Monday, June 26, 2017

It's been a year

Here I sit, Not knowing how to start  This is a sad day, although I've had many in the past year or two. Some happy ones, too, But today I am focused on the sadness and grief this day, June 26, 2016 brought us.
That morning Kevin drew his last painful breath. He stopped breathing. No words uttered. Eyes remained closed. His life ended  Kevin died one year ago today.

Sometimes I dwell on the "what ifs" and bring myself down over actions we should've taken long before he became sick. But that comes from hindsight.  

After he was diagnosed with cancer, we met so many cancer victims and were focused on the ones who were persevering. Survivors who fought to beat the odds that were stacked against them. Kevin found comfort in their courage and faith. Faith in doctors, nurses, family, friends, Specifically, faith in Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute.

Kevin also recognized how hard the horrible path was for those who lost that battle. It was devastating. Thoughts of their struggles were in the back of his mind while he tried to concentrate on getting better. 

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments ravage the body about as much as the cancer they fight. No one can imagine the effects of both the disease and treatment have on the human body. We need not only find a cure, but we also need prevention.

On that day a year ago, all I could feel was the huge hole in my heart.  I thought about the hole in many people's hearts. Those who loved and appreciated Kevin. I didn't think about everyone else who's died and left other holes in our hearts. Just Kevin. I did before and have since thought about others I've cared about who've died. But not on that day.

We had a good life together. Just now I walked around the house and took a couple of pictures of photos  we had/have scattered around. Thankfully, we always took pictures to remind us  of happy times:

On my desk is a picture I took of Kevin at the Boynton Beach G.A.L.A. (art & craft fair) in the early 90's. And Kevin always had this picture of us on his desk. It is of us at the hotel's Tiki hut bar on Sanibel Island in the mid 90's. We spent a few vacations there wandering the beaches that were covered with seashells.

A kiss we shared on our wedding day. And Kevin wearing his Buzz Lightyear  3-D glasses at Disney. Kevin wrote the messages on the wooden conversation hearts for this photo frame.

Yes, it's been a tough year. However, I've had so much support and felt loved by friends and family. That's what gets me through tough times, blue phases. I made new friends. And am taking care of myself.  

I have a head full of thoughts I want to share and write about. Some other time. Not now. Not today.

Our wonderful memories and Kevin's spirit have filled that hole in my heart. It still hurts. I still miss him.

I  love you Kevin.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Recounting June 2016

I really enjoyed celebrating my birthday and spending time with  my daughters, granddaughters and some great friends in May. We shared many adventures, laughs, meals and time with each other. It was so wonderful, I was homesick when I returned home. Wish I could be in two places at once.

But what's really been on my mind is what mine and Kevin's lives were like a year ago. He spent  23 days, from my birthday on May 12th to June 3rd in Bayonet Point Hospital in Hudson, FL. On that day in June 2016 he was released and sent home with Hospice Care for another 23 days until he passed away on June 26th.

I was in a fog for the six or eleven  months after he died. There were days when I was sure I'd passed some level of grief and I was moving on, the way grieving people should move on. But really most of those days were dark, lonely for Kevin. Time was passing with little relief. I kept busy doing my crafts, going to the gym, trying to keep in touch with family and friends. Sorting through Kevin's things, letting go a little a little her and there. Time will help me heal, I kept telling myself.

Something happened while I was staying in Boynton Beach. It was my third visit to Stephanie's since Kevin has been gone. Visits last summer were consoling while I was in a state of shock and utter confusion. This time was more like going home. We'd always considered that city our home. We had some wonderful years there with the girls, the grand kids  and many friends. Even scary things happened, like my having breast cancer, but we got through it together. The place has grown and changed. This time the familiar faces, loved ones and Kevin's favorite beach helped clear my mind and out of the fog.

I need to stop mind wandering aimlessly. Kevin wouldn't want that for me. I've felt guilty, angry, sad, lonely, endured heartache and all things negative.  I am not sure why, but since this visit I feel focused on recalling our last 46 days together.

Maybe because in hindsight, I know I should've realized he was dying. None of his doctors said so. Instead they were trying to get him released to a rehab facility, which meant (to me) there was more than a glimmer of hope.

He went downhill fast this time, while in the hospital. The staff was doing their best to keep him maintained with transfusions and tweaking medications. Actually, the list of problems and complications that landed him in the hospital a final time signaled all was down hill.  I see that now.

We knew his life was in danger when he was diagnosed the cancer in April 2015. Yet we never prepared for his death.

His oncologist even called me, pleading with me to do what ever I could to get him into a facility close to home and near the doctor.. As the days went on Kevin could no longer sit up, let alone undertake physical therapy sessions at the hospital. I tried to encourage him, but it was more than he could handle. The facility near home rejected him. They realized his state of health was beyond rehabilitation. A nursing home near the hospital offered to take him and promised therapy, but hospital staffers that I trusted warned me, the home could not provide what Kevin needed.

Our last hope was HOSPICE. I was adamant that Kevin receive physical therapy so that he could regain enough strength for more chemo and better health. I believed anything was possible. HOSPICE staff explained they would provide therapy and that we had the option to drop HOSPICE care once Kevin was well enough for chemo..I believed with all my heart he would be recovering and back to fighting the cancer that was once again growing in his lungs, brain and bones.

Dr. Tang would not agree to being his representative//physician while he was in HOSPICE care, so the HOSPICE doctor took over.

In the meantime, Kevin became less responsive. Doctors at the hospital and then HOSPICE staff started communicating through me. Kevin's responses to me were yes, no, I'm sorry or I love you. His moving was confined to helping pull himself up in bed or tossing and turning in his sleep.

Between his not communicating and my not facing reality, we never got to talk about what was to come.

A year ago today was Kevin's second day home from the hospital. Halfway through the 46 days. He wanted so much to go home.  HOSPICE staff came by on his first and second day home to get him settled, do their evaluations and then started their visits and routine two days later. It was actually less stressful having home home rather than in the hospital. He was sleeping most of the time. He was confined to a hospital bed in our living room and I slept on the couch during his last days home, so I could be close by in case he needed me.

I can't help it. I need to dwell on those days and every last piece of our lives together. June 26th marks one year. I've somehow made it through every day on the calendar that had meaning for us.

Something inside me needs to walk through those days again. For some reason it is essential.

If we had our way, he'd be sitting in front of the TV right now watching baseball. Or better yet, we'd be at a game. I miss Kevin every day. He is always in my thoughts and prayers.

Thank you for reading my posts and  your support. I am fortunate and grateful to have loving, caring friends and family.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Letter to Kevin

Hi Sweetheart,

I know you are always with me and are now enjoying my spending time in Boynton Beach with the girls. It's been fun. I've had so many thoughts running through my mind and memories we shared. I use to think you could read my mind. I don't know if that's still true. Just in case it isn't, let me share some thoughts.

