25 years and 6 months

Today…….May 14th  was once celebrated like a national holiday in our home. 25 years ago today, John Dee moved to the UP. I loved to hear him tell the story about his first evening and morning in the Lake Linden house. Having Dad make the journey north with him, ordering and eating pizza from the Loading Zone and waking up the next morning to the smell of the pine trees. John would recount those memories with such joy and excitment in his voice, as if it just happened yesterday. He loved the UP so much! Those early days were spent exploring with the Hounds in the Honda….journals several times a week….always looking for an adventure. I miss those days! 

I don’t know if it’s bad timing, perfect timing or some sort of cosmic irony that John went to heaven exactly 6 months before his UP anniversary date. 25 years ago today….. In one sense I think, “how can it be 6 months”? On the other hand …..surely a million years have passed since I last heard his laugh, received a hug or one of the many daily text messages from him. 6 months…..seems surreal

While putting on my socks the other day, for some strange reason I realized I have a routine. First the left then the right sock. This particular day I started with the placement of the sock on the right foot. It felt strange. The job was complete and no better or no worse had I started with the usual pattern of the left foot. It’s trivial, but at that moment I thought this is like how life feels without John here…on a smaller scale of course…..we are working, going to school, meeting with friends and all the things but it just doesn’t feel “right”. Nothing will ever be the same or feel the same. Is that ok?  I guess there’s no real choice in the matter.This is one of those things we can not choose.  It must be ok. I need to make it ok. I made a promise to John many years ago and I need to keep my promise. 

Grief changes you…..to this person you have never been before. A person, with a title….that you don’t want. Or want to be reminded of. It changes the way you see others. Do you grumble over little things that your spouse or partner does? Try not to…..meet them with kindness and love. John and I thought we appreciated every single day….every single moment….but you know what? We didn’t. The healthy days you bet we did. But the years of stress and sickness took it’s toll. So imagine being a person who doesn’t appreciate the small things….I guarantee there will be regrets. We mostly thought we did enough…..you know what? We didn’t….so if you think you do enough….do more. Listen longer, talk sweeter….those things you will not regret. 

Of course there will be disagreements….but, if you can say sorry first, make someone’s load lighter, hug instead of disagree….these things you won’t regret. John and I kissed each other 7 times every night. Except Monday, November 13th. Because of a cold sore I had and I worried I’d give it to him. When we were at the store that night he picked out a chapstick and said, “tomorrow we are smooching”…We could have just as easily had a disagreement on Monday night that would have stopped us from kissing. I’m sorry we didn’t get those final 7 kisses but I’m thankful that it wasn’t due to a disagreement or anger. I would have regretted that for the remainder of my days. 

So we go on…..just trying to accept and embrace this new, not asked for, life. I’m not going to lie….it’s not been easy.  Even Bleau is not the same. I found him the other day sleeping on the floor on John’s side of the bed. He’s never laid there. 

I have the start of about 6 journals. When I think of something I write it down. This was not how I expect this journal to start but it’s really been weighing on me….I didn’t want to sound “preachy” or that John and I didn’t have our share of arguments. But, this is one thing that sits with me and I felt I really wanted to share it. Just do more. If you aren’t happy and can make changes do it. If you are happy and your life is complete – make sure to tell your person. Because you just don’t know when life can change. We have this one life….that is it. These are things I’ve always known but I’m telling you, it’s different once you live it. Just…do…more…..

stepping off my little soap box now 😉

It took me a few months to realize that my brothers had devised a plan without telling me. And that was that one of them would come north every month. To check on us, make sure we were ok, and to just be with us. Seriously, I am the luckiest girl to have these guys as my big brothers. These are the same guys who threw me a wedding shower! Now there might be a reason why they are so kind to me now and that’s because they were big jerks to me when we were little! Lol

It’s been really nice to see them and it really has given me something to look forward too. If I could look at the calendar and see that someone is coming, it really got me through the winter.

So the boys arrived last Wednesday and left yesterday. While they were here Joel cut my grass and they got the mower up and running for me. John had a little mishap with Gracie’s climbing rope that was attached to the tree the last time he mowed. I had a perfectly fine day. Was really excited it was the weekend and the guys were here. I was in the kitchen and I heard the mower coming down the road and then saw Joel starting to cut the grass. Something as simple as that just hit me. It seems so silly really but John loved to cut the grass. He’d turn up the tunes and away he’d go. Thankfully, I did learn to use the zero turn last summer. John taught me via a video call while he was in the hospital with the broken neck and brain bleed incident. I’m not the best at it, but I’m sure by the summer’s end I’ll be a pro! I have a fair share of grass to cut. I enjoy being outside so I won’t mind adding this to my list of outside chores. 

I have a rather large list of “things to do”. Many I can do just fine myself and I plan to really get going on them once school is out. There are a few that I just don’t have the strength or knowledge to do. Lucky for me I have the BEST neighbors and friends who are willing to help.

The guys took advantage of the nice weather on Saturday and took the snow thrower off the tractor. I warned my brother that in 10 years there was never, ever a time where changing out the implements was easy. I think he doubted me but quickly found out I was not kidding. John even had typed out notes that he kept just to remember the tricks he learned along the way

About 90 minutes and 5 guys later the job was done. The biggest problem was the bucket was not put on level ground when it was taken off last year. Some of you might remember John had a pad poured in the Keweenaw house just for this reason. Anyhow, they got the forks on for me as a few of my jobs on my list will be done easier with the forks vs. the bucket. 

