Thursday, May 24, 2018

Older. Wiser? Weaker? Stronger!

When the year began it was as though I'd turned a corner and found myself walking along a different street, on a different path.

I knew this year would come, was coming. I felt I would see it, feel it, touch it and even smell all the fragrances of life -- sweet, sour, mellow, bright. 

Like light and shadow; movement and stillness. Life and the living. Death and the dying.

Each month that passes the time grows closer. What will it really be like? Hitting that mark. Being at that exact point in time? Will I weep? Will I laugh? How will I meet this inevitable part of my journey?

Before January 2011 I would have sang a song of happiness and anticipation. Thinking back and looking forward. Dreaming dreams and making plans. 

Life had been good, for the most part. 
     Tomorrow would be better.

Decay and germination. Related opposites.

One feeds the other, one rises from another.

It's May. Almost through the month. Mother's Day wasn't as challenging as it has been although Mom was in my thoughts. 

We went to her old facility, visited a woman we've befriended and so many others who sit, wait and are in line for their final journey. 

Each had gone their own way and now come together. 
         One by one they come; one by one they go.

Sometimes I wonder where the time HAS gone. January 2011. Seven years. SEVEN YEARS. How can that be?

Looking forward we couldn't see seven days and now it's been seven years -- moving towards eight.

Four years. 

        Years within years. 

                  Tears not forthcoming then flowing nonstop.

Weight carried in our hearts, in our minds and occupying every fiber of our being.

Admittedly the load has shifted.     It's compressed a little. 

The distribution is a little easier to carry  and we make the load lighter for one another as we carry it together moving forward, day by day.

In May so many years ago there was such great anticipation. I was graduating from College. We were engaged since March. We were going to be married in October.

I would leave the only "home" I knew, the one with my mother, my amazing and always, always there for me, mother.

Plans for "the wedding" helped to set aside my angst. After all, that's WHAT WE DID.  We "left our parent(s)" and made our way in the world with someone else beside us.

And so we did. For three years. Then we became reunited.                                       We added our first child. 
            We added my mother to our family.

Raised in love you give with an open heart. There are no questions about "what if", there is understanding you will go through and beyond whatever. 

And so we did. Almost four decades together.

Today we ridicule and taunt many who chose multigenerational living. 

Sitcoms thrive on these  "dysfunctional relationships"

Sadly they do not see the truth because to see would be to miss, to be without, to not have and to have given up.

We grow older. 
      We hope to grow wiser.

We sometimes become weaker.
      We learn how to grow stronger.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Paper Trails A Must In Long Term Care Facilities

Paper trails are a must as your loved one progresses to need more care, more time and "costs" the facility more money. 

Without your tracking the challenges you've seen first hand or become aware of through a visit, your concerns and complaints become a lost cause to try to remedy when the State comes calling, as they do, for either a regular visit or for a special investigation.


Aides are the lifeline and the heartbeat of Long Term Care Facilities. 


They are the 24 hour people responding to the call, the buzzer, the needs and wants of the residents. And, they see, hear and touch residents having the most frequent contact and the most active physical, emotional and psychological contact.


Yet they are the most under-trained and seldom given first hand, from the best source (especially any from outside a facility), direct experience training.


Aides usually get "retrained" after an "incident" that has involved a resident and caused some form of need to acknowledge a problem. 


Think you're protected? A Federal program. The Ombudsmen (actually men and women).

In our area this Federally Mandated service is now called "VOYCE" so check closely to find your "version" of "Ombudsmen".


Then look closely. You'll probably find variations on a theme. The theme? Must be invited in. Aren't there to really meet with, work with. Usually only able to spend a few hours in the whole facility. Let's see -- a few hundred people -- how many do you think they really "get in  contact with"?

In many, they're not the advocates they're supposed to be. They're "mediators" only activated and coming into the facility when a phone call or email activates a "need to respond" and even then, it may be only a phone call to "check it out" and not a "real personal visit".

