Bad News

I had a cousin just a few months younger than me.  Her name was Terry.  We met 27 years ago when we both were 58.   It’s a long story, but briefly, she lived in Kansas and had been looking for her mother  for years; finally found us in Missouri, but her mother had passed away.  I was thrilled to have her in my life.

She and her husband visited us a couple of times, and my husband and I drove to Kansas to see her.  We talked on the phone and exchanged letters.

She was such a gift; we both lamented the fact that we lived so far from each other.  I felt we had been cheated (she much more than I)  for not knowing each other when we were younger.  My dad’s family all lived close, within walking distance of one another.  If we had known each other then, we would have been playmates, probably best friends.   And then, after finally  meeting, we still couldn’t see each other that often because of the distance, and, later, due to the fact that we both had physical problems that made traveling difficult.

Our contact has been less frequent the past few years, and I’ve been the one to call.  Terry had been quite ill and on medication that left her drowsy, with slurred speech; I did most of the talking.  Not a very rewarding exchange.

I was thinking about her today and realized it had been quite awhile since we talked.  I decided to call her and was looking forward to hearing her voice.   Her husband answered, told me she died last April.    And now I regret that I didn’t call her sooner.

I’ve had that experience before.  I called my best friend after my husband died and learned she had died months before.  You’d think I would have learned by now to live as if today is the only day.  To not let time grow between us.

But time seems to go so fast.  And I think….tomorrow.  Then tomorrow comes, and I let it slide by too  And before I know it, weeks, months have passed.  Nothing in life is so certain that we can take anything for granted.

I’m glad, and grateful, that my cousin and I were able to enjoy each other, if only briefly.   If she hadn’t found us, I would never have known I had a cousin in Kansas.  She enriched my life and she’s a part of me now.

I love you Terry.  Thank you for the gift of you.

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All There Is

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe
Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe (Photo credit: epSos.de)

I’m really into food.  Mostly healthy food.  I think about meals a lot, like I used to think about boys when I was young.  Breakfast.  Lunch.  Supper.  What do I want?  Wht do I have?  What do I need to order? Food is about the only pleasure I have left.

I’m also into nutrition, nutrition that will benefit my physical conditions—low sugar, low fat, low salt.

So I order cookbooks and books on nutrition from Amazon– Dean Ornish, Joy Bauer, Dr McDougall.  I watch the Food Network on TV.  I have my own page with Dr Weil online.  It’s personalized and includes health tips for my particular problems and the latest health news.  I get a daily menu which includes three meals a day and a library of meals I can choose as substitutes.

Today I roasted vegetables (my own recipe) for lunch and made hummus for supper.  I substituted peanut butter for the tahini because it’s healthier and, surprisingly, I don’t taste the peanut butter in the finished product.

Making those two things and cleaning the kitchen used up all my energy for today.  And I did most of it sitting in a wheelchair.   The things I fix these days must be quick and easy.   So I’ve had to put away most of my old favorite recipes.

I tried Meals on Wheels but the meals aren’t all that healthy or good.  So, it’s a struggle, but I can still put a meal together; and though what I do now is far removed from what I used to do in the kitchen, the food I cook is much better than having it brought in.  And I’m grateful for that.

More About Me

I just started following a blogger whose husband is ill and she has to care for him.  Almost all her thoughts and moves are affected by how her husband will react.   She plans her life around him and his needs.

I understand where she’s coming from; I, too, was once a caretaker for my husband.  Keeping him safe and happy was my life’s work.  It was difficult at times, but mostly it was rewarding.

And this is why:

We were in our late 70’s when he became ill.  Our children had long left the nest and lived in other towns.  We’d lost two sons, along with many other friends and relatives.  We mostly had just each other.  I was a retired psychiatric nurse, and chose that profession because my heart went out to those in need and I wanted to help them.  I especially related to the sick, as I’d been quite ill as a child, often separated from friends and family, trying to deal with my fears and discomforts alone.  My mother took good physical care of me but was too busy or unaware of how to comfort a sick, scared child.  She never spoke of or explained my illnesses to me.  Basically, I was just put to bed in a bedroom and left to my own devices.

Mother had always wanted to be a nurse, but she lost her father and brother before penicillin was discovered and had to quit school and go to work to help with the family bills.  Her nursing aspirations were carried into her adulthood.  She saw that I and my bed were clean and that I was well fed.  When I had Scarlet Fever, she rubbed my rash with calamine lotion.  She boiled my sheets and everything that came out of my room.  When she learned that I had Rheumatic Fever, she cried on the bus on the way home from the doctor’s.  I knew then that something bad was wrong with me, but I had no idea what it was or what was going to happen.   The treatment for Rheumatic Fever back then was bed rest.  There were no medications to treat it with.

