Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's been a long time coming

Where have I been, you ask? Right here, but disengaged from the blogging world for a while. Needing time to come to terms with the circumstances of our lives here in the Swamp and beyond. It's been a very hard year, and I just didn't have the heart to write, but our lives have mostly resumed their hectic everyday struggles and the most welcome joys that lighten our hearts.

I was reading a few of my past posts and remembering the satisfaction that came from knowing that I got it right sometimes, that there is a writer lurking in me that needs nurturing occasionally, and that I miss the interaction of my talented fellow blogger friends. I realize that some of you will have given up on me and will have gone elsewhere, and that's okay, but I thought that some would like to know what has transpired since you last heard from me.

There is a lot of catching up to do.

Starting with Lauren, about whom I'm sure you are most interested, we finally had a smidgen of justice  in the case against Ms. Gough. She was charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter, and failure of assured clear distance. She finally, after many months, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of vehicular manslaughter; the other two charges were dropped. After many more months, she was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 60 suspended; two years probation; two year license suspension; 200 hours of community service in a relevant capacity; $600 court costs; and, $7100 restitution to the family for funeral expenses. The judge read over 100 letters written to him by family, friends, and concerned citizens. Kelly also read a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking victim impact statement in front of the judge and Ms. Gough on the day of sentencing. We, of course, thought the sentence was very lenient, but felt that the judge probably did all that he could, considering what he had to work with. I hope that during her time in jail, Ms. Gough reflected on the damage she did to our family.

That damage is reflected in another direction. Jaye and Kelly separated in February and are now in the process of divorcing. The statistics for divorce in these kinds of tragedies are very high, and they didn't escape. There were underlying factors that had caused fractures in the marriage, and the tragedy of losing Lauren completely broke it. Nonetheless, it is a very sad situation, especially now that a new child is involved.

Matthew welcomed his baby brother Nicholas on June 1. Nicholas Ethan was born with Down Syndrome, although he doesn't seem to have any of the physical health problems that a large percentage of Down's babies have. He has no heart defects and his hearing is good, even though the ear canals are very small, and he will have to be monitored closely for wax buildup to prevent hearing loss. His eyesight seems to be good; he follows movement well. He is smiling a little and his muscle tone is quite good. He pushes himself forward when he is lying on his tummy. He is a darling little boy and such a joy to be around already. I know he will be our special little guy. Kelly is worried that because she is older, she won't be around to take care of him when he is an adult. I told her that's why he has such a loving and attentive big brother...Matthew will take care of him.

Aimee is still in the process of obtaining her divorce. It has been a messy and ugly situation. I won't go into the details here, but I will just say that we have had to call the police on two occasions and her ex (almost) has a no contact order against him. One reason the divorce is taking so long to process is that Aimee became pregnant. No, it isn't her husband's child. She met up with an old crush from high school, and another new grandchild will be born in December. She thought she was protected and that turned out to be not the case. The father will not be in the picture, as Aimee learned that one cannot go back in time and expect good results, at least most of the time. Life happens, whether we are ready for it or not.

Back on our little farm in the woods things are going very well. David's hip surgery in May had him down for about a month. And then he was back on his feet slowly conditioning, rebuilding lost muscle tone, and working on his endurance and stamina by walking a little farther every day. All the pain was gone, and the doctor said his hip was better than new! By the middle of August, he was up to 3 1/2 miles, which prepared him for his annual bowhunting trip to Colorado at the end of August. This time I went with him! We drove to Nebraska to pick up his friend Bob (his hunting buddy for 30 years), and then they dropped me off in Denver to stay with our friends, Judy and Paul, whom we have known since our days in Baton Rouge. I had a wonderful visit with them in their beautiful southwestern style home in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

The view from the golf club restaurant at our friends' house.

Once we both got back home, and after catching up with stuff that doesn't get done while you're on vacation, we had a wonderful visit from Ruth and Don Mowry. (She, of synchronizing.) We had spent a few days with them in Michigan to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary in July. They got to see our piled-up mess in the dining room; preparations for ripping out the nasty living room carpet and installing bamboo flooring. That project will have been completed at the end of today, and it only took us nine days! Well, that included my prepping and painting the room, so really just seven. Not too bad for old people! David says that he is done with floor laying for a while. I told him it's just like giving birth; you'll forget all the pain when you look at that wonderful finished project. I only have four more rooms for us to do. :)

Next on the agenda is a camping trip to the Hocking Hills with the oldest grandkids. We look forward to this one every year. They are so much fun. They're getting so big now; I'm not sure how long Nathan and Kaitlyn will be able to fit into those bunks.

