ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD
A serial memoir by Jean Fogelberg
I got so many letters, asking me to write about what happened after Dan died, I sat down to write a brief synopsis, which turned into thirty pages. (Parts of these chapters were originally in the Introduction.)
So, it looks like we'll be having coffee together for three more Saturday mornings.
The business of death does not stand on ceremony. Dan died on Sunday, and on Monday, the funeral home director came to our house, bringing paperwork, an urn catalogue, and a precious keepsake.
On the afternoon of the day Dan died, something made me think of the Victorian custom of keeping a lock of hair. Because it doesn’t decay, the hair relic was a way of keeping their deceased loved one close. I hadn’t thought of that - what else had I missed? In a panic, I called the funeral home and they very kindly snipped a lock of Dan’s hair for me before he was cremated.
The director had brought the precious memento with him. I would not be wearing it around my neck in a locket, as Queen Victoria did with Prince Albert’s hair, but keeping it safe in a suitably sacred vessel.
Evelyn sat with me, like a protective mother hen, during the meeting. Choosing an urn was surreal. After years of making important decisions on a moment’s notice, this single decision felt impossible. In the end, I selected a vase-shaped pewter receptacle.
The director asked if I would be holding a memorial service, but Dan had been clear: no public memorial service; no headstone. “This would be for the friends and family who are mourning,” the director said, but I said no, and the look on Evelyn’s face warned him against pursuing it further.
Evelyn stayed for a week, giving support and space, then she returned to Bali. I guess I mostly slept between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
The worst thing I could ever imagine happening was behind me, and I was still standing. I told myself that women had been surviving the loss of their husbands for centuries, and I would survive it too. I had the advantage of being well off, financially, and having a roof over my head. Well, two roofs, actually. There was still the ranch in Colorado, which was listed with Christies International Real Estate. Unbeknownst to me, a neighboring rancher had made an offer in November, but it was so far below the asking price, Dan and the realtor had dismissed it.
I became convinced that Dan would have left a last message for me. It was just a notion, maybe because any time he went into town without me, he’d leave a lovely little "see you later" note. I knew it was greedy of me to expect anything more than the bathtub “Safe Harbor” visitation, but I couldn’t shake the idea of a tangible message, and looked everywhere. My friend Rebecca had arrived from Santa Fe, and I told her about my search. We looked through the books and papers on Dan’s boat, Minstrel, but there was no final note. I decided I must have been wrong.
On January 6th a big winter storm hit Colorado. Three days later, an accumulation of ice and snow collapsed the roof of the 16,000 square-foot horse barn and riding arena at the ranch. It had been just three weeks since Dan died, and I was physically and mentally depleted. We hired the same contractor who had fixed the burst pipes in 2004. I trusted our ranch foreman and on-site ranch manager to oversee repairs, keep me updated, and make sure the rest of the ranch buildings were secure.
Rebecca left, then Suzie came from California, and we spent a week immersed in Photography and Photoshop. I’d been tutoring her over the phone for a long time, which could be very frustrating, but doing it in person was a wonderful distraction from loss and worry about the ranch. I found I loved teaching.
One of the first websites I ever created was for Evelyn, who was hosting workshops in Bali with famous astrologers. Her company was called Astrology in Bali, but she wanted to expand into other topics and countries. Heaven and Earth Workshops was born in 2005, and since then she has hosted speakers in Bali, India, Mexico and England. Now Evelyn began encouraging me to think about teaching photography workshops. The thought terrified me. Teaching a friend was one thing; a group of strangers quite another. But I had told Dan I would travel the world with Evelyn, and I promised her I would think about it.
In February, during my annual physical exam, a blood test showed that I was pre-diabetic. That can’t be right, I thought. I wasn’t overweight, and to my knowledge there was no diabetes in our family. I went online.
In all my years of researching prostate cancer, I did see a few articles reminding caregivers to "eat right, get sleep, exercise," but nowhere did I see anything about the irreversible damage that can result from the high levels of daily stress, and the "binge and fast" diet of the average caregiver. Now I learned that many caregivers develop Type II diabetes, hypertension, heart palpitations, and other life-threatening ailments. Some die before the loved one they are caring for.
Unaware of the damage I was doing while caring for Dan, I would go go go until I suddenly realized how hungry I was. Then, I’d grab a Lemon Poppyseed muffin, or some other high glycemic food that would give me a burst of energy. If I’d known about the health dangers of this kind of yo-yo diet, I would have eaten more wisely.
I wrote my own sermon, which quickly became a Wordpress blog called, Don’t Lose Heart ~ Caregivers Caring for Caregivers. My main goal was to provide caregivers in the eye of the storm with knowledge and tools they could incorporate into their hectic, patient-focused lives; to help them get through the caregiver experience with their health intact. Don’t Lose Heart, named after the song Dan wrote, grew to incorporate any kind of information a caregiver might find helpful, like diet and recipes, caregiver PTSD, equipment resources, and financial aid.
