Easter Sunday, 2023
Sitting here this morning, almost afternoon, thinking about life.
As a widow. 2 weeks from today it will be 8 years.
As a momma and a grannee, to those who are grown, adulting, living their own lives.
I guess it would be right to say that I am a bit "moody & blue" today.
Melancholy, I suppose.
- except the definition for "melancholy" says it means "depressed".
I am not depressed - or at least I do not feel depressed.
It's more of a sadness - for what was, for what is not now.
A sadness for what I thought there was.
A sadness for the realizations now of what there isn't, what there never was.
It's not a time for me to curl up and cry myself into sleep and oblivion.
It's more like a time of quietness and reflection.
A time of letting go.
A time of taking that next step. Even if I don't see that next step - still time to raise my foot and put it somewhere!
Thinking I will order a pizza and salad - that way I don't have to cook, or even think about finding something to eat.
Then, work on finishing Joshua's quilt for his birthday later this week.
Maybe find a movie to watch - hopefully one that will make me laugh out loud for a little while.
It's Sunday. Easter.
And here I am alone.
But, knowing that it's ok.
To be alone.
Is it mine?
I saw a post a while back that spoke about getting involved when we see injustices.
And I read the comments, just to see where people's hearts and minds were.
Many were saying, "not my monkey, not my circus".
Others said that until it was brought to their front door, they were staying out of it.
Then, there were those that championed getting involved - that it was better to be over-involved than not involved at all.
I have been known to take all 3 of these positions, depending on the particular injustice being discussed.
But the one comment that was made that resonated deep in my soul?
- "Not all battles are mine to be fought."
I have thought on that long and hard, ever since reading those 8 words.
Yes, I do believe that in general, we should absolutely stand & fight injustice.
However, I do think we need to be tempered as well by considering - what battles are mine?
I am convinced that a major reason for our world being in the shape it is in owed to so many of every generation - past, AND present - having the attitude of "not my monkey, not my circus". When it comes to child abuse, domestic abuse, poverty, hunger, health issues, political reform, religious instructions, and so many more issues that we are now facing, in our country, and in our world.
But I am also convinced that a major reason for so many of our familial relationships being how they are, bruised and broken - is a direct result of "too many irons in the fire".
No, I am not speaking of abuse. That is a whole other side of things!
I am speaking of misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
How many times have other family members, or friends, even strangers, gotten involved in a conflict between 2, and what could have been settled with a conversation of open minds and hearts, has become a forest fire of epic proportions that now involves many more than the 2 or 3 in the beginning? So much so that if it ever gets resolved to reconciliation it will be one of the miracles that we have only read about in Bible stories of old!
And no, this is not a new thing.
But we are all guilty of it.
Many years ago, in the very early years of our marriage, Rick and I made a conscious decision and agreement.
That when we argued, disagreed, or got our feelings hurt, or our pride was broken - we would keep it between the 2 of us.
We would not turn to family or to friends.
We would not put others in the position of taking sides.
We had already seen so much of that happening in our circle of friends and family, and we had ourselves been put in that position.
So for all those years of marriage, we did just that.
We kept it between the 2 of us.
There were times when others, our kids and grandkids included, heard words between Rick and me (I'm sorry), there were times when the tension between us was thick enough to cut it into slices and others knew it (I'm sorry).
But we did not consciously involve others in our marital relationship.
Only after we had come to a peaceful and quiet time afterwards did we share what had happened - and then only as a teaching time, only when it applied to what someone was discussing with us that they were going thru at the time.
I have more than once had family and friends - perhaps well meaning, perhaps with their own agendas and motives - come to me and tell me what this one said about me, or what that one said.
And proceed to tell me how to handle it.
Then, if I handled it differently, they were angry with me, with their own hurt feelings, that I did not take their advice and counsel.
Or when there was a disagreement between me and someone else - family or friend - how many times have I been "counseled" to deal with it, when the "counsel" only led to stirring up strife between everyone - more than just me and that one?
There are situations now that I could so easily get involved in.
I can see both sides.
I know the hurt on both sides.
And there is that part of me that wants to play the part of peacemaker and healer.
But - is that my battle to fight?
Or would my involvement just make things worse than they already are?
Those are just 2 of the questions I ask myself at least a hundred times a day (no exaggeration).
So, saying all this to say -
Yes! I do think we need to be very aware and on high alert for injustice.
And to get involved, when it is our place to be involved.
But that place needs to be the decision of YOUR own heart and mind.
Realizing that there are consequences to being involved, as well as to not being.
And now, this is all clear as mud! LOL
Even if . . .
This album, Believer, by Kutless was released in February 2012.
Rick's diagnosis of Acute Kidney Disease, with Renal Failure, was given to us January 2012.
My diagnosis of uterine cancer was given to us August 2012.
It was a time after my diagnosis that Rick and I first heard this song playing on the radio.
Instantly, we knew deep in our souls that this was OUR song.
In those 3 years before Rick died, we listened to this song at least once a day, with a fair estimate being 9 out of 10 days.
A river of tears was cried by both of us. Sometimes alone. Often together. Tears mingling as we held one another.
Every time we heard it, or sang it, or even thought about it - our souls were made stronger, our hearts were comforted, and we just held on. Thru it all.
During the worst of times, we were angry to hear it - even just to hear it playing in the back of our minds. We didn't want those "even-if" moments. We wanted healing - for both Rick and me. We wanted to live, together. We had thoughts, ideas, plans and a vision. And death was not welcome.
Every shred of hope that the doctors and nurses offered us, we clung to like someone drowning must cling to a lifesaver. When we received the worst of news, we would just look at one another and say, "Even if".
We did it all.
We argued with God.
We bargained with God.
We promised to faithfully love Him and serve Him all our days - if only . . .
If only He would heal us both.
If only He would let us live.
And then came the moment of truth for each of us -
What if we aren't healed?
What if either one of us, or both of us, do not live?
Does that change Who God is?
And then again, this song would come to our minds and hearts. Over and over and over again. Thru all those long nights and dark days.
That morning that Rick died, as I stood in our bedroom, and watched the EMT's work on him, with the deputy at my elbow - I cried, I prayed, I begged. And I heard the words of this song in my heart. With the tears running down my cheeks, I softly said, "Even if . . ."
And then, the EMT looked at me, with tears in his own eyes, and said, "I'm sorry, Margaret."
For days that led to several months, I cried out to God.
And then, came the day that I stopped. I just couldn't anymore.
All those prayers, all those tears.
And Rick died.
I became angry, frustrated, discouraged.
One thing after another was said, or happened all around me.
My purpose and direction for life and living was gone. I was nothing but an empty shell. Going thru the motions of being strong for everyone around me - for the kids and grandkids, for family and for friends. I was false-fronted to the umpteenth degree!
Oh, I kept on praying - for others. But I could not find one hope of asking anything for myself.
I didn't question God's existence. I questioned mine.
I didn't wonder whether God was with me. I wondered why I had lived thru cancer, and Rick had died.
I simply could not pray for me.
As I look back, I know that I was shrouded in grief. Inconsolable grief.
And in those 4 years, I made mistakes.
I took missteps.
I made choices and decisions that not only hurt me, but far worse - those choices and decisions hurt my children and my grandchildren.
There was (nor is there still today) no manual for being a grieving widow.
Oh I found somewhat like people. Widows and widowers who were dealing with their own grief. All different ages, races, religions, beliefs. All at different points in their grief. All with a different story of life together with the one who had died.
But I found not one who really understood, from experience, what I was dealing with. Spiritually. Emotionally. Mentally. Physically. Or financially.
There was one here or there that offered to at least try and understand.
It was the most alone time of my life.
I felt more alone and afraid than the morning that Rick died.
I found myself in a miserable and horrible situation, with no way out that I could find. Hours upon hours of thinking, considering, looking for an answer. And every hour just left me more empty, more hopeless, more despairing. Nights without sleep. Days that were nothing less than absolute torture to live. Barely breathing. Afraid to do or say anything to anyone outside my immediate world that I was living in. Manipulated. Neglected. Abandoned. Used.
But then, there came the morning that I loaded all I owned in this world into my vehicle and I started driving. Driving. Hours upon hours of driving. Just to get away. Constantly looking in my rearview mirror, seeing the fear reflected in my own eyes. Afraid that I was being followed, that someone would find me.
Stopped for the night at a motel, a good meal, a hot shower, a little sleep amidst the tears of being alone.
The morning sun saw me already on the road again. Taking me to an unknown future.
And this morning, I sit here looking out the window as I write these words. It's been 3 years and 4 months since that morning sun.
Been a lot of tears. Seen a lot of miles. Dealt with a past that I very much regret.
Met a lot of people. Lost a lot of people out of my life, too.
Deconstructed my faith before it was even a term.
I had to get to the lowest point of my life, to look up again.
And then, I had to decide what I believed, and what I did not.
Not what my daddy or momma, nor Rick's, believed.
Not what my husband believed.
Not what we were taught to believe in the various churches we served in and with.
Not even what Rick and I had preached and taught so many to believe.
But to find out what I believed. For ME.
I am still learning.
But this I know without question or doubt -
- the words of this song.
Perhaps the most truest words to ever be written in a song.
I tried to pick out the one line that spoke to me the strongest - I can't.
I thought there must be one section that spoke the deepest - there isn't.
It is the 238 words that speak the strongest.
It is the 6 sections that speak the deepest.
EVEN IF . . . Kutless
Sometimes all we have to hold on to
Is what we know is true of who You are.
So when the heartache hits like a hurricane
That could never change who You are.
And we trust in who You are
Even if the healing doesn't come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn't come
Lord we know Your ways are not our ways
So we set our faith in who You are
Even though You reign high above us
You tenderly love us We know Your heart
And we rest in who You are
Even if the healing doesn't come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn't come
You're still the Great and Mighty One
We trust You always
You're working all things for our good
We'll sing your praise.
Even if the healing doesn't come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn't come
You are God and we will bless You
As the Good and Faithful One
You are God and we will bless You
Even if the healing doesn't come
Even if the healing doesn't come
Songwriters: Tony Wood, Scott Krippayne. For non-commercial use only.
It's Valentine's Day 2023
Just a few minutes ago, I wrote this blog post - and posted it under "Love Notes".
It's about my Sweetheart, and our Valentine's since 1979.
In other "news" so far this year of 2023 -
- I started the year sick. A nasty upper respiratory virus that did not want to let go. Coughing, sneezing, headache, earaches, just miserable - couldn't find comfort and ease in standing, sitting, or stretched out in my recliner. As momma would say, I slept in snatches. A moment here and there.
Finally, after about 2 weeks, I survived.
- These last 2 weeks have been a horrible yeast infection. Not in the "normal" places for a woman to get one either. Think bottom side. I had a couple of days of diarrhea (not meaning to give too much information here) that honestly felt like it blistered me. I thought it was a typical pH balance off. So I ate the yogurt, drank the water, and thought it would be ok. NOT ok. It's been a trial and error of what works, powders and creams. With nothing giving me more than a moment of relief. Finally, after much frustration, pain and tears - I prayed about it. Debated greatly about going to the doctor, not sure if it is called "pride", "vanity", or just not wanting to be so humiliated, at baring my butt - I decided to try something else first.
Take a hot shower every morning. Hotter than was comfortable to my skin. No shampoo, no soap. Just to stand, bent over, in the hot water - until my skin screamed I just couldn't take it anymore.
Then, take 100% cornstarch baby powder, about 1/2 cup, mix it with 1 Tablespoon baking soda. And every trip to the bathroom, after cleaning with an aloe based wipe, use the mixture.
Allow myself only my coffee in the mornings, and the rest of the day, drink water! Water! Water!
Eat light and easy. Mashed potatoes. Toast. Ramen noodles. Yogurt. Jello. Popsicles.
Now, after 2 weeks of intense burning and pain, enough tears to float the Titanic - 3 days of this, and I am so much better! I feel almost "normal"!!!
- Earlier in January, I went thru my quilt supplies and scraps. Thinking that since it's been too cold to do anything outside, and my bottom didn't feel like going anywhere - maybe it would be a good time to do some quilting.
I found a smaller quilt top that was put together, even with a border around it already. Not real sure where it came from. It's about the size of a baby quilt, or lap quilt. Would work good for a picnic quilt, or a stadium quilt.
I put it together with a blanket I had for the inside, and a cover on the back. Got it all quilted by doing 3-5 blocks a day. Now, I am adding the final cover to the back. Once I get it all tacked/tied then I will be able to hem it.
It's not perfect. My hands are too arthritic to let it be perfect. And I do not have a quilting frame, so there are puckers that I don't like. But, it will work!
- Next, I am going to start working on the quilts for each of the kids and grandkids. I have most of what I need, and will be gathering the rest a little at a time.
I think of my momma when I hand quilt.
Remembering how I started helping her when I was about 3 years old.
Her arms were too short to reach the middle of the quilt when it was in the frame, so I would sit under the quilt, and push the needle back up thru to her. Hours upon hours of helping Momma hand quilt.
Listening to her stories, and her life lessons.
I hope, and pray, that our kids and grandkids will treasure these quilts as much as I treasure making them.
- Quilting gives me time to think. Some of the thoughts are memories of working with Momma. Some are thoughts of my life with Rick, our lives with the kids and grandkids. Some are thoughts and ideas of what I want for the rest of my life now.
My arthritis doesn't allow for me to quilt as long as I would like at a time. But I am thankful that I know how to quilt, and that I am able to quilt.
- This little house is standing the test of wind better than the RV did.
Been thinking about the RV lately.
Rick and I enjoyed our RV so much. I really thought that living in one would make me feel "at home" again, after all these years of wandering.
But then, I really don't feel at home here in the little house either.
Can't bring myself to call it "home" yet.
Because it doesn't feel like home.
And then, that light bulb moment came the other day - -
Home is not walls about me, nor is it a roof over my head.
Home is not the things that fill a room, or take up space on the floor.
Home is a person.
Home is people.
Home is laughter, and love.
Home is life.
Rick was my home.
- as the post mentioned above says, since I was 10 years old I loved him. He was my person. He was my people. He was my laughter. He was my love. He was my life.
Rick was my home.
Well, it's all empty.
It's up to me to find a way to be home to myself.
*Well, that's about the "news" of me so far this year.
I'm going thru some notes and stuff trying to find that way of putting a book together. (One of my goals for this year!)
It's 11:43 am here now.
And I'm hungry.
So, I'll write later!
The Beverly Hillbillies
I watched the pilot episode for The Beverly Hillbillies this morning.
Made me smile, made me laugh.
Not only just for the show itself but reminding me of how Rick called me his "hillbilly".
I was born and raised just 7 miles outside of Sulphur Springs, TX.
And just 3 miles from where Rick was raised.
But, we lived a life like my ancestors lived.
The first flushing toilet I saw was when I started 1st grade, with Mrs. Pogue.
I needed to potty, raised my hand and she said I could go.
I went outside.
She came after me asking me where I was going - "I am going to the outhouse".
She smiled, took me by the hand and led me to the restroom.
Turned the light on, which scared me.
Then she shut the door.
I was so scared, I just stood there and cried.
She heard me, opened the door, and then knelt down to hug me.
When she realized that I had NO idea what to do in there - she closed the door and helped me.
I jumped when the potty flushed, and I was very confused about where the water came from when she had me wash my hands.
The way she took time and cared for me, meant so much, still does.