Serena and I went to the beach a couple of mornings and you can imagine, the flood of memories and thoughts running through my mind. /there are so many things I want to share with you.

The other day, when I stepped off the sand and board pathway from the parking lot onto the beach it was like finally being home. I wiggled my toes into the sand and was immediately grateful for the inviting warmth and softness of the sand, the fresh clean breeze set off by the vast infinite ocean and sky view.. I said to myself, "I am so glad to be planting my feet in sand rather than cold wet snow." I never did and never will miss the cold and confining northern winter.

You brought me here. It was you. From The cold north to sunny Florida. You went and I followed. So many mornings, afternoons, evenings we spent on the beach. We walked, sometimes miles, gathering treasures brought and deposited on the beach by the tides. We sat and gazed across the water watching ships navigating their ways north and south along the line between ocean and sky.

There is something about being on the beach, feeling like you are at land's end with everything about life behind you and this vast space of  peace and tranquility before you. The place where I can walk, stand, sit, or lay down and feel free to clear my mind, breathe fresh air and feel the sun caressing my skin. They say a walk on the beach is good for your heart. I believe it and add it is good for my mind, body and soul.

I thought I would feel sad this time at the beach without you. I miss you every day, no matter what I do. Yet at the beach now I feel quietly happy.  I have so many great memories of you. You LOVED the beach. There were years when you went every morning.  On days off when we went together you packed the cooler with snacks, water and beer to last from early morning to dinner time.

Remember the time you found the bottle with the note in it from Cuban scientists who were studying tide movements of something?  Dozens floated in along our beach. There was a story about it in the paper.  I will look it up in your journal and what you wrote about it. You found two of them and gave one to Sam.  You collected pounds of sea glass, sea beans and sea hearts. We had quite a collection of shells and sand dollars. You were always happy to be on the beach. With me, with friends, with family, by yourself. The beaching was a calming, comforting place, always.

More specifically those beaches that became home to us in South Florida. The least pretentious places. Where nature provides the entertainment.

I could write all day about those times. But you share those memories with me. I know it is all still in your heart and spirit.  I just want to tell you what it's meant to me. The best of times with you. I will never forget us and what shaped our lives.

There will be more trips to the beach with you on my mind. And many more other places, people and things I will encounter in my future of our lives together.

Love always,

PS. I turned 70 last week, Stephanie and Serena threw a surprise birthday party with Maia and Taryn plus some old friends and former workmates that I have missed. Went to a Mother's Day Tea luncheon with Maia, Serena, Stephanie, Fenya  and Savannah. Celebrated Mothers Day with dinner at Maia's with Taryn, Frank, Stephanie and Serena Then played this crazy card game Guillotine compliments of Cody. Been to the beach, the pool, the Science Museum and spent a lot of time relaxing. Binge watching Grace and Frankie and The Crown. Whew. I've been busy and there is more to come.

Friday, April 14, 2017

All's well medically, still sorting

My heart's pumping fine. My brain is healthy. Doctor says I am in great shape. except for the pine pollen that has everyone including me, sneezing and wiping their noses.

Regarding the half clogged carotids, Dr. Greg (his first name and what everyone calls him) said he would order testing every six months to monitor change.  And even if the build up increases I may not be in any danger with the blood still flowing to my brain.  Many other factors like my health in general are used to determine what or what not to do.

We discussed the causes and one thing he brought up was nicotine. He asked if I'd ever smoked, for how long, how much a day and when I finally quit. I quit 25 years ago, smoked a pack a day off and on for 25 or so years. He explained over the years of smoking, the nicotine could have played a part in the build up in those veins. That's something I never considered.

So, for the feeling I had in my brain of being turned off and on again, we'll just leave it at that. A feeling. And I am so relieved.

I've been sniffling and sneezing for two weeks now. Dr, Greg said no, it is not the flu and likely not a cold. It is allergies due to the tremendous amount of pollen besieging us. This year is particularly bad because we haven't had rain to wash it away. Everything outside has had a permanent yellow dusting on it for weeks from the pine trees. I took Mucinex. It didn't work. The I took Zyrtek and that didn't help. Doctor told me to use Allegra instead because it is a different medication and when one doesn't work, the other one will. Hopefully, because I am tired of blowing.

Not much else going on. I did go to grief support group yesterday. My main reason was to see the other Nancy in the group. We started going at the same time and became pals, telling everyone else ours were the only names we could remember. She wasn't at the last meeting and I didn't attend the one before that, so it was a while since we'd seen each other. I wanted to let her know I don't plan to attend any more unless the need arises. Turns out she is at the same point.

Been busy going through more stuff to toss or take to Goodwill. Kevin had so many things that had meaning to him. It is hard, but I manage to let go, a little at a time. Makes me think about myself. I am worse with attachments. I don't want to get rid of my own stuff let alone pick and choose among his favorites. Yet, it is something I have to do while I can. I wouldn't want to leave it up to a beloved relative nor a perfect stranger.

I don't know about you, but I have this idea that my stuff is so important everyone else should love it as much as me. Do you know what I mean? Although, the point is well made when you see stuff with hefty pricing at yard sales. The glass that says, " God bless Milwaukee." or a seashell nightlight from Miami. We don't have those things, I just made them up.

The hardest part is removing the story behind the item in order to let go.

Happy Easter everyone. Here is a picture of Kevin wearing his Easter hat last year on this day:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday, Monday

 I've been feeling a bit emotional today. A lot of this day reminds me of Kevin. First with a happy feeling and smile. Then ... sadness.

In my attempt to rein in expenses I called Spectrum, planning to ditch cable TV, but hang on to Internet service. Use to be Bright House. Was bought up by Spectrum which sent a letter last year explaining we would get the same stellar service and there would not be a rate hike. They've found reasons to nickel and dime we customers twice since.

Kevin had whittled the service down to a point where he could still watch baseball. Sadly, he never got to watch his favorite teams last year.

So, I've been putting off dealing with the cable people until today. I called and at first ended up with "new Sales" department. The guy immediately assumed I wanted to add a land phone to cable and Internet. When I told him no, he laid it on about how cell phones aren't very dependable and what if I lost my found and had an emergency.. I wanted to tell him how I've gotten by for several years now with a cell phone, I'd be fine. Instead, I thanked him for his concern and he transferred me to the right department.

This guy was all peppy and when he asked why I didn't want TV, I replied that my husband recently passed away and I need to cut my expenses. He told me he was sorry for my loss and waited a few seconds before warning me about having a perfectly good TV taking up space in the living room and not being able to use it. I politely told him I can watch NetFlix on my otherwise dormant TV.

He did manage to talk me into keeping some bare minimum channels. He reassured me I could dump TV altogether if I still didn't want it.

I hate dealing with things like that. How is it we are suckered into paying for TV? Bad enough having to pay for Internet.  If Kevin were here today, it would be a  moot point though as he'd be gearing up for baseball season.

