Two Years

Dad Last Photo

Dad’s Last Photo

Two Years ago today we were moving Mom (and Dad) from their house to a trailer (mobile home) and waiting in vigil for Dad to die.

As soon as the last box was loaded, and we got some pizza in us, that’s exactly what he did. Died.

Timing. Dad had it.

We joke that he chose then to pass because he didn’t want to move to a trailer. But deep down, we know better. He was ready to go, and once he knew Mom was all set, he went.

Last year, on this day, I wrote him a letter.

This year is different. Something has shifted and I feel more at peace. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sad and shit, but I’m okay with it too. And I would love to have him back, hale and hearty and whole. (Not as a Zombie Dad.) But apparently someone(thing) had other plans for him. Maybe somebody needed something built in the otherworld. Or heaven needed a tinkerer. Dad was a worker, I can’t imagine him being idle in the afterlife.

A few days after Dad died, I was driving in my car and I had a wave of feeling come over me that the light had gone out of my world. How could I ever be happy again?

Someone changed the light bulb, and I have hope again. And sometimes: happies. It gets better all the time.

If you want to read through my journey with Dad’s illness, here are all the posts. Some of them are very good.

Henry Edmunds Davis – A very good man

Henry Edmunds Davis – A very good man

Me, Henry and Edmund - Wedding Day - July 3, 2004

Me, Henry and Edmund – Wedding Day – July 3, 2004 [Click to embiggen]

Today we lost Henry Edmunds Davis, Edmund’s father and my father-in-law. He was a very good man.

While I have some fun, funny stories about Henry, today I remember the man who welcomed me into his family with love and compassion and an open heart. Who looked at me as a daughter. When he was in the hospital last fall, and Edmund and I drove from Maine because he wanted us there, he was so moved we came, he cried. He was grateful and humble. A good man.

I prefer to remember Henry as he was at our wedding. This was before the cancer, when he was planning a trip to walk the Appalachian (or at least planning on planning the trip), while his sister and mother (Ed’s aunt and grandmother) were still alive. He and Chris were anticipating their retirement together.

When he first had brain cancer, in 2008, he was very fit; he was planning on taking people hiking the same week he was admitted in the hospital. After his first surgery, he bounced back, not quite his old self, but close enough. He was able to drive again; he and Chris traveled all over the country; they visited us a few times; we started a tradition of attending Boskone (a SciFi convention) together; he read a copious amount of books. Then, last August, the cancer came back. This time we were not so lucky. He had a stroke, and then another, and never really walked again.

Like me with my Dad, there was no unfinished business between Edmund and his Dad. Ed and I are blessed with great parents, which, when they do pass, makes it much easier, I expect (and harder maybe). Our only resentment would be we’d want them to stick around longer. In Henry’s case, his quality of life was not great, so it is a relief he is not suffering any longer.

Ed’s Mom imagines a heaven for Henry that has jazz music, body surfing and glorious hiking. All the things he loves.

Back in Pennsylvania

We made it to Allentown. What a difference a month makes, Henry looks a lot different. Definitely looks like he’s on his way out.

He’s only eating a very little. This morning he had a fig newton. One fig newton. I would call that not eating, how about you?

He hasn’t really recognized us yet. Too sleepy, perhaps. We’re here, though. That’s a good thing.

In a Fog

If you read my husband’s blog as well as my blag, you might have already seen his post of today. Henry (Ed’s Dad) is doing worse. It’s nothing we didn’t expect, he is dying after all. Funny, doesn’t really make it easier.

I expect we’ll be going back to Pennsylvania. Whether it’s this weekend or next week, we are not sure. We are leaning toward next week.



Same letters. Switch them around, totally different meaning.

Hugs! Not Ughs!

I need a hug.

Dear Dad

Dear Dad

My DadDear Dad,

How’s it going?

A year ago you died. It was also the same day Mom moved into her new trailer at the Hamlet. Your timing, per usual, was impeccable.

The plan, of course, was for both of you to live at the Hamlet. I suppose that you (and God) had other plans.

We know you wanted to make sure Mom was settled okay; she is. We know you’d want Mom to do okay; she is – considering you’re gone. We’d all much rather have you back to your former smart-ass self, making us donuts out of canned biscuits, cooking weekend breakfasts, tinkering on one of your projects, baking real biscuits, and sharing a family meal with you smacking your lips and exclaiming “It don’t get no bettah!”

We miss you.

Life has gone on.