Daddy and Momma got running water when I was about 10 and we got electricity when I was about 12.
No more going to the outhouse or using the pee-pot in the night!
No more lighting coal oil lanterns to see after dark!
And we had a shower, which totally terrified me at first!
But no more Saturday night baths only in the #3 wash tub on the kitchen floor!
Soon after, daddy and momma got a propane stove - I could not understand where to put the wood!
It was a miracle to me to be able to simply turn on a burner!
We grew, picked and canned (or froze) all our vegetables and fruits.
Killed our chickens every October.
It was Momma who would wring their necks, and I would wait till they stopped running around - go pick them up, we hung them up and plucked feathers.
Killed our hogs the first of November.
Processed the meat.
The only meat taken to the locker was the beef, one per year.
We ate meat on Sunday's.
Vegetables the rest of the week.
It was my job to draw up water from the cistern and water all of the gardens (3 of them) and the fruit trees (lost count on those).
Momma and I quilted in the wintertime, as she would let down the quilting frames from the ceiling. That was the story times.
Oh how I miss her stories!
Sometimes her sisters, Aunt Ola and Aunt Ollie, would come down and help.
I remember a few times when they were there together - those were amazing times!
The first color TV set I saw was when I was 18, spending a Sunday afternoon at Rick's parents house - and Rick turned the TV on.
We had gotten a black and white set a couple of years before, but when he turned the color set on?
I thought something was wrong with it!
Rick took me out to eat at a restaurant for the time - Bonanza Steakhouse.
I didn't even have to wash dishes after eating!
So many things I knew about our way of life . . .
and so many things I did not know about how others lived.
Rick would tease me, and give me some "edumaction lessons" lol
I have talked to many people older than me - and they were raised this way.
But few who are my age (61) were.
Their grandparents lived like this, and many have memories of going to their homes for a day, or a weekend, maybe a week in the summer.
Rick said if you looked in the dictionary for "East Texas hillbilly" you would find my picture! LOLOLOL
So, watching this episode was sweet to my heart today.
Catching up . . . Part 2
Summer of 2022 was a difficult time for me.
Living in the RV, enduring the brutal heat.
Watching thru the storms that seemed to relentlessly roll thru. Hiding out in the RV park bathroom, or curled up in my recliner just breathing. Many times finding myself in the truck just moments before driving over to Joshua's for safety. Always watching the radar.
Add to the storms and the heat, an abscessed tooth! What I thought was a sinus/ear infection, turned out to be one of the worst abscesses I have ever had! When I finally found a dentist who was willing to work with me, he took the x-rays, pushed on it a couple of times, and out it came! Dentist said that the abscess was so bad that my whole jaw was infected, and it was going up into my sinuses, as well as down into the lymph nodes of my neck! The tooth was very literally floating in the abscess. From start to finish it was almost 2 months solid.
Just about the time the infection was gone from my jaw, a UTI from the pits of hell hit me. 90* degrees in the RV, my temp at better than 100*, and I was shaking, shivering, and feeling like I was sitting in a tub of ice water!
- antibiotics, enough water to float the Titanic drank, and finding out that lemonade works wonders for a UTI . . . 3 weeks later, I could breathe without doubling over in pain.
I did make a trip to SS to see my daughter and granddaughter, and to go to my Momma's family reunion, in mid-June. Enjoyed that so much - it was before the brutal heat, before the abscess, before the UTI. I am so glad that I went - especially as all these things began to hit me from every side.
2 puppies found me in September & October. Were they dumped? Were they abandoned? Not sure. I tried to keep them both, but the boy was so aggressive to the little girl, and to me, that it became apparent he needed a new home. Hopefully one where he was the only fur-baby. A lady in town took him. (I think about him a lot these days, wondering how he is.)
The little girl, I named "Coffee". I was drinking coffee when she found me, and she was about the color of my coffee. She was such a precious little thing. I enjoyed the time with her - about 3 weeks. We were sitting outside one day, letting her play in her pen, and I stepped back into the house for a moment. While inside, I heard the most awful noise - I raced to the door thinking that something had gotten in the playpen with her. Sadly, no. She was having a massive seizure, and it lasted for almost 30 minutes. According to the vet, there was nothing I could have done, and nothing to be done now. Her little body (she weighed less than 2 pounds) just would not be able to recover. She died about 2 hours later.
How does the heart get so wrapped up in a fur-baby when it's only been 3 weeks?
I cried for 3 days, and still, these months later, if I think too much on her, the tears stream hotly down my cheeks.
Rest easy, Coffee.
You were so loved.
Once the little house became available to me, I spent time going thru stuff, and packing at the RV. As well as cleaning the little house and watching as projects there were accomplished and it became time to move.
The RV sold for the same price as what I had purchased it for. The $2000 that I had spent on it, was not recovered. BUT - the money it brought, did pay my truck completely off. I got back less than $1 when the loan was closed out! LOL
Feels good to have that paid, with no payments due!
My cousin, Paul, died in October. I made another trip to SS to see my daughter and granddaughter the weekend of Paul's service.
Time with the family before, during and after the service.
Then, time with my sweet daughter and granddaughter. Found out that I am going to be a Great-Grannee early June 2023!!!
Thanksgiving came, Christmas went.
The Siberian Express moved thru and we endured frozen pipes and cold temps for about 5 days.
2023 entered quietly for me.
2 weeks of being sick with the creeping crud.
Then a round of colitis, which seems to take longer and longer to recover from the older I get!
And here it is - January 25, 2023.
There are moments where time seems to drag . . . and then, it flies!
Momma used to talk about how crazy time was - course, back then, as a child? I thought my Momma was crazy! LOL - I need to apologize to her.
I am going to do better at working on this website, and keeping up with this blog.
Will it ever be something that someone else reads? Or that will help someone else?
Only Heaven knows.
But - I know this, it helps ME.
And right now - I need all the help I can get!
Just catching up . . . part 1
Whew! I am just a tad bit overwhelmed with trying to catch up -
but I will try to make it read as easy as possible. In spite of my mind being a jumbled mess! LOL
I am no longer in the RV.
When I purchased it, I knew that it needed work.
I did not realize how extensive, or expensive, the work would be.
I had a little money saved from the time of working as a caregiver.
Figured it would be just about enough to get the RV comfortable.
I was wrong.
It needed more work than what I could do alone.
It needed more money than what I had saved.
I had some help to get it where I could live in it.
A few people gave from their hearts to help me with the costs.
However, 5 months later, I had to face the harsh reality that this RV was too much for me.
I sat in the living room area, looking around, and cried.
Sobbed great tears of grief, frustration, aggravation and absolute confusion as to what to do now.
After spending the time, and the money - I was worn out, exhausted, and broke.
I looked around at rental places.
No way for me to afford any of them.
I spent hours upon hours searching for a job.
Fuel used even as the fuel costs were screaming louder and louder.
I looked at live-in job situations.
Made lists of all that I can do.
Updated my resume.
Since I am 61 years old, and physically limited - I cannot get on my knees, nor can I climb ladders - as well as being financially limited on what I can make per month due to the widow benefit's . . . no one wanted to hire me.
If they would work with me physically, then they wanted me to work more hours and make more money in a month than what I am allowed.
For 6 months, day after day, week after week - frustration and discouragement.
One brick wall after another.
Finally, I told my kids that I was just going to stop.
Stop looking for another place - be it house, rv, or apartment.
Stop looking for a job.
Just going to breathe thru the winter.
Make the best of where I am.
Make do with what I have.
And go back to the basics of doing without as needed.
Just about 2 weeks after this "stopping" -
I was asked to help a friend clean a rental house.
It was a small house, and empty.
Wouldn't take more than just 1 day to clean the walls and the floors.
I walked into this house, and literally - fell in love.
Rick always said that he believed houses had souls.
That they breathed.
That they lived.
That they felt joy, and sorrow.
Perhaps he was right.
When I walked into this house, there was a sadness.
But as I started scrubbing the walls, cleaning up the floors, wiping down the cabinets
- there was a lifting of the heaviness that I felt when I walked in.
The more I cleaned, the deeper in love I fell.
As I was cleaning one bedroom, I said out loud -
"I hope whoever gets you will take care of you, and give you the laughter and joy that you deserve!"
When the most of the work was done, and I was standing there with the owner just talking
- I was asked what I thought about the house.
"It could be absolutely adorable!"
"This house has a character about it!"
And then, I was asked if I thought I could live here.
Before answering, I thought and weighed my words.
"Yes. Absolutely. Except for the rental cost. I have been pricing rental houses smaller than this, and not in as good of shape as this one - I know what those are. From $800 - $1200 a month! There is just no way."
The owner, took a deep breath.
And offered it to me at an unbelievable amount.
I called my son and asked him to come take a look, see what he thought about the house.
I also wanted him to meet the owner, and just verify for me that I was hearing his offer correctly!
I accepted his offer.
Signed a year's lease, and am moved in.
This little house has 2 bedrooms, 1 bath.
It's about 750 sq ft, maybe.
One large room that is the kitchen, living room, laundry room.
Double pane windows on all windows.
An entryway to help with coming in out of the cold north wind of winter.
Sitting on 1/2 acre of land.
Has a beautiful peach tree in the back yard.
There is a barn, and a 2 car carport.
And it is only about 5 miles outside of town!
Down a dead-end road, with only about 5 houses on the road.
I am excited at this change.
There is so much that I will miss about living in an RV.
But to be honest?
The greatest thing that I miss about living in an RV is the times that Rick and I were doing this together.
He had his things outside that he handled, and I handled the things inside.
I sit here and wonder if I will ever live in an RV again.
And I don't know.
If the RV was newer, in better shape - would that make a difference?
Not sure at this point in my life.
Perhaps I just need a bit more "roots" - to hold me in place during these violent Texas storms that roll thru so often.
I have already had people wanting me to set up a gofund me account so that they can help me with what I need.
But for now, I have PayPal.
My address there is email@example.com
I am not asking for help - but years ago, I learned not to say "no" to anyone who wanted to help either.
I don't want to block someone's blessings.
Yes, Life . . .
. . . it's all about changes.
An off day . . .
Everyone has an off day
One of those days when you feel lost
Not really sad,
Certainly not angry
Not really discouraged
Not even frustrated
Is this the way the body catches up to the emotions?
Or maybe the emotions are catching up to the body?
To the mind?
The last week or so have been days of great introspection.
Lots of thoughts, realizations, processing all of that.
My heart is heavy with people that I love and care about – burdened for them, wanting to fix life . . . and knowing that I cannot.
All I can do is pray.
Cry out to Jesus for them.
And yet, as much as that is – it sure doesn’t seem like enough.
Not right now.
Not in this.
News headlines are weighing on my mind.
Is this world a worse place than it has ever been?
Or is it simply because of social media we are right there when it all happens now?
There was a time, even in my lifetime, that we didn’t get the news until it was pretty much done and over.
But these days?
It’s so much like we are in the middle of it all – no matter how bad it is.
The weather is on my mind much.
Whether the brutal heat of this past summer, or the Siberian Express that rolled thru in late December 2022, even the changing weather with this front coming thru since early morning today.
I think about the elderly and the sick.
I think about the homeless.
I think about the men and women who are out working in the weather, for US.
Whether law officers, firefighters, emt’s, road workers, those who work on our utilities.
I think about the farmers and ranchers.
The stock workers.
For whatever reason they are out there, working.
Maybe the feelings of being off centered, lost and empty today just has to do with all of this.
Maybe I just need a something to drink, and a long nap.
Maybe I just need my kids and grandkids for a little while – some laughter, some hugs and kisses, some family time.
Maybe I need a good book that will grab and hold my attention, to get my focus off of all this.
Maybe a movie that will somehow touch laughter deep in my weary soul.
Being alone wears on a person.
Or at least it does on me.
I can handle it for a few days.
But when it goes beyond a few days at a time?
Yeah, I need PEOPLE time.
Eyes to look into.
Eyes to see me.
Voices for my ears to hear.
Ears to hear my voice.
A handshake, a forehead kiss, a hug, a touch on the shoulder.
Skin gets hungry.
And the lack of touch HURTS.
I need to have a Reminder that there is some kind of witness to my life.
At least ever so often.
I sit here this afternoon, almost 3:30 pm.
And these thoughts race thru my head – just like they have been doing since I woke up much earlier this morning.
It’s a weird sensation.
This feeling so very lost and empty.
It’s more than loneliness.
I don’t feel that lonesome right now.
It’s more than a physical pain.
Even though the changing weather brings a sharpness to the arthritis pain.
It’s more than emotional or mental distress.
I don’t even feel in distress!
I am concerned.
Because I care.
And I find that I cry out to Jesus a lot on days like this!
But I am not twisting my hands in worry, nor cowering in a corner because of fear.
I don’t have a sense of purpose and direction today.
Maybe that’s a better way to describe this being lost and empty. ? ? ?
Oh I have plenty to do!
I have a list of things to do that seems to be a mile long – maybe more!
And it’s not that I don’t want to do these things.
But where is the direction?
What do I start on?
What do I do next?
Nothing seems to be making any sense today.
Is this a recurrence of the widow’s fog?
That’s kinda what it feels like.
Nothing making sense.
Almost like just going thru the motions.
Or being outside my own body and seeing myself going thru the motions.
How do I explain this to anyone when I don’t understand it?
God, would YOU just hold me?
I could use a few minutes being held.
Regrets . . .
I think there comes a time in everyone’s life when we must face our past, deal with the regrets, and move forward.
We all have regrets.
Some of them are haunting.
Some can actually terrorize us to the point of panic and despair.
In my struggle to face a past that I deeply regret, and striving to move forward into a hopefully better future, I am finding being honest is the best way - - but also very hard.
Also finding that 2nd guessing myself seems to be the way of life right now.
Is that right?
Is that wrong?
Or is that just normal while going thru this self-introspection?
Some regrets are so small that it’s mostly like a mosquito buzzing around on a warm summer’s evening.
Some, well, it’s more like a raging river that threatens to take everything in its path along for the wild ride!
My time spent in Kentucky – that’s the wild river ride of regrets for me.
I was so new in my grief as a widow.
Had only been a widow of a few months when the decision was made to travel from Texas to Kentucky.
For the express purpose of helping a friend with his granddaughter, after the death of his wife.
I had no idea just how much missing my kids and grandkids, would affect me – and even more so as I watched him interact with his own kids and granddaughter.
I had no idea how lost I would feel, how overwhelming alone I would be, in a place where I did not know the area, or the people.
Rick and I had moved and traveled for almost 35 years.
It never dawned on me, until I was in Kentucky, that this was not the same!
Being there without him was almost more than my heart and mind could bear!
I did not realize how heavy the burden would weigh on my mind, my heart, my emotions, to be entrusted to care for someone else’s grandchild.
To walk with them thru a time of great health change.
When I had been accused of not caring for my husband good enough to save his life, it was heavy indeed to have someone so young placed in my care to help them adjust to health changes.
To not be in Texas when my sister was diagnosed with cancer, to be here to walk with her, talk with her, and just simple BE here – my heart was broken all over again.
And with every memory of being in Kentucky, the list of regrets grew, and continues to grow in spurts even now.
If there is one good memory of being in Kentucky, there are at least 4 bad memories attached to that one good memory.
I did not realize how deeply it would affect, and hurt, my children and my grandchildren for me to go, and to be there longer than what was intended.
I went with the idea of being there 2-6 weeks only.
