Sunday, July 9, 2017

Small Talk & Meeting People

I've moved to the other side of chattanooga, so I don't know many people. I joined a local pool to destress and relax on the weekends. 

It's great and I enjoy it. However, the art of small talk is awkward and makes me not want to talk to anyone. I feel like I have to tell my life story when asked simple questions.  

The question asked the most is "do you have kids?" they ask while scanning the pool for the kid I'm going to point out. 

Here's the dilemma:

  1. Do I say no (easy way out) or 
  2. Do I say yes and say I have stepchildren? 
That is usually followed up with they are older and live in Alaska. Then the questions leads to my husband has died and was 20 years older than me. My stepchildren are 30 and 36 and I have a 30 year old niece who is like a daughter. 

I feel like I have to give out so many details to answer one question. 

Why do women feel compelled to ask other women if they have children? If I say no, I feel like I'm not part of the club. 


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Search for My Half-Sister Has Come to an End

I had a half-sister. A sister that I never knew personally, but had envisioned her in my mind for many many years.
Her birth name was Deborah Ann White and she was 11 years older than me.
She was my Dad's daughter from a previous marriage. Due to circumstances that only him and his ex know, he was not part of Debbie's life. Debbie was later adopted by her stepfather and I will just refer to her as a 'White' due to the privacy of her family.

My obsession of my mysterious sister Debbie began when I was a pre-teen. We knew that Daddy had another daughter and we also knew that Daddy didn't like to talk about her, however, we had one picture of Debbie that was taken when she was about 2 years old. By looking at that picture, I made up the person that she was. She would be the older sister that liked me, did things with me and we were alike. Now, I know that I already had an older sister, Cheryl, but growing up I was the bratty six years younger sister. I was more pest than friend. It would be when I was in my early 20's that I feel that Cheryl and I finally became friends. So, in my mind I could imagine Debbie however I wanted to.

When the internet came along, it finally dawned on me that searching for an unknown sister was now possible. However, the searches in those days were tough. All I knew was her birth name, her mother's maiden name and where they once lived. That was it. All my searches came up empty handed. I had no way of knowing what her new name had become. So, year after year I would start searching again and in frustration, I would give up.



After the death of Don in 2014, I started putting some money towards searching for her. I went onto Ancestry.com and tracked everything I could. I found so much information on my mom's family and dad's family, however, when I put Debbie's information in along with her mother's information, I kept coming up with nothing. It was like she was a ghost on the internet. I spend a good amount of time on the internet for my job, so I know that everyone has a digital fingerprint, however, I could not find a LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc. on Debbie. It was so odd to me. My gosh if you google me you will find this blog, Facebook, just way too much information, however, that is how I live my life. I am an open book.



So, with the help of my niece Carlie we started cross-referencing relatives that might be hers on Facebook. In 2015, I emailed possible relatives, contacting people on Facebook hoping that one of the people would lead me to my sister that I had thought about for years. During this time, I started paying for last known addresses that I found on the internet. I mailed heartfelt letters to all these addresses hoping that I would find her correct address. But each time the letters were returned "No one at this address by that name". It was sad and frustrating.

Letter mailed 9/21/2015 to Nebraska address

I had accepted the fact that she didn't want to be found and gave it a rest and started focusing on healing myself from Don's death and obsessing over finding a lost sister.

Then out of nowhere, her 2nd cousin seen a Facebook message I sent in 2015. If you know anything about Facebook, then you know that if you aren't the person's friend, your message goes to another area that is difficult to find. After a few back and forth messages, I was sure that she was the 2nd cousin of MY SISTER! However, with that great excitement, came great sadness.

My sister, Deborah Ann White died in June 1995. Many years before I would even begin my search. It was such a heart-crushing fact to accept and I still wasn't totally sure that it was Debbie that died until I spoke with her 1st cousin and the date of birth was correct, her mother's name was correct and after he sent me a few pictures. It was definite that it was Debbie and then came the realization that I would never get to meet this person that has been described as "loving, kind, great sense of humor".

