Saturday, December 7, 2013

I am living in a WinterWonderland this morning! We have about 9 inches of beautiful snow. The sun is lighting up every sparkly surface, the tree limbs, the rooftops and the vehicles are all coated in velvet frosting. My little house is warm and quiet and my coffee is hot. I think I am happy.
Christmas decorations need to be taken from storage boxes, a tree needs to be put up and dressed in bright lights, my wooden Santa needs to be hung on the front porch, but that can wait. I'm going to sit in Stephen King's chair and look out at all this glorious wonder for awhile. God has blessed me with all of this today and I want to appreciate it, to thank him for it and to bask in its beauty.
My shopping is complete, all done by surfing the World Wide Web. It is not the most exciting approach to gift buying, but for me it is a grand fit. There is anything a person could ask for out there,  soup to nuts, A to Z, including the kitchen sink! My little boys have figured out how to go to Amazon, shop for their hearts' desire, and place it in Gma's cart. Never clicking on BUY, of course. They are so thoughtful. ;-) I love giving, always have. Christmas has always been a special time for me. The idea of a newborn in a manger, and people from all over bringing Him gifts has inspired me since childhood. I've alway wanted everyone to get just that perfect gift. I was grown before I realized that Baby in the manger was the perfect gift for us all. But still, I think all year about what special thing would please my kids and grands. Steve always fretted about my spending, but then was pleased that they were thrilled with the presents. Christmas will be so different this time. No Mr. Scrooge huffing as the UPS truck pulls into our drive, the wrapped gifts pile up under the tree and the kitchen becomes a maze of candy and cookies platters. We will miss him sitting back watching all the chaos of unwrapping, squeals of delight, and Gavin's traditional "best gift ever", a look of satisfaction on his face. But we will do it anyway because we must go on as if he were still here with us. And I think that he will be.
I've a new activity in my week, I've started delivering meals to the needy in French Lick. They are fresh cooked by the volunteers at The Mercy Center in Paoli. I get to give back a bit to this community that supported my school for so long and I enjoy it. Most of the folks are seniors but a few are younger families that just need a hand. Friday is my delivery day and I have between 60 and 70 meals to get to houses and apartments all over town. If you've never been to French Lick, it is a town built on hills, steep hills, narrow streets cross-crossing each other. My route takes about two hours, but the food is packed in cartons and kept in insulated bags so it's still warm upon delivery. Most folks meet me at the door with a smile, happy for the meal and a bit of company. It is a blessing to be allowed to serve them. I thought I wanted to be on the preparing end of things, cooking big batches, but I truly love delivering. The Mercy Center is a wonderful thing in our county, serving 2500 meals to shut ins and on site drop ins. There is hope to provide an emergency shelter in the future. Even little, rural Orange County has homeless nowadays. My particular concern is with teens who for whatever reason have no place to live. So many are sleeping at friends homes or on couches in places that are not safe for them. I pray daily for an answer for this.
My days are quiet for the most part now. I spend the weekend with Mom, then generally stay in the rest of the week. I seldom have the TV on but listen to music on my iPad or laptop. Talking seems to annoy me especially the voices on TV. I read continually, probably too much. I clean a bit around the house, walk Hank once a day, eat hummus or peanut butter and sleep. Once a week I go to the gym and workout with Devin. It is helping but my muscles don't respond like they did before Lupus, weakness strikes a lot. But I feel better, exercise is good for the brain. I'm not at the "runner's high" level but it does lift my mood afterwards. Sadness seems to be my constant companion and I guess that is ok, sadness isn't depression. Grief is different than anything I've known before. And grieving for Steve is different from the grief I've felt with my dad and grandparents and aunts passing. This is as if I've grown a second skin, covering me with sadness. I doubt it will ever leave. But it isn't malignant like depression, just a new dimension to my life.
I'm making pillows for the girls so I best get at it. I find it difficult to concentrate at the sewing machine but push myself to do something productive.
Take good care and talk to me. Love

