Sunday, October 19, 2014

Contemplating life

There are definitely days when it's a struggle to just exist and you think a lot about death. This is one of those days. Heck, it's been one of those weekends. It will be seven months tomorrow. I had to actually stop and think about how long it had been. Hard to believe that he's actually gone and then there are days when it slaps me upside the head. I had to admit to myself (finally) that I couldn't have done anything differently. Ron killed himself just as surely as if he'd pulled a trigger. He just chose to do it more slowly and a piece at a time, taking me and his children along for the ride. That wasn't very fair of him. That is harsh. But, sometimes reality is harsh. He always thought he wouldn't live to be any older than his father had been when he died, but he failed to take into consideration that his dad was a heavy smoker and he died from emphysema and lung cancer. He sabotaged his own life to live "down" to those expectations.

It worked, except he lived nine years longer than his dad did.

Now, I'm faced with cleaning up the emotional mess that was left behind and I'm not doing a very good job of it. I was thinking about my life here and how long I've lived here. It will be 31 years in January. I was thinking about how many "friends" I've made through the years and who I could call on if I needed someone. I came up with no one. N.O. O.N.E. (Except for two of my children.) That is sad. Oh, I have people I consider as being my friend, but I don't know that I'm their friend. You know, someone they invite places, call to chat, drop by for coffee/tea/etc., or invite to their house for the same. I am lonely. Spending every Saturday and Sunday like a hermit is not necessarily fun. Crashing Amy's house isn't always convenient for her (she just had a baby last week) or fair to them.

I hear from one son and my daughter (and son-in-law) on a regular basis. The rest? Not so much. I paid Faith to take me to get my eye surgery. Amy was too busy and it would have been an inconvenience to her, and no one else stepped forward to volunteer so I asked Faith and told her I'd pay her. I know that she would have taken me without money and she is one person I don't mind paying; she's working part-time and going to school full-time.

Yeah, I'm having a bad day and a bit of a pity party. BDD. Deal with it. Sometimes life is very tiring and I'm not always certain that what's left is really worth it. I want to give up and not get out of bed some days. Then I remember those who take time out of their lives for me and the beautiful grandchildren that I have, and I know that I'll keep plugging away at surviving until I have overcome the darkness that threatens to engulf me.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Rule #1 for Widows

There are no rules. 
The grief process is different for every single person. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. It doesn’t matter if you were married 5 months, 5 years, or 50 years. Once that spouse is cut from your life, no matter the circumstances, a piece of your existence has also been chopped off. You could have lost your spouse to a tragic, quick accident or due to a long and drawn out illness. Neither one of these affect how long the grief process will last.
You may be fine today and hear a song on the radio that will reduce you to tears. You may be totally sad one minute and happy the next. Whatever. Go with it. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotion that you feel. Anger. Resentment. Loss. Sadness. Happiness. Contentment. Anger (sometimes there is a lot of anger over the situation). Tears. Laughter. Good memories.  Feel them all, and then work through them. If you need alone time, take it. If you need to talk to someone (or to listen to someone), do it.
Don’t allow your feelings to consume you. Don’t close yourself off from friends and family who love you. They probably don’t know what to say or how to help, but even if they have nothing at all to offer except their presence, take it. 
If you need help with everyday chores, ask someone who has been there for help. Not sure about finances? Look into a financial advisor (my Edward Jones advisor is fantastic; find one you trust). Do you have a life insurance policy for yourself? I thought “I” was the owner on ours since it had been mine before we were married; somehow it got converted into Ron being the owner so I had to do the application process all over again. Do you have a will? If you don’t have one, you can always find documents online (depends on the state you live in) to create one yourself. If you have a complicated estate, or minor children, I recommend you contacting an attorney who specializes in estates and trust planning. 
How about home repair and maintenance? Luckily, I’m a renter (we did the home ownership thing before Ron’s health got so bad and then we became renters) so my landlord takes care of those issues for me. Do you have maintenance agreements on your appliances? I’m not sure how I feel about those; my mother-in-law swore by them but unless you have them serviced annually to make sure they’re in good working shape, I’m not sure they’re of added value. (Just my personal opinion.)
Car repair and maintenance?  My husband took care of our cars for years and then he no longer could. We found a reputable mechanic we trusted and started taking our vehicle there for repair and maintenance. Good maintenance, and tire maintenance, will save you lots of money down the road. This is one area I do recommend extended warranties for. I had a fairly new minivan one time and purchased the extended warranty. Six weeks later the transmission went out. A year later, it went out again. The extended warranty paid for itself at least twice. 
Eating... This is my biggest failure. I’ve gotten into a rut where I quit cooking for myself. Cereal is good. It’s a food group. It’s OK. Right? Not really...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Beginning Again

I’ve been thinking about the last six months of my life, and how they did NOT go the way I thought they’d go. Even though I’d known for quite some time that Ron’s body was winding down, it was still a shock to my system. I’d been on the edge of what I can only describe as a great abyss so many times, only to have a reprieve of sorts. I can’t say for sure how many times over the years that I didn’t expect Ron to survive – but, somehow and by the grace of God, he did. When I actually fell into that abyss, I didn’t know how to react or what to expect. I think I shocked the hospital chaplain because I wasn’t a basket case. Of course, she didn’t know me and didn’t know how many ER trips or ambulance rides or stints in ICU or surgeries or hospital stays we’d gone through. She only could see a seemingly calm (on the outside, anyway) woman who had just lost her husband. I caught her looking at me several times in that two-hour space of time that I sat in the ER cubicle with Ron. Amy was the basket case and I had to be strong for her. I held it together for everyone who needed my strength – as long as I didn’t have to talk about it. For every phone call that needed to be made or that I received, I handed the phone to someone else. I just wasn’t ready to admit out loud (except when absolutely necessary) that the unthinkable, unimaginable had actually happened.

