Archive for June, 2010

Father’s Day

June 20, 2010

There were no #1 Dad mugs given.

There were no pictures.

There were no happy hugs and “Happy Father’s day” comments.

There was no “I love you Dad”.

The scale I use to judge “the worst day ever” has dramatically changed since April 11th, but suffice it to say that today was up there. The whole day has been tough. I can’t stop thinking about Jon. We tried to keep some semblance of normalcy, but it was tough.

We went to lunch like we normally do on Sunday, except that my brother and my dad weren’t there because they’re in Costa Rica, which had the strange side effect that I couldn’t even say “Happy Father’s Day” to my dad, and that was nice. Audrey was cute as could be and helped keep my mind off of things (she gave me an extra hug without having to ask, it felt really good). When we got back home my wife kept busy all day doing all sorts of little chores (including things that are normally “mine”). I sat on the deck and had a cigar but instead of relaxing I actually did some work because it kept my mind off things. It didn’t work all the time though, I had to stop and hold back the tears. Imagine looking at Java code and suddenly you get overwhelmed and no matter what you do it takes over. My wife invited my mom over for dinner and I grilled up some steaks and we chatted for a bit. She gave me a card with a nice note in it, and as hard as it was to read, it was nice.

Instead of  talking with our son, we ended up talking about something a parent should never have to do: we talked about our son’s grave site and marker that we picked out the day before. My wife and I finally decided that we should get that done, if not for us, for others to have a place to “see” Jon. We also bought plots for the two of us so that we can all be together. Jon will be buried between the two of us and we’ll all be together. Soon Hillside Cemetery, Section P, Area 142, Plots 1B, 2B, and 3B will have similar grave markers marking the Chris and Michelle Halverson family.

Unfortunately, one of them will already be completely filled out.

My wife and I ended up watching a favorite light hearted movie (“The Princess Bride”) and then I went out to watch TV. I would just sit there. I held Jon’s urn. I cried. During the day things hit me in Target, Cub grocery store, a number of times in the car, on the deck, on the couch, watching the movie and basically everywhere.

I know it’s “normal” but it still sucked. It was basically a terrible day. There were some good points, my mom and wife did a great job helping, but it was still terrible.  I miss Jon so much and at times I just don’t know what to do.

All I know is that I just try to go through one day at a time. It sounds cliche, but it’s true. Some days are so tough, other days I can handle things just fine. I don’t know what the day will be like, so I just try to deal with things as they happen.

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Photo Scanning Project: Update 1

June 13, 2010

Contrary to what you kids nowadays know, pictures weren’t always available immediately and already in a digital format. I have about 10 what we call “albums” that have actual printed photos in them. These were taken on “film”, which you had to buy separately from getting prints made. You also didn’t have immediate feedback, you had to take the film in (after you took the full roll, so it could be months later) to be processed.

It’s quite a bit different now where you get instant gratification. Heck, my cell phone (Google/HTC Nexus One) can take HD 720p video and is a 5 megapixel camera.

So I’ve got a couple thousand pictures to scan. You’d think by now automatic feeder scanners would be cheaper, but they are still very expensive. I’m using a flatbed wireless scanner (HP C4780) which is working out pretty well. The software is traditional HP, in other words, you have to install a couple hundred megs of software to make it work, but it does work well. The scanning software allows me to easily scan 3 photos at a time and it will store them where I want.

I’m using Picasa as my photo management software because I’ve been using it for a while now. The only thing that made it difficult was wanting to make use of it on my network, that is, I want to store my photos on my network and work from there. Unfortunately, Picasa stores some data in your “user” directory which makes it decidedly non-network friendly. Thankfully somebody has written a launcher that will make it work (see PicasaStarter).

So far I’ve scanned about 750 pictures. I’ve also started to go through and clean up my existing photo library. Picasa has a great face recognition feature which makes things really nice in terms of finding people. I’ve also been going through and geo-tagging photos which is another nice feature of Picasa.

I do like Picasa, but if anybody has any other suggestions, I’d be interested in at least looking at it.

I’m still only about a quarter of the way through, and these are just my photos. I’ve already told my mom that I’d scan her photos too. She takes a lot of pictures and has a lot of albums. Those albums would generally be of me and my brother growing up so I have some personal interest in those and while it will take a while to get done, I really want to do it.

Scanning in these pictures has been an interesting experience. Almost every one has Jon in it. It’s been tough at times. Many times I’ll stop and just look at one and remember the time it was taken. The upside is that I am remembering those times, and they were all happy times. While I wish I wasn’t doing this as a way to remember him and that I had him back, it is nice to remember the good times.