That chore was done and we decided we’d celebrate at Dreamland, instead of cooking. 

The birds are around and enjoying their feeders. I’ve been enjoying sitting on the porch listening and watching them. The hummers are back too. They aren’t the only creatures back. I heard the bear was spotted at the boat launch but so far I haven’t noticed him up this way. Last year I didn’t feed the birds in the summer. Mainly because we were in the apartment and they had plenty of food and I didn’t want the bear issue. My plan is to do what my grandma June did, and that is bring in the feeders at night. I do love the birds so I hope the bear can stay away during the day. 

It wouldn’t be a visit with my brothers if there wasn’t a little fishing going on. Unfortunately, we only went once and no fish were caught.  It was pretty windy all weekend but none the less we had a good time and there was a sufficient amount of smack talk. I did catch Grace just taking it all in. 

Grace and the boys also celebrated me on Mothers Day with brunch. My heart was full! 

So my next round of visitors are the girls! And everyone is pretty excited. This will be my great niece’s first trip to the UP. We can’t wait. I’ve sort of been out numbered with the guys around here the past week. Really looking forward to spending time with the girls. My niece, sister n law Tami, and her best friend will arrive in just over a week. Should be a great time! 

Until next time……The Dee G’s (Heckler I’ve got to feel this one out…lol)






I’m not really sure how it can be March already, but here we are. Time just keeps on trucking. 

Sorry again about the delay in writing. I’m feeling a bit “stuck” these days. And I was pretty set on not writing a journal that wasn’t so sad. No promises but that is still my goal as I begin this entry.

So what has been going on with the Dee girls these days you might be wondering?…..alot! 

January found us facing a big event without John. Gracie was invited to join her girlfriends at the Military Ball. She was so excited! Because of my belief system I know John was there with me as I sent her out the door…..combat boots and all! I just love how she was wise enough to know she wanted to be comfortable! And she’s not afraid to be herself. Love that about her! It was a late night so she spent the night at her friend’s house who lives in town. Before she called it a night,  she texted me pictures of all the happenings and her smile tells me exactly how it all went. 

January seemed to have many little trials for me. The first was another darned flat tire! I quickly knew something was up and was close to a gas station so I stopped. 

I was walking out of the gas station when a gentleman stopped me and said, “do you know you have a flat tire”? Long story short he noticed because I had Bleau in the car and was admiring him. Come to find out this guy worked at a tire shop and offered to look at it for me. What are the odds? I truly felt once again like there are little angels here on earth watching out for us and helping us along the way. He was confident that with some air I could make it to the tire shop, and he was right. The guys at the shop had me up and running in no time. 

Right around that same time I was noticing I was going through lots of propane. So I was watching it pretty close in  December and January and something just didn’t seem right. So I called Tyler who built our house. Within a few minutes he called me back and said one of the guys would be out to the house the next day to double check everything. Tyler and his crew have just been so amazing to us over the years and especially the last few months since John has passed. Come to find out John had requested a particular set up so he could have hot water very quickly to the shower. I just had to laugh because John had his own ideas about things. This being one of them. His brain was always going a hundred miles an hour….thinking, planning, doing! Some adjustments were made and I’m already noticing our propane consumption is much lower. My fridge was leaking…yep they fixed that too. So thankful!! 

Gracie has been really busy with robotics. It’s really been her saving grace! She loves it so much and it keeps her busy. Being on the Calumet Copperbots team has been a dream of hers for a few years. It’s a pretty big time commitment but she loves it so much and never complains about all the time she spends at the school after hours. And because she’s happy, I’m trying not to remind myself of the two trips to town 5 days a week, equalling about 100 miles a day. But, since I’m sort of “stuck” anyhow it gives me something to do too. And sometimes I’m treated to beautiful sunsets while I wait. Copperbot competition starts this weekend with the team traveling to Escanaba. They left Thursday during the school day and I’ll pick her up late on Saturday. The following weekend they travel to Sault Ste. Marie. If they make it to States she won’t be able to attend because she’ll be in Europe.

Yes you read that correctly! I can not believe the time is coming up so quickly for her to be on this trip. She signed up about 1 ½ years ago. John and I had talked and thought it would be an amazing experience for her. The initial plan was I would go as well as a volunteer. Gracie came to us with good reason and asked that she could do this on her own. “Mom you work at the school”…..”you volunteer for everything”…..etc…she had a good point and we really felt she wanted and maybe needed to do this on her own. This is a WWII tour so they are going to London, Portsmouth, Paris and Normandy. She’ll be leaving in a little over 3 weeks and will be gone about 9 days. John and I were secretly planning our own vacation while she was gone. We had thought about Hawaii since this year would have been our 20th wedding anniversary. But, then we decided if we were going to go to Hawaii we really wanted her to be with us. I guess I’ll just pretend I’m in Hawaii as I go through all the boxes from the move that are in the garage still. Lol. Actually, I’m looking forward to putting things in forward motion with that job. I just need to get unstuck. I’ll get there. 

