Ken, my son who lived with me, killed himself the day after Christmas. I’m still in shock and disbelief. I’ll write more later..
February was a difficult month, physically. Had some setbacks, saw a lot of professionals in the medical community. No one knows what is causing my problems, so they don’t deal with it. In the meantime, I just sort of ‘exist.’ Since I don’t get out, except to keep appointments, my life is rather dull.
I’ve lost a couple more friends. Each time this happens, I’m filled with fear and dread. Don’t think I need explain.
The brightness in my life has come from reading and writing. I’ve joined an eight week writing class on Writers On the Nert called ‘Shadow Writing,’ which is digging deeper to help us get in touch with our authentic selves. We’re in the sixth week. I find the classes help motivate me to write. I haven’t posted here for a while, but if it wasn’t for the class, I wouldn’t have written anything at all. At least I have produced something for the class.
But the big news is that my last name is once again officially that of my husband of 51 years. My lawyer called me today. Now I just need to get a new social security card with my ‘new’ (old) name. Hooray! I can’t say how relieved I am. It’s like coming home. The other name felt so foreign and uncomfortable. I can rest easy now.
Oh, Forrest, my love, now everything is as it should be.
I walked forty steps with my walker today. Breathless afterwards and had to rest, but it’s a beginning.
The past few weeks have been brutal, physically. Today was more of the same but I decided I can’t go on like this. I have to do something! So I pushed through discomfort and fear, clenched my teeth and just DID it! Jenny walking beside me. The sun is shining, the weather is mild. I’m alive again!
I started the process today of having my last name changed. This is the story behind such an action:
I was married to Forrest for 51 years. He died in 2007. I was lonely, met Richard and married him in 2011. Just weeks after our wedding, Richard fell ill and he died six months later of pancreatic cancer. We spent a lot of time with hospice health care givers and Richard’s family and friends. The circumstances prevented us from developing the give and take of a real marriage.
I was able to keep Richard at home, which was his greatest wish. He died in his favorite chair in the living room with his family and friends around him and me holding his hand.
I knew that Richard’s first wife had been the love of his life; I placed her photo on the mantel where he could see it and just be with her as he watched TV.
I’m glad I was there for him and able to help him die at home, but now I want to finish my life with the name of the husband I grew up and shared my love and most of my life with. I spoke with a lawyer today and the process has begun. I feel as if I’ve taken the first step of coming back home.
Yesterday was your birthday, Scott. You would have been 50. Thinking today was the 10th, I’ve thought of you all day, trying to picture what you would have looked like and what you would be doing.
I can’t believe you’ve been gone 14 years! It doesn’t seem nearly that long.
You once told me that if you killed yourself, I’d get over it and go on and live a happy life. You were wrong, Scott. I haven’t been happy since you did that unthinkable act. Yes, I’ve gone on with my life. What else could I do? And there have been some moments of joy, not in living, but in nature.
I have not felt happiness in a long time.
Last Thursday, Beulah, one of my closest friends died unexpectedly. I’m still in shock. Then Connie, another close friend, was admitted to the hospital with clots in her lungs. Wednesday, your brother, Ken, found out he has a hole in his heart. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s wrong with him.
I’m not so well myself.
All this makes me wonder about life, it’s purpose, and what happiness really means. And what difference any of it makes since it all ends and is repeated and ends again.
I resent it that we have to die, that we go through life with ambitions, dreams, desires, failures, accomplishments and then have to go and leave it all behind. We take it with us, as if we had not walked on this earth, breathed in the air, watched the grackle with the broken wing, read Mary Oliver or Thomas Merton, seen “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off” three times or eaten that piece of cherry pie. Two hundred years from now, none of it will have mattered. Sometimes I think of those who lived hundreds of years ago and I honor them in my heart.
This day is almost over. I’m relieved. Next month, we have to get through the anniversary of John’s death. And so on. It seems that every month, there’s a hurdle to get over.
