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