Monthly Archives: May 2014

Thinking Positively

OK, so…now I am going to let all those single people out there who have been on their own forever that I have just come to the realization that there is a whole world that I have never looked at, concentrated on or learned about. Instead of having these new learnings on my part bring me back to feeling sorry for myself, I am trying to look at these things as opportunities instead of insurmountable challenges.
Since I have been a single person, I have learned to:

stain a deck
drill a hole
use a wall anchor
use a chain saw
clean out the gutters
use a tonneau cover on the truck
listen for the “funny” sounds my vehicles make so I can tell the mechanic
use a ramp on the truck
winterize a snowblower and lawn mower
know what equipment can be frozen in the shed for winter and what needs to stay garaged
seed a lawn
fertilize a lawn
use tie-downs in the half ton truck
appreciate bungee cords for all they can do
check my load at the service centres on the 401
build a deck box
use a level for everything
hang a towel rack
hang a mirror
do my budget – really
cut the lawn
rake the lawn
water the lawn
turn the water on and off in my house – “What main water supply?”
change the light bulbs (all the time)
change the furnace filter – is there a right way?
paint stuff – walls, woodwork, windows – and then clean up my mess – oil based? What’s that?
lift heavy stuff because I am too stubborn to ask for help all the time

So – you single people out there – without a partner to help bear the weight of all those chores – you have my undying respect and my hope that I will continue to learn more and love the results of my work. That’s being positive!

A Vision of Yourself

Think of yourself when you were five years old – maybe your first day of school, maybe your first car ride. You see yourself as someone else – that cute kid with the curly hair or bright red sweater – almost like you were looking at yourself in a book.

As I ponder my life now – after nineteen months of widowhood – I see myself in that two dimensional way. I vision myself with my husband like a picture in a book. He is gone and so is she. That woman I see in my memory is someone else now – someone not lost but also not recoverable. I am not her now…I am not her….

To Sell or Not to Sell

If you have become a widow and have a beautiful house that you and your husband built together and in which you raised your family – do you leave or do you stay?

I guess if your family is close by, you stay – you have the best of both worlds that way – the house you feel secure in and the family who loves you – kiddies to bake for and cuddle and love.

I – on the other hand – am six hours away from the one child out of my three who knows where she wants to live – forever! My sons are closer, but also going through their own transitions and they don’t need my locating them somewhere they may not want to be down the road.

So, here is my quandary – I now own two houses. One is the queen of homes – only the best in everything and three stories big. It is on a cul-de-sac and backed by parkland. I love the location – but it is also empty of human value – except for my memories. The other is my “cottage” located by my daughter and her three daughters. It is a simple bungalow and is plain and smaller with more economical furniture. The “cottage” is located on a busier road with gravel trucks that really can be noisy. There is a small forested area behind the house and a hayfield. A creek runs through it.

The “cottage” is on the school bus route so I keep in touch with my granddaughters going to and from school and it is only a block away from them so they can come to see me when I am there and, before it got warm enough to garden, I was baking fresh bread and cookies. It was fun to be involved with the rhythm of a family again – to be called for assistance or invited for dinner or a walk through the mountain trail.

I have taken a hard lesson in the true costs of running a household this year and running two households really can be daunting. Luckily, I can afford this – although I am taking out my old budgeting lessons so I can be a smart consumer. What has been really complicated is the work of being responsible for two separate homes six hours away from each other – talk about a long distance relationship!
I have friends at both ends who help, but I am getting the idea that I will have to make up my mind this year so that I can do justice to one household, to my friends and neighbours and to myself.
The idea of belonging to one community is attractive, but the idea of losing contact with my “groundroots” house is really frightening.
I know that some widows can’t wait to sell their “couples” place and move on – escape the memories in every corner – but – sometimes I find it refreshing – like one might feel going back to their elementary school – is it still the same? Does it seem smaller? Everytime I walk in here, I feel as though I have entered my “safe place” – no expectations about me, no need to meet new people or new challenges. I notice things I have done in the past to make this a restful and carefree place and I marvel at what I have accomplished. This visit, I noticed the size of the trees I planted twenty years ago. They are astonishingly beautiful.

