Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My New Normal and a Contest (of sorts)

It's now been 20 months since Ron passed died. (Why is it so hard to write "died" in a sentence? I wanted to say "left me" but that implies he's still out there somewhere, just not with me. Is "died" such a harsh word that I don't want to say it, or because I don't want others to think I'm heartless to say "died" instead of "passed"? No matter what I say, it doesn't change the fact that he's been gone from this earth for nearly two years.) It's hard to believe that he's been gone this long, and other times I feel like it's been much longer. I still miss him and cherish the memories that we created, but I'm ready to move on (mostly - some days are definite "why me" days and I jealously want him back).

I was thinking the other day how glad I am that Ron isn't here to see the condition of the world. He had such a compassionate heart and he would physically hurt for others. Knowing about the senseless acts of terrorism, he would have been heartbroken and wondered how he could help.  (And, the cowardice on the part of the attackers would have him steaming - because what kind of men attack defenseless individuals? Real men don't attack unarmed and defenseless individuals. Period.)  Ron had such a big heart for others that he (literally) would give the coat off his back, gloves off his hands, and the scarf around his neck to someone else if he saw a need.

Since I haven't worked full-time in nearly a year, I don't have a lot of money. But, I woke up this morning in a warm bed, with my warm blanket tucked in around me. When I turned on the faucet in my sink, clean water came pouring out. In the kitchen, I flipped on my coffee maker and enjoyed a cup of coffee (my breakfast of choice). I enjoyed my coffee in the living room (relaxing on my sofa) while I watched the news on the television. Since my environment was a little chilly, I turned up the thermostat and my furnace kicked on, warming my space. So, I may not have a LOT when compared to some, but I have TONS more than others. Like Ron, I've always tried to take care of the needs of others and when I'm aware of something, I do my best to look for a solution. My grandchildren may not get much from me this year, but they all have parents who dearly love them and who are financially able to provide nice gifts for them. What I give is just extras, anyway and I'm not even always sure they know something came from me.

I've been wracking my brain trying to think of a way I could help someone, somewhere, and make a difference for that person. Ron would want to do something, too. With that in mind, I decided I'd like to offer a sort of contest... Like I said, I don't have a lot of money but I'd like to see what someone would do, and what someone could do, to help someone else using $50. I'd like for you to share this with anyone you know who would be willing to let me know what they'd do with the money and how it would benefit someone else. I will choose a winner by December 15. The winner will also get a monetary reward to be used any way he/she feels.

Post comments below or send responses to tgw2@cox.net (actually, I'd like to see here and in my email so I have everything in one place). This contest is open to all ages in the Continental US. I will need a valid mailing address to mail the reward to. It will be in the form of a Visa gift card.

Monday, January 26, 2015

It's a new day

I don’t usually dream about Ron. I think about him and I miss him – and I even “talk” to him. But to say that he’s in my dreams would not be totally accurate. In the 10 months since his death, I’ve probably only dreamt of him a handful of times. So, when people say that their dearly-departed comforts them in their dreams, or they see “signs” that this person is still with them, I’m skeptical at best and jealous at times. Do I want to see that special sign, feel that soft caress, or hear those special words of endearment... You bet I do. I miss those things just as much as the next person.

I managed to make it through our anniversary month and my birthday (both in August) and the holidays. I kept myself busy over Thanksgiving (went to visit a friend) and Christmas. Amy and Rex were good about including me in their plans and I went to the farm with them again this year. My sister wanted to go to Walt Disney World to celebrate her 50th birthday and I decided that was a wonderful thing to do as it would get me away for Ron’s birthday (which is one day before hers). We had a “Magical” time and it was a great stress reliever. As it gets closer to Valentine’s Day (our last meal together) and the one-year anniversary, I find myself getting more and more “antsy” and stressed. I’m not focusing on the things I need to focus on.

During the past 10 months, I’ve been up and I’ve been down. I’ve taken some time to deal with the stress of being in this new situation and “thought” I’d come back to be stronger than before. As I made my way through the holidays and the situations without Ron, I realized that I needed to step back again from this life and re-evaluate. Financially, I’m not independently wealthy and I don’t have tons in savings. Can I make ends meet without a job? For a few months, but I need to have some kind of income. Do I need the stress associated with my current job? No, I don’t. Because I’m not adequately dealing with everything else, I don’t think I’m doing as good of a job here as I should be doing. I don’t want to jeopardize my reputation so decided that I’d take an early semi-retirement.

I’ve never been in a situation where it was just me. Yes, my kids love me and my grandkids are awesome. But, when the lights go out at night and the day is done, it’s just me alone with my thoughts. Who am I? What have I done in this life that is a positive impact on others? (That’s a rhetorical question; not looking for answers.) Besides taking care of Ron, what have I accomplished that wasn’t selfish on my part? Am I leaving behind good memories, tangible evidence that I cared about others, or what? What do I want to do with myself that will be better for those around me? I don’t know but I do know that I need to find out.

So, I’m saying good-bye to Corporate America – at least in the full-time sense. I need to work some hours but can afford to take a little break and look around. One goal is to get my fingerprints and background check on file with the school system as I’d like to substitute teach. There’s a little coffee shop in town that I thought I’d go apply for some part-time hours. I love coffee and thought this would be a fun outlet for me. I have a few “work from home” contacts (for legitimate jobs) and thought I’d check into some of those opportunities. My brothers would (and probably will) think I’m crazy. If I had tons of money invested, it “might” be OK but since I don’t, I “should” probably continue plodding along in the status quo until I can start drawing social security (in 18 months, I’m eligible to draw about 75% of Ron’s and then once I reach full retirement age I can compare mine to his and draw the largest). But, for my own sanity – I cannot wait until September 2016. Because of my outside stress, I’ve had “frustration” evident in some conversations and messages – things that aren’t horrible, but things I’m not proud of and aren’t my typical fashion. To pre-empt any future embarrassment on my part, I know I have to do something now.

Which leads me back to the first paragraph. I had a very vivid dream about Ron. I don’t go to the cemetery too often because it just bothers me to go. He’s not “there” and I can talk to him anywhere. But I was at the cemetery and looking down at his marker. Suddenly, I felt that someone was behind me so I turned to look over my shoulder and saw Ron. He was dressed in black – but not a somber, funeral black; more like a “spiffy” black (black and red were his favorite colors) and he was very vibrant and more “him” than he’d been in years (if that makes sense). I immediately started to cry because I missed him so much. He looked at me and smiled and said I was beautiful. He told me that everything was OK and would continue to be OK. He told me it was time for me to move forward and to do whatever I needed to do for me. I’d already done all I could do for him.

So, I’m going to take his advice and move forward. I gave my notice and my last day here is January 30. I’m not sure what my future holds, and I know that healing will continue as time goes on. Ron is surely watching over me and encouraging me to find my place, wherever that may be.