Forty Shades of “Gray”




“Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.”  

No bondage, no domination, no submission, just the subdued blending of black and white into the compromising shades of gray.  Gregger was MY perfect. While I consider our love story one filled with love and  passion, we were no Christian and Ana… no contracts, just vows and commitments, no S & M, just support and mindfulness.


My 40 Shades of Gray is something that comes with the maturity of wedded bliss…it’s learning to soften the lines between his black and my white (or my black and his white), conforming to the perfect shades of gray.  Practice makes perfect (well almost), and practice we did…so many situations, so many encounters, requiring FLC…Flexibility, Listening, Communication. From parenting issues to how to load a dishwasher or which way the toilet paper rolls and everything in between, our grays changed from dark to light, from light to dark. Sometimes it was the petty things and other times it was the gargantuan elephant in the room, but at the end of the day, the blending of shades required the fundamental principles that make any team work, or at least OUR team.

He was the party guy…I was the stay at home girl.

He was a sports fanatic…I loved reality and drama.

He was the daredevil…I was the timid, reluctant one.

He was suits, sportcoats, and savvy…I was sweats, a little stylishly chic.

He was hard-core Jamesons…I was sip-it-slow Pinot.

He was spoil ’em with boundaries…I was overindulge.

He was a saver…I was spend, spend, spend.

He was pragmatic…I was quixotic.

He washed and loaded…I wiped and straightened.

He retreated…I shouted.

We blended just fine over the past 40 years.  We learned life is never perfect…love is never perfect…and, certainly marriage is never perfect. But, working together to achieve the perfect shade of gray, well…that’s what made it PERFECT every day. That’s what made it all worthwhile.







The View


For over 20 years, I have gazed out my kitchen window while sipping my morning coffee. What have I seen?  Hummingbirds fluttering by, bunnies hopping, sun rising in the east, and every now and then a few wispy clouds overhead. In 20 years I think I have been too oblivious, too caught up in the “view” before me. I have been too busy rushing to straighten up, get a load of laundry done, make Gregger’s oatmeal, or catch up on social media. In other words, I never realized what was right in front of me. When we traveled, the view became a whole different world. WE actually STOPPED. We saw the world through four eyes and it was beautiful!

  •  the coastline of Italy while cruising the Mediterranean…standing on the balcony just staring at the vacant stretch of sea before us…mesmerized by the beauty that lay ahead.
  • the Eiffel Tower from our balcony in Paris last year…Gregger sipping his morning Starbucks (yes, he found one next door to our hotel) and enjoying this splendid view!
  • a harrowing chairlift ride (as I clung on for dear life) to the top of Anacapri gave us a breathtaking view of sparkling water and lush vegetation on the island of Capri
  • a smelly mule ride to the top of Santorini blessed us with vast views of whitewashed homes, blue domed topped churches, and breathtaking ocean views from one of the most iconic landscapes in Greece
  • shivering on the shores of Fisherman’s Wharf we could barely view the infamous Alcatraz due to fog, but we were lucky to make it over there and get an up close and personal view…
  • the breathtaking view of the palm trees and ocean from our veranda in Maui (just this past August)…a view etched in my  memory. Our view for coffee, happy hour, playing games, pictures (lots and lots of pictures) or simply doing nothing but capturing the view. Our view of the best sunset…yellow, red, orange…clouds, shadows, in and out…beaming light to darkness signifying the end of another beautiful day together.


Tonight I sat on my patio and saw a different view of the sunset. One that changed drastically on August 30th. While I imagined Gregger sitting across from me, Jameson in hand, recounting his day at the store, my reality was an empty chair and silence.  My view has become a bit fuzzy and hazy.  I have had trouble sharpening the exposure, adjusting the color saturation, or hiding the shadows. It’s just different because I’m seeing it through two eyes instead of four.

Each day the lines become a little bit sharper, the colors slightly brighter, and the shadows start to diminish. I look out my window and I see the same bunny every morning…I see the same hummingbird swirling by the bush every morning and it makes me wonder. I look for signs in my view. It is so different, but different is okay. Sometimes different teaches us what we never would have known. I learn something new about myself every day. I look out my window and cherish that view. It’s a different view, but I will wrap my arms around different and embrace whatever awaits me.


chip chip hooray - a true love fairytale

Chip, Chip Hooray!


