Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Our Aging: Contributors, Valuable Resource & Wealth

This past weekend's garage sale and the diversity of the people who came to browse and some to shop was another lesson in acceptance and reminder of how far we have to go as a society.

Diversity. In the United States we write laws. We empower some people with authority to daily work to create these laws through directly exercising our right to vote and through putting people into offices and positions of appointing, managing and directing the course of our lives and the lives of those who will come after us.

Grass Roots. Today, grass roots movements with the vast technological networks can grow from one person's idea to hundreds, thousands and millions of people actively engaged in creating change.

A Beehive. NPR was just talking about bees. How bees communicate in a hive by moving and touching and sending specific communication through movements and through sound.

Humanity. The internet is our vast hive of communication. We move through reaching out and touching people, as this blog has, around the world.

In a keystroke with the choice made by another person to look, to find, to listen, change can happen.

Grass Roots = A Beehive = Humanity's Internet

AGEISM.  Several over 50 (and older) people came to the garage sale. What's concerning is how many find themselves using Garage Sales and therefore depending on those $1, $2 and very low prices to provide a little of life's necessities. Yes, there were the "resellers" but most were trying to augment their limited incomes through either retirement or through low wage jobs.

I listen. I learn. I enjoy visiting with these people even more than I do watching the items gain another home, another family, another chance to be a part of living and not just put away somewhere or forgotten -- given, if you will, "new life".

DIVERSITY.  Two women returned who'd visited the week before and bought a couple of items. The older woman had moved into an Independent living facility. She was in her mid 80's. Her husband, she said, had to live in a separate place because he has Alzheimer's. She was close enough, she said, if they'd let her, she could walk to visit him, but, of course, she can't.

Out of fairness, I know the two facilities, there are two very heavily trafficked roads, no real sidewalks and it's an uphill climb of quite a distance.

WHY TWO SEPARATE FACILTIES?  Why when they're both paying for separate accommodations aren't they at least in one facility so she could "walk" to visit him? Most probably because their budget, what they have available, is too much for Medicaid and too little for many "buy in" places where they could live at the minimal level of Independent living and the higher level of Alzheimer's specialized care.

Perhaps his Alzheimer's doesn't provide a good environment for her to be directly living with him on a constant basis, but, it's obvious she wants to be with him, talk to/with him, and just, for her own benefit, be close enough to be with him when she chooses and not when someone can make arrangements for her.

Perhaps they can't "share" a room for those reasons and that adds dramatically to their costs.


WHEN?  Will our older generation, those who can no longer manage, care for or for whatever medical or other reasons, be on their own, be considered, be truly assisted and counseled and cared about by our supposed VAST RESOURCES BOTH PUBLIC AND PRIVATE to see the human side of life, of people, of relationships and WORK TO ENSURE SELF DETERMINATION AND SELF RESPECT are honored?

Diversity is age as well as skin color or personal orientation or being male or female.

My oldest son once told me the value of a person is determined by what they've made, the productivity, the money they generated and that can be directly attributed to them.

I sincerely hope he's grown up since then to realize contributions are made on a daily basis by every living thing, human and otherwise. People who are able, people with limitations.

I thought I'd taught him better but I realize his choices do not reflect mine and they do not reflect my success or failure but rather his individual decision.

DIVERSITY.  Our aged and aging are valuable assets. Without them you would not have what you have, Americans and others -- freedom, homes, food, energy, inventions, life itself.


Are you busy living, going through your daily routines and facing the challenges of care and life for our aging population only when it happens to you?  I understand, I did the same.

Although I shared a home for almost four decades and my mother lived with our growing and growing older family members all that time, I admit, my life was involved in so many other things it wasn't until I was directly involved with an immediate family member in the system of healthcare and personal care and other living situations that I became aware of the GROSS LACK OF REAL INFORMATION AND ACTUAL FACTS available.

Speak Up if you have information. Join with others on line. Contribute your experiences. Add your comments here.