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Happy Birthday

Stephen King would have been 68 today, imagine that! He dreaded turning 70, I suppose he won't have to worry about that now. I know it gets said too often, but really, where did those years go? Were we not paying attention? I have full memories of each year, yet it seems impossible that so many have passed by. How did two kids come to this? I'm not lamenting them, we loved them as we lived them (mostly), just amazed that it is over. Oh, I know life isn't over (don't panic), but that life is over. A new one begins.
Trent will be 44 tomorrow, another hard to believe fact! Soon all of our kids will be in their forties. Geez Louise. This baby who didn't want to separate from his mom is a wonderful father. He was two weeks late, a big 9 pounds and had to be yanked, screaming from his safe place at birth. Shy, painfully shy, he held my hand for years trying to find his place. He found it in Nina and her kids. They saw  a man in him, where others saw a boy. That saved him. He and Nina have a lovely life they enjoy so much. Full of kids and fun, working side by side with each other. They really live their lives, each week is an adventure. Gavin is his mini-me, intelligent and always seeking. I am so proud of him and love them all so much. Happy Birthday, our beautiful boy.
As always my issue lately has been my mind. I cannot shut it off, sleep is pushed aside by thoughts of the past, by thoughts of the future and by fear of the present.  Of course, I'm reading everything I find (I always have) but just this morning I found a quote that stopped me in my tracks; it fit me to a tee. Caroline Myss is a wonderful writer of spiritual study. Not only Godly, but soulful. I started reading her work when our dad died nearly fifteen years ago and revisited her this fall. Today I found what I was seeking, "the soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is the mind". Exactly. My soul is at peace, I know Steve is with God, my mind is the problem. What ifs, guilt, remorse, should haves, if only, what now, plague my thoughts. I am sure this is a typical reaction to loss, but it feels as if it is mine alone. I must work on distracting my mind. 
I'm beginning on a new start to a new life by hiring a personal trainer. Most of you know of my health issues and my avoidance of exercise issues, well I'm trying to overcome them. Last week I met with a young cousin of mine who is a personal trainer, massage therapist and student in physical therapy (just what I need) and we are meeting weekly plus he gave me an agenda to work on which includes exercises, biking and water therapy. Our third session is in 90 minutes and here I sit sipping coffee and writing.  Maybe my mind isn't totally into this yet! But I won't give up so easily. I have no excuse for not taking care of myself and giving my kids a better mom and grandma. I've promised Gav a walk around the farm and Cabe a long beach walk. The boys have never known a strong healthy Gma, like the girls and Joe had. I want to enjoy them as I did the older ones and my kids. Walking, camping, playing ball were all things I loved back then, I want that back. Day by day, bit by bit, bird by bird, I will make it. Just takes time and getting my mind to slow down and shut up. I may need counseling, Ladies, any volunteers? Stay strong. Talk to me. Love, Hedy