Dealing with the loss of someone you have never known, but thought about for years is such an odd emotion that not many can sympathize with. I am mourning the death of my sister, my Dad's first born and it is a devastating feeling. I had thought about her for so long and imagined what kind of person she was, and to find out that I will never get to meet her and see if she was anything like us.

Also, apparently she died never knowing that she had 3 half-sibling in Tennessee that would had loved to meet her.

Her cousin and his wife have been wonderful with sending me the photos that they have, but photos pre-digital are hard to come by. They are willing to tell stories and tell us what kind of person she was, but at this time I just want to look at her picture (which by the way looks a lot like my daddy) and wrap my heart around the fact that I will never meet her. Like I said, it's an odd feeling. In time I can't wait to talk more with her cousins and hear these stories, but right now I can't. I want to, but my heart isn't ready.

She was only 33 years old when she died. So, I was 22 years old and headed to Alaska when she left this Earth.

Mourning someone you never met - how the hell do you deal with something like that? How do you reconcile that in your brain. How do you deal with losing someone you never met? It's a different kind of emotions that are twirling around in my brain.

I am grateful for her cousins and in the near future I look forward to hearing some awesome stories of my sister.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Anyone want to help a sister out?!























2017 is going into the 3rd year of being a widow.  I am ready to start the next chapter of my life, but damn it is hard. Someone point me to the right place to meet my 2nd man of my dreams! No internet dating though, that is just not me. 

So, help a sister out?!


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Need a Dating 2.0 Class for 40 Somethings!



Wow, 2017.  Time is flying by too fast and I still feel like it was yesterday that Don died. When in reality it has been 2 years, 6 months and 2 days since my world changed. I am doing OK.  I have tried dating and unfortunately I can't stop comparing the guys to Don.  I am working on not doing that, however, the moral compass of today's men is so much different from when I last dated in 1995 at the age of 22! As an almost 44 year old woman, I know that I am looking for and I am not into playing games and not into 'Netflix and Chill' kind of moment. I want a kind, intelligent, loving, emotionally mature man. But, I can't seem to find one. I've joined eHarmony, so we will see where that leads. I have so many hangups that my Mother says I will be single forever, and that they be true, however, I don't want to let go of some of the things I expect out of a man that comes into my life.

I may be judging these guys that I have talked to in the last year a little too harshly and part of that is because I am scared. I am scared of falling in love. I admit it, I am. I am scared of loving someone and watching them slowly die and for me to left all alone again. It's crazy to feel this kind of fear, but it is what I feel.  I am scared to date someone that was in Don's age range, because I don't want to have them die so much before me. So, I find something wrong with each one and I basically stop communicating with them. I become aloof and don't answer calls, texts, etc. I know that eventually this fear will subside and I hope it does, because I would love to find a guy that sweeps me off my feet and makes me feel special again. Just don't know how to find him and once I find him, I need to not let the fear of "what if" ruin it.

I need a hobby! Not sure what that can be. I thought about becoming a Big Sister, I miss doing the things that Audrey and I did together and becoming a Big Sister through the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization might feel the spaces in my heart that are trying to repair. I have thought about volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House too.  I have lots of thoughts, just need to act on them.

In closing, I love you all and if you know a nice man that would like to take a chance on a wounded, financially stable, fun woman ... send them my way! Must have a job, place to live, car with no cracked window (inside joke!) and be financially secure as well. Also, I prefer to not have any drama! See ... that should be easy to find! HA

Peace, love and light everyone!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

To the couple at Hobby Lobby:


To the couple at Hobby Lobby:

I'm sorry I must have looked like a crazed woman when you saw me looking at you, but you just reminded me of what I once had. When the young wife looked at something and asked hubby to see it and without hesitation he said "let's get it". It reminded me of what I once had. When he told her to get the matching one as well, it reminded me of the kind of sweet husband I once had as well. I wanted to tell you to cherish what you have.  Love each other so deeply that nothing can tear you apart. I wanted to thank you for reminding me of what I once had and miss so deeply. I'm glad that they just saw the look on my face and not the tear that escaped down my cheek as I turned down the other aisle.

