Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas. It's here.

Whether you are ready or not, it's that time of year to look over our shoulders at 2016. Personally, it was my worst year. I lost Kevin. That was after he suffered, but put up a brave fight against cancer. When I think back over the years we were together, I am reminded of many times when he was brave and I wasn't.

He worked hard and mostly terrible hours. He loved the art of news-papering, but couldn't take the politics and posturing. He persevered as long as he could and never complained.

Kevin lost his brother, then his mom. Rick and Audrey meant so much to him. So do his sister, Georgia and sis-in-law, Micky.

Christmas was always right up there on Kevin's list of favorite holidays. It was second only to St. Patrick's Day. Most places where Kevin worked gave employees their birthday off as one of their paid holidays, Kevin always requested St. Patrick's Day instead. And he always got it. When he gave up drinking, he still celebrated the day, but with nonstop Irish music all day long at home.

I guess all of this comes from my looking back. My head is filled with memories of times. Good, sad, loving, happy, scary, normal, exciting, etc. times.

Not sure why,  but this song popped into my head, one that Kevin always loved:

Okay on with today. In the first place I am happy that business is picking in my etsy shop. I've had a few sales this week even though I haven't done anything to promote its reopening.  I redesigned my phone pouches to accommodate the big phones and already made two of them for different customers. This is good as it has helped keep my mind off of Christmas. Or the thought of Christmas without Kevin.

I am spending Christmas weekend at Stephanie and Serena's in Boynton Beach. The plan is to celebrate Christmas Eve at Maia's and Taryn's in Jupiter. Cody is home from Tuscon for a few weeks, so this will be as complete a Christmas I can get without Kevin. I really thought I could spend the day by myself. Stephanie said Kevin would never want me to spend it alone. And she's right. So she is coming to get me tomorrow, We are going to Horst and Liz's 3rd Annual Neighborhood Get Together tomorrow night and heading back east on Friday. We are going to church on Friday night for a special service, will have fun on Saturday and Sunday, then she's bringing me (and the cat) home on Monday.  Mothers can make life complicated.

On Wednesday I will spend hard time in the dentist's chair and finally on my way to a better smile.

The only holiday thing I've done is experiment with cream cheese mints. So far, I've made the usual peppermint ones. Then I branched out with cinnamon, chocolate and coconut, even root beer flavored mints. They all taste good to me. I will take a tray of them to Horst and Liz's party and the rest to Boynton Beach. I stayed away from making the usual holidays cookies. Maybe next year.

Tomorrow afternoon I have Grief Support Group and am looking forward to it since I haven't been in a month. Even though I am feeling pretty good about this weekend, I want to go for all of the tips and suggestions that get passed around there to consider in case I do feel overwhelmed.

Then I am looking forward to getting busy with craft shows and Antsy Artist on etsy. By the way, here it is.  I still need to list Kevin's painted bottles we moved from his etsy site to mine before closing it.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. Be happy, stay healthy and count your blessings. I will take pictures of the Goellers' holiday lights and share them with you.

Thank you for reading my blog posts and for all of the love and support you pass along to me. Love and hugs.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Back to Being Me

When I sat down to write this post I realized many days have passed since my last post. So have many thoughts I've had, that I wanted to share. Of course now I can't remember them. It isn't that I am losing my mind. It is more that I try to store too much in my cranium..

The latest and freshest item on my mind has to do with our cat. Last night I woke up around 3 a.m. My pajama top was wet and I felt sweaty. When I opened my eyes, Snuggles who sleeps on the foot of the bed was standing next to my head with her face staring  down on my face. She was quietly meowing at me. I had a quick recall of the dream I was just having. Something about my being sick (I think instead of Kevin). By the time I was fully awake and sitting up,  any memories of what I was dreaming were gone. Cat, sensing all was well turned away and resumed her sleep position on her favorite towel. I switched the light on, changed my pajamas and sat for a few minutes thinking, it must have been some dream to disturb the cat. Then I remembered just about the same thing happened a few nights ago.

I find this a little bizarre since lately my days have been pretty low key. Oh, I had a brush up with myself over health insurance and not understanding the ins and outs. It's not that I am paranoid over being overcharged  for services rendered. It is more about saving and being able to pay  my share.

I'm healthier than a horse at least for now, My worries are over optical and dental, the expensive stuff that Medicare insurance hardly covers. I think I am getting a better handle on it. I just want to be sure I am not being over charged, because with these prices it seems probable.

So to counteract those worries, I am hitting the gym three or four times a week and walking a mile or two every time I go. If I stay healthy and last a good long time, it will be money well spent.

Maybe the worrying over health-related bills has something to do with the dream. Hmmmm.

I did a craft show last week. On Thursday evening the City of Brooksville presented Christmas on Main Street 2016. As always I committed to this event  a month beforehand, even though it was a evening event and my friend Anna opted not to attend. The first show I'd done since before Kevin got sick was tough for me, but Anna set up next to me and that was a big help, emotionally. This time I was on my own and as the date got closer, I started to have second thoughts.

But, I went and really enjoyed myself. I packed the car, pretty much the same way Kevin would have done. I wasn't sure what to bring, so I brought mostly holiday-related goods. I brought my greeting cards which included Christmas cards, but they didn't get much attention because even though I had a few led lights, it was still dark in the tent. My best sellers were copper wire wrapped star ornament bedecked with buttons, beads and jewelry findings. Oh and as always my spiced clay pins.

What meant most to me was meeting new people like the mother/daughter team next to me that sold all kinds of jams they'd made together. The girl just turned 16 and she reminded me of our granddaughters who seemed to enjoy helping us out at green markets and craft shows just a few years ago or more..

On the other side of me was a couple my age selling bird houses they'd made to resemble historical buildings in the area. He was the carpenter and she did the decorating. They are looking for ways to supplement their income. The problem for them is medical bills,especially paying their share for prescription drugs.

I met a few people who've lost husbands, parents or wives to cancer. I am not sure how we got on the conversation in each case. I guess it came up while I was explaining why I hadn't done any shows for the past two years.

Then there were the little ones, so happy  that Christmas is near and eager to watch the tree lighting, enjoy a candy cane or two, listening to the Christmas caroling and just be out on a school night with the family.

I think meeting other vendors and event attendees was his favorite part of doing craft shows. A couple of weeks ago I found a stack of business cards he'd collected from other artists at shows we attended.

For a few years  we had a booth for spring and fall shows at Lake Eola which is a beautiful downtown park in Orlando. We stayed at the EO Inn and Spa just off the park, which made it a fun walking weekend. Those were happy days.

Last Thursday,what started out as a chilly, breezy evening that made me feel anxious turned into a heart-warming experience.

When I came home, all tired and worn out, I sat next to Kevin's favorite rocking chair and said, "Kevin I did it. I did it all from loading the van, setting up the tent and tables to taking it all down."

I also responded for him,"You did and I was there watching over you."

I miss Kevin everyday. The good part is having so many great memories of him and being able to spend our lives together.

All else in my life is busy work, trying to get my sewing area reestablished and the house in shipshape. I really need to design a new pattern for the bigger phone pouches as I am getting more requests for them through my Etsy shop. Something inside of me keeps putting it off. Dread maybe. Probably because once I start sewing I get buried in it.

We (me and cat) had visitors yesterday. These two Sand Hill cranes seemed as curious about us on the patio as we were with them wandering around the yard. I even tossed out pretzel crackers which they crunched up.

I am pretty sure Kevin was trying to make an "N" for Nancy in the sky last Saturday morning.

Now it is countdown to Christmas so enjoy all that is enjoyable. Thank you for reading my posts. You are a great support for me. Love and Hugs until next time.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Could it be PTSD

I have a few things I want to write about. Some weighing heavy on my mind and a little bit about the Weeki Wachee Yard Sale (I'm not sure who is more mind boggling, some of the vendors or some of the attendees.)

