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.

 

 

 

Posted by: Wagons Ho | July 28, 2016

7 Months

I thought I was doing ok. I had stopped crying every single day. I wasn’t as snappy at the kids. I was sleeping better. I stopped having headaches every day, and wasn’t scratching my head bloody anymore. I was wrong.

I spent Tuesday alternating between being mad and non-stop crying. Thankfully I telecommute so the rants, and blubbering over my keyboard, were only witnessed by the pets. By the end of the work day my head was killing me, I could barely see through my puffy eyes, and all I wanted to do was call mom and talk to her about the crappy day I was having. It was miserable. I miss her so much.

After seven months it shouldn’t be this hard. I don’t expect everything to be sunshine and roses but shouldn’t I be able to get through the 26th of each month by now without falling apart? Seeing her in pictures, hearing her voice on my parent’s answering machine,  dealing with the estate, these are all things that I know will be hard. They are things I prepare myself for. But for some reason I never prepare myself for the stupid 26th.

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Posted by: Wagons Ho | July 21, 2016

The fire pit

I like the idea of camping just not the actual sleeping in a tent, spiders trying to kill you, having to find your way to a bathroom in the dark, communal showers part of camping. I do love the family time without electronics, lazy days, wadding in the river, sitting around the camp fire drinking with your friends part of camping though. So a few years ago we purchased one of those small portable fire pits. All the fun of a campfire without having to actually camp.

We used it a few times each year but eventually the bottom rusted out and we needed a new one. I decided this time I wanted something a little bigger but everything I looked at was ridiculously expensive for what they were. We were discussing my hunt for the perfect fire pit when a friend mentioned he had seen fire pit kits on sale at a local landscaping company and that’s when this year’s DIY project began.

Now you would think I would have been satisfied with the fire pit, but nope. I decided as long as we were doing it we should “do it right” and put in a paver patio too. This way we  would have a nice place to sit around the beautiful new fire pit. Marshall looked at me like I was a crazy and said “You want to do a patio too?” and, in typical fashion, I looked back at him, smiled, and said “Of course! I mean, how hard could it be?”

According to the internet, and when has that ever steered anyone wrong, this would be a 1 weekend project, tops. All we would have to do is dig out the space, level it, add rock, add sand, build the fire pit, add the pavers, leveling as we went, add sand to the gaps, and viola, paver patio with a fire pit. Simple right? We could totally do this. We have certainly done more complicated projects. This would be a breeze.

HA! You’ll be shocked to hear this but the internet lied. It was not a 1 weekend project. Now maybe if we lived in an area with no rocks, tree roots, grass, and a perfectly level space it would have been but noooooo we picked the one spot in the yard that had every rock made since the dawn of time in it. Along with the roots for every tree in a 5 mile radius. It was hot, hard work watching Marshall till and dig and cut to get the spot cleared, add in the rock and sand, and get the area ready to build on.

Once that was all done all that was left was the “easy” part of laying the pavers. Marshall wanted to just put down the pavers. As if you can just throw them down and it would look right. Of course this is also a man who thinks you can just throw tinsel on the Christmas tree (Tinsel People) but I wanted an actual pattern. One that would be even, and would have the colors vary beautifully. This required several hours of laying a few sections, standing back and looking, counting pavers, measuring, moving pavers, standing back and looking, and so on. Once I finally had it all worked out I began the never ending task of laying a paver and leveling it only to get a few pavers down the row and be completely out of level. I came to the conclusion that laying pavers is one of the many levels of hell.

After several weeks, a few tears, and a lot of cursing, we finally finished. It came out pretty dang good if we have to say so ourselves. I foresee many years of sitting around the fire, drinking and laughing with friends, while we scream at the kids to quit sticking stuff in the fire and trying to burn themselves up. It will also be a great place to think up our next DIY project. Marshall should be open to suggestions by next summer.

fire pit

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