Sunday, August 12, 2012

A New Life

This blog has been closed for some time but as I have healed and grown in the past months, I have now decided to continue my writings in another blog. It's been a tough year and a half since Elbert's passing and I've learned a lot about grief, being a widow and wondering what life holds for me. I've missed all of you and have wondered how things are going in your journey with the care of your loved one. I'd be so thrilled if you'd come for a visit at my new blog.
It's a New Day, a New Life

Love you,

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Time for Goodbyes

Life seems to be full of hellos and goodbyes. How delightful it would be to just say hello and goodbye was never a word to deal with.

I said goodbye to my sweetie years ago as I watched his mind slowly succumb to the ravages of Alzheimers. It was what they call a 'long goodbye'. Then, there was the final goodbye.

It was a year ago Jan. 3rd that we lost him. Tough year. I have struggled and struggled to find my way out of that deep, dark hole. I have had help from so many wonderful friends and of course, my family. But, I realized recently that I was not feeling good about this blog anymore. It dragged up so much out of me, remembering all the pain. There is a saying 'You can't move forward, if you keep looking back'. or something like that. I have gotten to a point in my life where I need to move forward.

Don't think for one minute that I don't miss Elbert as much as I did a year ago. I will always love and miss him terribly. Yesterday was a rough day, I cried alot just remembering all our wonderful times together. I got depressed. I was sad. And, I felt myself falling down in that dark hole again. To save myself and my sanity I must keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I have decided to close this blog. It's just too difficult. HOWEVER.... I would never want to lose my friends that I have made here. I just hope you will hop on over to my other blog Living Life On Main Street. We will move forward together and that would make me happy. You all have been the dearest and most loyal friends. I wish you all the best as you continue on your struggle and hopefully I'll see you commenting and keeping me updated on Living Life on Main Street.

God Bless each of you.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Our Trip To The Beach

Twice a year Shirley and I go to the beach for a week of scrapbooking with about 20 women. We look forward to it so much and this year was no exception. But, all the best laid plans of mice and men and women who crop ... well, you know how that goes. Nothing seemed to go right this year. We probably should have just stayed home.
                                    (this picture was made last Oct.)

We arrived Monday around noon. A few of the gals were already there and Shirley and I got settled down to working on our scrapbooks. It was a small room, no view to speak of, couldn't hear the ocean waves or see the water except for a sliver from the upstairs room window. Restaurants were closed and we liked to have never found a place to eat.

And, eating got Shirley into a ton of trouble!! We ate Monday night and she woke up Tuesday morning with her throat swollen nearly shut, she could barely swallow, she was having chills and a fever. She did continue to stay up until 5:30 that afternoon, went to sleep and was not able to get up until 9 the next morning. So, we headed home and a doctor visit for her.

The night we ate out, she had eaten some habanero peppers that were hidden in some mango salsa and had a severe allergic reaction. There's a name for it but I don't remember what it is. The doctor said next time, she'd go into shock so she is now equipped with an epi-pen to carry with her, just in case. Boy, that was scary. Glad we are back home and she is slowly recovering.

So, no... the beach trip was not a good time for us. Maybe next time.

Friday, March 9, 2012

It's a rainy day and I was just sitting here thinking.......

Remembering days (and years) past. There are times I feel like I have climbed to the top of the stairs and then I stumble and go plunging down, around and around into that big black hole

and tears come and I feel such a hole in my heart.

I miss his smile!!
He was always smiling, so happy, so much fun. Gee, I miss that.

I miss his hugs....

He loved people. And, he could be such a kid.

How did this happen? We were supposed to grow old together ... But years of Alzheimers stole him from me. He'd always been there for me and I cared for him for those long trying years. I found out one thing about myself...

I will pick myself up, climb those stairs again and start all over, taking one day at a time. It's been 14 months since he left ....

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Another Inspiration

This is the last in the series of Widows Who Have Inspired Me. 

I could not possibly do that series without mentioning Nancy Reagan.

I was impressed with Nancy long before she lost her Ronnie. They had a devotion to each other that is seldom seen and I really admired that. People griped and complained about her while Pres. Reagan was in office and that must have hurt her deeply. But, how very deep must have been the pain as she watched her husband's brilliant mind just waste away and then to have him gone from her forever. We widows/widowers have experienced pain like that.

I remember her during the long, difficult and very tiring funerals. Flying back and forth across country, being on public display with your grief. Her demeanor was impecable. She showed such grace, such strength. She inspired me beyond measure.

