Sunday, December 30, 2007

lambeau field, brett favre, dream come true

if you live in the state of wisconsin, you know on sundays in the fall (and hopefully early winter), life revolves around the green bay packers. we have been fortunate to have a truly incredible quarterback to watch for the last 16 years in brett favre. not that packermania has ever really faded, but with brett, it certainly has stayed strong.

the packers are the only team in the NFL that is not privately owned, but owned by the public. about 8 years ago, they sold stock to purchase shares to the packers to raise money to help expand and update lambeau field. i bought 1 share (for $100/share) for each of the boys for a Christmas present and framed their share for them. it will never increase in it's monetary value but they can proudly say that they own a piece of the packers. they now receive mail about upcoming stockholders meetings that they could technically attend.

to go and see a game at lambeau field is truly not something everyone can just do. season ticket holders specifically state in their wills who their season tickets shall go to and there have been people who place their children on the waiting list for season tickets, only to have them die at an old age and never make it up the list to get them. unless you work for a company that has season tickets or know someone who may be willing to sell you one of their game tickets, many people who live in wisconsin never have the opportunity to go and see a packer game played on lambeau field.

well today, i went to my first ever packer game AND at lambeau field! my brother-in-law got 2 tickets from someone he works with and told my sister she should take me. WOW. we arrived at lambeau about 2 hours before gametime and watched the warm-ups. it is such a mystique just to be inside lambeau field on game day. i have visited it before but obviously never on a game day.

the only down side to today was our tickets were inside the stadium behind glass. we had a great view of the field and obviously stayed warm but missed out on some of the real hootin' and hollerin' that you can only experience sitting outside in the 30 degree weather in late december (actually pretty nice weather for this time of year). i must say i was more than a little warm as i thought we would be sitting outside and i could only peel off so many layers and still have a place to sit and remain decent.

thanks sue for the invite, i had a great time. i can finally say i have seen the packers play at lambeau field, and brett favre too!

p.s. happy birthday unk, hope you had a nice day and dinner with your family!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas is over

i made it through the season with only a few minor bumps along the way. i really think for me, the anticipation of dreading this time, was almost as bad as the loneliness and hurt that i felt. we tried as a family to respect some of our old and long standing traditions as well as start some new ones, or at least vary them for this year.

Christmas Eve evening after we went to church we drove to look at Christmas lights, rented a movie and then came home to watch it and have a drink or two. this is what i anticipated to be the hardest as Christmas Eve had always been the 4 of us and my parents. instead of the usual nice dinner i always prepared, we made homemade pizza and all shared in making this. when the boys were young we used to do this quite often and had always had fun. somehow over the years we got away from this so it brought back good memories for all of us. it actually turned out quite tasty as well.

Christmas morning was laid back and quiet, just the 4 of us. in the afternoon my sister and her family came over and we opened up all the stockings that my mom had knitted for each and every one of us over the years. my sister's and mine have somewhat yellowed over the years as they are both well over 50 years old but otherwise still look great. we shed a few tears as we remembered earlier Christmases but after dinner we played Wii, which one of my niece's brought over, and had a really good time, especially with the bowling.

last night ended our Christmas celebrating as we went over to russ' niece and her family. we have been getting together with our families as we are the 3 families who moved away from galesburg, il., where russ and his siblings and their families all grew up to the milwaukee area.

i must say i am glad that Christmas is over now. i thought a lot about all my blogger friends, those that were grieving this year as well as those that are still in the throws of caregiving, wondering if this would be their last Christmas with their loved one. we never know what the future holds so we need to try to cherish each moment we can with our loved ones.

for cinn, i am especially thinking of you today. her mother finally passed away peacefully yesterday morning. i am glad your mom is free of this disease but ache for the sorrow you must be feeling. you did a wonderful job with your mom and i know she is very proud of you.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas blessings

i just wanted to wish a very Merry Christmas to all who read my blog. my blogger friends have meant so much to me over these past few months and have gotten me through some very difficult times. i will continue to check in with all of you and post again in a few days. i will be thinking of all of you and wish you peace.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

3 months

today was 3 months since russ died. it was also a thursday. except for the fact that i was wide awake well before 5 am, like lori, my day went well and i am OK with it.

2 nights ago "an affair to remember" was on with cary grant and deborah kerr. it was a remake of the 1939 movie "love affair". this was a favorite movie of my mom and mine. i can't tell you how many times we would watch it together and cry. it didn't start until 11 pm and i debated watching it as i wondered if it would be too emotional to see it without her. i also wondered if i would be able to stay up until 1:45 am when it would be over. i decided to watch it alone, stayed awake for the entire movie and found it very comforting. i didn't cry except at the end and smiled many times throughout the movie as some of my mom's favorite parts would come up.

i kinda feel it was her way of telling me that both she and my dad are ok. they have reconnected in heaven just like cary grant and deborah kerr did at the end of the movie. call me sappy, a romanticist and sentimental, but i really felt her presence while i watched it.

yesterday i stopped at church and spoke to pastor dave about me feeling so down last week and the anticipation of Christmas without my parents. we had a good discussion about not rushing these feelings and that it was good to let them out. i then sat in church by myself and prayed for strength to get through this next week.