I have been experiencing some emotional memories, more like flashbacks since last Thursday when I was at the gym. I feel irritated, short-fused and at my wit's end (whatever that means.)

This gym has a series of toning tables that you lay down on and complete various exercises. For instance one replicates walking. The bottom half is split in two and it raises and lowers your legs as if you are walking. On another one, the bottom half raises and lowers your legs and hips for doing sit ups. and strengthens your back, if you also work with it.

The tables are set up in a row. The attendant switches them on for six minutes each and sets the rate, slow to faster. I was talking with  the woman following me in the line, when the attendant switched my table on and started walking away. I called after her because I wanted it turned to a higher speed, but she didn't hear me and walked away. The woman I was talking to said, "Too bad you don't have a bell."  I replied, I can just see that, all of us ringing our bells for their attention."

We laughed at that thought. Then I closed my eyes and found myself back in the infusion room while Kevin was having chemotherapy. The first few months he was there, the IVs/Infusion pumps would ring or buzz or something when the IV had finished or it was time to change from one drug to another. They were kind of annoying, but the nurses were pretty good at getting to the patient and making the changes. Then they upgraded to new pumps and the alarm system on those were very annoying.

We would be there in the infusion room for hours, twice a week. Most of the time the rooms was filled with cancer patients undergoing chemo.

When I closed my eyes the other day, I was next to Kevin. He was sitting back in one of the recliners.I felt as though I was reclining or laying down, but I would have been sitting next to him.

Bells were beeping continuously. Some nurses, especially one in particular, would ignore them and were adept at not making eye contact with other patients sick of listening to the alarms. The alarms never meant anyone was in danger, but I am sure it made every one's blood pressure rise.

I was tired that day and Kevin was having some bad times. By then the chemo sessions left him shaking for a day or two afterward. I talked with the nurses about it and they had theories. That was about it.

On this particular day, the ringing, dinging alarm noise was making my heart race. I wanted to start screaming, but of course I couldn't do that. I just wanted it to stop. I wanted all of it to stop. I wanted to wake up and find that it was all a dream. I started crying. Kevin took my hand and gave me a reassuring look. I thought to myself, "I will never forget what this sounds like." Then I took a deep breath, smiled and gave Kevin's hand a squeeze. I thought, "We have to get through this."

I opened my eyes just as the six minutes were up and it was time to move on to the next toning table. The first thing that popped into my mind was that I could not remember at all what those pump alarms sounded like I have no recollection as to whether it was a ringing of a bell or more like an alarm. And during this memory or flashback, there wasn't any sound, just my thoughts and visions.

It seemed so real and like I was there and it was happening right then. All over again. It just took a suggestion about bells and  my imagining everyone in the gym ringing bells to get the attendants' attention.

Since then, I keep thinking about this and feeling somewhat emotional. Now that I take a cautious look back, I was doing a pretty good job of blocking out the bad stuff, or at least I thought I was.

Maybe it is because of the holidays  creeping up on me.  We missed having Grief Support last time because of Thanksgiving. Now I am l looking forward to it this Thursday.

I don't remember having anything like this happen to me before.  It hopefully isn't PTSD, Maybe it is more like I wanted to suppress something coming back up like a loud burp.

I actually feel better after writing it down and sharing this with you. We'll talk about the yard sale another time.

Here is a picture of Horst and Liz Goeller's yard. Their house is tucked in behind all of the grand decorating. We always looked forward to spending an evening with neighbors, catching up on news and celebrating the holidays with them in Horst and Liz's yard amid the Christmas lights. Thank you Horst for good times with great neighbors. I am looking forward to this year's special evening and I am sure Kevin will be nearby, watching us.

Tomorrow I will be busy getting ready for Christmas on Main Street in Brooksville, Thursday evening.

Thank you for reading my posts and for your kind emails and comments.

Love and hugs, Nancy

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Funny Monday to Share

I'm bouncing back after my post Thanksgiving emotional letdown. Been busy preparing for the parking lot Yard Sale at Weeki Wachee this Friday and Saturday. I went through our Christmas decorations and culled out many things we'd actually retired over the years.

I thought about offering some things to the kids, then realized it is mostly a collection of kmick knacks accumulated from one holiday to the next. Things that anyone can still purchase at Target, Macy's, maybe even the Dollar Store. They already have their own collections growing in the back of some closet.

We had quite a collection of those little ceramic snowmen or Santas that housed tea lights. Kevin was crazy for candles. The first thing he did when he brought one home was light it. Just a few minutes to make sure it the wick was okay, I guess.  Some years it seemed as though every flat surface in the living room was occupied by an lighted Santa or miniature tree or Frosty.

Until one Christmas when I discovered battery-powered tea lights. And I picked up a box of them. That year the little ceramic candle holders were shining  through the holidays. Unknowingly, I ended that part of our holiday traditions. Wasn't quite the same for Kevin.

We also had a box of cheap decorations we'd used when we first set up a tree and slowly eliminated them as we accumulated better pieces. That's all going, too. Hopefully, someone else is starting out.

So, back to the yard sale this weekend at Weeki Wachee. Monday was a beautiful day here. We have a van that has the third row of seats.The back part of the seats is always folded down, but the seats take up a lot of space and we never use them. A few years ago Kevin attempted to take them out, but changed his mind when he couldn't figure out how to do it. You know those directions in the manual and how they don't quite make sense to some of us.

Well on Monday, I decided to try again, because I need the room more than the extra seating. Here I was with the rear door up, reading, rereading the directions on page 120  and fiddling with the locking handles. Anna (my neighbor) walks up with her dog Lady. "Whatcha doin?" she asks. I explained what I am trying to do and she immediately drops the leash and starts successfully fiddling with the locking handles.

Together we get the base freed and all that's left to do is slide this ridiculously heavy bank of seats back and out the rear door. But wait. One side is stuck or we had it tuned a bit so it wouldn't slide along the track. /So, now she is in the van pushing from the front and I am in back of the van pulling.

Just then Bill, our neighbor from across the street sticks his head out the door and tells us to wait a minute and he will help us. He was on the phone.  By then we'd secured Lady in a safer place as we quickly realized this sucker is heavy. Anna lost her husband a few years ago and over the years, we've had conversations about grief and loss. I never thought I'd be in the same position. We'd just talked about my up and down blue weekend and she reassured me, I would get through it.

Anna is small, but strong. She gets lots of exercise keeping Lady happy. So I thought this will take GIRL POWER.

We waited. For one minute. We gave each other a look, finally freed the seats and rolled them to the rear.

Yes they were heavy. We made a plan to put them on the carport. In all of my Lucy and Ethel moments of wisdom. I decided to back the van out of the driveway, turn around and back in so we wouldn't have to carry it as far.. I don't even know what I said to Anna, as I jumped in, started it up put it in reverse and slowly backed down the driveway.

Apparently Anna thought I was backing up a  away from the carport . When she thought I'd backed far enough away she started waving for me to stop. I didn't know what she was thinking. I immediately hit the brakes because I thought she was telling my to stop. Maybe there was a car coming or something. Well. you guessed it. When I hit the brakes, the seat flew up into the air and made a crash landing right in the middle of the street. Fortunately it is not a busy street.

We looked at each other and burst into boisterous, belly busting laughter. We couldn't  stop and I felt something good, like the huge weight of sadness being lifted away. I could breathe. I wanted to laugh as loudly as possible.

Amazingly, it wasn't damaged. I pulled the car back into the driveway. We hoisted it up and carried it up the drive to the carport when it sits. Anna, asked if I wanted to put it somewhere else. We considered the living room and that started another round of laughter.

Crazy, but that was just the pick-me-up I needed.

Remember Bill. Poor guy was tied up on the phone forever and missed the fun.

Wait there's more

Another funny  happened on Monday. Last week on Tuesday a UPS guy came to the door with a package. Stephanie told me she was having one of Serena;s birthday presents delivered at my house, as they would be there after it arrived. She told me UPS and more details like where it is coming from and contents. Details that lay dormant in my brain.