The most important part of the site, though, was the comment section at the bottom of each page. Anyone could write in, anonymously, if they wished, and share what was happening in their world. In this safe environment, they were encouraged to talk about themselves, without guilt. I did my best to give them the support they needed, even if it was just to remind them that they weren’t alone.
Other caregivers joined in, sharing their own experiences and offering comfort. It became a haven for some, and a salve for others, who would read the articles and posts from the sidelines. Some of the caregiver stories were so touching and informative, they got their own page, and any new information I discovered was added to the site as well. Before long, my days were consumed with adding pages, writing responses, and monitoring comments.
One caregiver in particular lightened my load, by consistently responding and giving advice and comfort. Char Morgal was the primary caregiver to her own husband, but still found time every day to check in on DLH. I asked her to be my co-administrator, and together we managed the site, sharing, giving, and getting in return.
I called the kitties in for dinner one evening and Abbie came running, but Fiona did not. For weeks I searched the woods, calling her name and tacking up posters along the road. After Dan died, our big bed had seemed less lonely with her little body pressed against mine. Now I woke each day and felt adrift.
When I was a child, my mother would tell me and my sisters about how she lost her father when she was twelve years old. Soon after that, her beloved horse was taken away from her. On that day, “I swore I would never love anything, ever again,” she would tell her three little girls. It became part of our family lore, and as I grew older I dismissed it as a melodramatic excuse for her latent maternal instincts. Born with enough love for the whole world, I gave it freely and assumed it would always be so.
With Fiona’s disappearance, I was finally able to understand my mother's pain. I was empty. I felt terrible for Abbie, but as I petted her I was just going through the motions; I had nothing left to give. I knew our local bank manager, Linda, had lost two calicos to old age, so I contacted her. She happily took Abbie to live in her cottage by the sea, and sent me photos from time to time.
Minstrel was being stored at Brooklin Boat Yard, and they called one morning to say they had a customer who was looking for a similar style boat. Would I consider selling her? I knew Dan would want his beloved Minstrel sailing the seas when summer came, not sitting in storage. I contacted Dave at Robinhood Marina, where she was built, and asked him to act as my broker. The Brooklin customer decided against buying Minstrel, but before long she was purchased through Dave, by a sailor whose daughter was a budding mariner.
Two weeks after the barn in Colorado collapsed, a leak in the main house made its way from the master bath, down through three floors. I couldn’t fathom how this could have happened. The most important job of the on-site ranch manager was to walk through the main house every day and check that all was well. Both managers assured me there’d been no dereliction of duty and yet, three water-damaged rooms said otherwise.
I would have to pay to replace the floor in the master bath (2nd floor) and the ceilings, floors, and walls in the dining room (1st floor) and gym (basement.)
At least the contractor was already there, working on clearing the debris from the arena. I was in direct contact with him now, and when the repaired walls in the dining room and gym were finished, I would return to paint them.
While Dan was alive, I only became involved in ranch business when he asked me to. Now I was the interim owner and boss, and the two managers resented taking orders from me. We got along fine most of the time, but they were constantly questioning my decisions and covering for each other. I hated being a boss, but after two big disasters, it was obvious I couldn’t leave them to their own devices.
In March, our neighbor made a second offer on the ranch and a price was agreed upon. I flew to Colorado, and on April 5th, I showed him and his wife around the house and let them pick the tile color for the new bathroom floor.
A current property survey was required for the sale, so I hired a local company, with their assurance it would be done within five months.
After filing a claim for the collapsed arena, then for the three-story leak in the main house, the insurance company dropped me. The lowest quote for a replacement homeowner’s policy was $70,000 a year. The ranch was mortgage free, but the 600-acre property with ponds, fences, barns and residences cost over $200,000 a year to maintain and operate. A quarter of a million dollars a year! It was a staggering amount to me. Thank goodness I had a buyer - Dan’s touring income had always paid the bills, but that income was no more.
The lawyers were making me nuts, picking at every little detail of the contract, and I sent out an angry email, entreating them to just get it done. But, as my friend Rebecca said, “Lawyers get paid a shitload of money; they all have to pee on it.”
When the snow began melting, reconstruction of the barn began, to the buyer’s specifications. I wouldn’t have chosen a blue roof in the foreground of the basin views, but it would soon be his gigantic blue roof. The main house was full of workers too, now, and the contractor had repairs well in hand, so I flew back to Maine and resumed work on the Love in Time CD package.
The forecast for August 13th, Dan’s birthday, was glorious. I knew it would be the day I’d been waiting for, to scatter his ashes on the Reach. I called Sherry and Jon, who were happy to help me honor Dan’s last wishes aboard their boat, Free Spirit. I called Jean, who had come to help me the morning Dan died, and asked her to be there with us.
