Growing up

I used to have some fun reading pasts posts…what was I doing 3 years ago on this date, that sort of thing. It would be a chance to evaluate, maybe see if a particular problem got solved, if the kids are behaving better now.

I can’t do that anymore. It’s like reading a diary from when I was 10. How clueless I seem, so unaware of the monumental change that was coming.  I read about how Himself was tired, or nauseous in the morning, and this was YEARS ago. Symptoms, completely unaware. I chalked it up to anxiety, he said it was sinus drainage making him gag. Was it? Who knows. I reckon it doesn’t really matter now.

Truth is I feel about 100 years older. Less joyful, more sober, who is there to play with, after all? The person I laughed with, who I bounced ideas off of, planned with, that’s all gone. More mature, too, not just all wearing black and sad, but…life is serious business now. It’s shorter than I planned, and longer, too. Staring down a tunnel, wihtout a companion by my side…kind of daunting, really. I know I can do this, but it will take time to get used to an idea that I DON’T WANT TO GET USED TO.

When I’m sitting in church, seeing all the couples together, some who’ve been companions for 50 years or more, others less than 6 months, and everything in between, I am happy for them. When you’re 23 and newly married, you feel like you have 100 years together. I have no idea what it feels like to be married for 50+ years. I wonder if it’s that different from 28-1/2 years. Is there complacency? Have you gotten past that and are in the deep appreciation stage? Is there joy, or frustration, or is it just a mindless habit that’s too much trouble to break? How do you tell people to not take it for granted?

One of the things Himself loved to think about was our 50th anniversary, held at wherever we retired, with children and grandchildren and a big barbeque and us sitting on the porch watching it all and holding hands. I mourn for the loss of that.

I dreamed about teasing him because his teeth were in a glass on the bathroom counter. He said he’d tease me about my giant Grandma butt. Who’s going to do that now? Who’s teeth will I laugh at and who’s going to pat my butt and call it Large and In Charge.

Probably no one, at this point I would have to get married tomorrow, to a 40 year old, in order to make it to a 50th anniversary, and I am not interested in 40 year olds.

So, since the course of my life isn’t looking like front porch hand holding and butt-pats, I have decided to sign up for school, and pursue a certification in business administration. Less than an associates degree, but should find me work at a small business somewhere, making coffee for the boss and filing stuff. I’m ok with that. I’m not ambitious, but it would put some money in the bank and fill the hours not spent cooking meals and planning trips with Himself.  The kids are grown and doing well, and don’t really need me to constantly be there…ok #4 still does, but in a couple of years he won’t.  I’m not saying that in a Pity Me sort of way, but that they are following the natural course of things, and leaving the nest to go be adults. I do not fear or grieve for that, it actually makes me incredibly happy, BUT…the Now What question must be dealt with.

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7 Months Out

It’s been 7 months now, since Himself left us. A lot has happened, the sorts of things I never anticipated or figured I’d need to do. A few platitudes were thrown around initially, but for the most part people have been helpful and kind and and taught me many things about How To Friend.

Anyway…So many unexpected things have (and are) happened. The menfolk of this community have come around #4 in ways that seriously bring me to tears when I think about it. One of them takes him to breakfast regularly. Another couple take him hunting. One, who lost his father at a similar age, wrote him a letter about it, that has been an immense comfort. They have been surrounding him with a brotherly love that has kept him sane and standing.

The women have come around me, brought me closer, comforted me with raucous parties and hamburger trips (there is a place in Savannah called Green Truck with the World’s Most Therapeutic Burgers) and quiet listenings to my vents.  Early on I remember reading all I could find on How To Widow, and many things warned that I’d be dropped like a hot rock, because of Fifth Wheel Syndrome (you know, Older Single Person Making Odd Number At Party) and Might Steal My Husband Disorder…that hasn’t happened. Not even remotely. Maybe I just have really good friends. Maybe they don’t have husbands I’m interested in stealing. Perhaps there’s so much of me I count as 2…No clue, but friends, I have in abundance and thank God for them.