After Zumba class I went to the new Aldis just down the street from home. I feel sorry for Publix because they lost me. What excites me most is the the produce section. Stephanie told me yesterday that the cantaloupes at her Aldis in Palm Beach County  are sweet and just 99 cents. I bought two of them along with a pineapple, strawberries and bananas. Organic.  Plus enough veggies to make many different dishes.

This afternoon I started cutting up a cantaloupe and I felt so happy. I thought, "Kevin is going to love this." Then it hit me. Kevin loved this time of the year and most of summer because he could never get enough fruit. Cantaloupe and berries were his favorites as well as pineapple and watermelon. He decided I was pretty good at picking out the sweetest and freshest fruits.

Last year at this time, Kevin wasn't eating well. He'd still eat a few pieces of cantaloupe, but not like when he would sometimes eat a half of one for dessert. Those days haunt me. Doctors and nurses would say to me, "He needs to eat." No matter how hard I tried I couldn't force him to eat, and I know it was because he couldn't. I was in the middle, trying to do what the medics told me to do and then having to keep pushing Kevin to do something he could not do.

I did a lot of dusting and ran the vacuum this afternoon. Hadn't been done properly in a while and I believe the dust has something to do with my drippy sinuses. As I was doing it I thought about the year Kevin was ill and how I made every effort to keep our home dust free. While he was home with Hospice care, the last time I ran the vacuum before he died, he raised his hand and said, "Don't." I stopped, thinking he didn't want the vacuum noise, Or that I was stirring up dust around him. I don't know why he wanted me to stop.

His box of ashes sit on his rocking chair in a corner of the living room. I talked to him as I moved the box to clean his pillow where the box sits. I told him, I would just be a minute and the room would be fresh and clean again. I wished it was Kevin sitting there reading, with a cup of tea. I would've welcomed an eye roll and a teasing groan as he lifted his feet for me. I would gladly share the cantaloupe with him.

Days like this remind me of what I lost, what everyone who knew him lost. It still doesn't always register. There are glimpses of hope that I will wake up from this very sad dream. Then I take a deep breath and thank my lucky stars for the life we shared. I miss him everyday. Some days, more than others.

Here is Kevin eating watermelon on the National Mall in Washington, DC, July 4th, 2000. It is the same day he shook hands with the Dalai Lama.

Thank you for reading my blog posts and your best wishes and comments. I appreciate hearing from you.  Nancy

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Corroded carotids, cataract clouds, crappy craft show and a cold

Now that I set the stage for this post, I expect you to read it. Hah. No, really. It's been nearly a month since I last wrote. A month full of emotional and physical stress. Every time I thought about updating you, I put it off, hoping for a slow down, some relief. All at once occurrences usually don't happen to me.

But first, let me point out how much I enjoy going to the gym, taking Zumba and drumming classes. I regret not having nor taking the time many years ago for these activities. This part of my days are doing positive things for m and have nothing to do with me otherwise falling apart.

On March 8th I was in bed fiddling with my phone (doing crosswords). When I felt tired, I put the phone away, turned off the lights and said goodnight to the cat and Kevin. All of a sudden I had this feeling in my brain. It was as though I was a robot and someone had, in a microsecond  turned me off and on again. It felt like a wave went through my brain in a dip. I thought, "I am shutting down,"  and immediately, "I back on again."

That was odd, I thought. And took a retake of what happened before falling asleep. The next morning I was off to the gym. While there I started thinking about what happened and at first decided it was probably just my overactive mind. But by the time my workout was finished, I decided it wouldn't hurt to stop by my doctor's office on the way home and mention it, just in case. I ended up with an appointment the following morning.

My doctor said it was possibly a TIA, Transient Ischemic Attack, aka mini stroke or forewarning of a stroke. He said while there is no test to definitely say that is what happened, he'd order other tests to check for stroke conditions and also check my brain to see if there isn't something else going that needs attention. He was surprised by it since I don't fit the pattern. I was just there for my six month check up and all seemed fine. He prescribed the low dose aspirin and off I went with many fears.

When he said TIA I had now idea what he was talking about, but it soon became clear. When I told a few people I realized those close to my age reacted almost nonchalant and cited friends and relatives who have or had TIA. On the other hand, the kids (daughters and grands) were more like me jumping from TIA to stroke and having scary thoughts. I'd read online that 50% of the time those who had a TIA had a stroke within a few days. So that was a trying time between the strange occurrence in my head and the tests.

I know the results of the Doppler carotid test. Both carotids (arteries that bring blood to my brain) are 50% clogged. When I heard that, I was ready to scream in terror. Then I was told my insurance wouldn't cover medical treatment until they were 70 to 80% clogged and the doctor's office had already placed an order to have them checked again in six months. It took me a few days to understand it must take some time for the carotids to get to the danger point.

I didn't get results for the test that checked my heart or the Brain MRI, so no news is good. I have a follow-up appointment next week.

In the meantime, I went to the eye doctor regarding cataracts in my left eye. It is getting tough driving at night and harder to see very far away.  They set up an appointment for cataract surgery in June. I am planning to spend most of May in wonderful Palm Beach County with the girls.

This was also kind of a hassle. I didn't care for the optical place I went to on last fall for new glasses. I ended up paying a lot more for the glasses then the insurance company said. what they did was talk me into special deals on everything from the frames, lens to coatings, which cost me more money. Each line item was the same but added up differently. I can't explain. I decided to go to the Hernando Eye Institute which is where Dr. Tang sent Kevin a year ago. It seemed more professional and listed in the insurance company manual. I'd asked my primary care doctor is I need a referral from him and he did one.

When I called for an appointment I found out they weren't contracted with that company, that I was assigned to another place and to call my insurance and request a change. Another long story short, they did allow the change and boy am I glad. Since then I 've heard nothing but horror stories about the other place regarding cataract surgery and nothing but good things about the doctors at the eye ins.

While all of this is going on I was busy preparing for an upcoming craft show that turned out to be a dud. It was a twofer in downtown Brooksville. A statewide bicycle racing event and a health fair.  I wasn't going to do it, but was talked into it and they lowered my entry fee. Doesn't matter I still lost money and a whole day.

Kevin and I did the annual bike racing event in 2010 when we first moved here. It was busy, fun and somewhat successful as far as sales. At the time it was run by the city.

This time the downtown association took control. Crowd turnout was low. The two events were set up on different city blocks and there didn't seem to be any commingling. Few people from the health fair bothered to check out booths on the race side which is where my booth was located. And the racers didn't pay any attention to what we were offering. I'd spent a lot of time stamping fabric with my famous stamp of Kevin's favorite bike's tread. Please note that's a drop of gold paint on the wallet and not ice cream.

I had a few sales. Some of the other vendors had no sales. it was the first really hot day of the year and I started having a sore throat. The good takeaway was getting to know some new vendors and catching up with others that I know from earlier shows.

That brings us to Tuesday (today) and I am hopefully getting over a cold. At least my throat feels better this morning.

