Posted by: Wagons Ho | April 15, 2018

Older, not sure I’m wiser

It’s been a little over a year now since dad died. Over 2 yrs since we lost mom. In that time we’ve also lost 3 pets, I’ve had 2 surgeries, one minor, one not so minor, and dealt with a ton of bullshit. We’ve also had good things too of course. Family vacations, laughing with friends, my sister got married. Basically, the normal ebb and flow of life. We just seemed to have a lot more bad than good is all.

I’d love to come here and tell you all about how all the bad has transformed me. How I took the lemons and made lemonade. How I started this wonderful charity that has helped so many people. How I got off the couch, started having amazing adventures and am living my life to the fullest. I’d love to share my amazing ah ha moment and bless you with the knowledge of how you too can over come the bad times and come out a better person. But that’s not going to happen.

I can tell you all about what I didn’t do. I didn’t have an ah ha moment. I didn’t make lemonade. I didn’t talk to a professional about my depression. I didn’t get up off the couch and do more with the kids. I didn’t start eating better or get more exercise. I haven’t started a charity, or lived my life to the fullest, whatever that means. I still fight with Marshall. I still yell at the kids. I can still be petty, and jealous, and not a very nice person at times.

I can hear you thinking. Really? You didn’t learn anything? All that tragedy and sadness and there’s nothing you can share? Ok, you’re right, there are a few things I have learned. I hope you are ready for this.

  1. Don’t buy cheap cheese. I love cheese but great cheese is expensive so I was buying the ok, but not great, cheese. Life is too short for not great cheese.
  2. Don’t spend hours calculating which toilet paper is the best deal. I can’t tell you the hours I have spent figuring out the per sq. ft price of 2 different toilet papers to save 0.02 cents a sq ft. It’s not worth it.
  3. Same thing goes for paper towels. Get the Bounty, or the Brawny, or whatever brand you like.
  4. Same thing for laundry detergent.

So I guess I did have some ah ha moments. I’m sure Oprah would be proud.

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Posted by: Wagons Ho | October 10, 2017

Done

I need to be done now. Who do I ask for that? Who do I beg? Whose ass do I need to kiss? Whose bank account do I need to increase? What exactly will it take for me to be done?

I’ve reached my limit of things I can deal with. I’m at the breaking point. I think if one more thing happens I’ll just crumble into a pile.

A dear friend, or two, have suggested it’s time I talk to someone. I got as far as looking for a counselor in my health care network. But I can’t call. The thought of adding one more appointment, one more thing I have to do, one more person I have to talk to, to my schedule right now is too much. I literally can’t even comprehend how I would do it.

And even if I could gather the energy, time, guts, whatever it would take to actually call what would I tell this person? Who would believe what my life has become? No one. It’s not believable. I don’t even want to listen to me anymore.

So what I really need it for it just all to stop. That sounds bad. I don’t mean it like that. What I mean is I really need this constant barrage of life is hard bs that has descended on me to stop. I need to be done now. Because I’m done.

 

 

Posted by: Wagons Ho | September 30, 2017

Blindsided

I’m still getting blindsided by grief. I try to protect myself from the things I know will get me. Commercials, tv shows, and movies that even remotely hint at cancer, the loss of a parent, or death in any way are avoided at all costs. I am an expert at knowing within a few notes that a song is sad and the radio is changed, or muted, instantly. My walls are high and strong.

It’s the things I don’t know I need to protect myself from that get me. This week it was Trapp’s school picture. Trapp has beautiful curly hair. Up until kindergarten we kept his hair long enough that you could see his curls. Then something happened. Someone at school made fun of his curls and he insisted on having short hair.

My mother loved his curls and hated when we would take him for hair cuts. For years she would love to see his hair getting longer in pictures and then, inevitably, right before we would see them in person, he would be at the barber getting it shaved down again. She missed his curls, as I did.

But this year he decided to start letting his hair grow out again. He was embracing the curls. I loved it. When we got his school picture it showed his beautiful curls in all their glory. I instantly thought “Mom would love this picture” and the gut punch was there. Mom would love it. She would adore his hair getting longer, his curls so shiny and perfect. I cried thinking how much I wish she could see them. How I wish I could hear her gushing over him as she always did. I cried about not being able to send her a copy that she would frame and proudly hang. I cried. I’m crying now.