MOST IMPORTANT:  Ageism has proven to be a growing industry and provides jobs for people from the Executive Suite to the entry level position.


THEY ARE HIGH LEVEL CONTRIBUTORS. We have benefited and we continue to benefit from their lessons and their contributions.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Dr Phil: One Of Many Not Seeing Lewy Body Dementia

A few weeks ago I was home, turned on the TV and Dr Phil's program was on. I'm writing about what I saw because I can't get it out of my mind and because October is ending and we need to continue Awareness of Lewy Body Dementia. 

What caught my eye was a program on how an older woman had been "love scammed" by a man she'd never met but whose picture she'd seen, telephone conversations she'd had with him. Out of "love", she sent him money and gifts totaling over $300,000.

Her husband had died. She was lonely although she didn't say that. She had a computer and went onto Christian Mingle, a site for bringing people together. A site where the woman felt she could safely look for someone to take away the loneliness.

Unfortunately, even the best meaning sites can harbor people with anything but the best intentions and can be hiding places for individuals who take away everything of value from trusting, unsuspecting individuals.

Dr Phil was intent on reasoning with her and providing evidence of how this man was a scam artist including how the picture she believed was the man she "loved" was of another person. A picture taken from another website and NOT of the person she'd sent the money to; Dr Phil produced a picture of a man his team of researchers found to be the real person living far outside of legal reach in a country known for producing huge computer based monetary predatory scams.

To anyone capable of reasoning, it was obvious this lady was the victim of a scam. One of her last remarks:  "I love him."

My opinion?  Lewy Body Dementia. Watching her demeanor and listening to her agree to certain statements and then turn around and want to be with the man, want to be married to him -- obvious to me but not to Dr Phil the lady has neurologic problems.

I understand, Dr Phil. I really do. You're a medical professional and you cannot see. You've not been trained, advised or aware. This is your chance, Dr. Phil. You can be one of the strongest advocates LBD needs. Anyone who reads this, please forward it to Dr Phil. I can write but my voice will be only one. Ask others to send this note to Dr. Phil.

IMPORTANT:  Click through to build your knowledge and share with others to find out what we know about Lewy Body Dementiav --



We've brought Alzheimer's Awareness to the top of the medical challenges list, let's raise LEWY BODY to the same heights!

I understand Dr. Phil's challenge. Mom and I lived together for decades and I didn't see what was happening. Of course, everyone told me how capable, how competent and how "young" my mother looked. She was also social saavy and could smile, laugh and cover up, just like the lady on Dr Phil's show.

Looks and even words can cover up Lewy Body Dementia for a very long time. The slippery slope of the disease didn't progress like Alzheimer's.

Mom was taken off a drug that was supposed to aid blood movement throughout her body. It also caused her left leg to swell two to three times its regular size and for white flaky skin and sores to form and was painful. Apparently, now thinking back, this circulation was what kept Mom going and her brain "rebuilding" and without it, the disease took over and within a short span of time shut down her body functions.

Of course I wonder if we should have agreed to removing the medication. At the time all we were told was the medication was not one that should have been given for so long but I believe the Nurse Practitioner looked at Mom's more and more frequent visits to the ER and hospital as her life's end nearing and gaining momentum.

Perhaps she thought the swelling and pain was not worth what Mom was going through for the few extra weeks or months left in her life. Mom lived and loved and laughed and LBD was no longer controllable -- it was invading too many other systems, as we were told it would do.

Patients and families need professionals to know and understand LBD to work with them as they travel along this treacherous path that winds, twists and plummets into depths and darkness. Awareness lets in light; potentially provides treatments and may even provide a cure.

YOU and others hold the possibility, the potential. And all it takes is using Social Media and connectivity to remove this mask LBD hides behind.

Dr Phil thought if he just gave this elderly woman, this "lovely lady" who could use a computer, could sit and talk with him, who agreed to come onto his show, who appeared to be so "normal".....