Lots of good things happened. I went to the movies with my neighbor. We both admitted the movie sucked, but it was fun to be social on a Tuesday afternoon.  Had lunch with Anna and Sally, as always fun to be with them. Made lots of chicken soup and am brainstorming over what's next for Antsy Nancy Co aka Antsy Artist Redux.

I didn't get to the yard yet for urgent spring cleaning. I dread it more than ever. Kevin loved spring and always things everywhere.  Hot weather and summer here means doing yard work when you can stand to be out in the heat which is before 10 a.m.

I probably forgot some things I meant to share, but for now I am tapped out. and sure you are, too.

I've decided to lay off going to grief support. I can always go back.The topics and questions are generally the same each week and no longer things that concern me. The other reason to keep attending is for helping others get through it. I don't feel like the subjects they address have much to do with me. And there are others who are eager to help those new to grieve and loss.

Kevin is still keeping our beautiful blue skies interesting. Here is his artwork for the bike racing event:

I hope you have a less eventful, but better event-filled week, than me. Thank you for reading my posts. I am grateful for all of your good wishes.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Fun busy weekend it was, then

Sorry not to write sooner. I've been resting up after a busy three days at Weeki Wachee Swamp Fest. The crowds were great, the show was well organized and I am amazed I still have a voice after endlessly explaining my work to everyone interested.  I am just thrilled and flattered by all of the compliments and sales I received.

It was exhausting and I missed Kevin to help with the heavy stuff and details. He was my right hand and back up person. I got lots of help from Anna and Phyllis. They took shifts and made sure I was covered for bathroom breaks, assisting with set up and break down as well as helping with potential customers.

The weather was nice, except for wind on Sunday. I had great sales. Thanks to Serena who designed my new business cards. People were picking them up like crazy. The craft show attendees are much more savvy and know all about Etsy, these days. Other vendors I met during the weekend were very nice and I kept thinking Kevin would've made a bunch of new friends if he was there.

Only thing I questioned was why did the Republican Party have a booth set up? No election in the near future, as far as I know. I didn't ask and didn't listen.

The biggest bump for me happened between Saturday and Sunday. Anna brought some of her mermaid and ocean related aprons to sell at my booth. On Saturday she had some good sales including three to the woman who makes the mermaid costumes. The customer had to leave the aprons and return after the next Mermaid show to pay and pick up. Anna was leaving, so I told her I would take care of it for her.

I put the cash and woman's card in a plastic bag and in my pouch with my phone and money for safe keeping. Between then and the next morning after I got to my booth I couldn't find the bag with the money. I'd either lost it on Saturday or it was at home. Nothing was turned in to the info desk and the Boy Scout volunteers doing trash pick up hadn't turned anything in, so home was the next place it could be.

I looked and looked on Sunday night. I looked again on Monday, but found nothing.

This morning, I said in passing, as I always do lately when I can't find something, "Kevin, please help me find this little bag of money."  About 15 minutes later I sat down at the desk and something caught my eye. There it was by my feet under the desk. I sat here Saturday night while taking money out of my pouch and setting up my change for the next day. I sat here on Sunday morning before leaving to check stuff on my laptop. I sat here Sunday night as I removed sold items from my Etsy store as well as off and on yesterday while I updated stock and whatever on the laptop. I kept searching around  my desk Sunday evening and on Monday.  I was resolved that I lost it and I was getting over feeling ill over it.

You better believe this brought me to tears. Kevin found the bag for me and I believe, put it in plain sight. I miss him so much and I know in both my heart and brain that wherever the bag was, Kevin made sure it was in a place where I would find it. Oh I could go on about this.  I absolutely know it wasn't there before. Not even this morning when I first sat down to turn on the laptop, then went to make breakfast.

One thing, I took all of this a lot better than I ever would before. I didn't have an anxiety attack or go crazy thinking up all of the possible bad things that happened because of me.

Kevin always took care of me in ways I never realized. He would try to calm me down when I was upset. He was ALWAYS good at finding things I'd lose. Both of those incidents happened together. I couldn't find something so I would get all stressed out, shower blame on myself and get upset.

Kevin was always organized and that probably says a lot. I am more scattered, even though I try to keep some semblance of organization. I thought it was because I have  lot of stuff. But, I am realizing he had just as much and still knew where everything was at all times. That must have something to do with a part of the brain I am missing.

I am sure he is helping me. He must be pretty happy I didn't freak out and instead I kept reminding myself negative energy doesn't help solve problems. Instead I stayed positive.

And on Sunday I was asked to consider a pretty hefty special order that could lead to something more lucrative. I will keep you updated.

Back to Swamp Fest. It was a lot of work. There is so much to do and maintain. Doing a show for three days straight takes a lot of energy. In the end the contacts you make with so many people make it worthwhile. Years ago when we were doing shows on a regular basis, we were use to the rigor and pace. But that was then. Maybe I'll try some two-day events. But not this week. :)

Anyway, I must be looking more senior these days. On Sunday someone said to me, "These shows are tough on people our age." I looked up and thought, "Am I as old as You?"

No pictures of me, but here's one of Anna and customers:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Looking forward to this weekend ....

... and really missing Kevin. I am doing a three-day craft show. That's fun. It is Swamp Fest at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and it starts tomorrow. Kevin's been my right hand when it comes to craft shows. Three days of nonstop hawking your wares in the sun, wind, sometimes rain can get the best of us down. But, we looked at differently. In the first place it seldom rains three days straight this time of the year. The sun is pretty nice in March and we tried to ignore the wind. The best part, about three-day shows, Kevin always said, was we get a days' break between set up and tear down. Even though, we went through a nightly procedure of closing our booth , setting up tearing down were the most exhausting parts of the weekend.

We did this show a few years ago when it was held in a county park and it was a two-day show. The first day we did pretty well and I was looking forward to Sunday. However, a bad storm swept through the area on Saturday night and the park was badly hit. Because of Kevin's diligence and regard for the overnight care of our belongings, he had secured the tent, tables and  goods. Our things were spared. Nothing was broken lost or otherwise damaged.

When we showed up on Sunday morning we were horrified to see the mayhem. I had a sick feeling that faded as we approached our spot. Many of the tents around us were overturned and stuff was scattered everywhere on the ground. A stained glass vendor had just arrived to a tent full of smashed artwork. They closed down the show.

Turned out the park was jinxed. Every storm whipped up turbulent wind in the park. We quit doing shows held there. The shows and concerts that were held there have been moved.

So, this year, I decided to give it another try. It is less than five miles from home, so why not?  All this week, I've been so excited. I love doing craft shows and meeting people. It is fun to explain how I do what I do. I spent many hours selecting which items to take. I made sure everything listed on Etsy was coded so I can use my Etsy card reader for both charges and cash sales. I was careful to pack things in some logical  order. Although, I decided to take a lot more stock than usual, I tried to follow how Kevin would pack the car and I actually got everything to fit.