Signed,
Susie aka A Young Widow

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Wish Fulfilled ~ Don Hoff Forever Lives at Tongass Island



This is has a hard post to write, I wanted to have some time to have been able to fully absorb the enormous amount of feelings that I went through in just planning this trip, seeing the trip through and then being able to digest the feelings that accompanied the trip.

Our float plane waiting for us.

On Monday, July 18, 2016 a clan of Hoff's (Lisa Hoff Fisher & husband Scott, Kenny Hoff, Tribal adopted brother Ken Patten, Susan, Audrey and Erica Hoff) all boarded a float plane at Carlin Air and traveled to Tongass Island. You couldn't have asked for a more perfect day. Nearly a cloud in the sky, calm waters and only a light wind. It was the perfect Ketchikan day that you only get a few times during the summer. We were very lucky and I have to think that Don was watching over us and making sure our trip to Tongass Island went smoothly.

Uncle Kenny playing Don's Raven drum

 The trip over to Tongass Island was beautiful.  I was unsure what we would see, but we saw the beautiful channel islands, the Tongass Narrows in all their splendor, fishing boats, more float planes and Alaska at its best.


The floatplane was able to land so close to Tongass Island that we barely had to get in the water. We walked along the beach there and marveled at all the clam shells that we broken open. You could see that a critter had a good feast there!

Love my brother-in-law!

Each person was given a burlap bag with their own ashes.  Everyone set off different directions to spread their ashes in the way they wanted to. Everyone had their own special moment and it was beautiful.  I wish my post could adequately describe how peaceful and serene it was being at Tongass Island, especially when Ken and Kenny played Don's Raven drum. The feeling of pride and complete happiness filled my entire body.

Strolling along Tongass Island

 I choose to spread the ashes I had at almost all in one spot when I spotted a dragonfly hovering around. I knew that was Don's sign and as I looked up, I saw a blueberry bush there! Of course Don would want to be by the berry bushes! I wasn't sure how I would feel doing this and as we were getting ready to leave, all the emotions hit me at once on the magnitude of what we just did.  We fulfilled Don's big last wish. We did it! We made it all the way to the uninhabited Tongass Island, the island of his ancestors ... we did it and I know that my Brown Knight is smiling and pleased! Life is Good. 



Don is now checking out the land of his ancestors ... he is part of Tongass Island forever.

The look of a blessed woman! Don is so happy!

Tongass Island
 


 





Wednesday, July 6, 2016

North to Alaska

Tongass Island early 1800's
Next week the girls and I will head to Alaska for a very important trip.  This trip will be to spread some of Don's ashes on Tongass Island. Don's wishes were for me and girls to go there when we were ready and tomorrow marks 2 years since Don drifted off into the Universe and I think we are ready. Some may have questioned my waiting as long as I did, and I will just remember when my dying husband was holding my hand and telling me to do this on my own time. He knew that others would not understand, but I was lucky to have a husband that knew I couldn't part with him until I was ready.

On Sunday, July 17, the HOFF girls (Audrey, Erica, Lisa and me), Lisa's husband Scott and Don's brothers Kenny and Ken will board a chartered float plane to Tongass Island. An Island that is not exactly easy to get to! I know that Don is having a great big laugh when I was trying to figure out how to get there! I thought it was a hop, skip and jump to get there ... NOPE, it is a 1.5 hr float plane ride to this uninhabited island.


The reason Don chose Tongass Island is because it is his Tlingit ancestral land. He always felt a connection to it and when we used to talk about running away from reality he always suggested moving to Tongass Island and subsist off the land.  I always laughed at the idea ... ME, subsist off the land. I am city girl! But, now Don will forever be a part of Tongass Island just as his ancestors are. It will be very powerful being on this island. I don't know how we will spread his ashes there, I think some things you can't plan and they just have to happen. But we will have Don's raven drum and will sing a song. I feel so good in my heart that we are doing this. The time is right.

