Sunday, January 30, 2011

Days Long - Nights, too

How long is a day? 12 hours.

How long is a night? 12 hours.

Add them up and that is 24 hours.

Beg to differ with you there.

My days seem 50 hours at least and then the dark comes and night falls and it's 50 hours til daybreak.
Wintertime is the worst. The days are short, or so they say. But, they feel like the longest day of the year, each and every one of them.

I try to stay busy and goodness knows that all the paperwork following a death is a lot of work. But, my seconds, minutes and hours have a lack of direction to them. No getting in the car and heading to the nursing home. No sitting with my hubby for awhile, enjoying the time. No going shopping for special treats for him, or new pajamas or houseshoes. It's like someone came along and just sliced that part of my life right out of existence. How do I fill that time? How do I find a new direction?

The time will come one of these days when I do find a new meaning to my days and nights. Right now it's just so difficult.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Shock Gone

The numbness and shock that I have felt for two weeks wore off during the night last night. I awoke this morning missing Elbert, missing our life together, allowing myself finally to think back past Alzheimers. I had not allowed myself to 'think and feel'. I thought it would be easier that way. So I wrapped my mind, heart and body around the moment, doing very ordinary things. Then I was worried because I didn't grieve a lot.

Yesterday I was cleaning out a spare room upstairs and ran across a box of momentoes that I have saved over the years. I decided to scan some of the things and sort some out to give to the children. Yesterday I handled it well.... this morning I am full of tears remembering the good times and embracing the hurt and sadness and loss.

There were so many little pieces of paper (a telegram from 1951 where he informed me he and his buddy had arrived back in Calif from a visit to see me safe and sound).

There was a poem he had cut out of a magazine and wrote my name at the top and signed it with his at the bottom.

There were cards from flowers he had sent me, and some letters I had saved from the beginning of our relationship to recent times. There was a book of tickets from OUR egg farm back in the 50s.  We were short of money and he bought a hundred chickens from our landlady and sold eggs to sailors on the base.
And, so much more. We certainly lived a full life and most of the time a meaningful life. We traveled and did exciting things. We scrimped when the pay was low. We lived in all kinds of conditions and I wouldn't trade any part of it for the world. So, Honey, here's to you...... Thanks for giving me such a wonderful life. I will always cherish the memories.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Today is Saturday Jan. 15th (I think). Elbert has been gone 12 days. It seems like months and months, even years, and in reality he has, not in body but in mind. I don't seem to know what to do with myself. I clean house then I sit then I load the dishwasher then I pace. My routine is scrambled like some egg in a frying pan. No more getting ready to go to the nursing home. An empty place in my heart.

Speaking of heart.... after Elbert's funeral I began to notice heart arrythmia, pretty strong. I've had palpatations before but nothing like this... I finally decided my heart was broken and no longer knew how to beat. I got a little concerned about it so I got on the internet and looked it up. One cause.... caffeine. Duh. During all the days of getting ready for the funeral, people bringing in food, family arriving etc. I just picked up whatever was available to eat or drink. And, I'd downed any soft drink sitting there. I cut out the caffeine and my heart is beating normal again. In grief we just don't care about anything. Maybe we all need someone to be our guardian during that time.

My family was and has always been amazing. They all were loving guardians (not over the food) for me. For a long time now they knew there was nothing they could do to improve their Dad's life so they turned their attention on me. Sometimes too much. (grin).

I was thinking yesterday that I have become too dependent on my children over the course of Elbert's illness. And, I just resolved to do something about it. I am going to be more independent, do anything I can do for myself and not even mention things that need my attention for they'd be here in a heart beat. No, it's time to take back my life. And, I am going to start by being healthier. I have gained too much weight during the years of sitting so I could be near Elbert. That has to be hard on that heart as well. My granddaughter came up to me during the visition at the funeral home and said, 'You know you are my only living grandparent now.'  There was this big pause and then she added sternly but with a smile 'No more Whoppers for you'.