But by this morning, worry started creeping into my head. Luckily Anna offered to help on  mornings through out the weekend. She's also adding a few of her items with mine. And neighbor Phyllis plans to come by on afternoons to  give me a break.

After setting up the tent and carefully anchoring the tables and bins this afternoon I worried all the way home that I had forgotten to do something or hadn't anchored everything properly.

Its just not the same. Kevin did so much. He had a big part in doing shows. There were all of these things I didn't have to think about, because those were his tasks. And everything ran pretty smoothly.

Most of all I miss the joy. He would talk to customers, tell them what processes I undertook for each piece. He'd take many pictures through out the weekend and put them on our website. I closed it a while ago. He'd wander talking to vendors we knew and make new friends with others. He would buy small treasures and bring me treats.

I loved looking back in the tent behind the tables, where he'd be reading a book, listening to a baseball game or just sitting there, taking it all in. I hardly ever worried back then. We both enjoyed doing this together.

When Kevin started feeling sick, we stopped doing shows.

I know he will be with me in my heart. I just hope I don't screw up. So please send me any good luck and best wishes you can spare. This weekend I need them.

Swamp Fest

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Go that extra mile

That was the topic for Father Jankowski's sermon Sunday. It seemed written especially for me, given what's been going on lately.  And then on Monday I got my, "Yay Nancy."

For the past two months I've been schlepping my neighbors back and forth to the hospitals, rehab,doctors' appointments, grocery shopping, lab appointments and to pick up prescriptions The husband developed a prostate problem and ended up being treated for kidney failure and diabetes (which he may not have). Being watched. She doesn't drive and they have no one to turn to for help. Except me, their next door neighbor.  I've written about all of this before. 

It has been stressful for me and I have to keep reminding myself that it is a whole lot more stressful for them. I've gone from whining over the near daily hits on my personal schedule to feeling better about myself once the latest trip is completed. last week, With each doctor's visit (he was seeing four of them) i would pray they would tell him he could resume driving. After all, he's been taking daily walks which he'd never done before the illness and he was eager to return to his part-time job at Publix. He is 75. 

Others kept telling me there are places, people out there who help people like my neighbors. My neighbors should make contact with these people or groups. I should tell them to make calls.  Maybe call for them. To my neighbors this is just a temporary obstacle. They wouldn't look any further for help. Although at one point, I was close to start looking because it seemed as though things weren't getting better. In the end, it wasn't something I could do.  I worried that I might cause them undue trouble.

I could write a novel over this. Between their insurance provider and the terrible treatment they received from the home health care contractor ....

I feel bad as last week I let my feelings show when asked a few times to take her here and there on last minute runs that could've been bundled into one trip. I frowned, groaned and probably rolled my eyes. It wasn't really her fault. More like doctors coming up with more blood testing or another prescription. She looked past my frustration.

In the end, before she dared ask, I brought up dropping her off at the grocery store while I went to the gym. 

Well, Monday was the big day, as far as we were all concerned. He was returning to his primary care doc at 1:15. I brought some work with me that I could do in the car as I waited for them. As usual it took nearly two hours. And yes, it was great news. No need for the diabetes meds. Everything is looking good. He can not only go back to driving. He can go back to work in ten days. 

I was so relieved and thankful. It felt good knowing I had something to do with getting them through this crisis.

I wish I had a transcript of Father Jankowski's message. He is an artist at making his point and then clarifying with appropriate vignettes. I have been beating myself up, going back and forth emotionally over all of this. His message was about happiness by always doing more than is expected.

I just started trying to retell his story, but it is too long and I can't remember everything. One part was when a neighbor asks for help go the mile they asked for, then go an extra mile for them and for yourself. In doing so, everyone including you will find happiness. ( I was tempted to raise my hand and ask the priest how many miles before I can holler uncle.)

I can also relate to some of his message and Kevin, but I need to put more thought into it before trying to write about it.

I don't know if I am getting my point across, but it struck a string or two in my heart. We can go back to being neighbors who wave at each other and exchange words, occasionally. I can get back to sewing and my own good health.

And I got my, "Yay Nancy," from Kevin. I know he would've done the same thing and I miss him everyday.

On this day last year we saw this wonderful movie, Lady in the Van. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Happy Birthday Kevin

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 26, 2016 after a devastating year-long battle with lung cancer that metastasized. 

If not for cancer Kevin would have turned 60 today. I imagine we would be in Disney town right about now, having lunch with his sister Georgia, Cathy, maybe the girls and anyone else who could meet up with us at The House of Blues or Raglan Road. We would be enjoying birthday cake and happy times. Here we are a few years ago, doing just that:

The following year we were back and at one of our favorite stores in Downtown Disney, now Disney Springs. Where else can a group of goofy people act goofy, but at Goofy's Candy Company? This time for my birthday. I laugh every time I think of Kevin on his hands and knees, being silly in the fun-house mirror. 

Kevin loved his MAC. This was taken in September, 2014, so I suspect he and Steve  via email were trading jokes about whatever college football game was currently on TV. His twinking eyes and sweet smile.

Kevin celebrated his last birthday in front of the TV cheering on Bernie Sanders. By then he'd been through so much with the cancer treatments, pneumonia and all. It was rough on him, but we had faith. And he never lost his sense of humor.

Kevin was always my best supporter. I doubt myself a lot. Always have. So when I was doing something like sewing or cooking and I finally felt like I did a good job I heard this, "Yay, Nancy."  I would feel so lucky to always have his love and approval. Tears flow now thinking of him saying that to me just a few days before he died. 

Now when I finish up a sewing project, drawing, cooking or just getting through the day I say, "Yay Nancy,"  and thank him for all he's done for me.

Happy Birthday, Kevin. I love you. I miss you every day.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Busy week and small accomplishments

Kevin gave me a sky-sized star for effort today. Can you see it? After going to 9 o'clock mass, I made a batch of chicken stock for my neighbor who is having company this week. I made chicken noodle soup a week or so ago and gave her some. In her words, "It was so good I ate it very slowly." Well, she loved it. Then asked if I would share my recipe as she wanted to make my soup for incoming company, this week,

Of course, I responded (I am flattered), and I started rattling off the ingredients and steps. I think I saw panic in her eyes. She found a pencil and paper and started writing my instructions down. That's when I realized the ten or so ingredients just to make the stock would be a challenge for her. After all, it took me years to perfect an All American classic.

I went  home and spent the time finally putting my chicken soup recipe on paper. For all to see and use. I even had to do a dry run to figure out exact quantities as who would know how much a shake or two of poultry seasoning amounts to. (I made my own poultry seasoning once, but it seemed to turn stale and tasteless a lot faster than the commercial products.)

Easy as pie, my mother use to say as she turned out pies, nearly in her sleep. The only kind of pie I make is chicken pot pie. I don't mean those stinkin' frozen things, I mean from scratch. Or a spaghetti pie, although not lately when I am just feeding myself.

