My two oldest boys are on the same little league basketball team. Last Saturday was their first game. They both seemed to have a good time running around in what can only be described as organized chaos by all participants: lots of double dribbling, traveling, and getting confused on which basket they should be shooting at. It’s kind of like watching a Sacramento Kings game.
This was my first little league anything I’ve attended as a parent and was curious as to how the other adults would behave. I’ve heard stories from neighbors about a crazy parent or two who yelled at their kid or do something else stupid or embarrassing at little league games. My few memories of participating in little league baseball as a kid is also full of parents (not mine, thankfully) and coaches who acted like three year olds.
Thankfully all the adults behaved like, well, adults. No one complained about any calls, how much playing time their kids got, or anything else that happened on the court. Everyone, even the kids, were good sports and the kids went home happy that they had a chance to play “real basketball” and get a treat from their coach after the game.
Hopefully the well behaved adult behavior will continue as the season goes on.
My column last week started a discussion on whether or not the experience of having a photo of my late daughter, Hope, finally up in my home had changed my mind or made me more sympathetic to about displaying photos of the late spouse. After reading through the back and forth in the comment section there seems to be some confusion on my views over how I’ve chosen to remember the past and start a new life. So I thought I’d take today’s Widower Wednesday column as a chance to clear things up.
I’ve never been a proponent of having the late spouse’s photo up in a home if that person has remarried. If you’re willing to fall in love again the widow(er) should do everything they can to make the new spouse feel the center of their universe. I don’t display photos of my late wife in my home and never will. When I chose to marry Marathon Girl, I made the decision to start a new life. That means I put the past life in a place where it wasn’t going to get in the way of the life I was starting with Marathon Girl.
The only time I’ve thought it appropriate to have some photos in the home of the late spouse is when the widow(er) still has minor children living at home. In that case I’ve always best place for them is in the children’s room. Other family and common areas of the home should have photos of the new life—not the old. Those places should be one where the new spouse can feel comfortable spending time and creating new, wonderful memories.
I’ve also never had a problem with anyone displaying photos of deceased children or other dead relatives in a home. Just because I chose not to display a photo of Hope doesn’t mean I didn’t think of her from time to time. I think about her more than I’ll ever admit and she will always have a special place in my heart. However, when I married Marathon Girl I didn’t see a point of having a photo up that would bring me to tears. That would have been detrimental to my marriage and relationship with Marathon Girl. Looking back, I have no regrets about that decision. If Marathon Girl would have chosen to omit Hope’s photo from the Christmas gift, I would have been okay with that too. How I feel about Hope has no bearing on whether or not there’s a photo of her in my home.
All of the photos and other things from my past life I choose to keep are stored in two cardboard boxes in a closet in my basement. It’s been three or four years since the last time opened them and the last time I did was to pull some records that were stored there. I doubt Marathon Girl would have a problem with me looking at the contents occasionally if I so choose but that’s never really been an issue because unless I really need something from the boxes I have no intention of ever opening them again. I don’t need to look at photos and other trinkets to remember Krista or our life together. The feelings and memoires of my past life are stored in a special place in my heart where they will always remain. However, 99 percent my heart belongs to Marathon Girl and the family we started together.
I’ve never had a problem with a widow(er) having a memory box and looking at the contents occasionally or even visiting the cemetery—something I haven’t done in nine years. However, looking at photographs or doing something else to remember the late spouse shouldn’t make you sad or interfere with your feelings for your current spouse. If they do, you should either stop doing things that remind yourself of your past life or evaluate if you should really be married in the first place.
Others have told me that they know of widow(er)s who have photos of the late husband or wife up and the current spouse doesn’t mind a bit. Personally, I’m not into threesomes. Marriage is making two hearts one. If you introduce any more hearts than that, you’re asking for trouble. If the new spouse doesn’t mind photos of the late spouse up, that’s their business. However, I still have to hear any compelling arguments or facts that show how having a photo of the late spouse up makes a marriage and the relationship between a widow(er) and the new spouse stronger.
A person who married a widow(er) deserves to feel like and be treated like that person’s only love. No exceptions. My inbox is full of stories from women who have broken hearts because the widower they love can’t let go of the past enough to move their lives forward. Just yesterday I got an email from a woman who has been married to a widower for two years and is now going through a divorce because she spent every day of her marriage feeling like second pace. Personally, I can’t think of a worse way to live than constantly feeling like you’re competing with a dead person.
Krista and Hope are part of my life and always will be. They made me, in part, the person I am today. But Marathon Girl and I have no problem discussing them or my past marriage at appropriate times. But our focus isn’t on what I lost ten years ago but about the wonderful and beautiful life we’ve built together, our children, and the future we hope to share both for the rest of this life and in the next one.