February started with influenza for both Gracie and myself. John and I would always get the flu shot due to John’s health. But, Gracie had a bad reaction many years ago to the shot. So unfortunately she tends to get the flu every year. This was the first year she came down with it though since 2019. She has pretty specific flu symptoms so I knew we had 48 hours to get her in so she could be tested and get on tamiflu. I don’t love giving her meds but she gets so sick with the flu. So I ran home and picked her up after work and by the time we were sitting in the waiting room, I felt achy and so tired. I was thankful for some meds because by Thursday we were both back to school, feeling pretty good! 

My brother Jeff and sister n law Linda were here for almost a week in February. It was so great to see them. We spent a lot of time looking through old pictures. My mom had a setback health wise the week before John passed away and she can no longer safely live on her own. So my brothers, sister n laws, nieces…..the whole crew spent many days cleaning, packing, and moving her out of her home. I felt really bad that I was not able to help out. My niece made sure to send me texts of all the old pictures she was finding along the way! 

Gracie and I traveled to southern WI for a wedding of someone who is so special to us! I’ll be honest and say I didn’t really want to go. I didn’t want to miss it of course but the very thought of going to a wedding without John….I just felt like I couldn’t do it and didn’t want to do it. Gracie and I planned to leave early on Friday, drive to Madison and then do some shopping. She needed a few things for her trip and of course she wanted to hit Barnes and Noble. We arrived safely and went straight to the mall. As hard as we tried we just weren’t into it. We wandered the mall passing each store up as we walked by. It was at that moment I had a feeling we weren’t emotionally ready for this weekend. Like really weren’t ready. 

Gracie had asked me casually, “mom you probably won’t let me get my ears double pierced will you”? I thought to myself, are you kidding me! This is an easy yes! Her entire body perked up, and she was instantly excited about something. I’m realizing that has been the challenge. To get on the other side of these hard days, it’s so much easier to have something planned, something to look forward to…..something to be excited for! And it doesn’t take much. A favorite homemade meal, a visit with a friend, an early morning sunrise, two more holes in your body. Just being able to have our sights on something that will bring us joy.

We were up early on Saturday, had breakfast and then we were off to the reception space to help with decorating. I don’t know when things started to go south with Gracie and myself but it happened fast. I know we were both feeling the tremendous void of John not being with us on this trip. We’ve been out of town for skating but John always stayed home during those trips. This was much different and we felt it deeply. After being a bit short with each other, I stopped and said let’s talk. We both had a good cry and actually for a second thought about not going to the wedding. But, we quickly changed our minds. The day was hard. Seeing people I haven’t seen since John passed. Thankfully we had some great friends who saved the night! Gracie was dancing up a storm with them and for a moment all was good in her world.  I watched her hold back tears as she watched the bride dance with her step dad. I knew she was thinking of her future. My favorite moment of the night was watching her dance to her and John’s favorite ZB song. Somehow she ended up in the middle of a circle, everyone dancing around her, eyes closed, smiling, dancing away. 

It was a beautiful wedding and we are both so glad that we pulled ourselves together to celebrate with TL and Bradley! I can’t help but see something special in these two kids……when you have it you know it and you can see it in others. These two are going to have the time of their lives. 

We decided we couldn’t wait to be home. So we were on the road early Sunday, anxious to pick up Bleau from my coworkers home and Kashi from Lisa’s. I’m so thankful that Clay and Stacey and Lisa and Tim have graciously opened their homes to both of the dogs. I can tell they have a  great time and are so well cared for. When we went to drop Kashi off at Lisa and Tim’s, Kashi ran right to their door. When we returned home, Bleau found his favorite spot on the couch and was sacked out for hours. You all know we love our dogs so much so knowing they are loved, makes it easier for us to get away. 

Somedays I worry, are we growing? Are we healing? How are we REALLY doing? 

After struggling so much Friday and Saturday I thought nope….not healing…..we are not moving forward…..but, something happened that made me realize there is healing happening.

In January we returned home from Eagle River and the house was so quiet. Pulling down the drive I could feel this heaviness. John wouldn’t be there to greet us and be waiting to hear all about the weekend. Empty…

In February we returned home and I did feel John’s absence but it wasn’t as heavy. I was able to move through it quicker. Of course I missed him terribly, I will always miss him but it felt different. I was busy doing  laundry and getting dinner ready when Gracie hollered from the top of the stairs, “Mom, it feels good to be home”. I hollered back, “it sure does”. We didn’t feel this in January. Not even remotely anything close to this in January. Movement. Healing.

The following weekend I rec’d a message from Scottiking saying that he and Meg, Skylar and Eric were up for the weekend….did we want to meet for dinner? I asked Gracie and she was a quick “yes”! She was so excited. So we met Scott, Meg, Skylar, Eric and Chad for dinner. Gracie loved hearing stories about her dad. And is still talking about this visit. It was nice to see some of the gang and catch up. Gracie is already asking, “when will they be up again”? Something to look forward to. Oh and Scott…..she found you on youtube haha…..