I was there for about 3 ½ years!
Vehicle issues, money problems, and more all combined to make me feel stuck.
Well, not so much “stuck” as to clearly hear the words that Rick had said so often thru the years – “when you make your bed, you must lie in it. At least until you can get yourself out of it!”
Then came the time when others decided I was a problem there, and that I needed to leave.
Which turned out to be the greatest Godsend of my life!
God knew that I needed that kick in the butt 😉 and while it hurt, I am over the moon thankful for it!
I have been back in Texas since November 2019.
Is it silly I wonder to be counting the days to that mark + 1 day, when I will have been in Texas longer than I was there?
Like that will be some magical day?
Where the bad memories flood away?
I wonder if forgiveness will find me somewhere down this road of life?
The Bible tells me that God can take all things, work them together and make something good out of it.
I really want to believe those words.
I really want to pin my hope on that promise.
And if He can, if He will?
I know that the broken road of my life has brought me to where I am today.
Sitting here at this computer.
With a lot of thoughts, contemplations, ideas, wonderings, and prayers.
Not a day goes by that I don’t pray for our children and our grandchildren to forgive me for making them to feel even for one heartbeat that not only did they lose their daddy and p-paw that day, but just a few months later, they lost me.
And while I pray for their forgiveness, I pray also that they will NEVER understand.
Because in order to understand, they would have to walk in my steps – and Lord only knows how much I don’t want that to happen!!!
Another regret that I must face and spar with – working for a company where I was a caregiver in a resident home.
While I loved my clients, the hours that I was required to work not only exhausted me, taking a heavy toll on my physical and mental well-being, they took me away from my children and my grandchildren YET AGAIN.
Only this time, I was within 4 hours of my daughter, granddaughter, and at times my grandson.
And I was within 30 minutes of my son, my daughter in love, my grandson, and my granddaughter.
It’s not that I did not see them thru those months.
But it was not the relaxed, enjoyable times that my heart ached for.
Working an average of 108 hours a week for almost a year?
Yeah, just a little bit exhausted even when I was off work!
Another Godsend in my life was when the job ended!
I have not worked now since April 2022.
These months I have spent resting.
Working on an older RV.
Enjoying a few books and more movies.
Taking some walks.
Reconnecting with my God, and with my self.
Enjoying the stillness and quietness.
Even being fearful of the Texas storms that have rolled through here with a consistency that I resent! LOL
I am now looking forward to finding a real LIFE for me.
Being a widow sucks.
It isn’t the life I had envisioned all those years ago.
It isn’t even the life I had envisioned it to be almost 8 years ago when Rick died.
But it is, what it is.
And as Louis La’mour said in one of his books (I don’t remember which one), when he was talking about living in the desert:
Either you fight the desert and die, or you learn to live with it – and live.
Those 16 words are more applicable to a life as a widow than I want them to be!
It’s time for me to stop fighting against the desert.
It’s time to start learning to live with it.
It’s time to let these regrets go on down on the rolling river today.
Let them go.
And if they come back as ghosts in the mists of memories, to rattle their chains at me?
They have no power, no hold, no control, over my life.
Lord, help me do this life better from this point forward.
I owe that to Rick, to the kids and grandkids.
And I owe it to myself, too.
Most of all, Lord, I owe YOU a better living of this life You have given to me.
Father, forgive me
God, help me please.
Letting Go - - -
I wrote these words several months ago, just a few days after April 23, 2022.
I have held on to them, knowing them in my heart, yet refusing to re-read them.
Then, life happening, getting in the way more than I expected.
And these words were put away in a folder on my computer.
January 24, 2023.
I read them again.
And I feel them all over again.
Yet, there is a softness in the feeling today.
And today - I will share them here.
With a cry of my heart all anew,
Refreshing tears from the very depths of my soul.
April 23, 2015.
The day that changed my life forever.
I knew that the 7th year angelversary was going to be different for me.
I felt a turning point coming.
Wasn’t sure I wanted it, either – truth be told.
But just as I could not stop the world from turning on that day 7 years ago,
neither could I stop this 7th year from coming around.
Nor could I stop the turning point – it was stronger than me.
Seems strange in a way to write that.
To think it.
To realize the truth of it.
These were the words I wrote in my prayer journal on that 7th morning:
Thank you God for just holding me while i cried at 4:30 this morning
no more leading up to this day.
my life changed drastically and forever that morning.
he was gone.
he is gone.
today i will remember those years together
today i will remember that moment that changed everything
and today, i will take a deep breath and step into that 8th year without him.
wondering how can it be?
7 years and still this does not feel like my reality
7 years and i still want to wake up from this nightmare
7 years and i do not feel any more settled, directional, or purposeful, than what i felt the moment he died.
7 years and it is still more about me comforting others than anyone taking time to comfort me –
With the realization every day more and more, deeper and deeper
- - God, YOU are my Comfort.
YOU are my Strength.
and yet, i miss skin.
am i wrong?
thank You for always being with me
thank You for bringing me to this moment with You
help me to let go -
- of the life i had planned and dreamed
- of the life i have been living, the struggling and striving so hard
- the trying so hard to not try so hard
- of the hurt
- of the worries and fears
- of the offenses
let it go.
leave it all with You
and walk on.
Those words were from the heart, from the very deepest part of my soul.
They seemed to tear out of me, almost screaming to be heard
… and yet there was a stillness and quietness about them, too.
But that contradiction seems to be following the pattern of life that I have come to know as Rick’s widow.
I was so very loved by Rick.
And I loved him so very much.
I miss him.
I miss our life together, more than words could ever say.
There are not enough words for how deeply I miss him.
Life goes on.
And that makes me afraid as a widow.
Not only do I get older than he was allowed to be
– which in a way makes me smile, because he always said he had married “an older woman”.
Told me how many times that I was “an old soul”?
But I am afraid that others will forget about him.
Forget how his voice sounded.
Forget the lessons he lived, and taught.
That he will fade from their memories and become nothing but a wandering ghost in their hearts and minds.
There is that fighting part of me that says while it may happen with others, and probably will
– it will NEVER happen with me!
Not if I have to grieve in torment alone for the rest of my days!
His life, and his legacy, are worth remembering, worth sharing, worth grieving for.
And yet, came that moment when I realized too that it was time to let go.
Time to lay down my fears and worries.
Time to move forward in my mind and in my heart.
Without doing that, I cannot move forward in my life.
It’s not a letting go to leave him behind.
It’s not a letting go to say that we never were, or that he did not exist.
It’s not a letting go to say that I no longer love him (like that could ever be!).
It’s a letting go of a past that I have regrets about.
Because I cannot do one thing to change that past.
There are no do-overs.
No 2nd chances.
It’s a letting go of a future that scares the “pee-water” out of me, as my Momma would say.
But also, a realization that God is not asking me to live today for tomorrow.
He is telling me to take up my cross TODAY.
One day at a time.
I spent that 7th day alone.
Cooking a roast – Mississippi style.
OMW it turned out wonderful!
I enjoyed it so much.
And while I was just at the RV, alone, letting the roast cook, I read.
First time in a very LONG time that I have read 2 books in one day!
But they were exactly the books I needed to read that day!
One – “The Girl from Montana”, by Grace Livingston Hill
The other – “Texas Roads” by Cathy Bryant.
I love it when a book that was written without you having anything to do with it speaks to the heart, the mind, the soul!
There is something so real, so comforting, so strengthening, about it when it happens.
These are some take-aways from these 2 books:
As I sat here Sunday morning, the first day of my 8th year as a widow, I cried out to God with these words:
God, I’m scared.
I have held on to Rick for over 35 years.
I have held to our memories for these 7 years now.
HOW do I let go?
I know it’s time.
I just don’t know HOW.
Please, help me.
His answer came thru one of these books that I read over the weekend.
As I sat there reading this book, this became my prayer:
Lord, I need to let go.
I have clung to the pain with both fists.
Afraid of releasing the only part of Rick that I have left.
Lord, I lift my hands to You, and I let them fall to my side.
Surrendering it all into Your able, and more than capable, Hands.
Where I was so at home in.
Where I feel lost, alone, afraid.
That scares me, paralyzing me in fear and with too many questions, too much 2nd guessing.
It’s all Yours.
I will no longer fear what road I am on all the time.
God, You are with me.
And You are taking me where You want me to go.
Later that day, I read a book.
It was a rainy & stormy Sunday.
So what better thing to do than to grab a book, curl up in the recliner, pray thru the storms and just read?
This book, “A Daily Rate” by Grace Livingston Hill, had a most needed and blessed message to it.
II Kings 25:27-30 was referenced to several times in the book.
After finishing the book, I read these verses.
I had read them before, but this time, I read them with fresh eyes and greater understanding.
Finding this short poem by Fr Francis Xavier Lasance confirmed what I was hearing in my heart:
“Charge not thyself with the weight of a year,
Child of the Master, faithful and dear
Choose not the cross for the coming week
For that is more than He bids thee seek.
Bend not thine arms for tomorrow’s load
Thou mayest leave that to thy gracious God.
Daily, only He says to thee,
‘Take up thy cross and follow Me.’”
A turning point.
Not sure where I go from here
Nor what will be done with, or in, or thru, my life
But – one moment at a time
One day at a time
Doing what is in front of me to be done
Trusting in the Lord with all my heart.
How can it be?
I have not written a blog since last April? ? ?
I need to catch up!
Will do that in sections - LOL, just for ease of reading and reference.
It's been a trying year.
To put it mildly.
Margaret - shame on you!
Update to today - April 13, 2022
How time gets away from me amazes me, but not always in a good way.
Life has a way of changing from one moment to the next.
As one has said, “just when we started to think we had a somewhat “perfect” life – not all things were perfect, but they were good for us – the bottom crashes out under out feet and we are brought to our knees barely holding on!”
The job: I worked for Holiday Inn in the housekeeping department for 2 weeks.
With only about 25 hours a week.
The hours were good.
The work should have been easy enough.
I have cleaned my whole life!
However, the pace of cleaning the rooms, making beds, scrubbing bathrooms … my knees just could not keep up.
Every day when I got home, I literally changed my clothes, and crashed into the recliner – with a heating pad across my knees, regardless of how hot the weather was!
And I sat there, all night.
As late into the morning as I dared before moving.
Getting up to knees that were screaming with the over-using of them.
Tendons and ligaments that reminded me of not so long ago when the ACL and MCL were torn, and the Baker’s Cyst at the back of one knee blew out causing all kinds of damage within.
Rick told me for years that one must know what their limitations are.
And as hard as it was for me to admit this was beyond the scope of my limitations, I had no choice.
As I told one grandson, “I know I can’t get out here and dig a 6-mile ditch in a day, so I don’t even try.”
His response? “Grannee, I don’t think I could do that!” LOL
So, I no longer work for Holiday Inn.
Back to searching for a job that my body will be able to do.
A job that will work with me in my limitations – not only physically, but financially as well due to being on widow benefits.
The RV: still working on it.
Some things have come to a standstill due to the job … and due to my son being in the hospital.
Last Thursday, my son had a doctor’s appointment.
He said he walked into the office, doctor took one look at him, did not touch him, sent him straight to ER.
After several hours of testing, it was determined that he had a tear in his colon area.
Into the hospital on IV antibiotics.
More tests and blood work for a couple of days.
Then, he was discharged to home with oral antibiotics and placed on a residual diet – that was on Saturday afternoon.
By Monday morning he was in so much pain that the doctor was called, another trip to the ER … and readmitted into the hospital, for more colon rest (meaning ice chips ONLY) and more IV antibiotics. Doctor said that this latest CT scan showed no more damage than last week, and that his numbers are all headed in the right direction.
However, the inflammation and infection had flared back up.
Doctor wants him on complete colon rest for several days while he is getting these antibiotics in the IV.
My son said that ice chips are not easy to imagine being real food – just saying! LOL
Doctor has told him that it appears the hole was in the colon itself, but the fluids were held in the intestinal wall, did not leak into the peritoneal cavity. Thank the Lord!
He wants complete colon rest in order that the healing will take better.
His concern at this time is either an abscess, or a tumor – neither of which is showing on the x-rays or CT scan.
But still … a concern.
This may be diverticulitis.
That is what it is being called at this time.
Only a scope will give a definitive answer.
Therefore, a scope is being discussed once this heals to a proper level.
Changes to diet and exercise are being heavily discussed, cussed, and discussed many times over!
Tomorrow, April 14, is my son’s birthday.
He will spend it in the hospital.
It is also the 1 year anniversary of their adopted son’s death.
My heart feels squeezed down to barely beating at this point.
Hurting for my son and his family as they deal with the memories – memories of that phone call no parent ever wants to receive.
Memories of hours and days that seemed to move forward without their permission, but at the same time, seemed to stand still for an eternity.
My heart is hurting for all my son is going thru with his body, too.
I told him yesterday that if I had the power, I would take it from him.
Allowing him to return to his “normal”.
I am older, already with stomach pains and ills … as well as not working right now.
If anyone has this kind of time to go thru this – it would be me.
As hard as it would be to be away from my children and grandchildren … at least it would be me laying there – not him.
Many tears, intense prayers, and little real rest.
Psalm 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I will trust in the Lord”.
There are days, like today, when I am so thankful for that one word – WHEN.
That word is a permission from our Father in Heaven – One Who understands us completely.
It is a word that asks us to be nothing but who we are, just as we are.
God gets it.
I am afraid.
Of so much these days.
Trusting in Him, and asking with every breath I take that God Himself will help me trust Him.
Some days, it’s all I can do – be afraid … and trust in the Lord.
An earlier update - March 25, 2022
We all know that life can, and does, change in a moment.
A storm that moves thru the area, or a wildfire completely out of control.
Thru a word spoken by a boss.
Or words from a “friend”, even a family member.
And … Life changes.
In the last month there has been so many of those changes in my life that I sit here this morning with my 2nd cup of coffee and simply shake my head in wonder and amazement that I still breathe … I still fight.
In the course of 10 days, my family took 5 hits of death. Suicide. Short term illness. Long term illness. Expected, and totally unexpected. Shock. Sorrow. Regrets of not enough words spoken before that moment that death claimed.
We all know it takes time to even begin the healing after 1 death. So, the very thought of 5 in a time of 10 days? Overwhelming. One heartbreak upon another. So many lives forever altered when the beating of hearts stop.
I have watched the news with a broken heart, and with horror showing on my face – storms of such great intensity and crazy patterns … wildfires out of control … seeing the destruction left … and witnessing the coming together of peoples who give no thought to race or religion, or even to political differences – just a coming together to take care of one another in a time of crisis.
A meeting with the boss.
A paper signed.
A contract of almost a year terminated.
A job over.
A place to call “home” taken, because it was part of the compensation package.
Working 5 days after the paper signed, and then, walk away.
A quick trip with my son to look at an RV … thoughts and prayers … conversations that followed … a lot of hours in packing, moving, setting the RV up, repairing and putting some healing (hopefully) touches on this RV that was severely neglected and mistreated … costs that I really cannot afford, but somehow did.
And here I sit this morning.
Paradise RV Park, just outside of Graham TX. On the banks of the Brazos River. Looking out the window, watching the birds, the squirrels, and seeing a feral hog with her baby on the shoreline of the river. A 2nd cup of coffee at hand. Quiet music playing in the background. A thousand thoughts flowing thru my mind. And starting a new job come Sunday morning at 8:45 a.m.