I’m trying very hard to find pleasure in something. To experience faith, and hope, and love. To enjoy giving while losing so much. To find a reason for it all.
I’ve been a giver all my life. What happened? The well has run dry.
Beulah, one of my closest friends, died unexpectedly Thursday. I’m still in shock. Skip, her husband, has been ill for several years and everyone thought he would go before Beulah. As a matter of fact, he’s been in ICU for over a week.
I don’t have details. Don’t know if she had a stroke or died of a heart attack or what. She was home alone. Her daughter found her.
Beulah was such a lovely, caring, upbeat person. When she walked into a room, the sun came with her. She worried about her husband so much and I think she must have neglected herself. She seemed well and always said she felt fine when I asked how she was. She was taking meds for hypertension, but all my friends do that, as do I. We talked about two weeks ago and I’ve been thinking about calling her. Procrastinating, as usual. I’ve done that so much, you’d think I’d learn. I feel such a void in my life.
I talked to Connie, another friend, today. She’s just been discharged from the hospital where she was being treated for a cluster of clots in her left lung. She’s on coumadin now.
And Ken, my son, is going tomorrow for a test to determine if he has an aortic anuerysm.
Beulah, bless her heart; I can just imagine, with Skip in the hospital, how she went back and forth to be with him, probably not eating right, getting too much salt, being stressed out because of his illness. I feel so bad for her. The world is not the same without her in it.
I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I wish I had a strong faith to get me through. I’ll work it out. I always do, but I do have issues with death and loss and being alone. At my age, loss is inescapable. Always knocking at my door.
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.
Some days, I can’t do anything without feeling dizzy and light-headed. If I try to cook or empty the dishwasher, even in my wheelchair, I feel as if I’ll pass out. So I have to be content to do nothing.
Every time I have a day like this, I become discouraged, believe I’ll never feel ‘normal’ again, whatever normal is. To me, it’s being able to walk through my house without the aid of a walker or a wheelchair (though I’d welcome a walker today); cook and bake the way I used to; drive; walk my dog, play with her outside, visit my friends; go shopping; go to church; do the laundry and other chores when they need to be done, not having to wait for a ‘good’ day. Or even just to get up and walk across the room to look out the window or turn on a light.
I think of the things I used to do and realize how much personal freedom I’ve lost. When I was 80, three months after Forrest died, I sold my house, had an auction and moved to Connecticut all in one month. Now, five years later, I’m in a wheelchair. Actually, a year after Forrest’s death, I started using a walker. Just months later, the wheelchair.
I’ve seen doctors, had tests; No one can make a diagnosis. It’s obvious that I have high blood pressure but my heart beats steadily, though I do have a condition called paroxysmal atrial tachycardia which sends me to the ER when I have an episode (not often).
I knew one day I’d get old and have to slow down, but I never dreamed I’d not be able to walk. It was a blow when I could no longer dance. I loved dancing. Such a freeing feeling. Now I’d be deliriously happy if I could just walk and feel normal.
Today I had to cancel a dental appointment. My teeth really need to be cleaned and it takes so long to get an appointment. Making appointments is tricky. Fitting Ken’s time in with office time.
Then there are the better days when I can wheel lickety-split through the rooms of the house, stand, walk with the walker, fix a meal without feeling I’m going to faint, perform light chores… I’m a completely different self. And I don’t know why. I keep looking for answers so I can make all days better. I appreciate them so much when they occur.
At my age, you realize that you’re not as in control of your life as you once thought. There’s not much in life you can depend on 100 %.
I try to accept what is and go on with my life. Find things I can be grateful for–the beauty of nature, my sweet companion dog, JennyPenny, what family and friends I have left, my books, computer, telephone, my mind, a house I like, funds which I hope will last me the rest of my life if the economy will allow it, the list goes on. I’d like to add faith to that list but there are questions, doubts to overcome. That’s for another day.
This is not an uplifting blog. I started it to find answers, to become acquainted with myself. And to present that self to the world.