Friday, November 8, 2013

My Heart, My Soul, My Daddy

It would be easy to explain how hard this past year has been on my family, but right now, none of that even matters. This last year was so much harder on my beautiful daddy. What really matters now is that he is no longer in pain.

The hard part now is that he is no longer here to guide me, to make fun of me, to laugh with me, to wipe my tears, to hold my hand, to kiss my daughter, to support my good and bad decisions, to need me, to tell me he loves me, to just listen. I will no longer be able to call him when I'm frustrated, or sad, or scared, or pissed, or excited. I'll never again hear him tell me to calm down, to be rational, to stop worrying, to think about it this way, to try to understand, to remember he's seen a lot more of life than I have. My life is simply changed forever, a part of my heart ripped from me and scattered to the wind. I'm not quite sure how to move forward, but I know he would tell me that I have to. He would tell me to pick myself up off the ground, dust myself off, and move on. So Daddy, for you, I will do my best to move forward without you. It will be hard, but I will love you forever and pray that I will see you again someday. Rest in peace.

(The following obituary will be published on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in The Oklahoman, the Birmingham NewsThe Newkirk Herald Journal, and the Lawrence Journal-World. It's hard to condense the life of such a wonderful person into so few words, but I did my best to show who he was and what he loved.)

Fred Lee Trenary

Fred Trenary (Freddie Lee), born Nov. 5, 1938, in Blackwell, Oklahoma, died Nov. 1, 2013, in Lawrence, Kansas, with his family surrounding him. He is survived by his wife, JoAnn Johnson Trenary; his son, Glenn Martin, and wife, Kelli Martin; his daughter, Tara Trenary; his grandchildren, Alexandra Martin, Makensie Trenary, and Bryce Martin; his sister, Judy McGlasson; his brother-in-law, Bill Johnson, and wife, Fran Johnson; his sister-in-law, Gina Trenary Hopper; his nephews, Jeff Morrow, Ralph Trenary, and Scott Johnson; his nieces, Jill Lane, Ann Johnson Czerwinski, and Teresa Trenary; and his dog, Chloe. His parents, Ralph Trenary and Hazel Trenary Woods, his brother, Ronald Trenary, and his nephew, Jay McGlasson, preceded him in death.

An avid sportsman from a young age, Fred was a running back on the Oklahoma 1955 All-State team and led Newkirk High School in rushing and touchdowns that year. In 1961, he was named to the All-Oklahoma Collegiate Conference Team on the defense while playing at Central State University (now the University of Central Oklahoma). Before attending Central State and earning a degree in education, Fred attended and played football at both the University of Kansas and Oklahoma State University. In 2007, he was named the best player in Newkirk High School history by The Oklahoman.

Husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, coach, and friend, Fred dedicated his early life to his family, his students and his athletes. He spent 11 years teaching history and coaching high school football and golf at Edmond High School (now Edmond Memorial High School). With 65 victories as Edmond’s football coach and 9-1-1 teams in both 1968 and 1970, he earned high marks as an exemplary high school football coach.

After taking a sales job with Fram Corporation and moving his family to Birmingham, Alabama, Fred became active in his new community, coaching his son and daughter’s baseball and softball teams from early in their lives and touching so many other young lives in the process. He was a father figure to all of his children’s friends and always a go-to guy when someone needed help. Fred was happiest at home grilling steaks, watching college football and basketball, and spending time with his family, his friends, and his dogs.

A Celebration of Life will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, at Alvamar Golf and Country Club, in Lawrence, Kansas. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Visiting Nurses of Lawrence, a not-for-profit hospice organization in Lawrence, Kansas.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Good-Bye My Sweet Boy

I’m writing this with a warm, fuzzy body lying under my desk chair next to my feet and a heavy heart. This will probably be the last time I feel this feeling for quite some time. Some of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make in this life relate to my pets, and this one has been no different. But, unfortunately, the time has come again.

I haven’t had Shakespeare since he was a puppy. He was actually a middle-aged little guy before he came to live with us. But from the moment we met, I adored him. He was pretty sick the first time I saw him. He’d scavenged a cabinet or garbage can, had eaten something toxic, and was very ill. As a young guy, he was pretty inquisitive, so it was no surprise he’d gotten into something that was bad for him. So at the request of Shakespeare’s owner, a friend of mine, I took Dakota to meet him and hopefully lift his spirits. The plan worked. Slowly during the next several days, Kota got Shakes to eat and drink, and basically brought him back to life. And they have been best buddies ever since.

So when Shakes’ previous owner was looking to place him in a new home a year or so later, I jumped at the chance to take him in. And so began my life with Shakespeare the Pug.

Pugs aren’t easy animals to have in your home. They snort, click, lick, slobber, stink—you name it. But they are also sweet, adorable, fun, spirited—and Shakespeare is all of that and so much more. He’s got a huge heart and a sweet spirit, and he’s always been happy and content just to be loved—until recently.

That first year together as a family we spent running on the beach, riding around in my Jeep with the top down, taking long walks on the bluffs, snuggling up on the couch. Kota and Shakes were happy as clams they’d found each other. Then along came Baby Kensie, so the next few years were spent with a baby/toddler tugging at their tails and ears. Shakes never seemed to mind even when Kota got a little testy. He’d let K tug and poke and pick and prod—whatever she wanted. He was just happy we wanted him around.

