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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

Posted by: Wagons Ho | November 26, 2016

Challenge Accepted

I have decided that 2016 is Barney from How I Met Your Mother. Just when I think things have calmed down for a minute, or actually have the nerve to think things can’t get worse, 2016 laughs and says “Challenge Accepted”.

I knew these last few months leading up to the anniversary would be tough. But 2016 decided just being tough wasn’t enough.

Let’s start with October, my birthday month. I spent most the month dreading any thought of my birthday. I cringed whenever anyone even mentioned it. I told Marshall, and my friends, I wanted to ignore it this year. I hid the date on Facebook, and locked down my page, just in case anyone remembered without the reminder and wanted to post a birthday greeting. I held back tears as I opened cards from the boys, and hid under blankets on the couch all day. I made it through without completely loosing it though.

October also brought the close of mom’s estate. It was 10 months to the day mom died when we met with the lawyer to have dad sign all the final paperwork. I should have been relieved, dealing with her estate had been beyond painful, but instead I was bawling. I’d like to say it was the relief of finally being done but I think more truthfully it was that we were done. This was the one thing we could still do for mom, the thing we could talk about instead of talking about how much we miss her, the thing we could be mad at instead of being mad that she was gone, this thing that had been with us for 10 months, and now it was done.

Other than my birthday, and the estate closing, we had a fairly quiet month. I thought we were safe for October. 2016 laughed. On Halloween we met with dad’s care team for what we thought would be a planning meeting for his discharge. After all the week before he had been home for a test to see if he could maneuver his stairs. They had started ordering adaptive equipment to be installed. They told him he would be going home soon. We thought wrong. During the meeting we learned that they didn’t think dad would be safe to go home alone. The team felt that he needed 24 hr care. They said that even though they had been telling us he would go home, and making plans for that to happen, they didn’t actually think it would ever happen. To say we were in shock was an understatement. After much back and forth they finally agreed that they were part of the problem with him “needing” so much assistance and they would give him 2 more weeks to show some improvement.

So for the next 3 days dad worked his rear off. He pushed himself to walk farther, do more. He wanted to go home and we were going to make that happen. Then 2016 said “Challenge Accepted” again. On Thursday night, after one of his best days in months, dad got sick. By Friday morning he was in the ICU. By Friday night, as I was on a plane heading there, he was put on a ventilator. He was septic from 2 different infections. It was Dec 2014 all over again (The drama is real ). For the next 3 1/2 days he was on the ventilator and more meds than should be given to any one person. But he turned around. He improved. He came off the ventilator. He moved to the step down unit. He was stable enough I could go back home.

Dad stayed on the step down unit for a week before he moved back to the rehab. He started back in therapy. He had a couple good days. We started talking about Christmas plans again. Then 2106 laughed and once decided not only to accept this challenge,  but to take it up a notch. Last Saturday dad started bleeding into his abdomen. They think it was from a procedure he had the previous day. He was rushed back to the step down unit for blood transfusions. In the midst of all this our old man cat decided it was his time to go. Seriously. So while Jodie (my sister) was at the hospital with dad, who was saying he felt like it was his time, I was at the vet with our cat saying goodbye. 2016 doesn’t play.

And here we are a week later. It’s been 11 months today since mom died. We survived our  first Thanksgiving without her. Dad, who has been in the hospital since Aug, is still in the step down unit, and had to have more blood today. It doesn’t look like he’ll be home for Christmas, or even the end of the year. 2016 accepted the challenge to kick the shit out of me and won. I hope it is done but I don’t want to tempt it to show me what else it can do. Maybe if I hide under the blankets for the next 5 weeks it will forget I’m out here. That’s a challenge I’d love for it to accept.

 

Posted by: Wagons Ho | September 30, 2016

9 months

I miss my mom. Not every second of every day, numb feeling, kind of missing. But hit you out of the blue, actual physical pain when you remember she is gone, miss her. The boys and I play a game where we say what we would do if we had a wish, or 2, or 3. In the past I always said more wishes, or millions of dollars, or a beach house, or some other silly thing. When they asked me the last time I couldn’t answer. Because the one wish I had was to have my mom back. Nothing else. Not more wishes, not more money, not to be skinny, none of the usual stuff. The first thing that popped into my head was “my mom”.

