Monday, January 30, 2012

New Perspective

A trip to my daughters in New York always fills me with new thoughts, new plans... I promise myself 'I'm gonna do this or do that when I get home' and then I return to the daily grind and I forget about the promise. But, I am sure going to try to change all of that.

What I wanted to talk with you about today refers to a long talk me and Susan and Shirley had on Sunday morning. I talk with my children about my grief. They grieve, too, and it helps to just put it out there and share. Although I am always open with them, I found, on Sunday morning, that I wasn't being OPEN with myself.

I have spent this past year, after losing Elbert, trying to 'find myself'.

                                    Who was I without him?
                      Who was I going to be in the years to come?

Shirley reminded me that I know who I am, it's finding out what PURPOSE I now have that is my biggest trial. My purpose since I was nearly 17 was to be a good, loving wife to Elbert,

 to be a good, loving mother, (pictured here with my son at his wedding)

then I strived to be a good, loving caretaker to my Mother

 and then to Elbert.

I had 'purpose'. It drove me, it defined me.

2011 was a year filled with indecisiveness, confusion, it was a 'lost in a fog' year. And, it spilled over into the new year. I have been struggling so much. One day I think I have it figured out and the next I am right back not knowing what to do.

I just wonder how many other widows go through this phase. Am I the only one? How do I get out of it?

As I said, the talk with my daughters (as we stood in Susan's kitchen) found me opening up about so much. I knew that as I began to crawl out of the initial shock of losing Elbert, I began doing 'Normal' things. Hey, I must be getting SO much better. I'd tell myself, Tomorrow, I will be over all this. Talk about denial!! Oh, that's another step of grieving... denial is. So, I denied to myself and everyone around me that I was moving right along, I was getting over this depression, this grief. Oh yes, I still cried, I still ached... but, hey,  I'm a big girl. I handled yesterday so I will be even better today.... Denial!!

I made plans, I moved on with my life, I told myself those things. I made trips, I cleaned house, I enjoyed my family, I saw my friends.  And, I tried to help a widower who is in worst denial than I am and you know the story about that. I going to be the caregiver again. THAT WAS IT.... I was so used to being a caregiver I just didn't know how not to be. When would I turn loose of that?

When would I start thinking about what it was I wanted out of life?

The girls told me I needed to 'step out of my box', meet new people, do new things, find that PURPOSE that made me happy and fulfilled me.

I opened up to them about my loneliness. I have always liked MY SPACE,...  I mean I had MY SPACE before there was ever a MY SPACE on the internet. I was basically an only child, living in a household of adults. I grew up that way, then I married a man who was gone a lot. Uncle Sam saw to that. When he retired he enjoyed his hunting, fishing and I enjoyed MY SPACE. It's just who I am. But, loneliness is something else altogether. My children have their own lives and I would never 'hang on to my kids'. My friends, well,  almost all of them have husbands. So, yes I am lonely and I think that is why I graviated toward helping out the widower. It gave me a purpose, it was what I was used to.

So, I came home from my visit in New York filled with ideas. I hope you gals can help keep me on track. Now let me fall into that slump again.

1. I am thinking of joining a gym.
     Reason: I am overweight, out of shape and need to be healthier. And, I would meet new people.

2. I need to finish a novel I started before Elbert got so bad I had to put it aside.
     Reason: I have always liked to write. I feel that my time to actually do a worthwhile book is now.

3. I need to take care of myself
      Reason: I've never had time to think about myself. I now have time to do anything I want to and I should pursue what makes me happy and keeps me active.

4. Take one day at a time
      Reason: I have spent the last year trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I may not have a tomorrow or next year. None of us have that guarantee. I need to enjoy each day and stop being so confused about all the crap. Excuse my language there. But, I have let crap just fill my brain and I am not stopping to enjoy moments, be happy in my own space.

So, I have work to do. Get healthier... finish my novel..... think about me for a change.... and stop trying to make it so dang hard. Life is a journey, I need to enjoy the trip.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Remember that old saying?  I heard it over and over as I grew up but you just don't hear it anymore. Different generation, different way of looking at things. But, I had a reason for posting that this morning.

The Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise I will be making some trips soon. Gonna go up to New York and enjoy the grandsons (Tighe age 4, Owen age 18 and Griffin age 20) Well, Griffin's in college but maybe we can sneak in a little side trip to visit him. You'll keep your fingers crossed I don't get snowed in!

The Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise I will then make a trip to visit my sister in Alabama. Haven't seen her in over a year. Thought I'd go down and aggreviate her awhile. She's the Older One and I'm the little sister!! We will have such fun.

The Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise my son plans on coming to see me. I saw him last August so we have some catching up to do.

Now, the Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise I have a list of things I want to do in the months ahead. I know the Good Lord is in charge and He will keep that creek from rising.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Territory

As all of you know, that have followed this blog, of my and Elbert's journey through Alzhiemers, that I have always been open and honest with you. I hope that some of what I have experienced has been helpful to you. Just jotting it down in black and white has helped me deal with all the trials and goodness knows you all have been so sweet, so caring.

So, I am going to talk about something that is definately 'New Territory' for me. Some of you have never considered this (and are not at that point in your life) and some of you may have thought about it, some may have already covered this new way of life for themselves. There is no road map to guide you.

