ANTICIPATION 

I am in a strange state of anticipation. It’s not a good place, anticipating something I want or to earn. Rather I am waiting, monitoring, the health of my mother-in-law and dad. Both are elderly, unhealthy and I am preparing myself for the inevitable. In other words, I am waiting for them to die.

I am not a vulture, ready to inherit money or their possessions. It’s likely I may have to contribute financially, especially for my mother-in-law who has no savings. What my dad leaves will be mostly memories and a lot of junk (sorry, dad) in the garage. I’m not rubbing my hands together in greedy anticipation. There will be stories, memories and pictures, those we will share and carry with us. I know this because I’ve been through this before. With Jerry and before with other relatives, I know what to expect and I want to be prepared, as much as it is possible to prepare.

I don’t mention this, of course. I look at my sisters and wonder what it will do to them when our dad goes. They were young when our mom died and it affected them for years after; they missed her when they graduated and got married, and when my nephew was born. Our dad was able to be there for those occasions at least y u how much longer? I know they think about this too.

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We all had lunch today with our dad; my sisters, their husbands, my nephew and me. It’s a rare thing for us all to be together but they made the effort because we all know our dad has one operating artery and there is nothing else the doctors can do but give him pills. He goes to his cardiologist on a monthly basis. He eats bacon and pork rinds without being scolded. While we were eating he casually mentioned the pastor he wants to do his funeral, he’s already asked him. I just swallowed some Diet Coke and choked a little. I know he’s made his arrangements, a military funeral and burial. I know, we all know, the funeral home handling the arrangements. He did this because he’s trying to be helpful, to make it easier on us when the time comes. My grandpa, my mom’s dad, did the same thing. Truly it did help but there are still details and hard moments, it isn’t easy. Grief is a layered business.

My mother-in-law is a contrast. She’s not planned for anything. Honestly I don’t blame her, denial is a pleasant place. She’s in Florida (God’s Waiting Room, she once called it) I talked to her and she was groggy on painkillers. She has heart problems too, but raises the stakes with a large blood clot in her left leg. She had surgery on her leg, the clot was bigger than they thought and now she’s recovering in a rehab facility. My brother-in-law is helpless and frankly useless. I ask him how she is, what the doctors said, what about her meds and treatment and he says she’s not good but that’s all the info he has. He’s never had to deal with stuff like this, I know he loves his mom but he isn’t a good advocate. Jerry did all that for them both, he was the steady and responsible one, taking care of them both from an early age. He’s not here now and neither of them seems to know how to cope, Ruth because she’s sick and weak and Mike because he never learned. Most of my info comes from Bear, who takes his dad’s role as protector seriously even when he’s 10,000 miles away. I dread getting a phone call from Bear about his grandma. I hope that when the time comes she isn’t hurting or alone and I hope someone is with my brother-in-law too. I am concerned that I may have to go to Florida, she once told us she was paying on a funeral plan with a funeral home but not sure she kept making payments and I don’t know its name.

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I don’t look forward to making arrangements, calling people, deciding whether to put it on Facebook (probably will for my dad), finding something to wear and dealing with the condolences, among other things. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again but I know better.

Bear messaged me and said he is thinking of visiting soon. His wife’s Visa is still being processed and they don’t know when it will be ready. He says he might come anyway. He says he misses Fall but we both know the real reason; he wants to see them both and say goodbye.

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Snow

It’s a big deal here, huge. We get snow every year, usually after Christmas, and we lose our collective minds. We as a people forget how to drive on packed down snow and ice. We think we’re going to be snowbound for weeks and stock up on groceries and toilet paper. We close schools, cancel church and social events but there are still plenty of people out there sliding around on the roads creating havoc. 

I’m determined to not be a part of it. I am at home, with food, electricity, heat, running water and internet. There’s no reason to go out. As the news people say, as they are standing on an icy bridge or in the cold, if you don’t need to get out don’t. 

The snow here is about an inch, maybe two. Two at most. In other parts of the country or the world that’s nothing, laughable even.  I will survive, as long as I have Internet service and cat food.  

I have no plans to grill either.

Ending

Sedated at the hospital.

Last Sunday my lovely Olive was sick. She spent the night before on the floor instead of hogging my blanket and resting her little hairy butt in my face. 

She was lethargic but suddenly she began whimpering and thrashing about. She began frothing at the mouth and twitching. I tried to talk to her but she didn’t seem to hear me. The twitching stopped and she lay there. 

I managed to get her to the animal emergency hospital. It didn’t stop. The nurse asked me some questions but the only thing for certain was my dog was having seizures and no one knew why. 

She stayed at the hospital for 3 days, and they treated her with gentleness. They had to sedate her, the only way they could temporarily stop the seizures. She did not seem to hurt and she slept while I held her. I could feel her little body shake. She would wake up, lifting her head and seeming to chew for a few minutes before falling asleep again. The seizures never stopped, only slowed. The vets said there were tests they could run but they would only diagnose the cause, there was no guarantee she would get better.