CNA's have the ability to see actions on the part of the resident that could lead to more serious challenges, that is if they are encouraged to spend time with the resident and observed and their input is valued and not dismissed or told "that's the LPN or RN's job".

EVERY PERSON IN THE LIFE  OF AN OLDER AMERICAN WHO LIVES WITH, PROVIDES FOR OR COMES IN CONTACT WITH is an important link in the chain of ensuring Seniors have quality of life.

Most facilities are understaffed with CNA's, sometimes as in Mom's old facility with one CNA for a whole half floor, numbering between 15 and twenty people, and one LPN per wing/half floor -- or in some cases for the entire floor.


State Regulations should be based on the needs of the patients and also on the concept one person (Aide) cannot be in two places at the same time; it's like two kids who want something at the same time or who NEED something at the same time and a parent can't be in two places at once.


Taking this concept a step further: think of it this way -- one parent, one child versus one parent five children. Now, have them all be "sick" at the same time although the levels of "need" from providing medication to changing bedclothing or clothes varies. Could you predict when the one parent will begin to "lose it" and or not give the right service at the right time?


That's exactly how our LTC's shouldn't operate but they do. Faced with mounting bills and reduced compensation, they struggle to keep staff and usually face cuts all around -- staffing, services, food, etc.


Ever notice when you visit how early the residents "go to bed"?  


Do you really think it's their choice? 

Ever notice how "sound asleep" they are?  

Did you know they're probably "knocked out" for the night? 

Doctors associated with Long Term Care Facilities are "selected" by the facility, are "allowed in" by the facility. So who do you think they work for? The patient? 

Did you know, at least in the State of Missouri, as I discovered yesterday in my readings of State Rules and Regs that the Facility Doctor in charge can actually "override" and "add" to the PNR's given to patients and among these, of course, can be meds to allow "rest" for the patients who seem to be causing "disturbance's" with their ability to roam, call out or in other ways "disturb" other residents and staff. 


IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT FOR YOUR LOVED ONES?  

HOW ABOUT FOR YOURSELF IF YOU BECOME ONE OF THE MANY FACING BEING "INSTITUTIONALIZED"?

Keep a "Visitation Diary" noting the date, the time arrived and specific notes.

OBSERVE  and check out drawers, closet, medicine cabinet, bathroom, bed.

Where is the call button when you arrive? Within reach? Or pulled out of the connection?


Take off your shoes and walk across the floor. Is it dusty, dirty or slick? 

Any visible black and blue marks? Ask to see the record and when it/they were noticed and what was cited as "the cause".

Check out medical records if you have the Medical Power of Attorney. What meds are give regularly and MORE IMPORTANTLY, ask for a list of all "as needed" drugs still on the record.


WANT TO REALLY ENSURE YOUR LOVED ONE'S SAFETY AND WELL BEING?  

Ensure someone has a Medical Power of Attorney and hopefully you have a family unit that works together so that all members observe, notate and share with other "care givers" what they've observed and heard.

Ask yourself.....as a parent did you use a "nanny cam"? Did you question the children about their "sitter"? Did you interview others who used the caregiving services?


Why do we "turn over" complete care to people who are paid based on the amount of services rendered?


Why do we "assume" our loved one is well taken care of and the facility only has their "best interests" in mind?


Many do. Many don't.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Life Melodies Change Only In Tempo

My sons are moving along a similar path of life even though they'd probably dispute their lives were so much like ours.

They compare, compete and go out to ensure the family unit not only survives but thrives.

Their wives handle the homefront and participate in the business world while working hard and each of them have to work to find a small slice of life to set aside for themselves. 

Where are they all running so hard to reach? What's their destination and when do they plan to "arrive"? 

The women no longer have the choices they had in their early twenties when their worlds were so open, so many possibilities and so many decisions. 

They conform to the mold of being part of a family; wife and mother head their list of responsibilities just as they did for me.

The men have "settled in" to being the "bread winner". The oldest is home, as he says, every night and the younger often finds himself travelling the world.