So I was busy doing three things at once when I saw him at the door and immediately knew he was delivering Serena's package. I went outside. He handed me the box and I said, "Do you by any chance have  the Christmas stamps?" He removed the ear phone from his ear and said, "What?"

"I need to go get Christmas stamps and thought you might some with you." He gave me a huge smile, tapped his chest pocket and replied, nope. no. He did not have any..

Okay so, like I said I was doing three things at once and was also considering if I should go to the post office to buy the stamps or order on line. Just then this guy comes along, at the same time the mail usually gets delivered and I immediately think he the mail carrier. Of course I didn't realize this until he was way down the street.

I was so embarrassed. I imagined him messaging his friends, family and coworkers about the nutty old lady he just ran into. Well, shortly after the seat incident, I was on the porch and heard  the UPS cart pull up across the street. In our community, they use a cart to delivery, this time of the year.

After he made the delivery and was returning to the cart, I called out to him, twice. He had to take out the ear phone to hear me. "Hey, sorry, but I thought you were the mail carrier last week when I asked about the stamps."

He laughed. Said he thought it was something like that. Then he waved and replied, "No worry. It's all good."

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Two Kiwis and An Avocado

Sorry I've been away for so long. For the past nearly two weeks I've been happily busy cleaning and preparing for Thanksgiving Day weekend visitors. Stephanie and Serena arrived Wednesday afternoon and from then on we found a lot to do.

We had Thanksgiving dinner with friends Sally and Anna. I am so grateful they are such wonderful friends. The dinner was superb and so was the company. It was so nice of them to share their Thanksgiving with us, as well as  good conversation.

Wednesday was pizza night and we started binge watching the last two seasons of Gilmore Girls in anticipation of the midnight Friday release of the Netflix Gilmore Girls Revival. Of course we'd already seen every second of that series, but wanted a refresher.

We were finally caught up by Thursday night and spent much of Friday in our pajamas, drinking hot chocolate, watching the newly released four-part series. What can I say. If I had my way, this series would never end.

Netflix revival

Then we binged on Switched at Birth. I am still not sure about that series. At first most of the characters are repulsive. As it goes on, seems like everyone  has good and bad sides. Anyway, I am still in season one and I think there are about hundred more to go.

Poor Stephanie. Each night she would sound the "It's ten o'clock, should we stop here for the night?' alarm. If it weren't for her reminders, my eyes would probably be stuck to the TV screen by now.

Can't get together without crafting

We did some crafting -- painted some clay gingerbread men and stars.

Cook, Bake, Eat

We made and ate a lot of goodies and good food. Stephanie is the Queen of mac 'n cheese, tasty omelets, pizza and  everything she decides to create. Serena rules when it comes to baking cupcakes. She made chocolate/Oreo cupcakes with a strawberry made to look like a pumpkin center. And pumpkin cupcakes that were the bomb.

Shop Local

We spent Saturday morning and afternoon in downtown Brooksville doing the city's Shop local event. We each had a check list of participating stores and restaurants to visit. Someone at each place checked our lists. Once we finished we handed the check lists in, expecting to win one of many prizes awarded in a drawing to those who completed the lists. We didn't win anything, but we did have a great time visiting some pretty neat shops and eating places. We had a tour of the Women's Club. Sampled some of of the restaurants popular dessert offering, received coupons and met some nice store owners.

Then we came home to wash our cars and spend our last evening together doing more binge watching.

The Downside

So what does all of this have to do with two kiwis and an avocado?  For years, every time Stephanie pays me a visit, as well as Maia, I pack up half the fridge and more for them to take home. I am a mom. That's what I do. Every time as soon as they've left the drive way and are out of sight, (besides crying) I find something else I meant to send home with them. Makes me feel yucky.

This morning I started packing Stephanie's cooler and loading some sacks with fruit, etc. well ahead of her 10 a.m. time for departure. I was so organized moving all of the things to send with her to the bottom shelf in the fridge. I  layered the cold items with ice cubes in the cooler. I divvied up  oranges and apples and repacked a bag for her. With all of that completed, I scanned the kitchen once more to make sure I didn't miss anything. Job well done. I gave myself a pat on the back  

She  and Serena packed the car and departed on their 4 hour trip home. I walked back into the house and immediately spied the two kiwis and avocado sitting in a bowl on the counter. I completely lost it.

What really hit me was how much I miss Kevin. All weekend we kept him in our thoughts and remembering of past holidays. 

I told Stephanie and Serena how we, Kevin and I spent many summer afternoons walking through downtown Brooksville and nearby neighborhoods.  We took pictures and Kevin wrote blog posts about our walks. We met locals who shared stories with us. 

Yesterday we visited many shops and restaurants that I'd been to with Kevin He loved the history of the city and the beautiful southern homes. He would have loved the Shop :Local event and seeing the Christmas House decked out for the holidays and the shops filled with art, antiques and quirky old stuff. 

Yesterday marked the fifth month of his passing. That is on my mind when I think how we spent most of our lives together, together. Now, each day, week, month, marks our time apart.

We kept saying he was with us, and I was okay with that. Today, once the girls drove away, I was overcome with sadness and have felt bad all day. I cry and my stomach as well as my heart is aching.

I thought I would breeze through the holidays. Just keep busy and take deep breaths. I was sure.

 I will be okay,  But this really hit me hard, something I never expected, despite the warnings from the recent Hospice sponsored Holidays workshop I attended regarding grief and what to watch for during this time of the year. 

Here is Kevin at a Rays game in 2013. Miss him everyday.

I have a couple of posts in draft, that I may finish this week. Sometimes I get in the middle of my thoughts and then hold back from sharing them. Thank you for reading my blog. I wish everyone a nice, happy holiday season. 

Love and hugs, Nancy

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Keeping busy, moving ahead

I've been in constant motion since I last wrote. This week I attended a workshop at Hospice that delved into coping with the holidays, went to the gym four days, walked 2 1/2 miles on three days, am finding the biweekly grief support group sessions very helpful and interesting, spent a lot of laborious time preparing for the weekend yard sale (which was pretty successful) and got to spend time with daughter Stephanie.

I have a feeling this will be a more like a novel.

So, here we go

I am so glad I attended the Hospice-sponsored Hope for the holidays workshop last Monday. Since Kevin passed away in June, I've done a fairly good job of moving from one day to the next, keeping myself occupied with tasks, responsibilities and social contacts. It's been workable, sort of.

But, the holiday season is around the corner and until this week, I've put off thinking about Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years with two grand kid birthdays in the mix. Kevin LOVED the holidays. I love reminiscing about Christmas and the wonderful times we shared. Looking ahead without him here makes me sad.

He had many traditions, starting with Thanksgiving dinner being accompanied by Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant, whenever possible. Speaking of music, Kevin had many hours worth of holiday music on his iPod.Before iPods he had holiday CDs. Before CDs he had tapes and when we first met he had holiday record albums. It was all we listened to very year for six weeks.

He loved the tree, decorating inside and a few lights here and there outdoors. We collected ornaments over the years and made many. I was thinking about listing some of his favorite Christmas objects, but the list is too long. Most are pieces given to us from family, daughters and grand kids. Everything Kevin collected was more than special to him. And he collected all that was the holidays.
Cookies. He helped make gingerbread cookies. I rolled the dough out and he mastered the cookie cutters. He also, mastered eating them -- gingerbread cookies were always his favorites and each year we would keep on making them until I slowed the production down around Easter. 

Cards. For quite a few years Kevin included a letter with the cards we sent. It was a synopsis of our year, the  high points. Last year, Kevin was weak and worn out from chemotherapy.  I'd been drawing cards Kevin sent as thank yous to friends and family who'd written to him during his fight with cancer. He asked me to make our Christmas cards. It was a fun project to do together. It meant a lot to Kevin. The only thing he enjoyed more was getting cards and pictures  from others.