I have many questions that I know will never be answered on this side of Heaven’s door. I know that Ron slipped quietly away in his sleep and that he wasn’t in pain. That part gives me comfort. But, as he was slipping away did he have any conscious thoughts that it was time? I know he was ready to go and had said as much the night before. Did he understand that I didn’t want him to go? That I wasn’t ready for him to go? Did he understand that I did all that I could or did he think I could have done more? To be honest, I’m still not sure that “I” understand if I did. Could I have delayed the nursing home a bit longer and still maintained a level of care and health for both of us, or was I selfish in my part? I will find that out once I’m on the other side of this life and until then, I have to live with the consequences of my actions – always wondering if I could have done just one more thing. I’m not looking for sympathy or for anyone to qualify what I did. Because I was the one responsible for Ron’s wellbeing, it had to be my decision. He was beyond making rational decisions – even though he sounded perfectly fine and rational when speaking, he really didn’t see the bigger picture. The disease processes had robbed him of “himself” and the ability to comprehend the what if and what could have been scenarios.

This blog has served as a means to communicate my fears, his challenges and victories, and mine. There were times that I know I sounded crazy, nuts, selfish, resentful, and mean-spirited. When I’m being perfectly honest with myself, I admit those feelings were present at times. Many times I felt things that, although normal for a caretaker and someone grieving the loss of independence – whether your own or that of someone you love, weren’t pretty or flattering. Sometimes writing down those feelings helped to get through them. I had my share of pity parties. I had them for me, I had them for Ron, and I had them for the kids/grandkids. One of the things that I remember very clearly was early in the multiple surgeries to try and save Ron’s right leg. The toilet was clogged and I wasn’t strong enough, nor did I have the right tools, to do what needed to be done to clear it. Ron was no help because he was tied to the wheelchair. I had no “man” I could call on because I just didn’t have anyone. I sat on the wheelchair ramp in the garage and just cried. And cried. And cried. (I still feel sadness for that hopeless and helpless person.) My brother asked me one time if I felt a sense of pride once I accomplished a “man job” and my reply was that I did not. Accomplishing those manly, husbandly tasks meant that my husband was slipping farther and farther away and as I took on those roles, he knew that he was slipping away.

My oldest son didn’t live close, my youngest son really didn’t know any more about taking care of things like that than I did (and he didn’t live with us, either), and the only two people who could have helped make a difference for me didn’t realize that I could have used help. I was very proud and, as such, didn't feel comfortable asking for help. I wanted people to care enough to ask if I needed help. Without realizing it, I was holding them to standards they didn't know existed, and that wasn't totally fair to them. On the other side, the times I did ask different people (who had said "let me know if there's anything you need), what I got back was, "God bless you." That's not really the help I was looking for. So, I no longer asked or assumed that someone would get the hint and volunteer. (This was before Amy met Rex.) So, yes – I resented those times. But, did they make me stronger? I don’t know – probably. Over the course of the next several years, a clogged toilet was one of the milder issues that we faced and overcame.

As I look back, I can see so many instances that were “close calls” and so many that just became routine – our new normal. We were constantly adjusting what was a normal day in the life of Ron. And for me.

Now, it's time to begin a new chapter. I was going to stop using this blog but I think I'll keep it open and take it in a new direction. I also want to change the name to be more fitting. I'm not sure exactly what yet, but something that includes beginning again. I hope that you'll continue to read and cheer me on from the sidelines.

Take care and God bless... You've all helped me get through more than you can ever imagine.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Marking time

It’s hard to believe that Ron has been gone 16 weeks today. I miss him and will always miss him. But... I have to remember that “I” am still here and “I” have to look forward to new beginnings and not stay in the past. Taking five weeks off work was very helpful. I still have moments that when I try to talk about something, or thank someone for something, that I get choked up and the words won’t come. But, it is getting easier to talk about all the things that Ron’s poor body (and mind) went through. He suffered... oh, how he suffered. But, he really had the best attitude (most of the time) considering all of the limitations on his life. He always had a smile for people and he rarely got upset if someone didn’t come to visit him. I know the hours and hours he spent alone had to be draining on him, but he never complained. He frequently napped to pass the time (that’s my theory on it).

I took the time off to really reflect on things. I ordered his grave marker (and it is going to be beautiful!), I took care of his social security, took care of multitudes of medical claims (Medicare and I went ‘round and ‘round), and started seeing a grief counselor. I’m not sure that she really told me anything that I didn’t already know, but hearing it out loud from a third-party with no vested interest was good. There are days when I still question my decisions (like making him move to the nursing home) but most of the time, I know that I did the best that I could. Sometimes I got a little crazy over it all, but if I had to do it over again for him I wouldn’t hesitate. He needed me and I’m glad that I was able to be there for him. He would have done the same for me.