All the legal paperwork is DONE. I am FINISHED. Even though Himself had no will, it’s all done and through the courts and signed and sealed. And I made a will. The paralegal at MB Esq. said please do, for she wasn’t willing to go through all this 4 times over with my sons.  Also, everything that needed paying off has been paid off. Thank the Good Lord for life insurance, and for the for esight to insist that Himself get a private policy should he get that motorcycle and leave his hide on the pavement. Which he did not, but the policy was there anyway and allows small income until I figure out what to do with my life.


Finishing everything up was the turning of a page to a new chapter. The previous one was all about paperwork and the steep steep learning curve. The one before that was one week long, separate from all other weeks of my life, from the Monday he called and said he was having a heart attack, to the Friday everyone went back home and the house had no Himself in it anymore.  This past chapter, 7 months long. The next one, only God knows. My sincerest hope is that it will be 22 months long, until I pack up and move to Alabama, to a new house and life and beginning. That’s just a hope, though. God knows what He’s doing, He has seen me this far.

Did any of you see that movie this Summer, of the little girl and her emotions? Inside Out, I think it was called. One of the premises was that there are pivotal moments in a life, special memories that stick with you forever, and you can recall perfectly. They can be good or bad ones…how do you even define “good” or “bad”? Every event has an effect on our life, influences the way we respond to stuff and people. The week Himself died was, by many definitions, a Bad thing. It was certainly painful for many people. However, many Good things have come from it. Good enough to make me say I am glad he died? Absolutely not. It’s safe to say I will never be glad of it, but good enough to say something beneficial to lives in this family has come of it. I have learned how to navigate the legal system, how to word letters so Bureaucrats Will Read Them, and how to budget carefully. All of the boys have learned how to stand on their own feet, and just how much Himself taught them over the years. We have all learned how very much strength we have, what we can do when we have to, and how to lean on each other. Thank You God, for family.  Every event, whether we define it as Good or as Bad, effects how we live afterwards. Do we allow it to frighten us? For several weeks after Himself died, I was fearful of going out, driving anywhere, that sort of thing. What if something Bad happened to me, and left the boys without either parent?  That wasn’t really in my control, and was selfishly assuming I had control of my destiny. It didn’t mean I should gleefully drive 130 mph down Excelsior Church Road, or take up FireBreathing BASE jumping,


but going to the store, living life normally, was ok to do. Then I became fearful of living the next 50 years alone, also silly. Most people get to live alone early on in their adult lives. I married at 21, went straight from my parent’s house to the one Himself and I shared. Now I get to see what independence feels like.  Good things, all these, or maybe they are just comforting thoughts in the midst of a hurricane. Whatever. Like I said, I will never be glad he’s gone, but he is, and I have to make the best of the situation. I loved the life we had together. Now there’s a new life, and I need to learn how to love this one.

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Fall, cooler, all that.

It’s been wonderful and cool the past several days, those  open-window-blanket-on-the-bed sort of Fall days that make slogging through the heat and humidity all worth while. People are walking around with smiles and saying things like “THIS is why I live in The South” and they are exactly right.

Himself loved the Fall. He got frisky. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

I love it,too. Summer is heavy and close and too hot too move. I don’t feel like doing anything except sitting under a fan and drinking iced tea. Fall comes around and suddenly the garden is getting cleaned up and planted, ideas start flowing for all sorts of things and I keep thinking “Oh! I want to run that past Himself and see what he th….crap.” We both love(d) the Fall.  I even like the football game traffic and noise, the smell of cordite in the air on the weekends…yep. Lots of dove hunting going on right now, and this area is full of fields. #4 is off with his Scoutmaster this weekend, dove hunting. I am busy looking up recipes, as I only know one way to fix them. This is all assuming, of course, that he brings home enough to make it worthwhile. Which he will, even if it’s just one.

I have been thinking about the Holidays a little bit, kind of tenatively feeling around the edges to see if the wound is tender, sort of. Last time I was over There, mom was making noises about Thanksgiving and I had to say STOP…I AM NOT READY TO THINK ABOUT THAT! But, I have been a little bit. I won’t mind it so much if i can do the cooking and make Non-traditional foods. We discussed, and decided fried chicken, and all the Good Southern Sides would work. Collards, mashed potatoes and gravy, maybe creamed corn, possibly slaw, definitely pecan pie. No turkey. No dressing. No cranberries and NO pumpkin.Himself would approve. He loved a non traditional feast once in a while.