For quite a few years he kept the cards we'd received. He was sentimental, like his mom. She always kept cards she'd received, from year to year. Kevin also purchased the cards we sent. To avoid being wasteful he would always try to use up leftover cards he'd bought for the year before. One Christmas, mom informed him we'd sent her the same card two years in a row. That was pretty funny and he made sure that didn't happen, again.

We celebrated most years with our children. At our house or at one of their homes. There were years when we celebrated by ourselves. We were never apart for the holidays. So, suddenly I am facing the holidays without Kevin doing all of the above. And it sucks.

Best to be prepared

This is where all I've learned at the holiday workshop is crucial to getting myself through it. One thing, I was being so blase about it I didn't realize how emotional it will be during the holidays. 

Every day it is important to have a plan. Grieving can take all of my energy. So, anxiety, stress and most emotions can be so destructive on my health and well being. It is so much better to wake up each morning with something planned for the day. I don't have to go overboard and I can slip a few options in, just in case I change my mind about the plan. 

This is even more important for getting through the holidays, solo. Basically, I can have a plan to spend those special days with friends or family and away from home. It isn't advisable to host  a big party on my own. I need to always have a plan B. For those accepting an invitation, they should make sure their  host understands they may not be able to make it through the whole day, may leave before dinner, if it gets too stressful. And by all means I should listen to my body as it will let me know what's best for me.

I would like to write more about the workshop, but all we covered was extensive and I am running out of steam. Everyone in the workshop had different circumstances and concerns to discuss. Some things I hadn't thought about. Other issues similar to my own. 

The things we all have in common to consider is keeping the memory of our loved ones in mind while sharing the holidays with others. We should talk about them and maybe ask each person bring up something they remember about him or her. Better yet, write each memory down, make a book to share at future holiday gatherings. 

Also maintaining our health and avoiding anxiety. For me, I have to be careful not to overdo with so many things going on at once. I get rattled and forgetful.

I am loving the gym. Stephanie came for the weekend to help me with the yard sale. My friend Anna helped me out on Friday morning and Stephanie arrived on Friday afternoon, in time to go to the gym with me and help with the sale on Saturday. I did pretty well selling things we hadn't needed or used for a long time. My food dehydrator that I used mostly for drying fruits to decorate wreathes, a Serger (machine for sewing) I've had for years, but never really got the hang of using. DVDs, small fridge we bought when our refrigerator quit working and a new one couldn't be delivered for two days, some hats and other things. Stephanie and I took some items to Goodwill on Saturday afternoon and packed the rest for an upcoming yard sale at Weeki Wachee. I will probably regret that decision.


One thing nice about having the yard sale was getting to talk to so many neighbors. Some stopped by to  offer their condolences and remind me to come visit them or holler if I need anything. Many are snowbirds, returning to their winter homes and are just finding out about Kevin's passing..

And getting to spend time with Stephanie.  

Well, it must be getting late. The cat is letting me know she's ready for bed. Until next time. 

Thank you for reading my posts and comments I receive. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Let's Talk About the Election (Just Kidding)

Just one thing. I like the tradition of voting on Election Day. So did Kevin. We early voted once and it seemed anticlimactic.  We had to stand in line and vote in some dinky little office. It had one quirky voting machine that didn't seem to work quite right. It was the 2012 Presidential Election. There were worries that some voters may get turned away and the best solution would be to vote early so any doubts could be worked out ahead of time.

So, I am holding my vote until Tuesday. Can't say that I will miss all of the craziness that's been going on during this election cycle. 

I was given a handout when I started attending the Hospice Grief Support Group. It has a lot of good information, including a task time line guide for getting through the grief process. 

From 0-3 months the Task is to mentally acknowledge the reality of the death, which involves getting through feeling numb, shocked, automatic/robotic responses, disbelief.

Tasks 2 and 3 deal with emotionally acknowledging the reality of the death, emotions range from unexpected outbursts of emotion and feeling like you are going crazy. And expression of the grief, through emotional, verbal,. artistic and physical expression.

Six to nine months is about the time for exploring one's self without physical presence of  loved one. According to the time line Task 4 is when a grieving person may start searching for a new self-identity: reevaluate  belief systems, develop new relationships, do some volunteering, get into new hobbies, return to old hobbies.

At some point last week I thought I was at that point. I took on the task of reopening my Etsy Shop, which is more work than you might think. A customer had written me a couple of months ago looking for another phone pouch. She'd noticed my shop was closed and was happy to finally hear from me. We went back and forth for a few days. about my creating a larger pouch to accommodate her larger phone. Doing this means getting the phone dimensions and working up a pattern for the new line of pouches and then sewing it.  I am also going through my inventory, culling out things I will no longer list, freshening some pieces with a new coat of varnish and making sure everything is in good condition after being packed away for a year and a half.

At the same time I am rounding up things to put in a yard sale next weekend. Doing so is off and on emotional despite where I feel I am regarding the task time line. Not so much of an emotional attachment to the objects I am getting rid of, but feeling emotional over the things I keep. 

I finally asked my customer for time for me to get settled and then I will make the pouch. Haven't heard back from her. I feel bad getting her hoped up and then having to ask her to wait.

So, I started out feeling cocky and ready to face reality. As the week wore on, I began feeling overwhelmed by the large bites I'd taken and fearful I am going to fail on everything I am trying to accomplish.

It is like growing up, again. But the safety net is old and has big holes in it. It isn't that I expect miracles nor do I ever think life could ever be as perfect as it was when I had Kevin here with me.

Taking on too many things at one time isn't new for me. I went through feeling lost and like a failure  when I was a child. At times it was devastating, but I got through it. Kevin was king at keeping things in perspective and reminding me to act like a human instead of trying to be a super human. I miss him so much.

The best part about last week was going to the gym, Tone U and  working out via the toning tables. I am still walking about two miles a day. My leg, knee and hip are feeling better and I  have more energy. Also love that Tone U is free because of my health insurance. 

Another happy spot has been our cat. She's been pretty lethargic and wasn't eating well. But this past week, she  is back to eating and coaxing me to play catch with her, daring me to grab her toys away from her. Here she is yesterday, with her favorites:

So you must be able to tell from this post, just how I am on an emotional roller coaster ride, despite my initial upbeat, positive outlook for the week. Maybe this is how it will be. Laura, the grief support group leader called and left me a message last week, checking on me and offering one on one support if I feel the need. I may call her. On Tuesday I am going to the support for getting through the holidays workshop and Thursday the grief support group meets, so I should be getting a hefty amount of attention and aid this week. As long as I have time to get all of the other things done. :)

Thank you for reading my posts and for your concerns, responses. Have a good week. Be healthy and happy.

Monday, October 31, 2016

I'd be chasing my tail, if I had one

I've been busy and have lots to write. Starting is the hard part. Great news from my doctor, last Wednesday.

The osteoarthritis is nothing to worry about. He says I pulled a muscle and it keeps getting aggravated. The problem stems from my years of lower back pain. I would be fine for a couple of years and then turn (move) the wrong way and instant pain that would last for several days. Seems like I've not had more than a sore back here and there for the past couple of years. Where am I headed with this? The doctor has this theory and I am inclined to agree. He believes I've been subconsciously using my hip for doing things that required  exertion on my back. Light bulb moment.  I've also been having the pains and problems with my hip and knee off and on for that past two years.

I am to a point where too much walking is more wear and tear of both joints. Also the lifting. Whenever I lift or move something awkward/heavy I make myself aware of how I do it. Must be because I am left handed that I automatically shift my weight to my left side instead of centering or shifting to the right to complete the task. Even though I am aware of this, I can't do it any other way.

My prescription and solution is walking, but keeping the daily routine to a half hour. And I am off tomorrow to join Tone U, a gym that has workout machines and that's all I know about it. Will keep you updated. Maybe you will want to join me. It's great to be retired when you are eligible for the Silver Sneakers program and can go to just about any exercise/workout facility for free.

