Monthly Archives: October 2013

Cantankerous

Anger rises

Blood rushes up

Ears popping,clicking noisily

Throat filling, full, almost choking

Muscles tense, flaming, sore, trembling uncontrollably

Voice rushing, hot, gripping, noisily crying out

It is the time of reaching

The moment that I know

I’m at the point

I have tried

To avoid…

Cantankerous!

Hunkering Down for Winter

It is different this year, somehow.  I am not afraid of the coming season of snow and cold.  I am confident I can not only survive but thrive alone, by myself, in  winter.  It always had seemed that winter required assistance somehow.  That the great abyss of freezing temperatures and unpredictable harsh conditions were out of my realm of expertise.  I know better now.

I have, by myself, winterized all of my machinery so that next spring it will actually work.  It is all stored away in the shed or the garage – I dutifully read all of the manuals and I know that some things just can’t be allowed to freeze – halleluia, I am feeling in charge of things!  I started the generator and if the hydro goes out, I will likely not freeze to death – unless I  break my neck getting out to the shed to start the darn thing.  I carried all of the lawn furniture – why do we have so much lawn furniture and why is it so heavy – into the gazebo and covered it up with a HUGE tarp which I roped down very efficiently.  I used every boater’s knot I could conjure up!

All of my planters are empty now and my huge deck looks REALLY huge now – and empty.

I am glad that summer is over.  It was a dull summer with lots to do and few smiles to do them with.  It was a full-of-worry summer – the health of my family, the death of my husband, the illness of a good friend and the tumult that all of this brings to our lives.  It seemed like I could rarely turn off my brain and find peace.

I have found peace today.  With the fountain on the pond off, and many of my birds gone south, the sounds of summer are quickly coming to a close.  The cold icy smell of winter is daily replacing the ripe odour of wet earth and mown grass.  The silence of the still air today is almost deafening.

I look forward to warm fires after a snow walk with my new pup.  What will she think of the snow?  How will she adjust to the snowblower since she really hated the sound of the lawn mower.

I hope we have lots of snow this year. I hope I listen to mother nature and take it easy on those blustering days when I can stay home and watch the world simply exist.  I have a new comfy housecoat and slippers just waiting for this…think of me world, cosy and warm and cuddled on a white winter day.

Come on winter!  I’m ready!

I Held Your Hand

In the quiet of the night

I held your hand.

In the noise of the street

I held your head.

As others rushed by, their lives imposing on their brains

I held your heart.

As God seemed to abandon us in our scurry away from time

I held your very being.

It is often not thought of – those times of sacrifice and loathing

Who will be there to bide our time with us

To hold us close in every way

To hold our hand.

 

The Black Cat’s Discovery

In my world of new discoveries and finding out about myself, I have come upon an intriguing notion – my black cat is also finding his way….

Mel – the ugliest, blackest cat you ever saw – was sick at the shelter and so I – ever the one to make these heart-rending decisions – rescued him.  There was no history on this little 3 month old, bleeding from the nose kitten, but I liked his laid-back attitude and medicated him back to a decent state of health.

The adoption of Mel was not without its adventurous side – he liked to sleep in his litter box – with the pee and poop all wrapped up around him.  He let my new puppy drag him about the house by his ear, his throat, his tail – whatever body part was the most convenient for my little lab to grab, and he ate everything he could lay his teeth on – raw meat, grass, garbage, dog food, and my dinner. As a matter of fact, I think I was even a menu item one night when he caught the movement of a toe under the blankets in bed.  I heard a purr and then – whomp – he landed on my foot, laid on his teeth, bit down hard and gave a twist with his whole head that sent me kicking and screaming out of bed.  I have known many creatures, but never has one been quite so demonstrably an animal in my house.  This little guy was a survivor – no question about that!

Mel has his scruples though.  When the pup had accidents – and she had lots – Mel would dutifully try to cover it up by scratching the floor all around it as though there really was a supply of litter there.  Then he would pee on the spot – in his mind, probably covering up that awful puppy smell with a more effervescent kitty odour – thus now I had two animals to train and retrain.  Thanks Mel.

Mel would not accept my love.  Any attempt to pet him led to him scooping his body under my hand and running away.  If I tried to pet him when he was  sleeping – and deep sleeps were his specialty – he would get up and move away, thus destroying his rest – and he really needed me to leave him alone so he could get better.

I decided that Mel had been a feral cat – wild, and living on his own for a long time.  He did not trust me or even know what I was. His lack of human contact and his lack of respect for my humanness was refreshing.