I remind myself, yet again, that it’s only been 6 months since dad died. Only 21 months for mom. No time at all in the scheme of things. But I wonder if there will there ever be a time I’m not blindsided by things like curly hair, emails from dad’s banker about paperwork, or realizing I don’t know mom’s recipe for chicken and noodles. Things that don’t seem like they should hurt so much, but do.

How do you protect yourself from things like that? How do you avoid something you don’t see coming? If anyone knows I’d love to know the trick. Because I sure don’t.

Posted by: Wagons Ho | August 7, 2017

Forget Paris

When Marshall and I met we were young, and I was broke. I was in debt from moving to California and learning to live on my own as an adult. He was a Cpl in the Marines who had a little money but certainly wasn’t rolling in the dough.

When he proposed we decided to have a small wedding with family and a few friends. As the planning continued I learned even very small weddings added up quickly. $500 to rent a wedding gown! A few hundred to rent a space! Ack!! I couldn’t see spending that kind of money, maybe a couple thousand at the time, on a single day. In a moment of panic I cancelled the wedding.

Did I mention Marshall was on the other side of the country in a training school at the time? Well, he was. And this was before cell phones. So in the evenings, if the pay phone was free, he would give me a quick call. I can only imagine what it was like for him to listen to me explain how I couldn’t marry him because I was broke, and $500 was too much for a dress I was renting, and I wouldn’t put him in debt, and if he wanted to see other people I understood, all in one long rushed breath. Marshall, as always, was calm and said ok cancel it and we’ll discuss this when I get home.

Luckily he was not scared away by my moment of insanity. Big mistake on his part I have to say. In the end we got married, just the two of us, in regular clothes, at the local courthouse. The ceremony was followed by a lovely reception for two at Denny’s. And, since we were broke, about a month later we took a couple of days off,  mid-week, and drove to Vegas for our honeymoon. Hurray for cheaper rates on a Wed!

Over the years we half heartedly talked about having a “real” wedding and honeymoon but it never really went any further than that. We were married, we took the occasional vacation, there didn’t seem to be much point in making a big deal of it. Then, a little before our 14th anniversary, we had to get remarried. It was a requirement of our adoption agency that we be married in the church so we decided this would be it. Our chance to have the wedding we never had. I still couldn’t see spending a fortune, and now we had adoption fees to consider too, so we kept it small. Close family and a few friends. No fancy wedding dress or tux, my sister took the pictures, we did our own invitations and had a small reception at a local restaurant, not Denny’s. It was perfect, and very us, but still no honeymoon.

Then the Trapp came along, Marshall retired from the Marines, we bought a house, Max joined our family. Suddenly it’s our 22nd anniversary. We had been lucky enough to take 2 trips to Vegas that year. Both were working trips for conventions, one for each of us, but hey we were alone, in Vegas, and that counts! We stayed at the Paris hotel, and the Venetian, and loved them both.

After the trips we talked about how much fun we had and how great it would be to take a trip to Europe for real.  Other than layovers during flights Marshall has never been, and I hadn’t been since I was a kid. So we decided that for our 25th anniversary we would go. We figured 3 years was enough time to plan, and save, and make it happen.

But fate stopped us in our tracks. My world was thrown into a tailspin and any plans we may have had were tossed out the window. Every trip we took over the next couple years revolved around what was going on with our families.

Finally this summer came along. We didn’t have any place we felt like we NEEDED to be. Nothing that we HAD to do. I hesitated to plan anything though. I didn’t want to tempt fate when things were quieting down. So, I planned a short camping trip. That didn’t really count right. Fate could give us that. And it did. The trip was fun, and relaxing, and everything a camping trip should be.

Then, out of the blue, fate handed us another gift. A friend had booked an extra room at a beach resort. They didn’t need the room any longer and were wondering if we would be interested in taking it. I hesitated. This wouldn’t be a 3 day trip just a couple of hours from home. This was a full week, 8 hours from home. This involved actual planning, requesting days off, spending money we hadn’t planned on spending, and being at the beach. Something I wasn’t sure I would be emotionally ready for.

I hemmed and hawed. Marshall wasn’t sure he could get the time off. My boss was traveling and might not respond in time. Then Marshall’s request was denied. He said we should go without him but I still wasn’t sure. When another friend was interested in taking the room I decided to let it go. There would be other years. Strangely, fate stepped in again. Marshall’s boss changed his mind. My boss approved my request from the road. The friend who I thought I had passed to hadn’t realized I had passed and wasn’t ready to say yes herself. The room was ours if we wanted it. So I said yes.