Both have adapted and adopted and created "the life" they want, they value and they recognize as being "in the best interests" of their family and its members.

Neither lifestyle is right and neither is wrong.

We gave them skillsets they've carried and neither truly recognizes as being "life and living" through our practices and beliefs.

Interestingly neither really fully recognizes the real gifts we gave them. Perhaps like so many others, they'll recognize them when we're both gone and just a memory, fading with each passing day.

Those who see, those who understand and those who verbally recognize often and sincerely, the struggles, the challenges, the focuses and the benefits a family dedicated to one another, all stages and ages of life, all ends of the cord of life stretched to include other family and friends, theirs is a life of true value.

We set the pace of the race and the boys and daughter are taking the hand off and entering the field moving forward, upward and onward as their lives pass through years and decades where they too wonder how quickly time passes.


The song is the same while the meter and the measure often vary.  

We sing the song of life through generations.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Hide! Close Your Eyes & No One Can See

How To Win A Disagreement when you're on the wrong side of the truth:

  • Throw distractions in comments and remarks mentioning life occurrences so far in the past it takes time to bring them forward into the "thinking" part of the brain
  • Hurl insults that aren't accurate and use language that blames, insults and includes numerous accusations
  • Explode your power through cc's and direct sends of email messages altering and leaving out "segments"  & "sections" to anyone you can think of
  • Involve everyone even if it causes pain or doesn't affect them directly
  • It's your job to ensure confusion and promote negativity 

"Kids say the darndest things' is a quote from a talk show host who had a fun part of his show "interviewing" very young school age children who sat on chairs on the stage of his TV program in the earlier days of television.

Art Linkletter, Host of the show, moved beside each one with a microphone (a necessity back then) and asked each a question. He listened and watched. 

He often knew just the remark that might get a really interesting answer -- one the audience would laugh about but sometimes the parents would cringe and possibly "lecture" their child once home.

My oldest son takes a twist on this "funny" approach to communication. 

He uses "loaded language" to ensure conflict and continuing discord.

Unlike Mr Linkletter, my son isn't "putting on a show" but he is using children to get a response from his audience and in some ways they're both guilty of taking innocence and using it as a tool to get notoriety and recognition. 

Enter my oldest son. The subject of this blog entry. 

Bright. Capable. Not to say the others weren't, he was just "the first" and therefore almost always "led the way" for the others in terms of what was offered, what was given and what was done.

Eduation: Early start. Toddler. As soon as he was "toilet trained" which was 18 months. He walked at 8 months. Yes, walked, not tried, not stood -- walking....and almost running.

Sports: What's your interest? What would you like to try? 

He named it, we provided it. And, of course for the other two as well. 

We were "those" parents of the 70's and onward; there with the hand and the wallet outstretched.  

We were children of the Post War era; parents who'd lived through the Depression; many started the movement to the suburbs; all wanted a better life for their children.

What do you want?  What do you need? When do you need it? How high do you want me to jump and how many times and how far do you want me to bend over backwards?

We'll go out and get all the equipment tonight after my challenging day working, we'll write a check for the membership/dues/donation -- whatever it takes, son, after all, we do it "for you".

Interested in computers? Science? Drama? Whatever! Here for you. 

Two jobs at once I'm trying to work. 

Your brother has similar wants and needs but I'll find the time, why, I'll "make" the time -- for you, for him. 

Enter a little baby sister. MUCH older Mom and Dad. College? Right! Take your pick. We can't afford some but we'll find a way to get you THE BEST. We'll take on debt and years later.....you'll say you paid your entire way through.

REALLY?

We have the bills. When you came home to "reorganize" your way of thinking and applying yourself at college at their request and returned, we took up the slack and the additional cost of your "lost" benefits because of poor grades. But you don't seem to remember that, my son.

We gave you a monthly stipend. You "needed" furnishings for your room. We bought them. Clothing? Got it. Want to "build" a special loft for your room. Consider it done. We're in town, we buy it, rent a truck to cart the materials and, when Summer roles around, we pay for the storage of that and other "college items" until you head back for another year of "fun" and "games" and some studying.