like lori said, i'm just grateful that today i was ok. i pray for the same for you tomorrow terry.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

i'm feeling much better today and actually had a pretty good weekend. we have had SO much snow so far, over 23". last saturday we had another 5". initially they were predicting 1-3". i have hated going out shopping this year more than others but when i saw the weather report i suggested to bob that we venture out. as long as we took the roads cautiously, and went a good 10-15mph slower than the speed limit, they were fine.

it was a great idea on my part, (if i do say so myself) because the stores were virtually empty. we are downsizing this year for presents to begin with so it also made it easier. for one, it will be difficult Christmas and two, with both of us currently unemployed for the most part and 2 in college, need i say more?

i can't believe that with the exception of cleaning my house, i'm ready for Christmas, or as ready as i plan on being. usually i'm scrambling around at the 11th hour. i have to admit, it feels good, and good to feel positive for a change.

Friday, December 14, 2007

hard few days

the last 3 days have been really hard for me. i have cried more in these 3 days than since russ died. there have been some highlights; taking with a cousin, visiting my old next door neighbor (a yearly Christmas ritual since moving out in the boonies 10 years ago), talking with janine on the phone (russ' hospice nurse), and even getting a few things accomplished around the house. BUT, overwhelmingly, i just can't seem to get past this emotional low and crying. i think i know what it is, and it can't be prevented.

a year ago this time, it was the first Christmas without my mom but i had too many distractions with caring for russ so i repressed all the feelings of grief as i didn't have time to deal with them. this year, there is nothing to occupy or distract me so i have plenty of time to think and thus i feel the floodgates are really starting to open up. the numbness is wearing off and i am finally beginning to grieve for both my mom and russ.

with what cinn is going through right now, it is bringing back a whole flood of emotions with russ at the end. i feel for her so much as i can't imagine having to experience this so close to the holiday. no time is good but this has to be the ultimate pits.

gosh i miss both my parents....

i also wish this pain would go away...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

trying hard

(photo taken off internet, not really our cookies)

the last week or so has been difficult for me in wondering what i should post about mainly because i don't' really know what i'm feeling. i can really relate to how chris needed some time off.

i have been going through the motions and trying to get myself into the Christmas spirit, mainly because i know my mom would want me to, especially for my boys. i have started decorating around the house and have some Christmas cards to send out. some presents have been bought, for bob's young niece's and nephews, but nothing for my immediate family. of course it would help if my boys gave me some ideas...

yesterday i went over to my sister's house to bake some Christmas cookies with her and my niece. they had invitited me last year but i couldn't with russ. this year i wasn't sure i was really into it but decided to go as i didn't have a good excuse not to.

the first hour or so i felt like i was just going through the motions and being pleasant because that is what i was brought up to be. i have to admit though that as the day wore on, it was fun. my niece can be a space cadet at times (even though she is very intelligent, i think at times they go hand in hand) so i know she helped to lighten up the day.

we ended up making 7 different types over about 9 hours. the last we made, the cut outs with frosting, had to be the most fun. maybe we were overly tired, or because neither kristen or i felt we were as creative as my sister who is a pre-school teacher and has frosted many a sugar cookie, but i have to admit i ended up having fun.

i guess it showed me that at times i have to force myself to do things. yes i could have just as easily sat home and did nothing and i would have enjoyed that as well but i didn't. i think my mom would have been proud of me for going over and spending time with my sister and niece.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

what makes a caregiver?

the other day i had to stop at someone's house to drop something off and we got to talking. she was asking me about how things were at the end with russ. i didn't even go into half the details of his struggles and i could tell i gave her more information than what she wanted.

both of her parents are still alive but are not in good health and live a few hours away. she was stating how she was fearful of what the future held for them as they didn't have any financial resources for assisted living or nursing homes and she knew that she didn't have the patience or desire (i guess for a better word) to do what i did.

how many times as a caregiver i heard "i don't know how you do what you do", "you must be such a saint." at the time i never really thought about it as most of my blogger friends don't. we just did what needed to be done.

the other comment that probably infuriated me more than any other i heard over the course of my caregiving was "since you are a nurse, it must be easier for you." "you are better trained at dealing with this than i would be." nothing could be further from the truth. so many times i wanted to scream back and say, "being a nurse makes no difference, it is still just as hard for me to watch russ slip away, i am his daughter first and foremost."

i would frequently tell people that at the time, i was the only one that was a nurse of my blogger friends and i would get a shocked look. "you're kidding?!" "i could never do it, i don't know how they do."

there is not a real point to this post except to vent some of my frustrations at some of the lame excuses i hear from people. i realize that there are definitely instances where the situation won't allow family members to care for their loved ones but overall i feel our society is becoming too selfish. the love and responsibility for family is not what is used to be or should be. there are too many people out there that are not willing to give up a little of their life for a while to love and comfort and try to make their loved ones life, those that cared and loved them, a little better.

family can be advocates, caregivers and support even from a distance but how many of us have not even seen that. so many feel "i have my own life now, it's not my responsibility and let someone else deal with that." that is the epitome of selfishness in my opinion.