Got my new glasses on Tuesday. I can see everything perfectly, however not close up. My neighbor says I should take them back, but I have readers and I really needed these specks for stuff like driving.  Still have to look forward to next year for possible cataract removal.

I really like both my primary care physician and Eye Doctor. They are both mellow, nice professionals. They both listen and don't make me feel rushed.  They remind me a lot of Kevin, similar personalities.

Thursday afternoon was Grief Support Group. Social Worker Stephanie (our daughter) keeps reminding me there is no right way or wrong way to go through grieving over the loss a loved one. And she's right. There are women in this group who have or have gone through months of not being able to answer the telephone because they know they will break down crying. One woman says she can't stand it when friends ask, "How she's doing?  Another hates the pause on the phone once the caller has asked that same question and adds they are sorry for her loss. The group leader told them this often happens and some ways to get around the problem is by sending the friend an email or note explaining how they find phone conversations too difficult right now. Thank them for their concerns and offer to call them when the right time comes.

For me, after Kevin was gone, I even answered calls that I didn't recognize the number. On Thursday when I thought about that, I realized I may have been hoping for some crazy good news, like, "Your husband is fine and will be home soon." My rational head knew that wasn't happening, but it was too soon to think rationally.

Regarding the woman who took issue with people always asking how she's doing, I looked at that differently.  She said, she's tempted to say how do you think I'm doing I've lost my husband. My world is upside down.

I think I always say that when I start a conversation. I mean it in general and leave it up to the respondent to decide how to answer.  When someone asks me, it really depends on the kind of day I am having. Since Thursday, I've thought about this and I understand her irritation. Handling Grief is different for everyone.

Always have a Plan B. That was the advice to one woman who planned a vacation to either Dolly World or Myrtle Beach with a girlfriend. Turns out her friend can't get away from work, so this woman wonders about going alone. She and her husband vacationed often at both places. Others agreed with the leader that if she feels like going, she should. But she should also have a arrangements made to  return home or go elsewhere, if being in a place too difficult, emotionally to enjoy.

Another woman told the group she opted to put some of her husband's ashes in his burial site at the National Cemetery, when he passed a way two years ago. She and friends booked a cruise and she wants to disperse the rest of his ashes at sea.  Just about everyone in the room had a quick response to this, as it illegal to do without a permit and permission to do so. I have permits needed for traveling with Kevin's ashes, which is necessary for taking them to another state. They were included with death certificates and other paperwork from the funeral home.

The last 20 minutes of the hour-long session were devoted to talking about one woman's sorrow of losing a teen-aged son. He was in an accident. Very sad story. Another woman who'd lost her son many years ago, consoled her. The leader made sure to remind everyone even though these moms' stories are devastating everyone's grief is different and just as hard as anyone else's. Don't minimize your own grief. It is just as hard to bear.

I signed up for a special Holidays Alone workshop at Hospice. It's next week. At first I thought I didn't need to go to this workshop, but then decided it best to know what to expect ahead of time.

Something I have thought about and really hope is true. I believe Kevin is with me in spirit. So, if that is the case, I think he can also time travel. I just wish he would reassure me that the Indians are going to win the World Series -- since he would be able to take a trip to tomorrow night, or the next night to get the box scores. Maybe spirits have a code of conduct to follow and can't be that helpful. But wouldn't it be nice.

I reopened my Etsy Shop. For now, I've just relisted my ID wallets and will continue to bring other items back throughout the week. I want to add my greeting cards, but that will take time as I have to take the photos and write the descriptions. I am also getting requests for larger phone pouches for the larger phones. So, I will also be sewing up a storm.

 If you'd like to take a peek, go here: 

Something else I am looking forward to is lunch with Anna and Sally in Homosassa on Wednesday. Always a fun time out with them.

Kevin and Serena Nov. 27, 2012 at Downtown Disney (AKA) Disney Springs

I am grateful to have your support and understanding. I miss Kevin everyday and sharing this with you is so important to me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Four months

Today is October 25th. It's been four months since Kevin left this world on June 26th. It is easier to accept, but not any easier to bear. I've kept busy the past several days sorting through things. We collected so much in 31 years. Even though we moved a few times and made it a point to thin down, we still have a bunch of stuff. Cutting my side of the inventory is fairly easy. But souvenirs, memorabilia and such that we collected together is harder to thin out. Kevin's stuff, well, is still very difficult.

When my brother's wife died suddenly, He asked me to help out with going through her things. He drove for Mayflower, coast to coast and was away from home a lot. He'd been on the road when she passed and he was lost. Two of their four children were still teenagers. I waited for a couple of weeks, before making the trip to his home in upstate New York. The family obviously was in shock and immobile. Her purse still sat on the stool by the wall phone, There were signs of her everywhere, except for her. After a few days I started with their bedroom, sorting through things to keep and things to donate. The kids stood by, saddened. It was hard for them and for me, as well. My brother took his youngest  and one of his sons on a two-day trip to visit relatives. He figured that would be enough time for me to finish my task, including taking boxes of clothes and items not to keep, to a charity. However, as soon as he left the other two children had other plans. They weren't ready to see their mom's clothes, shoes, bags, etc. be taken away. We talked about it at length. I understood what they were going through, yet I made a promise to my brother.

I need to add, they are very smart and clever kids. They wanted to store the boxes in the already crowded attic. They would make room and they would move the boxes for me. Dad wouldn't know because he had no reason to go into the attic. he wouldn't know.. I weighed my options and agreed to go along with their plan. I sensed their immediate relief.  It worked out for the best.

A year passed before they were able to sort through her things on their own and pass stuff along. My brother understood.

Thinking about them in their horrible time of grief  has been very helpful for me as I sort. I am keeping a lot of Kevin's shirts. His long-sleeved t-shirts keep me comfortable on chilly mornings when I go walking. The hats I made for him keep my ears warm. Other shirts,his Irish apparel or holiday wear and some sweaters are also too precious to pass along.

Whether I keep or let go, everything serves a purpose. and that makes letting go, possible. A little at a time.  Back into the stream of life. Or what I hold close and dearly that I may never  want to let go.

Update about me

I am going to the doctor for regular check up and update on my hip and the osteoarthritis. When I went last Friday, they didn't have me scheduled for an appointment. I brought my appointment card along just in case, because this happened to me at this office once before. Turned out someone else had the same problem and it was because the person who set up the appointment and handed me the card neglected to add it to the schedule on the computer. So, they were booked and had to reschedule me for this Wednesday. Oh well. I've been walking with my neighbor who has sciatica and I think that is what's bothering me more than arthritis. We'll see. Leg is actually feeling better with all of the sorting and moving boxes I've been doing.

Got my new glasses today and am getting use to them.

I am feeling more productive. Am planning a yard sale over Veterans' Day weekend to unload some of my mess and raise funds for much needed dental work. 

I received an invitation from Gannon University Alumni Association today to attend an "annual Mass of Remembrance offered for the souls of members who passed away in this year." It will be held Thursday, November 3rd at 11 a.m. with lunch served afterward. Obviously I can't be there. Annie, would you like to attend on my behalf?

Try to enjoy theses cooler fall days and the fall apple season. Just had a Cortland and it reminds me of  the northern crisp weather and the best apples in the world.

Go Indians!!!

Thank you for reading my posts and your kind responses.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Taking care to take care

A few weeks ago when I went to my doctor because of my hip, the first thing he asked was,"How are you doing?" I replied, "I'm falling apart."  His response was, "Oh no, don't say that."

I didn't really believe it at the time, even though I am facing some major dental work and then my hip and leg pain wouldn't go away, as I'd hoped.

The hip turns out to be osteoarthritis  and I will find out more about that at this Friday's appointment.
Okay, maybe I am not falling a part.

I decided to get my annual eye exam. Last year I went in the middle of Kevin's chemo sessions. I was told the cataracts growing in my left eye weren't ready for surgery, otherwise all was fine. I declined getting new glasses because by my thinking why spend all of that money on glasses that won't be any good once I have the cataracts removed. So, I bought some readers and they seemed to do the job, for a while.