So February 24th was National Tortilla Chip Day…I discovered almost every food is worthy of it’s own National celebration day, but National Tortilla Chip Day, this one would probably make Gregger smile more than his birthday, our anniversary or the birth of his children! Tortilla chips – even on his worst day, these would make that man smile! Round or triangulated, slightly salty, crunchy, crispy…simply irresistible! Every night the bag awaited him accompanied by his favorite salsa…sometimes chunky, sometimes smooth…sometimes mango mixed or black bean and corn. He munched and we caught up on the events of the day…his work, my “whatever.” A night without chips was a day unfulfilled. Best dinner…NACHOS! He would choose that over rib-eye, chicken parm, or any of his other favs. Chips covered with melted cheese melted the man’s heart (along with a cold Corona Light on the side!).

Follwing an indulgent Mediterranean cruise, Gregger gave up his precious and prized chips. He, along with our son and son-in-law, decided to compete in a weight loss challenge, so he replaced his prized chips with baby carrots…UGH! He was a beast without those chips! Did he really think carrots were going to fulfill the salty, crunchy satisfaction his chips gave him each evening? I do believe it was some sort of stress relief…that chewing, chomping, crunch. I’d trade a little paunch (not that he ever had one) for the joy of his nightly tortilla indulgence.

And that man knew his chips…no Doritos or Tostitos for him…it had to be the real deal! I hit a home run the day I discovered Whole Foods homemade variety. Now, nothing was too good for the kids or me, but, when it came to him, God forbid I went a little over the top! When he saw the price tag on those chips, his immediate response was, “Are you out of your mind? Are these chips made of gold?” One bite in and he was hooked! He would savor those suckers down to the last crumb. If I dared throw out a bag with even a crumb in sight…YIKES! You would have thought I was tossing out the winning lottery ticket! I had to time the buying of these precious bags just right…three at a time so they stayed fresh and then I prayed Whole Foods had stock. If not, it meant schlepping from one W.F. to the next because a night without chips just wasn’t the same…and substituting another brand at this point just didn’t fill the bill. He could detect a phony chip slipped into the bag with his eyes closed. This guy was impossible to buy anything for (Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries), but give him the perfect chip and he was one happy man.

I still have a bag of crunched up crumbs in my pantry…I’m sure they are stale and should have been thrown out months ago…I just don’t have the heart. So cheers National Chip Day…here’s to your chips and my Gregger!


6 months - a true love fairytale

Six Months






Dear Gregger.

Six months…184 days…4,416 hours…264,960 minutes since we said “I love you” on the Maui beach. Six months since fate changed our lives forever. There’s so much I want to say to you, yet you aren’t here. I miss you. You know that. I love you. You know that too.

What you don’t know is that I get angry and hurt and mixed up and lost. Sometimes I go outside and look up at the stars and think I can see one twinkling so much brighter…is that you? I hate being angry, but sometimes it just happens. People say I am strong. I have tried to be and most days I am. Some days are just harder than others. Six months…this just seems to be a breaking point. I’m not mad at  you…I’m mad at the situation. It sucks that you’re not here. It sucks that we aren’t together…that we didn’t celebrate our 39th anniversary or your 61st birthday. These moments will come and they will go. Life will go on but it won’t ever be the same without you in it. I want you to know that and believe you are always in my heart. You made me a better person. You made me believe in myself. You gave me the strength to get through these crappy days…to know that I could do things I never thought I could do. Sometimes I smile because I know you would be so proud. That’s what gets me through another day. Thank you. You were my prince and this is my fairytale ending. It may not be the happily ever after I dreamed of, but dreams don’t always come true. Mine did for 40 years. I won’t be greedy…some people don’t get that in a lifetime. I miss your kiss. I miss holding your hand. I miss your call each night, but, most of all, I miss that raucous snore that kept me awake for hours. What I wouldn’t give for one more snore.