Anyway, after I retired as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, I missed practicing my calling.  And with the boys gone and no one to take care of, I needed a reason to get up in the morning.

My husband was a strong, controlling individual.  He made the important decisions in our family, and I was happy to let him do that.  I’ve always been a sensitive, introverted individual, never really sure of myself, afraid to take the initiative.

Then, after Forrest became ill, first with Alzheimer’s, then with COPD, hypertension, diabetes, kidney dysfunction, and colon cancer, I gradually had to become the decision maker and performer of all the household duties.  I gained confidence, and, in fact, enjoyed being responsible.

But most of all, I enjoyed taking care of my husband—cooking his meals, buying his special treats at the grocers, seeing that he had his oxygen, clothes to keep warm, bringing his meals to him in the TV room after it was too much effort for him to come to the table, taking him to his doctors’ appointments, wheeling him in the wheelchair.  We’d sit on the patio, watch the birds build nests, the trees grow, flowers bloom.   Sometimes, we’d watch TV together, or I’d watch while he slept in a chair across from me.  We were together.  We connected.  Not only was he allowing me to care for him, he was enjoying it.  Sadly, it was our best time as a married couple.

The woman I spoke of at the beginning of this blog lives in Australia on a bird farm.  Our experiences with illness are not quite the same, but, still, I can empathize with her.  Her blog address is:  http://jmgoyder.com/    She’s courageous, admirable and an inspiration.  I think you might find her blog worth the visit.

Guardian Angels

During WW II, when I was in my teens and searching for love, I met a soldier at the USO, after dancing with several others, who seemed like a perfect gentleman. We danced all evening to Harry James, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey. At intervals, especially after high energy dances like the jitterbug, the soldier brought coca colas to me for refreshment.

On the sidelines, an army recruiter I’d dated a time or two, watched. As the night wore on and people, one after another left, my soldier and I became the last couple on the dance floor. I was ready to leave with him when the recruiter told my female friend that the soldier I was with, had been spiking my colas all evening and to not let me leave with him. She convinced me to go home with her as we had planned. Looking back, I’m pretty sure the recruiter saved me from a bad experience.

Sometimes I wonder how most youngsters make it in the world. I had other experiences which turned out okay but could have gone in a different direction. Today I want to honor and express my gratitude for the guardian angels/saviors in my life. I believe we all have them, whether we realize it or not, and, also,we ARE them, or can be.

Maybe one thing I can do the rest of my life to make it worthwhile is to feel responsible and care for all of God’s creatures, when the universe asks me to, even when it’s inconvenient.

 

Where is Jenny?

She had her first grooming since her move to Missouri.  I hired a woman who drives a mobile unit and does the transformation in the driveway.   This week, she had to park in front of the house as there were other vehicles in the drive.

Jenny was at the door in a hour, looking like a little skinned rat!  My sweet girl has been hiding under a huge fur ball and now she’s clipped almost bare.  The top knot too short and her ear hair cut in half!  Her beautiful, long, lovely ears!  I wish I knew how to transfer photos from my iphone to wordpress, but, sigh, I haven’t learned that yet.  I hope the top knot and ears will grow out again.

She’s still sweet and lovable and my best friend.  She follows me everywhere I go.  This minute, as I type these words, she’s snuggled up against me, sleeping.

It’s 7:00 P.M.  Ken’s been gone since 3:00.  I keep the TV on to drown out the silence.  I have such a hard time being alone.  I loved it when I worked three jobs and had family coming and going.  Then, time alone was rare and precious.  Now, I have entirely too much of it.  The warmth of my loyal companion is relaxing and soothing.  I’m so grateful she’s in my life.

 

JennyPenny

She’s 10, a red mini-poodle, on the small side.  She joined our family last Friday after a long flight that lasted all day, with two lay-overs.  She was tired and scared when she arrived.  My joy at having her was tempered by the knowledge that she was ripped from her other family and the only world she’d ever known to be with me.   I’m humbled and honored to be her new mother and I’ll do all in my power to make her comfortable and happy.

She’s eating well, drinking water and going outside to potty.  She does a happy dance (twirls in circles) when she’s excited, especially when she knows she’s going to get her thyroid pill wrapped in a piece of cheese.   She was very nervous about the cats at first; and though she’s still  not interacting with them, their presence in the room no longer makes her shake.  She mostly ignores them.

She’s a sweet, mild-mannered little soul and I love her already.