THAT'S LBD.  IT'S A DISEASE OF MANY FACES. A CHAMELEON. Just when you think you might see something, the disease moves in another direction and mimics another affliction or physical problem and throws you and the Doctors onto a siderail.

LET'S KEEP MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. Let's take over the tracks, let's put our hands on the steering wheel and let's overcome Lewy Body Dementia through AWARENESS!

The woman kept saying: "I love him".  "I want to be with him." Even when shown that the picture of the man she believed to be "the love of her life" was of someone else -- a man who'd recently lost his companion of so many years, the love of his life -- restated "I love him" meaning the person not in the picture but the person who'd taken the $300,000+.

This lovely older woman we believe is obviously in the first to mid stage of Lewy Body Dementia. She showed typical (to those of us who know LBD) non emotional reactions. Many would have gasped, cried or shown some emotion but she didn't.

Dr Phil, why didn't you see this lack of empathy, lack of ability to reason, lack of considering the depth of her loss of money?

We know -- she appeared to be so capable. It's the capacity that's gone or diminished to the extent the values and reasoning are greatly diminished or gone.

Reaction to being on TV with a "personality"?  We don't think so. The woman didn't appear to be controlling her emotions, she seemed to have lost their control along with the ability to reason effectively.

The woman kept stating how she wanted to be with him but she also mimicked Dr Phil when he found out she'd told the man she was going on his show and said "guess he didn't want me to come on your show". But she didn't seem to place a value on it; it was a statement without feeling. It was appropriate behavior/response but there was nothing behind the statement, no real comprehension for the meaning of what was being said.

Mimicking appears to be a part of the ability of the person with early/mid LBD but it's devoid of substance or value. My observation.

Her daughter joined her on the show. She said her brother was very angry about what the mother had done and wasn't speaking to either of them. The daughter did not intervene, apparently, and probably wouldn't have accomplished anything because like Dr Phil and like so many in our life -- the belief is the person is "perfectly fine".

This older woman used the computer. She lived in a facility. When she couldn't pay, she was asked to leave. She now lives with a member of her family, a brother or sister. What and who will ensure she doesn't go back to this man or someone else and continue to give away each month's Social Security or other benefits and income she has?

End of show. End of concern?  Just like the State of Missouri, our bank, our church and so many others, people don't see what's right in front of their eyes. Some don't want to get "involved" and others, like the State, get involved but aren't adequately informed or trained or aware of what Lewy Body Dementia is and how it presents itself.

Dr Phil advises on his website to get a Power of Attorney. Not good enough. That's only as good as the paper on which it's written and for the LBD person, who can be influenced by others to make choices and especially to entrust someone who "cares" about them as Julia did my Mom, they can remove it as easily as they gave it.

So what's the answer?  Dr Phil has the ability to bring to light this devastating disease that unlike Cancer and Heart Disease doesn't just directly attack the individual, it attacks the family, the community and society. Yes, the big "C" and "H" also affect more than the person with the challenge but today we have tests, usually there are many warning signs  -- we don't even have a clue as to what causes LBD, when LBD begins, how long it lasts, what the significant passages are from one stage to the next --if there are definitive stages, even.

Dr Phil hear our cry:  Lewy Body Dementia is there, has been there for decades and you are among those who can best bring to light this devastating disease. Dementia in general needs more light and publicity. It's not just happening to the older population; mental processing disfunction or disability can be seen in many ways in all ages from the very young to the very old. It's probably the most devastating and most prevalent disease we have as humans -- if we start grouping together and placing these afflictions and affectations into the wide description of Dementia. 

Those of you who read this, send texts, emails, review the program for yourself; it aired the last week in September. Visit

Again, visit:



Some celebrities including Whoppi Goldberg have joined the ranks, it's time for many more. And, let her know, too, through social media, how important it is for her to speak up more on a daily basis for LBD.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's In The Giving We Receive

I did it. It was colder than usual but at least the rain stayed away so the Garage Sale went on as planned.

Having been on the "bargain hunting" end looking for those couple of dollar or less items I was now on the end of parting with things I knew were worth far more for little to nothing just to get them out and on their way.