Our neighbors, the deer and turkey, were slow to show up this year but I’m here to tell you….they are here! I know this mostly because one met the front end of my car last week. My reaction was really interesting and made me think that when you lose your partner, not much rattles you anymore. This deer came out of nowhere. Thankfully I was driving pretty slow as I know it’s an area that has alot of deer. I hit it, kept driving and said out loud, “well that’s a bummer”….I decided to turn around in case something was wrong with the car and I just hadn’t realized it yet. I turned around and saw the deer alive…visibly stunned but alive…..for the moment. The only emotion I had about this entire incident was for the deer…hoping it wouldn’t suffer. So I drove the few miles home, pulled the car in the drive and jumped in the truck. Didn’t look at the damage or anything. So unlike me! Normally I would have been all worried about all the things. I told myself I’d check the damage later. I called my brother to tell him what happened and asked if maybe his buddy who lives close by might want the deer. But, in the time it took me to circle back around the deer was gone. So, I’m telling myself it was just stunned and ran off into the woods with only a sore backside!  Thankfully the visible damage to my car is not bad. The grill will need to be replaced, along with a light. The engine was getting hot so I’m sure that’s not a real good sign. I’m thankful for the truck. It doesn’t get as good of gas mileage as my car but non the less we have a vehicle to get us back and forth to town until the car gets fixed. 

I’ve been seeing on social media where people are asking, “I wonder what John Dee would think about this winter”. I can tell you…..he would have disliked it! Alot!!! But, he also believed that the weather was cyclical and knew we would have those years that would not be good for snow. But, I honestly think he never in a million years would have believed the winter to be this terrible!

We tend to remember tidbits of information by events that are going on in our lives. I wonder if people will remember the winter of 23-24 as the winter John Dee left this earth and it didn’t snow. 

I know I will.

Since I started writing this last week, Gracie’s robotics team placed 3rd in the competition and she had the best time! They qualify now for the state competition. Fast forward 2 more weeks……..

Until next time……And since I finished the last edit to this journal Gracie had her spring skating show.  You can see how much joy skating brings to her.  Flashing that classic Gracie Dee smile. (She took a piece of her dad with her to the show….wearing his flannel to the rink.) One of the numbers the kids had to dress up in costumes of their choice. Coach Sara saved the day with this find

To see Gracie smiling like this just makes me breath a little easier. On Friday she told me on the way home from school, “mom I think things are looking up”. I asked her why she felt this way and we had a real good talk about life as we know it now. I’m so thankful that we’ve always had a open communication in our home. It makes these hard situations a little bit easier if we are all talking.

Gracie leaves tomorrow morning early! It’ll be a short night with leaving our house at 3:15 am. I’m going to miss her so much!! My brother arrives this afternoon for a visit too. So that will help with the transition of Gracie being gone. And there is that garage that is calling my name. 

Thank you all for trying to be patient as we all adjust to losing John……some days are harder than others…..some things like the website get put on the back burner as I spend time working through this grief. 

I have an idea and Scottiking has another great idea for the website. I’ll share those with you next time.

I’m struggling with a send off…..good night from the Keweenaw was Johns and only Johns…….I’ll need to put my creative thinking cap on…….


Well, first I must apologize for not keeping up with the journals. You know what they say about best laid plans. 

To be honest we’ve been really really busy. I’m not sure if this is a coping mechanism or just how things have worked out. But, either way we didn’t have a day over Christmas break where we didn’t have company or some commitment in town. 

I find myself thinking about all the things John has missed….or should I say the things we’ve taken part of or experienced without John. Skating competitions, student of the month, Christmas, and the list goes on and on. 

Traditions…..most people have them…I know a few who don’t love traditions….I could never understand that before but now I do. .I’m realizing now just how many traditions we had together

Over Thanksgiving we talked about Christmas and how we were going to handle the holidays. Gracie and I decided that we were still going to bake all our cookies/candies, decorate the tree and take a Christmas family picture. I didn’t bake one single thing. 

Thanksgiving came and went and there sat the tree. Each opportunity we had to put it up, I’d ask Gracie if she wanted to put it up. I was met with “I’m not ready mom” for weeks. 

My aunt Ginny flew in from California for a few days and while she was here we decided it could be put up. The placement of the tree had already been a discussion with John before he passed. John Dee loved Christmas! So he was already planning in November the tree spot in the new house, exactly which cookies he wanted (since he was really watching his sugar I had decided to not do all the varieties) and what he had on his Christmas list. 

We had planned to put it in the den and rearrange the space just a bit to make the tree fit. So I decided to check out the den around Thanksgiving and measure to see where everything would fit. But, when it came time to move the couch Gracie was visibly upset saying, “we can’t change the den”. When John broke his neck in September he was so limited. That’s when the nightly movie sessions began in the den with him and Gracie. OK so we won’t change the den around to make the tree fit. We can adjust.

My aunt and I decided on a nice spot in the living room and assembled the 20 year old tree while Gracie was at school. When she returned I was able to coax her into putting up the lights. That was once John’s job and in 2019 he taught Gracie the tricks to a nicely lit tree …squinting one’s eye to make sure every inch was covered with lights and all. About a ¼ of the tree was lit when Gracie decided she just couldn’t do it. The last few months have taught us many things, and one of them is not to sweat the small stuff. So we threw the rest of the lights on the tree and called it good. It wouldn’t be a green lit trunk and white lights adorning the tree this year, that’s ok. We had a tree up and that felt monumental. I’d like to tell you the tree was decorated with music playing and festive activities but not this year. There the tree sat….and sat…..for weeks. So I’d turn the lights on until one day it was simply too sad looking. I made the decision I was decorating this darned tree even if I had to do it alone. Which I did. And that was ok.