Ten years ago I was at the lowest spot at my life emotionally and mentally. Through a lot of hard, hard work I have rebuilt my shattered life into something that, back then, seemed like an unobtainable dream. I have been blessed beyond measure in every aspect of my life because I made the decision to put the past behind me and focus on the future and building a new life with a woman that I love more than anyone else. My life wouldn’t be anywhere close to what it is today if I had let a photo of Krista or other parts of my past come between us.
We only get one shot at this life. Just one. I have chosen to put the past where it belongs and move forward in life with Marathon Girl. I have no regrets or second thoughts about that decision. We’ll be married nine years next month. They have, by far, been the happiest and best years of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And I’d be a fool to let something from the past destroy what I’ve worked so hard to build.
Something weird is going on with Goodreads. While I was rating some books last night, I noticed that one of them had the following message across the top of the screen: “This edition is in danger of being removed from Goodreads. Will you rescue it?”
One of my books with the message. Click for larger image.
I clicked the Learn More button and got the following message:
At Goodreads, we make it a priority to use book information from the most reliable and open data sources, because it helps us build the best experience for our members. To that end, we’re making a major change.
On January 30, Goodreads will no longer display book information that comes from Amazon.
This includes data such as titles, author names, page counts, and publication dates. For the vast majority of book editions, we have imported this data from other sources. Those few remaining editions for which we haven’t found an alternative source of information will be removed from Goodreads.
Off to the left Goodreads then gives the visitor an option to update the information and rescue the book so long as 1) they can get the information from a reliable sources like the author’s website (you must submit URL along with your submission) or a hard copy of the book in your hands.
What you see after clicking Learn More. Click for larger image
I checked my three books on Goodreads and found that the Kindle editions for my two traditionally published books had that same message on their page while the my self-published book did not. (Yes, I rescued my books.)
This leaves me with several questions:
1) Why is Goodreads removing Amazon book information from it’s website?
2) Why don’t they consider Amazon book information a “reliable and open data source”?
3) What do they consider an “reliable and open data source”?
4) Why does this just seem to be affecting Kindle editions of the book?
5) Why did I have to rescue my traditionally published books but not my self-published one?
Scouring their website didn’t give me answers. Several Google searched didn’t either. Off the top of my head the only reason I can think of for doing this is that there’s a lot of copyright infringement going with Kindle books and they’re having a hard time sorting out the real editions from the fake one. But that’s just an educated guess.
I did email Goodreads asking them the reason for this change but as of now haven’t received a response. (Their website says it may take several days to reply to emails.) If they respond, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, if anyone has any information on why Goodreads is removing Amazon book info from their site, shoot me an email or leave a comment below.
Update: Thanks for the comments. It appears it is an Amazon issue which, I admit is a tad surprising. I think I’ve found the official statement from Goodreads here. Part of what it says is:
Amazon’s data has been great for us for many years, but the terms that come with it have gotten more and more restrictive, and we were finally forced to come to the conclusion that moving to other datasources will be better for Goodreads and our members in so many ways that we had to do it. It may be a little painful, but our aim is to make it as seamless as possible for all our members.
Amazon data that we will stop using includes data such as titles, author names, page counts, and publication dates. For the vast majority of book editions, we are currently importing this data from other sources. Once the imports are done, those few remaining editions for which we haven’t found an alternative source of information will be removed from Goodreads.
I wish they’d give a little more detail. Please send me any links if you have them.
Update 2: Goodreads finally got back to me. The content of their email is below:
Thanks for writing in. For years, we’ve used Amazon’s data, and while they have always had certain restrictions and requirements, those terms have gotten harder and harder to adhere to. We have been working as hard as we can to find a new, independent source of data. Ultimately, though, this deadline is Amazon’s, and they have told us that we must stop using their data by January 30, and we have to meet this deadline.
Looking at the bright side of this, we’ve never been able to use Amazon data in our mobile apps, and we’ve had to show Amazon buy links and only Amazon buy links on all book pages sourced from them. Obviously, that will now change. Ultimately, we feel that while we would have chosen a more relaxed timetable for all of this, having our own data will make Goodreads a stronger, more independent site.
Just a reminder that if you’re engaged or married to a widower or even divorced from a widower, I’m looking for real life stories to share in my next book Marrying a Widower. If you’re interested in submitting, read the submission guidelines then send me an email with your story.
