February 18, 2016

  • Man's Work and Stuff...

    I am a feminist by dictionary definition only. As far as everyday life is concerned, I believe in women's work (pretty much everything) and men's work (the stuff women really DO NOT want to have to deal with.)

    For instance, the CAR. I don't know why I feel so strongly about it. I mean, other than it's an odious chore that I abhor, of course. I don't want to go to the car wash. I really don't want to go get the oil changed. And having to do more than that, like does it need new tires or why is the engine light on, is enough to send me into a full blown hissy fit.

    I also don't BBQ. It's not that I don't like to eat BBQ, but I am not running in and out of the house, salads and sides in the kitchen, meats and veggies on the grill. That's just silliness. I rarely even use the grill on my stovetop because it isn't worth the cleanup.

    There are household and yard and garden type chores that I wouldn't mind delegating, but for the most part I can and will do them.

    Well. That list didn't turn out as bad as I thought it would. Surely I've forgotten something. The only one that will forever be my cross to bear now, will be the car. I'm thinking of it today because I have two dashboard lights currently on, the little wrench and the tire pressure light. I already googled all the lights to find out their meanings for my make and model car. I know that procrastinating these things is not a smart idea. And, dammit, there's no one to sweet talk into taking care of it for me!


    Next week I will be starting with an 8 week (once a week) bereavement group through the HOSPICE. Can't hurt, right? Maybe I'll find it helpful.


    The local Community College Summer catalog arrived today. William and I always talked about taking classes together. Once we moved here we actually drove over to see how far the drive was, whether it was doable or not. One of our issues was that he wanted to take the same class, but I wasn't interested in any classes he was interested in, and vice versa. By the time last year's catalog came out, he was too ill to go. Those aren't issues anymore, so I read through the catalog today and picked 2 classes. I will enroll this Spring.

February 16, 2016

  • Yes, It Was Heroin

    Every now and again the fact that I "lost" one of my children comes up. I rarely bring it up myself anymore. Under what circumstances would that happen? But there are times, like today at the hospital, that it comes up, for whatever reason.

    I have really come to dread the follow-up question. "What did he die of?" I would like to think that I have never asked that question. Of course I don't really know, my memory is failing me and who would remember bits of a conversation anyway? But I'd like to think I wouldn't ask. The question should be outlawed or something equally ridiculous. Or etiquette should strongly dictate that it is just a question that is not okay to ask. Like someone's weight or age. I will tell you if I think it's something you need to know, or I need to share.

    The reason for not telling is the smug judgment of all those who would never, ever, find themselves in such a position. I don't know how heroin got to be such a problem when no else's child is doing it. Depending on who's asking, I might give more details. (Let's just call them what they are, "excuses.") But I find myself doing that less and less, which I see as a good thing. I take it to mean, "I don't care what you think." And, Lordy, that has taken a lot of therapy.

    I think the loss of a child, of any age, is a most horrible thing for a mother, a parent, siblings. I fail to see how cause of death can make it any better. Cancer or other diseases, accidents, suicide, addiction, the war...are some deaths more acceptable than others?

    If I could give one piece of advice that everyone would abide by, it would be that once you hear of the death of a child that you don't ask the follow-up question. If they want you to know they will tell you. If they don't tell you, well there you are. They have a reason for not telling.

February 15, 2016

  • Hello Darkness My Old Friend

    William and I lived together for 18 years, 8 of them married. They were not the easiest of years, in fact most of them were filled with drama and trauma. There were many, MANY, times over the years that I was going to leave. But for a variety of very good reasons I never did. Nor did he and I suspect he might have had his own list of reasons to get out of Dodge. The pressure really never let up until, unfortunately, after Youngest Son's death. Not even immediately then, because first came my Craziness, then my New Normal.

    But gradually there was a new peace between us. Nothing to fight about. No one to worry over. We began to have quiet dinners for two. We talked about OTHER things. It's like we became the people we hadn't been for years. A couple. Sadly, almost at the same time, William's health began to decline. We downsized, sold our home, bought a new one, smaller, in a nice little town on the Fox River. Plans to travel in our retirement were shelved, much to his chagrin and extreme disappointment. But for a time, before last summer when his illness started accelerating towards the end, we found a sort of contentment.

    I'm writing these thoughts down now because they have been bouncing around in my brain today. Specifically, all the times I almost left. Now that I am learning to cope with aloneness, if not yet loneliness, I can't think of anything so agregious that I would leave. Even the terrible, difficult, emotionally draining and fatiguing last months I would take back rather than the thoughts and the worries of each day with no one to share them with.

    And the silence.




