Monday, February 08, 2016


We are all getting signs. On the way home from Blo-No Wednesday morning Pat and I saw an eagle flying low over a field on route 136. If that wasn't him, at least I knew he was flying free and watching over me.

Cal was watching a game Wednesday night with a friend(s) with sound muted (standard Denecke-Tuttle procedure) when Cal said to Elena, "I'd like to listen to music." For about five seconds the volume on the TV flipped on to play music from a commercial.

I had been thinking back over the last time I communicated with Adam which was by email. We talked about the 2 dragon coins from my mom's house I had found in a box in the basement I wanted to give him. He was excited that I now had one to give him (I wasn't sure I had the original one my parents had given me for Adam the year he was born). It was bugging me that I had actually deleted my emails very recently and I couldn't read the messages and find out the date I last heard from him. Over the weekend, something messed up my email, and I shut everything  down on my computer and when I restarted the next day, my email came back in Safe Mode. All my messages were back, and I could see that I sent him a message on 1/29/16 that he didn't reply to. The conversation about the dragons took place on Sunday January 24th.

A quick trip to the attic to retrieve Adam's box of baby memorabilia revealed that I the original one plus the two from my parent's house. I was able to give Eli, Cal and Ethan each one before the memorial service. For those not familiar, these coins are housed in beautiful silk covered boxes with tiny bone fasteners. Perfect.

Illinois State beats Witchita State on Saturday after the service. Go Redbirds!

Denver wins the Superbowl (Adam's birthplace). Go Broncos!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Celebrating the Life of Adam 2-6-16

I went to bed smiling for the first time in five nights last night. I woke again around 2:15 a.m. crying. That's how it goes.

Friday night was a Vick-Tuttle-Denecke-Porter night to remember. Excellent food, Mom. Many memories, stories, love, music, and dare I say, alcohol passed around. I am pleased to have keep my 16+ years sobriety in tact, and could find patience and humor with those who chose otherwise. I will have to say my parents made the right move taking their old piano to their new home, as it put Adam's father Bill at ease and reminded me what first attracted me to him. Ethan and Bill jammed the blues on the piano: Bill, Eli and Hannah freestyled "I'll Fly Away" on piano, ukelele, and trumpet; and Bill played and sang a heartfelt  "Your Song" by Elton John.

Adam's memorial service was more perfect than I could hope. An outpouring of love, stories, hugs, food, plants, flowers, tears, and professionalism was sincerely felt. Thank God for Uncle Tim, Uncle Kevin, Uncle Chris, Aunt Betsy, Grandpa Vick, Tim Yu, Ashleigh Lockhart, and Pat's guts, emotions, insight, intelligence, and willingness to share the Adam they knew. The music was freaking out of this world (Bill, Jordan and Ethan you have gifts most of wish we had a fraction of). Everything came together with divine intervention (thank you Adam and God) from the slideshow Eli and I put together to the food spread Brenda laid out for us.

The weather was gorgeous, time and temperature yesterday read -99 degrees (hilarious Adam) and ISU beat Witchita State (Cal thanks you). I have to hand it to you, Adam, your timing was impeccable.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Everything Changed

When I can't sleep, I write. When I don't know what to do, I write. At 2:30 p.m. on 2-2-16 my life split in half. It's now before and after that moment. That patient in the chair across from me will be etched in my story forever when I walked out of that room to my husband in the waiting room breaking down, completely breaking down. Like I've never seen and never hope to see again.

My son, my beautiful son, my best boy was gone. He died of suicide. We went straight to our two other boys.