So here we are, just about a month away from our 25th anniversary. There will be no trip to Europe. No leaving the kids with my parents while we jet off to the other side of the world. But there will be a beach trip. And while we won’t have Paris, or Venice, we will find quiet time together after the kids pass out for the day. Who knows, maybe there will even be a Denny’s near by for some take out for two.

 

 

Posted by: Wagons Ho | July 30, 2017

The call log

While watching tv the other night I decided to clean up the call log on my cell phone. As I’m mindlessly hitting delete, delete, delete, I came across a recent call to “Mom & Dad”. I didn’t remember calling their number, but I still have dad’s cell in my speed dial list, so I must have hit it by accident.

I sat there staring at their names and realized I’ll never call them again. Mom has been gone for 19 months now, dad for 5, so this shouldn’t have been shocking to me but it was. It felt like someone punched me right in the gut. I couldn’t breathe and I started to cry.

Waves of grief rushed over me. I tried to pull myself together but I couldn’t. In a panic I dialed their house to hear mom’s voice on the answering machine. I frantically dug for the video I took of dad and Max telling each other stories at Christmas. It wasn’t as good as being able to talk to them but hearing those snippets of their voices gave me a small sense of relief.

I spent some time looking at the dates and times of the calls. All of them were to dad as I had replaced my phone the summer after mom died. I tried to remember anything about the calls, hoping I had said I love you each time.

It took a long time for me to calm down. In the end I couldn’t bring myself to erase those calls. Maybe someday I will but for now they’ll stay on there. A small reminder of the days I could call them.

Posted by: Wagons Ho | July 16, 2017

Only 3 months?

It’s been a little more than 3 months since dad died. Some days I can’t believe it’s already been that long. It feels like I just talked to him the other day. I can still hear his voice, and see his face, so clearly. I still find myself thinking I should call and check on him. I still keep my cell phone within reach at all times, just in case.

But most days I can’t believe it’s only been 3 months. It feels like it happened forever ago. It hits me at weird times. Like the other day when the bank told us we should keep his checking account open for 6 months. My first thought was “But it has already been at least 6 months!”.  Except it hasn’t, not even close.

It still feels different than when mom died. I wonder if it’s because I am grieving for mom too. Or, if it’s just that I was more prepared this time. Maybe the last 2 plus years of worry, sickness, guilt, and death, have left me permanently numb. Maybe I’m depressed and should get some meds to help. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with me at all and I wouldn’t even be questioning it if they hadn’t died so close together.

All I really know is I’m still not ok. I have pretty much quit cooking. We survive on cereal, sandwiches, and take out. I rarely leave the house for anything other than kids activities and meetings I have to attend. When I do finally go out to be social I have to force myself not cancel, and I’m exhausted when I’m done. I try to read but hardly ever finish a book, no matter how good it is. I’m touchy, moody, and short tempered. Although I’m not sure that’s really that much different than I was before all this. I’m tired, but I don’t sleep well. I’m a mess, and while I’m trying to hide it I’m not sure I’m doing a very good job.

I worry that this is my new normal. I don’t want it to be. I want to rewind back to 2 1/2 yrs ago. I know that me is gone forever but I hope to find pieces of her around. I think they are there, hiding. Waiting until it is safe to come out again. Waiting for the pain, the sadness, and the guilt to ease. I’m sure in time it will but it’s only been 3 months.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Wagons Ho | April 15, 2017

Here I Go Again

My dad died. God I hate those words. When mom died I wanted to yell it to everyone (My mom died) but this time it’s different. I can’t bear the thought of telling people. There are so many people that we have to tell that saying the words to people we don’t have to is just too hard. I’ve tried but I just can’t get them out. So I haven’t said anything.

The last few months were a roller coaster of good days and bad, hospital admissions and discharges. Of having to place dad in a nursing home, something I promised him I would never do, and then did. Of conference calls with care teams, calls with my sister, calls with dad. Of sleepless nights, and mountains of guilt.

The last couple weeks have seemed so quiet in comparison. The calendar, once full of appointments and meetings for dad, looks so empty. I keep thinking I should call him, and then remember I can’t. The other day I thought “I should call and see how mom is doing now that dad is gone”. It took a minute to remember she is gone too. The mind can be cruel like that.

