Thursday, February 18, 2016

We're Still Here

I know it's been a long time since my last post, but we are still here, my mom and I. It's been a sometimes long and trying past 16 months since I have been here caring for my mother.

We now have a caregiver here through the week and she is an enormous help. I don't know what I would do without her.

I'm still getting used to being a caregiver and my mom is getting (somewhat) used to being a widow. Although as time goes by she is getting further from her understanding of it.  She asks less and less for her husband, but when she does, it's as if he was here a moment ago and just stepped out of the room.

Mom wants to go visit her mother everyday and most recently she wants to visit her dad also. Of course they have both been gone for years. Her dad passed away over sixty years ago.

She's had a couple UTI's in the past 16 months which have made her terribly confused and I have taken her to the doctor several other times thinking she must have another UTI just to be told that it is most likely the progression of her disease.

She is recovering from Bronchitis now, which is her first major illness since I've been here, and the first symptoms she had was major confusion. It's strange how the slightest change in how she feels can cause such an effect on her.

Some days I find it hard to believe that this is my mother who ran her own beauty salon for so many years and was such a social person.

I have learned one thing. Don't disagree with her! If she says she has worked all day, then she has worked all day! It really doesn't do any good to try to explain to her that she is retired. She believes she goes to work all day and that she is the only one who does any work! I was trying to talk her into going to the grocery store with me one day and finally had to tape a note to the front door that said "CLOSED" because she was afraid her customers would come in and no one would be here.

She still has such a good sense of humor and laughs at the smallest of things. Every night when I help her with her pajamas she thinks it is so funny. I wonder if she is thinking "She has no idea what she is doing."  If that's what she's thinking, she doesn't say so. She just laughs.

Some days have been tough for the both of us, but we press on..........

Thursday, May 28, 2015


I was watching Dr. Phil the other day. What can I say, there was nothing else to do. There was a widow on the show who had given all of her money to man she 'loved.' The strange thing was, she had never met him before,  had never seen him in person, only talked to him via internet 'chat.'

She sent him thousands and thousands of dollars. She didn't seem like a particularly unstable person. Just a very LONELY widow.

I felt for her as her daughter kept telling her that this man did not exist. He is a scam artist. A fraud. The woman did not seem to care that the man was scamming her. The man filled the hole in her life that no one else was filling.

I watched another show not long before this one which was the same scenario only it was a widowed man who was being scammed.

I thought to myself  "Are we as widows and widowers really this lonely?"

I have friends adjusting to widowhood by staying so busy everyday they don't have time to think. Could that be the answer?  Stay so busy that you don't know if you are lonely or not? It's worked out well for them; but for me, it's only a temporary fix. When all my friends go home for the day, and I am left alone again, I'm still missing my one and only.

I also have other friends whose schedules are not  so filled with lunch dates and movies and clubs and they too are adjusting very well to widowhood. They have worked through their grief with the help of a community of widowed friends.

I think loneliness sets in over time and when we begin to feel we are the only one who experiences grief in the unique way we experience it and that there is no one in our circle of friends or family who can relate to us.  No one who really feels deep down what we feel and has experienced our unique type of loss.

I don't thinks it's necessarily the absence of the feeling that someone cares. We can be in a room full of people who really do care for us, and still be lonely. It's the absence of having a person who knows how we feel.

As you can tell, I'm not psychologist, or even a deep thinking person, AH HA! I know you could sense that!

I believe that we need a sense of belonging to a community of women who feel what we feel and who have had the same hurt we have.

It's great to have people who care. It's better to have people who have been through what we have been through and survived. To have women in our lives who can encourage us to keep moving forward in our quest for contentment in whatever state we are in.

If you are wondering where to begin, here are few resources I have used that have been helpful to me:

If you like to read blogs, has a blog roll of great blogs! I pray you will be blessed, as I have been.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles,
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:17-18

Putting the Pieces Back Together

My house has been like a revolving door with family coming in and out this summer and having grand kids who will only eat certain foods, my refrigerator was beginning to be overloaded with a little of everything. So yesterday I decided to take what I thought would be about an hour and clean out the refrigerator.

I had a clear strategy in my mind, start from the bottom, remove one drawer or shelf at a time, clean it and put it back so I would know exactly where and how it went back in its place.

So beginning with the bottom drawer, I tried to slide it out, lift up on it, and pull it out. Nope, So I wiggled it around, lifted up on it some more, pulled, and pulled. Nope. It was not coming out. I thought "this is a great beginning."

So I decided that maybe it would be better to start with the drawer above it. It probably needed to come out first anyway. I pulled on it and it slid right out! Now I was getting somewhere. I washed it out and put it to the side and started on the bottom drawer again. It was not coming out! But since I had removed the drawer above, I could now remove the entire shelf that the bottom drawer slid into. So I lifted up on the whole thing, shelf and drawer together and pulled them both out. Okay, that's one way to do it.