You need a car at school? Well, it would be less expensive than flying you home for breaks. Here, son, take mine. I'll use the old car a family member has; it's not as reliable but I'll make do.

You drove where? What? Why? A little "romantic getaway" and you visited a cousin but no one ever told us about your "travels". How thoughtful of them. How deceitful of you. And that was only one time you "used" your privilege for self gain, no thought for or about others and certainly no respect for the sacrifices of your family.

That car was supposed to be given to your brother, attending the same college, had two more years to go. But that didn't matter to you, the golden boy, the always being given what was meant to lead to a dream future but ended up building a multi level nightmare for your immediate family.

FAST FORWARD. More than a decade has passed. Ups and downs. A marriage we did not attend because there was no regret, no feeling of shame about striking me down, causing teeth to be broken and others to be cracked (years of putting off dental work and then being told by son, "you should have gotten that done years ago" as we struggled to cope financially, physically and emotionally after using everything we had to care give for two immediate family members. 

Thanks, son, for loading on the guilt when it was already piled high by circumstance.

Something always setting you off. Then came the "taking home your toys so we couldn't play anymore" action.  That was actually your removing any and all contact with the children you began to have. Started with the first. Went on for a while. We came back together, not close, but communicating and meeting in your brother's home when we visited.

This is the third time, if I recall correctly. This time it's been almost three years. Let's see, five children now -- don't know the name of the fifth, we weren't told you were "expecting" or when the baby was born, if it was a boy or girl (a boy), a name or anything. This time the split was over your father and my gravesite. The one you manipulated into controlling completely and solely the erection of a monument and internment.

I wrote you I could't find the grave and how a marker really needed to be put up.

You responded, "If you want it so bad, do it yourself".

What a tribute to your father.

What a lie you tell about what you do.

Your brother says we can't get along because we're alike.

You're not like me, I'm not like you You are, my son, like your grandfather. You are self centered. You are focused on what you need, not helping family, not seeing needs, not caring.

Your brother is right. I never understood my father and his self centered actions and I never will understand yours.

How sad you choose a woman who supports your actions,  perhaps encourages them. She gains, after all, more power over you. That's hard to write. Sad to write. 

I read letters you sent to us before you "hooked up" with her. Between the lines I see you were "ripe" to be picked up by someone who would accompany you on paths away from and towards what she wanted, what she needed.

I've often wondered. Wondered about her brother, who died of an overdose. Who had a mother who was an RN. 

I admit I did not see what you were doing and had done but I cannot understand how a mother with a Nursing degree cannot see someone on drugs. Or, did she try and fail. As I did with you?

Finding letters you wrote. Before she came into your life.

They weren't angry. They weren't hostile. They included some choices I see now as detrimental but saw then as "typical college student" and "typical first born".

Close your eyes. You can't see. You can be seen. You believe you cannot. When will you learn. When will you see.When will you know the future depends on the past

Like your grandmother, you believe you can change someone. You cannot.

I commend you for your devotion to your children. It's sad you do not realize that in turning away from those who have been there for you, cared about you, are being shoved aside to ensure you have no support, no one on "your side".

I wish it hadn't happened. I wish you'd heard our concern, your father's, your grandmother's and mine.

Time will pass. You have choices. When will you see truth and accept it?


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Criticism, Critical Care, Critique

Looking back the words still sting.

Emails filled with vicious accusations of incompetence.

False accusations, wild misstatements. 

How could someone who lived in the same house as two other children at the same time believe their life was so completely different especially when that life parallelled a brother's almost completely?

At the time I was barely coping. With two family members, husband and mother, both facing their life challenges, differently but similarly. 

He losing his physical abilities and she losing her mental abilities while going through continuing physical challenges and losses as well.

Where was the "coming alongside"? One visit during the 100 days almost constantly in Critical Intensive Care for his father?

I understand. He was working. He didn't have the advantage his brother had of travelling for business and being able to "swing through" with quite a bit of planning.