I hope you are getting the rest you so well deserved…that long awaited vacation. I believe you just wanted it to last a while longer. Couldn’t we have done that together? It’s okay. I just hope you are happy and at peace. One day soon I will be too. I’m getting there, day by day. It’s like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. The corners and outside edges are in place, but filling in the middle might take a little more time. I’ll keep you posted Gregger…we’ll always be in touch!

From my heart to yours, to the moon and back, I love you!


the smile - atrue love fairytale

The Smile

Pitti Uomo June 14' 606

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
You’ll get by…
If you smile
Through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile…

Because of his smile, he made my life more beautiful. Gregger had the greatest smile…tooth-bearing, eye-twinkling grin…seriously, his smile just melted my heart. Even in the worst of times (I could be seething mad at him!), he would tug at the corners of his mouth, contorting them to a smug boyish grin, until I could no longer contain my rage…I mellowed from ranting rage to nearly quiet calm.

If Gregger smiled at you, he touched your heart. His smile embraced you like a hug, warmed you like a steaming mug of hot chocolate, and softened sadness like a warm summer sunset. His smile reached out to me several days after he left this earth…sitting on the shore, letting the waves slap at my thighs, feeling the sand sift through my toes, I looked up at the perfectly clear blue sky to see a strand of billowing clouds far off in the distance. These weren’t just any clouds…they were fittingly congregated with an opening in the center and slightly turned up on each corner, a perfect smile. I nudged Ashley and said,
“Look…your dad is smiling at us.” The tears flowed, we believed, and we sat for 5 hours gazing at that cloud. The cloud never moved…it never changed shape…impossible, right? Wrong…this was our cloud, our smile.

Later that night while out in the village, we encountered a stranger who told us a mystical Maui belief that when someone dies you will see a cloud with an opening…she had no idea that we had stared at that cloud ALL day. We were sharing stories with her because she had recently lost her mother…she was trying to offer us comfort during a difficult time. She went on to say that the significance of the cloud is  your loved one telling you they are okay and ready for you to let them go. Ashley and I stood there in awe…how could she have known? What brought us to this place for her to tell us this story? It was a chance, random encounter, yet now we knew…the cloud, the smile, Greg. It all came together and we knew…he smiled, we smiled, and then the tears flowed.

It has been six months since Gregger’s sparkling smile graced this earth, but it is etched in stone upon my heart. It will always make my life more beautiful. It brings me sunshine on a cloudy day…it raises me up when I’m feeling down…and it gives me strength when I think there’s nothing left to give. I look to the skies for more “smiling” clouds, but I carry that Maui smile with me and know he is at peace.jameson

“The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.”

Hit the pause button - a true love story fairytale

Hit the Pause Button

imageI pulled up my TimeHop this morning (a crazy app that turns back the hands of time), and I was slammed with this reminder from 4 years ago…

Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. I think it’s time to hit the ‘pause’ button.”

Rewind to 2010…kids gone establishing their own lives, Greg building businesses, and me, trying to keep balance between it all. Life should have slowed down, but it just seemed to increase in speed…the more time we had, the less we had.  I believe we were both striving for the same goals, the same “end” but Gregger worked his ass off to get there…he just didn’t know how to stop. He had so much passion for his stores, for making them bigger and better and while it took me a while to understand the incredible “drive,” I realized it was better to support than suppress. Whatever we sacrificed in time, we made up in quality because he was happy, but obviously at this time we were pushing too hard. Sometimes I think we just TRIED too hard to be happy and if it missed a beat, we thought all was ruined – what a silly perspective. Life isn’t about being happy for 8 hours on Sunday or 12 days on a vacation, it is about learning to be happy with the ups and downs of REAL LIFE. It’s learning to get through the bumps, the hills, and the mountains… If I had a quarter for all the times in 40 years we paused, rewound, or went back to “go,” I’d be a rich woman. The “pauses” can be the greatest moments in your life…they are the moments to reflect on your blessings…life somehow becomes richer, happier, and more beautiful.

We learned to pause…we learned to stop and smell the roses, see the sunsets, and recognize the blessings even when in overload mode. sunset

I am so grateful for EVERY PAUSE right now.