I own her book 'Love You, Ronnie', the collections of letters and notes that her Ronnie had written to her over the years. I love to read that book. And, I am so happy that I have my own collection of letters my dearest sweet husband wrote me over the years. Here is a picture of him writing to me right after we first met. He's the guy on the right. Oh wow... that was an eon ago.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Woman of Courage

In this series of inspiring widows I could not leave out the woman who inspired me the most. My Mother.

I was still an unborn babe when my Dad died. That tragedy (he was hit by lightning)  left my young Mother a widow with an 8 1/2 year old and an unborn child. It was during the  lean years of the Depression. She had no skills, no money (my Dad was a farmer). She must have been scared to death besides deeply grieving the loss of the love of her life. Their car was sold, so was the wagon to probably pay for the funeral. The mule had been killed in the lightning strike. 

There was nothing she could do but move in with my grandparents. She soon went to work at a nearby cafe/tourist camp cleaning rooms. Later on she walked 3-4 miles to town to work with the WPA, first cleaning and sorting books in the library. Maybe that is one reason I love to read so much! Next she went to work, the WPA again, cutting fabric to be made into dresses. Always walking to and from work, rain or shine, hot or cold.

I never saw my Mother complain about anything but she must have been exhausted from her daily grind and she'd come home to a tot of a girl (me) who wanted stories told to her as we fell asleep in the same bed. I can actually remember my Mother drifting off to sleep right in the middle of the story. 

My Mother did not remarry until I was 13 years old. My step-dad died several years before she did. Not once did I see her without grace, without a heart of gold. She drew such strength from her faith and from her upbringing. She set such a wonderful example for us girls... to tough it out through thick and thin teaching us that life is what it is and that we should make the most of every day, to be happy with what we had, and to be gracious to everyone. My Mom died in 1996. I grieve her still.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Inspiring Widows

I am inspired by the strength of widows, at least a goodly portion of them. I want to introduce you to a few that have inspired me.

Today I was thinking about my Grandmother. I called her Ma. That was short and sweet... Ma. Doesn't take much effort to say it. Ma.

My Ma was a little woman barely over 5' after she got old and got all slumped over. My Pa was about 6'4" and those two looked like Mutt and Jeff together.

He'd seen her at a dance, her auburn hair catching his eye and he vowed he'd marry her. Only problem, he'd have to wait until he became of age. He was a tad younger than she. So, she waited and he became old enough to have a wife and they got married and started a family. My Mother was one of those children.

Pa was my favorite but I have fond memories of my Ma, too. I am the age right now that she was when she became a widow. Hard to imagine. She was always quiet, in the background, her oldest daughter even had charge of the household so Ma piddled in the garden, gathered eggs in her apron to bring into the house and she was the best and fastest blackberry picker for counties around.

Ma was a widow at 78, like I say, my age. I was 14 when my Pa died and then later on I married and moved away. I didn't spend much time with her until much later. By then she was sitting by the window watching the world go by, never complaining (oh, lordy I could take a lesson or two from her).

 I know she missed her husband so much but she never talked about it. It was held inside her, letting her grief mold her into the woman that I remember.

Elbert and I moved back near Ma in 1969. She'd been a widow for 20 years at that time. She was 98 years old, still fairly sharp, hard of hearing but what I keep in the back of my head is her ability to just 'go on with life'. She was tough, she was strong, and she lived until she was over 100. I can't imagine being without my Elbert for 22 years like she was without Pa that long.

I was standing by her  bedside when she passed. It was peaceful, easy, she was ready to go be with her Lord and Robert, her husband long gone. Her life inspires me beyond measure. She'd lost children, her husband, her hearing and yet she moved through life one day at a time. I hope I can do the same.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Humor Abounds

That husband of mine was always so full of life and so funny. He enjoyed everything about living and could take the most mundane things to find joy in. I was thinking today about the times he would just crack us up....

This is my 'Willie Nelson' kind of husband.... picking and singing. He couldn't play a gituar but he loved to 'play like he could'

Boys will be boys.... riding on one of the grandsons scooters. He was a little kid again, having a ball.

We are in the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, N. C. and I am trying to take a
SERIOUS picture of Elbert sitting on a limb of one of the trees. Just as I snapped... he stuck his tongue out at me. You had to laugh at silly antics like this.

Elbert really was trying hard to get that rowing machine going... it wasn't funny to him but we thought it was. 'Row, row, row your boat, Honey...'

We had this picture made at a Beachmaster's Reunion. Love those muscles my sailor has!! And, my long, flowing gold tresses. We were always up for the unique and crazy.

Elbert was already sick with Alzheimers yet he had not forgotten how to stick that tongue out at me.

Another crazy picture. This one was taken at Opryland in Tennesse with Elbert, me, daughter Marie and granddaughter Yvonne.