The hardest part of my previous life to pack up and put in storage was photos of my late daughter, Hope. There was a part of me that wanted to keep at least one of up somewhere in the first apartment Marathon Girl and I shared but, back then, I couldn’t look at the photos of her hooked up IVs, tubes, and monitors for more than a minute without my eyes filling with tears. Though Marathon Girl had no objection about hanging a photo or two of Hope in our new home, I just couldn’t do it. I was moving on. I didn’t want any reminders of events or people that might hold me back from starting a new life. The photos stayed in the box.
Even though it was a hard choice to make, I never thought twice about that decision or once regretted it. I charged ahead and fully embraced my new life. Aside from a picture of Hope at my parent’s home, there were no other visual reminders of her. And I was just fine with that.
Then back November, the family was driving home from a college football game and, much to my surprise, Marathon Girl brought up the subject.
MG: Remind me again why you don’t have any pictures of Hope up.
Me: ~Gives her a quizzical look~ That’s my past life. I’ve got five wonderful kids and their photos up instead.
MG: Have you ever thought about putting one up?
Me: ~Glances in her direction wondering why she’s asking these questions ~ I can’t stand to look at them. It makes me sad to see tiny body hooked up to life support. That’s not exactly a time in my life I like to revisit.
MG: ~ silent for a beat ~ Well what if you decided to put one up?
Me: I wouldn’t do that. Besides, it wouldn’t be fair to you.
MG: What do you mean?
Me: We haven’t had one up our entire marriage. I don’t think its right for me just to wake up one day and decide that I need to put one up eight years after the fact. I don’t want to be like those widowers people email me about who take down photos or something one day and the next day have everything back up.
MG: That’s not the same thing.
Me: It feels like it.
MG: What if I was okay with it.
Me: Still doesn’t seem fair to me.
Me: What’s up with all these questions?
MG: Nothing. It was just something I was thinking about.
Me: Care to elaborate?
MG: ~looking away~ Not right now.
Fast forward to Christmas morning. Most of the presents are unwrapped. The kids are busy playing with their new toys. There are two presents left for me to open. Marathon Girl gives me the first one. From the look on her face I think she’s going to burst into tears.
I open the present. There’s a large frame with three photos of our oldest three children’s hands. One is holding a basketball, one a football, and the other a flower.
She hands me the second present. I open it. There’s a large frame with three more photos in it. Two are of our youngest two; one is holding his favorite toy, the other (a baby) has her hands together.
The third photo is of Hope. Not the photos of her hooked up to machines that I remember. Instead it’s one that my mom took of her small fingers wrapped around my finger—one I had forgotten all about.
Marathon Girl wraps her arms around me and leans her head against mine.
Me: They’re beautiful. Thank you so much.
MG: I wasn’t sure how it would go over. I worried you might not like it after I brought up the subject last month.
Me: It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.
MG: It seemed wrong to do this without including the hands of all your children.
Me: You’re right. All six of them make it complete.
That night we hung the photos in our living room above the piano.
Last week I finished the first draft of Marrying a Widower. It’s definitely first draft quality so no one will be getting a glimpse of it until it’s gone at least two more revisions. Right now I’m half way through the second draft.
One thing I’m noticing about this book compared to Dating a Widower is that I’m focusing a lot more on helping the woman decide if tying the knot with a widower is right for her. Even if the widower moves on and makes you the center of his universe there are things about his late wife and their marriage that always seem to crop up. As of now about half the book is helping you decide if the widower is ready to take the plunge again while the other half asks women to do decide if they are. When I started writing, I didn’t expect the book to take this turn but hopefully readers will find it helpful.
Also, please keep sending in your stories for the book. Read the complete guidelines if you’re interested in having your story included in the book.
Much is being made of Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital. The narrative goes something along the lines of Mitt making millions while thousands of ordinary people lost their jobs. (Queue evil, cackling laughter.) While this narrative may play with those who are envious of the wealth or others and have no idea how to operate a business, I owe a big debt of gratitude to those who are willing to risk their money on companies in trouble.
During my professional career I’ve worked for three tech companies. Two of those companies were bought by private equity firms while I worked for them. A third tried to find some private equity investors and was unsuccessful. The results?
Both companies that were acquired by private equity firms lived on to fight another day. Yes, it meant that some employees lost their jobs after the purchase was finalized (both times I kept mine) but the end result was that the companies were given a second chance to turn things around. I was actually very relieved when one of the companies was bought because it was bleeding money very fast. If the investment hadn’t occurred, the entire company would have closed its doors in a matter of months costing ten times as many employees their jobs. Of the two companies, one was eventually sold several years later at a loss. The other become leaner and meaner and, as of now, is doing quite well.