Phone calls?  They were to question, to accuse, to find fault and to let me know no matter what I did it was never enough, never the right way and always, always, in some way negatively affected him and his life.

That last phone call he had with his father. I walked in as it had ended. I watched my husband begin to sob and shake. He went from this to uncontrollable shaking and needing a Nurse to find blankets and administer meds.

He cried after ending the conversation when I walked in. I can't remember seeing my husband cry. I'm sure he did when his father passed as they were close and for his mother but not in this way. He seemed to be torn inside out.

My husband knew this son had ripped me apart on the phone and in emails. Even when I didn't share what was said, when he had bad days or when I thought it wasn't good to "update" him on all the verbal attacks the son had made on me and in so doing on him. We were abusers this son said. 

Today I know it could have been different. We'd called this son after talking with the other and finding he could not help but his words were gentle, kind and wishing he could. We were going through every penny we had. Poor planning the oldest son said. We should have and could have done better all the years before, we were told. 

Didn't matter through it all we ensured he, his brother and his sister and for a while a child we took in, husband's brother's son's child, was provided with food, clothing and education and more.

Didn't matter we survived at least once each decade odds that put others in far worse circumstances:  his birth and necessity of medical care far beyond the insurance we had; his brother's birth and complications from a milk allergy; his sister's birth and taking in an extra person while helping with two college tuitions and so many additional costs; a fire and loss of seven years of what we'd accumulated; loss of a job and months trying to find another; economic losses from moving to another location in times when company's didn't cover the cost.

A long story. A life story. Always focused on family. Always focused on the son and the others but him first as the oldest. He set the way, we did not want to play favorites. 

It's interesting now. He's shut us out. The two of us who remain of three of his immediate family. It's not the first time. He's played this "joker" of a card at least twice before or is it three times -- going through as much as we have I've lost count.

I can't be around his children. I'm the problem. His sister chooses not to be around him. She's not a child. She's an adult who's endured many of his abuses and wants no more.

I understand. This son once asked me since I'd said long ago how when he was born he "looked like" his Grandfather, my father, "how" he resembled his Grandfather now. 

At birth this first born was bald and blue eyed -- just like my father. And I'd told him that several years ago. It's typical after birth to compare physical attributes to one or another family member and he was my "first" so that physical comparison was expected. Plus, my father passed.

Cancer of the lung, too many years of smoking and too much drinking, when I was in my first year of college. Even with the life we had together and what we went through apart, I still loved him and watching my mother cry after years of being divorced, when she was told of his death, I knew she did, too.

So many times I told him he wasn't like his Grandfather, my father, as my Dad was an abuser. An alcoholic. He couldn't stop. Once in a great while he'd try but he always returned.

"Don't reach in that trash can, little darlin" he'd say to me. "Dad's thrown away a razor blade and I don't want you to get cut."  

Now, I didn't usually reach into trash cans around the house but I knew, even at less than nine years old this meant he'd thrown away another empty bottle of Hill & Hill, his whiskey of choice, cheap but able to give him the "escape" he needed.

No, my son, even when you went through your phase of underage drinking and the other questionable actions you took, I never compared you to him, I never believed you were "like him".

You see, as I've told you, my first born and my oldest son, I did what I did for you because I'd been told my father probably did what he did because he had no advantages in life. 

Dad was intelligent, I was told by members of his family, but he had to work in the Barber Shop, take money home to the family, never able to go regularly to school and never able to feed his love of learning.

I vowed no child of mine would ever have to go through not having the opportunity and the best I could provide. 

I lived my own life loving to learn and making sure, in a time when people my age were just starting to go to college in higher numbers, I was the first female and the second person in my mother and my father's family to go to college and I finished and I continue to learn.

I'm sorry for you, my son, as I've told you .... what is it now, going on five years...since you cut me off, for the third time, from any contact with "your family" and that includes your children.

You've had another child in that time. Believe he turns three this year or it could be four. 

Interesting how life moves forward. You've told me how poor my choices were and how they created problems.