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Two months and Counting

Stephen King has been gone for two months now. I cannot decide if these have been the longest two months of my life or the shortest. I'm afraid I am not truly aware of time passing, all days seem the same, week upon week. I am not accomplishing much around here, keeping Hank untangled from the deck posts, the boat trailer and the car tires takes up a lot of time. Actually moving his hitch seems way too complicated, so we play this game 14 times a day. Keeps both of us from being lonely, I suppose.
After much coaxing from my sister, I have started sewing abit. A few pillows, some blocks added to a quilt top. I get distracted easily though or bored with the project. I still need silence and I am happiest when home alone. Our kids are in and out and I love that, too. I have joined a Bible Study group with some neighborhood ladies that meets twice a month. It is a great balm to my spirit. I haven't studied The Word so intensely for years and enjoy digging deeper into it. We have great discussions that answer so many questions for me. Each of us has our own burden and sharing lifts them for awhile. We are a mixed group and I think that adds to the benefits, always another view to consider and learn from.
I have been staying with Mom once again, I missed her and didn't realize it. We share another bond in being widows, she says. A club no one wants to join. She continues to have good days and bad. The pain from arthritis increases on these rainy, fall days. She is still aware of family and friends but forgets what occurred five minutes ago. She sits on her nest on the couch for too many hours each day, not interested in moving around or leaving the house. Ice cream is her biggest thrill and she would eat only that if allowed. We have to check with each other when changing shifts, to not overdose her with vanilla cones! Alzheimer's is a terrible thing. Watching a loved one disappear hurts so much.
I don't watch much TV, but have really been reading a lot, especially blogs on the internet. Some are harmless fluff about decorating or quilting, but a few a written by wonderful writers who entertain, inform and give me support. I chat with a lovely, strong lung cancer survivor from Boston and a recent widow from Pennsylvania who feel like family. Linnea and Kate, you will never know how much I look forward to a new post from you. Cancer isn't choosy, it takes from anywhere, any family without discrimination. Connecting online gives us a bigger picture, I believe, it lightens the load to know you are not alone. Of course, it also opens one up for more pain, knowing these sweet people are suffering also.  But making that connection is worth the pain for me.
Being a widow seems so foreign to me. I've been Steve's wife for 46 years, since is was just 17 years old. I really don't know how not to be. I have other titles;  daughter, mother, sister, grandmother, friend, counselor, but my identity was Steve's wife. He often joked that people only knew him as Hedy's husband. We tend to be identified with our mates after so many years. I feel abit like I am in a government witness protection program, who am I? This feeling is surprising to me, I always considered myself a very independent woman. I prided myself in being strong and smart, able to survive anything. The joke is on me, I'm afraid, maybe I was just strong with him beside me?
My life is certainly not all sadness, please, don't think that. I'm just gloomy today, to match the cool rainy weather.  I am going to travel to OZ in the Spring to visit with Courtney and Ken for three months, I cannot believe it yet! Ken's Aunt Edna is my cousin by marriage and she is going along with me, as is her daughter-in-law, Kathy. They will be staying with family while I shall be at Court's new home with her. This is a trip Stephen King and I hoped for long before our daughter moved there. Who doesn't want to see the land down under?
Enough for now, Sweet Ladies. Talk to me. Take care. Hedy

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My Blessings

Last weekend we had another Gagglefest in The Valley. The ladies came south to comfort me. My daughter flew home to Oz and for the first time in my 64 years I will be living alone. The numbness is still there, I'm still not thinking or talking much about the reality of Steve's death. That is working for me now and might for a bit longer. I will deal with this when I know I can.
In the meantime, I think a lot about my relationships with others. And for the last two days, about my relationship with these seven other woman I call The Gaggle. We are not a typical group of friends. We came together in grad school at ISU. I at 50+ was the oldest, most were in their early twenties and thirties. From the cohort of around twenty, we formed a small group of middle-class, Midwest women. At first glance we knew we would be forever friends, I believe. However, it still surprises me that these bright, young women allow me a place in their lives. I feel blessed by each of them. I've concluded the best thing about our relationship is the equality. We met each other as equals, all degreed women seeking a Masters in education, so we could counsel students. There were no expectations of anyone, no neediness, no entitlement. We have shared many wedding, births and now death. And so it continues...these ladies are my friends, pure and simple. We all support the others no matter what, we enjoy each other's company, and admire and respect each other. We are blessed.
Last evening I met with another group of friends, all local ladies I had worked with at school. We, too, are a mixed group of ages and again I am the oldest. This seems to be a theme in my life. We all work or worked in education, are all from the area and are at various stages in our family life. We have much in common, we even vacation together occasionally. We all love the Coast and the beach life. In this group we share openly, our feelings, our joys and our fears.  After years of being good friends with these ladies, last night was different. Last night we opened our hearts to each other in honesty and love. We shared pain, not just mine, with a trust that was beautiful. We are blessed.
I am not only blessed by friends, I have the greatest family, too! My sister, her husband and a wonderful friend of theirs have come into our home and remodeled our kitchen and bath in the last few months. They show up, work their tails off, clean up the mess and leave. No hassle, no fuss, just do it. Amazing, I tell you, amazing. And their work is beautiful. Stephen King and I had a difficult time accepting this at first. We could have done the work years ago, but were always too busy or too tired, then it was too late for him to do it. Cancer struck. It struck our family and friends as well. They wanted to help make things better, easier for us somehow. My brother-in-law decided they could remodel our tired 70s kitchen and our dangerously ugly bath. My sister sat us down one afternoon after Steve had chemo and explained their plan to us. She told us they needed to do something and hoped we would agree. She asked that we not deny them this blessing. We argued, it was too much to accept, too much to offer. She argued, they would be blessed by doing it. We couldn't argue that. I love my new kitchen and bath. Stephen King would have, too. We are blessed.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Stephen King