I had a particularly rough night a few days ago. When I got up the next morning and looked in the mirror, my hair was going every which way. Just as clear as if he had been standing behind me, I heard Ron’s voice say (as he was laughing), “You look like Medusa this morning.” As I examined my hair, I had to agree with him. It made me feel really good – LOL – to get an “insult” from him.

I had to... No, let me rephrase that... I felt I NEEDED to make some changes around the house. I had been on the hunt for a new sofa anyway, so I went ahead and completed that task. I also had a very small, round table in the dining room, so I replaced that (kept the chairs because they are the perfect shade) and replaced the antique (with the broken front) hutch with one that did not have glass on the bottom. I also replaced our bed. And our car. Not to diminish the old memories, but time to start making some new ones.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Who is Teresa?

I think I need to “find” who I am again. I was Ron’s caretaker for so many years that I kind of got lost in all of it. I don’t know who or what I’m supposed to be. What do I like? What should I be doing? My entire existence all these years was geared toward doing what I needed to do to make sure that he had the best quality of life that he could have. If he wanted something, I busted my rear figuring out how I could make it happen for him. The times I did take off for myself, he was constantly on my mind and I always had to make sure that I had one or two people lined up to take care of anything that might crop up. Almost every time I went out of town for anything, he either got sick right before, while I was gone, or when I came back. I just never knew when it would happen and it usually wasn’t a question of “if” – just when and how bad. I lived constantly on the edge of when the next big disaster was going to happen. Now, I’m just totally lost. Did I do enough? Should I have done more? Was it really his time or did I speed it up because I didn’t keep him at home? Did I prolong his life (suffering) because I did move him to a nursing home? Should I have had them work on him longer (they worked on him 50 minutes)? Did he give up because he thought I needed a break? Did he decide that I had given him permission to quit fighting?

I actually very nearly gave my notice at work last week. I didn’t feel like I was doing anyone any good and I could tell that my concentration was eroding and my focus just wasn’t there. I have always, always been a perfectionist and to think that I would be only capable of giving less than my all was just too much. I may not always give the impression that I’m a perfectionist, but I absolutely am my own worst critic. Not knowing what I’m supposed to know is something I have a very hard time forgiving myself for. I talked to my doctor on Friday and he suggested I apply for a LOA instead and take the time to grieve – get some grief counseling and move forward. A couple of co-workers helped me when I talked to them about it. One made me feel good because she said I was a valuable member of the team and she didn’t want to see me leave the company when all I needed was maybe a little time. Same with another... said he would hate if I left instead of allowing myself to heal. I didn’t want to become a “performance issue” so it’s either take the time now to do what I need to do or there may not be time later.

I’ve been told I’m a strong person and I always thought so, too but now I’m not so sure. I’m always strong for others but have never had to be strong for myself, I guess. I’ve always been the one others come to for help. I don’t have that for me so I have to look outside of myself to find it. When my boss showed up in my cube, I knew one of the ladies I’d spoken to had sent her to check in with me (LOL – I knew when she showed up that someone had put a bug in her ear, and that was OK). LT and I had a good talk. She said she knew I was a strong person and that I’d get through it. She appreciated that I understood how her hands would be tied if performance became an issue. I did, and I do. Most supervisors don’t enjoy giving negative marks to people if they can help it.

So, I’m scheduled to be off from May 19 through June 29 and I have my first counseling session next Wednesday. Unfortunately, because I had surgery last year and used 7.5 weeks of FMLA, I only have 4.5 weeks of “protected” leave. I didn’t know, but FMLA runs concurrently with approved short-term disability. I’m still eligible for short-term disability pay but my job is only protected through June 17. If I take the remaining time that has been approved, they don’t have to hold my job and can put me somewhere else, or they can just tell me they no longer need me. I need to decide if I can do enough healing in four weeks to come back on June 16 (which is two full weeks sooner than I planned), or run the risk of being unemployed at the end of June. I think it would be totally crappy if they say take the time you need, and then tell me they no longer need my services.

At this point, I’m not sure what I will do.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dear Ron...

Dear Ron,

It’s been three weeks. THREE! I still can’t believe you’re actually gone. You left me so quickly; why didn’t you warn me? I’m jealous that Chuck got to talk to you last (I know that’s unreasonable). I wish you had called me to tell me good night – or that I had called you. I knew that our time together was short and wondered if you knew it too. I didn’t want you to die. I didn’t want you to sign a DNR if that’s not what you wanted. I know your last few years were really tough on you, and tough on me. I know you were sorry that you put me through so much. I’m sorry I was selfish through many of your trials. I’m sorry I wasn’t more patient and understanding. Was God using you to teach me something? I hope I learned it and that is what ended your suffering. I’m so, so sorry that you went through so many things. If I had insisted they keep working on you, would it have made a difference? Or, would it have meant that you’d have been tied to a machine? Neither of us wanted that for the other. I know you would not have wanted to spend your last days hooked up to machinery. Letting go was so hard but I knew it was the best for you. You would have done the same for me.