My chicken soup is something I could probably make in my sleep. But to look at the ingredients and steps, It seems like an all day project. It isn't and it is something to make while you are busy doing other things. Like sewing, taking pictures or listing wallets and phone pouches on Etsy. (That's more complicated.)

I gave her the written recipe and then insisted I help out by making the stock, so she could turn it into soup. After church this morning, I made enough stock for her soup and some for me to freeze for later use.

By the way, I even roasted the red peppers.

She is very grateful and I know she will turnout a grand meal for her visitors.

A while later I saw this wonderful sign from Kevin. He was putting a gold star on my homework paper (or recipe) for my effort. Besides, he loved my chicken noodle soup.

A funny aside to the soup story:  Two weeks ago, I bought a Florida sweet onion complete with a nice green  leafy top at the Farmers Market. The woman there told me she always throws the tops in her soup base and it adds a lot of flavor. So, I made soup and used the top. It was delicious. In fact, it was the same batch of soup I gave my neighbor who fell in love with it.

So, for this latest soup-making task I wanted another one of those onions and called the woman to see what day their stand would be located on Shoal Line Rd in Weeki Wachee this weekend. It would be the closest to home from all of the the spots where they set up.  I left a voice mail and she called back Friday evening. Something got lost between my vm message and what she thought I was inquiring about.

The conversation pretty much went like this:
Her: They will be there on Saturday and Sunday. But, let me warn you it is all men and there isn't a bathroom there.

In the first place, it is a pullover spot on the side of the road. Also why did she think I would need to use the latrine?

Me: Okay? What time do they set up?

Her: Around 7:30 or 8. But I want you to be aware it is all men there and you might want to bring a big towel or blanket to put in front of yourself, if necessary. Or take the woods.

Me: All I want to do is buy some produce.

Turns out she thought I wanted to set up my tent in the same spot and sell my wares along the roadside. But she never cracked a giggle. They run a few stands (family venture) and people like the ones selling boiled peanuts or plants share spots with them.. Instead she gave me directions to where she was setting up, which was twice as far from home. /but I guess was better just in case, because there was another woman at the site.

I guess you had to be there to imagine how funny it turned out. Anyway, it had me scratching my head for a while.

I am kind of on a higher stress level with two important dates coming up. Kevin's birthday is Friday, February 10th. Then Valentines Day is of course, the 14th. We celebrated both days with happiness and love. I was looking for something the other day and ran into a stash of cards Kevin's given me over the years. I spent time rereading them and thinking about years and times in our lives, when he wrote amazing notes on them for me. Good thing I have Grief Support Group this Thursday. I am sure I won't be the only one there missing the love of my life.

Kevin last year on his birthday. He wouldn't believe what's going on with our govt, these days.

Thank you for reading my blog posts. I appreciate you support and caring. Have a great week and never take for granted the time you have to share with loved ones. Hugs, Nancy

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Finding Solace at Church

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 26, 2016 after a devastating year-long battle with lung cancer that metastasized. 

I went to church this morning. Nothing earth-shaking for most of us. We started going to church again after Kevin was diagnosed with cancer. He was always more devout than me and he found comfort going to Sunday Mass. I am not Catholic, but I appreciated the priests' sermons, messages each time we went. Their messages were generally full of love, caring and forgiving. 

The best Mass was at 9 a.m. because the music was outstanding. At St Frances Xavier Cabrini Roman Catholic Church the organist is known worldwide for his musical skill and talent. And the choir is amazing. Every Mass has it's own mini concert.

Priests and other surrogates from the church visited Kevin and offered prayers everyday when he was in the hospital. A priest called on Kevin while he was home under HOSPICE care.

Since then, after Kevin died,  I've thought about going to church and never made it. For a while the grief made it too hard to do. Kevin never asked me to keep up with church. I made a promise to myself to be closer to Kevin and because I wanted to go. Took me a while to seriously consider it, then I kept missing the 9 a.m. Mass. 

Then yesterday I was told my mother died in her sleep Friday night. She was 92 and had dementia. 

I have the most poignant memories of her from my early years. And a lot of that was associated with church. Whether I wanted to go or not wasn't an issue. For her it is was a commitment she enjoyed. Besides a husband and children, she had my dad's parents to care for and not a lot of time for herself. There was a lot of socializing for her with Sunday school and special occasions. It made her happy. She would belt out hymns all of the way home. So church was an  outlet for her
which I didn't understand until many years later.

So, I went to church this morning. I made myself do it. Even though it was raining, cold and I didn't get up very early,  I pushed myself along. When I parked the car, I thought for a second that I might not be able to go inside without Kevin. Then I realized I am never without him. Of course he will always be with me. I made me go and I am glad I did. 

The music was perfect. A part of the message about true happiness lit up my heart. The priests at this church anyway are careful to relate each part of the sermon to our lives today. And in a good way, not something filled with fear.

The best part was being in this huge room filled with people of all walks of life, age, gender and ethnicity. When I shook hands and shared messages of peace with those around me, it was heartfelt and sincere. I felt welcomed and belonging.  No hate. 

I am sure these parts of church that comfort me,  comforted Kevin when he was ill and needing religious support.  Maybe for mom, church filled a similar need and for that I am grateful.

Rest in Peace Hazel Marie (Pire) Whitney

Thank you for reading my blog posts and for your caring support. --Antsy Nancy

Thursday, January 26, 2017

I know when it is a good day and this is one.(Overall) Part One and Part Two

It was a conscious decision I made this morning. Heck I deserve a good day now and then. Not that all of the rest of my days were bad. Lately, when I mentally lay out my day something comes along and messes up my plans. Not that I am some ultra organized human that hits a low when someone throws me off a second or two. I even started charting my days on a dry erase board that adorns the refrigerator door. I list a few days at a time and generally what I hope to accomplish each day. Of course my lists are bold. I have me tackling and finishing projects I've put off for days, weeks, months. I guess a stupendous day would be the one that involves me actually accomplishing those things on the list.

So none of Part One is what I am talking about when I refer to having a good day.

What I mean is the distractions. And I shouldn't call them bad because the problems/distractions aren't easy to fix.

Part One

My neighbors. After three weeks in the hospital and rehab, my neighbor is finally home. I brought him home on Monday. Monday was a very long stressful day. They at the rehab facility told his wife he would be discharged at 1 p.m.  In the meantime, they were still working on setting up home health care and preparing his prescriptions, among other stuff.

His wife doesn't drive, so that's why I am so heavily involved right now. So, I kept asking every staff person I could find, if the prescriptions could be given to her so we could run off and get then filled before his time of departure. I was told they would let someone else who was in charge of that know and to expect someone to stop by his room with the scripts shortly. Finally at 12:30 the charge nurse came in with a stack of papers. Turned out he had what we needed. I just realized this is a long long story, so let me move on.