How is this just the 25th of March?
February 23, I sent a message to my children that my job was ending, and that I had to be out of the cottage. There are few times in my life that I can remember feeling so lost, so alone, so afraid … as well as confused, a bit angry and having to fight so much resentment – all at the same moment. The assurances of my children and my grandchildren carried me thru those dark thoughts and moments – with promises of hope, help, and that it would all work out. In the words of more than one, “Losing a job, or a home, is not always a bad thing”. With the strength of the Lord giving me courage, hope and a way to make it thru.
One of the last RV parks that Rick and I stayed at together, was right here. The name was different. The park looked a bit different too. But the location was the same. That was in 2014, so I can’t clearly remember if I am now parked in the exact location or not. But if not, I am close to it.
There is a bittersweetness to being here. The memories of being here with him. The memories of when life was more better. The memories of when our grandkids were little and spending time with us. The memories of when CR was still alive. It still amazes me to realize how memories can be both bitter … and sweet. And how very real the sounds, the sights, even the smells, can be of those memories. Sometimes the memories are like a soothing calming rain to a dry and parched ground … and sometimes, well, those same memories are like gut punches that literally take my breath away – but not in a good way!
This RV is a 2004 Forest River Wildcat. 5th wheel. It’s about 32’ – 34’ feet long. With one large slide in the living room area. I knew when I looked at it that it was not “perfect”, even for its age. But goodness! I did not realize the depths of neglect and abuse it had taken! Nor what it would take to make it more livable. Laughing as I write this, but there have been times (and probably will be many more yet) that laughing was not even the last thing on my mind!
I do not know the reasons for the abuse and neglect. Some of it was obviously from a very disturbed individual – as the pictures will attest to.
The price was such a good one that I just could not say “no” – especially when he took $2000 off the day we looked at it! Structurally, it is mostly sound. Thankfully! A few things that needed, or still need, attention. Cosmetically? Well, it’s not a total disaster 😉 But a LOT of work to be done. Some has been accomplished … and more will continue.
I am thankful for the RV.
Rick and I lived in our RV’s for about the last 15 years of our years together. I love the lifestyle. Course, I am finding out that things a LOT different now … simply because I am a woman alone, a widow, rather than married to the “jack of all trades”.
This is a challenge … and an adventure. I know that not everyone agrees with what I have done – either in buying it to live in, or in the way I have repaired & decorated it. But … this is mine. No one else is being asked to live in it. I sit here in the evenings and look around, and realize just how far I have come since that first walk thru before the decision was made to purchase. And yes, I am well pleased. Not content yet, lol – because there is much that still needs done.
My thoughts, ideas, dreams and hopes, tend to run a bit rampant at times. And my reality brings it all back into focus. But here I am. Full-time RV’ing once again. Living the “tiny” life, alone this time. Thankful for the years of doing this with Rick – as I remember the do’s, the don’ts, the can have’s, and the don’t even think about it’s!
Rick and I were always careful in choosing names. Whether for our children, our animals, our vehicles, or our homes. Think that comes from being Scottish (him) and Irish (me) as well as Native Americans (both of us). Names always held special meanings to us. So, in purchasing this RV, and working on it so much these last 2 weeks … I have thought and prayed about a name for this home of mine.
ASHA. Means Hope and Promise. It fits 😉
Oh, the new job?
I start working in the housekeeping department of Holiday Inn Express come Sunday morning. Changing sheets, dusting and cleaning. I met with the manager yesterday. She told me that I will have about 5 days of training to go thru – learning to clean to their standards and ways. She is going to work with me on the hours, so that I will not work more than about 25 hours per week.
I think about what that will be like. To have time in the mornings for my devotional moments, as well as a cup of coffee or two … not pack for overnight stays … just drive to work for a few hours - - and then come HOME. I know it will be strange to me. Lol. But I really think it will be one of the best stranges to happen!
What will it be like to not pour my whole life, soul, and time (as well as money) into a job? To actually have TIME OFF that is away from the work?
I thought about the last time I had such a job. When our kids were in grade-school. I worked for a time as a cook at the teacher’s daycare. About 20-25 hours a week. Went to work. Came home. Job done each day.
This will be a new challenge to me 😉
But one that I am looking forward to.
So, yes. Life changes. And sometimes the changes pile up on top of one another, and you cannot think straight, nor get a deep breath. Changes that take time to pick apart and work thru. Changes that require extra tears, more sleep, and finding a way to combat the loneliness and fears.
Thankful that there are Changes that seem cruel in the moment, but in the words of my son – “aren’t always a bad thing, Momma”.
Now, just to get Internet here so that I can post this to my blog! LOL
Time and care ...
Time gets away.
The hours tick minute by minute.
My life ?
There are hours that drag by, one slow heartbeat at a time.
Then, there are hours that somehow grow wings and fly with such force that is scares me at times.
Maybe it’s that way for all of us ... but lately, it seems either one extreme or the other for me.
And it’s like I either get so many things accomplished that it amazes me -
Or I am so far behind that I can only hang my head in shame and despair.
Where is that middle ground that is more comfortable to walk upon?
I got sick on January 1 ... and here on February 10 - I am still struggling with the lasting effects of bronchitis and sinus congestion.
The fatigue has hit me hard as well.
At times, taking what feels like ALL my strength and energy to just get up and walk across the room before needing a moment to catch my breath.
To say that I don’t like this is probably the understatement of the year!
Little by little though ... moment by moment ... better and better.
I am determined to be better
To do better
To feel better.
Not ready to give up yet 😉
Work is still ... work.
I love our Miss Lady with all my heart.
Waiting to see who the next resident will be - hoping it will be a good friend for her.
- I know that the isolation and loneliness wears on her.
She talks of memory times when her and friends would get together for a meal, or a game of cards.
I know she misses those times so much.
With the weather being cold, as well as nasty some days, it’s hard for her to get out and about.
The sun shining thru the windows gives an impression of warm and spring time ... but the reality is a brutal force of cold wind blowing more than not.
I think sometimes that only deepens the loneliness and isolation.
As well as watching out the window and seeing peoples walk on the sidewalks, or driving on the roads.
All bringing memories to the surface of the mind and heart of days long ago ... and some days not so long ago as well.
Or maybe ... that’s just me ?
Working 48 - 72 hrs at a stretch, with no breaks in those hours, are getting to me more than I want them to.
It’s a lonely job.
It’s a job of isolation.
Yes, we watch movies and TV shows
Yes, we talk and we laugh
Yes, we listen to stories from one another.
But ... there is a growing restlessness within me.
Some on the days that I work ... but more on the off days.
When I don’t work.
When I sit here at the cottage - because so often when I am off, those that I would spend time with are working, busy with life schedules.
Factor in the exhaustion from being sick ... and being a caregiver = the total lack of energy and motivation to get up, get dressed, and go find someone to hang out with, or even something to do.
I know that caregiving is a much needed job.
It is mostly a thankless job.
Whether you are family or friend, or paid for the work.
It takes more out than what is replaced.
It means long hours, empty nights, tired bodies and exhausted emotions.
You lose social contacts - even social media contacts
You basically give up all forms of a “normal” life
The rate of burn-out is high.
And yes, I know that I am quickly approaching that burn-out phase.
I have been caregiving most of my life.
I started helping with Daddy and Momma when I was about 7 years old.
- that was the first year I remember doing anything more than my child chores.
Then, I married at 19.
- and for almost 35 years, I was Rick’s caregiver ... as much as he was mine.
- until the last 3 years of his life, when I became the 24/7 caregiver for him.
2 kids who made me a Momma - caregiver
Grandkids who came after those kids grew up and started their own families.
Years of working in the churches as youth ministers, deacon’s wife, associate’s pastor’s wife, pastor’s wife.
Many hours of caregiving going on in those years.
Helping with my Momma as her health declined.
Helping some with Rick’s family members in those years.
After Rick died, I worked as a caregiver to a friend whose granddaughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
And then, now ... working in this position at a resident home.
No regrets in giving of myself.
No sorrow in being a caregiver all these years.
The memories are held as treasures to my heart.
The stories I could tell 😉 ... I have, and I will yet more.
As it has been said many times by many authorities -
The caregivers suffer the most.
We give up a lot
We lose more.
People, even our families and friends, do not understand our level of devotion and care.
We hear that we do what we do for attention to ourselves
Or that we are nothing short of a martyr.
We are told that if we would only walk away, someone else would step in and take care
- perhaps they would ...
- but what if they don’t?
Just this week I read a story from CNN about a woman found sitting in her chair, 2 YEARS after she died.
How does this happen?
Because those in her life thought someone else was checking in on her, and promising themselves that they would soon.
Now, it is too late.
I have always known that I could not take care of everyone ... but those I could, I would.
But, we don’t take care of ourselves the way we should, while we are taking care of others -
Time does not often allow us to take care of our own selves, especially when those that can - do not step up, and in, to help
We put others always before ourselves
We will not allow our care - be it family, friend, or paying client - to suffer, or to be neglected.
We go without proper diet and nutrition
We go without proper activity - physical, mental and emotional
We do not take enough steps away to really even rest.
We let ourselves go -
For the good of those that we care for.
Or so it seems.
What we don’t realize, until it is either too late - or almost too late, making us question our sanity, and our abilities - is that we are emptying ourselves out
And if we don’t fill ourselves back up?
We are going to be empty
And basically, good for no one.
It’s getting close to that time for me to step away, or at least step into a different form of caregiving.
In all these years of my life - almost 61 now - I have poured myself out
To my family
To a job
Seldom asking much for me
Rarely spending much time or money on me
- and when I do, knowing that guilt for doing so
While Rick was alive, he would step in at times and say “Enough, it’s time for YOU!”
But in these years since Rick died, there is no one to take that step forward,
No one to intervene
No one to intercede.
So, here I sit, greatly feeling the heat of burn-out
Smelling the fires
Looking down and seeing some ashes about me.
That time is now ... before it is too late
That time of me.
That time for me.
To give some intense care to me.
I’ve been struggling with this idea and concept for the last 2 years, at least.
Trying to do so more and more ... and yet, feeling like it is more fail than victory.
You know, where you feel like you take 2 steps forward and like 100 back!
I have been working on reading more -
I used to be a voracious reader ...
In the last couple of weeks, I have finished one book that I was struggling with reading for at least 3 months, and then read 2 more!
Oh how I have missed reading!
I am determined not to miss it any more!!!
These 2 books that I have read, oh my!
Not just a good story -
But so much wisdom, clarity and insight that both of them gave to my heart and soul.
Talk about confirmations!!!
I will share more about that in coming blogs ;)
Also watching movies that for the most part, I have seen many times before -
But this time in watching them,
Really WATCH them,
LISTEN to the words that are said,
PAY ATTENTION to more details.
Again, I will share more about this in coming blogs ;)
I am realizing that while there is a lot of fight left in me,
There is also a lot of love left in me.
And of course, there are the fears,
The questions of can I do that? Can I be that?
I keep hearing Reba’s song, Is There Life Out There. .
I’ve done what I should
Should I do what I dare?
Being sick ... well, it sucks!
After several months of working long, hard and stress-filled hours ... my body became immunity compromised.
I could feel the attack coming on.
Knew it was coming.
Just didn't know when it would strike, or from what direction.
Made it thru the holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even New Year's.
New Year's Day.
That afternoon I took a hot shower, put on clean night clothes, and since I was feeling very tired - decided to call it an early night.
About 5:30'ish p.m. I settled down under my blankie and turned on The Reba Show.
Did not take long for the sleepies to take me under completely.
I woke up sometime during the night with a stomach raging against me.
For the next 48 hrs or so, I was held in the grip of a nasty stomach flu.
Most of that Sunday was spent in the recliner, literally cuddling with a heating pad on my belly.
The room temp was 72*, but I was freezing with fever and chills.
The only time I crawled out from under my blankie and heating pad was to inch my way to the bathroom and back.
Monday came with time to clock in at work for 48 hrs straight shift.
I managed. Slowly. Easily. Doing what was absolutely required, nothing more, nothing extra.
Sprite became my bestest friend. Sipping slowly to keep the nausea at bay.
Wearing a mask was most unpleasant, but was necessary to at least try and keep my germies from the ladies.
I endured the 48 hours.
Finally Wednesday morning 7 a.m. came, and my other caregiver came to relieve me.
I came back to the cottage, took a hot shower and decided I needed a couple cups of coffee please.
Thinking I was just tired and run down from the stomach flu and working 48 hrs straight, I curled up in the recliner after my coffee and promptly took a sweet nap.
Only when I woke up a couple of hours later, I was SICK.
Headache. Fever. Chills. Earache from some dark netherworld. Hard to swallow. A pain in my upper left bronchial tubes. And a cough that was beginning to sound hacky.
I took some cold and flu meds ... curled back under my blankie, again reaching for my heating pad.
Up and down thru the night. Couldn't rest. Couldn't sleep.
The next morning, Thursday, I called my insurance company to see if they would cover the local urgent care clinic. Yes!!!
Next call was to the clinic. She said to come on in, that they were not very busy at the moment.
The sweetest dr came in and examined me. She asked a few questions. Then said:
: You have a double severe ear infection. Left ear is so swollen it has sunk in. And the right ear is so infected, it is bulging out.
: You have a severe case of allergies, that has now gone down into your bronchial tubes. Your lower lungs sound good, but I am concerned about either bronchitis or viral pneumonia trying to get set up.
: Since you had the stomach flu, it has most likely compromised your immunity even more than the long, hard and stress filled hours at work that you have told me about.
: And, I cannot be positive without the blood test that is not recommended at this time, but I am almost positive that you have the Omicron variant of Covid 19.
She prescribed antibiotics and prednisone.
Told me to NOT lay down, no more than a 45* angle.
To get up and walk around at least once every 1-2 hrs.
Drink lots and lots and lots - water, juices, coffee, sodas.
Eat when hungry, but eat light.
Stay away from people.
No work for 5 days.
So ... for 6 days, the recliner had my butt being held. My blankie and heating pad got a major work out.
And I drank enough liquid to float the Ark!
I put movies in the player to watch ... and went to sleep on each one, I'm pretty sure.
I don't remember them, except knowing that I have seen them so many times before.
This past Tuesday I began to feel a bit stronger.
Good thing - cause I had to work Wednesday and Thursday, another 48 hr straight shift.
Again, I took it slow and easy. Doing what needed done, without doing much else.
One of our ladies had been moved to a rehab unit for intensive therapy. Leaving me with only one precious lady.
Sadly, she had just tested positive for Covid and strep throat. So we kept our distance, while working thru the discomforts.
Yesterday afternoon I started feeling better. Not good - but better. I think my fever was finally breaking - I could not stop sweating!
She also started feeling better yesterday afternoon. She woke up early this morning, with a "wild hair" she said. LOL It was so good to see her up and about at 6:35 a.m.!!!
I am still coughing, a choking congested cough - but thankfully, there is production in it. Nasty production - but still! As Rick would say, "More room out than in!"
My head hurts, but not the raging headache as last weekend was.
My right ear has little pain in it. The left ear is not so good. Still a lot of pain and pressure there.
I sat there yesterday afternoon making my notes for work, wrote that it was 1/13/2022 ... and just stared at the date. How in the world has 13 days gone by already? That's what being sick will do - steal away the time!!!
I am to finish up the antibiotics come this Tuesday morning. Hoping that this ear issue will be resolved by then!