Your last few months were the worst for you. I wish I had been able to just suck it up and continue to take care of you at home. I’m not sure how much of it was selfishness on my part and how much was really my physical and emotional limitations. I worried about you constantly when you were home alone. Were you on the floor, did you have a medical emergency, did you eat, etc. Working so far from home and not being able to reach you some days really made my entire day so stressful. I remember one time when we lived in Derby and I called you on my way home from work. I was going to Wal-Mart but you sounded so groggy on the phone that I knew I needed to go home instead. I kept hollering your name all the way and all I could hear was the TV in the background. That was the longest 15 miles ever. I found you passed out on the bed with a blood sugar of 27. I’m nearly certain that if I hadn’t called you and come home, you would have died then. I would have felt so guilty for going shopping instead of coming home first.

It’s very hard being in the “W” club. No one wants to be a member of that club. I’ve had a few other club members reach out to me for when I need to talk. So far, I’ve only taken the step to talk to one... my cousin. Her husband died suddenly about six years ago. She still misses her husband. She said everyone is different; maybe since you were sick for so long my grieving has already gone through a few stages. I don’t know. I still cry pretty easily at some memories and situations. I still miss your physical presence. I know that with all of your health issues we had discussed we didn’t have the same kind of marriage that we once had. The love was still there, but the focus was changed. We didn’t focus on the physical aspect of a relationship, but the emotional and companionship of one. Even when I was frustrated with the physical changes going on in your body, I still loved your physical presence. We could sit for hours – you sleeping (off and on) and me reading – and enjoy each other’s company.

Today, I can write all this down without getting too emotional. Yesterday, I could not have. I was pretty much worthless all day yesterday, starting the day with a roaring migraine. I am not very good at this “widow” thing. Don’t like it one bit. I bought a book on Amazon written by a widow for widows. It was pretty short and not very in-depth. One of the constant themes of the widows whose words were in this book (several “club members” were contributors to the book) was how many people just don’t know what to say, so they show up with casseroles or whatever. That’s very true... most of the people I come into contact with every day have totally avoided mentioning you or asking how I am. I think they’re afraid of the answer or the reaction. (LOL – they haven’t shown up with casseroles, either. But that’s OK – not sure what I’d do with a casserole anyway.) Three days of bereavement for you was not enough, so I took four days of vacation, too. That still wasn’t enough but I had to come back to work. The one big thing I got from the book was that I’m not crazy. I can have these emotions and be perfectly normal. I can get emotional at anything my body determines is realistic. I can also be perfectly calm at seemingly unreasonable situations. Not sure why but I’m trying to just go with it. I will grieve in my own way, at my own pace, and heal at a pace that is right for me. There’s no expiration date on grief and no time stamp on healing.

I will miss you forever. I will love you always. I cherish the memories of the really great times and my last vision of you smiling at me from your chair as I said good-night. Your smile was contagious and always showed how much love was in your heart.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thursdays officially suck

It's been three weeks. Three very long weeks. I can't say I'm doing great but I am coping. There is just so much to deal with that it's very hard.

If losing Ron wasn't enough, I have to deal with the insurance problems. Medical bills that should have been taken care of months ago are still hanging over my head (thanks to Medicare ineptness, they haven't). I have borderline anxiety attacks more days than not. I'm sleeping OK thanks to nighttime pain reliever but I wake up feeling very sluggish. I'd like some real sleep that restful and restorative. Soon...

I woke up with a migraine this morning so I'm moving very slowly. I need to get around and get out the door to work. I took three days bereavement leave (all most companies offer) and then four days of vacation. I don't have any more time that I could take or I would not have gone back to work as quickly as I did. Some days are harder than others and I'm glad that I've been busy at work, but I have had some trouble concentrating some days. I'm sure it will get better and I hope it is SOON!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


It is so odd to look at my phone and not see a missed call from either Ron or the nursing home.
It is so odd to know that my evenings don’t consist of trips to the nursing home.
It is so odd to know that I won’t ever get a phone call to tell me that Ron is on the floor – again.
It is so odd to know that all the things I think I’ll tell him the next time I see him won’t be said, at least in this lifetime.

I’ve read other blogs where people have lost a loved one and everyone copes in different ways. Some scream on the outside, some scream on the inside and look calm on the outside. Some have written posts to their deceased loved ones. I’m not sure I could put my deepest thoughts and feelings to Ron out there where others could read them. I’m not sure I’m ready to even put my deepest thoughts and feelings into words for myself. The void is there and it’s big… BIG…B.I.G.

I’m not sure how I’d be doing if Ron had still been living at home with me. Very odd to know that I now belong in a club that no one really wants to be a member of…

I am slowly getting back to normal, or as near normal as I can. It’s my new normal. I still have a lot of Ron’s things at home, such as some clothes, shoes, medical equipment, personal items from when he was a boy, etc. There are those things that I will part with as I go (the medical equipment) and some things that I will never part with and will leave for my kids to deal with once I’m no longer here. Some of his shirts I'm keeping for myself, such as a long-sleeved flannel shirt and some soft cotton T-shirts that he wore a lot. (I'd like to find someone to make a memory blanket for me out of the T-shirts.) I know I need to make a true will as the one I had before was only something very simple and left everything to Ron to dispose of. His was the same.

