Crystle’s Cup

I am fortunate that I am able to continue volunteering at hospice during the pandemic. Most of the administration and support staff are working from home. Many volunteers are also staying home. 

The Hospice Niagara communications team is working hard to keep us all connected while we are apart. Each week they produce a newsletter and we are all asked to share a picture and a brief story on a given topic. We have shared recipes, music lists, and much more.

This week the topic is our go-to coffee mug. That is an easy choice for me. The difficult part was that we were asked to use just one word to describe what my cup means to us. I chose wife for my one word; but I wanted to share more. So I have taken to my blog to expand on that single word.

There are so many layers in my choice of the word wife as the lone descriptor for my cup. It feels like peeling an onion. The first and most obvious reason is the fact that this was Crystle’s favourite cup (mug). Crystle was a coffee fanatic. She never started a day without coffee, and I made sure she was always supplied with caffeine. Black coffee. As long as I can remember, Crystle has consumed her coffee naked—the coffee, of course. Her coffee was always naked. No cream. No sugar. 

Now, take, look at the cup. Flowers. Crystle loved flowers. This time of year we would be off to the garden centres to purchase flowers for the outside of the house. She planted annuals and created her own planters for our deck. We had lilacs, hydrangeas, and hyacinths in our back yard. That was never enough, she always wanted a bouquet of fresh flowers in our home.

The colour. The handle and trim on this cup are red. Hands down Crystle’s favourite colour. Another reason to enjoy this cup.

I have saved the best memory for last. Like most women, Crystle loved to shop. She preferred to shop alone because she often had nothing on her list but was ever in search of an amazing bargain. She would spends hours wandering though shops. Much of her shopping was for her beloved family and friends. She would seldom purchase anything for herself at full price. 

I happened to be with her the day she spotted this cup in one of the wineries here in Niagara. It was NOT on sale. And, it was the only one. She picked it up, looked at the price and put it back. She walked around the gift area and ended up back at the cup. Still not on sale. I am certain they suspected she was going to try to shoplift the cup. I finally convinced her to splurge on herself. She giggled. She smiled and the entire room lit up. We took the cup home with us.

There can be no doubt why this is my go-to cup. It’s not full of sadness, it is full of love.

Canada Book Awards Winner

I am pleased to announce that my book was selected as a winner in the 2020 Canada Book Awards. Thank you to my publisher, Tellwell, for helping me through the world of book publishing and marketing.

I Don’t Want to be a Pirate!

I have been fortunate to work with a wonderful publisher, Tellwell Talent. The book has been published now for almost six months. The marketing consultant at Tellwell is providing me sage advice. My book has been entered in award competitions for 2020. It has participated in a giveaway through Goodreads, Amazon’s book focused social media arm. I have set up an author page on Facebook.

It has been suggested that I join grief groups in social media and set up an Instagram presence. I believe this is good advice, I truly do. But something gnaws at me.

I realize that I don’t want to be a pirate! If you are a Seinfeld fan, you may understand the reference. Let me explain.

The sitcom series Seinfeld is, for me, the best series every produced for television. Seinfeld is an institution in our home. Everything that happens in normal life has a reference in one of the episodes. I own the DVD set for all eight seasons and Crystle and I have watched every episode more times than I am able to count.

In one episode, Jerry gets himself into a situation where he has agreed to wear a puffy shirt because he said yes to a ‘low talker’ when he could not hear what she was asking. Kramer tells Jerry that the shirt is setting a new fashion trend that makes him look like a pirate.

“Jerry, you’re going to be the first pirate,” pleads Kramer.

To which Jerry replies forlornly, “but I don’t want to be a pirate!”

No, I don’t have a puffy shirt in my closet. But where I relate to Jerry is that I don’t want to be an expert in grief. I feel bad when I respond to Tellwell’s marketing team saying that I don’t want to do Instagram for grieving.

When I decided to write my book, it became a therapy for me. I felt it could help others to read about my walk through grief in an open and honest manner. But I never wanted to be the expert CNN calls when they have a story about grief.

Let me clarify, I am happy to listen to others as they walk through grief. Anyone who walks through grief becomes an unwilling expert. For those of us who have trod this path, we learn that the best thing we can do is simply listen, and perhaps share a hug.

I feel that this blog has run its course. I am not sure what new information I can offer on grief, because at this point in my journey, I feel my place is to listen rather than speak.

This website will continue to be my author page. I would like to write another book at some point. I plan to start a new blog focusing on spirituality. The link will appear on this web page and I will be more active, I think, on social media.

I hope you understand this does not mean I am leaving Crystle in my past. I try to live every day in the present moment, so each day the first thing I do is greet Crystle. I wear her wedding ring on a chain around my neck so it rests near my heart. She is coming with me on my new journey. I could not imagine living a day without her.


This picture has been hanging in our home for years. It still holds a prominent space in my apartment. Crystle loved it, and so do I. It embodies our life and our love in so many ways.

We loved the ocean and spent so many vacations on the Maine coast I cannot count. Nothing made Crystle happier than strolling along the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Me. She could not wait to take Quinn, our grandson, to her favourite place by the sea. She wasn’t able to enjoy that but I will make sure Quinn sees his grandma’s favourite place by the sea.

The picture screams spontaneity, don’t you think? Surely this lovely couple didn’t plan to dance on the beach in the rain. Maybe the rain had spoiled a picnic when they came across this beach and decided to enjoy the time alone on nature’s dance floor. Whenever I was able to surprise Crystle with a spontaneous event, I was rewarded with her biggest smiles.

Then this picture shows a couple who love each other deeply. And while they love family and friends, they cherish moments alone, hand in hand; heart to heart. That was surely Crystle and me.

The funniest memory is our dancing. We weren’t very good, but that didn’t stop us from dancing, most often around our kitchen floor. We took ballroom dancing lessons about ten years ago—it didn’t last long when Crystle found out the instructor insisted on the man taking the lead. I can’t help but laugh as I remember those times together. We resorted to dancing in our kitchen to John Pardi’s ‘Head Over Boots’ country song.

For me, it is good to sometimes sit and reflect on our love together. I just can’t dwell there.  I keep dancing.