As for Christmas….well…the temptation is to drive to Miami and disappear onto a beach until March. There is so much with Christmas. Every ornament we ever bought for whatever event commemoration. That’s how we did it. no generic things from a box. Each one was chosen carefully so when we were old, we could think about the past and tell our grandchildren about the trip to New York, or the Palo Dura Canyon, or our first Christmas with it’s Charlie Brown tree and the 75%-off ornaments from Big Lots we bought Christmas Eve. I don’t know if I can do that this year. I am pretty sure I can’t. Things might change but people with more experience tell me the first one is really hard. How do I put out those 30 mugs, the ones he bought me one at a time over the years, that all look like Santa Claus heads, without my heart breaking each time I see them?

Maybe I am thinking too far ahead. Probably. Right now I want to get through the cooler weather without  sitting in the yard and staring at his empty shop, pretending he was in there listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd and throwing oak sawdust all over the place.

I think I’m going to go look up a recipe for bacon wrapped dove breasts.

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The Strange

It still feels really strange to be a widow. I want to squint and say “say what?…no, not me.” I can get through a day, sort of doing the normal things, but at the end of it there’s no Himself to cook for, no one to suggest a movie for Friday night, no one to discuss plans for the weekend. Very strange. But then, how do you change 28-1/2 years of doing things, in 6 months?  They say it takes 6 weeks to make a new habit. That depends on the habit. This one is taking a lot longer than that, but I guess that is because I don’t want it to change, didn’t plan for it, resent it being forced on me.

In small ways I guess it’s settling in. For e most part, life is going on and I am adapting ok. It’s just that, now and then, the Strange hits and I don’t understand why Himself isn’t there, on a Friday, making plans and relaxing.

It’s a lonely sort of feeling. I’ll be ok. I am ok.

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Attitude Adjustment Needed

On Facebook I seem to be relentlessly, aggressively cheerful. So do others. I am not. Many days I am so far from cheerful even the dogs avoid me. It seems like this whole Happy Housewife Look At How Well I Am Doing is a cloak to wrap in, with the fervent hope that eventually it will grow into my skin and become real.

I am not happy. Sometimes things don’t seem too bad, the ducks are in a row and all that. That’s not really happiness, more like satisfaction that for one more day it’s pretty much ok. That’s enough for now, being pretty much ok.

Some things are very confusing, and those are beyond my control. Stuff like Health Care Insurance. The Federal Gummint says “ok, we’ll pay for this. But we need all sorts of documents (that don’t exist). No, really. They don’t. They want my paycheck stubs from the last 2 months. If I don’t have that, they want my w-2 from last year. Himself’s won’t do, it has to be mine. At this point I would tell people to get a job, even if it’s just a few hours a week, just so there’s a paycheck stub or W-2, in case it’s needed. So I get all the stuff i can find, every sort of document with some kind of income thing on it, and all the certificates that prove Himself and I exist, were married, and he died, plus a terse (yet polite) cover letter explaining the situation, in the futile hope that a Real Person will read it and take pity on The Poor Widow. Federally speaking, hasn’t happened yet even through 5 sets of stuff. Except that I, inexplicably, am receiving insurance statements declaring that I am, indeed, getting coverage. Ok Then. The State Gummint (which, naturally doesn’t communicate with The Federal Gummint) actually has a Genuine Person attached to it, who, with great patience and good humor, has been very helpful and while it isn’t in Order yet, seems to be getting there. As yet, I do not know if the state insurance will supplement or replace the Federal, but whatever. you’d think they’d have this figured out, but apparently not. no wonder this country is so deep in debt.  So now what I do, every time they send me yet another letter describing my book keeping inadequacies, is send them yet another stack of every sort of certificate and statement. I have not yet gotten to the point of sending them originals, as those are not free.  I will keep it up until someone Real contacts me. So far, the Real People have been most helpful.

