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.