I noticed your wife wrote on the internet how she was surprised by this "late in life" addition. It had been what, six years, since your fourth was born?

I'd heard differently. I'd heard there was a request for a vasectomy and it didn't happen. That's a personal choice. Like so many we all make in life. And, like many choices, it can have unexpected or difficult challenges added.

You know, my son, I'm reminded how your father and I communicated. How we cared about one another and how he had once considered taking that action after your sister was born. I told him I'd be there with him if he did. And I would have. He didn't. We had your sister late in life; a true blessing as were our sons, you included.

Life is choices. Some good. Some may not appear so good. 

What I value the most is the love we had and the support we gave one another and how as I approach, alone, this year of celebrating an amazing anniversary I wish was alongside him maybe taking a trip together somewhere or gathering the family together as we did when we hit that first milestone while you were in college.

But I'd do things differently. I've learned, you see, my son. I opened my heart and arms to the woman who became your wife and who, in my opinion, has split our family apart along with your willingness to let it happen.

I can bear this time. I've been bearing many "times" in life since I was very young. I don't like it; I wish it wasn't so and I'm concerned that what the two of you have done this time will have repercussions you cannot begin to imagine the longer you refuse to reconcile and remedy other actions you've taken to tear asunder what a power higher than you joined together.

I've gone through several years since my husband's passing and Mom's. Years when your coming alongside would have made the journey easier even in the most difficult of times.

You walk your path. I walk mine. As did your father with you.

Why? What cannot be mended and what cannot be fixed if LOVE is truly within us?

Criticism, critical care, critique. States of mind and states of living. For how long is in your hands, my son.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

And Life Goes On . . .

Where I have been . . . where I was .... where I am

Choices . . . so easy to analyze in the future you cannot see from the present where you are

Chances . . . taking risk, making decisions, believing in myself and . . . 

So easy for others to negate. So easy to walk away. 

Facing life is far more challenging than simply interacting .

Feeling like I'm on a carousel riding round and round, up and down with no stopping or starting just going in continual circles.

Reaching out into thin air with hand extended only to close on .....

Believing in tomorrow while honoring yesterday

Give it up, move on, look away . . . or silence, no support, no suggestions, no concern

Who Am I? Who I've Always Been. Different Now. Forever Changed. 

Stepping into the future. 

Eyes sometimes closed, sometimes squinting, sometimes wide open. 

Listening. Talking. Sharing. Learning others walked a similar path and move down similar roads.

Who Am I? Who I've Always Been. Finding Myself. Again

Friday, December 8, 2017

Grief Wears Many Faces

Google the word "grief" and here's what you find:

GRIEF: Deep sorrow, especially one caused by someone's death. Trouble or annoyance.

Further google "sorrow" and you find:

SORROW: a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.  feel or display deep distress.

Grief actually wears many faces -- the everyday, the horrific loss, the time past and the  faces presented to the world in each human encounter experienced today, tomorrow, everyday.

Death is one form of Grief. It seems to be the most challenging because there is no hope in the here and now for change. Death, after all, is the final frontier and not reversible.

Last night I met a woman who was working through her grief of a couple of years. Her "friends" keep telling her it's been long enough, she should "do other things" and of course, they tell her what she shouldn't do, too.

She had a very long marriage; they were a "good pair" as we would categorize people who made their lives together and survived decades of challenges.

Not to be minimal, but think of it as having in your life anything, human or an object, when it's "gone", you "miss" having it. The degree to which you miss this object is often associated with the length of time, the value and the part it played in your life. 

Well intentioned friends and acquaintances who have not experienced the loss of a spouse may not truly grasp the level at which the loss is experienced and how every facet of life is affected, every day that passes.

Grief has many "faces" to the world:

Some had less than good experiences in their relationship and so the "passing" may even be a relief but reflected to the world as one of their having "adjusted" so well, so quickly as they moved on. It's different for everyone; don't be quick to judge, to approve or disapprove; it's their life, not yours.