Here’s some advice that I’ve learned through doing this: Take a lot of pictures. In this day and age of digital photos, there’s no excuse not to. This not only applies to parents taking pictures of their kids, but also to adults when you’re with your parents.

You just never know when you’ll never get the chance to take another picture of your loved ones. You don’t want to regret not having more pictures.

As seen on “Deadliest Catch”

June 8, 2010

I’ve watched “Deadliest Catch” since it first started. It was one of the shows that Jon and I used to “watch” together (ie. we either literally watched it together, or we did separately but talked about it later). I’m a sucker for some of these shows like “Ice Road Truckers”, “Black Gold”, and a couple others.

Tonight one of the crusty old captains of the ship said something that rings so true to me, especially now. He has captained this boat for a long time and now he has his two sons working on it (and has for the past couple of years). Tonight he got talking about how sometimes his kids don’t work as hard as a “regular” member of the crew may work. But then he turned to the camera and said:

“Would I get more productivity out of somebody else other than my kids? Yeah…yeah. But then again, you know, I get to spend time with my kids and there’s not enough money in the world that can buy that.”

That’s so true. Looking back, with the 20/20 hindsight, I wish I would have spent more time with Jon, even just doing stupid stuff. It’s one of those things that you don’t always think about until it’s too late. We did spend a lot of time together, all things considered, after all, what 19 year old wants to spend all that much time with his old man? To a point, yes, but then again, he’s dealing with his own growing up and other issues, he needed his own time.

It’s one of those “woulda, coulda, shoulda” things. Would have it changed anything in the end? No. Would it make me feel better now? Yes. I do know that I did spend a good amount of time with him, and near the end, as much as he’d let me, but looking back it’s easy to find times I could have done better. I’ve come to accept this, and know that I did OK. It’s still hard to think that if I had done XXXX differently, things would have been different, despite knowing that deep down that’s not true.

Alexander’s Baptism

June 4, 2010

Last Sunday was a very happy day for our greater family: my new nephew Alexander was baptized. The ceremony went well and we went out for a great brunch buffet with my parents and my sister-in-law’s family afterwards. I now have the great honor of being a godparent to both of my brother’s children and I am very proud to be that for them.

I have to say that it was still tough for me. The ceremony was fairly quick, but at the same time, I was holding back tears while I stood up in front of the church with my brother and sister-in-law and her sister. I scrunched up the program that I was holding. I didn’t want to feel that way, I was (and am) so happy for my brother. Thankfully I got a bit distracted while I was up there because my brother asked me to take a couple camera phone pictures and then the pastor handed me the baptism candle to hold up.

Part of Jon was with us though. I almost always carry around a Zippo lighter of his. Honestly, I don’t know if he really used it, but it was his and it’s easy to bring along. In my mind, he used it and it meant something to him. I reached into my pocket while up at the altar and touched that and knew he was with us.

Little Alexander was born the night before our son’s funeral. My wife and I made it down to the hospital that night, and we were so happy for my brother and sister-in-law, and we wanted to show them that we were happy for them. That night I held that innocent newborn little boy and it was everything I could do to not totally break down. It was so hard. Here was my brother celebrating one of the most joyous life experiences they can have, and 18 hours later we were going to have a funeral for our boy. I could only hold him for a minute, but I’m glad I did. It was such a good thing and it gave me a happy feeling, even for a minute. I honestly feel that the good that was in our son was passed onto this little boy (and Jon did have a lot of good, we’ll discuss that in the future).

To make matters even more “interesting”, his funeral was on my niece’s birthday. Unfortunately for the rest of her life when we celebrate her birthday, we will, even if we don’t talk about it then, be thinking, “this was the day of Jon’s funeral”. Thankfully she just turned two, so hopefully it won’t detract from her celebrations in the future.

Jon was born almost three months premature. We didn’t have a formal baptism for him, we had the hospital chaplain baptism him because we honestly didn’t think he’d survive (he weighed 3 lbs. 1/2 oz). I never got to have this experience with my own son. I know in the grand scheme of things, it probably isn’t that big of a deal, but it’s just one of those things that hits you when you cannot have any further experiences with your boy.

As tough as it was to stand up there and celebrate this event, it was a great thing and I’m very happy for my brother and his family. Despite almost breaking down and crying while standing in front of the whole church, it did make me think of happier times of Jon.

Congratulations Nick and Jeanine, you have a beautiful boy.