New normal & wrinkly
August 31, 2009
by Jen Bakken

When you lose a loved one, it is difficult to get back to your normal, everyday life.

Since my father passed away, nothing feels normal and I guess the struggle lies in finding a “new normal.”

Going to work each day hasn’t been easy. In fact, much of the time I find myself not wanting to get out of bed.

I always counted on my dad for feedback. Each week he would read my column or articles and call me with his thoughts.

Though he was honest, and would tell me what he thought could have been better, I looked forward to his input and miss it more than words can express. It’s tough to write at all.

I asked for his advice on nearly everything, there really was no subject off limits between us, and I suppose to an extent, I took it for granted that he would always be there.

When the kids did something funny, or were driving me crazy, I called my dad.

When I struggled with being divorced, or being alone, I called my dad.

When I wanted someone to come with me to the kids’ sporting events, I called my dad.

When my limited math abilities prevented me from helping the kids with their homework, I called my dad.

When I heard there was going to be something on TV about the Vietnam War, or nearly any type of history documentary, I called my dad.

When they played a Beatles song on the radio, I called my dad.

Many times I’ve caught myself, cell phone in hand, just about to call him and then remember I can’t.

I suppose at some point, I will have to take “Dad” out of the contacts list in my phone . . . but not yet.

Through this column, it’s as though I’m grieving publicly. Many have expressed sympathy and shared personal stories of loss. It’s comforting to know that although I can’t call my dad, I’m not completely alone.

I suppose the “new normal” will continue to be a work in progress.


To wrap up the end of a fun baseball season, my son’s coach had a barbecue for the team, and parents, at the gazebo near Big Rock Playground.

While most of the parents sat and talked, the kids took off for the playground.

Unfortunately for my children, this mom took off for the playground as well.

While my son played catch with another boy, I retrieved a few stray balls and they couldn’t help but make fun of me.

“Geez, you throw like a girl!” they teased.

Deciding I better leave the boys alone, I followed my daughter and her friends around the playground.

When they went down the slides, climbed the monkey bars, and the ropes so did I.

They thought it was hilarious when they dared me to go down the “bumpy” slide on my stomach, and laughed even harder when I landed face first.

Next, we moved to the swings where I was dared to jump off the swing into the air.

Not one to decline a dare, (keep in mind it’s been awhile since I jumped off a swing.), I completed the task, nearly losing my shorts in the process.

It took a minute for me to get up after the hard landing on my back. When I finally stood up, both my knees cracked loudly and then the girls cracked up laughing.

“I guess I’m getting to old to slide on my stomach and jump off swings,” I said.

To which my daughter replied, “Oh no, Mom, you aren’t that old, just kind of wrinkly.”