Thursday, February 19, 2015

On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow Up!

 "The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young"
Oscar Wilde

When I was a child, I had the notion that it would be cool to be older.  You know drive, have a job, have a husband, have kids,  and drink.  Not that I ever did a lot  of drinking while I was growing up.  As I grew up, I noticed a lot of drinking going on around me so around age 18 I decided to try it.  (I was out of high school but not of age).  Big surprise, I liked it.  I was funnier, more witty, and best of all less shy.  We all want to be older than we are when we are young.  You can't wait to grow up.

Fast forward (and I do mean fast) 40 years and it's not quite what I envisioned.  I am now a card carrying member of Medicare as of April1.  Somehow this is not how I thought my later life would be.  First of all my dreams of retirement included my husband Sam who is nowhere to be found except in my heart.  Arthritis which flared up during Sam's  illness is only getting worse, so I cannot wear any of my beautiful rings he bought me.  They say 60 is the new 40, but I don't think they told the men I have an interest in about that little factoid.

Some compare getting older to a fine bottle of wine.  The more it ages, the better it gets.  You're not getting older you're getting better.  I've got a million of them.  I exercise regularly, eat pretty well, still trying to cut down on the alcohol, but I am here to tell you, no matter how hard you try, it pretty much just takes over.  Yes you can have a face lift, but the minute they see your hands,  it is over.  You can apply all the face cream on earth, but eventually there is nothing that can be done to fade the dark circles under the eyes or brown spots all over your body.  I can hear my Mom now telling me to get out of the sun, it will age me quicker.  She told me, I ignored her. 

I am  sitting here, aging like a piece of cheese.  And speaking of cheese the next person who moves mine is in serious trouble.  Thinking I have done a marvelous job of adjusting to life events,  some of my own making, I am just plain tired.  Tired of feeling the same way I did at 40, but having the mirror tell a completely different story.  Tired of the 30 somethings and their opinion of old people being anyone over age 60 or God forbid, has platinum hair. 

What I am really trying to say is that 65 has come all too fast, and I know that I have less time ahead than behind me.  It is scary, but it is my intention to make the most of those all too fleeting years and try to make a difference as I live each day to its fullest.  Too bad it took me 65 years to grow up.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Try A Little Tenderness

We who have suffered a loss do get weary, the grief makes us weary and with all the turmoil going on in the world, sometimes it is more than we can bear.  With the holidays here it brings memories of happier times and those damn Christmas Carols playing "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and the like, it's hard to get through some days.  As the saying goes "life goes on".  No one mentions if that's a good thing.  It goes on, but it is never the same for us.

Okay, so how do we try to lighten our load, so to speak?  Here are a few ways I am finding to bring some peace back into my heart.  One way is spiritually,  not the "Long Island Medium" kind but the belief that God is always with us and if we ask for his help he will give us what we seek.  For a lot of us guilt is a block to finding inner peace.  We must forgive ourselves for a myriad of choices we have made in the past.  Now I know that this is no small task, but once we eliminate the demons that drive our feelings, we can move ahead to tackle what lies ahead. 

For me it was the realization that my time here is finite and I want to enjoy the time I have left and maybe make a difference in someones life, even if I don't understand what is happening at the moment.  A smile or a hello to a stranger is a small thing, but if we are so wrapped up in our grief or guilt, we will not  have time to notice what is going on around us.

So here is my advice, and as always you can take it or leave it, but cut yourself some slack.  In this busy holiday season take time for yourself.  I know radical, huh?  Read the Bible,  do some things that bring you joy.  Call your grand kids or your best friend just to see how they are,  and listen.  Enjoy some solitude.  Read the signs that people and the Lord are giving you.  Love yourself.

My favorite scripture is the following:  "For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope.  When you call me, when you go to pray to me,  I will listen to you.  When you look for me, you will find me.  Yes, when you seek me with all your heart you will find me with you, says the Lord."  Jeremiah 29:14

I hope it brings you the same peace it does for me.  I wish you all a very Merry and Blessed Christmas and pray that you find the Peace of Christ in your life.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Dear Sam

This will be our third Christmas without you.  I miss your larger than life personality trying to make the season bright for all, especially me.  The years you would dress up as Santa Claus and visit Max and Addie every Christmas Eve.  It was even magical for me.  When the kids moved to Vegas they still flew home for the holidays and we spent Christmas morning together.  So many happy memories.

I came across a video this morning while looking through pictures from Christmas 2005.  The kids were unwrapping their presents and that was the year we wrapped each present and then put the presents in a big box and wrapped it.  They really loved that, so exciting for them.  Even though we lived in Washington state and Andy lived in Chicago and Max and Addie lived in Kalamazoo we still managed to make Christmas special and you were a big part of that.  The video focused on the kids and I wish you were in the video more, but I heard your voice and I was back there all those years ago.  Oh did I enjoy that.

Each year seems harder than the last without you.  The longer you are gone, the more I miss you.  The older I get the more I need you.  It is hard getting older, so much change, I must believe in myself as you believed in me.  That is a tall order and find myself lacking the desire most days.