Going to bed at night is the hardest thing to adjust to. I haven’t slept in the same place as Ron since last September and even before then, he slept in his chair in the living room and I tried to sleep in the bedroom. I was always “on guard” though in case he needed me or got up. I was always worried that he would fall and he did on several occasions. It’s odd that I don’t have to sleep with one eye open any longer.

Thursdays are rough. I find myself looking at the clock for the exact time I think he quit breathing, the exact time the nursing home called me, and the exact time that I think they quit working to save him. Will those feelings go away? The first week after the funeral, I went to the cemetery every day. I didn’t go last week. I will go this week. I’m not sure why as I know that “he” is not there. I can talk to him just as well from home (and do) as I can standing there and looking at his resting place.
I have several voice mail messages on my phone still. Some are the upbeat Ron that everyone knew and loved. Some are the so sick he could barely talk Ron that he became in that last couple of weeks. Some days were better than others. February 14 was a great message that made me laugh. I took him Chinese food and he wanted me to bring him “some of those square round things with sausage in them” and did I know what he wanted (pot stickers). He loved his Valentine’s Day flowers and I’m so glad that I sent them.  His phone call on March 3 was pitiful; they had not admitted him to the hospital but sent him back with different medication. His phone call on March 5 was almost joyous – he had been admitted and was giving me his room number. They're little things and I know that as time goes on I'll deal better with them.

For now, it's just odd.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

It's a blur

The funeral was, and is, a blur. I know that I walked alone behind the casket; Shaun was behind me and Keith was behind him. I know my two boys sat next to me in that order, but not who was next to Keith. I know that Amy and Rex (with Isaiah) sat behind me as I could hear Isaiah talking to and comforting his mom. The rest of my family… no clue where they sat. I was so busy trying to hold it all together that I don’t even know who all came to pay their respects. I know several of Ron’s former co-workers were there, as well as a friend from our Derby church. I saw the names of many in the guest book who I didn’t even get around to acknowledging.

The church hosted a luncheon after the graveside service and many people did not come back to the church. I’m sorry that I missed acknowledging their presence. I did manage to speak to two of Ron’s co-workers; one was so emotionally shaken up that all he could do was give me a hug. The last time we had seen him was at the services for his wife several years ago. I found out from another friend that another co-worker placed a guitar pick in the casket with Ron – just in case he needed it. I know Ron was loved by so many people and I’m so grateful that so many came to show their support.

Some people I expected to hear from, I did not. Others I did not expect to hear from, I did. Both were surprising and I appreciated all of the messages I received, and continue to receive. Some people from our Derby church, I expected to see at some point. I did not. Ron spent years with the praise team there and I was just a bit surprised that they didn’t attend the visitation or the service. Some people may not have known about Ron’s passing so I let them know. After seeing they’d read my message, and didn’t, I deleted the message thread. Maybe they didn’t know what to say. I know that many people don’t. If they want to reply to the message, they still can as it’s in their inbox but there's no problem if they don't or can't.
I reached out to someone from my past who I haven’t spoken to in years because I knew that she had held Ron in high regard. I’m so glad that I did as she replied with words that no one else could have said. She had also taken care of a spouse with Parkinson’s and dementia. She was able to care for her spouse at home until the end, whereas I was not, but we still shared common feelings of frustration, guilt, and despair. She recommended a book by Catherine Marshall, To Live Again, and I have ordered it from Amazon. She said it helped her get past the dark days and to not feel guilty for experiencing joy in her life again. I want to be able to forgive myself for where I failed Ron, even though a part of me (most of me) knows that I did my best and Ron forgave me of my shortcomings.

One of the things she wrote, that could have come straight from me, was that she cursed herself for the times she felt impatient with him, or lashed out with angry words, when she should have recognized that it was the disease process and not his spirit. The hard part was that he couldn’t help it, but should she (and I) have been stronger and kinder 100% of the time? That hit home with me and I know that I discussed it at times with Ron, asking his forgiveness when I failed him. With men like her husband and Ron, having to endure the nursing home experience and suffer the health problems they had, surely their pain was as great or greater than ours. I always dealt with the physical side of his disease processes – it was the mental side that I couldn’t wrap my brain around. Even when I no longer had the physical care of him, I still had the emotional care and the mental anguish when I couldn’t “fix” everything. He always said there was nothing to forgive as he knew it was very hard on me to deal with everything.

She also told me that the one thing that never fades is the love. We lose their presence, the pain does get better, and we find happiness in our new life without them – but we never, ever lose the love. It stays just as strong, maybe even stronger. We get to keep that love forever, and it becomes the salve to heal the wounds. Some people have a lifetime here and never know the kind of love we got to have. The love we have will transcend all time and barriers and it will last forever.