February 14, 2016

  • The Fourteenth

    Problem with being an introverted widow: no one to talk to. Which doesn't actually bother me every day because I have become a much more quiet person than I was in my youth. Or even just a few years ago when I was still working. The more you isolate yourself, the more isolated you become. Obviously.

    But sometimes things come up and I feel the need to discuss them with another person. Things like earthquakes or crane collapses, or the death of Antonin Scalia. I have two sons left, neither of them here at the moment, but even if they were, I wouldn't be discussing those things with them. Interesting too, they are both very different, so I wouldn't necessarily even be discussing the same types of things with them.

    But with The Husband, anything was fair game. Earthquakes and structural failures would have him glued to the screen trying to diagnose the reason for the collapse. He was my math guy too. Politics and football were my things, but he always listened. In politics we could have real discussions. With football he was always amazed that I kept up with it all every year and could intelligently discuss it with anyone.

    Well football is over for the season, but politics is just getting more interesting everyday. Last night's republican debate (down to six men fighting for the nomination) was so ugly I actually wondered if there would be fisticuffs. I kept thinking "oh my god, the whole world is watching this, for shame, for shame."

    President Obama has 11 months left as President of the United States, and yet the Republican Senate wants him to hold off selecting the next Supreme Court Justice. His constitutional duty, as it is the Senate's to vet and approve him/her. But there's talk of them causing a delay and a delay and a delay until it does end up the next President's responsibility. Of course they're hoping that will be a republican. Scalia, was a super convservative. Supremes are supposed to be nonpartisan, but that's changed since the 50's. With Scalia's death, the Court is tied. Not much will get done until that seat is filled.

    Agh, tapping my thoughts out on an iPhone isn't a substitute for a chat with William.

    Guess I'll go shovel snow instead.

February 13, 2016

  • Valentine's Day

    This has been a difficult holiday for me at various times of my life. Growing up it wasn't a holiday our family celebrated. Being immigrants, my parents didn't really celebrate the traditional holidays that were celebrated in America. We also didn't celebrate Thanksgiving, nor the 4th of July.

    A few times during my teenage years I remember having a boyfriend who sent a card or flowers or chocolates. Very sweet.  What a great holiday, just a day to express love. I was definitely adding this one onto my calendar of special days to be celebrated.

    I got married and had children. I made Valentines with the kids. I'm not sure they still do this, but back then the kids in school all exchanged cards. At home we used construction paper and crayons, glue and doilies to make cards for daddy.

    Unfortunately for me, my husband believed Valentine's Day was a Hallmark holiday. It meant nothing to him and he "forgot" it every year. This was quite a painful blow during the years we were married, silly as that may be. Worse is that our sons seem to have picked this up from him. Don't they remember my role in making Valentine's Day special? They are now 39 and 35 years old and I still send them cards on Valentine's Day.

    Luckily, William did believe that Valentine's Day was special. He was never caught unawares on February 14th. Minimally, he had a card and flowers. Some years there were other gifts, chocolates, perfume, jewelry. Three years ago he brought me a giraffe so large he had to take it back. It was so much fun, he snuck it upstairs into my bedroom and put it in front of the window. I don't think he even minded returning it, like the surprise was enough.

    Tomorrow will be my first Valentine's Day without him, but I'm smiling because we had many years of celebrating a silly little remember-your-love holiday that some believe in and some don't. We did.


February 12, 2016

  • Health and Wellness

    I took myself to the movies today. A treat and a distraction. I found I now qualify for their Senior rates. Hmph. I saw Brooklyn. I'm not sure whether or not it is a best picture nominee but it is a best actress nominee. I enjoyed the film much more than 48 hours. I wonder how you choose an actress when you like one film much more than another. I'm glad I'm not part of the voting Academy.

    I survived my annual physical yesterday and got lab results back today. Most everything was good except the CA125 was elevated, so I need to go for an ultrasound next week. Mammogram too. Somehow February became health check month. I'm one of the fortunate ones regarding the ACA ("Obamacare") because I have no insurance horror stories.

    Have a great weekend!

February 10, 2016

  • Money Money Money

    I've heard said that one should always have 6 months of cash at the ready. I now must assume this means in a mattress, because it certainly can't be retirement income if you are of an age where withdrawing it means paying taxes AND early withdrawal penalties.

    I wish I were more math and money savvy. I wish I had paid more attention instead of letting The Husband deal with finances until he couldn't anymore. If I had been any of the above, I would not have allowed him to use cash out of his investments to build an addition for his mom onto our old house. That decimated the account and was something we couldn't get back out of the house when we sold it.