I will include some pictures after we return from Alaska and I am sure will have a powerful story to tell.

MUCH LOVE, Susie

Here is some additional information I found on Tongass Island:
In the 1830's, members of the Tlingit nation's Tongass Tribe, or Tantakwaan, moved to Tongass Island from nearby Village and Cat Islands. A permanent village was established at the site of earlier Tlingit encampments.

Three clans inhabited the village: the Ganax.adi (Raven clan); Teikweidi (Eagle, Brown Bear); and Dakla'weldi (Eagle, Killer Whale). Each clan was represented by several house groups. The Ganax.adi had 8 houses, Teikweidi 6 and Dakla'weidi 3 houses. Click here to read more. 

Here is an editorial Don wrote to Sitnews regarding Tongass Island -- click HERE. Boy that man loved to write editorials!
1887 Tongass Island

Thursday, April 7, 2016

640 Days



I have been a widow for approximately 640 days.  Crazy to think of it like that.  For the last 640 days I have longed for my husband. Wished that cancer did not take away the one person that I loved more than life.  During those 640 days I have become a stronger person, I know that dealing with losing the love of my life has prepared me for whatever may come in my future. 

I am ready to start living life again.  I am ready to embrace whatever ma
y come into my life with open arms. I am not going to be afraid, as anything that has come to me has come to me for a reason. Good or bad, I have to find out. I will try to follow my head and just have fun with life. 

So, let’s get this life going again. Let’s embrace love and have a life. I am ready to discover my Second Firsts.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Special Visit

I'm sick.  I have a cold and anyone that really knows me knows that I like to be babied and pampered when I am sick.  Well, when you are a widow, there is no longer a spouse to do the pampering. My stuffy nose was horrible last night and I tossed and turned. Then around 4am I awoke from a wonderful dream .....

In my dream, I was laying down on the couch and Don came over and put a blanket on me and laid down with me. He laid there facing me, rubbing my arm. He didn't say anything. He just laid there looking at me. The dream felt like it went on forever, just the two of us laying on the couch looking at each other. No words were spoken. Just looking into each others eyes. Then ... it ended.

When I woke up, I tried very hard to go back to sleep to hopefully see him again, however, he was gone. But, I felt such a wave of peace when I woke. I smiled and felt like a warm blanket had been wrapped around me. 

I have had dreams about Don since he passed on 7/7/14, but this was the first dream where he VISITED me, not just me dreaming about him. It was amazing. I swear to you he was there with me. I felt him and the longing in my heart for him is so intense today. 

Grief is such a weird thing. Some days I am fine and think that I can go ahead and start attempting to meet someone and then something like this occurs and all I want is my husband back. It just isn't fair.

But, I am not going to focus on the fact that cancer sucks and that life isn't fair, what I am going to focus on is that once again I saw that sweet face of the man I love and I know that he is watching over me.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Standing On The Diving Board

Do I dive in again? Test the waters, see what the life of dating is like again? I'm scared. I'm nervous. Actually, I am terrified.

How do I do this? How do you figure out how to meet people and actually date when you haven't dated since you were 22.  I haven't dated anyone since 1995 ... think about that! I don't know how to do this as a 43 year old woman. I don't know the rules anymore. I don't know how you do it.

Really don't want to go to bar and meet someone, church isn't an option. Online dating? Go out with an acquaintance? Blind date? It's so freaking scary! I don't want to worry about psychos and weirdos. But, in order to move forward with my life, I may have to deal with a few weirdos, and I guess that is OK.

It's been 18 months since Don died and I miss him every single day, however, I feel that I may be able to move forward now.  Not move on, because Don will always be a huge part of my life, but I would like to have a social life again. Dinner, drinks, movies, laughter ... those are things I would like again. But, the whole concept is so foreign and unknown to me.

Wish me luck as I hold my nose and jump off the diving board, into the deep end of the pool.