The Most Beautiful Christmas Tree Ever!

It was a week before Christmas in 2006. This would be our first Christmas without Dave.  The post office had just delivered a box from Dave’s sister, Mo, that I was about to open.  I was on the phone with my sister, Terri, chatting away as I used a pair of scissors to cut open the tape and pull open the box flaps.

“Eeeeouuw! What is THIS?! I can’t believe Mo actually bought this!”, I said to my sister on the phone. It was a silver tinsel tree!! Not a very attractive tree and definitely not one I would have picked to display in our home. I thought it was so weird that she bought us this ugly silver tinsel tree! Then, I saw the note.  The note I failed to notice because I was busy talking on the phone. The note was written with a black marker on the outside of the box.  It said, “Do not open until you get the small box!” Oops!

Do not open note

Pic of Michael

Dave’s nephew Michael 2008

The small box was delivered separately the next day so I had to wait until the next day to find out about this “lovely” silver tinsel tree.  There was a note on the outside of the small box that said, “Open this box before the large box”. Ummmm….LOL!

Inside the small box was a photo Christmas card of our nephew Michael, who at the time had Farrah Fawcett hair. (Sorry Michael…just couldn’t help myself) Inside the card, Mo had written about her idea for a special Christmas tree. And what a wonderful idea it was!

Tree infoIn years past, a silver tinsel tree was what Dave’s grandmother had put up during Christmas for all the grandkids to enjoy. Mo picked up trees for her parents, brother Jimmie, and sisters Cathy and Maryellen in remembrance of Dave. To make it extra special Mo included ornaments for our new David Tree…butterfly ornaments! How cool! We started off with 38 butterflies, for Dave’s age. Each year we add another butterfly to the David Tree. I’ve actually changed things up a little bit and added an extra butterfly so that we could also celebrate Dave’s birthday on January 4th with the number of butterflies for the age he would have been.

I’m not sure I’ll continue putting up a big Christmas tree or going all out in decorating every year. It’s a lot of work and Sierra is growing up so the need or motivation to keep the house “Christmassy” is sort of fading.  I do know, however, that the David Tree has become a Castles Family’s holiday tradition and that is one I will continue to carry out with pleasure. I love my David Tree and I think it’s the most beautiful tree, the most special tree ever!

This year we are adding butterfly #44.  Merry Christmas Dave and Happy Birthday soon!

Christmas 2012/Jan 4, 2013: Butterfly #45

David's Christmas Tree

Our David Tree


More to Come…..

I will be posting on a regular basis so please feel free to come back again.  I’ll be writing about life with Dave, what happened when he died, my experience in dealing with losing him, and how I managed both my grief and Sierra’s. I’ll also include many of the things that happened after he died…experiences that caused me to re-evaluate my non-existent spiritual beliefs.

Holiday Wishes and Silly Faces

Christmas card 2011

Happy Holidays!! See if you can find the 7 hidden references to Dave in the main photo

This last time I put together a Christmas card was in 2006, the year Dave died. Five years later, I decided it was time to do another. I also wanted to make it fun and special so I hid 7 references to Dave in the main photo.  See if you can find them first before checking out the answers below.

1. Teddy Bear:  A gift Dave gave Sierra for her 1st birthday in October 2001.  We call him “Daddy Bear”.

2. The #11 has special meaning to us.  Not only was it Dave’s “final number”, but it also appears quite often in our every day lives. Find the #11 on Daddy Bear’s left hand.

3. The #11 is also located on my right knee.

4. DC for Dave Castles is hidden on Sierra’s Santa hat.

5. DC is also hidden on the bottom half of Sierra’s top.

6. Have you heard the phrase “Pennies from Heaven”? We find pennies everywhere and have many cool stories about them. There is one included in this pic. Try to find this one on your own.

7. This one is probably the toughest…should I tell you?  Ok I will.  They are my wedding rings on a chain…a gift of love to be passed on in time….

Hope you enjoyed our little holiday card game.  Merry Christmas and may 2012 bring peace and happiness to all!

Maui Romance

Volleyball at Kamaole at Sunset

A volleyball in flight as Dave plays and the sun sets at Kamaole Beach, Maui

“It’s kismet!” is what Dave said on our wedding day and any other day when asked about how and when he and I had met.  I can still picture the look and smile he would give me after that answer. Then, he would proceed to tell “his” account of how I saw him playing beach volleyball and how I fell in love with him at first sight. He’s told that story a thousand times! Of course, I would then have to explain what really happened….

It was 1995 and Dave was on a break from the long hours and stress as general sales manager for a car dealership in New Hampshire.  He and his friend, Eric Brooks, decided they would visit Maui for the first time and hang out for a few months.  Eric signed up for classes at Maui Community College and also found a part time job in Kihei. Dave on the other hand, spent every day at Kamaole Beach I and the beach volleyball court there became his second home.

I had left my job as office manager at a Maui radio station and was on an extended break.  My friend, Renee Akiona Ostrem, was a beach volleyball player and often played at Kamaole Beach.  One Saturday afternoon, I decided to stop by and visit Renee while she played volleyball.  I stayed for about an hour and left.  The next day, I stopped by Renee’s apartment and she said a guy who’s visiting from the East Coast asked about me.  She handed me a little piece of paper with “Dave” scribbled on it and his phone number.  Although, Renee said he was “cute”, I was not in the habit of calling guys I didn’t know, so I decided to pass on the phone call.

The following weekend, Renee invited me to the beach to hang out and watch volleyball and possibly meet Dave. I was a bit reluctant as I wasn’t really interested in getting involved with anyone.  After some thought, I decided to stop by for a short while.  I watched a few great volleyball games, tanned on the beach and had a fun time with my friends.

Halfway through my time there at Kam I, Renee introduced me to Dave Castles. He said he was semi-retired, from the Boston area and on Maui for a six month stay.  I remember thinking…”semi-retired?! What does that mean?” He was cute as Renee had described, but he seemed a little a bit of a “wise guy” and his confidence shone brighter than the Maui sun.  He was also very entertaining, had a great sense of humor and I could sense the good-natured soul within him. The other half of my beach time was spent with Dave, chatting and joking.  We talked for hours about our lives and past experiences.  Our connection was instant. From that day forward for the next 5 months, we spent every moment we could together, until his vacation was over and he had to return home.