True, I'm fortunately not forced to sell things and at least so far not having to walk away and leave behind everything but the clothes on my back. Been there, done that. Not my primary decision. Understand why now and did then but still hurt greatly to leave behind so little in today's terms but so much in my young life.

The best part of the Garage Sale?  A chance encounter with a few people I feel gave me the opportunity to continue to give.

Whatever I've had in life, if someone needed or appeared to need, my hand is ready to help, to offer whatever, to share what I have.

There was an older woman who found a blue sweater of my husband's I'd put out for $2. She was soft spoken and when I went to put the sweater into a bag, I noticed and she noticed there were moth holes. I told her I couldn't sell it to her like that and she said she'd pay $1 for it. I told her to just take it, please. She then said she'd lost her husband just forty days ago.... FORTY well I remember even though for me it will soon be four years.

She looked close to my age but could have been somewhat older. We were sisters in loss, sisters in life, yet have no idea who either of us really is as we both continue to redefine who we are, where we are and what we will do with the days and nights remaining before someone else starts our journey because we, too, have passed from this life.

The Mom who drove up as I was closing and putting away so many things that didn't appeal to someone, didn't find a "new home". She'd spotted a Fisher Price dollhouse and asked how much it was. I told her and could tell it was beyond what she felt she could pay.

When she'd gotten out of the van she drove, a young man and a girl came with her. She said her one daughter in the car saw it and she'd really like to get it for her but what I was asking was more than she could do. We talked more and she mentioned she had five children. Long story short, my heart saw her heart and I told her to take the doll house and furnishings, a chair and a doll stroller and even a couple of other small toys for less than what I'd asked. Chance acquaintance. Fortunate meeting. Making her day made mine.

Neighbors I'd not met before came by. Some walking dogs and some just walking. One couple from just down the street but whom I'd not met stopped to talk and then they were both drawn to an old display case. My father in law had found it and the paper still inside was dated before World War II started. 

A very heavy piece. I'd said "someday" I'll do something with it. Years passed. Someday didn't come. Daughter didn't want it. Sons have shown no interest in those "old things" time for a new home, a family, a place where it would be cherished until they too decided the time had come and passed it along to another family to cherish and use and tell stories about how it had come to them.

It's not really a sale, it's a passing on. And, as for me, I truly give things away to people who touch my soul in passing, people who are kindred spirits. But let them be avaricious or appear to disdain my treasures and I'm tempted to not  sell to them at any price and very nicely say, no, I'm sorry, I think $2 (or $5 or whatever) is a reasonable price. And then smile as they walk away knowing someone will come by, someone who's meant to have that piece, that item.

I was exhausted by the end of the day. Daughter and I were up at 4 AM to lug, tug, tote and drag so much I thought we'd cleared out the entire house. Only to look around and see, you guessed it, a beginning and a clear vision of yet another garage sale -- maybe the following weekend, weather permitting. 

It was days on end of working, assembling, categorizing, pricing and wondering where so much came from since we'd had a fire and lost almost everything when we were married seven years.  Amazing what life drops in your lap from friends and relatives over the years!

So, I'm doing it again. Going through more "stuff".  Finding the courage to let go, to move ahead, to move on and to share with others and bring a little joy.

A simple, little story, for them to pass on. A memory of how that "garage sale item" from one Saturday in October in 2014 came into their lives when they met this woman who over four decades ago began a new chapter in her life as "the couple", became "the family" and then the "multigenerational family" -- who accumulated all those things by starting a life together as husband and wife.

It was a great day to make new memories and to cherish the old memories. He was with me, my husband; and so was she, my mom. I didn't give them away and I didn't give me away or our lives together. I reached out and touched other lives, found ways what we had could be shared, given and entrusted to others who would care for and about what was time to say goodbye to.

It's in the giving we receive.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October: Beginning of Days/End of Days

Today I feel cold and yet the temperature outside is in the sixties and it's a gorgeous sunshine filled day highlighting the rapidly changing trees giving them an amazing luminosity.