The life we had at the end was not what we would have chosen for each other, but it does hold more good memories than bad. The bad ones try to jump out and overtake the good ones. With time, I look forward to being able to focus more on the good times and the happy memories that we shared together. My past with Ron is a big part of who I am and I will carry that forward with confidence and dignity, never relinquishing it – only building upon it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My love... His physical presence is gone but will always be remembered

HESSTON - Williams, Ronald K. "Ronnie," went to be with the Lord Thursday, March 20, 2014, at Newton Medical Center, Newton, Kan., at the age of 66. He was born Jan. 8, 1948, in Guthrie, Okla. to Harold D. and Helen M. (Banks) Williams. Ronnie was united in marriage to Teresa Keesee on Aug. 20, 1984, in Wichita, Kan. Ronnie was an electrician and retired from Boeing, but his true passion was music. In his youth, he was involved with several bands in Wichita and later owned his own recording studio. Prior to moving to Wichita, he owned his own restaurant in Topeka, Fat Ronnie's, which was the first place in the state to offer deep fried mushrooms. Ronnie also enjoyed fishing, spending time with his family, and helping others. Ronnie is survived by his wife, Teresa; four sons, Tim Williams of Andover, Shaun (Jenny) Williams of Bremerton, Wash., Aaron Williams of Derby, and Keith (Lindsay) Williams of Wichita; two daughters, Stacey (Charles) Ingram of Derby, and Amy (Rex) Schertz of Hesston; 11 grandchildren; one sister, Wydonna (Don) Ball of Kingston Springs, Tenn.; and numerous nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Vicki Gange. Funeral Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 25, 2014, at Hesston Methodist Church, Hesston, with Pastor Terry Burchett officiating. Burial will follow in Hesston City Cemetery, Hesston. Visitation will be Monday, March 24, 2014, from 4 to 8 p.m., with the family receiving friends from 6 to 8 p.m. at Miller-Ott Funeral Home, Hesston. Memorials may be sent to Autism Speaks in care of Miller-Ott Funeral Home, Hesston.                                                                       
Published in The Wichita Eagle on Mar. 22, 2014

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Keith wrote the most beautiful eulogy for his dad that anyone could have written. He got up to speak and my external calmness nearly crumpled. When Shaun got up to speak, it really was a challenge to keep it all together. The service was beautiful and our long-time pastor (and friend) and his wife drove up from Edmond, OK to do the service. I wouldn't have wanted anyone else to do it. Ron loved them like family and I know they loved him, too. Ron's friend Chuck Haukos had very nice words to share as well. Many of Ron's former co-workers came to pay their respects and I was so touched to see their names in the guest book. I hadn't had time to get around to everyone to thank them and missed that they were there. I was so humbled and touched.

Keith's eulogy:

It is said that you die twice. Once when you stop breathing, and once when your name is spoken for the very last time. My father will never die for as long as I'm alive, and not just because we've got the same name. Today, my family buried him, but we will never forget him or be without him.

Ronnie Williams was a great man. He was an electrician by trade, a musician by love, and a teacher by simply existing. He taught me a many great things that carried on into my adult life. He taught me respect, softness, and kindness in a world severely lacking all three. Be courteous to everyone you meet. Hold the door open for strangers. Smile when you speak, because happiness is contagious and we can be carriers.

He taught me what real value is. Not the value of things like money or possessions - He was terrible with money and was a bit of a hoarder - but of people and experiences. If you couldn't find worth in someone, you weren't looking hard enough. Everyone has value. Everyone cherishes and is cherished by someone. Moments together are precious. They are fuel that gets you through hard days. They are comfort and warmth when you are cold, and they are peace of mind in the maelstrom of grief. They are worth more than diamonds or gold but can never be bought or sold.

His tolerance, understanding, and love for all people was apparent in every interaction he ever had. He didn't see strangers, just friends he hadn't made yet. Meeting him and befriending him were pretty much one in the same because he didn't give you much choice in whether or not you loved him. There were few men like him. Not enough men like him, really.

I've got many stories about my father. Some private, some not. If you ask, I'll share them. If you don't ask, I'll probably share them anyway.
Beautifully written and spoken.  Shaun's words were so heartfelt and genuine. He has sacrificed much family time in his service to our country. He felt bad that it's been three years since he's been able to be home and the best he's been able to do in the past several months is to FaceTime with Ron. Ron loved his children equally and was so very proud of them all and extremely proud of the man Shaun has become and of his service in the Navy. Shaun wore his dress blues in Ron's honor.

Shaun, Keith, Tim, Hayden (Tim's son), Rex (Amy's husband), and Charles (Stacey's husband) were the pall bearers.

Shaun and his family drove from Seattle to get here just in time for the visitation Monday night and then had to head back home today. We couldn't find tickets for all of them on one flight and what we found was between $1200-$1500 each - EACH! They needed a minimum of five tickets and really needed six (the youngest is almost 2). It was wonderful to see them but sorry they had to make such a fast trip under the circumstances. I did manage to get them all on the sofa for a couple of pictures. This is the best one.

L-R: Tristan, Anna, Zachary, Kaitlyn, Alexander, Isaiah

Got my children and their spouses to sit for a picture, too. LOL - Tristan didn't want to miss out on being held by his mom. Too many people for him so he was very wary of us all.

And finally, the whole crew.

As sad as the last few days have been, I know that Ron is no longer suffering, he is in a better place, and he was ready to go. Ron knew beyond a doubt that he would spend eternity with God and I know that I will see him again. His earthly body was totally worn out but his heavenly body is perfect and he will never again suffer the multitude of illnesses and pain that he endured for the last several years of his life. I will forever miss him, his laughter, and his physical presence. But, I will carry his memory in my heart forever. Keith said it all so well when he said Ron loved with his whole being. I was privileged to be able to be his wife for nearly 30 years. The last words we spoke to each other were of our love for the other. I did not expect it would be the last time I would be able to say those words to him directly or to hear them from him. I cherish that memory.

