Sunday, December 14, 2008


this has been a strange month. before the first week of december had ended i expreienced 3 snowstorms in wisconsin. for the past week i have been in florida, and i might add, i hated the thought of coming home. bob attended the national pharmacy convention and i tagged along. only i didn't go to the meetings with him but rather vegged out by the pool and read. it was wonderful, and very relaxing, and something i really think i needed. it gave me a good chance to think and reflect on my life and even with the tough times i've had, how blessed i really am. and it made me realize i am even more motivated to try and find a different job in nursing that makes me feel fulfilled and one in which i'm truly helping others.

the weather was wonderful, high 60's when we arrived, the next 2 days in the mid 70's and the last 3 days in the low 80's. such a change from what i had just left. i must admit though, for a girl who has grown up in the midwest with snow, it was a little surreal for me to listen to Christmas carols as i was laying out by the pool in a lounge chair! something didn't quite compute...

but alas, realtity set in and i had to return to reality and my real life yesterday. i am now back in wisconsin where we are suppose to get another snowfall by morning. i must admit though, it does look like Christmas here. yesterday and today i spent decorating. i have never waited this late to start but with thanksgiving being late and then between work and trying to get ready to go to florida, it just didn't happen before i left. so, yesterday i started. today bob and i went out and cut down a Christmas tree, brought it home and decorated it so it looks like Christmas inside as well. i decided to cut back on the inside decorations again. the last 2 years i haven't gotten everything out and it makes the putting away easier. my boys are older now, not home for that long to enjoy it all and to be honest, they haven't really noticed that i've forgotten a few things each year. i'm not sure bob has either so.....

Thursday, November 6, 2008


don't tell me that you understand,
don't tell me that you know...
don't tell me that i will surely survive,
how i will surely grow...

don't tell me this is just a test,
that i am truly blessed...
that i am chosen for the task,
apart from all the rest...

don't come at me with answers,
that can only come from me...
don't tell me how my grief will pass,
that i will soon be free...

don't stand in pious judgment,
of the bonds that i must untie...
don't tell me how to suffer,
and don't tell me how to cry....

my life is filled with selfishness,
my pain is all i see...
but i need you, i need your love,

accept me in my up's and down's,
i need someone to share....
just hold my hand and let me cry,
and say, my friend, i care...

author unknown

i had received this the same time i did the "please" i posted previously.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


please don't ask me if i'm over it yet. i'll never be "over it."

please don't tell me he/she is in a better place. he/she isn't here.

please don't say "at least he/she isn't suffering." i haven't come to terms with why he/she had to suffer at all.

please don't tell me you know how i feel, unless you have lost someone to ________.

please don't tell me to get on with my life. i'm still here, you'll notice.

please don't ask me if i feel better. bereavement isn't a conditions that "clears up."

please don't tell me "God never makes a mistake" or "it was God's will." you mean He did this on purpose?"

please don't tell me "at least you had him/her for ______years/months." what year would you choose for them to die?

please don't tell me God never gives you more than you can bear. who decides how much another person can bear?

PLEASE - just say you are sorry.

PLEASE - just say you remember him/her if you do.

PLEASE - just let me talk if i want to

PLEASE - just let me say his/her name without turning away or changing the subject.

PLEASE - let me cry when i must.

i was recently given a copy of this, and thought it was worth sharing.

Friday, October 17, 2008

fall and birthdays


fall has always been one of my favorites times of the year. fall and summer run a close race for first. growing up the beginning of october was a special time as gene, russ and i would always share our birthdays together. and who doesn't love the beauty of watching the colors change on the trees and the cool crisp autumn breeze blowing across your face.

this year was a little tougher for me than i anticipated. it happened again, getting caught off guard when i least expected it. this was not the first year to celebrate my birthday alone yet i felt more alone this year than last. maybe i was still in shock last year as it was so close to russ death? maybe it just took me off guard and i wasn't prepared for it.

bob and i went up to door county for my birthday weekend 2 weekends ago. i have spent the majority of my adult birthdays up there so i wanted this year to be no different. the colors were just starting to change and driving around we were able to find some wonderful color. our boys and my sister and nieces called me to wish me a happy birthday which was nice yet somewhat expected. what wasn't was that unk and russ' sister helen also called. and i received an e-mail from gene and russ' close friends pete and janet. that meant a lot. maybe they knew deep down that i needed an extra boost that day. it sure helped. thank you all.