Back on my vitamins, and supplements, to build immunity.
Still drinking much water, and juices.
Trying to focus on proteins when I eat.
It's not easy to get well. Just saying.
But better than being sick!
I would not wish this on a worst enemy!!!
It's been a while ... too long.
It’s been a while.
Too long a while.
How are you doing?
Every day you are on my mind, in my thoughts.
Every morning and every night I say a prayer that God will watch over you and keep you safe from all harm, and that He will bless you.
I miss being here with you.
I miss sharing my heart.
I miss wondering what you think about what I’ve written.
Life is crazy. Hectic. And just plain messy.
Too much of the time.
My soul is not happy lately.
Actually, my soul has been (and to some degree continues to be) downcast within me.
What does downcast mean?
: low in spirit
: an old English shepherd’s term that means a sheep has turned over on its back and cannot get up again by itself.
This also makes me think of a turtle on its back, legs flailing, a look of terror and hopelessness in its eyes.
Either the definition used for a sheep, or a turtle, would fit me lately.
But then, so would the dictionary definitions/synonyms of down-cast.
Every morning I sit here at my computer, with my journal and Bible at hand.
I pray. I read the Word. I give thanks to the Great Shepherd, our Father. God.
I recognize my blessings. Counting many of them every morning. As well as thru the day.
Singing songs of thanksgiving and praise.
Listening to calming piano music.
Trying hard to focus on the present moment, moment by moment.
My soul has become downcast within me.
The holidays are harder this year than what they’ve been since Rick died.
Even that first holiday season wasn’t this hard.
Oh, there were more tears that first year than this year.
But, then again, maybe not.
This year, this 7th holiday season without Rick - the numbness is gone.
All I feel is emptiness.
And the realization everywhere I look, everything I hear - Rick is not here. He’s not coming back.
This is NOT a bad dream that I am ever going to wake up from. (Even if it is a nightmare to live!)
Adding to that, this is the first Christmas in about 13 or 14 years without CR.
That weighs heavy on my heart, just from a Grannee’s perspective.
But that heaviness does not even begin to compare with the heaviness I feel as a Momma to my son and daughter in love, or what I feel as a Grannee to my other grandchildren - as they miss his presence. As just the mention of his name brings a tear to the eye, a catch to the breathing. And I know this. I know what grief does to a person. I know it all too well.
- I never wanted my kids and grandkids to know this kind of pain and grief. But they do. And all I can do is listen, then cry out to God to help them.
So, yes, the tears fall hot and heavy, sticky on the cheeks, with the pain of loss, the remembrance of love shared, the laughter of the years, the emptiness of today.
The work has become increasingly more demanding.
From the chart recording notes to the time needed with one of the clients.
From the more involved cooking to the deeper cleaning that is being required.
Which also means that one of the “easier” clients is being neglected and it hurts the heart to see the loneliness grow on her face, and hear the sadness in her words.
Add to that a schedule that is (in the words of a dear friend who was a nurse once upon a time) - insane and impossible!
84 hours every 7 days to work.
Not one 24 hr period of being completely away from work.
In, or out, of the resident house every day ... 7 days a week.
I gave my opinion of the schedule, before it was ever published to be worked.
I told her it would not work for my body, for my life.
- not setting myself up for defeat.
But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to THINK about my life, my body, and consider what this schedule would mean, or take away.
Ever since Rick died, my kids and grandkids have become that anchor for my life.
That part of my life that makes me take a deep breath, and centers my thoughts, my emotions.
I see them as Rick’s legacy, and yes, as mine, too.
But this latest schedule has taken me farther from my children and grandchildren than when I lived and worked in Kentucky!
I just can’t anymore.
So, this past Sunday, after much prayer and thought, I sat here at the computer, and I typed out a letter of resignation.
As well as a letter of explanation, to be given if the discussion became “Why? Why are you leaving?”
Today was the day that I was going to print them off, and give them to boss-lady.
And then, yesterday.
I was told that the company and/or family is hiring a separate caregiver for this one client who has become so challenging. Which if they follow thru, will relieve a great amount of stress in the home, for all!
Then, in talking with the other caregiver who works when I am off, the schedule came into the conversation.
Come to find out, she’s as unhappy with it as I am!
So, we talked, I cried.
I told her that I can’t do this anymore.
And that I am seriously thinking about quitting.
She teared, and begged me not to.
She asked me to just hold on a little while longer, in hopes that things will be better - SOON.
3.Then, I received an email from Rick’s aunt - or is she mine? Telling me that she is praying daily for me, but that she would encourage me to wait on the Lord, just to see what He would do for me. No knee jerk reactions. I had only told her that the job was stressful, and that my heart is aching for an RV. It has been a while since we had chatted or talked, mainly due to my job schedule, as well as my soul being downcast.
So, why yesterday? Why send me this message yesterday? A God-thing.
2. Over the weekend, when I was talking about all this with my daughter, she encouraged me to make sure I have all my ducks in a row, all the “i’s” dotted, all the “t’s” crossed. No knee jerk reactions. As hard as it will be to just wait, just wait.
1. Several days ago, during a long conversation with my son, he said he absolutely understood about my frustrations, and he was frustrated for me. He had tears wanting to fix everything for me. But knowing he could not. He also encouraged me to wait. To think. To pray. And to consider carefully before making a knee jerk reaction.
And then, there are so many memes that have come to me seemingly out of nowhere ...
- one in particular sent to me by my son. A yellow sign with the words “NO Time Off Requests will be accepted from November 20, 2021 until January 2, 2022.” It was these words that are almost a mirror of what was sent out by our boss-lady a few weeks ago. It is not these words that struck the chord within me. But the words that the one who originally shared this sign said, (borrowed from Facebook) - “OOF. here’s the thing: your employees do not owe you every waking minute of every day. you are not entitled to all of their time because you are their employer. this is why the term “requesting off” annoys me so much. I am not making a request. I am notifying YOU that I am not available to work those days. the reason for my day(s) off doesn’t matter, my job is not my entire life. If I want to take days off and spend my hard-earned money in order to have a gratifying, joyful existence then that’s what I’m going to do. The end.”
As well as the devotional pages I have read lately ...
The words of a song ...
Words spoken on an old sitcom ...
And I guess the most telling?
This quote that I “happened upon” the other day.
“I counted my years and discovered that I have less time to live from here on out than what I have lived until now.
I feel like that kid who won a pack of sweets: the first ones ate them with pleasure, but when he realized there were few left he began to taste them intensely.
I no longer have time for endless meetings where statute, rules, procedures and internal regulations are discussed, knowing that nothing will be achieved.
I no longer have time to support people who, despite their chronic age, haven't grown up.
My time is too short: I want the essence, my soul is in a hurry.
I don't have many sweets in the package anymore.
I want to live next to human, very humane people, who know how to laugh at their mistakes and who are not inflated by their triumphs and who take on their own responsibilities.
This is how you defend human dignity and move towards truth and honesty.
It’s the essential that makes life worth living.
I want to surround myself with people who know how to touch hearts, people who have been taught to grow up with gentle touches of their soul.
Yes, I'm in a hurry, I'm rushing to live with the intensity that only maturity can give.
I don't mean to waste any of the leftover sweets.
I'm sure these will be delicious, a lot more than the ones I've eaten so far.
My goal is to reach a satisfied and peaceful end with my loved ones and my conscience."
~ Mario of Andrade
Mario of Andrade was a Brazilian poet.
Lived from 1893 - 1945.
He did not know me.
I did not know of him until just a few days ago.
He had no way of knowing that these words are the EXACT cries of my heart and soul this December month of 2021.
Ever since I read these words, I have thought about them, shared them, prayed them.
I have decided that as soon as I can, I am going to have them printed and framed - so very worthy of that!
Anyway, given all these signs and confirmations -
I know that I will be leaving this job.
I just don’t know when.
There’s more to life than this for me.
I am so thankful for those who are called to do this long term. It is a much needed care facility.
But for me?
The isolation, the loneliness, the stress ... it’s more than I can handle.
And yes, I realize how shallow and weak that makes me sound.
But then, not everyone can build a road.
Nor can everyone drive a tractor and be hours upon hours in an empty and isolated field.
Not everyone can scale the heights to build the buildings and bridges.
Not everyone can bear the heat of a burning home to rush in and save a life.
Not everyone can put their hands inside a person to perform surgery that will add quality and quantity to a family.
We are all called to something.
We all have someone to reach out to.
We all have a purpose.
We all have a direction for our life.
I sit back and wonder at my daughter, the teacher. All that she does to reach out to these children who are challenged in so many ways. The way she interacts with parents and other educators. The way she advocates for these children who deserve just as much a chance at learning and growing as anyone else does. Doing a work that I cannot do. Doing a work where my passions are not. Doing work that I appreciate and honor her for doing.
I also sit back and wonder at my son and daughter in love. All that they do in working with cattle and horses. Dealing with the extreme weather conditions - be it floods, droughts, hail, tornadoes, 115*, or -10*. So that others can eat. Doing work that I cannot do. Doing work that I have no passion to do. Doing work that although I appreciate in them, it’s not my life.
And the list goes on.
Law officers. Firefighters. EMT’s.
Linemen. Tow truck operators.
Helicopter pilots and crews.
On and on and on ...
Work that we would all suffer from if someone didn’t do it.
But work that I either have no skill at doing, or no passion to learn.
I have been a caregiver for most of my life.
Few people know how that I became a caregiver when I was around 7 years old.
To my daddy and my momma. Behind closed doors, where no one saw, no one heard.
In ways that a child should never have to do.
But I did. I handled it.
Then thru the years of being a wife, a Momma, and a Grannee.
First a deacon’s wife, then a pastor’s wife - and all the caregiving that goes along with those positions.
As my Momma grew older.
As Rick’s grandmother grew older.
As others in the family needed care.
No, I wasn’t always there 24/7 with these. But some, I was - at least on occasion.
Then, when Rick’s health began to decline.
I was there 24/7.
If he went somewhere, so did I - and that often was even in the private times of bathroom breaks.
Giving him care until that last breath he took, when my hand was on his chest, and I had turned my head for 3 seconds just to look for his water bottle.
Then, in a time of searching for me, for direction and purpose for my life as a widow, I found myself in the home of a friend who was raising a granddaughter.
That granddaughter became a Type 1 Diabetes warrior. And in the course of those first 2 years, I found myself as a caregiver yet again.
Followed by a couple years to re-group, focus more on “me” ...
And here I am again.
Thought I could do this. And I can.
Thought it was the right job for me. It’s not.
I will pass the torch to someone more passionate in the coming months.
Where will I go?
What will I do?
I have thoughts, ideas, hopes and dreams.
What will come of those?
Time will tell.
Every day I am praying that God will go before me, that He will open doors that no one can close, as well as close doors that no one can open.
God and I have a unique relationship.
I know that some do not, will never, approve. But you know what? They don’t have to!
This is our relationship, not yours, not anyone else’s.
I’ve learned a lot about God in these last few years.
He’s still showing me Himself.
He’s still bringing me around to His way of thinking.
God is so much more than I ever thought He was!
God is so much more than I was ever taught Him to be!
There’s so much more to life than being downcast.
And I’m ready to be gotten up.
But that’s the thing.
If you are truly downcast?
You cannot pick yourself up.
You cannot right yourself.
You need someone to come in and rescue you.
Turn you over.
Rub life back into your legs.
Spat you on the butt and let you bound away in freedom!
And then, it’s up to you to stay upright!
To do those things that keep you upright so that your soul does not become downcast again.
Someone once said, “If you can’t runaway to a cabin in the woods right now, start small.”
And they went on to give examples of “starting small”.
Those words resonated within me when I read them.
I’ve been waiting for a “cabin in the woods” -
I realize that now. But it’s not here right now. I can’t get there from HERE. Not yet.
So I have to keep on waiting.
But in the meantime,
While I am waiting -
I will fight for moments of peace in the midst of the crazy! I can do that!
I will start small.
A cup of coffee.
A sunset to watch.
Turn off my phone.
Read a book.
Take a long hot shower.
Go for a drive and blast some great music.
Play a game, be it on my phone, or a board game with others.
Listen to laughter.
Watch a good movie that I know by heart, all over again - like it’s the first time I’ve ever seen it.
Eat a good meal.
Drink a glass of sweet wine.
I will fight for moments of Peace in a world and life of crazy!
I can do that!!!
I will do that!!!
No excuses ... just life.
I know it’s been a while since I have written anything here.
I could give a litany of reasons and / or excuses.
But will suffice it to say that I have not had the interest to do so.
Oh, the thought has been in the back of my mind, probably every day since I last wrote.
3 months ago, today.
However, the lack of desire, the lack of inspiration and encouragement ...
And me just allowing life to overwhelm me -
Well, I haven’t written.
Life is dark at times, and not just because the time changes.
Been going thru a lot of storms, struggles, stumblings and stresses.
Very much feeling like failing tests I didn’t study for - because I didn’t know there was any lessons!
Part of this time has been spent in a fog.
A thick, pea-soup kind of fog.
Where the motions of day to day life was about all I could handle.
Getting from one moment to the next and finding myself on the edge of exhaustion at all times of the days and nights.
Sometimes, life is simply heavy.
This has been one of those sometimes.
I’ve spent some time feeling much like a failure, that I have let God down, disappointed Him beyond what I can say.
The song by Casting Crowns about getting from the altar to the door ... yeah, that one.
And there have been times of feeling pretty much the same towards my kids and grandkids.
That I have let them down.
That I have disappointed them.
That it is better for me to stay away than to be a burden to them.
It’s hard to explain -
But everything has taken more effort and energy than what I’ve actually had.
I love the ladies that I give care to, but ... work has become a burden of epic proportions.
Not easy to admit to.
Not something I want to admit.
But it is - as Rick would say - what it is.
Work has been a crazy time of schedules not being regular.
Doing the 24 hrs at a time, from 2-4 days in a row?
That’s hard for this old woman that I am quickly becoming.
As well as having worked at the other resident house for over a month.
Doing my hardest to help the ladies deal with their health issues, while struggling with my own.
Feeling, more often than not, that I need to be in a resident house - as a client!
Instead of a caregiver.
The kids and grandkids.
Time with my daughter has been non-existent since the first weekend in July.
Her schedule, my schedule, and then my truck “issues” - where the truck was back in the shop, costing me $3000, and of course, leaving me short on fuel $$$ to make the travel to see her.
Thankful for the messaging, for Facebook, for Snapchat.
But ... there comes a time when all those things fall short on me, though, and I find myself needing some MOMMA time with her!
Time with my son has been at best, spurts.
A moment here or there - when he was bringing my truck back to me, or picking me up from leaving it at the shop yet again.
A moment where they stopped by the cottage, or resident house.
A moment here or there when my truck was working, that I drove out to their house - picking up a package or the mail, getting a quick hug or two.
Again, thankful for those moments, as well as for a working phone - - but craving, yearning, NEEDING some MOMMA time!
I am thankful for a place to keep my things.
I am thankful that it comes with the job, thereby saving me on rent and utilities.
However, the small size of it has really been pricking my mind and heart lately.
- It’s basically a bedroom and a bathroom. No kitchen. No separate living area & bedroom area.
2 or 3 people in here and it is a full house!
It's a full house just with me - turning around twice!
- so the thought of gathering with the kids and grandkids here? Out of the question.