I’m crying at the most random times. Yesterday it was reminiscing with Marshall about the trip we took this summer. One second we are talking and laughing, the next I’m crying. Neither of us know why.

I find myself having to avoid more and more things. Movies, songs, tv shows, even commercials, don’t get me started on the one where the football player calls home to hear his dead mother’s voice on the answering machine. There’s always something that can trip me up.

I’m hiding again. Socializing, acting normal, forcing myself to not cry over seemingly innocent comments, it’s exhausting. So I stay home.

My patience level is still low. The kids, and Marshall, take the brunt of my freak outs. I apologize and promise to do better. I’m not sure they believe me anymore. I’m not sure I believe me any more.

More and more I find myself thinking “I should tell mom about that.” When it happens I have to remind myself that I can’t because she isn’t here anymore. It hurts like you would not believe.

It’s the time of year when we send Trapp’s birthmom a letter and pictures. I’m later than normal this year. Going through pictures, remembering holidays, it was harder than I thought it would be. I haven’t even started the letter yet. She’s one more person I have to tell, just when I thought I was done saying the words. I’m not sure I can do it.

I worry about my sister. I have Marshall to pick up the slack, and the kids to take my mind off of stuff. She has been taking care of dad, working, taking care of her house, and dad’s, dealing with the banks, and vehicles, and all the other estate stuff I can’t do from here. I hate that she has to do it all alone.

It’s been 9 months. 9 short, and long, months. Shouldn’t it be getting easier? Shouldn’t I be remembering happy times more, sad times less. Remembering more of the laughter, less of the pain? Crying less? Angry less?

I keep thinking it will be easier when the bank accounts are settled, when the estate is closed, when summer is over, birthdays are over, dr appointments and first days of school are over. It hasn’t gotten easier. This is so hard and I miss her so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Wagons Ho | September 8, 2016

September

The summer flew by. We had a few adventures, and a lot of crazy, over those 99 days. I’ve started and stopped a dozen posts this last month but couldn’t seem to finish any of them so I thought I’d just do a list of things that actually happened this summer.

  • Flew home for a visit. While we were there dad got sick and ended up spending 3 weeks in the hospital.
  • Packed up mom’s clothes and cleaned out her bathroom. Smelling her perfume about killed me.
  • Visited Marshall’s family. It was relatively drama free, which is saying a lot for them.
  • Visited Mount Rushmore and some of the touristy things around there.
  • My grandmother, dad’s mom, fell at home and went to the hospital for an eval. They decided she needed home health care in order to go home and were working on setting that up when she fell and broke her hip. They have now determined she can’t live at home anymore and are working on nursing home placement.
  • Dad fell at home and broke a hip. He’ll be in the rehab until at least Oct according to his latest care team meeting.
  • We had bonfires in the fire pit.
  • We visited the amusement park several times. The season passes we got were worth every penny.
  • Continued to deal with mom’s estate. I’ve always wondered why it takes years to settle estates of rich/famous people, and now I know. I mean it’s been 9 months so far and mom certainly wasn’t rich, or famous.
  • Restarted my Weight Watchers plan. Well technically I never quit the plan, I just quit working it. After gaining back 45 lbs I decided enough was enough.
  • Restarted my budgeting. 8 months of rarely cooking dinner put a dent in our finances, and didn’t help my weight.
  • Cried, yelled, laughed. Sometimes all at the same time.
  • Missed mom, especially as we got ready for school to start. She would have loved to hear about Max’s first day of kindergarten.

All in all it wasn’t a bad summer but I’m not looking forward to the next few months. It was around this time last year that mom first started to say she wasn’t feeling well. She thought it was just her allergies acting up, if only it had been allergies.  School, work, and sports will keep us busy during but I also know these months will be hard as hell. Hopefully I can get through them without completely falling apart.

 

 

 

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