I’ve been dyeing my hair bright pink. I told Mom I wish you’d been alive to see it, because I thought you’d like it. Mom told me you wouldn’t like it. But I told her, even if you didn’t like it, you’d be amused by it. My pink hair. You would tease me about it. No worries on that front, by the way, both Mom and Edmund give me enough grief about the hair (and I give it right back.)

Bill is doing well. He spent almost every weekend last summer helping Mom out at Camp Cull. The floor is finally in the basement. This summer might see another bathroom and sleeping area so Edmund and I can stay over. He’s still working hard up in North Anson. Taking care of business.

Ed’s Dad Henry is not doing well, the Brain cancer came back and he had a major stroke. We are waiting for the other shoe to drop. I suppose you and Dot will have some company sooner than later.

Other than that, Edmund and I are doing okay. We’re working at the same jobs; I’m going to take up balloon twisting again. I’ll need to get up the gumption to find a regular gig so I can practice, as you always said “God hates a coward!” Working on it.

Mom is exercising regularly and spending time with friends. She gave Max up last fall, it was hard but he was getting to be too much for her. He was adopted out right away, so we feel good about that. Loki the cat is still a pain in the ass. Mom’s going to take him up to camp this summer instead of leaving him in Westbrook. We still meet almost every Friday for dinner. Today we’re going to have lunch at the Mall – just like old times with you.

I miss you, Dad. I miss your sly sense of humor. I miss that twinkle in your eye when I said something particularly clever or funny. I miss your insight. I miss your delight in good food and spending time with family.

I am grateful and I feel blessed to be your daughter. You always made me feel like I could do anything I wanted to. Your delight in my successes and my snark kept me going – keeps me going.

I love you.

Your daughter,

Lanna Lee

For Henry

For Henry

Me, Henry and Edmund - Wedding Day - July 3, 2004

Me, Henry and Edmund – Wedding Day – July 3, 2004 [Click to embiggen]

I’ve had one of those days. Left the house at 7:30 a.m. and got home at 11:20 p.m. I worked, had two interesting and exciting doctor’s appointments (that I will talk about later), went out for dinner and an improv show with my Mom.

While I was at my second doctor’s appointment, I looked at my Facebook app on my phone. Edmund posted on his blog that his Dad, Henry, will have his brain surgery tomorrow.

Henry, Chris, Me and Edmund - Thanksgiving 2003

Henry, Chris, Me and Edmund – Thanksgiving 2003

Henry has Glioblastoma multiforme. Brain Cancer. This is a recurrence, he had his first bout in 2008. We are lucky they can operate.

The thing is, I am not in the thick of it. Henry is in Philadelphia. Edmund and his Mom are in a hotel nearby. Ed’s sister and her husband are in Allentown, PA. And I am here in the WB (Westbrook, Maine, for those of you who are not familiar with my vernacular.)

Henry Davis and George Hamm

Henry Davis and George Hamm at the Comedy Connection, Thanksgiving 2011

I am not in the thick of it and I feel disconnected and I am also still dealing with my father’s death this past April.

And I haven’t talked to Edmund since a little after lunchtime and I think he’s sleeping now and I don’t want to wake him because the surgery is at 7:45 tomorrow morning and he might need his beauty sleep. I am torn.

My heart is in Philly right now.

I really, truly lucked out when I got my in-laws, Henry and Chris. They both opened their hearts and welcomed me whole-heartedly into their family. Henry is a kind and gentle man, and he loves his family without reservations; he and Chris are as proud of ME and MY accomplishments as they are of their own children’s achievements.

Like my parents did, Chris and Henry have a loving partnership that is beautiful to see. When Eddie and I got married, we only hoped to emulate both sets of parents for our relationship.

Tomorrow morning as I prepare for work, I’ll be thinking of Henry going under the knife, and Eddie and Chris and Melinda and Robert as they wait, and wait, and wait.

Full Stop

I can’t really write what I am thinking right now. I want to write what I’m thinking. Edmund is in Pennsylvania to be with his parents and sister and brother-in-law and I am here in Maine. With my cats.

Ed’s dad, Henry, has a tumor in his brain. Based on the brain cancer he had in 2008, we are pretty sure this is cancer too. I don’t know all the details because they are being filtered through phone and text and I don’t know what’s really going on.

And it sucks. I told Edmund, “but I’m not better yet.” I’m still getting over my own Dad’s death – why put us through the wringer again? I am ill equipped to be the best support I can for Eddie, and that sucks.