I knew what she meant. I do love and I mean LOVE Whoppers. With extra onion, thank you. And, I don't pay attention to my carbs even though my blood sugar is a little high. A friend called yesterday. Her husband has type 2 diabetes and with her guidance over the food he ate he was able to stay off medicine. I told her I want to know what she does in her kitchen. I have a brand new kitchen and I don't cook. What is wrong with me, folks? ha  If any of you have low carb recipes I'd love for you to share them. I want to be healthy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Ray of Sunshine

Remember the tune 'Look For The Silver Lining'? Oh, you're not as old as me and have never heard of it!!  Sorry, you missed a great song. It was written by Jerome Kern and goes like this.

                                                   I look for the silver lining
                                             Whenever clouds appear in the blue
                                          Remember somewhere the sun is shining
                                                So the right thing for you to do
                                                      is make it shine for you.

                                                A heart full of joy and gladness
                                             will always banish sadness and strife
                                               So always look for the silver lining
                                              and try to find the sunny side of life.

There have been so many dark clouds on my horizon lately. This song came to mind this morning as I rejoiced in the birth of a new great grandson. Life has come full circle.

The baby was named Dylan Joel, born at 12:31 a.m. Jan 12, 2011, just 1 1/2 weeks after his great grandpa died. What a blessing that we see new life, new hope, a new beginning. And, oh, how his great grandpa would have adored him. I got to visit with the new parents and baby today. He's so alert, so beautiful. He's that silver lining in the dark clouds.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's Been One Week

One week ago yesterday Elbert went home to be with the Lord.

I didn't know what to expect out of the grieving process nor had I ever really thought about it. Who wants to think of how they will act under such circumstances? Grief for each is different and very personal but I decided that I would continue this journey with all of you wonderful, caring friends who have held me up and sometimes carried me as I cared for Elbert. You enriched my life, you loved me and supported me and although when you come to the end of YOUR journey it will be, as I said, very different and very personal. At that time I hope that you can glean some little tidbit of comfort from being a wee bit prepared (from reading this blog)

This first week has been interesting. I have felt numb for most of the days and wanted to sleep. Oh, my how tired, emotionally and physically, I was and still am to some extent. It's okay to sleep and sleep I did. To begin with of course was the flurry of activity. Even though we had a prepaid funeral plan and had most of our information on file at the funeral home I found there still was a lot to do. Order flowers, which one daughter took care of. Arrange for the minister (our former pastor lives in Texas now), get an organist and soloist, make sure out of towners are notified. Is there enough food? Is there enough toliet paper for all this crowd? and kleenex? Where will everyone sleep? I have four children, inlaws, grandchildren. But, you know, it all took care of itself. People took over and just did.

I have had feelings of relief. I feel guilty having those feelings. I should have felt that I wanted him here with me as long as I lived. But, the truth is, I have lost him every single day for years. Too many to think about. I have grieved until I think I have just grieved all the tears out of me. I can't cry it seems. Oh, I did at the military part of his funeral. Lost it. And, that's good. I was burying my love, my companion. But, then the tears just did not come until night before last when I woke up at 3 a.m. I felt odd, like I was an unloving spouse for not shedding tears. I hope that in time I can cry my heart out. But, you know, I was not an unloving wife and I know he loved me so very much. As he lay dying he knew me and a lot of the family were there. When I'd say something to him he would try to turn his body and lift his arms up toward me to give me a hug.

Okay..... now I'm crying!! Maybe I just needed to talk about it and too, I have tried to be so strong for the children and grands. Shirley said yesterday 'Mom, you never cease to amaze me'. Well, kiddo... I do it for you!!

I've been in my house alone for one and a half years. So, settling down by myself in the house has been comparatively easy. Elbert was in a very loving nursing home and I feel that the family made the right decisions about first placing him in an assisted living and when he couldn't stay there to move him on to a nursing home. I couldn't have cared for him at home without round the clock help. We couldn't have been more pleased with his care at Consulate N.H.  In fact, after he passed some of the nurses were seen in the hallway crying. That's special care.