When Jenny's parents learned of Ron's passing, they got in their son's car (they were visiting Indiana from Taiwan) and drove 13+ hours to hand me an envelope in the Chinese tradition (with a monetary gift), hug my neck and tell me how sorry they were to learn of Ron's death. They stayed long enough to give me lots of hugs and love, and then they got back in their car and drove back to Indiana. Words cannot express the gratitude or how humbled I felt with their selfless act. I couldn't even think about it for days afterward without tearing up. Even today, it's difficult to write without the emotion coming to the surface. Amazing people and amazing action on their part.  I am forever grateful.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Life in the Fast lane strikes again!

How did it get to be February 22 already???? Seems like just yesterday that it was only Christmas. This year is flying by - but I think that time passes more quickly when we get a bit more "mature" in years. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Ron is doing OK.  He fell (again) a couple of weeks ago and messed up both legs. His leg socket didn't fully engage in the prosthesis so when he went to take a step, it came out and he fell flat on his face. Luckily, there was a someone very close who had been cleaning the floors and this person was able to get the nursing staff. His left calf looks pretty bad - all banged up and healing very slowly. His "short leg" has an abrasion right on the end where it rests in the socket so he's not allowed to walk until it's healed. He's being smarter about calling for help when he's in a tight spot and not sure of his capabilities. He doesn't want to fall again.

I was able to get him DVR capabilities so he has a bit more control over his television. It's an extra $27 per month, so I had to find that in the budget somewhere. I downgraded his phone ($10 savings per month) and downgraded my data package for my phone ($20 savings per month). I'll have to watch my usage very closely to make sure I don't go over, but I was usually using only about 0.95 GB per month and I had a 3 GB package. If I see I'm close, I can add another GB for $10.

I also bought him a mini-fridge for his room and thought he could use it for items that he doesn't get as part of his care - such as soda and some light snacks. No, he wants soda, but he also wants fresh fruit, cheese sticks, etc. He asked me to buy him some cherries, strawberries, grapes, etc. I told him I didn't buy MYSELF these items because of the expense and did he really want to dip into "my" grocery budget when he can get fruit there? He said it's not usually fresh fruit, so I said I'd get him a couple of apples and pears (LOL - they were going to come out of my fridge as I'd just bought myself 2 apples, 2 pears, and 2 oranges, but he can't peel oranges). He said that would be great.

The next day - and I do mean the next day - he goes to Wal-Mart with the group and calls me all frantic that he needs me to transfer some money to his checking account. He had $45 in the bank but "somehow" he'd spent $104. So, I transferred $100 and asked him what he bought that was so much money. SEVEN shirts (cause his were stained - which is what happens when you have Parkinson's and shake your food out of your hands) and FRUIT! And, cheese. And, a 24-pack of soda. Sheesh! For someone who didn't want to get into my grocery budget, he did a mighty fine job of it.  Lucky for him, I haven't been to the store yet for me and I had a bit extra $$ in the bank (payday isn't until NEXT week). Then he had the nerve to ask me if I was still going to bring him some pears since he didn't buy any. Um... NO!

I'm working on doing some paper projects. Last weekend, I went to a birthday party for a friend and made her a few things as a surprise.  I made all the flowers, too.


This week, I'm working on stuff for a little girl's tea party-themed birthday. She'll be six and is having a "Fancy Nancy" type of birthday party. I've got tea cups and saucers, spoons, a tea bag dispenser and holder, and I'll have a teapot - all made from patterned paper. I've also got little purses for each of the girls. It should be cute. I have tea-themed invitations, as well. When it's all done, I'm going to take some pictures to share.

That's all for now. Have a wonderful week and God bless!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hmmm... no catchy title today. LOL!

It's Hump Day! Not much going on these days except more medical stuff. That's ALWAYS fun, right? hahahaha!

Ron is having a procedure today to look at his bladder and kidneys. I guess he's got new problems and they're looking specifically to see if he has an infection (which is my guess) or if he has a tumor somewhere. I may have blinders on, but it just seems odd that now that he's on Coumadin he suddenly has blood in his urine. He doesn't seem (to me, at least) to have any other symptoms of a tumor, but what do I know? He has had several episodes lately of nausea and vomiting. Medication? Disease processes? No clue but I'm hoping for some answers this week. (Update - test results show no tumor but the blood is coming from his kidneys due to kidney disease {no real surprise there}. His prostate is very enlarged - again, that is no surprise either. No treatment for either unless he begins to have more problems going to the bathroom.)

He also had a Thallium stress test a couple of weeks ago (after his diagnosis of A-fib and the procedure at the hospital to shock his heart back into normal rhythm). The doctor's office called him the other day and said there was an abnormality and they'd like to do a heart cath. He declined and said he'd just rather not go through any other heart treatments. His choice. He's had an enlarged heart for years and we know the pacemaker is working, so I understand why he doesn't want to do anything else. It's not like he'd be a candidate for any "big" treatment, such as any surgery.

We took him out on Sunday for his birthday and he looked awful. He was barely able to keep his eyes open for the first hour (it was a loooonnnnnggg lunch - poor service) but he did end up eating pretty well. I had to hold his plate down and remind him to either put the food in his mouth or how to get the food on the fork. At one point, he was using one hand to dig in the palm of the other hand. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was getting his dinner roll. He had a tub of butter in his hand but no roll, which he'd already eaten.