Guess I’m going to have to borrow Mom’s proverbial big girl panties. {Not the actual ones.}

Ed is where he needs to be. And I am still here in Maine. If he is still out there in a couple of weeks, I will be joining him for a while. We are hoping that everything goes well.

The good news is that, after being told the tumor was inoperable, the same surgeon who operated on Henry in 2008 said he could operate. And the date keeps getting moved up. Initially they were thinking Monday the 10th, and now the plan is to do the surgery on Wednesday the 5th.

I am physically in Maine, but my heart is in Pennsylvania. I hope I made the right decision.



Henry Davis and George Hamm

Henry Davis and George Hamm at the Comedy Connection, Thanksgiving 2011

Ed’s Dad has been told he can’t drive any more. This is a huge deal for many reasons, but mostly because of what it might mean, that his cancer is back.

So for now we will remain hopeful, knowing that his previous MRIs showed nothing. His next scheduled MRI is on Monday, and we should know more after that.

Again, we count our blessings. As Eddie says in his blog post, we’ve been living on borrowed time: Henry’s recovery from his bout with cancer was a miracle of sorts. My brother says, “He’s a walking miracle.” That he is.

I don’t think my heart can take it.

So far, 2012 can suck it.

Bittersweet Independence

Bittersweet Independence

Dad the Chef

Dad the Chef [Photo by Betty-Jean Bennett]

July 4th. This was one of Dad’s days. He was also a big fan of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Anything that would get the family together.

For 30 years, on the 4th we’d gather at Dot Mithee’s family camp on First Davis Pond in North Guilford.

Mom says he’d ask people six months ahead of time, “You coming up to camp on the 4th?” Everybody was invited. Both sides of the family (Mom’s and Dad’s), friends, and even their dogs were welcome. Mom and Dad would provide chicken, hot dogs and hamburg. Mom would make some potato salad, three bean salad, spaghetti casserole and maybe a (booger) broccoli casserole. After that there was pot luck. Aunt Rose would bring her famous biscuits. Others would bring macaroni salads and sweets. If you went hungry, that was your own fault. People brought their own beverages.

Dad and Bill would attach a huge tarp to the side of the camp, plus a couple of pop-up tents, for shade and for a place to sit if it rains. Years ago, Dad made several wooden benches that were placed around the property.

In the past couple of years, Mom and Dad kept telling me and Bill that they were going to stop the 4th of July celebration. It was too much for them to handle anymore, the camp had no running water and the stove was a bit tetchy. Since Dad got their own Camp Cull ready last year, we were glad to hear that the celebration was going to move there (just a mile away) instead of disappearing entirely.

Then Dad died and we couldn’t do it. Too much too soon.

In the 1990’s I missed a couple of the 4th celebrations, I was living in Boston without a car. Some years I’d make great strides to get there. I haven’t missed a 4th celebration since then. So it’s a bit weird to not be trucking my ass up the highway toward Guilford, Maine. Instead I’m still in my pajamas in Westbrook, with no plans. I’m okay with that. I am sure we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas together as a family, that’s soon enough to experience long-held family rituals without Dad.

As far as me, I’m doing well. I am feeling much better. Better than I’ve felt for a few months. The trip we took last week was truly restorative, just what I needed. So I face today with sadness, but still with hope.

Depressed Lanna is Depressed

I don’t like to keep complaining, but I guess I have a reason to. So I’m going to just up and say it, depressed Lanna is depressed.

Now, this doesn’t mean that depressed Lanna doesn’t have fun. I had a good weekend hanging out with Trisha. I enjoyed going to Southern Maine Pride. I can have a conversation without bursting into tears. In fact, I can have a conversation and laugh and have a relatively good time.


My temper is much shorter. I take things more personally. Sometimes I might over-react about something. (Might.) (Okay, will.) And having fun takes so much more effort.

And really, it’s only been 3 months since Dad died. It seems like forever ago. But I don’t even think it’s been 90 days.

I just want to snap out of it.

I can’t.

And I’m afraid that I haven’t even come to grips with what Dad’s death means. Every time I think of the implications – no 4th of July party, his absence at Thanksgiving and Christmas: I start panicking.

No Dad trying to get out of wearing his teeth, “I didn’t forget them, I know exactly where they are.” No Dad teasing Mom about how “It must be that Guilford Education.” Or eating a delicious meal and smacking, “It don’t get no better.”

So be it.

It really fucking sucks.

I suppose it will get better.

Tapping my foot.



Dot MitheeLast night, Dot Mithee passed away peacefully after a long bout with cancer.