but i still have a family to celebrate october birthdays with, the dates just not as close together. next week bob has a birthday and today is mark's 21st! wow, how did my baby grow up so fast!?! i can't be getting older.... tonight we will drive to madison and take him out on the town. i know for a fact that he has been "indulging" before at school so this will not be his first. i called him last night at midnight and could hardly hear him, i think the celebration had officially started. but tonight will be special and fun. matt will join us as well as some of his cousins. i remember when matt turned 21 not quite two years ago. i was not able to partake in the celebration at the time due to caregiving commitments so i plan to definitely raise a glass tonight for both boys.

happy birthday mark!! i love you and am so proud of the young man you have become. i know there will be glass raising up above tonight as well!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

1 year......

these flowers arrived today for me from russ' grandchildren. my sister also received some. we are very blessed.

the day i have dreaded has almost come to an end. it was ok and i did ok. understandably russ was on my mind most of the day. i did tear up a little bit a few times today but for the most part i tried to remember the good and fun times. russ would have wanted it that way.

this morning i went to menard's (like a lowe's or home depot) with bob. he looked at me funny when i asked but russ always loved going to stores like that. i spent my time going up and down the aisles pretending to kick a football. that was something russ and i used to pretend to do to pass the time or just be silly.

it was a beautiful day here today so for part of the afternoon bob and i lounged in the pool on some floats, not necessarily something russ would have done but i found it extremely relaxing.

for dinner we had burgers on the grill, corn on the cob and kraft macaroni and cheese, definitely one of russ' favorites.

thank you to all my wonderful friends and family who posted on my blog, e-mailed me or called today. i am overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of you all and am truly touched and grateful. i definitely felt the love and support of you all.

flinty, you are now in my thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


this week approaching is one i have dreaded for the past year. yet it is also one that i have wished would come and go months ago. but one thing i have learned through this journey after alzheimer's is that you can't ignore or deny your feelings. you can't go around them either but must travel through them, no matter how painful that might be.

a few months ago i was finally feeling like i was able to get a good night's sleep again and wake up feeling refreshed and rested. these past two weeks i have returned to my restless interrupted sleep cycle. bob has noticed it. i feel bad because i'm sure with all my tossing and turning he is not getting his well deserved sleep.

it is no secret to me as to the reason. in less than a week will mark the 1 year anniversary since russ died. i have found myself these past few weeks re-reading my previous entries from a year ago and reliving his final days again. i know in my heart that he is in a better place but i still miss russ. lori has said it best when she said, it's not about them, it's about me and how i feel and grieve for him.

i am also finding myself reflecting on this past year and what i have done with my life. the first half year i took off to regroup you might say and then begin a job search. these past 6 months i returned to the job force but can't say i really feel fulfilled. it is just a job. i am searching again like i did a year ago to find myself and my purpose. what do i want to do with my life? what will make me happy yet help others? i want to find a job that feels rewarding to me and one that i am making a difference in people's life. kinda like i guess i felt taking care of russ.

these feelings i am experiencing are nothing that others haven't felt before me and that millions of others will feel after me. i will get through it i know and be a stronger person for it. i know i have God at my side and He will carry me through.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

the olympics

i have been glued to the tv ever since the olympics started. it was always a big deal growing up to sit in front of the tv and watch the olympics. i am ever amazed how much more the media is able to cover and telecast compared to years past. i remember fondly watching mark spitz win his 7 gold metals in 1972. i myself use to swim competitively so he was a real idol of mine. to see michael phelps break those records was a little bittersweet. yet truly an awesome accomplishment, my hat goes off to him.

i also remember when rhythmic gymnastics first became part of the olympics. i don't remember the year but i do remember my families reaction. we actually thought it was a little silly. i still have vivid memories of russ, sue and i attempting to imitate some of their routines with the flags or ball and remember gene standing watching us; first giggling at our attempts and then judging us. i'm going to have to see if i can find some of those pictures. such good memories.

our week in door county was good, just too short. the weather and water was wonderful. SO relaxing and peaceful. it was wonderful to spend time with bob, matt and mark, just the 4 of us. you never know when things will change so i cherish every moment we spend as our little family.

at times it was still hard, realizing that both my parents are now gone, that russ wasn't back in respite waiting for me. it was also somewhat hurtful at times in people's reaction or should i say lack of reaction to seeing me for the first time since russ died but i got through it. people react and grieve differently and life goes on.