It's knowing another wedding anniversary is quickly approaching.

Oh how we planned from that March 15 when he finally proposed --  today that date seems to have been almost an omen, The Ides of March, of what was to come.  We set the date for mid October. I would graduate college in May; he had graduated the year before in January. We'd been through a separation of hundreds of miles as he began his career in Michigan and I continued school in Missouri. Yes, our love endured that separation. It's enduring this one.

Our Wedding Day. It was an absolutely beautiful October Fall day complete with majestic colors on the trees with leaves scattered on the ground. I dressed in the little house next to the Church for that special walk down a very long aisle into the church I'd attended rarely -- having been away at college.

My husband and I met across a ping pong table; I won. Or maybe he let me win? Anyway, it was October .... another October.

We met at The Newman Center on campus. He was one of three young men who came into my life at the same time. Funny now; challenging then. Just simple dates, really, and having one of those three become my husband wasn't even in my mind.

I was a Freshman and wasn't there to find a husband; it was a long journey to get there and difficult to stay. Working whenever I could and a very, very small scholarship (kids today would laugh at the amount; of course, they'd laugh at what a year of college and books cost back then, too) were what kept me going.

My father's death provided VA benefits, but they were also a very small amount. But, Dad, in your own way, despite your life challenges, you helped give me that gift of education. You had many challenges, Dad, but I remember one thing you always told me, "An Education is something no one can ever take away from you." I value that to this day.

That handsome young man, four years older than I was, who had left college and went to work, went into the Air Force and then the Reserves, returned to college just in time . . . 

We had our first date in October -- the next night after the chance (?) meeting. There was a movie on campus and I think it was Hiroshima, Mon Amour -- not exactly the type of film for a first date but we didn't know anything about it and it was, after all, just a date.

Fall and Spring. Meeting and Engagement. Marriage. Then comes Winter and the dreaded long, cold and sometimes emptiness -- and death.

We'd loved all the seasons, even Winter, actually, as we went through the years together; sports, trips to ski, the boys playing ice hockey when the small pond behind our house froze enough. Building snowmen, hot chocolate, rare school holidays when the snow was over a foot deep.

Yes, Winter wasn't always memorable for the sorrow... so I choose to remember the joy.

Three family members moving from this life onward:  Father, Husband and Mother. And all within days of the other. Can't remember the date of my father's death but my mother passed on the third anniversary of my husband's burial. I felt she would be fortunate to get through December and the holidays when I saw the changes that were very evident in her health and rapidly decreasing physical abilities.

And when we were told the facility believed she was in her last time with us, it was just a few days until that fatal anniversary.

Even though they said she would pass three days before, I knew in my heart it would be that day. It would be as it had been before. When we would be with her as we were with him and telling her as we did him, it's all right, we'll be all right, you can go.

Daughter and I and a call returned to second son who was with us on the telephone when she took her last breath. Meant to be. We three looked after her, cared for her and walked with her on her last long journey on this earth.

No real regrets. I was able to give my mother a life filled with joy and great opportunity after a life filled with great challenges and many sorrows.

My husband and I? Well, we had our own challenges in life and our story together was a long one considering he almost died when he was a small child and had appendicitis. Ironically, we learned when we were dating that he and my mother were both in the hospital, although different hospitals, at about the same time, both with life threatening appendicitis and both had their lives saved by being given a new, miracle drug called Penicillin.

So, fate or a higher being, however you want to believe, gave them both longer lives to come together and to be a family and I, who wasn't in Mom's life at the time, would come into this world and the three of us would live together for many wonderful years along with the additional family my husband and I would bring into this world.

Regrets?  A few. But not about what we chose to do that now give me comfort knowing we did not wait, did not say we'd have time another day or year. We rode the merry-go-round of life and reached for the golden ring and sometimes we grabbed it. Life was anything but easy and challenges that came were often more than we thought we could bear. But we did.