Sunday morning, the nursing staff found him on the floor of his room with his lift chair turned upside down on his head. He said he was looking for his TV remote and got down on the floor to look in the chair. He doesn't remember to put the remotes in the basket that is setting right next to him so it's a constant struggle to remember where they are and to find them. I found his iPod on the floor under his chair and it probably would have been crushed. (This is the same iPod he "lost" in early December and thought it had either been stolen or had been thrown in the trash. Actually, he had put it on the heater grate and it had slipped between the grids and landed on the elements below. Because he wanted to adjust the temperature in his room, he removed the grate and found the iPod. Of course, this was AFTER I had purchased another one to replace it. {sigh} That was not an expense I was expecting.)

Yesterday, he seemed just fine again. I'm not sure what exactly is going on with him but it's constantly up and down. I can no longer trust taking him out on my own and he just doesn't understand that. I can't risk him not being able to get up or down or lose his balance. My shoulder is still not well and I am not supposed to lift more than 5 pounds for another six weeks.

I try to have conversations with him stressing the importance of calling for assistance with things that he shouldn't attempt on his own. Although I no longer have the physical care of him, I still have the mental and emotional care. He's called me at bedtime before to tell me of electronic issues with his phone or tablet and wanted to know what he'd done and how to fix it. Very frustrating. I tell him that he cannot expect me to solve those types of problems over the phone; I need the device in my hand to see what he's done. There is still one setting he's changed on his phone that I can't quite find how to change back. He's purchased things on Apple (subscriptions to Pandora and Rdio unlimited) that I've had to beg Apple iTunes to refund on. I've disabled the auto-purchase on his account so I hope that fixes it. The Pandora subscription is annual so he's good until next year on that (it's only $4.99 so I kept it) but the Rdio was going to be $14 monthly. That's a no-no. :)

Ron has lost the ability to think beyond the confines of the "here and now," which I refer to as a box. He can only see what is in that box and not how a choice he makes (i.e., sliding out of his chair onto the floor) can have more consequences than him being down there to take care of something. His nursing home bill is very high and our share is considerable. I tell him that although he needs to be aware that they are busy, he still needs to call for assistance for things that involve his well-being and safety (see chair issue above). That's what we are paying for. Every time his butt hits the floor, it's considered a "fall," even if he slides out of his chair on purpose. He says he's got a "system" to do it safely... He takes off his prosthesis and leaves the liner on. That way, he can use the padding to protect his knee while he drags himself back into his chair. More often than not, he gets caught trying to do this and gets in trouble. The nursing home has rules and regulations they have to follow and there is no selection for "Patient slid out of his chair because he wanted to be on the floor" when filling out paperwork for incidents. Ron just doesn't see that his actions should be an issue.

He continues to try and buy things that he doesn't need. Years ago, he had a Farfisa keyboard that he sold (gave) to our church. When the preacher left the church, for some reason this keyboard went with him. I'm not sure how or why that occurred, but it did. Ron would like to buy it back and has asked this person more than once about purchasing it. I've told him that it's not an option. The preacher now lives in NC and the shipping cost would be extensive because it's very heavy. Ron and I have had this discussion more than once. Yesterday, while I was sitting in his room, he tried to call the preacher again to ask about the keyboard. Luckily, he doesn't really have a phone number for him (just a Facebook contact) so nothing happened. He said he thought if he paid for it a little bit at a time, then Al could ship it once it was paid for. I looked at him and asked, "Ron, where is this money going to come from 'a little bit at a time'?" His face just went blank. It never occurred to him that the money would still need to come from "me" and it's not in my budget (especially now) to try and fit in another expense. Plus, I don't believe Al wants to be in a lay-away situation and wants more for the keyboard (with shipping) than the keyboard is worth.

Ron had decided that since I borrowed enough from my 401k to pay the huge balance on the nursing home bill (and the attorney), that I didn't have "that" payment any longer and could handle it. Well, I have to pay back the 401k loan from my paycheck each payday. There is that "box" again...

My therapy continues to go well. I do have better range of motion (ROM) but still a lot of pain. Nights are rough because it stiffens up and then I try to put myself in positions (while sleeping) that then wake me.  I'm off work until the 27th because I don't have enough ROM to do my job (too much reaching with my left arm). I did water therapy yesterday and I'm having quite a bit of pain today. But, it's all good. I put some heat on my shoulder and am feeling much better - ready to do my first exercise set.

I'm working on getting back into crafting again and made a card for a friend. I'd like to make some Valentine's cards to sell. I went into my craft room and out of everything in there, I do not have ONE SINGLE stamp for Valentine's Day (not even a heart!). I was very surprised. LOL - I looked at Wal-Mart last night for a stamp but they didn't have one. If I get to a Michael's or Hobby Lobby between now and the end of the month, I'll have to pick up a heart stamp. I have plenty of papers that would work. I'd like to make some simple post cards that I can sell cheaply (like $1-1.50 each).

Better get myself going for the day... Take care and God bless you all. Although I write for my own sanity, I do appreciate the uplifting comments that you all leave.