- I think because it is the holidays, I am already missing the cooking and baking. The frig being so small I do not have room to actually “buy groceries”, nor to even store groceries to take anywhere for the cooking there ... nor to keep leftovers, if I did figure out a way to cook! I only have a microwave and a toaster oven - so any “cooking” is out of the question anyway.
But the reality of life in this cottage does not take away the aching and missing of cooking!
Going thru a few things here and there at the cottage, what time I haven’t been working, or resting after working.
"STUFF” has lost a lot of meaning to me lately.
It’s just fillers - taking up space, making the cottage not look so empty.
And yet, it shocks me just how empty the cottage is - even with the “stuff”.
As the holidays approach, how is it that they seem to be coming faster this year?
- And, how is it that these 7th holidays without Rick are hurting my heart just as much, perhaps even more, than the first holidays did?
My schedule at work, as it sits now, has me working Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve, as well as New Year’s Day.
- Maybe in some ways that will be better. Keep me busy thru those days - when families and friends are gathering ... and here I am alone.
- Maybe with me working, it will allow someone else who has family and friends to spend it with them.
- Doesn’t mean that I am excited about working all the holidays.
I sit here and look around at this cottage and realize that even if I had a reason to put up a Christmas tree, there is no place for one.
- What would be my reason to put one up this year anyway?
Rambling thoughts about the holidays.
Bittersweet memories of years gone by - decorating, baking, shopping ... sigh.
So, yes, I have thought about writing a blog post.
But with all this heaviness and darkness upon me, and about me, it’s been a hard thing to do.
I promised Rick that I would write.
Good days, or bad.
That I would be brutally honest.
That I would remain outside of my comfort zone with my writings.
Not going for warm fuzzies ... but for honesty.
And that promise of honesty that I made to Rick -
Is why I write these words today.
After so long a time.
God is Faithful.
He never changes.
Life is heavy.
Darkness is thick.
And I find that I am -
Wondering how this day will turn out
Wondering if life will ever be better than this.
Life is a see-saw
How in the world has it been 2 weeks since I last wrote here?
With all that has gone on, surely it has been longer than that?
And yet, where did these 2 weeks go?
Life is a very wicked see-saw! Just saying.
Not a smooth ride at all.
One moment we are up soaring with the eagles, and the very next heartbeat we come crashing down so hard that we are jarred to the very core of our beings.
Life. It just IS.
We have a new to us lady here at the resident home.
Sweet lady, but at the present time, quite a handful.
I wonder if she will calm down and settle into a routine of sorts, or if this is just her standard of living?
Only time will tell.
For now, my responsibility is to love her, care for her, and do what I can to help her - even when she doesn't want my help.
Just to be there for her, but even in that, not to be "there" too much - because she does need to learn a measure of independence that she is lacking in.
So, there's that see-saw.
I have prayed harder in the last few days than I have prayed in a very long time.
And cried more tears than I could have imagined.
My oldest grandson is our Marine.
Since February when he left port, we have been able to hear from him - not all the time, but with a little regularity. Just to hear that he's ok, that things are good. To tell him that we love him, and miss him. To hear and read his words that he loves us and misses us, too.
And then, this administration decided to withdraw from Afghanistan. And deployed almost 7,000 troops to help in that withdrawal.
Yes, my grandson was one of those.
And while I have prayed every day for him since he left for basic training a little over a year ago, the prayers intensified with this news.
Prayers and tears were sent heavenward.
And as Moses got tired in the battle of holding his arms up, so he called for those beside him to hold them up for the victory - I have called many times on my friends and families to help me pray. Not only for the safety and welfare of my grandson, but of all those who are deployed, the almost 7,000 with anxious waiting family and friends.
Then, the nightmare began in earnest on this past Thursday. Suicide bombings, and 13 of our babies were lost. 13 knocks on the doors came within 8 hours. 13 lives gone. 13 heart beats stilled. 13 families whose tomorrows are forever altered.
While I thanked God that my grandson was not among that number, and thanked God that there were no knocks on the doors for our family ... there was the gut-wrenching ache and grief for those who were having to answer the doors, see the men in uniform, and knowing what it all meant.
And the fear.
Such fear as I have not known in years. Fear for my grandson, because he is still there. And we have no idea what the day will bring. Each day it is like I hold my breath for every news cast, for every written report coming out of that area. And each night when I lay down to sleep, I am held awake with the darkness of not knowing. Fear for my daughter, his precious Momma. As she waits anxiously for a message from him. As she fights back her fears, and holds in check her tears. Fear for my granddaughter, his sister. As the missing him mingles with pride for his service. As she sees the same newscasts that I see. Fear for my son, his wife, and my grandchildren there.
I know the Bible says 365 times "Do not be afraid" or "Fear not" ... but the one verse that is flashing neon to me, a beacon in all of this darkness - "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." Psalm 56:3
When. What a treasured word to me right now.
When. No judgment. No criticism. No fault at being afraid.
And here's the see-saw.
So, here I sit on a still and quiet Sunday afternoon, hot as blazes outside, an oppressive heat.
But no hotter outside than in my soul.
So hot within me that I swear there must be blisters on my heart.
I wrote in my journal this morning that I am on overload.
I know no other word that so aptly describes how I feel on this afternoon.
The wildfires that rage across our nation.
All this that is Covid related.
The conspiracy theories that make me think of someone snatching out of the thin air something that somehow sounds plausible to them in that moment, and they run with it. People that at any other time would be rational and filled with common sense being sucked into a vacuum of thoughts, ideas, and far-fetched imaginations. All fueled by the media in one way or another.
Hurricane Ida coming ashore even as I write these words. Thousands of people unable to get out of the path of this Cat 4 hurricane.
Afghanistan. Almost 7,000 troops stationed there. 2 days left to the time given to get our people out.
The truckers are threatening a strike beginning on Tuesday in protest of Covid related mandates.
And the list goes on.
But then, there are the restaurants that are setting aside a table with 13 drinks, a folded flag, and other objects in honor of the 13 who will never sit at a table again.
People who are reaching out in love and in kindness to those in need around them.
Teachers who are loving on their students because we are living in such a turmoil filled world.
Strangers reaching out with a helping hand to put gas in an elderly woman's car, and then help her get back in the car.
Strangers paying for meals of those in cars behind them at the drive-thru's.
And again, the see-saw shows up.
I find these days there are things that I once deemed too important to live without, can be lived without.
And there are those things which used to irritate me that no longer do.
So many things, I just don't care anymore.
I don't care.
However, things that I once was able to overlook and simply look away from?
I can't anymore. Such as rude behavior.
I no longer care if you tell me that 1+1 = 5 ... I will say, "you go you!"
I don't care.
It's more urgent now to tell someone "job well done", or "you are so loved".
I absolutely crave the voices of my children and grandchildren.
But the noises of the world hold so much less than they ever have for me.
So one more time, the see-saw rears it's ugly head.
These are a few of the truths that I am living these days.
Some go deeper.
A few are surface only.
I pray more, but they are gut wrenching prayers.
When I laugh, I realize now that I actually mean those laughs, it's not nervous laughter any more.
I weigh my words more carefully.
Not because I am afraid of what anyone thinks of me -
but I know all too well how easy it is for words to be taken wrong and out of context ... and to hurt like hell when they are.
I'm enjoying my coffee more ... savoring the sips -
I listen more intently to the birds singing -
I watch the sunlight filtering thru the trees -
I truly try to pay attention to where I am, and to the things my eyes see.
I seldom listen to music that has lyrics, opting for piano worship music softly playing.
Rarely do I watch TV or movies, unless they are the old ones, like "I Love Lucy", "Andy Griffith", a John Wayne western, something that if I go to sleep on I don't have to worry about language and subject content seeping into my subconscious.
And yes, if I go to sleep while watching something? I sleep! It's usually the only real sleep and rest I get.
See-saws are not so fun as an adult.
I sit here with only about 13 hours before starting a 48 hour straight shift, and I wonder if these things will ever change?
Or has this become the new normal for my life?
Is there "normal" any more?
I will end this day with a hot shower, probably a margarita, and some tears as I pray over our children and our grandchildren, and say an extra prayer of pleading for our Marine.
Life on the see-saws.
Time to catch up
What a month it has been.
The day after I posted the last blog, was the beginning of the whirlwind.
Our Alzheimer's Lady was no better, and just progressively got worse.
A flurry of activity all around her, nurses, caregivers, family.
She became more than I could handle on my own.
The boss lady came at my calls time after time, to help get our Lady up, to the potty, and back in bed.
After that weekend, it was decided to hire another caregiver to be there at all times, round the clock - so that the primary caregiver could administer medications, and care for the other Lady as well as cook and clean.
In the midst of this severe progression down, our other primary caregiver was exposed to Covid, and placed in isolation for 10 days, with testing and while waiting on results. Which left me alone to know the medication schedule for our Alzheimer's Lady.
12 days has 288 hours.
In the 12 days after my last blog, I worked 247 hours. Round the clock, without time to step away outside.
To say that I was exhausted is probably THE understatement of my life!
The family decided Aug 6 to move our Alzheimer's Lady to an Alzheimer's unit facility - in hopes that they would be able to work with her in a way that we could not.
Sadly, she passed away a week later.
My heart was/and is broken.
In the 2 months that I had been with her so much, I had become quite attached to her, and her to me as well.
I will treasure her memory and the times that we spent together.
Yes, there were a lot of moments of frustration for both of us - but a lot of love and care between us, too.
I will miss Miss Lady.
The weekend after she left, I was required to work due to the other caregiver having been exposed.
Granted, it was an easier weekend, but still I was already exhausted! And keyed up to the point that I did not sleep, did not rest.
When our other primary caregiver was released from isolation, testing negative - thank You Lord! - and came back to work, I was given 5 days off due to scheduling changes.
In those first 5 days, I did little but try to distance myself from the job, and pray.
In the words of my momma, "I was too tired to sleep".
I really tried.
But in those 5 days, my sleep was mostly a couple of hours here and there.
I was just too grief stricken to think, or to rest.
In the first 5 days off, one of my best friends - of 45 years - died.
I cried a river of tears that day.
Still easy to feel the tears welling up inside my heart when I think about him.
I will always remember his love, his support, his sweet words of encouragement.
And I will forever treasure the way he made me smile after Rick died, when I didn't think I would ever truly smile again.
Thank You Gary - for being a friend. I love you - to the "moon" and back ;)
Not sure what it was about Gary's death, but it was like every death I had endured over the last 15 years of my life all happened again in that moment when I was told that Gary had died.
Maybe because in so many ways, he was my memory keeper of all those deaths.
He had been the solid one all those times, telling me to "hold on girl, it'll be ok", or "I'm praying for you girl, you know I am", and then his ever present phone call or message - "It's me again, Margaret! You ok, girl?"
And his "you ok, girl?" was a REAL question.
Not just a passing nicety of hello.
He REALLY wanted to know.
And I was REALLY honest with him.
The one person I always knew I could trust.
I wrote on Facebook the words that scream in my heart and mind: "Gary, how am I supposed to do this widow's life without YOU?"
Then, I was on schedule to work 2 days.
And another 5 days off - with the office trying to get the 2 primary caregivers back on schedule.
Today is my last of the 2nd set of 5 days off.
I still do not feel completely distanced yet.
Nor do I feel completely rested.
Today is Gary's funeral, that final good bye here upon this earth.
I will forever miss my friend.
Yes, there are tears again today.
I suppose some would say they are selfish tears.
I know the platitudes - "he's in a better place".
But for now, I am not.
My tears are drops of love and care - I love you Gary.
Tell that husband of mine how much I love him for me, would you do that?
Oh, and in this last month, my truck has had a squeak get progressively worse.
Finally got it into the shop to see what it was going to cost to fix the AC - too hot in Texas to be without one!
And to have them find the squeak.
$300 to fix the AC.
Another $2500 to fix the squeak.
- tie rod ends, hubs, brake pads, brakes, sway bar links, and only the mechanic knows what else!
But now, the truck is out of the shop ...
Parts are paid for.
Working on paying out the labor.
Thank you, William for allowing me to do this.
Returning to the "schedule" tomorrow.
At least for now.
The other resident house, where I began this journey, is going thru caregiver changes the end of this month.
Boss Lady says that due to how good I was with those ladies there, she is moving me back over there - unless by some miracle something happens, or doors are opened for someone to step in.
My heart is torn ... I really want to stay here with Miss V - she's so much like the grandmother I never had!
And selfishly? I have not had enough time with HER!
Lord, my life and the times of my life are not my own.
YOU are in control.
Not a Boss Lady. Not a schedule.
YOU are in control.
Do with me as You will ... where and when as You will.
Please, help me just breathe.
Trusting in Jesus. It's truly all I can do.
My heart and mind dream of having an RV.
Regardless of whether I continue working as a caregiver,
or if I go into the work camping experience as a widow.
I think about having an RV of my own - my own personal space to do with as I want to.
Lord, I wonder what Your plans for me are.
All I can do is continue to pray, and trust You.
Then work for what I am praying for.
Please, guide me in this life.
Lord, move in my life - or move me.
in Jesus' Name I pray, asking.
Well, that's a quick outline of this last 3 weeks or so.
I will try to so some fill-in's as this week goes -
Hopefully life has calmed and will be quiet for a few days.
Thursday morning coffee thoughts:
My one day off this week ... facing a 3 day work weekend beginning tomorrow.
I truly do care about these ladies that I help.
However, I feel so very limited in my abilities ... and in my capabilities.
My one hope and constant thought has become - His Grace is sufficient. His Grace is enough.
When working 24 hour shifts, that are 2 and 3 back to back - the body, the mind, the heart, and the soul, get weary and worn.
And from this past Monday until next Monday morning at 7 a.m. I will have worked 125 hours.
That's just hard on this old body and heart of mine.
Even when things are going good ...
- but when things aren't so good - yeah, it takes a greater toll.
I know that money is not everything. And it isn't supposed to be the entire reason for working.
But ... it's a struggle not to think right now about $$$.
I am working on a small monthly salary + this cottage (which is the size of a master bedroom with a bathroom).
When I hired on, I told my boss that I was more than willing to do all that I could
- but I did not want to work more than about 30 - 35 hours in a week's time.
And no matter how I try to pencil whip these hours ...
- 125 hours is MORE than I want to work ...
- more than I can honestly work.
Lord, please, move in my life ...
- - or move me.
Our sweet Alzheimer's lady. Things started going down hill for her a couple of weeks ago. A growing agitation and restlessness. Weakness that we were noticing more and more. We requested testing for infection. The first urine test came back negative. Even the blood work came back all clear. But her progression down was gaining speed. In the last week she took 4 hard falls, with hospice being called each time. Medication reviewed and instructions given. Yesterday, none of us could continue the way we were, so 911 was called. The EMT's arrived, and with love, care and protection, they transported her to the hospital. She does indeed have a bad bladder infection. She is back at the house this morning, on antibiotics, drinking as much as she can. We still aren't sure if all the symptoms are related to this infection, or if the disease of Alzheimer's has progressed as well. We won't know until the infection has abated. Praying for her, for her family, and for us as caregivers.
Seeing her being loaded onto the stretcher, and rolled out the door, took my breath away.
At first, I thought it was just because my heart was so concerned for her.
But as the day grew longer, and my work time ended there ...
I came to the cottage, curled up in the recliner, and literally cried myself to sleep.
Woke with tears still streaming ...