Last weekend when I drove to the craft show at 6 a.m. it was a little scary trying to drive in the dark. That's when I made the decision to get my eyes checked again.

Today, I found out the cataracts are still slowly growing and that's good news because I should get another year before having them removed. But, now I have cataracts starting in my right eye. Eye doc told me to come back sooner, if my eyes get worse, things are more out of focus.

So, I broke down and bought new glasses.  All of the bells and whistles and I will get them in the proverbial week to ten days.

Except for the cataracts, my eye are healthy. I am still falling apart!

I've decided to reopen my Etsy shop. And will do whatever shows come along to help pay for all this falling apart. Yes, I have insurance which is good for covering some little something, but I'm not sure what. My eyes are still dilated and I can't read the receipt.

I messed up and put off taking care of myself. Then when it got to point where I could no longer ignore things, I was busy trying to help Kevin fight cancer.

Kevin tried to undo the harm his body endured from alcohol and cigarettes. He marked the days in his journals since he'd stopped drinking. Three years and 141 days (1,236 days) is what he wrote in his last entry, April 25th. He quit smoking in 2011.

So, I don't mean to be complaining about falling apart. As Stephanie reminds me, it could be worse.

Oh oh. The Indians are behind in the Indians are down 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning. I make sure the game is on for Kevin, although he's probably hovering over Rogers Stadium in Toronto, a city he loves. The Indians were also his Audrey, his mom's favorite team.

Kevin's always loved baseball. He told me he was a pretty good pitcher in Little League. He loved Spring Training and covering games for the Stuart News. He formed professional friendships with some managers and players.

Kevin is probably jumping from start to star over how well his Indians are doing. I need to check on his other favorite sports, college football and golf.

Yikes, better go cheer on the Indians, now it is 4-1, Blue Jays (his other favorite team).

Have a nice rest of your week. Don't neglect your health. Be happy and spend as much time as possible with those you love.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Much to learn at Grief Support Group

I did it. I joined a Hospice sponsored Grief Support Group. When I went Thursday afternoon, I wasn't expecting much. I didn't have to preregister for it. The group meets twice a month five minutes away. I worried I might arrive and be the only person there. That would be awkward. However, more than 30 men and women filled the large room. Some have been involved with the group for two years and there were newbies, like me, anxious and not knowing what to expect.

 It is actually a pretty close-knit group. Lots was discussed and everyone seemed eager to share. . There are as many men as women in the group. Most are seniors and have lost husbands or wives they'd spent years with.  Others lost a parent, brother, sister or best friend. One man lost his wife and son the same month.

Two women I sat near had both lost their husbands in August. Besides still spinning over their losses, one says she is overwhelmed with paperwork and hasn't cried even though she dearly misses her husband. She wonders if she sell their home and downsize. Both feel lost about things in need of repair around their homes and finding someone to do the work.

Many in the group had a lot to say about waiting for six months, a year, even longer before doing anything drastic. Some identified with her, saying in the end they realized repairs, yard work, all of that stuff can wait. As for not shedding tears, there are people who don't weep right away. It will happen eventually. It is not healthy however, to hold back tears.

I was quiet today, which is unusual for me. I felt more comfortable listening. I did speak up once, when a woman talked about not knowing what to do with old documents and photos her husband had kept. She said he had his parents birth certificates and old pictures that are of no interest to her. She said she was going to clean house and throw stuff like that out. I suggested passing the stuff onto someone else in his family, maybe a niece or nephew that are interested in keeping family documents together. I added I plan to do this with the same sort of things Kevin has stashed away. The team leader said my doing that is a good step as I am finding function for things that meant something to Kevin. She added it makes letting go, easier.

First everyone is different and no one can tell you how to get through grief.

The group talked about crying. A few people acknowledged not crying for several months until something happened and tears started flowing. The leader explained that is as normal as those who can't stop the tears. What isn't normal is wanting to cry, but holding back. It may take time, she said for some to process what's happened.

That led into a discussion about the process of not believing that person is gone and not coming back to life. Humans aren't experienced with finality, says the group leader  defines: People often speak of the finality of death. Nothing comes after it and nothing that came before it can be changed.

That is a very deep concept to understand. And while one is grieving, it is difficult to acknowledge. The group leader stressed it is something everyone grieving must eventually face.

There was a lot more discussed. I will be covering as much as possible in future posts.

Craft show bound

I also did something else. I took part in a craft show on Saturday, which brought me great angst beforehand. But my fears about all the hard work getting set up without Kevin's expertise and making it through the day interacting with fair goers quickly turned to relief. Although I packed and unpacked the car several times, I finally got it loaded nearly the same way as Kevin would. He would have everything perfectly balanced and packed in order of what needed to be unloaded first like tent, tables and anchor weights. I haven't done a craft show in two years and for this one, I took a sampling of my works instead of every last thing I've made. Made packing easier.

It was Heritage Days celebrating 160 years for the City of Brooksville.  Anna set up next to me with her beautiful aprons, bags, scarves and more. I was glad to have her company  We always try to take care of each other at shows, especially when sales are few and far between. Today turned out to be a good one.

I never planned to talk about Kevin all day, with fellow vendors and customers. But, it happened. Was especially poignant since it was Cancer Survivors' Day.

One couple came by and the wife started looking through my greeting cards. She loved them and as she pulled out her favorites, she asked how I got the idea to make them. I told her about Kevin, his cancer and how he'd asked me to make some thank you notes to send to friends and family that were writing him and sending him small gifts, mementos. Her husband asked about our experience and if I (we) thought it better to have the year together before he passed as opposed to going through sudden or immediate death. He explained,"Some people say they would rather die immediately of a heart attack or what ever, that they wouldn't want to linger or suffer. I've wondered about that."

For me. I explained. For us, the time was precious. Kevin suffered some and felt okay some. Kevin reconnected with old friends, which was one of the best things that happened. He spent more time reflecting on his faith and tried to keep up with friends and family as best as he could. Kevin was grateful for doctors and nurses who were caring and supportive. We spent time walking in the sunshine and making gingerbread cookies. He read as many books as he could finish.

Although, I never really faced the inevitable, I was eased into it. I was determined his health would turn around and as they say, life would go on. We spent all of our time together. I did everything I could to help him fight cancer. Being there for him, giving everything I could to help him was so important to me. That time, well we wanted infinity not finality and we got a year.

Everyone and every situation is different. I know that and reminded my customer that I was not speaking for anyone else. He understood and thanked me for sharing my story.

Another vendor told me about her father's passing 10 years ago and how much she still hurts, thinking about it. She said she was told not to cry in front of her dad because she was upsetting him in his final days. So she would leave the room, whenever she was overcome with emotion. After he died she couldn't cry and ended up suffering with depression for three years. Her doctor finally told her to save her own life, she needed to let her emotions go and cry. The tears finally started falling. They still fall, she says. We talked and wept together.

Even though all of this sounds horrifying, it wasn't. I am an emotion-sharing person. And I was sharing them with people who were open to the sharing.

I loved the crowd, mostly families eager to smell my spiced clay pins and sort through my wallet selection. I marked the pins down for the day and it was cute to see elderly couples giggling and buying pins for each other, kids and moms picking out favorites. This is the last downtown event before Halloween, so children donned their costumes and vendors supplied bowls of treats. I opted for these little boxes of tattoos - bats, jack-o-lanterns and skulls. Something different. And I didn't want to end up with a bunch of candy I would be obliged to eat. Fat chance of that happening, Anna had two big bags of sweets and we just made it to the end of the day.

So,what it all boils down to is I sold pieces, made new friends and got invited to do many more upcoming craft shows. Now, I am thinking about reopening my Etsy shop. It would all be so much better if I could share these experiences with Kevin. I know. Kevin is watching and cheering me onward. He always did.