In the busy-ness of my life, I finally decided to sit back and watch Mel – to get to know the REAL Mel.  What was he thinking – were his actions a result of his first rough three months of life?  Undoubtedly!

Every chance I got, I loved him up.  Every time I saw him, I picked him up – even 5 seconds or so before he wriggled away.  After 3 months, Mel finally jumped up on my lap and gave me a look that said,”I don’t really know what you are, but I want to know more.”  He let me pet him for an unprecedented 10 seconds or so and then jumped away – as though trying to figure that out.  Was that a good feeling? Did he like my touch?

Lo and Behold – more and more Mel is coming to me for attention, for a little show of friendship.  He is awkward in his approach, cautious and always seeming to be ready for rejection or hurt.  He doesn’t know how to cuddle me back – he clumsily bites my hair, apparently never having come in contact with long human hair before, and he pushes my hand over his face in a harsh and bold manner.  He is beginning to trust me and that makes me happy.

I have come to love and respect Mel for the cat his is .  He is not ugly now, he is big and beautiful, but still tough and resilient.  He is a survivor and is helping me to discover who I am  too.

Thanks, Mel.

020

What Would He Say?

In the last year, since my husband of 40 years died, I have given lots of thought to how he approached life and how I would now approach the rest of my life.  It all seems like a second choice to me – the left-overs.  Nothing will ever quite reach the standard of the life I had actually chosen now that my life partner was missing.  It took me a long time to come to grips with not having a best friend from whom to seek advice every day – so I wrote what he may have wanted to say to me and to his kids.

I admit in the last years of his dying, we never talked of him not being here.  Perhaps that was a mistake.  Perhaps these days of aloneness would somehow be comforted by what he may have said to me.  It just hurt us both too much as he was dying to admit it was actually happening.  We fought death to the last breath, to the last second. We never did admit it would happen.

Anyway – here is a litany from my vision of my good friend…..

What Would He Say?

Get on with living.  Have a good time,

I did.

Think of me with love. Do the right thing.

I did.

Be an upstanding citizen. Be a good dad.

I was.

Be a loving husband. Be a loyal friend.

Work hard at everything you do.

I did.

Help others do the right thing.

Forgive others by seeing the bigger picture.

Care for people you meet.

Play hard.

I did.

Enjoy your play.

Give hockey a chance. Give boating a chance.

Give motorcycling a chance. Give flying a chance.

Give modeling a chance.

Be yourself.

I was – every day – just me.

 I would have liked to have had more time with my life.  There was so much left to do.  As it is, I did many of the things I had hoped I would.  Other people gave me chances in life that I only dreamed of.  I was steady and steadfast in my work and my free time.  I was dependable and honest with other people all the time. I did not cut corners with my hobbies or my relationships.

The biggest regret I have had in losing my life is that I cannot now watch my grandchildren grow up even a little bit.  They were a source of great joy in my life and I know they will enrich the lives of everyone around them as they go through all of those wonderful years ahead. I only wish I could be there to support them and to love them.

Keep me in your hearts.  Love me in your dreams.  Live for me.

All my love

A Woman’s World – Not Really!

Getting On With It

What is It?  Life

A Survival List for a Widow

If you have never been totally responsible for household chores, they may, at first seem overwhelming.  Where are the tools?   There are HOW MANY kinds of screw drivers?  Is there not one flashlight in this house that works?  Why won’t this darn window close all the way?  Where is that water coming from?  My bricks are what? Why?

My husband would always have the common sense answers and even on his death bed was directing me about how to turn on the air compressor so I could fill up a tire on the truck that had been going flat regularly for the last 6 months.  Why do men put up with this stuff?  Get it fixed or get rid of it.  Buy a new one.  Hire someone to repair it.  These were my immediate solutions.

I began to realize that household chores and keeping my house afloat was not rocket science.  Yes, my first thought at each impending disaster was to panic, cry, call a “man” to help or hire it out.  Being the independent woman I am, and stubborn, I usually hired it out.  I am glad I had lots of money at the time, but now I am beginning to think that I had more money than brains.  Don’t panic, think!  Don’t run for help, research, ask questions, maintain your composure and for heaven’s sake use your brains to reason through the problem.  If he could do it – you can too!

Easy words to say – but I know that every time you are faced with a “husband” job, it makes you miss him more – it may even make you angry at him. Why did you leave me to face this alone?  I need you!