On a bright note Max had his senior picture taken with the trombone you bought him and is playing songs out of your trumpet songbooks.  I am going to get a concert when I am down there for Christmas.  I know you will be there too.  Please ask our Lord to help me when I have days like this,  I look forward to the day I can be with you again.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Dead Husbands Club

Not exactly a club we want to be members of.  Our husbands are gone, and here we sit, wondering what the hell happened.  I must confess, when left on my own, the question still bothers me.  What the hell happened?  Don't want to be a member but I am.  More and more through life, I find that it doesn't matter what I want, I must take it as it comes.

As you can maybe tell, I am wallowing in self pity today.  Maybe it is a good thing I am alone, because I don't know of too many people who want to be with me when I am like this.  Honey came over to the couch as I was sobbing and tried to make me feel better with a nuzzle, such a sweet girl.  I just cried harder.

Today I am angry that Sam left me here,  alone and missing him more than I ever thought possible.  I feel as if the grief is insurmountable today.  My therapist tells me there will be days like this.  That does not make it any less painful.  I guess it is normal, but I don't want to be normal, I want my husband back.  I am a child today. I want my way.  So much much pain.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


"Hello world, my old friend, it's good to see you again"  from one of my favorite songs by Lady Antebellum.    It talks about cell phones ringing, traffic jams, distractions we all experience.  Lot's of things and people vie for our attention, on a daily basis and we don't take time to look outside ourselves to what is going on.  It is very easy to get wrapped up in our schedules and obligations to the point there is little time for anything else.  Yes we can stop and smell the roses, but is it possible to even find them?  I think it is safe to say we often times do not know where to look.  Too busy...

Here is another angle to percolate on.  During my daily walk this morning I listened to it from a different perspective.  Grief also engulfs us and distracts in a way where we can stop living.  We go through the motions, and life is a dull roar in the background, we are afraid and unable to stop and really think about anything, because the ghosts and the pain comes back.  We are in a coma of sorts, missing out on life and loved ones.  By no means am I saying it is that simple.  What I am saying is that eventually the noise quiets down, the fog lifts, and we slowly wake from the nightmare of death.  We rejoin the world of the living, but still revere our lost loved ones.  We look for ways to keep them close in our hearts so their spirit lives on.  When we are able to do that it becomes easier to face each day head-on and make the most of the time we have left.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Lighten Your Load

The last few days have proven to be somewhat of a challenge and eye opening as well.   Seeing as it has only been a scant five months since I moved back, I have started to go through the pile of boxes in my garage which take up half of it.  Due time, don't you think?

I find it difficult to go through the boxes, as there are reminders of my previous lives (that's right, lives) contained in each one.  So I tried to break them down into categories.  Andy's childhood, Sam, Max, and Addie.  Now normally one would think what, a box each maybe?  Well......Sam has around five boxes, Andy three, Max and Addie...OMG.   Oh and I can't forget about me, I try, but to no avail.

Any who, I start to take a razor knife to the boxes and cut them into bite size chunks (don't worry, no running on the treadmill backwards stories), and put the packing paper in the recycle bin.  Then I begin opening the boxes that are still full of God knows what.  BOOKS!  My lord do I have books.  One medium box full of Jim Harrison, a lot David Baldacci paperbacks, Paulo Coehlo, fortunately I do have a place for them.  Then I open two boxes of vinyl albums from the 1970's - 1980's.  Then there are the four or five boxes of cassette tapes and cd's.  Good God Almighty, I need an organizer of some kind.  So I start pitching.  The first thing of note to go was the copper punch type picture, I made in Pauline Raynor's 5th grade Science class of a baby fawn.  I hauled that thing across the country and from house to house since then.  Time to purge. 

I have not yet subscribed to my Son Andy's method of moving (100 yard dumpster in the driveway) but am starting to appreciate what he does. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

"What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?"

Today's post is the first of what I hope become essays on grief, that might help someone experiencing it. Grief is explained by some as a process, certain steps that everyone goes through.  If there is one thing I have experienced during this time, it is that there are different kinds of grief and loss.  It  cannot be categorized by steps experienced in certain order. 

There is little difference whether you know it is coming or not.  The result is the same, you are alone.  Maybe not at first, as right after it happens you are inundated with food, flowers and friendship.  Of course at this stage you are numb and feel as if all of this is a bad dream, so you can't take it all in.  I must caution not to get rid of all their stuff right away, suggesting that if you have help, let them pack it up and put it away for a while.  Reality comes calling after everyone goes home and you are left with all the reminders of your former life.  The person you shared everything with is gone.  You still talk to them, ask them what they think and desperately look for signs that they are with you.  And they are.  All that energy cannot just simply disappear over night. 

Even though you don't feel like it, it's important to stay in touch with friends, but always be prepared to  leave in a hurry, as at first it is hard.  I had to call my friends at times and ask them to come over and just sit with me for a while.  It helped beyond belief.  I an  m so blessed.  Visiting a grief counselor also did me a lot of good and the girls at Blessed Sacrament in Allegan were an absolute God-send.

It didn't happen overnight.  Sam has been gone not quite 2 1/2 years and I still have a long way to go, but what I am saying is it does get better, God brings new people into your life to help fill the void, not take their place, but to enrich your life.  Give you reasons to see you are really blessed and be able to pay it forward in some way.  I am much more spiritual than before and try to appreciate what I have and not just sad over what I have lost.

I believe grief is something we never truly get over.  As I read in a Jim Harrison book once, "A lifetime is not long enough to get over it."