My booth is the second on in this line. Anna's is the first one.:

And this is my favorite shot of the day:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Loneliness and anxiety

My biggest problem this morning/afternoon is where to start with this post.  I've been busy and more productive. Yesterday I was nonstop, cutting the lawn and preparing, again for this Saturday's craft show. I was shuffling things around on the porch in hopes of making a usable crafting area as opposed to a craft supplies stuffed corner. Plans are to have a yard sale over Veterans' Day weekend, so I am sorting through things I feel comfortable to let go. I know, I will likely regret it. I made a leftover-rich casserole and  spent the evening using up yarn, knitting a hat.

Well, that gets us off on the right foot. On paper, my life is full of energy-using activities. This is a list of things I did on Monday. I was busy this weekend, mostly doing much of the same things.

What I don't address much are my two worst enemies, loneliness and anxiety. For just about 31 years Kevin was always by my side and I never felt lonely.

I would miss the kids, especially when we moved away, but I had Kevin. Truth is I never spent much time in my life living alone.

I now often think of how sad Kevin was his last few weeks in the hospital. One evening when we kissed and I started to go home for the night he said, "I don't want to be alone." My heart sank. While I didn't look forward to spending another night without him home, I couldn't handle staying there around the clock. Emotionally, I needed down time. I tried to ease his sadness by explaining he wouldn't be alone and I would be back first thing in the morning to spend the whole day with him. He closed his eyes and I cried all the home.

One of the night shift nurses told me he was usually asleep with in minutes after I left each evening. I would call him to let him know I was home safe and sound, but he quit answering his phone, so I assumed he was sleeping. When I arrived between 7 and 8 every morning, he was awake, waiting for me and grumbling about all of the interruptions throughout the night. He did get a lot of sleep during the day, when I was there to hinder the interruptions.

I had my turn. He'd become so weak and no longer able to have a conversation. I held his hand and told him I never wanted to be alone. Didn't want to be without him.

Now, I realize our desperation was the same and it was out of our control.

We were best friends and there was never any reason to feel lonely when we had each other. Now things are different.The following link is for an article I found very interesting about loneliness.

Here is an article I want to share, "How to beat the loneliness epidemic:

Me and anxiety

Let's back up. to last Friday. I suddenly realized I hadn't paid the water bill last month. I was still in Boynton Beach so Anna paid the bill in late August. She left the receipt on the counter. When I came home, I saw it and filed the receipt. Then the next day when I went through the mail she'd collected for me, I think I saw the new bill, but ended up shredding it because I thought it was part of the same one Anna had paid. At least, I am very sure that is what happened.

This how my mind works.

No problem.  I would go pay it. However, county government was closed down on Friday because of the hurricane.

Little problem. According to their website I could pay online. But, I couldn't because I had to input the amount being paid and I had no idea of the amount billed. So I couldn't use that function.

More of a problem: Website said I could call and pay by phone. Same problem though, as I didn't know how much I owed and didn't want to either under or over pay.

Huge problem. I had to wait until Monday for their office to reopen. I spent the rest of the day and weekend worrying and conjuring up the most frightful scenarios. I worried that the bill was already overdue and I would have to pay some ridiculous late fee. Maybe they would turn the water off, before I had the chance to pay up.  Or worse. I felt like a loser. Kevin never missed a payment, that I know of.

I kept telling myself, if Kevin were here he would attempt to calm me down and keep reminding me to stop these groundless thoughts. It helped and he was  right about my worst fears never happening.

Finally Monday came and the water was still running. I arrived five minutes before customer service opened. I also brought papers to have Kevin's name taken off the account. Of course all was fine. I paid last month's bill, couldn't pay current one because bills weren't "out" yet. The clerk was nice and I finally felt relieved. BTW the bill was a whopping $28.13.

It's not just the water bill. It is a lot of things. I put off making decisions, making calls,

Anxiety isn't new to me. The stubborn part of me insists it is part of my character. As I wrote, Kevin kept me real.  

Facing loneliness and anxiety without Kevin leaves me thinking and acting in circles.

Regarding my forgetting to pay the water bill, Anna said it will be this way for me for a while. That my life is so changed. That I will probably do more ditzy things before I am finally settled. And that takes time. Her thoughts make me feel better.

I am probably miles from where I meant to be when I first started writing this post. One of the suggestions in the loneliness article is to become a part of a group, so I am going to a Hospice Adult Grief Support Group session this week. I think I will have much to gain.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Lots to write, much to share

First of all, I want to share this quote, that caught my eye earlier. It is part of a sermon given in 1910 by Henry Scott-Holland, a priest at London's St. Paul's Cathedral.

I've read this before, many years ago. Probably you have, too. Today it is so meaningful to my life.

“Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used
Put no difference in your tone, Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household world that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.
All is well. ”

Last night we watched baseball playoffs. Well, I turned the games on and updated Kevin with scores and asides. Today, I've tuned in College Football all day, just for Kevin. He always wanted me to sit and watch with him, but I am too antsy for that and he got use to my wandering in and out of the living room. Besides, he was okay with my making a meal or two during the marathon sessions with the TV. 

I talk to Kevin. He doesn't answer, but I know he is here, with me. I miss Kevin everyday and would do whatever possible to bring him back , alive and well. That isn't possible, so I settle for his being with me, in spirit. 

Someone posted this quote on Face Book today and I was immediately struck by it. I found this excerpt on Good Reads. That was one of Kevin's favorite websites. He spent hours there,  reviewing books he'd read. 

This quote is consoling to me. Sometimes, I feel what I do, like turning on sports for him,  my jabbering about scores, players and offering high fives is a little out there. 

Reading this ancient piece eases my mind. For centuries people have dealt with loss, grief, mourning and discovering the best way to go forward. It doesn't ease the pain, yet serves to reassure us.

Hey Kevin, we'll be watching lots of baseball tomorrow. Go Indians.

Nice letter from an old friend

I received a thoughtful, heartfelt letter from Matt Schaaf, one of Kevin's oldest and dearest friends from Erie. He enclosed a round metal  "Tuit," he's had since He and Kevin spent many Saturday nights drinking 35¢ drafts at Chambers, a favorite Erie bar that's long gone. They each had a Chambers  "Tuit" medallion which is, well, maybe this picture is the best way to describe it:

Matt wrote about their times together and how much Kevin's friendship meant to him. His letter brought tears and solace. 

Round Tuit (get it?) was something they both had at one point. It must have been a popular hand out from the bar. Kevin loved freebies like this, so I know it is something he treasured. Matt had his on his key chain for years and wrote it always reminded him of his friend, Kevin. Thank you Matt for sharing it and the stories behind it. 

Oh yes, I read Matt's letter to Kevin.

I haven't dug too deeply into his many collections stash boxes, envelopes and drawers. It still gets too upsetting. One of these days, though I will hunt and maybe find Kevin's  Tuit.

Another great friend, Steve Urbanski  often shares thoughts and memories of Kevin,  with me.  They enjoyed each other's cleverness and sense of humor. I enjoyed watching the two in action.

 I am grateful as well, for the stories passed on to me from other friends and family members. It is amazing how all of this keeps me from feeling alone and anxious to share my Kevin stories with you.

Here is a Moon Flower, might be the last bloom for this year. Kevin loved it when these plants flowered. They smell amazing.

Last subject is my hip

I have osteoarthritis in my left hip. That's what the X-rays earlier this week. revealed. I haven't been back to my doctor's yet, but read up and it is pretty much what he had suggested. Motrin, arthritis cream to treat topically, stretching and aerobic exercises. Guess I won't be gong on any three-mile walks again. 

Have a great test of your weekend and thank you for reading my posts. Love and Hugs.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Up and down bumpy week

Update: Craft show is canceled until next Saturday, Oct 15th because of the hurricane. Geesh.

It's been one of those weeks that should never happen, but do. First of all, my side of Florida is being spared, so far, from the perils of Hurricane Matthew.