My attitude, at this point (well, has been since mid March, really), is “Fine then. you can’t do anything worse than has already been done. Asshole.” Perhaps this can continue for 2 years, at which time I will disappear into the ether and become a chicken-goat-cat lady who smells funny and has organic home-grown kale perpetually stuck in her teeth. Or marry a lawyer.

honestly, 30 years of being a hard-working, honest, Kept Woman has meant there is precious little patience for all this and the paperwork when someone dies is RIDICULOUS. Thank you, Mr. Attorney Man Who Is Well Compensated For His Time, for handling much of it. And Thank you, Himself, for your life-insurance wisdom. And NO THANK YOU Nancy Pelosi, for your “guys! Guys! Let’s pass the health care reform act and THEN read it! That’d be great!” But on the other hand, thank you, Good Dr H, Dr Courage, and Dr P, for taking cash. Because really.  NO thank you, Dr. R’s Office manager, for NOT accepting cash payment and turning me away entirely…I mean…what. The. Heck.

Sorry. I’m on a rip-tear here.

Simple fact is, it’s not as bad as it could be and I should be thankful for that. And I am.I’m just having a temper tantrum because I am a Princess. Sorry…(not really)


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Oh…now I get it…

One of the things that has come out of my…whatever you want to call it….Journey (some people call it…but that seems/feels kind of sappy)…is an intense empathy for other people experiencing loss, or potential loss, or any sort of event that causes the heart-stopping breath-losing howling sort of heartbreak.

Himself used to say I was too logical and not feeling enough. He isn’t the only one who’s said that. It’s true. Emotions are untrustworthy and sketchy and bound to lead you into trouble. Ask anyone who’s ever had to  cope with an emotional disorder and spent many hours trying to figure out how to evaluate them, to determine if they were ‘legitimate’ or not.  I think he would be pleased to see that I am having feelings for other people’s situations.

spock logic

A friend had a couple of close relatives killed in a car accident, and the news made me sit and weep. A cousin of Himself found out her husband has cancer, and the news was breathtaking. Literally.

Now, this is not a bid for sympathy like “oh feel sad for me because other people make me sad!” It’s more of a…sort of…awareness that wasn’t there Before. Hearing about other people’s tragedies didn’t really do much more than…well, didn’t do much. Not really. I mean, yes, I wanted to help but as far as the actual real visceral response…never really had that until now. Because now I know what it feels like.

Can we ever truly empathize for something about which we have no real experience? I can’t. Imagine a little bit, yes. But truly? I don’t know. Now I know what it actually feel likes to be turned upside down, ripped apart, and glued back together. How that hurts on every single level, right down to the roots of one’s hair.

That’s the biggest part of it, really, knowing exactly how that feels and not wishing it on your worst enemy, because truly I wouldn’t. Far better for those worst enemies to wake up and smell the coffee, realize the errors of their ways, and repent, while there’s still time.

So this…empathy thing…it is yet another bit that is being learned through the Process (I like that better than calling it a Journey). Things keep coming up, new stuff to be learned. Growing pains, perhaps. I am not sure what they are. Reluctantly, I know that. A reluctant yet inevitable process, with a lot of incomplete sentences and probably improper punctuation, both literal and figurative.

I guess the Process is like those needlepoint tapestries, stitched quietly over time, with 100 different colors of yard, where sometimes you stitch all the stuff of one color before moving to the next, and other times you make a few stitches in red, then a few in green, until the design is done. In the Process, you go along, stuff is the same for a while, then the color changes briefly, then again, then again, and there isn’t really time to get accustomed to one before it changes and I suppose that keeps things interesting.

I guess the newfound empathy is a good thing. Himself would say so. But it is odd, and uncomfortable, but aren’t most really good things like that at first?

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Slouching toward the New Normal

Not much has changed, other than basically everything. How does that happen? What’s it feel like? I’ll let you know.  The sameness involves #4 going to school, and my daily householdy housewifey stuff.  They say don’t make any major changes for a year. I am about 6 months in now. The major changes have all been the ones forced on me and honestly, I think those have been handled fairly well and with a minimum of screaming and alcohol. I won’t say none, just ask the kids when they come in and see a 6-pack of hard cider with death threat notes attached if anyone touches it. Also cashews. For some reason a bottle of cider and a handful of cashews are as good as any tranquilizer.