So, I washed the bottom shelf and drawer as if it were one piece  and started to put it back in the refrigerator. IT DIDN'T FIT! I barely got it past the door, and it wouldn't go through the opening of the refrigerator. I tried sideways, upside down, and every which way, but that shelf and drawer would NOT go back into the refrigerator. Wait a minute, didn't I get it out of there? What comes out has to go back in, right? Nope. It was not going back in that refrigerator.

Okay, if all else fails read the manual. It read something like,  "if you have an odor in your refrigerator, the shelves and drawers can be removed for cleaning." REALLY? That's all they can tell me?

By this time I was already about an hour into this chore that I thought was only going to take me an hour, so I decided to clean the rest of the refrigerator and get back to that drawer last. Every shelf, tray, and container in the refrigerator popped right out and back in again.

I was wishing Paul was here to help me because he would have either figured it out by now, or said, "Let's go buy a new fridge."

I decided to put the shelf and drawer above the bottom one in first even though I would have to take it back out to get the bottom one in. But, I thought it may help me figure out the how the bottom drawer worked. First, I put in the shelf. No problem. Then I slid the drawer in. It slid in like butter through a knife. I knew I had to separate the drawer from the shelf because for one thing, it wouldn't even fit in the fridge in one piece. So I took the upper shelf and drawer back out and started on the bottom one.

I kept wiggling the drawer in and out, back and forth for I don't know how long, and then FINALLY the drawer popped off the shelf! HALLELUJAH! I couldn't believe it.

So I took the shelf and put it in the fridge, fairly easily I might add. Whew! And then I grabbed the bottom drawer. Okay, let's see if this thing will fit back in the fridge and back onto the guides of the shelf. Just like butter, it slid right in.  WOW! AMAZING! I'm home free. But, wait a minute, now it didn't close. It was way too big! The shelf was short and the drawer was long. WHAT?? I glanced over at the kitchen counter and there sat the little drawer. The bottom drawer.  I had picked up the wrong drawer. You have got to be kidding me!

Was this supposed to be a test in patience? If so, I was flunking the test.

Thankfully, the wrong drawer slid right back out of the guides. Now for the real bottom drawer. I wiggled it, twisted it, turned it and seriously considered calling a neighbor, but finally, it slid back in.

I didn't think that drawer would ever fit again. I thought I would have to use my refrigerator without a bottom drawer. I mean, who really needs a meat and cheese drawer anyway? But a couple hours and a lot of frustration later, it all came together.

I started thinking today of the ways my life is like my struggle with that drawer.  I have tried really hard to get my life back to the place it once was, back to normal. I feel like I have twisted it and turned it and maneuvered it every which way, but some of the old pieces of my life just don't fit anymore and I'm discovering new pieces (or things about myself) all the time. I'm living a 'new normal'. My grief  journey has taken a lot longer than I ever expected, but then again, I thought grief only lasted a year. Things are starting to come together.


 Isaiah 55:8-9

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Thursday, April 9, 2015

April 9, 1865 - The War Ends

On this day, 150 years ago (April 9, 1865) Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant ending the Civil War where 630,000 Americans died on American soil.

May we honor the memory of the brave soldiers who fought that war.

And to my direct descendants in memory of their bravery......

Avery Kirby  (Confederate soldier)- Served in Company F of the 26th North Carolina Troops and was mustered in Lenoir, North Carolina on July 15, 1861. He was wounded at Bristoe Station, Virginia on October 14, 1863 and admitted to Wayside Hospital on July 29, 1864.  His brother, William was also in the war and was wounded at Gettysburg.

Joseph Pleasant (Union soldier) - Served in Company F of the 13th Tennessee Cavalry. Enlisted on September 21, 1863 at Lenoir Station. He was injured on September 4, 1864 when the 13th Tennessee Cavalry mounted an attack on General John Morgan.

Thaddeus Maddy (Confederate Soldier) - Joined the 59th Virginia Regiment in 1861 at only 16 years old. Was mustered out and then served in Company F Virginia Infantry Regiment.  Was captured at Gains Farm (Cold Harbor) June 3, 1864 was taken to White House, Virginia on June 11, 1864, moved to Lookout Point, Maryland and then transferred to Elmira on July 12, 1864. Left Elmira on October 11, 1864 and arrived back at Lookout Point, Maryland , October 14, 1864. Discharged after the war on May 10, 1865


Gabriel Maddy - Detailed by the Confederate Army to provide materials used to make gun powder. Forced to take soldiers across the Greenbrier River, he was found dead with his hand cut off in the river by his boat.

I'd like to end this tribute with the words from "The History of the Thirteenth Regiment, Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry" written 1903:

"So readers, comrades and friends, we make our final bow, 
asking you to join us 
in an invocation to Deity 
that our beloved land 
may never again be drenched in the fraternal blood, 
but that peace, unity and brotherhood may continue forever and forevermore." 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Three Years Later...

After three years it's still difficult for me to think of myself as single. I guess that just means I don't feel different than I did when I was married. He's just not here anymore.