My husband had every tool known to man:  the big ones, the heavy ones, the electric ones, the cream of the crop ones.  Our garage was full of the ultimate tools.  Whole collections of screw drivers, socket wrenches, vice grips, air tools – you name it, we had it in our garage.  I soon discovered what I needed to do in order to feel like the master of my world of MY GARAGE – modernize and downsize!!  I needed to “womanize” my garage workspace.

I had discovered with great frustration that even trying to hang a picture was a real challenge I had never appreciated before.   I had to determine which  plastic thing (anchor) went in the wall – into my freshly drilled hole – to match the screw that I had. After playing mix and match with the drawers of things I found in the garage,  I bought a little box of brand new screws and wall anchors – all colour coded so I could at least hang a picture without destroying the wall.

I began to buy power tools that fit my hands and limited arm and shoulder strength.  My chain saw weighs seven pounds, and my electric sander and lawn edger only five pounds.  I have two stepping stools now so I can reach all those high shelves and I have plans to replace the old wooden drawers of the workbench –  handbuilt by my husband – so that I can actually open and close them without dislocating my elbows.

Here is a list for widow survival tools – at least for the first couple of years.

  1. A set of screw drivers – square, star and straight.  You may want to get a set of each kind.
  2. A flashlight or two that actually works.  Costco sells tiny ones in packages of three. I love them.
  3. A pair of scissors on each floor of the house.
  4. A picture hanging kit.
  5. A drill you can handle.  Sometimes the battery powered ones are too heavy to lift above your waist.  A good old electric one is fine.  Be sure to get the bits that match if they don’t come with the drill.
  6. A good extension cord.  One shorter and one that is about 100 feet.  Don’t get those fancy ones with the end from which you can’t remove your plug no matter how you hold your tongue in your cheek.  Keep it simple. I like the orange ones.
  7. A hammer – any hammer will do.
  8. A pry bar – one normal sized one and one very small one.
  9. A package of sandpaper of different grids.
  10. A rubber mallet (hammer).
  11. Easy connects for all of your hose connections in the yard.
  12. An electric start mower with some assist in the forward push mechanism.
  13. A portable gas container for your mower that you can actually lift.  One gallon?
  14. A battery powered edger for the lawn.
  15. A dolly with wheels so when you bring that bird seed, cat litter, or lawn fertilizer home, you can actually get it to the back yard or garage without destroying your body.
  16. Garbage pails with wheels.
  17. A wheeled recycling cart which holds all three categories of recyclables and can be nicely pushed to the curb.  I love this.
  18. An exacto blade for cutting up that cardboard for recycling. An easy grip yellow handled one  is the best.
  19. Understand the importance of duct tape in all you do.  They make pink duct tape now but the grey stuff is the cheapest.  This is a staple.  Don’t be caught without it.
  20. Understand the location of all of the manuals for all of the mechanical stuff now under your watchful eye.  Organize these manuals and bills of sale, if you have them, so you can get assistance from the people who may have to be called in as experts.  I needed to know how to winterize my snow blower, my lawn mower, my generator, and my high pressure washer.

Above all, understand that learning all of these new things is not an immediate requirement for survival.  It is just a sample of the kinds of things you may not have had to think about any other time of your life.  Don’t feel bad if you have to call on the furnace guy or the plumber because there are things for which  I am sure even your husband would have relented and called in a pro.

You deserve the best in all things.  You will feel great about your independence and your accomplishments in this new field of endeavour.  Keep going!

A Newsletter Story – Published for My Friends Spring 2013

In a world of challenges and adventures, one of the most all-encompassing dilemmas I have ever encountered was becoming a widow at the age of 61.

There are many ways to lose your life partner.  Death can occur quickly and unexpectedly or it can creep up on you slowly over months and years.  Trust me when I tell you that the knowledge that death is coming, and sooner than you expected it, does not prepare you for the absence of that loved one.  The searing realization that the person who was your kindred spirit no longer exists still hits you like a ton of bricks and you honestly cannot believe they are gone.  Even months after your loss, the events of your loved one’s illness and death amaze you. Even after 6 months, there are days when I still can’t believe my husband is gone.  Many people may think it is easier  when you knew death was coming over time thus allowing you to recover from your grief faster somehow.  That does not happen.

Many of us in this group have, unfortunately, experienced the death of a loved one.  Supporting our friends during these life-changing times is important.  It will be the people who have experienced this level of loss who will understand deeply the hurt and the healing process which needs to happen in the months and years following the death of a loved one.