Our first Christmas as a couple was 2002 and I wasn’t living in the Keweenaw. John sent me a package with a note. The note talked about how he wanted to start a tradition of gifting each other ornaments every year. He said, “the good news is here is your first ornament. The bad news is now you need to go out and buy your man one”. So every year for 21 years we exchanged ornaments. Then when Gracie was added to the Dee clan, she would receive ornaments, including a Texas ornament we picked out before we were matched with her birthmom. The last few years Gracie started to give both John and I each an ornament. So we have alot of ornaments from our tradition that started in 2002. 

Some of you might be doing the math and thinking John passed away before Christmas so clearly that would be 20 years of exchanging.

When I returned from Rochester it took me many days to unload his suitcase. But, one day I just decided if that was the only thing I would do that day, it had to be done. So I turned on one of his favorite songs, Andrea Bocelli’s “Fall on Me” (yep…John started to love Andrea’s music when he was sick in 2021). I cranked it up, gave myself a good pep talk and unloaded his things. I decided that everything needed to be washed. It was then as I was putting his socks away that I opened the drawer and found a white box. My heart skipped a beat because I instantly knew he had already picked out my 2023 ornament. I opened the box and there was a wooden angel ornament. Never….ever…..were any of my previous 20 years of ornaments angels. The last tangible gift John gave me. 

Back to the sad undecorated tree. I knew the tree this year was to be filled with only our exchange ornaments. And filled it was. Filled with wonderful memories. The year John and Al won the golf tournament at Sandy pebbles, our first married Christmas, our new cabin, the year we both waited too long to pick out an ornament and were left scrounging for what we later would look back on as the ugliest ornament ever….. All these little treasures hanging on the tree. One thing I noticed was that once the tree was up and decorated I had a friend in the living room. The first Gracie has spent a significant amount of time in the living room since November. 

Christmas eve we went to a neighbors house for a gathering. I almost didn’t go because I decided to color my hair. Ha…there is a reason you shouldn’t make decisions with a sad heart. I figured it was safer than a tattoo at this point. And nothing a good hat couldn’t cover! 

Christmas morning we had decided to just have the two of us in the morning for presents. Gracie is so sweet that every year she’s always exclaiming, “dad you go…mom it’s your turn to open”! She’s so much like John that way. Loves to receive gifts but also loves to give and bring someone else joy. The afternoon my Aunt Phyllis and John’s brother Jim came over for a few hours and we did some crafts and puzzle building before heading over to a friend’s home to visit for a few hours. 

The 26th brought a deep sigh and the feeling of doing something really big…..relief. We had survived our first Christmas.  Sounds dramatic I know….but, that’s the truth. 

The week between Christmas and New Years was another busy one. The weather was crazy and beautiful. We decided one sunny day to go for a spin. Another tradition….driving the “loop”. We stopped at our friend’s place and took it all in … .Rabbit Bay, the big lake, the sunshine felt incredible! Gracie found herself exploring the beach and left behind a pile of beach glass for our friend Sally. Moments like this fill us up and keep us going. How could it be this sunny and mild on December 29th? Here’s a front yard shot from that morning

On New years eve we had invited our friends over to spend the night for new years. I secretly didn’t want the year to end. As terrible as it was, I didn’t want to start a new year without John. So when our little friend Milli asked if she could spend the night sometime, we thought this was the perfect opportunity. And I’m so glad we did. The kids had a great time. The moms had a great time. We had our traditional fireworks but this time we moved them out to the road. How cool to be in the middle of the road, black night sky and not see a single car. The kids loved it

As I type there are hopes for some snow in the forecast. I sure hope it happens. Not only for all of us snow lovers but for the business owners. I’ve noticed some trailers in town so the lack of snow hasn’t kept everyone away. Usually this time of the year the gas stations are full of sleds filling up, restaurants crowded. It’s a shame to see the area not bustling with folks. I sure hope things turn around. I’ll admit that this mild weather felt like such a gift. The sunshine is such a mood boost and not needing to worry about moving the snow. Sweet relief. 

You know what else is a mood boost? Friends! I have been blessed with THE best! Gracie was out of town for the night with robotics so I had a girlfriend come over for a girls night. Ladies, we need to normalize grown women sleep overs! I mean kids can do it, so why not right? 

I’ve had many coffee dates with one of my dearest and closest friends who either calls or texts me daily and has since November 14th. Another group of ladies came out for the day. We laughed, ate great food, went on a hike, and saw the big lake. Another friend invites us over to her home with her family at Christmas. I’m just so very thankful for all the ladies in my life! 

On another note the AL cam is back up and running. The outside plug seemed to be the issue. I promise I’m not losing it, but when I went over to the shop I said out loud, “OK John Dee help me figure this out”. I think the sunny heart is John’s sign that he was there helping me. 