Earlier in the week I had tried to open the pewter urn, but it wouldn’t budge. The base was large and hard to hold with one hand. Carrying it into the kitchen, I put on rubber gloves and finally got it open, only to find the opening was the size of a poker chip. Inside the urn, the ashes were in a plastic bag closed with a twist seal. I hadn’t known to tell the funeral home director that I needed a scattering urn. Clearly, this urn was intended to hold ashes indefinitely.
Pulling the opening of the plastic bag through the top of the urn, I laboriously emptied the ashes into an antique brown glass apothecary jar.
In case the weather turned bad on the 13th and we had to scrap our ashes ceremony, I left my message to the fans vague. On August 12th, in the Living Legacy newsletter, I wrote:
Tomorrow, August 13th, is Dan's birthday. If you can, at around 6:30pm Eastern Standard Time USA, take a moment wherever you are to mentally join hands together with the rest of us who miss him, in remembrance. Take a quiet moment, or play his music ~ I'll be playing "The Reach", and picturing him sailing on a perfect day, with the wind in his sails and the sun on the sea.
And don't forget the "Quest" lapel pin will be for sale at the Prostate Cancer Foundation website to raise money for prostate cancer research and awareness in Dan's name.
My best wishes,
On August 14th, I posted on danfogelberg.com:
August 14, 2008
Well, I'm sitting here in Maine on another overcast, cold day. This summer has been an unusually wet one, with widespread power outages, flooding, and dampness-caused damage to hay crops as well as small fruits and vegetables. The last week has been especially rainy, with the exception of yesterday. And that's the day I'm writing to tell you about.
It had been a difficult few weeks for me. Going through hundreds of photos of Dan while laying out the "Love In Time" CD package was taking an emotional toll on me. But when I looked out the window yesterday morning and saw the beginnings of a glorious sunny day, I felt happiness well up inside of me. I thought: "This is the day." I knew that you would all be holding Dan in your hearts, so it would be the perfect day to fulfill a special promise I'd made to him.
Dan had asked me to pick a beautiful day in late summer, go out with our friends Jon and Sherry on their boat "Free Spirit," and scatter his ashes on the Reach. He wanted me to do it just before sunset, at the marker where he would turn at the end of the day to return to the cove, and home.
I had arranged everything tentatively with Jon and Sherry for his birthday, but with the understanding that we would re-schedule if the weather was too bad. No need. The hard rain the day before had scrubbed the air crystal clear, and they were calling for temperatures in the 70's.
We left the dock at 5:00 pm, the four of us: me, Jon and Sherry, and our good friend Jean, and just sailed and drifted around the Reach. They had brought crackers, veggies, fruit, shrimp, and dips, and I brought the champagne. We talked and laughed and reminisced, just as we would have if Dan were there with us physically. There was no moroseness, no awkward silences, no sniffling, and they had packed napkins and glasses for 5, so he was included.
I was wearing Dan's favorite blue sweater and the first necklace he'd ever given me, and had my hair in a braid (he loved my long blonde hair, especially in a braid.) Jon and Sherry and Jean each had on one of Dan's sailing vests, and we all had our "Quest" pins on. I had my arm around the antique brown widemouth jar holding Dan's ashes sitting next to me. Dan and I had saved Buckaroo's ashes (the amazing Maine Coon cat, "Remington Buckaroo Boone," often credited on Dan's albums) all these years, and these too were in the jar, and the night before I cut 5 inches off of my hair and snipped it into tiny strands and put them in the jar as well.) The wind was perfect for drifting about aimlessly. But at 6:15 we started the engine and headed for the marker: a green "can" that marks the edge of a ledge. Amazingly, at this point we had the Reach to ourselves... not another boat in sight.
Jon cut the engine and let the sails take us quietly the rest of the way. We toasted Dan with champagne, and at 6:25 we brought up the boombox and put "The Reach" on and I carried the jar forward to the bow of the boat. We were heading directly toward the sun, which was brilliant white gold reflecting on the water. A cormorant sat on the green can watching us. There was a gentle northerly breeze, and as I took Dan's ashes, a handful at a time, and slowly let them sift through my fingers, they swirled and danced away from me, sparkling in the sun before landing on the water and drifting with the tide, out into the Reach. I could hear Jon, Sherry and Jean crying out in astonishment as (they would later tell me) they watched Dan's ashes swirling and glowing with the sun shining through them.
I knew that, at that very moment, as we were playing "The Reach" and honoring Dan here on the east coast, out on the west coast of California our friends Charlie and Suzie were playing "The Reach" as well, and ringing the original bell used in that recording. And around the world, people were honoring Dan in their own way, and playing their own favorite songs. It was a powerful moment.