The tech company that was unable to find investors eventually shut its doors and laid off all its employees. An injection of capital would have not only stopped the company from closing but also injected much needed leadership that could have saved it, made it profitable, and brought on even more employees.
It’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback and criticize the decisions Romney or others at Bain made after buying different companies. But no one seems to be asking what would happen to those companies if Bain Capital or someone else hadn’t stepped in. Companies can only create jobs or hold on to existing ones if they’re making money. Companies that can’t make a profit eventually close their doors. This affects not the employees who worked for these companies but customers who use that product or service. (I say this as someone who drives a Saturn.)
Private equity companies do everyone a service by evaluating companies that are in trouble and deciding if they’re worth saving. Job losses often occur after any acquisition but pale in comparison to an entire company closing down. Bain Capital may have laid off employees but it seems that most of their investments have generated far more jobs than lost with many companies, like Staples, becoming phenomenally successful and employing thousands upon thousands of people.
I owe years of employment to those willing to inject capital into unprofitable or mismanaged companies. I tip my hat to the men and women willing to undertake that challenge. And I wouldn’t hesitate to vote for one as POTUS.
The following comment was posted in the comment section of a previous blog entry. It was a good enough question that I thought it would make a good Widower Wednesday topic.
My W and I are living together and talking about marriage. We were talking about it awhile back. I was trying to figure out why he was so resistant. He screamed out “I did that once and she died.” I’ve encouraged him to speak with his counselor about this. How do you overcome the feeling that love equals loss?
He repeatedly tells me he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me. We even are planning on children. I’ve told him my reason for putting off children is him putting off marriage.
I understand your boyfriend’s concern. When I was falling head over heels for Marathon Girl I had to stop and think about whether or not I wanted to go through the possibility of losing someone again. At the time I was still reeling from Krista’s suicide and there was a part of me that knew if I fell in love again, there was the possibility (however slight) that she could pass on before me and I’d be a widower again. Yet that same chance of death existed (even though the thought never crossed my mind) when I married Krista. Yet I still married her.
We all know that we’ll eventually all pass on to the next life but that doesn’t stop millions of people from getting married every year. Thousands of widows and widowers fall in love and willingly tie the knot a second time even though they have firsthand experience of losing a spouse.
Why do they do this?
Because when you fall in love with someone enough to marry them, you want to experience all of life with that person. And life isn’t always pretty. After you get married, yes, one of you could eventually die but you could also go broke, lose a child, have the bank foreclose your home, become sick or ill with a horrible disease, get fired from your job, total your car, or experience other setbacks that are part of life.
When I married Marathon Girl, I knew there were no guarantees in life. Together we’ve experienced hard times and good times together but with her by my side the downs have been more bearable and the ups have been more enjoyable. We’re a team and we’ll be together until one of us parts from this life and then, if all goes well, we’ll be together forever in the next.
I don’t know your boyfriend well enough to know whether he’s really freaked out about losing your or simply playing the widower card because he doesn’t know if he loves you enough to tie the knot. But I do know that once people find that special someone all the concerns about what might happen go out the door. Whatever his reason, I think you’re wise to put off having children until he’s put a ring on your finger and made vows to love you forever.
Due to a million other commitments, I wasn’t able to watch the Broncos game today. However, I’ve been watching the highlights non-stop since I’ve got home.
Admittedly, I was a Doubting Thomas. I didn’t think St. Timothy had what it took to deliver the Broncos from the jaws of the Mighty Steelers. Yet God delivered another miracle for the Broncos faithful. It was beautiful.
It’s been a very warm and dry winter in Utah–the warmest and driest that I can remember in the 30 plus years I’ve lived here. This Christmas was the only the second brown one I’ve experienced in this state. Usually we’ll have one to feet of snow on the ground by now—snow that has been on the ground for at least six weeks. But all we’ve received is two brief snow storms that have dumped less than an inch each time.
For the most part the dry, warm weather has been nice and has extended the amount of time we’ve been able to do things outside. I’ve been able to play football and basketball with the boys outside most of the winter. I’ve also run more than normal this time of year; the warmer weather is a good incentive to add an extra mile or two to my runs.
It’s weather like this that has been one of the big reasons that Marathon Girl and I have thought about relocating to places like Houston or Phoenix if the opportunity should ever arise. It’s been nice not to be cooped up in our home for months on end. And even though the kids have complained (but only a little) about the lack of snow for sledding, I think they’ve enjoyed riding their bikes and playing with their friends in 40 or 50 degree weather.