So, what do I do. Leave? Stay?

I tried to live my life so I had no regrets so this is very difficult. I already regret not being more decisive. What should I do. Please finish my blog for me……

REINVENTION

OK, it is now time and I think I am getting the idea. I am slow to be sure, at getting this “living” thing down. I am indeed very reticent to say the least about moving on to a new life – yet sometimes now it almost seems exciting. I find that I smile automatically again – not as often as I did in my last life, but still, I smile. I cannot believe how that simple act of smiling causes my body to calm, breathe easier and look forward with my old relaxed inner strength. Am I beginning to recognize myself again?

It is now 3:38 AM – my witching hour – the time I wake up every day and try to get back to sleep – but fail….
I decided that tonight (or rather this morning), I would continue packing my truck with stuff for my cottage. It is still rather sparsely furnished – isn’t it amazing how important even a carrot peeler becomes when you don’t have one???

I used these early morning hours today to roam this house – you know – the one Jim and I raised our kids in – the one replete with memories. I am beginning to feel like a visitor in my own place – a stranger wandering through a museum, shopping for objects that can be carried forward – stuff that doesn’t drip with memories – stuff that doesn’t make me sad…

Today, I ran into many items I could use at the cottage. There is that second set of sheets for me and a desk lamp for my awesome new office at the cottage.
I ran across an old library book that the university was throwing away decades ago: “Death Be Not Proud”. What a coincidence that was…I read a few paragraphs and decided to revisit this timeless death/grief story again. It did not mean much when I was young, but it will now, I think. I also ran into two other modern grief books that I may be ready to read now and I will keep them available at the cottage too.

It does not seem that I grieve at the cottage – it is new and there is so much to do with moving in – new furniture and new colours in a much smaller space. My granddaughters are there and they are such happy little sprites that it is difficult to be reflective or sad while I am there. My daughter is really physically fit and healthy and is causing me to try to change my lifestyle back to what it once was with daily workouts and a healthier diet. I am lucky that she is so inviting and encouraging every day.

While the cottage has been a good respite from grief for me – time off you might say – coming back home and facing familiar territory, old friends and their “griefy looks”, “couple” things around the house, even the dishes and flatware we used – these things all bring back my aloneness.

I think, as painful as it is, coming to grips with my inner pain is important.
Another good cry in a fit of self-pity can be quite transforming. I have read that grief is hard work – you should not ignore it. Authors say it is important to acknowledge it and give your mind a chance to wrap itself knowingly around it. That is supposed to help you to develop a solid foundation upon which to build a new life – shit – it isn’t working.

Every now and then, I think back to a male friend of Jim’s – when I told him after six months that I was not doing very well, he looked at me with very surprised eyes and said,” Why not? You can’t change it. There is nothing you can do!” He was right and he was so “matter-of-fact” that I really have to wonder if I am not overdoing this period of my life. Maybe I am missing out on some very happy possibilities because I am not willing to move on more readily.

It doesn’t mean that I miss Jim less. It doesn’t mean that I love him less. It doesn’t mean that I would not change it all back if I could…

I once said to Jim that I wished it was me dying instead of him. He was aghast and said, “Don’t you ever say that again.” I am sure that he would not want me to waste a minute on the past. He would likely say – “Get on with your life. You are lucky enough to have this extra time beyond our life together – Use it!!” Would he be surprised at how much time it is taking me to re-wire my circuits? I know I am – I was not prepared to feel this hurt, this abandoned, this miserable. It has been nineteen months since his death after four years of fighting prostate cancer together. Could this be a little post traumatic stress too? We went through so much those last four years. Will it be four years to recover. Will I ever be “normal” again?

I am beginning to hate the word “REINVENTION”. I am not sure what it means or how to do it. I need to invent a new word for reinvention. Rather than redo what is already there, why not create a whole new self – rebirth – is that too escapist of me?

Back to the cottage….