Monday, September 18, 2017

Learning how to widow


My bedroom is small, a shift from the larger one we had planned on.  I’m comfortable now sleeping on a twin bed, half of the split king we had shared. The smaller bed leaves room for a desk, a chair, a chest with a TV and even a small armoire...tight but okay. Two large windows look past the well-lighted parking lot toward the hills and are covered by venetian blinds.  I can be fascinated by the light patterns on the ceiling created by the early morning sun.

I wake, glance at the neon numbers on the clock—3:00 am.  I rise slowly and silently not to wake my companion. Laughing at my old habits, I flip on the lamp, walk to the bathroom.  Though I’m chuckling my heart fills with your absence and the challenge of living alone after all these years.  Someone said to me at your memorial service, “Now you are free to do whatever you want.”  What I want is to turn on the damn light when I can’t sleep, to turn on the TV, to eat crackers and peanut butter in bed in the middle of the night.

Those bigger ideas, the bigger wants, the bigger dreams will just have to wait—all the choices are overwhelming right now.  I find myself self-medicating with Facebook, Dancing with the Stars and Blue Bell coffee ice cream.  At the same time aware that I have those choices now, I'm grateful that I can begin to explore options and opportunities I had only dreamed about.  What next?  I am learning how to be a widow.  I've never done this before.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

It would have been 59 years today...


Fifty nine years ago today I made the best decision of my life and married this brilliant, funny kind man.  I've really missed him this week as I watch from afar our friends in Houston try to get their lives back in order following Hurricane Harvey, the worst storm ever to hit the coast. All that loss seemed to trigger my own losses this year.   I find myself glancing over at the recliner next to me looking for comfort from the guy beside me...an old habit that is hard to let go of.  And I miss our wonderful friends of many years and wish I were there to help in some way. This widowhood business just sucks sometimes.  Losing my best friend and all that I lost in the move here makes for some lonely days and evenings.  Now it is up to me to meet the challenge and I'm working on it.

So today I will celebrate our anniversary by getting a new crown in my mouth and be grateful that I can pay for it thanks to that great guy I married.  And grateful that I have found an awesome dentist just down the highway.   The weather is gorgeous with a cool front on its way.
Tonight I'll have a Shiner Bach in your honor.  Happy Anniversary, Ken Cox.  I love you.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Unbelievable catastrophe....

The mess in Houston is just beyond wrapping one's mind around and it ain't over.  My granddaughter is surrounded by water in Conroe but okay, thank God.  My nephew is stranded in a 4th floor loft near downtown Houston surrounded by water but okay.  But friend after friend is reporting in from flooded houses and it is still raining.  So much loss!  It will be years before Houston recovers.  Businesses closed, people can't get out their doors to go anywhere.  Rescue still going on as reservoirs overflow.  Will it ever end???
My heart is on my sleeve and I weep at every picture of people volunteering their boats to rescue, the pictures of firemen carrying women carrying babies.  I weep seeing boats sail past houses flooded for the first time ever with water to their roof tops.  It all touches that spot of my own grief over recent losses.  But then some of the tears I shed in guilty gratitude that I am not there, that I am here at the edge of the hill country with food, electricity, family and friends but wishing I could do more to help.
Please donate to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Houston Food Bank.  Thousands have lost everything.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Here comes Harvey...

I watch raindrops gather on the kitchen window as Hurricane Harvey's first band of showers rolls through and I'm overcome with gratitude that I am on the 4th floor of a lovely apartment building in San Antonio and will never have to evacuate again, that I have electricity, food and water, a refrigerator to keep food and drinks chilled and for now air conditioning.  And wine, don't forget the wine.  I still get messages from the City of El Lago with evacuation instructions...a reminder of our life there during Ike and again I am so grateful.  My heart fills as I recall how supportive He-Who was about the selling of our house and the move into Houston away from the water and later the move to San Antonio...this in spite of the Alzheimer's claiming more and more of him.  And even the thought at this point of trying to evacuate with him and get him out the door is just flat terrible...I am not sure I could have done it.  Ike was difficult but a later storm? We both would have been basket cases, angry and frustrated with each other and the whole mess.

The worst of what is left of Harvey is due here  late tonight though the wind has picked up and is strong enough now that it is difficult to open the door to the balcony.  I took the hummingbird feeder down so if the one I call Kenneth is hungry, he will just have to wait.  I am going to go play Mexican Train dominoes with friends this afternoon and follow it with a glass of wine and the community pot luck this evening.

Thank you my dearest for saving us and now me from the agony of hurricanes.  I miss you.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Nothing like a get-away....