    But water under the bridge. There's a bit of money left, but I don't want to touch it because, not yet 59 ½ means paying a penalty. Until then I would like to try to live on my social security. The problem is, 2 ½ months after The Husband died, there still IS no social security. The employees at the Social Security office for the most part sound pleasant enough on the phone. I'm thinking that's just  attempt to prevent the person on the other end from become enraged and yelling into their earpieces. They are as incompetent as those employed at the DMV. And really, they just don't care. They don't care whether you are completely broke, if you're out of food, if you can't afford your meds. They don't care. They're working at whatever pace they work, and your sad story isn't going to make a bit of difference.

    So back to that six months of income that you need stored away. I  wish I'd done that, though realistically, there's no way I could have managed it while still raising kids. Any monies squirreled away would eventually have to be dug back out for something or other. The last of my personal 401k was cashed in to pay off my deceased son's college loan. Oy, that was painful.

    So, if you're a girlfriend reading this, statistically speaking, you are going to live longer than your husband. If he is the breadwinner, try to figure out your finances before the bureaucratic sh*t storm hits, because there are tough days ahead before it's all straightened out. It will all get straightened out, right?

  • Moms

    Intellectually I think I need to spend my time in the present and look towards the future. Emotionally I think I spend too much time in the past. It's hard to leave it because there's a much loved son there.

    My brother just had a birthday. Whenever we call each other, we spend some time in the past too. This time we had a lot of present to discuss also. Our mother has Alzheimer's just like dad did. She forgot his birthday for the first time. (I was extra glad that I took time out of my ohsobusy schedule to call him and sing happy birthday.)

    Mom is still living alone, with her dachshund, just two miles from my brother. Thus far he feels she can still manage alone. She eats, she feeds and walks the dog.  Unlike dad, she is physically healthy. She will turn 79 next month. Along with comments such as, "she'll outlive us both" and "only the good die young," we did discuss the realities of "what next?" We discussed an aid coming in to help her, maybe a live-in, and the likely eventuality of nursing home care.

    Dad spent the last three weeks of his life living with us, eventually on hospice care. Mom has steadfastly refused to even consider moving here to the Midwest (insert huge sigh of relief) so being her caregiver is off the table. The only twinge of guilt I have is because my brother has really been saddled with huge responsibility with both parents. Plus he worries about his own future. Already a cancer survivor and two parents with Alzheimer's.

    Just one of my worries is becoming a burden to my kids. (Have I already done that?) It's probably something most mothers think about.

    No answers but sharing is good.


    Mom at nephew's wedding two years ago.

February 9, 2016



    Two winters ago we had a little family nesting in our tree. It was fun to watch them from the upstairs window. No nesting this year.

February 8, 2016

  • Post Superbowl 50

    So the game this year was a real sleeper....unless you are defense minded, or enjoy fumbles, turnovers and penalties. Broncos 24, Panthers 10. Big money must have been on the Panthers though. I wouldn't have cared about the outcome much, but I have to have someone to root for so I chose the Broncos because a son and a niece live in Denver. I was glad they won so Peyton Manning can retire on top. If he chooses to retire. Apparently I missed some good commercials, as well as the brouhaha over the political tone of the half time show. On one of the commercials I did catch that this is the last season of The Good Wife. I don't watch a lot of TV, but that is one show I have watched from the beginning, so I'll miss it.

    I almost missed the game itself because I had the puppy bowl on and it was kitten half time. Cupcake was enthralled. I'm not sure I would have had the heart to change the channel on her if she hadn't gone off to be distracted by her kibble.

    The morning was taken up by Sunday morning news shows. While I'm still focused and paying attention, I'm turned off by how ugly things turn once the caucuses and primaries begin. Despite promises to the contrary, it's heading in that direction as usual.

    I did finally get the rest of my downstairs bookshelves done. That was pretty much the point when I remembered there are bookcases upstairs too.  I finished a book this morning too, and was about to choose another when I vowed to finish the other two I am reading first. Does anyone else read more than one book at a time? I'm not sure when (or why) I started that silliness.

    I am now a few movies into my quest to see the Oscar nominees. Not all of them of course, just some of the major ones. There are about half a dozen or so that I'd still like to see. Does anyone here have Oscar Parties? I know two families who dress up as though they will be walking the red carpet themselves. I will watch the beginning, the fashion and intro monologue. In pajamas. Rarely do I stay up until the end. Maybe I will this year since I'll have seen the movies in that category.


    Happy Chinese New Year and Fat Tuesday. Or Shrove Tuesday, day before Ash Wednesday and Mardi Gras.