The sorrow is different from what it was, hell still is, with mom. It’s hard to describe but it’s not as raw, not as shocking. It’s there though. Sneaking up on me throughout the day. Catching me off guard. Crushing me with the guilt of all the things I should have done differently. Making me feel so alone.

I try to tell myself that at least I know how this will go. The paperwork, the calls, the lawyer. The crying at nothing, the anger at everything. I don’t know if it’s a good thing to know. I guess I’ll find out. All I know for sure is my world has changed again.

I miss you dad.

Posted by: Wagons Ho | February 24, 2017

So much adulting

After 25 plus years of being an “official” adult I thought I had my shit together. I had a will, health insurance, life insurance,  bank accounts, and a 401K. But then mom died and I realized how much I hadn’t done. My will was 5 yrs old. I assumed I had beneficiaries on all my accounts, but wasn’t sure. I was putting the bare minimum into the safest plan in my 401K. I hadn’t made any real plans for retirement, or college, or death for that matter.

So now I’m making up for lost time. I’ve taken webinars about college, retirement and estate planning. I met with a financial planner to figure out where to go from here. I’ve updated beneficiaries, my 401K plan, and am in the process of updating our wills. I’ve done healthcare directives and powers of attorney. And, in the middle of all that, I’ve even done this year’s taxes.

This kind of adulting is hard. It brings a whole new level of “Am I completely screwing this up??!!??.” Worrying about retirement and college plans, investments, trusts vs. wills, and more makes things like when did the kids last eat a vegetable, and am I reading to them enough, seem small in comparison. ACK!!!

Despite the stress it feels good to get it all done. To know that things are in place for our future, and for the kids. I think mom would be proud. After she got done bitching at me for taking so long to get it done that is.

 

Posted by: Wagons Ho | January 16, 2017

I survived

We are officially 2 weeks into 2017. Thank God. 2016 sucked giant donkey balls. I was not sorry to see it go. The last month of the year was rough but I powered through. Dad was still in the hospital so we headed home for Christmas. It wasn’t what we had planned, or what any of us wanted, but we made it work. We celebrated Christmas in the hospital complete with tree, presents, and a full meal of dad’s favorite, prime rib. If you haven’t cooked a full Christmas dinner, and then packed it up and taken it to a hospital, it’s definitely an adventure.

We spent the rest of the week checking out nursing homes, and making plans for dad’s discharge. It wasn’t fun but it did make the week fly by and kept my mind off of the anniversary of mom’s passing. We were fortunate to find a couple great facilities and, while not ideal, it made both Jodie and I feel better to know that dad won’t be home alone after he gets out of the hospital. We also got the adaptive equipment his therapist recommended installed at the house so as he continues to get stronger, and if he feels comfortable with it, he may still be able to go home one day.

So far 2017 has been kind and I feel more positive about the upcoming year. I know it won’t be perfect but it will be better than last year. Even if I have to drag it kicking and screaming behind me it will be better!

Posted by: Wagons Ho | December 12, 2016

Two years and a world of change

On this day in 2014 I was flying home at the butt crack of dawn. Dad had been admitted to the ICU the night before and wasn’t expected to make it. My biggest fear was loosing dad. I never once thought that it would be mom. But here we are two years later. Dad made it but in exactly 2 weeks it will have been one year since mom died.

For two years now I have cringed with every ring of the phone. God forbid it ring late at night, or early in the morning. I was the girl who rarely knew where her cell phone was, and if I did find it odds were it wasn’t charged. Now I’m the girl who always has her phone within reach and checks it during the night just in case I missed a call or text.

For two years I have spent every holiday and vacation wondering if this will be the last one with dad.  Then it was the last Thanksgiving and Christmas with mom and I never saw it coming.

For the last two years I have gone to work, helped the kids with homework, done the laundry and paid the bills. Just like I have done for years. But even with the stuff that is the same there is a difference. There’s a sadness always lingering in the background. There’s an anger just under the surface that pops up so quickly at the slightest irritation. There’s an anxiety just waiting for me to let down my guard. I’m me but not me. Here but lost. And I’m not sure any of that will ever go away.

It’s surreal how much my world has changed in just two short years.

 

 

 

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