My brother Joel and his Navy buddy Bryan were here just into the new year. It’s nice to have visits on the horizon and I was really looking forward to having the guys here. They did a few chores for me and I only cooked one meal. I felt a bit spoiled! The nights are still hard and I sleep better when I have my family around. 

As I finish this writing we did get snow! And lots of it. I’m so happy for the local business folks. Gracie and I were in Eagle River WI for the weekend for figure skating camp. While we were there we froze our hindends off, the web site went off line, passed the 2 month mark of John’s passing, Gracie passed her dance test, and we drove home in a snowstorm. The camp took place in the “Cube”. It was -1 on Sunday and the “Cube” was about the same temps! I think we are all still thawing out. It makes me so happy to see this smile on Gracie’s face. We make such great memories with our skating friends. When I rec’d word this morning that school was called off, it felt like such a gift. 

With no school today I knew I had to get out the tractor and do the first plow of the year. Let’s just say it took me 3 times the amount of time it would take John. That includes texting my neighbor to ask him questions along the way…..how to engage the auger on the snow thrower attachment being the most important. I had a feeling I’d forget something. I had to laugh when I rec’d the text back, “I’d recommend going in low speed only”….haha! I took his advice and all went well. It doesn’t look pretty but it’s a start. The biggest learning curve is keeping it close enough to the ground but not too close that rocks go flying. 

So here we are, a new year…..Our wish for you all is a year filled with great health, happiness and lots of time with those you love the most. 


John Dee

John Dee….that’s what I called him. John Dee let the dogs out. John Dee how are you? John Dee I love you…..I don’t know when I started referring to him in full name fashion but it was a long time ago and it just rolled off the tongue so it stuck. 

Over the years John created this magical space for snow lovers of all kinds. And in doing that, he formed a family. Some members of this family, had never met John or other members. Yet, each week and with most each day, you all kept coming back. The journals, the forecast, the cameras but I also know it was because of the family. Checking in to see what’s new with each other or where each of your adventures had lead you. We’ve lost members of this family, watched people get married, have babies, recover from accidents, celebrate victories. We are family.

John and I drove to Rochester on Sunday, November 12th. Before we left we were sitting with my cousin Amy in the living room. John appeared in the living room and I said, “how are you John Dee”? He replied, “great”! I was a little surprised by this response as he had a tough week. Lots of anxiety over his upcoming trip to the Mayo clinic. I went over the week with him, trying to pump him up that this would be a breeze. No big procedures, just lots of appts, blood work and what we jokingly called the “45 second” treadmill test. Knowing that he’d never make it longer than that. So to hear, “I’m great”….was exactly what I needed to hear. We could do this! Amy is here to take care of Gracie and we will be home in no time. 

We had started to listen to audio books during our long drives back and forth to the clinic. Our choice for the trip to Rochester that Sunday was Matthew Perry. At one point in the book Matthew speaks of being in hospital alone. No family. No visitors. I reached over and touched John’s hand and apologized for all the times he was in hospital alone. See this was our agreement. As long as he was stable, I was to stay home with Gracie. Keep things as “normal” as possible for her. I know there were times when he needed me or just wanted me there, but we stuck to the plan almost always. I’m thankful for that moment on Sunday to tell him I was sorry he was alone all those times.

On Monday we were to be at the clinic at 6:20 am – 4 pm. First stop, the lab. John was having problems doing any sort of physical activity so I offered to push him in the wheelchair since we were going from one end of the mayo to the other. I offered this in the past and he always declined. Not this time. We arrived at the lab and John went back to get his blood drawn and came back to the wheelchair. When a man appeared and said, “Are you THE John Dee”? John looked up and said, “I guess I am”. The gentleman shook his hand and said he had been following the website for years. Kevin wished John well and went on his way. Things like this would happen often when we traveled to MN and WI. Strangers stopping him to shake his hand, take a picture with “John Dee” and ask about what the winter would be like. One of the the things I loved most about John is he never got a big head. He was so humble and kind. 

Monday proved to be a long day. But, we made the best of it. We shared funny videos and laughed. Sometimes people would give us a look like how can these two be laughing at such a time. One of our appointments was to meet the transplant coordinator and watch a movie on what to expect when you get a new heart. After watching the clips John said to me, “usually I can see myself in these but this time I can’t”. That sent me right into a panic….”John Dee what do you mean? Like you think you won’t make it to get a new heart”? John replied, “No….I’m a tough SOB. I just won’t need it for a long time”. I’m not able to share all the events but there were many comments or things that came up the 24 hrs before his passing that still shake me a bit and make me feel like he must have known his health was failing quickly.

There was one dr’s office that we were in and out of throughout that day. As I pushed John in the wheelchair and joked about being pooped from pushing him around all day, we approached the counter where the receptionist was. I had leaned down and kissed the top of John’s head and said, “let’s blow this joint”. We smiled and the receptionist commented on how nice it was to see people smiling. 