I’ve known Dot Mithee my whole life. She grew up down the road from my mother, in North Guilford Maine. As a child, I looked forward to her visits. The house would ring with sass and laughter.

My parents rented the Mithee camp on First Davis Pond every July for close to thirty years. Dot would come and stay in her “Shanty”, a small cabin on the same property, and she and Mom would stay up talking into the night.

After her Mom passed, Dot started spending holidays with my family. She’d come for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner, this year she stayed over on Christmas eve last year. (Here is Edmund helping her shave her head.)

I don’t know what else to say without dissolving into a bunch of unseemly curse words. It was too soon. Too much. Mom and I went to see Dot on Friday, and when we left we felt like there was more time. That we’d see her again. That she’d get to go to camp again. And whatever pain I am feeling, I can only imagine what my Mom is going through. She lost both of her best friends, my father and Dot, within a space of a couple of months. I am so glad that Mom and I visited her last Friday night.

Another glorious day in suck city.

So I will do what we always do when someone we love passes. I will remember the good times. Dad and Bill teasing Dot unmercifully – and her giving it right back to them, or cackling merrily. Quiet nights on the pond, with Dot and Mom catching up after not seeing each other for a couple of months.

What I will remember most is her glorious sense of humor and positive attitude. She was a ray of light, put out too soon.

CampMom, Tom, Dot and Me

A Day for Lilacs

A Day for Lilacs

It would have been my parents’ 46th Wedding anniversary today.

Their wedding flowers were lilacs. This was for two reasons: they were in bloom and they were free for the taking. Every year since then, my father would find some way to get my mother lilacs when they bloomed. Here in Southern Maine they were blooming at the beginning of May, when we had my father’s funeral.

Pictured is the bouquet of lilacs my pal Trisha made up for us, refreshed with new lilacs stolen from the senior housing development next to my house. Lilacs have gone by now, but they’re forever immortalized in picture form, saying a thousand words and the like.

I love you Dad. You should be here right now.

I love you Mom. Happy Anniversary.

Welcome to “The Club”

Welcome to “The Club”

I’m coming up on a tough week. Tomorrow, Monday June 11th, would have been my parents’ 46th wedding anniversary. Friday, June 15th, is my birthday. And Sunday, June 17th is Father’s Day.

If this is your first time here, my Dad, Walter Maheux, passed away this spring. So to be hit with three “firsts” in one week is a bit daunting. And it brings me back to a private Facebook message my friend Bill Cook sent me a few days after my Dad died. Welcoming me to “The Club”.

Here it is in it’s entirety:

Hey Lanna,
I was just reading through your blog about your dad and crying and smiling.
I lost my dad October 27th, 2001.
He officially passed from complications with diabetes, but he’d slipped away to Alzheimer’s years prior.
When he was sick, everyone had advice, but one friend…who’d lost her Mom & Dad already…said you never “get it” until you’ve experienced the death of a parent.
She was right.

Welcome to “The Club”.

My unsolicited advice?
Never expect a “right way” for anything to unfold in your grieving.
Your writings for “The Last Picture Show” hit home on so many levels.
Talking about thinking there would be more time…
The last time I saw my dad was in The Barron Center. I’d visited, and he’d had a good day. “Can we go to “The Deli” (The Full Belly Deli)?”, he asked?
“Next time”, I said… thinking there would be. He passed 2 days later.

Next “The Firsts”. Those were hard. Especially with my family. He died in October, and that Thanksgiving there was a big elephant in the room that everyone tip-toed around, until I said, “Remember when Dad would…?” or “Remember that time that Dad…?”
Talk about him.
Include him.
I have a feeling that won’t be a problem with your family.

And finally, “I don’t see this getting better for a long time.”
It doesn’t.
It just gets different.
At least for me.
The images of him sick get replaced by images of him healthy.
The wishing you could talk to him gets replaced with the knowledge that , well, you can.
The missing him though? That doesn’t change.
Honestly, not a day goes by that I don’t think about him.
Some days are better than others, even after 10+ years. And even now, there are some times I have a melt down.
I’d like to think that the more you love someone, the more it hurts when they leave.
So Cry.
Get Mad!
Curl up in bed.
Feel justified thinking, “DON’T YOU PEOPLE KNOW MY DAD HAS DIED?!?!?! F*CK YOU ALL!!!!!”

It’s a sobering thing, the death of a parent.
And life changing.

But I think the humor and love in your family will help out a lot.
And I think I know where you got both.
If you ever want to talk to a fellow club member, let me know.