Adam Nicholas Vick Tuttle, 27, of Springfield, IL formerly of Macomb passed away at his home February 2, 2016 in Springfield, IL.  He was born June 11, 1988, the Year of the Dragon, in Denver, CO to William C. Tuttle and Susan A. (Vick) Denecke. They both survive.
Also surviving are his stepfather, Patrick Denecke of Macomb; two brothers, Cal and Eli Denecke both of Normal, IL; maternal grandparents, Richard and M. Anne Vick of Macomb; paternal grandparents, Gary and Colleen Tuttle of Springfield, NE; and grandmother,  Ellen Denecke of Buffalo, NY. With us today are his beloved aunts and uncles Kevin Tuttle, Mike Tuttle and Julie Swearingen, Tim Tuttle, Chris and Donnamarie Vick, Betsy Vick and Charles Tackett, and his cousin, Ethan Tackett. His numerous other aunts, uncles and cousins are scattered from Maine to California to Australia and are with us in thought and spirit.
He was preceded in death by his grandfather Charles Denecke Sr.
Adam lived in Buffalo and Lockport, New York until the age of 8 when his family moved to Macomb. Adam, Shane, Derek and Justin formed a close neighborhood bond through elementary school. From a young age Adam had an instinct for the latest trends and seemed to be the first kid in Macomb with Under Armour, a Helio phone, and the fanciest paintball equipment. He wrestled from 3rd through 10th grade, often giving up 10-15 pounds due to his small stature. He played oboe in the band, earning first chair when the other two oboes didn’t show up for the tryout!
Adam graduated from Macomb High School in 2006, earning the distinction of “Most changed since freshman year.” He then attended Spoon River College obtaining an Associate’s Degree where he re-caputured his love of learning. He worked at the Old Dairy through high school and his years at Spoon. He then transferred to the University of Illinois at Springfield and graduated with a BA in Psychology in 2011. He completed an internship at the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Illinois offices.
Adam worked at Kiku and Little Saigon restaurants in Springfield for the past five years. Adam enjoyed music, literature, Asian food, fantasy football, the NBA, and debating any topic. He loved traveling, especially to Riverside Lakes to visit his Tuttle grandparents or on road trips with his Vick grandparents. He loved a good Hot Pot, crab legs, lobster, Oreo shakes, and other “fine dining” experiences. Adam will be forever in our hearts. We’ll make it through these tough times, for you Adam.

Cremation Rites have been accorded.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Geezers in Technoland

My dad says I am not a geezer (by comparison) but I sure felt like one on Friday January 15th when Pat and I took the plunge and subscribed to Netflix. It's supposed to be so EASY, right? And so CHEAP. It was all going swell as I signed up online, made another account and password that I will never be able to access again, and proceeded to a page whereby I had to select what I would watching Netflix on. The choices were things like Smart TV, tablets, phone, Xbox, Playstation, Wii and a bunch of other crap I never heard of. Now I think my TV is pretty smart (it has HD, Dish, DVR, Primetime recording, etc), but I was pretty sure it wasn't Smart, but I marked that and tablet anyway, because those were the closest to anything I have. I then  had to select what type of shows and movies I like. After choosing Making a Murderer, Orange is the New Black and Breaking Bad, I silently hoped the FBI wasn't monitoring my computer.

When Pat got home I told him the good news, that we are now the proud parents of a Netflix account, but I wasn't sure how to make it appear on our (dumb) TV. He thought all we needed was a cord to connect a tablet to the TV and we would be in business. Our $9.99 per month fee was already climbing, but a cord couldn't be that much. He was off to Radio Shack since they are supposed to know something about what they are selling and pretty soon in he comes with something called a Roku. At a cost of $86.00. Okay, this Netflix thing is starting to add up, eh?  At this point I remember my friend Sharon showed me her Roku and she doesn't even have cable because she gets all the movies and shows she wants for free with Roku. Pretty good deal, huh?

Pat gets the Roku plugged into the TV and starts trying to manipulate the on screen menu with the clicker and nothing is happening. After a few minutes he decides to call Radio Shack (they said he could!). First he talks to a chick who asks if he has the batteries in (yes) and then tries to get him to push an invisible button on the back of the clicker. He eventually asks for the guy who sold him the Roku, cause guys know so much more. The guy tells him there's a button on the back of the clicker and he still can't find it, but in all the fumbling around he suddenly gets the menu to come up on the TV. So we are okay (for now). Next is some yelling back and forth between me at the computer and him at the TV in the other room shouting passwords and usernames from one room to the next with our geezer hearing problems.

I'm not sure what the next problem was, but it necessitated another call to Radio Shack, some swearing and more sweating. Finally, an hour or two later, $100 poorer, and on the edge of divorce, we are watching our first show. And after a weekend of binge watching Making a Murderer, and cuing up for OITNB, I can actually say it was worth it. I think.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Retirement Living

I guess no one wants to move one step away from a nursing home, but there comes a time in our grandparents, parents, and (shudder) our lives when difficult decisions must be made. I'm grateful a nudge became a voluntary decision by my parents to move into a retirement village (being surrounded by old people "geezers" is something they never wanted to do). In my eyes, this was wiser than being forced into a nursing home prematurely because of a broken leg or hip.

Two events conspired (possibly three) to prod this move earlier this fall. My mom fell down the stairs (one of two flights in their home of 19 years), luckily only bruising her tailbone. And my parents long time cleaning lady 'disappeared.' The third event was last year's hospitalization and my dad's long recovery at home. As both bedrooms are on the second floor, this required careful planning for my dad to minimize his stair climbing in order to be given his intravenous antibiotics twice a day (lovingly referred to as his 'egg') for over six weeks. Both my parents managed this amazingly well, and dad even recovered to the point of riding his stationary bike again.

