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.