Some find a need to replace or restore their lives through finding another to share the time and reclaim life as they knew it.

Some bear the loss seeking solutions along the way to understand, comprehend and manage a new, yet unwanted, life beginning.

Some have been affected by more than just the death, the illness, the loss -- they are struggling to move forward and most people walk around these individuals, some offer support of one kind of another but most go on living their lives giving their support or encouragement when they have the time or when they come in contact with the "bereaved".

Why do we only see grief as being a "deep" feeling and if someone doesn't "display" this form of grief/sorrow, are they heartless, uncaring and unfeeling?

Some of us hide grief created by the actions taken by someone in their life that aren't associated with death but have the same effect. 

Children who remove the ability to talk with or visit grandchildren, for example, because they cannot resolve differences through active listening and engagement in resolution processes.

Parents often endure times of great sorrow when the children they love and have nurtured turn away and against them.

They've endured behaviours from these children over many years and now the "child" uses the "ultimate weapon" -- denial of the only thing they really control access to believing they are "winning" a "battle".

How very sad to use human beings in this way. 

How very unrealistic the parent is who uses this method.

There are, of course, valid reasons for denying contact including physical abuse but to insert another human being into a situation where you cannot face the challenges in the relationship you've created does not resolve the situation and only adds "fuel to the fire".

Sadly, these grown "children" who "pick up their marbles and go home" when they cannot get the other person to follow their lead, to do what they want and to give up whatever the other wants, are planting the seeds of a tomorrow when their children will be adults, when they will have the ability to question and when they will possibly put into practice what was done to them by these "grown children", their parents.

They have struggled in life facing and owning their negative actions and often hide behind masks they create to hide the reality of what they've done and continue to do. 

To the world at large, these providers of grief may appear to function normally, possibly even exceeding in areas, but in reality they are deeply troubled individuals who need to face the real problems in their lives, not those they "identify" or replace what should be faced, what should be resolved.

The definition of grief that includes "trouble" and "annoyance" I would expand and add "a force that weaves into and around the life experience causing unforseen and unanticipated disruption and potentially unreclaimable losses."

INTERESTING COMPARISON:  I've been writing about the need to redefine or rexamine DEMENTIA and recognize it's not the depth of the disease, it's the impact the disease causes in all its stages.

THIS IS GRIEF'S DEFINITION AS WELL.

To believe Grief starts with death and over time subsides or goes away is as false, misleading and deceptive as believing the only kind of Dementia is Alzheimers. 

As for me, I've chosen not to accept Grief as others define the process. 

Has Grief affected me? Absolutely. 

Does Grief rule my life and control me? Definitely Not!

It's understanding where you are, where you need to be that becomes important to allowing for grief but not succumbing to it or building the forcefulness of its impact on you.

I've lived believing each day I face choices, make decisions and continue the path with those whom I love and loved, walking together even though we're apart.

Many days, many years that have followed have not been pleasant, enjoyable, welcome; many have been devastating or highly challenging. 

We, you and I, decide each day how we will move through that time, when we have moved forward and to what point without someone with whom we shared and may still have or may choose to place in a different perspective, a life bond.

Grief is personal. Grief is not the feelings of a friend, acquaintance or another family member. Grief can be shared but grief is unique to all it affects.

We, you and I, can find a small speck of joy or simple positive thinking in the deepest of life's challenges.

Grief, in any form, is natural. You have the personal right to adjust, to find relief and to change your focus to provide positive life movement.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Putting On Widowhood: In The Beginning

In the weeks following my husband's death, as I spiraled and swam in the jello of life as it was becoming, I found refuge going to a bookstore. 

I was a "widow". I didn't know what that meant except I was no longer "married" and the person in my life was gone, never to return in this life.

How did others live during this time? What did they do? How did they go through the days, the nights and the time from ... here.....to.....there?

Books had always been a major refuge and a ways and means for me to move into and through various times in life.

Most of my life I couldn't afford to buy books but I discovered very early the wonderful world of the Public Library.

I was as deep into books as some kids are into video games.