It was, after all, our life. Together. And that was, when all is said and done, what really made the difference.

 Shifting the topic but not the focus -----

While continuing my search for a job that will give us what we need to do more than survive, I found a website I'd like to share with you. It's a Not For Profit organization dedicated to creating weddings and renewal of vows for couples where one or even both have terminal illnesses.

Imagine my oldest son would see that as "wasteful" and "unnecessary". He told me when we were going through times right after my husband's death I should stop "taking charity".

He had helped with expenses we could not provide for the funeral of his father as had his brother. I thought of it as tribute, not charity. If he was referring to some other short term assistance we received, well, all during his father's illness and his grandmother's we were left to forage for ourselves and the help we did receive was usually given with great reluctance.

I'm grateful to those who were able to help and grateful for all the times we were able to help so many others in their times of need.

I'm glad daughter and I didn't see our time and all the money we spent on husband/father and mother/grandmother as "charity" -- although there are those who see charity as love and not as an undeserved handout.

Dwelling on his inability to handle life's challenges is not the focus today.

Sharing a website and hoping in some small way this might bring more joy in times of such great pain means more. I have those wonderful memories, after all.

It is in the giving that we receive is a saying I've tried to live my life by.

Please visit  And, if you have a little extra to share, create a memory that will live long after the "I Do's" and the "until death do we part" vows are spoken.

And/or, pass it along to others who might want to "throw a little rice" on a couple so in love for whatever time they have together.

Take a moment in life today. Stop and look around you. If there is beauty and if there is joy, hold it close. Someday you'll pull that memory out, for as long as you're able, and hold it close again.  Beginning of Days/End of Days.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Memories Cling Stronger Than My Will Power At Times

Rain and really cold weather has delayed my planned garage sale for a few days. For the good, really, there's a lot more that could and should GO.

On the other hand, I'm moving things around to get to more and sometimes I pause, reflect and set aside items I really should release and let go -- like a fish that needs to grow some more, this small item or that large one needs to swim away, go somewhere else.

I tell myself there's far too much but I don't have the support on those TV programs from the ultimate cleaning crew that comes in, clears out, cleans up and "Voila!" you have an amazing new reclaimed space.

It's not hoarding -- it's accumulation from my in laws years of life together we received after my Mother-in-law passed and my husband couldn't bear to go through. Now, they were "collectors" of everything you could imagine and keepers of "things" that might be useful. Again, comes from living through the depression, I believe, or a major loss, never having very much and valuing everything that comes your way or other "reasons" for accumulating along the road of life.

Then, too, we came of age during a time when many items were becoming "replaceable" and had built in obsolescence.  Today, we're plagued with created obsolescence through businesses pushing us into buying the latest, the greatest and wanting "the best" whatever the cost.

It's not a new concept. Manufacturer's of clothing "knocked off" pieces from collections of designers who most of us had heard about but couldn't possibly afford; as an "imitation", we could.

Then came the "convenience" of household machines that gave us "leisure time" or just more time for ourselves: washing machine which then was followed by a dryer -- they weren't invented as side by sides and women actually used sunlight and wind to dry clothes -- sustainable energy. Electrical appliances replaced those we used to put on stoves, inside ovens or built muscles doing by hand:  electric coffee pots, frying pans, mixers, blenders, crock pots and on and on.

They used to be repairable but then manufacturer's got smart and made them "replaceable" by including parts and pieces that couldn't be reached and then became computerized chips that couldn't be replaced except when you bought a new unit.

Lost jobs. Seems to me in many ways the manufacturer's who created products that couldn't be repaired eliminated a large part of our population who weren't headed to be engineers, doctors or lawyers or heads of businesses.

And what about so many storefronts; so many discount opportunities in person and on line. And we're told almost every minute of the day in some way on some wavelength or through some form of tech communication -- BUY, BUY, BUY  before you DIE, DIE, DIE.

Well, you can't take it with you. We don't even build monuments and store items like some ancient societies did so that won't work.