I am talking about opening up yourself, your life to another person of the opposite sex. The years of caregiving are gone, the pain and suffering of losing someone you love so deeply is getting a tad easier (and I said, a tad).... and you start to think about being alone FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! You miss the sound of a man's voice, a tender hug, a sweet kiss. You know you can never have those things again with your spouse, however, there comes a time when you begin to know that you are human, that you are lonely, that you need companionship.

I started having some wee thoughts creep in to this weary, vacant mind of mine. I know that 'I'll never marry again' and living with someone is not 'my thing' either. I didn't really like these thoughts but they came and went. And, then I got into this situation recently that I wanted to share with you.

A girlfriend of mine was concerned about a friend of hers who had lost his wife some months ago. He never talked about his pain, never dealt with his grief, but sat staring at the tv and he was very lonely. So, when she asked if I would be willing to go to lunch with him I said yes. I'd been in that same frame of mind, maybe I could help.

I met him in Nov. and by the middle of Dec. (when his wife had been gone about 6 months) I began picking up on subtle hints that he thought there was a future for us. Then he became less subtle!! I wasn't ready to have a romantic relationship and I sure didn't think he had moved past the 'denial' stage of his grieving. What to do...... it was a dilemma I was totally unfamiliar with and one I was so uncomfortable with. I knew that it was time for me to say goodbye to this gentleman. And, so I did.

It's difficult to know when the right time is (if ever) to move on with your life. Evidently the time is not right for me and it may never be. I was married to the best. And, I found it awfully hard not to compare!!
I would never advise anyone on what they should do with their life but I will say this. Be careful as you move past your deep grieving so that you may be fully in tune with what you need, what you want and what and who you are willing to let into your life. Go slow, be sure. It's difficult to be alone so I am not saying that you should never have companionship again. I know many 'second marriages' that have worked and turned out very happy. That course to take is for the individual to determine.

The nights are long, the way is rough and there is much soul searching that I have to do. However, there is a new day dawning and what it holds I know not but I vow that it will be exciting and it will be what I want, what I need and I will be okay. That's what Elbert would have wanted for me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Party of a Different Kind

As far as I can remember....... and at this age that 'remember' thing might be subject to scrutiny.... but I don't ever recall having a birthday party that included friends. It was always a gathering with family or a night out at a restaurant, but never a party that I shared with my friends.

Well, as far as I can remember, (he he) I can now say I have had my PARTY. And, what fun it was. Just trot on over to and read about it.

I'll give you a little 'peek' here.....

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

One Step At A Time

One year ago. A mountain of fog and tears, my heart ripping out, my life turned upside down. 2011 started off in the worst way and it was a roller coaster ride (and still is, I might add).

It was on January 3, 2011 that Elbert passed away. I wasn't sure how I'd handle the anniversary which happened to be yesterday. Dau. Shirley and I went to Hardees for the biscuit and sweet tea just like we did when Elbert was with us. We talked, we cried and then we came home.

Later on I went upstairs to clean out a closet. January is my month to deep clean all the closets. I pulled out clothes that needed to be gotten rid of, some winter clothes I had forgotten I had and was thrilled to see, a pair of boots I might need when it snows.

Then I move over to a closet that is filled with shelves. So much stored in there. Old pictures, scrapbooks from old ago, mementoes, books. When Dau Susan found out what I was doing she was concerned.
'Mom, you think that is a good thing to be doing today?'

Now, I'm not recommending this for grieving spouses, especially on the anniversary of their loved one's passing. Everyone is different and must handle things in their own good time. But, for me, it was comforting, looking at books he had read, pictures of his Navy career, finding postcards he had sent me when we were dating, letters he had written. For a moment I set aside the pain of his years of Alzheimers and was lost in the joy of our life together, when things were wonderful and exciting and we had so much to look forward to.

(Elbert & I on a ski lift in Vermont)

Life has it's cycles. I am now in one that I can put no name to. The roller coaster ride, like I said. Some days I am alright, doing the business of living and getting ahead. Some days I cry a lot, some days a tear wouldn't come even if I tried, Some days I feel like I am teetering on the edge of a cliff, hanging on for dear life. Some days I slip off that edge and plunge down to the ravine below.

The ravine thing is happening less and less. I have so many to thank for making my days easier to handle... my children, God bless their sweet hearts. My grandchildren who have been so caring and loving. The hugs and love from those precious little great grands. My Sister who lost her husband just 6 weeks before I lost Elbert. And, all you great bloggers. Oh my, how you have sustained me, held me up and stood in there with me. Thank you.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year


It's a new year, a new day, a new life, a new..... hmmmm, let's see, what else is new.
Two 1/2 weeks ago Elbert and I would have celebrated our 61st anniversary.

One week ago I got through the first Christmas without him.

Today I prayed for guidance, 'Please, Lord, just show me the path I must follow'. And, He answers prayers... already... That's fast, Lord? Was I that desperate that You put me on Speed Answer!!

I'll sit down sometime this afternoon and start a new 'yearly' journal. My life is pretty well documented on those pages in cheap black and white composition books. You'd think I'd write my 'doings' in a fancy journal but my life is what it is, fancy paper or no.

Tomorrow I will start a new schedule, a new outlook, a new way of thinking and try to keep myself busy for the next few days. You see, it will be a year ago on Jan. 3rd that I lost my sweetheart. Lord, just get me through this week and then I think I can make it through the rest of my life.

On Friday the 6th I will celebrate my 78th birthday. Life goes on. I am ready, Lord. Just keep showing me the way.