to be able to do all those things and enjoy life. I guess I will get to polish up my nursing skills. It will make up for the times when I rolled my eyes behind his back after listening to him go on and on about it. No, really. Endlessly. All. Day. Long. I feel bad about it. Don't tell him.
I feel terrible that I haven't visited my wonderful bloggy friends nearly as much as I wanted. I've popped in on a few of you, and I've read more than I've commented. I'm hoping to return full-force to blogging after the dust settles around here. It's a little hard for the elderly to concentrate with three kids in the house, and then there's the laundry and the cooking and the cleaning, etc. It feels good to write this though, so I know I'm not finished with my story. Not yet.
ADDENDUM: I found out yesterday that the county prosecutor will NOT be adding an aggravated vehicular homicide charge. Quoting from an email from my daughter-in-law to the texting ban bill advocate with whom I've been working.