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.

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Thirteen Year Grief

When I worked at Newington Veteran’s Hospital as a psychiatric nurse, one of my duties was to teach classes on suicide to medical personnel—nurses, interns, aides, and students.­­­  I informed them that those who were serious about ending  their lives  were often secretive about their intent.  And that the male’s method of suicide was usually more lethal than the female’s.  Guns or hanging  vs. drugs or self-mutilation.   I advised them of warning signs: withdrawal, change in personality, loss of interest in most activities, looking depressed, poor work or school performance, change in sleep patterns, alcohol/drug abuse, talking about death or suicide, careless in appearance.

Then my husband and I retired and moved from Connecticut to Missouri.  Chris had separated from the navy, was married, living in Texas; Scott, divorced, was in the Air Force in California; Ken was working at a television station in Connecticut and John, married, a recent survivor of Hodgkin’s disease, was working as a computer analyst in Connecticut.   Separated and scattered, we were all involved in our own interests.  We communicated by phone, internet and regular mail.I took my retirement as an opportunity to seriously follow my life’s dream—writing.   I took a few creative writing classes at a local university and then some online.After Scott separated from the Air Force, he lived with Forrest and me while pursuing a degree in computer science.  Forrest became a master gardener and his interest turned to our yard.  I spent my time writing poems.  After graduation, Scott took a job at Hallmark in Kansas City.

About that time, a few physical problems I had worsened and I began thinking about the uncertainty of life.  I started a memoir about me and our family for my sons to read after my death.   I always regretted that I hadn’t asked my parents for more information about themselves.  I know very little about my ancestors.  A bonus, for me, in the writing was that going back and looking at my life in retrospect changed my perspective about me, the family and life in general.

I was involved in my writing project and welcoming John and his family who’d just arrived from Connecticut for a visit when a call came from Scott.   He’d driven himself to a hospital in K C because he was suicidal.  I knew he’d been depressed and had even overdosed (that’s another story for another time).  A few months before his call, we’d brought him to Springfield and admitted him to a hospital here.  He was discharged after a few days.  Forrest, Scott and I then looked for a house for him here.  I wanted him close so I could keep an eye on him.  I gave earnest money on a house he liked, but he went back to KC and as far as I knew, he was doing fine.  I was keeping in contact with him closely by email and by phone and had no idea he was suicidal.

After the call came, Forrest and I drove to KC to see Scott in the hospital.  We boarded his cats and took care of some other business for him, stayed overnight and saw him again next morning before returning to Springfield to be with John and his family.  I’d planned on returning to KC after John left, but a few days later, Scott was discharged from the hospital and went back to work.  I thought he was doing fine.  Two days before he shot himself, he talked to me about plans he had for buying a house and the new vet he’d found for his cats.

Thirteen years later, I still can’t watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Scott’s favorite Christmas holiday movie, look at his photos, or think about him for too long.  I haven’t come to grips with the fact that I, who should have known, did not recognize the warning signs that my son was in trouble.   I should have been more alert, not so distracted by my writing and other things that were going on.  I’ve learned, too late, to treat each moment as if it was the only moment, and to give it all I have.

After Scott’s death, my heart couldn’t finish my memoir.  Sadly, instead, I published a memoir in memory of Scott, and, later, one for John who died of colon cancer.

How beautiful and sacred life is!  And how fragile!  We can’t afford to be careless.   I must live with my inattention for the rest of my life and suffer the resulting heartache.

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.

 

And Days Like This…

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 %.

So……

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.

It’s All Good

Jenny Penny has been with us for two weeks now and she’s feeling at home.  She’s stopped using the deck for a toilet; runs down the ramp and dances in the grass, as if to say, “Hello grass!  I’ve missed you!”  And she goes alone while I wait at the door.  When she’s finished her job, she runs to the door, tail up, and jumps up  onto me, expecting lavish praise, which, of course, she gets.  When she’s excited, she spins and jumps and can hardly contain her joy.  She’s my constant companion; follows me wherever I go. When I’m seated, she stays close by my side, or in my lap.  She’s generous with kisses.  What more could I want?  I love this little sweetheart.  She’s my angel, my savior.  Life is good again.

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.