Some things have been let go, the past 6 months, but seem ready to get some attention now. Particularly the garden. Poor thing, I picked some tomatoes and a few green beans, and the sunflowers were glorious…but other than that, it was a bust this Summer. Oh, and there was a cantaloupe. It was wonderful. But everything else, all the stuff Himself would have applauded…the squash (nope), peppers (meh), potatoes (ok, got like 3 of them and are going to replant and try for the Fall)…Nope, nope and nope. It hurt to go out there. Himself wasn’t in his shop 20 feet away, not listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd and making noises and furniture. I didn’t want to be there.

Now, though…i think it’s time. #1 is coming over later today and we’re going to pull stuff out and weed and prep and generally make it ready for a Fall planting of root things and brassica things and salad things. All the lovely stuff that will actually grow through the mild Winter and keep us in delicious food. Optimism for the future is returning…in small ways to be sure, but there it is. Himself would approve.

All the Gummint Paperwork and Legalities are just about done. His estate has gone through Probate (he didn’t have a Will) and I am officially the Administrator and can tend to business.  Insurance funky stuff (holy cow the funky stuff…) is just about done…I hope. He is probably stirring up his own ashes that we are using the despised Obamacare, but private coverage would cost more than half my monthly income. I don’t despise it one bit. He contributed many many tax dollars over the year, and I consider it as using those. But oy…the paperwork and phone calls and more paperworks and confusions and having no idea of what to use for verifications…thank You, God, for intelligent advisers at the bank who know what’s what and how to do things.

One thing I wonder, though, somewhat angrily at times…If it is this complicated for me, and I am a relatively intelligent person who has successfully navigated the legal waters and investment shores…how much more ridiculous is it for someone with little education and intellectual skills to figure this out? How do THEY get the insurance twists and turns dealt with? I will say this, though…A woman from the Health Care Marketplace Gummint Agency Thing called me, having discovered a mistake in my favor, and walked me through it all. Maybe that’s how they do it. She was amazingly helpful. And, after getting a couple of letters from the insurance company fussing at me, I checked online to pay, and the corrections had already been made. awesome. She told me she was going to handle that for me. God bless her.

Himself would be proud of me for managing everything.Of course, if he were here I wouldn’t have to be, so I don’t really like that I have to, but I have discovered a person inside that has sense and fortitude, that I didn’t know was there. Gradually, things are getting taken care of. People are being patient and helpful, but the part I have to do, acquiring the papers and mailing them off and keeping track of everything and the stuff I didn’t really pay any attention to until 6 months ago. I reckon single women do this all the time and probably wonder what all the fuss is about.

Try seeing it this way…the opposite happens to you. You go from being independent and handling it all, not having to consider another person’s desires for anything…what to fix for dinner, when to go to bed and what to do when you get there, any of that stuff…then suddenly without any warning at all, another person is thrown into your life and you have to make these radical changes…and you don’t even get to think about it first, or get to know him or anything…just BOOM there’s another person living there, sleeping with you, eating the food. imagine how that would feel.  If you’ve ever had a baby, remember the dramatic change when he/she was born?

So many changes, and it all looks the same. That giant axe he bought for chopping wood (since the fireplace was cleaned and all ) still leans against the hearth. I still sleep on the left side of the bed, not even messing up the right side. His glasses are on his dresser, that still has his clothes in it. Really, looking around, the only thing that has dramatically changed is the size of the food in the freezer. Pints of soup instead of quarts. Half gallons of milk instead of gallons and so on. And the dining table is full of paperwork and a big bag of dog food, because #4 is pretty busy in the evening and I’m not setting the table for myself. Maybe I should declare a Family Night Supper and have all the boys (and girlfriend) over once a week.

I still have to remind myself he’s gone.  Yesterday after getting some news about one of his relatives, I thought “oh he needs to know this!” then thought “crap.” that wasn’t the word I used but I am trying to be less crude. Whenever there’s a leak or a rattle or something amiss, i have to remind myself that I am the one who has to deal with it. There’s no more making of notes to ask Himself about it. No more asking Himself about some piece of mail or official phone call or gathering juicy tidbits of stuff from the Soap Opera that was His Work.

Sigh…I’m making it. Kind of grudgingly and not with much dignity…but making it.

Image result for reluctant dog

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