I asked Bill if I could share his message on my blag because it came to me just at the right moment. It’s a club that nobody wants to be in, but whenever I’m feeling down I think of The Club and know that I’m not alone.



Mom, Tom, Dot and Me

Dottie, Tom, Dot (seated), Me

Mom, who’s name is Dottie, has four brothers and no sisters. However, she calls her childhood friend, who’s name is Dot, “Sis.” I talked about Dot on Christmas Eve last year, when Edmund shaved Dot’s head.

Dot has lung cancer. She is my mother’s best friend. We lost my father very recently to the same disease. Well, he had a different type of cancer cell than she does, but both had origins from the lungs.

This is where I curse cancer and whatnot. Because it really f*ck*ing sucks.

Dot has been in the hospital off and on over the past few weeks. She is now in hospice care at home and is surrounded by fantastic people who are taking care of her and making sure she is okay. Most of these people are volunteering their time. Twenty-four hours a day. Seven days a week.

We were just informed this week that she was feeling well enough for visitors. Mom and I decided to drive up Friday night (tonight) to visit. I called to let Cindy (the fantastic woman coordinating the care) know and we found out that Dot’s brother Tom was visiting from Missouri. Great! It was a date.

I worked from home and left work early. I picked up Mom at her house. We drove to Hallowell (where Dot lives). We had a lovely time. I hadn’t seen Tom since I was a kid. While he and I went to get some takeout, the two Dotties got some alone time. And we talked and laughed and joked all night. Then we had Archie, one of Dot’s angels, take our picture together on the camera Cindy left behind just for that purpose. Archie was also nice enough to take a couple with my camera (above).

And we talked about Dad.

Sometimes it’s just too much, too soon.

I am grateful for the good times, for the laughter we shared tonight. The teasing. The family stories. The love.

How many times can your heart break?

…everything’s tinged with a miasma of suck.

…everything’s tinged with a miasma of suck.

Goodnight BalloonLet’s see if I can do this. Talk about how I’m really doing. [If you didn’t know, my Dad, Walter Marshall Maheux, died on March 24th, a little over a month after we found out he had stage 4 lung cancer.]

I mentioned in the most recent Bureau of Awesome Podcast that I was cheerfully depressed.

I’m functioning. I’m going to work. I’m doing side projects. I’m keeping busy. I laugh at jokes. I smile. I feel happy. I find things beautiful. But as I said on twitter today, everything’s tinged with a miasma of suck.

I drive to and from work on I-95: Westbrook to Kennebunk, Kennebunk to Westbrook every day. It’s spring and the green forest on either side of the highway is very vibrant green. And on a sunny day, the blue of the sky is bluer than blue, and the combination takes my breath away. That is so beautiful, I think. And then I’m crying, because how can anything be beautiful any more?

When Dad died it felt like someone or something sucked the light out of the world. How can life be fun without him, I thought?

So I pretend I didn’t think that.

It’s easy.

I just push it to the back of my head. But it’s really still there. Sending out suck-waves everywhere.

On his blog,, Jon Armstrong talks about his experience when his father died:

I was talking about grief with my family over the holiday weekend and I was struck by the time it took me to feel normal after my dad died. I figure it was around 3 years.


Balloon at Westbrook Together DaysTonight Mom and I went to the Westbrook together days. They have live music, a carnival, lots of vendors from local businesses and non-profits. Edmund and I live very close to the park, so I picked up Mom, parked at our house and we walked over with our camp chairs.

I bought some fried dough and a soda. Mom helped me eat it.

As we sat there listening to the Bob Charest Band cover Jay-Z, Lady Gaga and Gnarls Barkley, I remembered that last year it was me, Mom and Dad hanging out at Westbrook Together Days. They drove over separately, and parked near our house and we all walked over together. In fact, I took a picture of my parents that day, from which I cropped out my Mom (with her permission), that I’ve used several times when talking about Dad in this blag. Here it is in its entirety:
Dad and Mom, Westbrook Together Days 2011Last year my parents got up to dance a couple of times. This year Mom and I did some chair dancing. Without Dad there to drag one of us (Mom) to the dance floor, we weren’t going.

Without Dad.

I haven’t had a melt-down yet. Will I have one? I’m not sure. Maybe I should have one. Every time I start getting really worked up, I stamp that shit down.

Yet. Life has lost some of its awesome. Or said awesome is obscured by a funk cloud the size of Texas.

So yes. I’m doing okay. Because to do otherwise would be paralyzing.

Just wait until I accept I’ll never see him again.

Check back in three years, why don’t ya.