Then we will have our annual couples weekend with David's cousin and his wife (one of my best friends) in the Hocking Hills, a greatly anticipated getaway for both couples. No kids, no animals...just shopping, walking in the woods and trails, eating (a lot!), and relaxing in the hot tub under the stars. It just doesn't get better than that.

It was a busy summer, and fall is shaping up to be just as jam-packed, with Scout activities, holidays, cutting wood for the woodburning stove, and planning for our new ventures come spring. I hope you are enjoying your autumn cool weather, after the extreme heat and drought of the summer. We certainly are.

See you later.


Ruth said...

It does me SO much good to receive the beauties of your blog this morning. Of course your time away has been mourned, along with the griefs you have borne (and we for and with you).

Your writing presence is perfectly YOU, and sorely necessary. But the frequency or infrequency does not matter, and if someone isn't around to hear you now, it is their loss.

I have never known anyone as strong as you. Flowers keep breathing out their fragrance as you pass. And as you and David work and support and love and care, you show me how to do it. It isn't easy as we grow older to stay active, and keep on keeping on. But you can know that you are an example to many, to me most of all.

By the way, we took Nancy to the Common Grill Tuesday (or she took us, rather), and as I drove her around Chelsea, and showed her the Purple Rose Theater, I told her we plan to go to a play every summer. I so look forward to it!


Ruth said...

I meant to say we plan to go with Susie and David every summer . . . :-)

Judy said...

I was excited to see your blog today! My blog these days has become hit and miss... I'm just a bit worn out and busy- so something had to give.
Oh my yes- so many heartbreaking challenges have come to your family. I am so sorry for your struggles, but happy to be inspired that you all manage to get out of bed and take one step at a time and keep moving forward. I appreciate your courage and your ability to share the pain. Wishing that Peace and Joy will touch you today! Judy

Wanda..... said...

Disengaged from the blogging world, but not life...that about sums up my summer too, Susan. Have thought of you often, wondering how things were. Little Nicholas resembles Lauren a bit, that must be somewhat comforting. Pleasure and pain visits all of us at times. Hope autumn is more of a pleasurable time for you and yours, Susan.

Tattered and Lost said...

Have thought of you often.

VioletSky said...

How wonderful to see your writing here again. You have been often thought of and I am sorry you all have suffered through all this hell.

Jeanie said...

I had come by periodically and when I didn't see a post was quite sure you simply weren't ready. Such a load of sorrow isn't always easily expressed to the "world at large." So, I am glad you are here with us again.

Yes, that's quite the year. I'm not sure I could stand up, which tells me only that you are a strong woman of powerful grace and I admire you so very, very much.

I think it was from Ruth that I found you. Ruth, who works not far from me. It reminds me -- we must, must, must make it a point to meet. Especially now that she's not blogging.(Unless she sneaked in when I wasn't looking!)

And Nicholas. I'm sure you are hearing all sorts of recommendations to pass on. Let me add another -- the book Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs by Judy Winter. It's on Amazon and her Winter Ramblings ( blog is targeted specifically to parents with special needs children. She's an amazing woman who has walked the walk. Personally, I think her book should be read by every nurse or teacher or parent -- special needs or not.

Today you posted. Today I'm here. How strange is that?

Barb said...

So glad you've taken time to post again Susan. Your family has withstood so many challenges this year, but now will also have the gifts of Nicholas and a new baby. Glad you and your husband are well. I think of you often.

Susan Drummond said...

Ruthie, I had a feeling you would be the first one to drop by. :) What wonderfully inspiring words you write to my heart. Of course, you have always inspired me, and uplifted me, been there for me. The year of hell seems to be balancing out, so maybe we can relax a little and just enjoy.

Next July can't come too soon. :)

Susan Drummond said...