As I mentioned before, I've done several other "cullings" through having a garage sale, going to flea markets and setting up tables and even enduring a "dust bowl" day of wind and dirt which meant throwing away or giving away (after wiping off) lots of things. Before, it was "selective" selling more than it is today.

Today, I look at the still large amount of "things" of truly little NOW value and even of TOMORROW value and I'm filling more boxes and actually really looking forward to pricing them at really cheap levels which I found difficult to do in the beginning.

Back then we were desperate and coping with Mom's LBD and husband's recent death. We were trying to find out why Mom went into a facility permanently when we were told it was for "Respite" and for about two weeks. It was just after we'd learned I'd been accused of "Elder Abuse" by the woman we trusted from our Church who befriended Mom and took her to the bank, opened a safety deposit box taking money out of our home, keeping both keys and not telling anyone.

Financially we're in another trying time. A little more "cash flow" with daughter working but it's really minimal what she makes and far below her abilities -- seems to be the case for many Millennials these days as we watch her friends in the same boat even those, who unlike her, have finished undergraduate degrees and some even with Masters.

So, a little extra $$$ raised with a garage sale, although probably not much, will come in handy.  We have some major expenses that we're going to have to manage and as the days go by I become more and more concerned. 

Here's to better weather this week and I might even be able to hold a garage sale for two days.  I have more than enough, I'm sure, now that I'm really going through boxes, bags and purging old tools, some pieces of old furniture and kids toys -- supposedly what people are looking for.

Not that I want Dementia but not being able to remember some things might make the separation a little easier. Funny how we attach feelings to so many things that are paper, plastic, metal and wood.

Taking those hands of mine I mentioned that sometimes mentally wrap around my back to push me in the right direction -- decluttering!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Lost and Found: My Husband. My Mother. My Self

For almost four decades, we were blessed with a multigenerational family that worked together like a small musical group; each one with a different instrument (ability/interest) playing their part, forming a complete piece of life.

Over the years I'd often be asked how I could possibly live with my mother -- how could my husband live with his "mother in law" -- how anyone could live like we did. What about privacy and how can you grow together as a couple, your own family with someone always "there". Those last comments spoke volumes to me about how they viewed life and relationships.

Relationships develop and grow. Ours was a work in progress and each day we encountered old and new challenges but always worked together to continue to move forward together and the result was a family unit.

I'm not as lost today as I've been in the days and years that have passed since my husband's passing and more recently from Mom's. Although the challenges of adjusting to taking over as much as possible what he did and what she did as a part of our family unit still sometimes seem insurmountable. After all, once we were three people working together and sharing the challenges that came our way and now it's me.

True, I still have my daughter by my side and she has shouldered a share of this challenge and responsibility and each day her strength and contributions are more valuable to our family unit. Without this new "family unit" I know my life would be far different and I feel blessed to have her in my life. It is and will always be her choice as to where and how she lives as it was mine.

We work at our relationship; we're not perfect. Grief takes a toll on your health and well being. Not everyone responds or reacts the same and it's important to recognize how differently we can be affected by even the same actions and events. Just like "regular" life and types of situations, surviving major life changes, significant health and/or financial challenges all place weights and measures on individuals and relationships.

We form relationships, we make commitments, we become who we choose to be by the choices we make. We are works in progress from our beginning to our end of days.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Grief: When Did It Actually Start? When Does It End?

Mornings come earlier and earlier. Is it my age or is it where I've been and where I'm going? This life process, going through loss and change, has come and gone before but not as closely, as deeply.

We've all gone to funerals. We've all lost someone. Sitting at a wake I've moved from the very back row to right up front. At a festive, joyous, happy occasion this would be the seat of honor. Not where I would chose to be or go through what must be done for this most singular event of life, death.

Endings are sometimes welcome; sometimes good and herald a new beginning. Will this also bring about "newness".  Yes, newness will come because life does go on. Witness the birth of another grandchild a couple of weeks ago. A boy. Will you sometime take your Grandfather's place, little one?  Yes, you will. We all take the place of someone, somewhere. 

