Bob, on Father’s Day and more…

June 19, 2016

Dear Bob,

Today, I finally found the courage to write to you about my loss, yes, losing you. Since you left, life has stopped. To no end, the sorrow dominates my heart, mind and physical well-being – consuming, paralyzing, unforgiving sorrow. Many questions come to mind – Are you happy where you are? Why did you leave me? How about me and Harper and Shirley who are missing you so much?
A year ago we did so many wonderful things in our lovely home – new paint inside and outside, new kitchen, improved backyard. Moving around them without you gives me such sadness. The roses suddenly gave up, while the hydrangeas became too slow with their blooms. No trips, no shopping.
Waking up every day has become too much of an effort that Harper is very upset. He expects you to show up but decided that he’ll be the man of the house, more protective than ever of me and Shirley.
A young couple fell in love with our home. Not surprising because our home is filled with the aura of love for each other. In every corner, there is an imprint of our presence, mutual bond, pride and joy, to live each day, intertwined by every fiber of our heart.
Durgesh and Bakul invited some of the neighborhood friends for lunch at the place to say goodbye to us. Very sad time to leave this place after many years of waving to our neighbors, decorating at Christmas, elections at our garage and you knowing all the dogs and their owners.
Nice time to bond with Mon and Lety in their neighborhood except Harper seems to question why we are not home. He misses the grassy areas to walk on and sniff and quite unhappy walking on concrete sidewalks, not too good on his paws.
At the moment, we’re staying at Durgesh and Bakul’s home while they are away on vacation. From the window I can see our yard with the roses, hydrangea and gladiola blooms, apple tree and the beautiful arbor. Suddenly, they don’t have much meaning anymore without you and me in it.
Friday was Shirley’s birthday, not in the mood for celebration, she says, reflecting on last year’s trip to the Giants game and dinner at Delancey Street Restaurant and the many celebrations we’ve had.
Today is Father’s Day. I happened to glance at the card section at Walgreen’s and cried, staring at cards for my loving husband. You know how much I love cards – love, sentimental, funny – love giving them. It breaks my heart that you won’t be standing at church when Fr. Ray gives blessings to all the fathers.


Staircase to heaven

As Harper and I walked this morning, we paused at an area with steps toward the hill, picturing those steps as staircase to heaven. As before, I cried talking to you and God, birds flying, as if feeling my pain, whispering in my heart that as tomorrow and more tomorrows come, darkness will turn into light, lonely days and nights will turn into joy. Until then, my love, pray to keep me strong to survive this indescribable sorrow. Happy Father’s Day!


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Where love dwells, Bob lives…

circa January 2016: In every corner of our home, Bob’s presence dwells. Bob dwells in Normita’s being, who learns from him the value of unconditional love, humility and generosity; for putting up with her picture taking, her love of writing, movies, community, meetings, Sunday breakfasts, church, and many more. Bob dwells in Harper’s eyes that yearns for his dad to sleep close to him, to play, to walk, to get a haircut, to go shopping, and to give him love.
Bob dwells in his sons and their families, as a wonderful grampa to his four grandchildren, as a thoughtful brother to his siblings. Bob dwells in Shirley for treating her like his very own daughter. An Uncle Bob to many of his young friends. A colleague and friend forever to former co-workers, to Cal and GGU. A generous, humble and compassionate person to neighbors, business associates, church, gardeners, cleaning and service people. And the list goes on and on…
Present day: Pain and sorrow dwells in our home wherever I look – expressionless photographs, a rose garden that lost its lustre. In my sleeping moments, Bob’s heartbeat dominates mine and, as I open my eyes, my hope is to see him beside me, waking me to take my meds before breakfast, a start of another beautiful day for the Fenns. But he’s nowhere, leaving me to face another day with such indescribable sorrow. I pray to keep my faith alive.
I get up with a heavy heart, grab his clothes to feel his presence, while Harper looks, giving licks and kisses to console me, while Shirley offers to take me out for errands. As I sit quietly, a rush of wind blows with a whisper to lift myself to take care of things. I drive the new car Bob and I bought, not knowing much about driving it. One time this car that I thought was automatic suddenly went to manual gear; as I talked tearfully with the technician over the phone, he walked me through; in the end I told him he was among our angels.
A day of gratitude: My dear family, friends and colleagues, this may seem too melodramatic, yet every word, every expression is what I will tell my Bob if he can hear me now. I thank you all for your generous hearts, your sharing in our grief. No matter where Bob dwells, he will always treasure your embrace and your goodness. His spirit dwells in you to be our angels, to look after us, now and forevermore.

With our love,
Normita, Harper and Shirley

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Treasured memories from the Land of Aloha

Source: Treasured memories from the Land of Aloha

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Treasured memories from the Land of Aloha

Our dear friends in Hawaii.

Our dear friends in Hawaii.

Every Christmas holiday, I am reminded of the time we lived in Hawaii – the beauty of the people and its landscape. As I rummaged through folders and loose papers, suddenly my hands and eyes came upon a document. Much to my amazement it was my speech before the members of the Hawaii Filipino Chamber of Commerce back on Feb. 25, 1999, when Bob and I were honored with a farewell dinner. Yes, farewell dinner as we said goodbye to leave the Island of Oahu bound for home, San Francisco Bay Area.

With great curiosity, I read, only to discover how much friendship we gained and left in that beautiful island during our years of sojourn; how fortunate we are to have been embraced by loving people; how blessed we are to have those memories embedded in our treasure box. In that final gathering, here’s what I said:

I would like to thank you all for being here tonight to wish Bob and I the very best as we go back to the San Francisco Bay Area. Special thanks to Edna, Alfredo, Rey and to all of you for making this evening possible.