When I left Tuesday night I had decided Wednesday would be her last day. No more seizures, no fear, no more wondering what was happening to her. I told Porkchop and neither of us slept much that night. 

I got Porkchop into the cat carrier and we went to say goodbye to Olive. I took him out of the carrier and he looked at her before he jumped off the table and hid under a chair. I admit I was disappointed and thought he would stay near her. 

The vet tech took her back to insert a new IV, brought her back and then injected her with a large syringe. It took 2 seconds for my girl’s spirit to leave her body. 

Some random events happened next, I took Porkchop home and drove 60 miles to Stillwater to my friend Lucy’s parents’s house. They offered to let me bury her on their land. 

Lucy’s dad dug the grave. The rest is still hard to explain, I watched and understood what happened but felt numb, like I was a camera recording the events without knowing whether it was real or not. 

They took care of me, a rare and wonderful experience. The thought of it overwhelms me, being allowed to do nothing, and letting someone else take charge. It’s foreign to me. I can never thank them enough. 

I miss my girl. Even though I still have Porkchop it’s incomplete. I have been through loss before, far worse than this, so I know I will be okay.  I also know it will take time.

Temporary Insanity

When I am on my period I am not myself. Like a Snickers commercial, I go through a weird internal transformation and chocolate does help, it makes the cramps go away for a little while. The backache stays but it isn’t as terrible as both combined. It still sucks and I am always relieved when it finally passes.

It’s like Lux Interior is in my interior

 

I suppose I should be glad I still have my monthly, it is familiar and aggravating but not as terrifying as the great unknown, menopause. It lasts for a few lousy bloated days but menopause goes on and on, from what I’ve heard.

The temporary change I experience is the result of my hormones being out of whack. I know this, know this is a short term attack and this makes it bearable, knowing it will pass. I just need to ride it out.

My emotions are heightened. I feel sad, angry and I am easily miffed, more than usual. I also feel the need for someone to be kind to me, like Jerry was. Someone who will go out of their way to do something nice for me, buy me lunch, watch netflix with me, little gestures that matter. I want someone who will listen and not be judgmental. I want to hear I’m not so old, that I still have value, worth, even that I am still pretty, a little. It may be a lie, but I don’t mind. And this someone needs to be a man. This all is ridiculous and silly, as well as impossible. I know this will pass. It’s vanity. I also know it will hit me again, on my next period.

I do not want a relationship, no dating, no flirting or any of that crap. I don’t want a one night stand, the idea is repulsive to me. I can’t, I couldn’t and I know it is not for me, none of this. I’m not critcizing women who date or want to date after their husbands die, it’s just not for me. I know I’m meant to be on my own. I just lose my mind for a few days every month.

Sometimes I wonder if I should hide myself for these days. I worry that the madness may show, that other people see my secret yearning, that they feel sorry for me or that the absurdity of it makes them laugh. It’s vanity, I know I’m dull and colorless, an uninteresting person and nobody looks at me, not really. But it makes me feel self-conscious. I feel safer when my period has passed and I’m through with these crazy feelings, the exaggerated emotions as well as this silly pointless wanting.

I wish someone had warned me about this odd after effect of widowhood. So this is why I am admitting my strange yearning for someone to be kind to me, as Jerry was. There is mention of being lonely, afraid, and being forgotten, those are predictable and expected aspects of being a widow. They suck but at least you know it’s not just you. But this particular weird affliction is not mentioned; maybe it is just me, or maybe other women are embarrassed to admit it. Whatever. Consider this part confession and part public service.

It seems fitting but I really enjoy watching Dave, check out that smile.

Old

I am old, but I don’t feel it. At least not until it’s pointed out to me. Today I had a mammogram. There’s a sentence that makes women, usually Of a Certain Age, make a face. Besides the squishing of my breasts, I had a flu shot and for the first time colonoscopy was brought up. Because I am at that magic age where it’s believed old age starts to settle in and slowly take over.

I talked to my friend Lucy s mom on Saturday. We were at a funeral for another friend’s mom and waiting. Lucy’s mom said something I can’t forget. She said she once thought 60 was the youth of old age but now sees 60 as the old age of youth, when everything starts to go. As she is in her 80’s I imagine she knows what she’s talking about. One of her daughters is turning 60 next year and the realization made her sigh. Incidentally Lucy’s mom is still going and doing and having a life though it’s taking more time and effort now. She said she’s going to funerals for her contemporaries more and more.

Instead of depressing me it cheered me a little,  since this means I’m still young, relatively speaking. It also means I’ve probably got another good ten years or so left.  I hope to still be doing yoga and 5Ks. I don’t plan to have gray hair either.

It amuses me to see people in their 20’s with dyed gray or silver hair. Some look good. I think they will be dyeing their hair like me when they are my age and gray will not be so appealing then.