Flashback.  Our wedding day. Dated for four years. Went through separation as he graduated earlier than I did and moved hundreds of miles away. He told me to date others for my last year at school. We weren't engaged. He wasn't talking marriage. When I did get an invitation to a college event, my "boyfriend" of many years tune changed considerably. A combination of anger and hurt; not bad anger, more like a betrayal feeling. 

Trying to remember if I went out with that other guy.  Too many years ago, I guess, and not near as important as all I go through every day now. Yes, I did. he was only a "friend" anyway; and my "boyfriend" of so many years even knew him. Maybe that was even more upsetting????

As I move through the years in life I realize how transforming living is. When grief separates so much changes, many things end and some things will never be the same again.

That's what brings me to write today. Turning another corner. Having a garage sale. Have done a few since husband's passing and flea markets and other attempts to "cleanse" and to eliminate clutter. So much!  Husband couldn't bear to go through his parents things and now I have what he was given, his things and Mom's things plus what we accumulated along life's busy highway.

It's different this time. In the very beginning I could part with a few things here and there as memories/mementos for the boys; they live so far away; they weren't able to come and see him very often or their Grandmother.

Mom didn't have a great deal of "things". And, I chuckle now because she always "saved" things for a "special occasion". She went through the depression and having things set aside, keeping them in the best of shape, repairing more than replacing or if you did, saving the "best" for "another time".

Cleaning, straightening, I still find things I cannot throw out, give away or put in the garage sale but I'm also seeing things through different eyes and those broken, lost pieces, whatever they were for originally is unknown to me, these and other items are going.  It's time. It's the only way to move forward -- letting go a little more while holding fast a little longer.

I've told my daughter I don't want her to have the same challenges I had when her father and grandmother passed -- going through so much and not knowing when, why, where, how and what in the world to do with . . . .

Ours was an age of "collecting" and "putting away" "collectibles". We followed in husband's mother and father's footsteps with items I look at today and ask myself why I thought someday "this" or "that" would have real value.  Some do, though; the value is in the memories they bring when brought into the light, opened, held, admired or just knowing they're there. Very much like the people who come to mind who are now only there in the memories today from what we chose to do in all the yesterdays.

When Mom turned 62 and applied for Social Security I told her I wanted her to take every penny of her money and travel wherever she wanted to go. I wanted to put on her tombstone (now deciding it will be in a footer (so appropriate) on her grave) "She travelled the world and now is on her greatest journey."  Mom did and we were always there to provide whatever she needed to ensure she had those special trips even when they cost more than she got in Social Security. Oh, how I remember her face, her eyes, her words -- the joy she received and shared from those adventures.

And as for my husband . . . I was saying to my daughter earlier today how glad I was that I could say he went on that trip to Africa; took some flying lessons; started the business he wanted to start and so much more.

Yes, today is difficult financially for us. Any time there's a catastrophic medical condition and so much hospitalization and care giving the money goes from all resources and in all ways to try to give comfort, try another procedure, give a little extra to hope to bring a small piece of pleasure back into a life filled with pain. I would not have all the money we spent over the years to provide a life we wanted and cared about and for those in our family and friends who needed our help along the way in my pocket today if it changed the past before he and Mom started their life ending journeys.

I am thankful. I am grateful. I will go on with this life's journey knowing I and we have done the best we could with what we had and what we knew.

So, tomorrow I start again to dig through more "collections" and more "memories" finding those that perhaps someone else, like I've done, comes to my garage sale and sees something they value, a memory or a piece of life they want in their life. It's time to pass on to others parts of our life. There will remain, if we are fortunate, other memories and mementos to pass along.

When does grief start?  Before it's recognized. During all the days of life spent making memories to last a lifetime for all the right reasons. When does it end? It passes along, through and around to friends and family for at least a couple of generations and then the memories are so faded the new ones made become the start of joy and someday of the process of letting go for the moment and looking forward to the full circle when ends become beginnings.