And then, I realized.
The last time I had seen someone on a stretcher, being rolled out the door ... was Rick.
I was completely unprepared for what this made me feel ...
- how this took me back to that day 6 years and 3 months ago.
Even now, knowing that she is back at the house, my breath still doesn't want to come "normally".
Rick, I miss you.
But just with every breath I take
- and every move I make.
Lord, I want so much to LIVE this life.
Not just simply exist.
These days, it feels like all I can really do is exist.
And that makes my heart hurt even more.
Please, show me how to just breathe thru these days.
Trusting while praying that there will come a day when I will LIVE again.
In Jesus' Name I ask.
Thank You God for understanding me so completely.
I love You.
I know that Danny Gokey did not write this song for me ...
well, he doesn't know that he did ;)
But today ... these lyrics ARE for me.
Devastated, an understatement
It's not part of the plan
You're asking why He didn't stop it
If the whole world's in His hands
Suffocating in the waiting
And your faith is wearing down
But there's hope even though
You can't understand the pain of your road
He's in the future, He knows something you don't
One day, you'll see, you'll be on the other side of this
All done with it
Better because of it, because of it
Better because of it, because of it
Someone's gonna need your story to get them through the night
Someone's gonna see His glory, by the way, He won your fight
There's a breaking in the waiting
And the storm keeps bearing down
But there's hope even though, even though
You can't understand the pain of your road
He's in the future, He knows something you don't
One day, you'll see, you'll be on the other side of this
All done with it
Better because of it, because of it
Better because of it, oh
Everything that you think will break you
Are the things that He'll use to make you
So hold on longer, so hold on
Everything that you think will kill you
Are the things that He'll use to build you
So you'll be stronger, you'll be
You're better because of it, ayy
Suffocating in the waiting
And your faith is wearing down, mmm
Better because of it, because of it
Better because of it, because of it
Better because of it, oh
Ooh, oh yeah
He's making you stronger through it all
Making you stronger
Songwriters: Bernie Herms / Emily Lynn Weisband / Daniel Gokey
Burn-out part 2
It's Sunday morning, and so far this weekend (Friday and Saturday), I have hid away in this cottage for the most part.
Hot shower. Clean and comfortable sundresses. Bare feet.
Not eating a lot.
Did drink a bottle of watermelon wine over the 2 evenings. So very good!
Did some reading.
And a whole lot of praying.
Going thru some computer stuff, trying to do some organizing of my online life.
Time with my son on the phone ... sure do love that boy!
Listening to soft and gentle piano music, makes me feel like what I think it would feel like if God were holding me, rocking me, soothing me with His Voice in that sing-song humming.
Just a "down-time" for sure ;)
I am enduring a headache this morning.
Think it has a lot to do with allergies ... and with this neck/shoulder where there is such a knotted muscle.
And almost guaranteed that the neck/shoulder knot is from tension and stress.
Woke up at 2:15 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep.
Feeling a bit anxious about this week, because powers that be have messed with my schedule and in these next 8 days I am slated to work 125 hours.
- Not sure, but having used the calculator a LOT lately, I'm thinking that is over full time (40 hours) - anyway it is figured!
I told the boss when she hired me that I did NOT want to work full time. That I would work and do my best in the job, but I needed and wanted to keep the hours around 30 at the most, with only on occasion it being closer to 40.
... trying to figure out how it has gotten to this point in just these 3 months of working.
And pretty sure that this is the largest contributor to "Caregiving Burn-out".
I told myself, and God, yesterday that I would do this week ... and I will finish out the month of July.
However, soon and very soon, there has got to be some changes!
I am 60 years old, and I want a life more than this.
I have spent a lifetime in a caregiving role ...
No offense intended -
But I AM TIRED.
I just can't continue at this pace.
No matter how much I love these ladies.
I can feel myself going down ... more quickly than I want to, than I thought I would.
I am going to implement some changes this week and see if that helps at all.
The last blog I talked about Caregiver Burnout, the signs and symptoms.
In this one, I want to share with you some of the ideas that "might" help -
- and hoping that even if they don't help me, they might help someone else.
*Talk with employer.
I am going to do this, but first - I need to try these other ideas.
I have to "rescue" myself in this.
And when I do talk to my boss? I want to be able to say, this is what I have done to fix this ... and while it has helped, it isn't "FIXED".
*Join a support group.
I looked at some caregiving groups, but every one that I have found so far - directed at family being the caregiver. I am not family here. So, rather than look at caregiving support groups, I went to the MyFitnessPal website, and have joined several groups in the forums there.
As much as I love these ladies, I am realizing that this is not my LIFE. It's only what my job is right now.
I need to be preparing for what I am praying for ... and that is MORE to life.
*Find someone who will listen without judgment or agenda.
This is a lot easier to write out than to actually do. But I am not giving up ;) I'm too stubborn for that! LOL
*Get in, and stay in, touch with family and friends.
I have already been working on this. And will continue to do so. A phone call when I have a few minutes. A message sent. Thinking about that quickly fading art of writing letters and sending cards. I used to do that all the time, it's time to get back to the basics of LIVING and LIFE.
*Get out of the house.
I'm going to start going for a walk in the yard every morning between 6 a.m. - 7 a.m. Just for a breath of fresh air. Both ladies are sleeping at that time. I will be just outside the door. Going to stretch my legs and arms, breathe deeply, and get back to centering myself with nature. Even a few minutes at a time.
*Journal thoughts and emotions.
I already have my prayer journal, but this is going to be a place for me to write my thoughts and emotions off and on thru the day - good, bad, or indifferent.
*Pray and read the Bible.
This has been my lifeline to sanity for almost 2 years now. I never should have allowed it to fall by the wayside after Rick died, but that's a whole 'nuther story.
*Pamper yourself without guilt.
This will be a hot shower at night after the ladies go to sleep. I know their routines pretty good by now, so I feel pretty good about a 15 minute hot shower.
I'm already getting my nails done once every 4-6 weeks. I may start going more often, at least to have them filled once in between.
The problem for me? The lack of guilt. I am the Queen of Guilt Trips ... especially to myself. I must stop that!
*Make a list of daily activities.
I know the things that need to be done, but there are times that it all gets scrambled in my head. And then, either something doesn't get done, or I am totally spazzed out about getting it done.
I have been often criticized for making a to-do list. But in this, yeah ... going to do it regardless of what anyone says. LOL
This one is hard for me. It was near impossible when I was Rick's caregiver. And in these 3 months I have been greatly reminded of just how hard it is for me. Sigh.
I cannot do all of this alone.
Nor is it my job.
As precious as these ladies are to my heart, they are not my family. I am their caregiver. Hired by this company to work here.
I have to take that step away - let others do what they do, without my involvement or 2 cents.
There is also that realization that this is NOT me taking care of Rick ... nor my Momma.
This is my JOB.
It's been extremely hard for me to walk away on my days off. To get out of the job in my head and in my heart. But I have recently come to realize just how important that is. I had to draw my boundary lines, and make them firmly in place. NO wiggle room.
*Accept lack of control.
Again, this is hard for me. I have a loving heart and a giving spirit. And I want to fix things for those I care about. This is NOT a fixable situation. It is what it is ... and it will be what it will be. I am there for care, for companionship. I am there to help insure their safety and dignity.
Everything else is out of my control.
*Realize that no matter what, this is not going to get better.
I knew going into this resident house that this is not a "short term" situation where they will be rehab-ed so that they can return to their homes. This is their home, until their bodies demand more than we can give. Or until the Lord says "Enough".
*Set realistic goals - for the hour, for the day, for the week.
This is what I was talking about in the first thing, "talk to employer".
My goals for this week are to try these things, but with the knowledge and realization that anyone who works 125 hours in 8 days is going to be EXHAUSTED no matter what they do or don't do!
And having some health issues of my own to deal with? Yeah, gotta keep my perspective right in this.
There will NEED to be a reduction in hours to work along with these ideas done.
Also, I need to stop putting more on me than I can do. I cannot work 125 hours in 8 days and be here at the cottage taking care of cleaning, organizing, going thru stuff, making a "HOME".
Realistically? This cottage is NOT my HOME.
Realistically? I do not have a HOME at this time.
This is where I sleep when I am not at work.
This is where my things are stored.
Don't like it ... but any more thoughts about this being "HOME", only lead to frustration and a greater dissatisfaction.
It's hard to read and study about Alzheimer's, dementia, and even just old age. But the more I read, the more I know, and perhaps the better prepared I am to deal with the bad moments.
*Lighten up, using humor to diffuse.
If I cannot use humor to the ladies, then I will use humor to myself.
Or I will message the kids and grandkids with something stupid or silly, or funny.
I will watch more of the Mark Lowry videos.
I will enjoy more of the older sitcoms whenever I can.
I will spend some time scrolling thru pages of memes for something to make me laugh.
This may be where I even download TikTok, LOL
*Accept the feelings of being unappreciated, and being inadequate. Own it. Then - Let. It. Go.
This is probably one of the most thankless jobs available. Caregiving.
A caregiver gives a lot more than they ever receive.
A caregiver loses a lot more than other people realize.
I found that out when I was Rick's caregiver.
- I have NO regrets about being his caregiver. There was never any question or hesitation on my part to do it. And now, looking back - yeah, I am so glad I did.
This is different. I did not realize the difference until the last 2 weeks. And now, I find myself trying to work thru those differences.
*Make time to do some stretching exercises every 2 hours.
If I have to go to the bathroom, shut the door and just stretch and move for 10 minutes every 2 hours, I am going to do it.
*Drink water, water, water!
I already drink water. But not enough.
Now that there are the extra locks on the outside doors, I feel a greater sense of security to leave our Alzheimer's patient and go to the bathroom. (And we all know that drinking more water, you WILL spend more time in the bathroom! LOL)
*Eat more nutritious meals and foods. Be aware of empty calories.
I try to fix the most nutritious meals possible for the ladies. But sometimes, well, they want the "junk foods" LOL - and at their age? What does it really hurt if they want ice cream for dinner, or Fritos for lunch?
But I don't need that! So, this will be more of a challenge to myself.
*Sleep when possible. Even a 10 - 15 minute nap can alleviate stress.
Sleep is hard to come by when I am working.
Even at night.
There is an easy chair - that's not so "easy". It is worn out!
There is a couch that is uncomfortable to sit on, and even more so to lay on.
Besides, when our "A" Lady has taken to wandering more at night, I can't go sound asleep anyway.
But this whole sitting up 90% of the 8 hour nights? Yeah, it gets too much for my old broken body. Especially when there are 2 - 4 nights at a time doing this.
*Realize, and accept, that NO ONE is going to step in and take care of ME while I am taking care of others. If I don't make the time to take care of me, there will be nothing left of me to take care of others with!
I think this is the hardest of all.
Rick was always so good about having my back. He would fight for me. He would defend and protect me.
It's up to me now ... and I have never had to do this like I do now.
I do not want this JOB to take away the best part of me.
There is more to life than a JOB.
- and when that job is requiring so many hours, for so little pay? It's time to re-think some things.
So, as Rick would say, "this is where the rubber meets the road" ... it's time to make some changes.
No matter what others think, say or do.
I have been in much prayer and seeking God about all this.
Researched, and read.
And I'm not finished yet.
But these verses give me affirmation and confirmation that what I am hearing in my heart and feeling deep in my spirit is absolutely right for me.
: Proverbs 11:14 - "Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
: Proverbs 15:22 - "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
: Proverbs 24:6 - "For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory."
I will be blogging about this week, and how goes it with these changes. Good. Bad. Indifferent.
Sometimes life is more "eh and bleh" than anything.
Busy with work, honestly busier than I want to be ...
Tired, no - exhausted - when I get off work, so I try to decompress and rest, especially that first day off.
And the days swirl into nights, which are endured until morning.
Not a lot of changes, or exciting adventures, to share these days.
Seems not even a lot of "new thoughts" to expound upon, either.
I don't like it.
I. don't. like. it.
Life is too short, too precious, and gone way too soon, to let these days and nights run together with little to nothing to write about.
Lord, move in my life and change it ... or move me, change me. Please, Lord. Please.
I've been doing some reading and researching into "caregiver burnout" ... and as much as I really do NOT want to write this, Yes, I think I have entered that all over again.
Hopefully, this time, I have recognized the signs and symptoms early enough to catch it, stop it, change it ... before it completely takes me under again.
It did that when I was Rick's sole caregiver. Sadly, even 6 years after he's gone, I still feel the effects of burnout ... and I think it has made it easier for this to start in on me all over again. Maybe I wasn't healed from that time with him, before I started this job in being a "professional caregiver". I don't know.
I do know that I don't want to go down this path again.
So, reading, researching, and praying A LOT - seeking a better way for me in all of this.
There are 7 indications of Caregiver Burnout :
1. Feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation.
Resulting in a deep sense of not being appreciated. Often leading to a difficulty in exercising and/or eating - where one either does/eats too much ... or not enough. Upset stomach, with gut issues developing, or increasing. Headaches. Back pain. Mood swings. An overwhelming sensation, where the simple every day things become too much.
Yes. I feel these words. Deeply. Strongly. Sadly.
2. Increased irritability and agitation.
Resulting in times of saying things you don't mean. Short temper, and long words. Lack of sleep, or too much sleep. Low blood sugar, brought on by poor nutrition. The belief that caregiving is controlling my life, rather than me controlling it. An anxiousness about the future, or a lack of concern/care.
Yes. I have found myself just in the last week or so being short on temper, and feeling that sudden urge to lash out at whoever is the closest.
Definite lack of sleep. When at work for the 48 - 84 hours straight, there is no comfortable place to lay down, and even if there was, it's a situation where in order to sleep, must keep one eye open, and one ear listening.
And just in the last 2 weeks I have thought, felt, and wrote in my journal, about how caregiving is controlling my life - not what I ever wanted to do again. But ... here I am.
3. Lack of energy.
The physical, emotional and mental demands leaves your brain feeling overworked, under-paid, and basically - "fried".
Resulting in an overwhelming fatigue. Where every movement seems to bring pain. Where even taking a deep breath seems to big of a chore to do.
Yes. Oh my word! Could this be any more ME right now? I don't think so!!!
4. Neglecting one's own needs.
Questions to ask: *Do I bathe regularly? *Do I drink enough water? *Do I eat nutritionally sound food? *How much junk food/fast food do I consume? *When was the last time I "unplugged" and just settled in the stillness and quietness of the moment?
Hard questions but ones that must be asked.
Too tired to take a shower and deal with my hair, too many times lately. Making me think about a very short hair cut. But keep talking myself out of it, because I have had short hair before and didn't like it.
Taking some time today to unplug. To enjoy the stillness and quietness.
Inability to fall asleep within 20 minutes of laying down. Inability to stay asleep for longer than 2 hours. Inability to fall back asleep after waking.
Yes. No other words to say, just a resounding YES.
6. Reliance on substances or stimulants to get you thru the day - whether working or off.
Ask yourself WHY are you drinking? Or smoking?
Yes ... if you count coffee!
But on this one - honestly?
I've counted on coffee for so long that I don't remember life before Coffee!
I do not smoke.
I do drink an occasional glass of wine, on my days off. Had a small glass of banana rum over this last weekend, while visiting with my kids and grandkids.
7. Losing interest in favorite activities.
How much time are you spending with family or friends? Whether in real life, or on the phone, with messages.
Hobbies that were once enjoyed have now been pushed aside.