I reflect on those memories and smile…the pauses,  the commas, even the semi-colons were some of the best moments we shared…learning to love, laugh, and live with all the noise and madness…that’s what made it all worthwhile. Life has changed, but I still pause to reflect and remember…to count my blessings and be grateful…I hope four years from now I am still hitting that pause button to pursue happiness…it will never be the same without my Gregger, but I know he would want me to be happy, and that I will be.

Hit the Pause button now and then and enjoy the moment! They will string a lifetime of precious memories!

Little white lies - A True Love Fairytale

Little White Lies

me and gregger





One of the best lessons I ever learned from my mother-in-law was to tell “little white lies.” You’re probably asking yourself, “Why in the world would a mother encourage lying, especially to her own son?” I asked myself that same question, only for a nanosecond mind you, when I figured out that it was working in my very best interest. Now I did not make a habit of “lying” but these little fibs, these little truth “stretchers” (as I prefer to think of them) were sometimes for the benefit of myself, my kids, or even Gregger himself. The best of those “little white lies:”

1. “Something new” This old’s been hanging in my closet for at least a year.

2. “Nope…didn’t buy a thing…we just window shopped.” Please don’t look in the trunk of my car!

3. “They were on sale for soooo cheap!” These shoes were so expensive, he’ll never, ever find out what they REALLY cost!

4. “I have no idea how that dent got there!” Oops…

5. “If you say that striped shirt goes with that plaid jacket, I say why not?” I did that more times than not because I figured that was his talent..what did I know anyway!

6. “The kids really NEEDED it for school, sports, or dance.” Translated…they begged, I gave in, and, no, they just WANTED it and knew I was the sucker!

The little white lie I’ll hold onto forever…Greg’s fedora. I remember the night he walked in with that straw hat atop his bald head, and I was truly speechless. He was beaming with pride and I just couldn’t swipe that smile away with a smug remark…I just hugged him and said, ” You are simple adorable!” Well, that was his Hawaii hat…the hat he wore with pride every night on our fated trip…the hat he was wearing our last night together…I loved that hat then, and I love that hat even more now.

My best “little white lie” left me with a fedora full of memories to treasure forever.


Sunday Funday - A True Love Fairytale

Sunday Funday


 I have a love-hate relationship with Sundays…it used to be my favorite day of the week. It was “our” day together. I would sleep in a little bit (lucky to push past the 7 am mark) and awake to an already sweaty Gregger sitting at the kitchen table reading the Sunday paper. The coupon pages had been separated into piles across my kitchen counter…why he believed I was still cutting coupons, I have no idea! Sometimes I would cut them and give them to him just to make him happy. He got so excited with a Crest or Tide coupon…save a buck and he smiled! My coffee cup was neatly set out on a paper towel, spoon by its side, equal packets and my sugar free syrups all ready to pour…who couldn’t love a guy who did that every Sunday morning! Actually he did that every morning, but there was something about Sundays that made it extra special. We would sit at the table for an hour or so – he would read EVERY page of the Arizona Republic (who does that anymore?) while I read emails, checked out Facebook, and he would catch me up on pertinent news. Then it was onto bills…he’d pay them, I’d watch. Good thing I paid attention in the later years…don’t know what I would be doing right now if I hadn’t. As much as I begged him to sit for a moment or two, he never could until all the chores were done, so off he went to “pick up the poop” in the yard, sweep the patio and front step, and wash down the cool deck. Even on those Sundays when I said there was rain on the horizon and it was such a waste of his time, he insisted…a man of rituals.

We loved our Sunday walks..sometimes it was a hike at Pinnacle Peak, other times it was just a simple walk by Starbucks. We would walk and talk, sunshine beaming down on us and catch up on the week…talk about the kids…talk about life. We’d talk about our dreams, the future, even stupid, inane crap. Sometimes he’d spend it on the phone with his sister or one of our kids, but I didn’t care…we were together. We always ended at Starbucks for “our coffee time.” Maybe 5 minutes, maybe 30, but we still did it..routine. Our Sunday-Funday. Target, Costco, Home Depot…we hit all the fun spots on SDSC_0659unday-Funday…and by the end of the day we were pooped. To most people it sounds rather boring…but we loved our Sunday Fundays…we couldn’t wait until 6:00 when we toasted each other to another happy week together and another happy week ahead. Life was good.