I still wear my wedding ring, and I hate to tick that single box when filling out forms at the doctor's office, so I usually leave it blank.  Of course there are some offices that still have the dreaded "widow"  box and that's not getting a tick from me either.

You may think I'm in denial, that I haven't accepted my husband's death, but believe me, I know he's gone. One thing I know for sure is that I will never see him again in this life. I saw him suffer for months, and I was there when he passed.  Yes, he is gone.

Believe me, the last three years have been a struggle, and through God's grace alone, I have survived.

I will never forget those early months of experiencing all my "FIRSTS." My first doctors appointment alone (he always drove me), my first trip to the grocery store, the first Christmas, his birthday. Those were days of stress, pain in my chest, and sometimes uncontrollable sobbing.

Other things I struggled through were:

Seeing older couples holding hands. I couldn't help but ask God why I didn't get to be that couple.

Being alone at night. The nights were long and sleepless.

Trying to figure out what to make myself for dinner! Sound crazy to you? After spending my life cooking for kids or a husband, it was hard to figure out what I liked. It also seemed like a waste of time to cook for one person. So,  I lost a little weight. 

Getting yard work done. I didn't know the first thing about negotiating with landscapers, but I soon learned.

Making all the financial decisions myself. Who was I going to blame if I lost money? 

Getting the car repaired. I called my sons many times to ask questions and make sure a repairman wasn't trying to scam me.

Having medical procedures. I hate being asked "Do you have a driver?" or "Is anyone with you today?"

Going for a walk alone. It took me a year to be able to go for a walk alone.

I think the toughest part was losing my best friend. I miss the little things; just riding in the car with him, or sitting out on the patio laughing and listening to his twisted sense of humor. 

I'm learning to live without him. I'm learning to just be me. I guess maybe that's what it is to be single. Just being myself.

Thank you God,
That the memory of Paul's death 
and his suffering 
have dimmed
pain is no longer
my constant companion.

"But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on..."
Phil 3:13-14

Sunday, March 1, 2015

In the Twinkling of an Eye

About four years ago if anyone asked me about my life I would have told them I felt very blessed. I had a great husband, lived in a beautiful home, had no money worries, my kids all seemed to be pretty much settled with their spouses, and I had 20 beautiful grandchildren. What else could any person ask for from this life?

Then in 2011 my husband started having stomach trouble and we found out it was pancreatic cancer.  He went in the hospital in early November, 2011 to have Whipple surgery (removal of all or part of the pancreas) and when they opened him up the doctor saw that his liver had some suspicious spots so he did a biopsy and found the cancer had already metastasized to his liver. He didn't have the Whipple surgery. They closed his incision and told us he had three to six months to live.

I have friends who didn't have any time to say goodbye to their husbands because of an accident or a sudden heart attack and their only wish is that they could have said goodbye.  I had four and a half months to say goodbye but it just wasn't enough. It went by so quickly and the days were filled with medical urgency and no emotional fulfillment, only the pain of watching him slowly die.

Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God's story never ends with 'ashes.” 

Our lives can be changed in the twinkling of an eye and if our blessings are counted purely upon the people we love, the money we have in our pocket, and the home we live in, it can all be gone in the twinkling of an eye, then where will our blessing be?

Of this one thing I am sure: For every ending there is a new beginning around the corner. When one door in our life is closed, another one is opened. It may not be what you expected, but God has something waiting for you.

When my step dad passed away a few months ago, I came to live with my mother who has Alzheimer's disease. I have never considered myself a "caregiver." My mother was always the "caregiver" of the family. If someone was sick she was the one who would volunteer to take care of them. I never considered myself a caregiver, but God did.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."
 Ecclesiastes 3:1  

I was reluctant to leave the home my husband and I bought together and I thought I could never give it up because it was such a part of him, but I found after I left that it is a relief not to go outside and see the empty dock where his boat was once tied up. It's a relief not to see that grapefruit tree that he jokingly said "I'll never live long enough to see fruit on this tree," and it has had fruit every since he's been gone.  I never knew it was a burden to live there, but God did. I didn't know I would feel better to leave, but God did.  

Our lives may change in the twinkling of an eye, and it may feel that all we have left is ashes, but God can take our ashes and make something beautiful.

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "the Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him." 
Lamentations 3:22-24

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Do I Need a Hearing Aide?

Today, as a woman passed me in the ladies room, she said "Nice roots."

I quickly looked in the mirror to check my "roots" and found that I had my sunglasses on my head, so I wondered how she even saw my roots. I couldn't help but think how rude it was for her to tell me I had "roots."

I told myself she must have said something else. Who would say that? No, I heard it pretty well. She just passed by me and said "Nice roots."

I have to admit it was pretty odd, but I didn't think about it anymore until later that day when I got home and took off my coat and as I bent down to unzip my boots it dawned on me that she had given me a compliment "Nice boots."

I think I may need a hearing aide.