These are some things that I learned this year from my friends who helped me tremendously. If you have someone who is working through grief, you may want to try the following things:

  1. Give them your information so they can reach you when they are ready.  Add a note to your sympathy card which includes your phone, text number and e mail.  Sometimes it is easier to type your feelings than to talk on the phone. Your friend will need to reach out in her own good time.
  2. Consider sharing a book title that may be of help.  There are many books on grief that can be Goggled and purchased on Amazon.  Two titles that come to mind are:”Travelling through Grief”, and “Saturday Night Widows”.
  3. Allow your friend to have space to grieve alone, but don’t hesitate to call her and invite her for a quick lunch or shopping venture.  Don’t give up on her if she turns you down a few times or cancels plans at the last minute.  It is often difficult to make plans and keep commitments when you are suffering from a loss.
  4. Be available, be a listener, be positive, be hopeful, and above all, be a loving friend.

 

Thanks to those who have been there for me this year.

Coming Home Now

After my husband died, I began to become familiar with old things which had to be made new again. For example, any time one of us would come into the house we would say: “Honey, I’m home”.  I had actually thought of this as he was dying here, at the end of his life.  I would still come in the house and yell out our mutual greeting and know that his ears would hear it and think of me.  My words would land on a listening ear.

The first time I came into the house  after his death, the memory of “honey, I’m home” threatened to break my heart.  I went ahead and yelled it out – big mistake.  No answer – only the silence, the absence, the distinct emptiness——

That made being alone even more lonely.  Crying out to someone who could no longer answer was charged with the challenge of  wanting to change fate – to have him alive again, to enjoy one more “honey, I’m home”; and it invited grief to out itself yet again and rise out of my chest as a horrible ,gutteral moan, in a wave of remorse, of pain, of helplessness.

I got to the point that coming home became so painful, I would sit in parking lots in my car and avoid it like the plague.  I did not want to miss him anymore and I did not want to hurt so badly.

I changed that this year. Three months after the death of my love,  I got a cat, then six months later, I got another cat, then three months after that, I got a puppy.    They have given me a family once again to come home to.  I have discovered that I am a nurturer – a caregiver.  I need someone to love and to take care of in my space.  They have been wonderful and I am creating a new little group of “home friends”.  I never would have predicted this about me.  I thought I was so independent.  I guess not.  I wonder what else I will discover about myself as my solitary life continues.

 

Getting Going Again

I have started – at the one year mark – to get going again.  The feeling of inner happiness actually visits and I sense that I may survive my downer moods and feel normal for a while.

This weekend, I accompanied my three granddaughters to a small marathon in their village – in support of their local school.  They are twins of five years and their younger sister of 2 years.  We had a good time and I did not feel like the “leftover lady”. The girls have always been very loving and gracious.  They listen well and their community is warm and inviting.  I have given thought to moving here just to be closer to one of my own kids but I don’t know whether that is a good thing.  I would be crowding that kid and maybe the other two kids would wonder why I did not choose to locate nearer to them.  I wish I was a millionaire so that I could have a place close to my kids – all three of them.  Anyway – I still love the house that my husband and I built and although many things about it remind me of him, it is too beautiful to give up yet.

Travelling By Myself

For all of the years I was married, my husband drove us everywhere.  He made the decisions as to where we stopped and ate.  I loved it.  I relaxed.  I was fine with the lack of control because I felt very pampered.

Since his death, I am no longer spoiled and I drive everywhere by myself.  You may say I should have been doing this anyway – OK!  I find myself – especially on the six hour trip to my daughter’s house, looking at the things he marvelled at  – the escarpment at Milton, the traffic, the 407 and no we don’t need to spend money on that! Even the Tim Hortons buildings that we stopped at regularly have become places of memory and dread.  They trigger times of laughter and conversation that doesn’t happen now.   Even the loss of our 15 year old Lab 6 months before my husband comes back when I look at Timbits – since that was her special treat.

I play music, I cry.  If those truckers only knew how little I can see sometimes through my tears they would likely be willing to stay in that right  lane out of my way.

At least I am doing stuff since he died.  At least I am still alive.  At least I am not wishing he was here to see our new grandaughter sit up and eat solid food.  I was thinking for a long time that he was  missing this and that.  I don’t say that to myself much anymore.  I feel sorry for him that he cannot be here – we made a good life and he deserved time to enjoy it.

Learning how to live is getting easier.  Learning how to live happily is still out of my grasp so far.  Will that come? How?  Time?