Hello all, most of you know we lost Steve on Aug. 14 after a rare syndrome connected with the lung cancer struck him. It is called ParaNeoPlasticSyndrome and occurs in only 1% of lung cancer patients. Just his luck, he said. But it was quick, less than a month after symptoms started. He was aware until the end and was surrounded by those who loved him. We turned the parlor into a bright and sunny bedroom for him and he was comfortable, for the most part, watching the butterflies mass at the bushes outside his windows, checking traffic up and down the hill and coaching the grandsons in their daily Nerf battles. Steve's sisters, Deb, Carol and our kids took turns staying at his bedside at night, as keeping him in bed was a challenge. He fought to get up and go into the bathroom multiple times each night, just to show us he could. Iron willed to the end. I wouldn't has expected anything less. We gathered here each evening for another meal and time together, I think it was a good death, allowing Steve and the rest of us time for sharing good-byes.
 We followed his wishes for cremation, with his ashes spread over the family farm, as were his parents. The kids, Grandkids and I are traveling to his beloved Cumberland Gap next month to spread ashes from his powder horn there. He would have loved that. The Gap and its history fascinated Steve, I believe he'd loved to been a part of that time. We all love family road trips and this will be a bittersweet one for us.
Courtney got home a few days before her dad passed, we were so blessed by that. She is staying till Sept 14, helping me adjust to this new life. I may visit her and Ken in the Spring, as Steve and I talked of doing. He was curious to see that beautiful place, but I will see it for him and share in our daughter's new home. We wanted to help them with their gardens and chicken house, as they are not old hands at country life. Court lived it as a child, but as the youngest missed out on most of the real workings of it. Even in their city apartment she had a lovely flower bed and hanging garden though, and Ken has grass sown and beds dug at the new house. 
Stephen and Trent have kept up our mowing and trimming all summer to their dad's standards, I'm telling them I can take over but they won't listen. I will make acquaintance with the new mower soon though, as I haven't mowed since Steve retired. Nina and the boys have saved Steve's garden bounty, too. Picking, canning, freezing and giving away most of what he produced. I'm betting next year's garden will pale to this one, I haven't the stamina or green thumb my Stephen King did. 
Our kids and grands have been so strong through this, always supporting the others in their pain. I'm blessed with such a close, loving family. They each know he loved them and was proud of who they are. Steve's sisters and my family have been beside us constantly, too, doing whatever they could for him and me. We've been a family for nearly 50 years, King or Charles, it makes no difference, we love each other the same.
I know that I'm going through the motions of living right now, on cruise control, Steve would say. But  each day it gets more real and more difficult. I get quiet, trying to feel him around me, trying to come to grips with reality. I know I will be ok, life will be different but ok. I know we will be together again some day. 

It has been so long since I've posted, this may not be read, but I needed to write it. Talk to me. Love.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Time Flies, Are We Having Fun Yet?