The new one level home includes all the maintenance, appliances, your choice of carpet and wall color, utilities, huge garage, and even cleaning once a week and breakfast if you want to trek over to the dining room. They will even hang your pictures or your television on the walls. Don't like the shelving or need another outlet? Included. Boom. I don't think mom is exactly buying it when we all say, "We want to move in here!" But seriously, it's just a whole lot easier and safer. While it may not spark joy at this time, having access to all levels of care will ease future transitions and be more convenient if mom and dad's needs differ in the future.

They said they are doing it for us kids, but if they really hate it? Pat is only 4 months away from qualifying to live there, and me, a mere 2 years.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sparking Joy and Laughter

By now you have probably heard the phrase "Does it spark joy?" bandied about. If you haven't, well, get on the internet or your nearest smart phone because it is everywhere. I first saw it on a Facebook share, then I caught a segment on TV, but when a client was singing it's praises, I jumped on board and checked out Marie Kondo's amazing book at the library. Actually, I started tidying before I even got the book.

In a nutshell: Kondo is a Japanese organizing guru whose method is simple: Get rid of anything that when you touch it, doesn't SPARK JOY. Okay, if you read the book, there are about a million other rules to her system including the order in which you tidy, the timing, how you fold and replace clothes, sticking to categories, not tidying another's belongings.

It sounds a little goofy, but the amazing thing is, it works. Even if you can't or don't follow all the rules like me (telling your off season clothes you care about them because "this type of communication helps your clothes stay vibrant" really?!!? who does this), I have lightened my load immensely. It was much easier than I thought to empty my closet and drawers, and then carefully replace only the items that sparked joy. This gave me the permission I've been needing to discard most of my wardrobe. I like her ideas for making all the items in your dresser visible by rolling your socks like sushi and standing your shirts and pants up after carefully applying her folding method. I bet you didn't know that you can transmit energy to your clothes through your hands, and thus increase their resilience and sheen!!

Now to the part I dislike about all self-help manuals: Kondo warns us that you must strictly follow her plan. Otherwise, you will 'rebound' back into disorganized chaos, which I guess is akin to relapsing on drugs. I'll let you know how that turns out, as no one could possibly go to the lengths she prescribes, least of all me.

Sparking joy has spawned a weekend of jokes in our family, (when we traveled to Clarksville), and inspired closet cleanings and unsolicited advice for my parents who are moving the middle of next month. It has filled my trash and recycling bins, and given a pre-holiday boost to the local thrift shops.

Betsy mentioned to Chuck that she, too, was going to be getting rid of anything that doesn't spark joy, and he replied, "How long do I have to pack?"

Chris went home and cleaned out a closet, and finding an old Patriots jersey, he put it on (per Kondo's direction), and immediately went into a sneezing fit. Apparently, the dust was pretty thick in his closet. Betsy heard this and told him, "Your closet doesn't spark joy, it sparks allergens."

Tidying Up (mid stream)

Saying good-bye to my original Uggs and "thank you for 7 winters of service"

Monday, November 09, 2015

Why I Cry

I thought maybe writing this little essay would answer a baffling question. Let me bring you back to Wednesday when I was innocently telling my supervisor how much I was looking forward to some events coming up in my personal life. Namely, Eli's senior recital (yesterday) and my nephew's performance as Don Quixote in his high school's Man of La Mancha (next weekend). As I was trying to say this I got completely choked up and had trouble speaking. In true counselor fashion, she gave me a moment and then asked what the tears were about. I haltingly replied that I often cry when I'm happy or proud. She went on to tell me a touching personal story about Man of La Mancha and helped normalize the emotion I feel when talking or even thinking about certain experiences, particularly hearing vocal music.

Fast forward to Friday afternoon when I was in a meeting and someone mentioned living in the 'mystery' of life, and embracing that. He described it as seeing a piece of art that moves him deeply and when trying to explain why, cannot. That resonated with me as I can't put into words why I cry when I even think about a church full of people singing Silent Night, my nephew singing The Impossible Dream, or a choir singing The Pasture. I have cried in band, jazz or orchestra concerts as well, but it's usually vocal music that pierces my heart.

At one point I thought I cried because I internalized the message, "It's not okay to be happy" or it's fraternal twin sister, "It's not okay to be proud." Sometimes I think it's because I am so unmusical. Or perhaps I took the Buddhist noble truth "life is suffering" to heart. Sometimes I use my cry meter to determine authenticity (eg. if I don't cry at emotional content, there's some insincerity going on).

I really appreciated the advice I got about how to "get through" my nephew's performance; I was told, "just cry." Regardless of what I do or how I look, I am going to bask in the beauty others make surrounded by my loving family. I may have to continue to live in the mystery of why, and stock up on Kleenex.