Prior to coming to Hawaii, I spent 35 years in the San Francisco Bay Area where I got a good education and had a very successful career at General Electric Company. When I came to Hawaii to join Bob, I brought with me a highly diversified set of skills. I landed two great jobs with two of the oldest local companies in Hawaii.

As I got settled, I learned something more important. And that is, how to be a good ‘citizen.’ Through the Filipino Chamber of Commerce, I learned the true meaning of citizenship. I learned that citizenship is not merely voting on election day but, more importantly, lending a helping hand to other people, being involved in the community, and being proactive on matters that will make a difference.

I never dreamed that I will be selling “huli huli” chicken, selling ice cream, selling cookies to raise money to help our young people. I never dreamed that I will be working in a political campaign holding signs and waving my hands on the streets of Honolulu. Lastly, I never dreamed that I will have the privilege of your acquaintance. Thank you for touching my life with your grace and humility.

The past few years of our life here in Hawaii have been wonderful. You gave us the warmest embrace that made us feel so special. We met the most wonderful people in the Filipino community who reminded me of how great it is to be a Filipino.

As Bob and I pursue another dimension in life, we will always cherish the wonderful memories of your friendship and support. And we will endeavor to practice what we learned from you on what citizenship is all about!

Thank you very much, God bless you, until we meet again.

This document landed in front of me from nowhere. The endearing memories of our life in Hawaii that are defined in my speech are meant to be published and shared. I am truly humbled and grateful for the lessons learned and labor everyday to live up to the promise of good citizenship in honor of our friends we left in the Land of Aloha.

Normita Fenn

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Letter to Santa: A Season of Gratitude

Source: Letter to Santa: A Season of Gratitude

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Letter to Santa: A Season of Gratitude

Dear Santa,

Thank you for posting the letters to our friends in their mailbox. Surely you know by heart what we said. We decided to publish the letter to share with others who may not have received a copy.

A Season of Gratitude

In the true spirit of Christmas, this is the season to accentuate the many elements of the word Gratitude. A time to reach into one’s soul on the people and happenings in life that bring meaning to the word.

In Normita’s words…
Gratitude to those special people who have enhanced my life, who gave me the insights and beauty of how I have become. I am grateful.

Gratitude to my parents who showed me that in spite of what little we had, to always share with others. The imprint of that gesture remains in the fiber of my being. That every little thing goes a long way to lessen someone’s pain, bring countless joy and peace to others. I am blessed, nourished by my parents’ bountiful harvest of kindness. I am grateful.

Gratitude to Bob, Shirley, Harper, Lanz, family and friends, for filling my bucket with many gifts and blessings. They make me touch nature’s petals, leaves and branches, smell the roses, feel the richness of the air, see the sun, moon and stars that light the sky. I am grateful.

Gratitude to my teachers and employers who inspired me to reach for new heights, to yearn for learning, to believe in achieving goals, to live with dignity and purpose. The gifts of compassion and inspiration from them are unique, planted and nurtured from seeds of everlasting wisdom. I am grateful.

In Bob’s words…
Gratitude to all those who have guided my life, parents, teachers, mentors (especially Pete Plummer) and friends.

Gratitude for my kids who have blessed us with wonderful daughters-in-law and adored grandchildren. Kaitlin is now in college at University of Wisconsin, Ryan, Avery and Connor are all active and good students.

Gratitude for Shirley, who is constantly helping us in many ways as she continues on her path to fulfillment.

Gratitude for Harper, he is a constant and wonderful companion. He helps to fill every day with gladness!

Gratitude for Normita, she is the most wonderful caring person. She supports me in every way possible love, comfort, encouragement … and everything else.

Today and every day, there is infinite gratitude to God for the many blessed opportunities – to hug those who enrich our life, to embrace the pain as a challenge to find joy, to reach out to a new day as an open door of compassion. We are grateful.

– The Fenns—Bob, Normita and Harper, Christmas 2015

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My letter to Santa

Normita Fenn

Normita Fenn

Posted to Santa on Dec. 9, 2013)

Dear Santa,

This is the first time I’ve ever written to you. This letter is not a wish list. This letter is to send my endless thanks for all the gifts. This letter is to also bring some gladness to those who are less fortunate.

Thank you for all the gifts you’ve given me over the years. As you know, I came from a poor family and was never able to afford the fancy dolls when I was little, those moccasin shoes that I loved in high school but could not afford. Don’t get me wrong, Santa, I have no complaints.

Santa, the countless gifts I take with me everywhere were learned from home, they are priceless treasures. Things are meaningless unless they are shared and enjoyed with others.

You’re aware of my love of singing. The song hits that my mother bought made me learn the latest hits at the time and still remember them. I sang my heart out after school everyday which gave me so much courage to sing in public at a moment’s notice.

Seriously, I count my blessings everyday for the gifts of good education and career, blessed by the presence of great mentors, co-workers and colleagues I met on the journey.

Oh, I also love to write, as you know. I’ve been told writing is a gift. For me everyone and everything have stories behind them. They need to be written to bring life, to have the moving parts dance and sway. In writing, words are merely words unless they give meaning, written with humility, kindness and passion. A moment to touch the inner of one’s being, to close the page feeling that time was well-spent.

Santa, I don’t know if you will ever read this letter due to the volume of letters from people, young and old, whose wants you need to meet. But one thing I can add here is the lesson of gratitude I learned from home, from my friends and colleagues.

In my imperfection, I am grateful for the person that I am, for my husband Bob who will go to the ends of the earth to give me everything I may want, for my daughter Shirley who is so kind and wonderful, for Lanz whose endearing memory of love is forever, for Harper whose joyful self is adorable. And there’s also my nieces who walk with me – making me feel as young as them, my extended family and friends in many places who share the joy of everyday living. I am grateful for them.

Merry Christmas,

Normita Fenn

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