I have some frightening memories of hurricanes past. One time I wound up home alone during one. It started out as a west coast hurricane that shifted course and came straight across the state. Kevin was already at work when it turned. He worked at the Stuart News, about 45 minutes on a good day, from home. And when you work for a newspaper you don't head home when a catastrophe is about to occur. I came home from City Hall where I was working in Finance. The staff spent the early afternoon securing our office and no one was particularly worried. We knew it was headed across the state, but wasn't suppose to affect us, much.  However by ealry evening, I sat in the living room with the transistor radio and ear phones listening to storm reporting, watching it rain from our kitchen ceiling.  I kept wishing Kevin was with me.

Another hurricane memory to share. When we lived in Hobe Sound a mediocre hurricane passed through. It was a big blow that made the roads too messy to travel and the power was off for a couple of days. Kevin fired up his hibachi for roasting hot dogs and he went about telling neighbors  and the property's maintenance men to stop by if they wanted a hot dog.  He was into hot dogs then and we had a couple packages of them in the freezer. A surprising number of neighbors took him up on the offer. Then the couple who lived across the street (their daughter married rich and Maria was very proper about everything) showed up expecting a sit down meal. I dug out everything I could find in the fridge for them. Too funny. That day Kevin really enjoyed serving the masses from his hibachi he'd set up on the sidewalk.

When Hurricane Andrew wreaked havoc on the Homestead, Fl area, Kevin was working at Boca Raton Community Hospital as a CNA. We were so fortunate that Andrew veered south at the last minute and spared us. He was honored to be a part of a team his hospital sent to Homestead to relieve hospital staff of their work and allowed them time to take care of their own families and property.

Being alone during a hurricane sucks. Being with someone you love makes a huge difference. I am speaking now about having to go through anything bad or traumatic.

I sent a text to Stephanie and Maia, and talked to Georgia this morning. I wanted to make sure they were all okay and to offer them a place to stay. So far, no takers. Whether to leave or stay is a difficult decision. Unless leaving is mandatory, most who feel their homes are resilient feel more comfortable to stay put.

Didn't mean to spend much time on the hurricane. You will get all of that on the news. At least it is a break from all of the political crap.

What's been bothering me

I was doing some bragging last week about the miles I am walking every morning. I hit three miles last Friday and felt great that morning. I even wrote about it in my blog post that day. but by afternoon I was in so much pain that started on the upper side of my leg and shot down to my knee. It would happen when I stepped, turned or moved the wrong way. So much so, that each time it happened I felt like I was going to fall on my face. I doubled up on the Motrin and stayed inside. It was no better on Saturday and improved un peu (as Kevin would say) on Sunday. I  was hobbling around using Kevin's cane. 

I finally went to my doctor on Tuesday. It was slowly feeling better, but still bothersome. Dr. Greg says I strained a muscle, the one that runs along the same straight line as the pain traveled. He ordered X-rays and prescribed stretching and weight-bearing exercises. Haven't heard anything about the X-rays.

This isn't a new problem, although it is getting worse. It started two years ago. I was walking about a half hour everyday, not paying much attention to distance. Then I started pushing myself to do more and my knee began hurting. I started wearing a knee brace and then my hip or upper leg was hurting. So, I would quit walking for a while.

Kevin always had the best advice. He would do the old joke about the guy telling the doctor, it hurts when I do this and he'd lift his arm. The doctor replies, "Then don't do that."

When Kevin was at Bayonet Point Medical Center I needed to get some exercise. My days were spent by his side, so I would take the stairs rather than the elevator from the ground floor to his room on the third floor. I did so maybe five or six times a day, going to the cafeteria for Kevin treats. My leg was hurting most days, but I endured. I was sure it would pass, just my overdoing. 

The past three months I've been back to walking and  I can't ignore the pain anymore. Would be wonderful if it is a muscle strain that can be overcome through exercise.We'll see.

Gearing up for a craft show

I am doing a small craft show/market on Saturday. My friend Anna  and I have spots next to each other. This is a big thing for me because I haven't done one in a while and this is the first one I've done in years, on my own without Kevin. Getting ready for it brings on a flood of memories. 

Kevin was always in charge of getting the car packed, unloading, setting up and tearing down, reloading again. He would put up our banner, making sure it was precisely center, while I was busy moving things, tweaking the display, something I do constantly throughout every show. Kevin would say, take a picture when you get it perfect, than you don't have to keep making changes the next time. However in my mind I never got it perfect. And I can't find the banner.

He enjoyed most shows. Kevin would help man the booth and explain the processes for making various pieces. He would wander and make new friends among other vendors and collect biz cards. He'd scout out the best food, entertainment and urge me to take breaks to do the same. He was never bored, in fact one of his favorite sayings he often used on the kids was, "There is no such thing as being bored. You should never be bored."  When he did all of that other stuff he would sit in the back of the tent reading. 

Three years ago, we cut back and eventually quit doing shows or attending local markets. He convinced me it wasn't worth the time, money and mostly our efforts to keep doing them. Looking back he was not feeling well then and all of the work tired him out. I looked forward to the camaraderie with other crafters, artists and show attendees. Of course it will be different without all of his help and company.

So, I will try a few small shows. See how it goes. I have enough stuff to fill a a few booth spaces, so having enough product isn't a problem. I must say Saturday will be an emotional day without Kevin.

Was talking to a neighbor yesterday. We both stood weeping as she described what her husband went through before he past away a fiveor six years ago. I can see there will always be the pain, the sorrow and hurt.

The moon last night and airing out some hats that were packed away, for Saturday.

When will Kevin stop getting these crazy offers? Please pray for those in Hurricane Matthew's path.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Walking and thinking go together

This is my sharing of grief, loss and the daily act of coping with the death of my loving husband, Kevin. He passed away on June 26th after a devastating year-long battle with lung cancer that metastasized.

I've been walking and also thinking about this fantastic article I read a few weeks ago. It is right up my alley. Has to do with walking and its benefits, specifically for brain function and for writing.

Here it is and I hope you take some time to read it:  Why Walking Helps Us Think

I have many reasons for being interested in this notion. I feel great after a walk. Not necessarily a physical feeling. More euphoric and ready to share the experience. These days my thoughts are always about Kevin. When I walk I feel anxious to share with him the sights, the sounds, narrate a story for him about how much our old hometown has changed since we lived here. I want to reassure him, I am doing okay, even though I miss him so much.

One of our last walks:

In some way it helps me to deal with my grief.

I want Kevin to know how much I enjoyed time spent with Stephanie Serena, Maia and Taryn after his passing. While I was with them I never felt like fish as in Kevin's favorite Benjamin Franklin quote,
"Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days."
I also feel enlightened, mentally going over a recent conversation or suddenly realizing why something is the way it is. Okay, I am not making a lot of sense, but I know what I mean because I took a walk today.

While I was in Boynton Beach, our old home town, I spent many days wondering and wandering. I retraced areas where we rode our bikes a dozen years ago. I spent time on the beach walking along the shoreline gathering shells and gazing across the water, scanning the horizon, as we did back then, for ships and signs of life. This time I watched for signs from Kevin.

I thought about how much the city has changed. It is no longer a little town along the meandering strand of cities that make up South Florida. Thankfully, it hasn't lost its charm. There is lots of traffic and many high rise condos and apartment buildings. Kevin saw the development in action during prior trips back, before the cancer. During my recent visit, I was immersed in it mainly through daily walks . My wish was to share everything, all of my thought-walking with him.

Now I am back home and been walking our Brooksville neighborhood. I realize how important it is for me to get out and walk. Not only does it help me with writing this blog, it somehow provides new creative ways to sum up life, as well as dream up anything I choose,

I am repeating myself. I've always felt inspiration from walking, but seldom bothered writing those epiphanies or thoughts down. They would float around in my brain and then get tucked away, not to be found. Now I know.

Thanks to this article I will be sharing most every one of my walking thoughts with you.