The only downside to this warmth is that that Utah isn’t pretty in the winter when there’s no snow on the ground. The northern part of the state is an ugly brown gray mess. When we were in Houston in January years ago at least there was some green. And Phoenix always looks like a desert, albeit a pretty one, no matter what time of year it is.
Still, I’m grateful for the warmth. For now it’s as close Houston or some other warm climate as we’re going to get.
Marathon Girl and I got a write-up in Utah Valley Magazine. The article (and others in the magazine) focuses on achieving goals. My section is about how I made goals to rebuild my life after the death of my late wife. Marathon Girl’s section focus on running. If you don’t want to read, I at least encourage you to check out the beautiful pictures of Marathon Girl (just ignore the ugly guy next to her). From the article:
Abel Keogh is as uncomfortable with change as the next 6-foot-3 guy. But after becoming a widower in 2001 when his pregnant wife took her life, Abel realized if he didn’t embrace change he also wouldn’t embrace happiness.
Over the next several weeks, Abel forced himself to go through a mental exercise of deciding where he wanted to be in five years. He made a list of 30 or 40 things he really wanted to do, and every day he lived his life as if enacting all of the changes he envisioned.
One if his primary goal was to marry again and have a family. Fifteen months after burying his wife, he married Julie—who he calls “Marathon Girl” on his blog. They quickly added five children, who are ages 7, 6, 5, 2, and 5 months.
Many in the widow/widower world get comfortable in their grief and self-pity. Abel knows there is a powerful stage in the next process.
“When I chose to change, I realized I had a chance to create a new life and do things I couldn’t have done before,” he says. “You have to figure out how to adjust or you can get smashed by it.”
On Nov. 10, 2011, Abel marked the 10th anniversary of his first’ wife’s death with a thoughtful and upbeat post about moving on. He had crossed everything off the list he had made previously.
“We can make the life we want to make,” he says. “We’re the ones who hold ourselves back.”
Abel held himself back by not initially forgiving his first wife for taking her life.
“Once I stopped being angry and blaming her, everything else fell into place,” he says. “For others, this might be losing their job or having their spouse walk out on them. Part of the healing process is moving on and getting past the victim mentality.”
Three days ago I started writing Marrying a Widower, the follow-up book to my Dating a Widower book. I hope to have the book available no later than May 2012.
As with Dating a Widower, I’m looking for one or two real life stories to add at the end of every chapter. The stories you submit can be positive ones, “learning” experiences, or something in between. The purpose of these stories is to help readers know if the widower they’re dating is ready to tie the knot and if marrying a widower is right for them. If you’re interested in sharing your story, you must be engaged to, previously engaged to, married to, divorced from, or in a co mmitted lifelong relationship with a widower.
I’m particularly looking for stories that can address the following situations:
How did you know the widower was (or wasn’t) ready for marriage?
How did you learn to communicate with your widower?
What are some ways you made the late wife’s home feel like your home?
How did you handle the late wife’s family being part of your new life?
How did you successfully blend families or deal with the widower’s adult and minor children?
What are some new traditions that you and the widower started that helped make your relationship seem new instead of a rehash of his previous marriage?
How did you deal with burial arrangements, wills, and other end of life issues?
What are some things the widower does to make you feel like number one? What are some things you do to make him feel like number one?
How did you set expectations so the widower realized you were a different person than the late wife?
If your widower does his best to make you feel like number one, how did you overcome any insecurities that still made you feel like second best?
To submit your story for consideration, send me an email. Please keep submissions between 250-750 words. You can submit more than one story but please send them in different emails. (This way I can organize them for quick reference.) All submissions must be received by February 15, 2012. I’ll be letting people know if their essay will appear in the book by the end of February.
If your story is selected, you’ll receive a free copy of the Marrying a Widower book as soon as it’s published. To protect your privacy, you can publish your story under a pen name if you wish.
Happy New Year, everyone. I hope 2012 is off to a great start for all of you. I’m making changes to my blog this year in order to give readers a better idea what they can expect from this blog. My goal is to not only write more often but make the blog more predictable and interesting for readers.
Starting today the following columns will appear every week:
Monday – Column will focus on writing, publishing, industry changes, and other writing and book related topics including current writing projects.
Wednesday – Widower Wednesday columns will continue.
Friday – Will focus on current events, politics, and things of that nature.
Appearing at least once a month (maybe more depending on what’s going on in my life)
Tuesday or Thursday – Family related posts. What Marathon Girl, me, and the kids are up to.
Saturday or Sunday – Videos, pop culture, sports, and lighter topics.
Whether you’re new to this blog or have been reading for years, I hope these changes will make the blog more enjoyable.