I can look back now at all  these good times and relive the fun and enjoyment of just being together.
Miss you Honey.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Taking Steps

I get a newsletter from the funeral home that handled Elbert's arrangements. Sometimes it is helpful, sometimes not. However, an article caught my eye and since I did not see a copyright on it I am going to share it with you.

I must be making some progress. I can already check off some of those but there is work left to do.  How about you? If you have lost a loved one, how are you doing? Just realize that it is the toughest thing you will ever go through and give yourself time to heal.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Keeping Track

I recently saw an article in the AARP Bulletin that made a ton of sense to me. Just wanted to share it with you.

You know that one of the problems of Alzheimers patients is that they wander off. All too well am I familiar with that scary scenario.. Elbert wandering down the street in his pajamas in the dead of night. We hear on the news about this one or that one who has not been found for days on end. Sometimes the outcome is devastating.

The article said that there is a new solution. It  is a locator shoe with a built-in Global Positioning System that makes it easier to track down the wanderer. Wow, their own GPS. Now, they are not going to be using it to figure where they are going but allows their caregivers to be alerted when the Alz. person wanders outside the designated area. So, you are tracking them, not them tracking their route.

This is long overdue. The shoes are expensive and I realized that not everyone can afford them. Wouldn't it be wonderful if an organization raised money to make these shoes available to everyone!! Wow. Sure would take a huge burden off the already overloaded caregiver.  I say to GTX Corporation.... thank you!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Elbert's Birthday

February 8th.... Elbert's birthday.... Oh how many birthdays we celebrated together!!

But, today things were not the same. Instead of our little quiet dinners in a restaurant somewhere, or dinner at home with a homecooked meal and presents, I awoke to a dark, dreary day. I knew it was not going to be a good day, that's for sure!!

Shirley came to pick me up and we were joined by granddaughter Brittany and little Dylan. We enjoyed a late breakfast at IHOP. Dylan really enjoyed his food. He's learning to use a fork and more food ended up on the floor than in his tummy.

Then on to the cemetery to place birthday flowers on Elbert's grave. The following pictures are how the visit went.

                                                         'Hello, GPa. I came by to visit you. I'm growing like a weed and having fun. Sorry I never got to meet you but Mommy says you were the best Papa ever'.

'Gigi says that she needs me to help her place some flowers here for you. She says you loved to grow things. I bet you grew lots of flowers just like this...... Here, is this in the right place, Gigi?'

'Gigi, what do you think? You think we fixed them just like he'd like them?..... Oh good, I'm glad'

'Dylan, that is your GPa. See his name right there. He would have loved all you little guys so much. I'm so sorry he isn't here to be with all of us'

'Well, GPa, we gotta go now. Mommy says we do, so I will give you a big hug and I promise I'll come back to visit you soon'.

And, so ended our visit at the cemetery. Yes, I am bawling as I do this post. It's tough, girls, really tough. I hate it!! But, I will wake up in the morning and go on with whatever my life requires. And, I will feel so blessed to have had him for more than 60 years.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Now, who in the heck decided that if a groundhog saw his shadow there would be more winter?  Guess it all depends on what time of day that ole groundhog came out of his hole.

Take this morning.... if the groundhogs around here had come out before noon... he'd of gone right back in and stayed there

However... it is noon... and the sun is shining and if he comes out this afternoon I guess he'll stay out awhile and enjoy all this lovely weather.

I feel sort of like the groundhog that came out after the sun came out. I feel like I am in a new phase and I am enjoying my 'sunshine'.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Learning about widowhood

One thing you can do on the computer is do research. Now, why in the world had I not delved into the world of 'widowhood' research that is available? I had looked up 'stages of grieving' and felt I had that memorized. Susan suggested that I explore further, so I have been typing and clicking and reading.

Somehow I had felt all alone in this being a widow thing. But, I found a ton of widows out there with lots to say. Shirley had told me (see the previous post) that I knew who I was, that I just needed to find purpose. Well, I discovered that a lot of widows were using that same phrase 'finding myself' and questioning 'Who am I?' So, I am not alone in my search.

 In fact........

In 2011, the year I lost Elbert, I was just one of nearly 700,000 wives who became widows. Just ONE!!

I decided to see what blogs I might find concerning widows. Typed in 'widows over 70' and got a ton of social security sites. Took care of that chore ages ago and my little check gets deposited and I spend it. So, I typed in 'widows on' and found some great sites. Looking forward to checking those out.

We all are different and our paths are not the same but I do wish there was a road map for this new 'widowhood' we gals have to go through. But, if we all stick together and let the Lord guide us, then we will be fine.

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.