Judy, thank you for your kind words and your presence here. It warms my heart that you still are interested in what I have to say. Peace is what I'm looking for, so thank you for that wish. Take care. :)

Susan Drummond said...

Wanda, I've thought of you as well. We're so close in distance that it feels as if you're just down the road from me. I think that Nicholas looks so much like Lauren, especially his mouth and chin. It is comforting to see her in him.

I hope you and your lovely family are all well and happy. :)

Susan Drummond said...

Tattered, that's very sweet of you. Thank you for coming over. :)

Susan Drummond said...

Sanna, it has surely been "annus horribilis", to quote the Queen. Time has helped make it easier, and now that we don't have to face a trial any longer, it's better.

It's so good to hear from you, my friend. :)

Susan Drummond said...

Jeanie, serendipity has brought you here. Ruth did bring us together a couple of years ago, thank you, Ruthie.

Thank you so much for the recommendation! I've read one book that was very helpful...Down Syndrome Parenting 101 by Natalie Hale. She seemed to hit all the right points, but I definitely want to get different perspectives.

I'll check out Judy's blog. Again, thanks. :)

Susan Drummond said...

Barb, thank you for thinking of me. When I was in Colorado, I really would have loved to meet you, but I was only there for 4 days and I'm not sure my friends would have understood. Not to mention, I would have had to ask them to drive me to where you are. Maybe the next trip out I'll get to meet you.

Thank you for coming by. :)

Judy said...

Special peace art for you today!
Thinking of you!

Susan Drummond said...

Judy, thank you so much for the lovely peace symbol art! That was so thoughtful and kind of you.


Cindy said...

Dear friend, It was such a pleasure to catch up through your prose this morning! I'm so sorry to hear about so many hardships your family has gone through. It sounds like you are overdue for some form of calm now. If it's true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, you are one strong woman!

Sending you hugs and hopes for better times ahead!

GailO said...

Oh my you weren't kidding when you said "Year from Hell"!! You are one strong grandma, mama, wife! It is wonderful that through all your family's trials and tribulations you found the strength to deal with them and the ability to see the blessings hidden within.

I do hope that you have had your share of troubles!

And your new grandbaby is adorable!

Anonymous said...

It's so nice to see you back and to get updates on your family. Nicholas looks like a sweetie pie. My best friend from high school had a downs son 3 years ago and he too has an older brother to hold his hand through life. There is peace in that and his pictures are always so joyous.
I'm so sorry that this past year and more have brought so many challenges, but with challenges come rewards and you will be a grandmother again :) Yea!
Don't be a stranger and keep writing.

Susan Drummond said...

Cindy, that certainly has been my motto of late. I'm still alive, so I guess I must be stronger, though I would be more than happy to be weak for not having lived through all that. Things seem to be getting better, and I don't feel as if the Sword of Damocles is hanging over my head now, so we'll see.

Your hugs and well wishes are very much appreciated, dear friend.


Susan Drummond said...

Hello, Gail! It's so nice to see you! When did you reverse your moniker?

Yes, hopefully only good times ahead for our family. I think we deserve some. The baby business is certainly going gangbusters. :) I agree with you...Nicholas is wonderful! :)


Susan Drummond said...

Stacy, thank you for coming over! We're ready for some rewards here at the Swamp and beyond. I don't want to jinx it, but hoping for only good times ahead.

Your Gage is getting so big! What a little cutie, and how blessed you are!

California Girl said...

Hi Susan; missing your consistent blog presence but you have a plate full of stuff and I admire you all the more. You always see the positives and manage to look for the sunny spots between the shadows. I have much to learn from you.

The photographs are wonderful. How cool you & Ruth see ea other from time to time. I bet you two are dynamite together. Much love. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Susan. I decided to jump over here tonight, and I was happy to see a new (to me) post. I realize September has come and gone, but I'm glad you gave us an update.

You've had quite a year. I'm glad you found some justice, but it seems paltry in comparison to the treasure you've lost. Still, I'm happy that you found some measure of justice.

Nicholas is quite the handsome little fellow. I know he will bring you joy.

I'm glad that I checked in on Thanksgiving Eve. I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday. All the best, Susan.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

I think of you often.
Hope things are well.