Nothing lifts one's spirit like a weekend lakeside in the Texas hill country with family....eating great food, laughing a lot and boating.  Lake LBJ is so pretty but oh my, what a change from my memories of fishing with my dad.  Then it was called Granite Shoals and there were few if any houses on the waterfront.  Now the lakefront is populated with multi-million dollar homes for the rich and famous like Roger Staubach and former astronaut Jim Mitchell.  And lots of jet skis.
Thank you dear son and daughter-in-law for treating me to this lovely weekend.  It even included a couple of hours of puppy hugging...we ran into a pet adoption group at Save the World brewery in Marble Falls who had a litter of 11 puppies up for adoption.  It was hard to walk away from an adorable white little guy with a brown and black face but the challenge of puppy training just doesn't fit for any of us right now.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Lonely on the rocky path...






There are days as a recovering caregiver that I think I may be losing it but these are usually followed by days where I feel on top of things but lately the grief of losing my spouse, my best friend of most of my life has been grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me.  "looky here, girl.  This is it!  He's gone and left a great big void.  So now what?"
I look around this small apartment and go "what the fuck happened?"  This is not what I thought my life would be at 80.  I'm struggling to come to terms with the reality that this is the last hurrah.  This is where I will be the rest of my life.  My life seems to have become so small.  I know it didn't happen overnight...it was getting smaller with age and with caregiving, especially with the move into the first retirement community.  And now it seems just plain small.  I've left house, pets, friends, some family behind and even though I'm in a beautiful place with other women sharing the same experiences, life just feels damn small.  I see the same people every day...the same for breakfast and lunch every day.  Not that they aren't wonderful people but it is the same people.  I think a more positive thought is that they are now my family and in many ways are as caring yet dysfunctional as any family but this family is old and facing all the issues of aging that I am.  I suppose that is comforting in a way and I try to think of it that way.

I get out art supplies and try to start something but lose interest or get distracted with the next event or should I empty the dishwasher or check my email.  I can't seem to get anything written even though an occasional line runs through my head. I think of what I used to tell depressed clients: exercise, call a friend and I do those things.  But I miss that creative self that was used to looking at opportunities and saying yes.  People tell me "You are free now to do anything you want."  So where did my motivation go?   My fascination with the unknown?  I guess He-Who had my back for so long that I felt I could do most anything.  Even with Alzheimer's I felt he had my back...a ridiculous thought but still there.  I do recall when a dear friend suddenly lost her husband, she quit painting.  She was an amazing portrait painter!  Now I understand!  I get it!  Perhaps this is the darkness I need to go through to get to the other side.
I've had a wonderful trip recently to visit family who pampered me well and that experience really helped!  It was good to get out in the world for a few days and hang out with some amazing folk in beautiful Colorado.  And more travel is on the horizon, thank goodness.
In the meantime I give myself permission to be sad and lonely, really sad and very lonely and know that this too will pass.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The rest of the trip to San Antonio...

For a while I was alone at Gate 14 with a couple of exceptions.  Finally another elderly woman was wheeled up beside me at the gate.  She was headed to San Antonio but was most distressed because she had lost her cell phone somewhere and wanted to know if there were any old fashioned pay phones anywhere in the airport.  Beats me!  When did I last see a pay phone anywhere?  She needed to be able to call her caregiver who was waiting in the cell phone parking lat at the San Antonio airport for her arrival.  I told her she was welcome to use my phone but she couldn’t remember the number.  We chatted a bit as all the seats around us began to fill and about six families with small children and babies gathered for the pre-boarding to Oklahoma City.  And that doesn’t count the three other wheel chair occupants that had gotten in line.  My next chair neighbor had a metal walker hanging on the side of her chair and she got up to search for a phone asking me to make sure that no one took her wheel chair.  So now I’m a wheelchair monitor who is beginning to get really hungry and wants to pee.  The pre-boards go down followed by columns A and B.  This time a good looking pilot comes and offers to wheel me down.  I told him only if he were going to Cabo and buying the drinks.  “I’m not interested in Oklahoma City.”  My next chair neighbor returns and seems a little less distraught.  The surrounding seats are empty again, it’s an hour til my flight and the gate checker person has gone…a good time to sneak off to the restroom leaving my unwheeled wheelchair by the gate in hopes that it will still be there when I get back.  My next chair buddy was gone again.  I made it to the restroom and even risked a trip to the Starbuck’s kiosk for a skinny vanilla latte and a chocolate croissant.  Geezus, but that was the best coffee and croissant ever.  No gate keeper even knew I had escaped on able and willing legs.  And my chair was still there.  My neighbor returned and even offered to throw away my trash on her next trip away from the gate with her walker as long as I saved her chair.

Finally at 2:05 we began boarding for the flight to San Antonio.  I was gratefully rolled down, assisted into the plane and seated.  A completely full flight as I think they all are these days and we were off.  Oh thank God!  Another adventure coming to a close.  Life is indeed a cosmic joke.