Anyhow, his wife also needed to grocery shop and he is now on a renal/diabetes "fusion type" diet that she had to cipher from the foods he'd been eating while in rehab. Even though he is 75, he still works at Publix, part-time. So, we had to go to the Publix where he works to get the prescriptions filled and to grocery shop. That took three hours. The nurse told us not to worry, that he could stay until the end of his shift, which was 7 p.m. As it was I was involved in this adventure until we finally made it home after 4 p.m.

When we got back to the rehab place, a woman from a home health care company was waiting for us. As was the case manager who oversees all of this crap. They assured my neighbors that all was set up and home health care would be at their door sometime in the afternoon on Tuesday.

He still has a catheter for now that needs to be maintained and must check his glucose daily, which neither of them have dealt with before.

The nurse did arrive as stated. She was very helpful, making phone calls and setting necessary doctors' appointments and going through all of the rehab paperwork doing what they normally do on their first visit. There were some problems regarding prescriptions that wouldn't be ready for one or two days and what not, but the nurse made plans to return the next morning to make sure everything would work out.

Then the nurse called them Wednesday morning to explain that the paperwork wasn't complete and they had not received clearance from their insurance. She wasn't allowed to return until everything was settled. It is Thursday and they still haven't heard from the home health company.

This afternoon I convinced her to call the rehab and the home care places to try and get some answers. Turns out the paperwork sent to  Blue Cross/Blue Shield was incorrect. It had the home health care start date for last Saturday (he wasn't released to go home until Monday). So the insurance company declined the request and now it is pending. Been pending for the last three days. Who knows how that happened.

My neighbors think everything will be okay with him health wise until his appointment with his new primary care doc on Tuesday. My head is spinning enough for today. I hope they are right.

I feel sorry for them as they are dependent on each other. But I am especially worried for her. There are too many things she can't do on her own. It makes me wonder how many other people live in this adult community who are in the same situation. If you can't drive in this area, it is a huge problem.

I could feel used or put out by having to do these daily tasks for my neighbors. But that wouldn't be right. They have no choice but to turn to me. I reached out to help them. None of our other neighbors did so, with the exception of one who gave her a ride to the rehab center last Saturday morning. I asked him to because I was setting up at a farmers market and had to be there way early. No one to take her to get prescriptions. No other way to the grocery store. How many other people are in this situation?  I wonder.

As much agony I feel some days, I m blessed to be independent and able to take care of me. Maybe not always, but for now its all good.

Kevin was lucky to have me caring for him. I'm not bragging. Just thankful I was able to do what I could for him. Kevin was a strong self-motivated person. He always took care of me. Even when Kevin was so sick in that bed at Bayonet Point Hospital, he worried I wasn't eating right, getting enough rest or having time to relax. Our similar personalities and devotion to one another helped create a strong bond between us. We tried always to be strong for each other.  And strong on our own.

Part 2  The good stuff for today.

I just realized this post is taking me hours to write, but hey, I am on a roll.

I got a badly needed hair cut this morning. My stylist, Julie is a senior like me. She works two days a week at this nice salon located next door to my gym. How convenient. Julie is a master at cutting wavy/curly hair like mine and we have a real talk fest every time I go there. We have stuff in common. Like being widowed.  She always has a lot of tips regarding grief and taking care of myself. I love her personality and pride she puts into making my hair look great again.

Of course, right after the haircut I went to the gym. I've met some really nice people. We share laughs and some serious conversations as we work out. My neighbor, Carmen started going with me on Wednesday and my other neighbor and friend Phyllis is starting tomorrow, so my gym circle is growing. Yay. 

Granddaughter Serena just designed a great new business card for me She is very creative. I like to think she takes after Grandma. Actually I know she's light years ahead of me when it comes to art, crafts, baking, design. Oh I could go on and on. She's also spreading my stuff on Instagram. I am anxious to get my new business cards. 

Kevin and Serena, Nov 27, 2012 at Downtown Disney

I made this amazing chicken soup last night and enjoyed a bowl full for lunch. It was so good because of the veggies I got and the farmers market last weekend. I started with a stock I made using the green top and part of a huge Florida sweet onion. The woman I bought the veggies from gave me that tip.  I also used tomatoes, zucchini, lots of carrots and celery. The stock is so flavorful and rich. I ended up roasting the red peppers I'd picked up. Then peeled, seeded and cut the peppers in strips and covered them with EEOO. I poached the chicken in the stock So, I ended up with a nice pot of soup ready for my belly now and some I froze to enjoy later.

Early this afternoon I cut some fabric for making wallets. I am planning some serious sewing this weekend.

Then I was off to Grief Support Group  and that was much better than last time. There were fewer people attending this week. Our leader Laura explained some are doing an eight-week workshop and may not come to Grief Support Group until that session which is a comprehensive overview of grief and mourning. there were first-timers and we had some interesting discussions.  

My friend, Nancy, was back today after having cataract surgery two weeks ago.  We became buddies when we realized we could only remember each other's names. Everyone cracks up over that and repeat their names for us. She is very sweet. She's having a very hard time over losing her husband of 50 or 60 years. (I forgot how long) Today she  wanted to know all about my craft business and how I am doing with it since reopening my shop.  I asked her about the cataract surgery. Something I have coming up soon. 

So, these things made this a good day.  And as you can see, my days are pretty full, which is healthy for me. Now, me and kitty are ready to settle down for some HGTV and bed. Tomorrow is coming and we need to be ready. 

Thank you for reading my posts. Peace, love and hugs. Antsy Nancy

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Made it through our annual cold spell

Thank goodness the weather is back to normal with high 70s and low 50s. Of course that's all I consider normal these days. My neighbor was transferred last Tuesday from the Brooksville Hospital to HealthSouth, a rehab hospital that is thankfully three miles from my house. So, I am still taking his wife there in the morning and bringing her home every evening. At least I don't have to stay for hours as I did while he was in the hospital. I did so then in case they decided to release him.

That was bothering me a whole lot, being back in the hospital setting.  I told you in my last post my neighbor adored Kevin and still does. Every time I see him he asks me now about what it was like for Kevin when he was in the hospital. I keep telling him it was a lot different and try to get away from the subject. It's been quite a strange New Year, so far.

I was really looking forward to Grief Support Group last Thursday. I had some issues I wanted to bring up, but a knew member took up the hour-long session bitching about her stepdaughters. She just seemed so spiteful. For some reason I was so upset by her attitude. I was nearly in tears by the time I left.

Anyhow, I lost my wedding ring in the yard while I was throwing crackers to the crows. It was early last week when it was cold out. It isn't my original wedding ring. It is a silver ring we bought for me because my real one was too tight. I've worn this one fore years. The past years or so, my knuckles must be shrinking and it would easily slip off my finger, especially when my hands are cold.

When Kevin died, I put his ring on the same finger, behind the silver ring. His ring is larger.