Magazines and periodicals of all types beckoned me to open them and learn about history, science, the world in general and people in particular.

I loved to read. I devoured the classics,  SciFi writers like Bradbury and Asimov. The fantasies and deeper, more life challenging and thought provoking writings of Madeline L'Engle and others .

At thirteen I'd read many of Tolstoy's works including War and Peace and Anna Karanina. I was the girl walking home from the library with as many books as she could carry. 

My world was small in my first two decades; my time was vast. 

Moving as much as we did, friends came and went. 

Immersing myself in activities of the mind, you'd think I would have been a straight "A" student. I wasn't. In fact I was surprised when I was told I would be admitted to National Honor Society.

Then came college made possible by a small scholarship that would help me with tuition and books for the first two years. Working every chance I had and saving I was able to make it to the "goal" -- the coveted BS degree.

Being away from my Mom, my "rock" and the one person I had who was constant in my life, was challenging. 

I often found a way home from the not so far away college campus on weekends feeling the separation even though I was very involved in this "new life".

I met my husband at college. It was at a center on campus that had a Ping Pong table and I was learning and loving this sport where two or four could use both mental and physical abilities.

He was from an area close to where I lived and he had a car and drove back to see his parents and his sibling almost every weekend. It was early in our "relationship" that I went along for the ride each time he went. There were usually a couple of other people. 

I still marvel at how he was able to get four people's weekend luggage into a really small car. Over the years we shared together I continued to be surprised by his capabilities and how our interests, our abilities, complimented one another and built our life together.

First Semester ended. Home for the holidays. We shared time with his family and with my Mom. Then, life changed, as suddenly as it would as we moved through our lives together. 

I remember opening the door to our apartment and seeing my Mom  sitting by the phone with tears in her eyes and a handkerchief to wipe them away. Mom seldom cried. Throughout the long challenges she faced as a Divorcee I cannot remember seeing her cry as she did on this day.

She told me my Dad had died. 

 Although my Mom and Dad had been divorced for several years and we tried to keep where we were from him because he would get drunk and stand outside where Mom worked or where we lived and call her horrible names or try to get her to "come back" I had reconnected with his family.

I learned he was in a VA hospital. I, too, had wanted life to be so different. A family. That's what we should have been. Together. But not living with the abuse Dad could not control.

I'd been to visit him when I was told he was very sick and in a VA hospital. Cancer. Of the lung. Heavy smoker and heavy drinker do not make for a long life.

Mom was a divorcee. Another title in life that carries a list of society's tags. Was she also a "widow"? In her heart I believe she was because through it all I know she loved him, cared about him and truly wished he would change. 

She'd married for life, I believe. She could have remarried although at the time being into her 40's it was not nearly as common as today and as she said, "I know what I have now and I don't want to walk that path again."

Widowhood. How do you wear this "new" identity?  To wear or not wear your wedding rings. To become "Ms" instead of "Mrs".

To catch the glance of women you know who hold on tighter to the arms of their husbands either out of concern you might have something "catching" that might enter into their lives if they don't take precautions by holding on tightly to what they have, they might become like you.....

Hurricanes and rainbows.  Torrential rains and bright, clear, sunshine. Chaos and peace.

Advice. Always more advice on areas of life you don't ask for it. Other people who know so much more than you do because widowhood somehow makes a woman less competent -- if she was ever viewed as truly being capable, that is.

As always my life focus, I went to a bookstore believing I'd find books written on "being a widow" as though it was a profession or hobby one would write about.

Deep down I'm sure I was losing my life balance and looking for something to hang on to, to support me and to give me insight into where I was going, in what directions I might be going.

If it was only that simple. Like baking a cake, fixing a piece of equipment or going to school -- direction, guideance, focus from those who have "gone before" and prepare you for what's to come.

What I found?  Being a Widow comes with either a capital "W" or a lower case "w". It is the major part of your life or a constant part of your life.


What I found?  Widowhood isn't a popular subject.  After all....who wants to write about endings......