Our plan was to grab a bite to eat, hit the grocery store and then turn in. We had a nice dinner but John wasn’t hungry. He hadn’t been hungry since being in the hospital 3 1/2 weeks before hand. Nothing tasted good and his appetite was almost non existent. Over dinner I checked the results of his 45 second stress test and blood work. We were surprised to see some of his bloodwork had actually come into a better range. Some that hadn’t been in a normal range for many many months. Finally, maybe things would turn around. Like they always did. He always beat everything that came his way. So we celebrated and went to the car wash where we had a discussion about the weather. Talking about what my prediction was and if he was still sticking to his ideas for this winter. I told him, “it’ll be mild and the lake will stay open and it’s going to snow buckets. We’ll have lots of snow days and stay in cozied up around the fire place in our new home”. He smiled and said, “the only thing I agree with you on is the mild part”. 

We finished up at the grocery store where I busted him in the bulk food candy aisle and he talked me into ironically enough, “Johnny pop” popsicles. Popsicles were a staple in our house the last month of his life. 

I was sitting on the couch working and he was in the other room directly across from me. I could feel someone staring at me. I look up and there’s my John Dee looking at me. I said, “what”? His reply, “can’t a guy just look at his wife”? Can’t a guy just look at his wife. One of the last sentences he ever spoke to me. Can’t a guy just look at his wife. 

By morning John was gone. God’s last gift to John on this earth was no more suffering and a peaceful exit. How could he be gone? My mind just couldn’t grasp how my husband…..my best friend…..our daughters “popsio”……how could he be gone. Just like that.

Remember now we are all family right? 

As I was surrounded by police, medics, etc. I realized I was all alone. All alone in a town 7 1/2 hours away from my daughter….my support systems….everything. I didn’t know what to do. But, I knew I needed to leave Rochester and get home as soon as I could. I’d soon learn there is so much of dealing with losing a spouse, that you just don’t know what to do. Uncharted territory. 

I was having a bit of a hard time thinking, yet I remembered that Dave and Rosanne B from the website lived in Rochester. My first gentle nudge from what I believe is John. I reached out to Dave and Rosanne and Rosanne was there with me within 10 minutes. I was so relieved to see her….not my best friend….not my sister…..but, a part of this community…this family. Dave and Rosanne had a plan and Dave would drive me home. Mostly in tears and silence. I’m so thankful for both Dave and Rosanne. 

Hardly anyone knew that John had passed. I was fearful that word would get out and that Gracie would hear. I had asked my coworker, friend and social worker at school to meet me at the house. Gracie knows her well and really likes her. As I got closer to home, what I was about to tell our daughter was sitting so heavy on my heart. I was about to change her whole entire life. Forever….her life was going to change in one sentence. I’ll never forget those next few hours. How I wish they never would have needed to happen and that her dad was here with us. But, that wasn’t to be. 

I’m not sure how you feel when you are 14 and lose your dad. The best dad there is! Not a slouch, not a drunk, not a selfish dad…but, a loving, supportive, fun, best dad. Since John’s passing which is just 2 days shy of 4 weeks, I’ve lost count of the people who I know or have met who lost their father at a young age. It started first at the hotel that morning. Another sign to show us she will be ok. All these folks miss their dads, wish life would have been different but they are ok. Hope……there’s hope that we will be ok.

Once word was out on Thursday, I could not believe all the messages, emails, and social media posts. I knew John had touched alot of lives but I had no idea the amount. No idea. It was a mild week weather wise, so I sat on the front porch reading posts for what seemed like hours. I always felt John never really got the recognition he deserved for what he did for the tourism and snowmobile community in general. I hope that John was able to see or feel all the love that was sent his way. 

I wish our last 5 years together wouldn’t have been filled with so much sickness. Ever since 2018 we had been on this sickness cycle. Things would be good for a few months then something would happen. A unnoticed 99 percent blocked artery, a tree to the head, afib, and the list goes on. I was so grateful that people were sharing pictures of John healthy! I had forgotten….how could we have forgotten all the good years of a healthy life? But, we had. The sickness consumed us. Every day was hard for John. Yet he never complained. Never. Blood work, drs appts, meds, hospital stays…..Looking at in now, I can see that we were in a very critical space. I don’t know how we were managing but we were. Now I can see it wasn’t pretty. We weren’t able to do the things together that we loved. John wasn’t able to snowmobile or hike. But, most importantly John was fighting for his life. He had told me not to long ago, “I do this only for you and Grace”. 

John Dee was not afraid to die. Don’t get me wrong he wanted to live desperately. But, he wasn’t afraid. He was only afraid to leave us behind. He worried about us. His girls being alone. 

So many good things have happened in the last few weeks. Things that show us we are loved….we are watched over…..we will have the help we need. My family for starters…..my brothers couldn’t get here fast enough to help me. They stay with me, made sure I was set for winter, skated with Gracie….I have the best family who has just really been by my side through all this.

People are telling me “I felt compelled to help”……”I can’t explain it but I needed to reach out”…….this is John Dee…..he is nudging. He is making sure his girls are taken care of. Bill from Route 12 and the go fund me was the first of many people to do amazing things to help us. Keith….poor Keith…..he called me right away when he heard. So many tears. Listening to me cry and try to figure out how John could be gone. Skylar….Scottiking….all reaching out. What can I do? What do you need? Family……all these friendships started right here from JohnDee.com. 

