• Daughter of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley poses by river
    Things That Suck

    Dear Insurance Company

    Dear Insurance Company, I read the letter that came last night. I saw the six single-spaced pages of documentation that was clearly written by a lawyer with my daughter’s name automatically inserted into the form. I can see the word “denied” at least four times in the first few paragraphs. I understand what you are saying. I spoke to the people on your end. I know that the woman who answered the phone is just doing her job. I appreciated that when I told her I was a single mom who couldn’t pay (many) tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket, she put me on hold to try and find an…

  • Christmas tree like that of tree in home of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley

    Christmas Magic

    “Mom, I have to tell you something important,” Claire said to me in late November.  “I know Gingee isn’t real.” I froze, a bit.  Gingee is our elf.  She’s actually just a stuffed doll that Shawn and I got when Claire was 4 or 5 during the elf-on-the-shelf craze (Claire named our elf Gingee at the time.)  For years, we pretended that Gingee would show up during the month of December to watch over the kids and “report back to Santa at night.”  Because Gingee had to fly to the North Pole when everyone was sleeping, she often ended up in a new spot each morning. I found the elf…

  • Daughter of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley crosses arms and frowns while Grandfather smiles at her

    Old and Young, At the Same Time

    I came home from work the other day and Claire was in a bad mood. “I’m so tired,” she said, when I asked what was wrong. I offered up a number of ideas. She could read a book, listen to music, or just chill out on the couch. No, she could not watch TV. That was for after dinner and showers. She did not like this, and let me know. “Well, Claire,” I said, “I’m going out on a bike ride with Tommy and Austin. You can join us if you want.” She rolled her eyes at me and audibly sighed. Her hair was high on her head in a…

  • Daughter of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley runs in cross country race
    New Perspectives

    What’s the Worst Thing That Can Happen?

    I was driving to a cross-country meet with Claire a few weeks ago, and she was really nervous. “I have butterflies!” she said from the backseat. I tried to calm her down. She’s still in elementary school and she was only going to be running a couple of miles. “It’s for fun, anyway,” I said. “But what if it’s terrible?” she said. I could hear the worry in her voice. “Okay,” I said, “what’s the worst thing that can happen today?” “I could die!” Claire said. “You’re not going to die,” I said. “You know that. So let’s think about what actually might happen.” “I could have to walk,” she…

  • Father and child of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley walk to school
    Family & Friends

    Grandpa Tom Returns

    We counted down the days.  Tommy, unable to understand the days of the week, would simply ask, “is it tomorrow?” every day.  We cleaned the house and Claire made a cake.  We were so excited, and when he finally walked in the door after a summer away, all three kids screamed at the same time: “GRANDPA TOM!!!” My dad was laughing.  He was tan, a result of daily rounds of golf back in Oregon, and his white hair stuck out at the sides.  He set down his bags and picked up each kid before giving me a hug.  “We’re really glad you’re here,” I said, in the biggest understatement of…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley's husband Shawn plays with his youngest son in playroom

    “My Dad Died in the War”

    The other day, Tommy had over a friend for a few hours. They spent much of the time playing some sort of game where they were both soldiers and tried to “get” each other. I wasn’t really paying attention to them, but then I heard Tommy say, “my dad died in the war.” I turned to him. “Your dad didn’t die in the war,” I said. “Yes he did!” Tommy said back to me. “Why do you think that he died in the war?” I asked. “Well, dad was in the army, and he died, so he died in the war!” he said emphatically. I sat down and explained to…