Hello, what a long, dreary winter we are struggling through. Or maybe winter is always this way and I've just not had time to notice. The funny thing is this winter has flown by really, it is the minutes which feel long. I'm finding the days speed by in incredible flashes. I seem to be constantly getting out of bed to another day. Kinda like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day without the humor. Not much has been accomplished here, we just keep staying alive till Spring. Keeping a low profile, so we can bloom big when it warms up. ;-) .
Stephen King is back on chemo. His PetScan showed marked shrinkage in lung lesion and healing going on in the bones! He had a separate CatScan on his brain which revealed no lesions. We were so blessed by these findings, his lung cancer had never shown shrinkage before. He has fewer side effects with this round, a rash on chest and shoulders and the fatigue. Always the fatigue, he tires with any effort, walking, dressing, showering. It is frustrating for an active guy to be stopped by something out of his control.
Our mom has been ill since the first of the year, flu, pneumonia, anemia and much more confusion. I cannot describe the pain of watching a parent slip away. Jill, I know you understand what I am trying to say.  Mom is still here but not really, her little body houses a sweet little old soul that isn't Mom. One night last week, I slept with her and she held my hand whimpering all night long. I felt so helpless. Nothing I could do to help ease her pain and fear but hold on. But I knew I needed to be there holding on to her hand just as she has always been there holding mine throughout my life. I was so humbled to do this for her. Caring for her is almost a religious experience, I swear. Rubbing lotion into her feet each day feels like serving God. This is so emotional for all of those who are her caregivers; sons, daughters, daughters-in-law and sisters. Our family has been strengthened by this.
Stephen King and I are doing a mini makeover on the kitchen. The 70s decor and 80s appliances are leaving. I'm so excited to have a gas range again, love cooking on gas. And this one has 5 burners! Steve thinks that is 4 to many, based on my cooking lately. Truth is I haven't felt like Julia Child for awhile. Looking forward to being more creative. New side by side fridge too, with water and ice on the door. Our fridge was new the year our oldest graduated from high school 1985! It was time to put it out to pasture. Covering the marred gold vinyl floor with hickory hardwood too. The vinyl is worn off in the high traffic areas and the tacky black backing actually shows. I think it's time has come. Next up... Countertops, but Stephen King's heart and pocketbook have to recover for that. Poor guy thinks if its still works, keep it. This kitchen didn't work for me 12 years ago when we moved in and now I am completely over it. I'm thinking this is our last house, last kitchen, last major appliances so I think we need good solid ones. I still go with white, not stainless, simple basic add ons, no bells and whistles but do want a timer on the range and ice maker on the fridge. Actually this fridge, the 25 year old one, has an ice maker that has Never been hooked up. Heehee, I've hired a real plumber this time to connect the LP line and the water line. I will officially be in the 21st century with the rest of you now.
I'm sewing some lately, putting trim on a collage pillow I've made for my sister, finishing 2 quilts within the month for babies who have become toddlers waiting for me, and starting a wild quilt with Denyse Schmidt fabric for Mack and Maddie's bedroom. They are going from pinks to green and black  to perk up their new wicker dressers. Mack will be out and gone soon, but at 13 Maddie needs a more grown up look too.
Our Shay had a very bad case of mono this winter and is just getting back on her feet. The little boys are great, been enjoying some winter camping with their dads and having good years in 2nd and 3rd grade. Joe is looking to be released in August, hoping for a halfway house to avoid being back around his old friends. My daily prayers are for strength for him, he has taken part in an amazing program in prison and has high hopes of helping others overcome their demons. We all are looking forward to Spring, warm days and outside time.

Stay well and stand strong. Talk to me. Love, Hedy

Monday, January 7, 2013

Resolutions, goals, hopes, wishes, prayers

Happy New Year  2013

Really? 2013? I don't think I ever thought about the possibility of 2013. 2000 maybe, 2020 probably, but 2013 never. Yet how I welcome this year, so happy to be shed of 2012. Although 2012 ended with plenty of blessings, it was chock-full of drama. I won't belabor that point, just glad it is in the past.
I seldom formally announce Resolutions as a new year begins, although they are always the same; peace, health and weight loss. However this year I think I will. Please bear with me. :-)

* world peace, for real
* end of world hunger
* common sense in DC
* kinder, more gentle treatments for cancer
* wipeout Alzheimers disease
* good manners
* good health
* weight loss
* renewed faith

Those will work for me. Nine simple prayers for the world, my family, myself.

We are holding our own in The Valley, treatments,setbacks, or snow, we continue to hold on. Poor Shay is in and out of the hospital this week with mono, a very sick girl. Because of our fear of spreading it to Stephen King, I haven't gone to sit beside her bed this time. It has been difficult for Gma Hedy to stay away. Not fair to have to chose between husband and grandchildren. :-(

I wish you all a wonderful, peaceful, healthy year. Are we sure it's 2013...really? Love, Hedy