Do you feel cynical about life? About the caregiving?
Are you resentful?
Yes. This makes my heart cry out! Please God, help me out of this burnout.
Been wondering if I am really ready to do this again.
Yes, it has been 6 years since Rick died ... but have I healed enough to do this?
Still praying for that answer.
All of these things can lead to an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.
And since in answering these honestly, I must answer "yes" - it's time to do something! I am important to me.
God, please, show me what to do, and teach me all the how's.
I don't want to be burned out.
I want to take better care of me.
Please, help me.
I am going to take some time this day, this weekend, to read, to pray, to search out my heart ... and hopefully with God's help, find a way out of this before it gets more of a hold on me.
Prayers would be appreciated.
A conversation not had
I sit here at 9:55 a.m. on this Saturday morning.
I enjoyed a couple of cups of Southern Roasted Pecan coffee - oh my goodness! This tastes like Heaven must feel! Pretty sure God drinks this ;) LOL
Been watching it rain. People call me crazy, but I love a rainy morning. Especially when drinking a wonderful cup (or 3) of coffee! Listening to soft and gentle praise music, no words, just the music. Calms my heart and mind.
And I am reminded all over again about how much I miss the conversations with Rick.
There were battles of mind and will in our marriage. Even arguments sometimes.
But when we sat with our coffee ... oh the conversations we would have.
We could (and did) talk about anything.
We would discuss and share.
This morning I miss the conversations about God the most.
How we would take a Bible verse or story, perhaps just a topic that we were interested in, and we would read ... and then talk.
What did those verses say to you? To me?
What application do they have in our life today?
No judgment if we disagreed.
How often the light bulb would go off for one of us, then for the other.
We would smile, and sometimes a soft tear would roll down our cheek.
The hand that reached across the table and took mine in his -
The look of love between us.
Oh how I miss those conversations.
Even more so this morning.
The topic of discussion on a Facebook post this morning was, "Was Jesus ever sarcastic?"
One was very adamant in saying "NO! He was NOT!!!"
No offense intended with my words then, or now -
Jesus WAS sarcastic.
Jesus fought against an entrenched power structure. One that was in contrast to the Loving Heavenly Father.
Sarcasm is the use of irony - saying one thing while meaning another.
Sarcasm and satire are both used to expose the foolishness of people's actions.
Used properly, it is gentle, but firm.
A way to get the point across to someone who is being hard headed and stubborn.
So many people, especially Christians (or so it seems) have the misguided notion in their heads that all sarcasm and satire is sinful and wrong.
It doesn't have to be.
Therefore, nothing could be further from the truth.
Sarcasm and satire are NOT plain old insults.
Sarcasm and satire can be very pointed, provocative, rebuking even, but not sinful - IF what they convey is the truth.
There are stories after stories of where He was talking with, to and about the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day, and He used sarcasm as a rhetorical weapon.
Mockery, satire, and sarcasm do not have to be mean spirited responses.
Sarcasm and satire defy the status quo, challenge power structures and strip away affectation.
Jesus was all God, yes.
But Jesus was also all man.
A real human with real emotions, and a real sense of humor.
Which made Him our Perfect Savior.
He knew the life we live.
He knew how dirty and messy life gets.
And He showed us the way to stand firm in Who He is, and who we are - HIS.
Jesus was sarcastic toward the Pharisees, and He was even snarky toward the Jews that wanted to stone Him, BUT
- and here's where reality meets Jesus:
He still died for each and every one of them.
He loved them to the ends of the earth, and into eternity.
He just didn't feign politeness when a dose of real sarcasm was necessary.
He kept it REAL.
And I for one, am so glad He did.
Luke 13:33 (Love, love, Love this one! He’s basically saying, “I know you Jews love to kill your prophets. Far be it from me not to trek back to Jerusalem to give you the opportunity. )
Matthew 23:4-7, 13-15
Which all makes me very glad indeed that God understands me completely.
I will continue to miss conversations not had, though.
For there was another who understood me as well.
And I deeply miss being understood.
How is it the end of June?
I sit here on this Tuesday afternoon, and I find myself wondering yet again, "Where has the time gone?"
It has been a few days over a month since I last blogged here.
I've had time.
There have even been things to write about.
I haven't wanted to write.
Sometimes there is a heaviness on my heart, and the words just won't come.
A weariness on my mind and body, where all I really want to do is sleep.
I know it is wearing the veil of grief as a widow.
Yes, even after 6 years.
- I have come to accept that I am a widow. And I will always be. Until I take my final breath.
- No matter where I am. No matter where I go. No matter what I do. No matter who I am with. I am Rick's widow.
- and in being that, it overshadows everything. Sometimes that shadow is sorrow. Occasionally a mixture of anger, resentment and bitterness. Mostly, a shadow of a love lived and now gone. A breath of memory that the winds of life want to blow away.
And when those shadows come?
I let them now.
I let them come.
And I let them go.
So, here I am now.
Catching up yet again.
: I did go to the Horton Family Reunion on June 6.
I am so glad that I did. And Kyla went with me :)! Not sure she was as glad as I was! LOL
It sure was good to see family that I haven't seen in years. Some I have never seen!
I truly hope it isn't that long before I see them again!
The heart was hurting, because there were so many more the last reunion I went to. Including my Rick.
We talked, we laughed, we told stories - mostly lies, lol ... and oh how we hugged one another.
: Dr appointment went well.
My lab numbers were mostly good.
Protein was down some. Cholesterol was up a little.
Still not wanting to put me on anything, because like she said, "Margaret, there are just too many side effects to those medications at this point. Let's try this more naturally."
So, there are a few more vitamins and supplements for me to take. As well as learning when to take them, and whether to take them with water or food. That was a lesson to be learned!
I had lost weight since the last visit. Not as much as I had wanted to show her. But, I accept responsibility for it not being more, and am thankful that it was less!!!
The take away was to do BETTER!!!
Be more committed, more determined, more pushing thru the temptations with the word "NO". Just "NO". No arguments. No reasonings. Just "NO".
And should I stumble?
Accept it. Confess it. And just don't do it again. No more beating myself up over it.
: I did talk with my daughter about it all.
And she suggested that I try the app for my phone MyFitnessPal.
I downloaded it that day and started using it the next.
I have learned so much this month - about ME. About my habits - bad ones, mostly, lol. Also learning how to stop them, to make wiser choices.
Yes, I could put in whatever I want to, or I could leave something out.
But - the whole reason for doing this is to be more healthy!
So, if I am not honest with myself, what good does it do?
If I want to eat something that (or more of something) then just put it in. I am my own judge, jury and executioner. Deal with it.
One meal, or one day, gone bad doesn't mean that I give up and quit.
It means that I take a deep breath and press forward.
: Back to Graham, and back to work.
Only I have been moved to another resident house. This one with Miss "L". Our Alzheimer's patient. A beautiful Lady still.
My schedule still has me 2 days on/2 days off & working every other weekend.
We've had a bit of a struggle this month with the other co-manager, but our boss has now got it all changed, and the new co-manager is amazing.
I worked with my Momma, who had dementia there towards her end. And Momma was always a bit "simple minded" in ways.
I've known others who were caregivers to Alzheimer's patients.
And I have dealt with Alzheimer's patients and/or dementia.
But this is my first face to face longer term dealing with Alzheimer's.
It is such a cruel disease. Taking so much from the family, from the friends, and mostly, from the individual.
Every moment of every day at work my heart breaks.
One evening this month we were sitting in the living room watching TV, and suddenly Miss L had even a farther away look in her eyes. I paused the TV and asked her if she was ok.
"Yes, I just miss him so much."
I knew instantly who "him" was. For she is also a widow.
I felt her pain, her aloneness, her fear, her emptiness.
And even now, as I write about this, there are tears that burn my eyes, and streak my cheeks.
For love never dies.
Even Alzheimer's cannot take it away.
: My youngest grandson, Shell, turned 18 last week. It was such a blessing to see him on his birthday.
I sat there and looked at him across the table, and remembered 18 years in just moments.
He wrapped me in his arms, and I thought about holding him the day he was born. So tiny! He became "Grannee's Tater Tot".
Oh the years, where have you gone?
How did we get here so fast?
: I heard from my oldest grandson, my Marine, Elijah.
Sitting here one morning and the Facebook Messenger box came up - with "Hi Grannee"
Oh my heart!
The tears came and flowed freely.
Just to know that for that moment he was ok ... and he was thinking about me.
Then, while I was with my daughter, she face-timed with him, so I got to see his wonderful face and hear his amazing voice.
Oh how I miss him!
: Time with Kyla on the way to Sulphur Springs, while we were there, and on the way back ... oh how I love that girl!
And yes, we even cried a few tears when we talked about CR.
: A little time with Brooke while we were there. She has grown into such a lovely young lady.
So hard to believe that she is 18 now, too.
I listened to her, and watched her swag into the room ... and I remembered clearly going to the zoo with her. How she couldn't see the animals all that well, so P-paw picked her up and held her high over the fencing. One of my most treasured pictures.
: Going thru pictures on my phone and computer the other day, and I found another one of CR.
Another gut punch of reality.
That boy wasn't perfect, but he sure was mine. And I miss him like crazy.
I know that God didn't have to let us have him for 13 years, but I sure am glad that He did.
: There are days when I simply breathe in and I breathe out.
There are days when I feel like I am actually living.
There are days when I really do feel like a warrior woman for God.
But lately, most of the days, well, I feel like little more than a child.
- which makes me smile.
- because "I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God."
Yesterday morning I came in after 84 hours straight with Miss L. Exhausted. Weary beyond all words. Tears that would not stop. Memories that were rushing my heart like flood waters.
I found myself sitting here at my journal, crying out to God.
And then, I felt His arms encircling me. Actually FELT them.
I don't deserve to be held.
But oh how much I want to be.
With every breath I take, please dear God, hold me still.
: I have come to realize that I cannot do this life without God.
And not in a "good morning God, gotta run" kind of way, either.
I want to walk with Him, and talk with Him.
I want to listen to His Voice.
I want Him to show me the way to do this life.
Simply put, I trust Him now.
He knows me more than I can tell or explain.
There is nothing hidden to Him.
He sees all.
He hears all.
He knows everything there is to know.
And the funny thing? That's what I want!
There are no games, no excuses, no reasonings.
Oh I still stumble and fall
Life is messy and it gets all over me, even when I don't fall in!
But you see, God already knows this!
He's always known it.
Even before the world was formed, He knew my mistakes and missteps.
And He made a Way for me -
His Amazing Grace.
I wish others could know this, without going thru the hard times of life.
: I am still searching for my place in this life - alone.
I often ask God what He has for me
- where He wants me to be
- what He wants me to do
- who He wants me to see or talk to
But I trust Him
He knows best.
And He knows that my comfort zone is to have a "plan", LOL.
Course, He has a plan ... but I want to know at least a little bit of what it is! LOL
: Well, guess I need to close this for now.
It's getting almost time for me to take my shower and get my things ready for tomorrow's shift - beginning my 48 hr one.
I need to get a little sleep and rest, too. Maybe that will help this blasted headache!
Life goes on ... even when we don't know how.
... and even when we don't want it to.
Amazing Grace ...
((( these are a few pictures for this month. I will be sharing more as I get them uploaded.)))
It's a Sunday
Sometimes you read something that absolutely explodes in your heart, mind and soul - today, this was it for me!
“I am at the point in my life that I do not expect too much from people anymore.
If you want to get out of my life, I will not stop you.
If unfriending me makes you happy, go ahead.
If the efforts I make do not get reciprocated, that’s fine.
If you can’t equate my love for you, I will respect that.
If you do not like me, I can accept that.
It takes maturity to reach this point.
It takes self-love to be on this level.
It is just that it is too tiring to please people.
It is so messed up to beg for people to be a part of your life.
It is pointless to force someone to be on the same page with you.
I am at the point in my life where if you stay, you’re mine, and if you are not, then I let go.
It is too tiring to keep on forcing things to happen.
It is too painful to see your efforts getting unnoticed.
It is not worth it to beg for someone just to let them see how much you love them.
It is not worth chasing people because you deserve better.
It is too unnecessary to force friendships.
It is too tiring to make reconciliation for people who do not deserve it.
Do not regret anything, especially if you made efforts to make it work in the past.
Focus on your life.
Focus on people who love you.
After all, that is the only thing constant in this world.”
I do not know the author of these words, but they are the wisdom to my life, and the echo of my heart.
I wonder if Sundays will continue to the be the hardest day of the week?
I know that the memories play their part too well on these days.
Remembering the Sundays of my past.
When at home with Daddy and Momma, these were the days of church and Sunday dinners, afternoons with the brothers and sisters gathered round. Often other family members, friends, or neighbors, would drop by for a glass of sweet tea or lemonade and a bit of porch sitting and tall-tale telling.
When with Rick for those almost 35 years, these were the days of church, then Sunday dinner with parents or grandparents, often a porch sitting time with them. Sometimes it meant a long motorcycle ride with Rick, or a back road country drive with the kids.
As life changed, and these Sundays became more just Rick and me, we would use these days to simply rest and be lazy - together. Wrapped up in one another on the couch while sleepily watching a movie. Maybe tangled up in the sheets taking a nap. Sometimes huddled near the fireplace on a cold winter's Sunday. But always together.
Since Rick has been gone, Sundays have been a struggle.
When spent with the kids and grandkids, they are always better - because the laughter and the love. Even when we have been working, or at a rodeo, a playday, or just taking that back road lazy drive.
When spent with other family and friends, they are better then too. Lazy talking. Slow walking thru the day.
When working, they are bearable. Even though these days make my heart heart for the elderly. Because they, too, remember those busy days of yester-years gone. And they ache for companionship, for conversation, to get out and go ... and yet, they sit alone, or almost alone. Sunday after Sunday.
When there is a Sunday where I am alone, more often these days than not - well, it's a struggle to just breathe sometimes.
My memories are too fresh.
My emotions are too raw.
The past doesn't seem that far away.
Seems so close that I can still hear the laughter, still smell the dinners, still feel the plates in my hands under the hot soapy water.
I can feel the sway of the porch swing, or the squeak of the rocker.
I have found that taking a long Sunday nap does help ... in a way.
But then, waking up alone doesn't.
I watch a movie, and whether I enjoy it or not ... there is no one to discuss it with.
Social media doesn't help ... not on Sundays.
Sundays have become a day to be endured.
A day to focus on breathing in and breathing out.
A day to let the tears fall freely.
To feel the ache of emptiness and loneliness.
To sit with my memories and speak out loud to them - sometimes to come closer, and sometimes ... well, just go away and leave me be!
I have been told to "just turn it over to the Lord", to "draw near to Him", to spend my day worshipping Him.
Course, this is told to me by those who have spouses, or families and friends, around them.
I have spent my whole Sunday with my Bible open, reading it, praying for myself as well as for others, listening to (and singing along with) praise & worship music.
It's still being alone.
God is a Spirit.
God is altogether wonderful.
God is amazing.
God is God.
A widow misses skin.
I started reading the book of Lamentations today, and I was quickly reminded that God gets it. He understands the emptiness and the loneliness of my heart, mind and life. No matter how I try to fill the hours ... I am still alone ... and lonesome. Especially on Sundays.
Days to be endured.
Days to breathe.
Days that end blessedly on Monday.
So why "Scattered Feathers" ? ? ?
You can read it here