TIP: Do  your homework if you plan to use a nursing home. Get references, visit the facility at odd times, and keep a watch during your loved ones stay. The more you visit the more they are sure to be on task.

Yesterday, the one week anniversary, Shirley got me out of the house. She has been my mainstay for years. Well, I guess she had to be.... she lives next door. (grin) We dropped off flowers for the nursing home staff and a thank you card. We just wanted them to know how much we appreciated their attentiveness and kindness. Then on to pick up granddaughter, Britt, who was due any hour. She wanted to spend the night (and watch the football championship) with her Mom. Got a text message a bit ago..... they are headed to the hospital. Little Dylan is on his way.

How significant is that!!! Life passes on, a new life begins.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Eulogy

We didn't move to Wakefield until signs of Alzheimers was already beginning to rob Elbert of his way of life. I wanted our 'new' friends to know him and I wanted the family, especially the Grandchildren, to remember their Papa as he used to be. So, some time back I made up my mind that I would get up and read the eulogy at his funeral.  I did and here is what I said:

Elbert and I just celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary. We've known and loved each other most of our lives. When we met he was a tall, lanky lad of 17 years. I was 13. He joined the Navy and for the next 3 years we kept the postal service in business. In Dec of 1950 we were married.

Elbert grew up on a farm in Alabama, the oldest of 10 kids. A lot of responsibility fell on him at an early age. He helped his mother cook and care of the younger ones and he’d be the first to tell you that he’d probably washed more diapers than any woman he knew. He was his Mother’s buddy and he was an excellent son.

I am so proud of what he did with his life and I think he was proud of himself. He’d come from that little farm, worked his way up through the Navy ranks, was commissioned an officer and even was on staff at the Naval Academy. He was proud to serve his country and did so for 22 years. The night before the Battle of Inchon those young boys were scared to death. Elbert prayed that God would see him through and for the rest of that battle and the rest of his life he was never afraid. He also served in Vietnam.

He was the happiest person I have ever known. He just didn’t think that anything was worth being unhappy about. I thought he had the most beautiful smile, but one of my best memories of him was when he would always come in the back door whistling a happy tune.

If you knew Elbert well you’d know that he loved being the center of attention. He was always the life of the party wherever he went. He was always telling jokes and stories. He loved to laugh.

He was ordained as a Primitive Baptist minister in 1974 and co-pastured several churches in Alabama. God seemed to guide him in every step of his life.

He was an avid foxhunter. He was well-respected as an excellent hunter and field judge. I can just hear him now, his hunting horn to his mouth blowing the signal to call his dogs home.

Elbert loved his family beyond measure. Each of them were the light of his life…He was an inspiration to all the grandchildren and wanted the best for them….. So, grandchildren…it’s your turn now to carry on your Pa Pa’s legacy.

He loved me with such a deep, everlasting love. I was a very lucky lady to have known and been loved by Elbert Barton. I always knew when springtime came he’d come in from his walk in the woods carrying a tiny flower in his big hands. To me it was as precious as a dozen roses. I’d stuck it in my thimble and when it died, he’d bring me another. I always knew how much he loved me and as he was drawing his last breaths he would still turn toward me wanting to have a hug.

He truly believed that if you worked hard, treated people right and loved the Lord you could have a good life. And he did live a full life, complete with a lot of laughter and love.

As we gather today, although we will miss his physical presence, let us not just grieve but also celebrate his life as it was fully lived.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Elbert has finally regained his wonderful spirit, mind and body... at 9:50 this morning. I know he's so happy to be rid of forgetting things, not knowing who people were and being stuck in that ole wheelchair. He's finally in the arms of Jesus, smiling down on us.  Oh, how we all will miss him but a peace is in our hearts tonight in the knowledge that he is no longer suffering.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


My sweet husband took a turn for the worse a few days ago and the family is just waiting and watching. The journey is almost over. Please remember us in your prayers .... and I pray for those of you who are still in the journey. God bless you and keep you.