Our move to Kansas last year was a bit harder on the now elderly Shakespeare. He was diagnosed with diabetes soon after we arrived and almost immediately went blind. He was already mostly deaf, so blindness changed his life dramatically. And the diabetes also caused him to struggle with incontinence. For the past year, I’ve been washing throw rugs and mopping floors on an almost daily basis and, although frustrating on occasion, have been willing to do it so that Shakes was comfortable and somewhat happy, and I had my sweet boy with me. But he is no longer comfortable or happy; and, as of this past week, I’m not even sure he’s still my Shakey.

Shakes has been struggling for some time now, and though I knew this, I kept telling myself that as long as he had Dakota, Kensie, me, and a safe and cozy home, he would be OK. And much of the time, he really did seem OK. I prayed he’d slip away when the time was right (as most people do, though it rarely happens that way) on his own terms. I felt that was the way it was supposed to be. Mostly, I was terrified of the decision that I knew, deep down, I’d eventually have to make.

Well, today is that day. It’s been a solid week of pure misery for both Shakespeare and me, and I’ve decided it’s finally time we both get the rest we so desperately need.

Making the decision to put a pet to sleep is heart-breaking. Ultimately, what I’ve come to realize with Shakespeare’s situation, is that I’ve done everything I can to keep him alive—but mostly for me, not necessarily for him. I’ve told myself that I’d be playing God if I made the dreaded “decision,” and I couldn’t bear that thought. But the truth is, sometimes death is better than life. The pain it’s going to cause me to lose my sweet Shakes is hard to imagine, but the pain he’s been in day in and day out for so long is unbearable to watch any longer. So I made this decision for him today, and I pray it’s the right one.

We will miss you forever my sweet Shakes, but you will always be in our hearts. I will no longer hear your snort; the clicking of your overgrown toenails on the hardwood floors; your guttural snore; you scarfing every last kernel of food at dinnertime; your squished-faced, raspy hack; the slurping of water that seems never-ending; your sharp, excited bark; or your adorable, happy howl. And I will never again see that adorable, sweet face that only a mother could love. But I hear your heart speaking to me today, and it is telling me to say good-bye.

So good-bye my sweet boy. Kota, Kensie, and I will miss you terribly but know we will see you again someday—that healthy, strong, happy little guy I met so many years ago—if only in our dreams. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Weathering the Storm, Both Outside and In

Last night, Kensie and I had our first “tornado scare” as Kansans. Being from Alabama, I’ve seen my fair share of tornadic activity. I sat with my dad in my parent’s basement, my daughter asleep under the stairs with her bike helmet on, with tornados all around us during the 2011 storm that devastated Tuscaloosa and parts of Birmingham. I remember seeing the sky turn a hazy green color from my dorm room window my first year at KU and being the first resident to make it into the basement. A tornado touched down on campus that day. But for some reason, sitting in the state of Kansas, only myself and my 5-year-old, with strong storms spawning twisters headed right toward us, my fears were amplified tenfold.

A few weeks ago, Kensie came home from school and began asking me questions about tornados. “Can they pull a person up into the clouds?” “Can they knock our house down?” “Can they suck us out of the basement?” “Will our dogs be safe?” “Are there spiders and bugs in the basement?” I answered her questions as honestly as I could without frightening her. Then, for the next few nights at bedtime, she said she was scared and slept in my bed. This behavior lasted a few nights then finally fizzled. Turns out, they’d been studying tornados at school at the time and had been practicing tornado safety drills.

So last night, with strong storms headed our way, I knew I had to stay cool and make sure Kensie didn’t learn the severity of the situation. So I turned on the TV around dinnertime to keep things as normal as possible and to stay informed on the weather. When Kensie left the room, I quickly switched it to the news to see how things were shaping up; and when she came back into the room, I flipped back to HGTV. A pretty normal night around here, minus forgetting that even though she’s not in the room, my kid’s ears are always perked. All of a sudden, K ran into the room and shouted, “Tornado!?!” The jig was up. 

The next couple of hours were spent explaining every single noise she heard from the outside while also trying to prepare for the possibility that we might have to head down into the basement. K wouldn’t let me leave her side, but when she finally closed her tired eyes for a few minutes, I jumped up to get things ready. I moved the butcher block in the kitchen a few feet so we could access the basement stairs, which are located under a panel in the kitchen floor. I pulled out the lanterns and flashlights, and set them on the butcher block. I got water and snacks ready. I placed Kensie’s helmet, blankets, jackets and toe-covered shoes where they were easily accessible.

With all this preparation, I was starting to freak myself out a little bit. What if I fall asleep and don’t hear the sirens? How will I get my dogs (one blind and deaf, the other with an injured leg) down the steep stairs into the basement? What if our house gets hit and we get stuck in the basement? What if there are creepy bugs down there? Of course, it wasn’t long before Kensie was awake and screaming for me to come back and sit with her.

For a couple of hours last night, things were pretty hairy in this house. But finally, the warnings were cancelled, and the word “tornado” turned into the word “thunderstorm.” At this point, I was able to explain the difference between being scared and being prepared, and Kensie understood why the kitchen was suddenly rearranged and littered with all of our camping gear, out again and ready for use.

As the evening finally wound down, my daughter proceeded to talk my head off until well past her bedtime. “Mommy, after this week, I’ll be a first-grader!” “Mommy, what do you think I should do for my birthday party?” “Mommy, when do my swimming lessons start?” “Mommy, how many times do you think I can hop on one foot?” Pointing at our Pug Shakespeare, “Good rip, potato chip!” But for once, I didn’t want to toss her out the window to quiet her. I just sat there, sipped my wine, and listened.