Mental

I’ve learned that those pumped up inspirational quotes and memes about the mental aspect of exercise and training are really true. I’ve known it on a superficial level for years but secretly considered most of it hype and hyperbole. The physical is more important; without the ability there’s no game, no results no matter how positive your mindset.  Or so I thought.

In the past I considered the mental aspect as that little voice pushing me to finish, to go harder, try a little more, a little longer. It was just positive thinking.

Ironically one reason I walked was it helped me deal with change. When Jerry died last year going for a walk was one way I could think and clear my head. The extra oxygen helped too. This year when my son told me he wanted to start walking we did, he started slowly but being younger he adapted quickly. Our distances increased and it gave us both something we needed, time to talk about things including his father. He told me his plans to go overseas again and by the time he left he had lost nearly 30 pounds. The only physical difference I noticed was my butt wasn’t as loose anymore.

This summer I was doing well, even going for little one and two minute sprints during my walks. Then there were some big changes: my son left to work in Vietnam, I left my job, and I moved. So I stopped walking, it was time-consuming and I had to pack and sort Jerry’s things. There were more important things to do. Being summer it was also hot, even in the evening it was in the 90’s..

I quit for two months, then started again in a half-hearted way. Sometimes I walk three times a week, sometimes just once. I gave up yoga because I couldn’t afford it anymore.  I’ve been lazy, finding reasons to not walk. I can, I know I need to and I know it’s good for me but I can’t find the motivation to go.  This is when I learned that mental strength is important , without the will there is no way the body will follow. It’s a heckuva way to learn a lesson.

I walked today, a short walk, because I was forced. I put on my walking clothes this morning  thinking it would push me into going. It didn’t, I made some weak excuse and it wasn’t until my sister pointedly asked me if I was going to walk, so shamed into it I did. I still didn’t feel like it, the day was warm but there was a cold wind blowing. I went anyway,  I felt better after but I know I’m a long way from being where I need to be mentally. If I can get that back the physical part will be easy.

Thanksgiving

It’s good to spend Thanksgiving with your loved ones

9030435f-6647-4ee7-bb84-0ca85ff09a8b_zpsmfbv7ypuI hadn’t exactly dreaded Thanksgiving; last year was the first without Jerry, it was only me and Bear. This year Bear is abroad, I still have family although it felt odd without Jerry and Bear. I felt strangely alone even with people around me.  I told myself and Olive that this is likely the last time we’ll be here doing this. Even if I don’t move I don’t think I’ll be at my sister’s. A day alone, with something simple instead of a huge meal sounds appealing rather than lonely and pathetic. There’s something comforting and reassuring about it. I may feel differently next year, may want to be here again but I rather doubt it. I do not want to have to make the effort, just talking to people seems to take too much energy even when it’s small talk.

Ironically the one thing I had prepared myself for, talking about Jerry, didn’t happen. No one mentioned him. My dad prayed for Bear and acknowledged his absence but it was as if they forgot Jerry ever existed. I want to say they did it out of concern or respect for me but they didn’t. I tried not to feel slighted but it was sobering how soon he vanished from their minds. Most of my time was spent keeping my nephew from playing too roughly with Olive. Porkchop took off and hid when he heard them come in. He sauntered out two hours after they left. I gave Olive extra turkey for her patience.

I talked to my mother-in-law today too. She didn’t mention Jerry either, perhaps it’s still too hard. I waited for her to mention him but when she didn’t I decided not to either. We talked a lot about Bear, my upcoming trip and what we were doing this day. It was light but extremely awkward at the same time.

Bear and I talked, texted. His stomach was upset, he had gone through a lot of 7up he said. It could have been something he ate, but it was probably stress. He was diagnosed with an ulcer in high school. He worries and stresses out easily, like Jerry.  He has hypertension like his father, but at least Bear’s was discovered early, unlike Jerry’s. Doctors told him he was too young to have high blood pressure and blew it off, only giving him meds when he was in his 30’s. This hangs over him too, not a death sentence but he’s more aware of his health than the average Millennial. I worry about him too but try not to add to his stress, I only hope I don’t.

He didn’t mention his dad either but we were both thinking of him. Simpsons references and things Jerry said, stuff that had his dad all over it.

For technical purposes Thanksgiving is over, we ate the big dinner and my sister and her family went home. I am glad. Tomorrow is Black Friday, purgatory for anyone who works retail. Normally I try to ignore it but I will be out in it, hitting the mall with a bunch of other deranged humans up before sunrise looking for a good deal. I’m in the market for a big suitcase. I have done my research: looked online, checked out the print ads and feel I’m ready for this. It’s for my trip to see Bear at Christmas; I need something big enough to haul a lot of crap. Also I have to find, kill, buy and bring it back before 1pm. Not because the super sales end but because the Rangers are playing the Bruins and it’s the first game of the season I will get to watch. I favor the Rangers over the Bruins since Boston beat my Wings yesterday and for this, the first minute 42 seconds.