I've been feeding the crows for the past year. We had stale crackers, so I tossed some on the lawn for the crows. I did so every few days and then I ran out of crackers. Well, by then it was a habit for both me and the birds, so I started buying the cheapest saltines, I could find to carry on the feedings.

Last week as I lobbed a cracker in the air with a sweeping stroke, both rings flew off my finger. I immediately spotted Kevin's ring as it landed under a shrub. I would be very mad at myself  if I'd lost his ring.  But, mine was not in sight and I've searched several times with no luck.

The problem is I feel like I've betrayed Kevin. Isn't that a bit far fetched? Yet, I felt terrible. And still do, even though I've admitted to myself that I didn't lose it on purpose. It wasn't even my real wedding ring, just an inexpensive substitute. Yet, something gnaws at me about it.

I wanted to bring this up at Grief  Support, just to see if others have had similar incidents. But, instead  I listened to how this woman is in charge of her husband's estate and how she might get back at his daughters.

The rings. I should've heeded warnings lately. I took off my garden gloves a couple of weeks ago and the rings stayed in the glove's finger. A couple of months ago they slipped off  while I was washing dishes. I kept telling myself to stop wearing them, but my finger feels funny without them. Now, I have no choice as Kevin's ring is too big for me to wear on any of my fingers.  I have other rings, but they are all too big or too small. What a conundrum.

My other issue is: sometimes when I am deep in thought or tired, I still think Kevin is alive and here, like the old normal days. And then I snap back to reality and I can't help but feel very sad. I am getting use to being alone. Of course, I talk to the cat a lot. But, I miss Kevin so much.

Antsy Artist Redux is doing fine, thanks to Serena who is posting photos from my Etsy store on Instagram. antsynancyco in case you are interested. Last week I had an order for the most items, ever. They ordered eight ID wallets, sent me a very nice note and favorited my shop.

I am doing a Farmers Market in Brooksville this Saturday (now have to talk another neighbor into dropping the  at HealthSouth that morning) and I doing Swamp Fest at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park the first weekend in March.  That one's a three-day show.

The last time we did Swamp Fest it was held in a county park.  I had sales the first of the three-day show, but by late afternoon on Saturday we had a terrible storm and the rest of the weekend was cancelled. It wasn't one of Kevin's favorite shows. I am hoping I'll have a better experience this time.

Here are pictures I want to share:

At Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter March 2013
Maia, Taryn, Kevin and Stephanie

Me, Micky, Kevin Georgia and Cathy February 2013

Kevin and James Joyce at Raglan Road 2013

Kevin's favorite Bromeliad is blooming!
Taken today.

Kevin was busy doodling in the sky this morning.

I guess that's it,for now. Have a great rest of your week and watch the sky for signs from Kevin. Thank you for your support and caring. Love and hugs to all.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Holidays over, now it is onward into the new year.

Christmas holiday 2016 is in the books. The Christmas weekend was a lot of fun and exactly what I needed to make it through without Kevin. Well, he wasn't with us physically, but between Stephanie, Maia, Cody, Serena,Taryn and me we certainly kept him alive in our thoughts and memories of past holidays. I loved listening to each story, some I'd never heard before. Each one of us had our own special bond with him. We laughed, sighed and I realized how our lives had been intricately strung together for  all of those years. We are now a family that's lost someone very special. We can hurt over it and we can hold him in our hearts forever.

I returned home and spent New Years Eve pretty much in the usual way. I started dropping off around ten and went to bed. Other years Kevin would  try keeping me up until the ball dropped. Most years I made it. Barely. 

In December sales in my Etsy shop picked up. That is a great thing for me. I spent some time redesigning my phone pouches. I made them larger and also designed a cross body bag, which is still getting tweaked. Serena set up an Instagram account, antsynancyco for featuring photos of items listed on Antsy Artist Redux.  We have many likes, lots of followers and a couple of sales because of her efforts. Double yay. 

I plan to do a craft show, Swamp Fest at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park on March 3rd, 4th and 5th, so I better get busy making new stuff. The best part about that show is it's 4.3 miles from home. and it should be fun with the mermaids and all.

Had my dental procedure done on Dec. 28th. Was a bit painful. That is another step forward for me. An expensive one, going forward.

I have been so happy to be moving forward. I am busy and feeling productive. I have a couple of things to work on, though. I invited a neighbor to go to the gym with me. We talked about it in December and she decided to start this month, after the holidays. That's fine with me. I am or was pretty flexible. She doesn't drive, so will depend on me to get there. I went on Monday and Tuesday and she was going to start on Thursday. I think that will work fine. In the meantime, another neighbor talked me into going to water aerobics at our community pool. We went on Monday at the time scheduled, but the instructor wasn't there, nor others participants. We went into the water and it wasn't pleasant because the air was chilly. Anyhow, we were told they might have the class on Wednesday and Thursday.

Overall, it wasn't the best use of my morning. I realized that I am not so enthused about water aerobics and would rather have the time for the gym. Now I have to convince her to go it alone. My bad for saying yes before thinking. 

Something else came up this week. Another neighbor wound up in the hospital with an enlarged prostate and kidney failure. His wife doesn't drive and she came to me for help. Since Wednesday I've been driving her to the hospital, spending a few hours there and then returning for another couple of hours in the evening, before bringing her home. Medics finally did whatever procedure Friday morning and hopefully he will be sent home on Monday. Then I can get back on track with my gym schedule and work plans. Right now this is a drain on my time, but that isn't what bothers me. 

These neighbors are nice people. He just adored Kevin and would even make a list of sports-related questions to ask Kevin whenever he would see him. Kevin would roll his eyes, for instance he could care less about the NBA or even the NFL. Kevin preferred college sports. But he was always patient and would discuss this and that with our neighbor. Even as he laid in his hospital bed this week in pain, this man wanted to know more about where Kevin worked, what papers and  mostly about his writing/editing sports experiences. 

At one point, when he was feeling nervous about what was happening he asked me how Kevin handled all of the information and paperwork given to him by the doctors. I replied that we'd kept files, even of things we really didn't need to save. That it was sort of how Kevin felt he had some control over it all.  That seemed to be the answer he wanted.

Every day, more and more this hospital connection is getting harder for me to face. It reminds me of when Kevin was in the hospital, especially his last stay that lasted for 26 days. I spent at least 12 hours everyday by his side, doing what I could for him. I prayed, I held on to hope. I brought him his favorite snacks. It was the two of us fighting cancer, just wanting more time, better health and a miracle. 

I know my neighbors' situation is different. He will get well and head back to work, soon. Their lives should return to normal. By the way he is 75 and still works part-time at Publix where he's worked for going on 25 years. I know her stress and worries. So, I will share my time and car with them until all is well again. It just isn't easy for me.

I am definitely looking forward to Grief Support Group next Thursday.  Also more time for sewing new bags and drawing more cards. I will keep you updated. 

Thanks to everyone for reading my blog posts and for your love and support. I am looking forward to a productive 2017.