I miss my coffee cup waiting for me. I miss my walking partner. I miss Gregger’s smiling face sitting across from me at Starbucks. I miss having someone to “cheers” me on Sundays at 6:00 to a great week ahead.  But, most of all, I just miss Sunday Funday. I still drink my coffee. I still walk. I still go to Starbucks. But it will just never be the same. I will make a new Sunday Funday one day…just not yet.


For better or worse - A true Love Fairytale

For Better or Worse

imageBeing laid up with a bum foot takes me back to the earliest days of our marriage..I lie here reminiscing of all the “better or worse” moments that Gregger endured due to his vows of “in sickness and health.” One month into our wedded bliss when my wisdom teeth when south, he was asking my parents for a 30 day return policy – my dad’s response…”She’s all yours!” The good news for me (falling fast and hard) was that Greg never saw what hit him…within a year, this 21-year old gem was falling apart. I had my wisdom teeth pulled, multiple sinus surgeries, and had contracted major migraines – lucky me, lucky him. We weathered those rocky roads, but I think (no, I KNOW) there were times he wish he had a money back guarantee. The best of our years were often rocked with my health issues and it didn’t make life easy. To be honest, I don’t know how he put up with me half the time…

Life presents so many challenges but health issues are a whole new ballgame. It’s like being thrown a curveball in the middle of a no-hitter…suddenly you know you have to completely change up your game. You put on the mitt, you catch what you can, but you drop a lot of balls along the way. In forty years we were thrown plenty of curveballs…we were both the WORST patients! We loved being the caretakers, but sucked when we were on the other side! That certainly takes its toll, but, like all the bumps, hills, and mountains we climbed, we made it through those too. I think at the end of the day we realize the worst of times always makes the “best” seem that much better…it leads to gratitude, blessings, and a true appreciation for the gift of love and life. If Gregger were here now, he’d be bugging me about elevating my foot, staying off of it, carrying over all the dishes, and doing everything for me…I would argue with him that I could do it myself and not to baby me. UGH! Oh how I wish I could utter those words…isn’t it true we always want what we can’t have? I can certainly attest to that now, but I will forever remain grateful “for better and worse.”


A Silly Love Song - A True Live Fairytale

Just a Silly Love Song

“You’d Think That People Would Have Had Enough Of Silly Love Songs.
But I Look Around Me And I See It Isn’t So.
Some People Wanna Fill The World With Silly Love Songs.
And What’s Wrong With That?

So I remember all the way back to junior high when I would belt out love songs in the privacy of my room. My sister would tell my to “shut up” as I sang “See You in September” over and over again, while pining for one boy or crying over another who had recently broken my heart. Love songs come in all shapes and sizes…there’s slow and sensual for falling in love; a little more upbeat when you’re in love; and then totally melancholy mellow when heartbreak hits. Whatever your love song, it’s intensely personal and speaks to “your heart.” We had so many…Carole King’s whole Tapestry album (the first I ever bought the Gregger); the cheesy Carpenters “We’ve Only Just Begun” (our first dance…ouch, a bit embarrassing!), and, fast forward 38 years to John Legend’s “All of Me” –  that gets me in my gut everytime. I would sing it out at the top of my lungs…he would laugh, but it would be ours “cause all of me loves all of you.”

Nowadays when those songs speak to my heart they spark so many memories..the tears stream down my face as I sing the words driving in my car, sitting at Starbucks, walking alone on a beautiful day, or winding down a workout. The words evoke a multitude of flowing memories…holding hands in the car, singing together, dancing in our kitchen,  or just a silent private moment. Whatever it may be, it is bittersweet…I love those silly songs…I love the words, the melodies, and the memories. Call me a sap but Bublé, Barbra, Barry or Beyoncé can bring out the best of mush in me any day and tears or not, I’ll keep on singing.  And as I listen I can also dream…Hey Gregger…they’re playing our song!


What’s your silly little love song?