We came alongside the marker and Jon gently rounded it and steered us toward the cove, and Reach Haven. As I let the last of Dan's ashes leave my fingers I was so filled with gratitude, wonder, and amazement that, like his passing, a moment that would always be a painful memory for me would also have so many elements of beauty and magic.
"The Reach" ended, and I came back to the stern of the boat, where my three shipmates were wiping their eyes with napkins. We all hugged and then sat for a moment of silence, mentally holding hands with everyone else who was sharing this special moment with us. I threw the flowers Dan's family had sent off the back of the boat one at at time, where they followed his ashes, and we each took a lavender rose picked from Jean's garden, said our last farewells, and tossed them into the Reach.
We turned Free Spirit around and headed back across the Reach to her mooring, our hearts filled with emotion, and everyone recounting the incredible beauty of what we'd just experienced. As we neared the mooring, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Dan. The sun had dropped behind a bank of clouds on the horizon, lining them in red and gold.
Dan was so many things: passionate sailor, incredible musician, loving husband, true friend, and a wonderful and unique human being. It was the end of a truly perfect day for honoring him and I hope you feel you were a part of it.
August came and went. It had been five months, and still the land survey wasn’t completed. It was the only thing holding up the sale at this point, and I was growing anxious.
In October, the world’s economy collapsed under the weight of the 2008 global financial crisis. On October 10th I got an email from our neighbor, asking me to call him. He felt terrible, but he was going to have to back out of the purchase of the ranch. It was the worst possible news, but he could have left this to his realtor or lawyer, so I appreciated his telling me himself. The possibility of finding a buyer now was dim, so we dropped the price, even as the economy continued to deteriorate even further.
I cut expenses where I could, and made repairs only when they were absolutely necessary, but upkeep and payroll continued to cost way more than the income from Dan’s music. Our business manager, Rick, counseled me during this time. We sold the bonds, then the gold. I sold Dan’s recording studio equipment and sent some of his guitars to Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, to sell. Finally, I took out a loan.
A friend said, “Why don’t you just declare bankruptcy and give the ranch up?” The very idea horrified me. I would have to be completely out of options to even consider it.
I started doing some fundraising for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, releasing “Sometimes a Song,” the song Dan sent me for Valentine’s Day in 2005, and donating the proceeds to PCF. I had also created a “Dan’s Quest” lapel pin and donated them to PCF as well.
I was in bed with the flu when Dan’s old friend and producer, Norbert Putnam, contacted me and introduced himself. He wanted to discuss doing a tribute CD. I told him I’d been trying to pull together a tribute concert that would be recorded, but was having no luck. Norbert suggested we start with the recording first, then do the concert. It sounded like a fine idea to me. We began by creating “wish lists” of musicians we’d like to get to participate.
The first artist I put on my wish list was Garth Brooks, who had always been very vocal about his admiration for Dan, and the influence he had on his own songwriting. I wrote to Garth’s manager on January 18th, asking if he thought Garth might consider recording a song for us. The next day, the phone rang in the afternoon. A deep voice asked if Jean Fogelberg was available.
“This is she,” I replied.
“Miss Jean, this is Garth Brooks…”
He said something right after that but I have no idea what it was.
But Garth has a way of making you feel comfortable, and soon we were chatting about his love of Dan's music, and the tribute CD. He said he'd be honored to contribute a song and asked which one I'd like him to record. I told him, “Do one of your favorites.” He said, “That's around a hundred and ten songs…” I knew the ballads would be well covered, and I knew that Garth can rock the house, so I asked him to do one of Dan's “rockers” and he chose “Phoenix.”
Garth's early involvement gave us the clout we needed to get the record companies on board and some great artists began signing on to the project.
I designed the Love in Time package from my bedroom office in Maine. While I worked, I listened to the music so the artwork would fit the album. I’d heard some of the tracks while Dan was working on them, but he made sure I never heard one track: “Birds,” by Neil Young.
All of the songs were hard to listen to, especially “Sometimes a Song,” the Valentine’s day song he'd written for me. But the final song, “Birds,” was downright painful. Told from the perspective of a man who is leaving a lover and moving on, Dan’s rendition gives the lyrics a whole new meaning.
The credits, liner notes, and lyrics had been carefully typed by Dan and organized into folders; I only had to copy and paste the text into the package. When I opened the file for the last track, “Birds,” my heart skipped a beat. At the top of the page, Dan had typed, “For Jeanie, my one true love.”
As soon as I read that, I knew I’d finally found that last see you later note. I cried so hard I had to wrap my arms around my body to hold it together. I called Rebecca the next day and said, “I found Dan’s note.”
“Where was it?” she asked.
“In a song,” I said.
“Well, duh!” she said.
Posted June 19th, 2021 Copyright ©Jean Fogelberg 2021