I was driving down the road the other day, decided to take the long way as I was listening to John’s playlist. When suddenly my low tire light came on. Nooo! Normally, I’d call John. So I quickly called my neighbor who is a mechanic. He said, “turn around and come here”. I was losing pressure SO fast and almost 15 miles from town. So I asked him at what pressure level should I stop driving. So off I was….praying….please please let me get to Rob’s. I knew I wouldn’t make it so my prayers turned into please please let me make it to Mikes. I pulled into Mike’s driveway just in time. What was in my tire was a rock that looked like a tiny shark tooth. It was about 1/4 inch in length. Long story short Rob got the tire off, in the truck, I got the tire to the shop and repaired. The next day I was thinking about how thankful I was for my neighbors. But, wondered why that had to happen when I’m already feeling a bit like there is no space for anything extra. When it hit me. That happened to show me I am supported. I can do hard things. It’s going to be ok. 

Many have asked, “how are you and Gracie doing”? The straight answer is every day is different. Gracie is sad and missing her dad terribly. She wears his watch and his sweatshirts. Anything to feel close to him. Those two were so so close. The typical daddy daughter relationship. As a mother, it breaks my heart that I can’t fix this for her. I can’t take away her pain.

The other day I only cried twice….once being in Ace hardware. So I just don’t know when it will hit. Sometimes all it takes is a smile from a friend or a simple, “how are you”? And the tears of sadness just don’t stop. This house is so empty feeling. I’ve had lots and lots of company and people always staying with me so that helps. Yet, it still feels so empty. The void that John left is incredibly huge. There are memories of him everywhere…..a picture, something he built, his clothes. Every turn a memory. When I feel really sad I try to remember that he is great right now! No longer suffering with that old tired sick heart. He’s whole and new. You know we always believed he’d beat this. I bet some think well he was sick….this shouldn’t be a surprise. Well, he was sick but we always had hope…..faith…..that God would heal him. Someone reminded me the other day that God did heal him. He’s healed now. 

On our anniversary in October I had put on facebook that the road has not always been easy but I’d choose John over again. No truer words. This pain……all this is worth it to have been loved by him. We had such an amazing, fairy tale life for so many years. Not everyone has this and I’m so grateful. 

I’m going to try my best to live like John Dee……every moment was a gift to him. He took nothing for granted. He was kind. Gentle. Forgiving. Loving. Generous. Do what brings you joy. Be kind.  

I was thinking about this journal alot this week and went back and forth about what I wanted to write. How many of you remember ALL the times he wrote cloths instead of clothes?! hahaha…..that always made me laugh. 

Before I close I wanted to express my thanks to you all. Thank you for the gifts, the emails, the cards, the support. 

Also, Gary filled you all in a bit on what’s next. Gary has been a huge help! The show must go on. John worked way to hard and for too long to not keep John Dee up and running. 

I have a few current issues that I’m hoping will get resolved quickly…..one being the AL cam was up and running yesterday but today is back out of commision. My neighbor and friend Tim is helping me with this. And I need to figure out how to place banner ads on the webpages. I have an email into a local guy who has worked with John in the past. We missed each other last Thursday but I’m hopeful maybe tomorrow we will be able to figure a few things out. He said he’s willing to help so hopefully soon. 

Also, if you ordered John Dee com stickers……I see you! I just can’t find the stickers! But, I’m working on that too. 

My friend Lisa is helping me with the facebook page and lots of other behind the scenes things. It’s going to take a village for a bit but once things get squared away we’ll be great.

I forgot to talk about the weather! Oh my gosh John would be so cranky right now if he were here! So cranky! It’ll come. It always does. I think it was 2016 we had green grass the first few days of December and then we were slammed. I was chuckling at a few posts where people were saying, “now you are in heaven John bring on the snow”……I secretly think he’s determined to have his final seasonal outlook pan out 🙂

Good night from John Dee’s snow country!




End of an Era

Hey everyone, it’s Grace. It’s taken me a while to be able to sit down and write this, but it’s time. As you’ve all heard by now, my dad, John Dee, passed away.

Originally, this post was going to be about his life, following the course of him growing up, going to college, moving up north, starting a family. But then, I realized that you all knew him. He started this site years ago, and you’ve all come to know him through it. So, I’m not going to waste the words introducing you all to a man you already know.

Instead, I’m going to talk about him. The real him. My dad was so much more than words on a page can describe, so much more than a list of dates and events that shaped his life. There’s a line from one of his favorite songs (Chicken Fried, by the Zac Brown Band.) There’s no dollar sign on a peace of mind this I’ve come to know. I think that this idea is one that my dad took to heart. 

Yes, he was a meteorologist. But it was so much more than a job for him. It was his passion. It was what he loved, and so it was what he did. From the day that he first got sick, my dad knew that life was a gift. He never wasted a second of it. No, he made each and every day count, doing the things he loved, no matter his condition.

My dad loved woodworking, he loved nature, he loved the snow. But most of all, my dad loved a good laugh.

And life is too short. My dad knew this, and he embraced it. I think that’s what made him love it so much. No matter where he was, how he was feeling, and, sometimes, what the doctors (and us) told him, he got up in the morning and set out to do what he loved. That is the last, and greatest, lesson that my dad taught me. That, no matter what, you’ve got to stand up and live your life to the fullest. 

Dad, we will see you in the trees, we will see you in the sun, and, most of all, we will see you in the snow.

Good Night from the Keweenaw..