11 months

Saturday, August 2, 2008


why is it that when we go on vacation it always takes to much preparation to do it? there are so many loose ends to tie up before you can go. there is the mail and paper to stop, plants and pets to worry about, cleaning out the refrigerator, not to mention laundry and packing and lists upon lists of things so that you don't forget things.

as least that is the case with me. i am usually exhausted by the time i get somewhere that i spend the first day or two trying to catch up on my sleep. i'm sure it doesn't help that my basic personality is to be a procrastinator. why do something today when you can do it tomorrow? i have always been that way but the older i get the harder it is.

even now i am doing that. i meant to blog last night but decided to watch the brewers game first. then i needed to finish up with work i had brought home. that took me past midnight. ahh, there's always the morning to pack. i am up now but decided to blog first, then i will pack. guess whatever is thrown in at the last minute is what i will wear for the week. the nice thing is we are going up to door county for the week. there is no real agenda up there, i don't tend to need many if any dress clothes. a bathing suit, shorts, tops and maybe pants in case it gets cool.

it will be wonderful to get up there and spend a week. so very relaxing and peaceful, and close to gene and russ. we are shooting to leave in 2 hours so i better go and start packing and check my lists. i hope everyone has a peaceful week.

Monday, July 21, 2008


yesterday came and went and i almost, (key word almost) didn't realize what day it was. i have now reached the 10 month mark since russ died. i did well and felt at peace for the most part. i listened to frank sinatra and smiled as i thought of both russ and gene. the more i think about it, it was a really good day all in all.

bob and i had a wonderful little get-a-way. i hope to blog about it and post some pictures soon.

Monday, July 14, 2008


terry posted last week that he had been blogging for a year. it stuck me as i had been starting to think of that as well. how my life has changed in a year. i created my blog on july 10th last year and posted my first official post on july 16th. i find that really strange that i did not remember the date, the 16th, since it is bob's and mine anniversary. unk and dunk had come for a visit last year to give us some respite. we were unable to get away on our anniversary as planned as work interfered for bob so i spent the day creating my first real post. things were really hectic a year ago at this time. looking back, russ was really starting to spiral downward, yet at the time i had no idea what the future would hold. i only knew that in order to keep my sanity i needed to start writing down my thoughts and reach out to others who were in a similar situation to mine.

what a lifesaver this blog has been for me. 1 year ago i would count the hours until i get on the computer to capture my thoughts and check in on others, especially lori and terry, who were going through similar issues. soon, others joined, like betsy and chris, and stef to name a few. after that i met up with other wonderful caring caregivers. it was here i could open my heart and soul and not be judged but be understood. now my life is so different, i no longer am caregiving. i obviously don't post as often as i did then, yet i'm not ready to give up on my posting all together. a part of me still needs this outlet and i also need to stay connected to all of you who helped me through a very difficult time in my life.

this year will be different. i will not be posting on the 16th. unk & dunk will not be here to provide respite as there is no need this year. it is our 25th anniversary and bob and i are leaving tomorrow for a few days of r&r. i'm really looking forward to it yet i know we will talk quite a bit about russ and our journey with him. you see, every year since we have gotten married, on our anniversary we evaluate and rate the past year. the first year of our marriage we saw the play, "same time next year." in it a couple meet, have an affair, and agree to meet each other at the "same time, next year." during their yearly reunions they discuss what went on in their separate lives. we decided to do a takeoff of that, not to have an affair, but to talk about the prior year. every year we each think about and tell each other what was they best and worst thing about the prior year. obviously some years have had more joys and or sorrows. this year will be no different.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

i'm back.....

it's hard to believe that i have been away from my blog for so long. it's not that i haven't checked in with some or most of my friends blogs from time to time because i have. but for me, i guess i was just at a time when i needed a break. a lot was going on in my life and something had to give and i guess it was my blog. plus, for awhile i didn't even have the energy to think about what to blog about.

i have been at my job for about 3 months now and i am starting to feel more comfortable in what i do. the nurse that sits next to me, my cubicle buddy, has only been there about 3 weeks and i'm surprising myself that i have been able to answer the majority of the questions she asks me.

so how do i like the job? well, as with most jobs there are good things and bad. the people i work with for the most part are very nice. i especially like when i interact with the patients. there is a really difficult case with a young mom pregnant with her second and in the hospital more than not with hyperemesis (constant vomiting from being pregnant). twice i have been asked to sit down with the staff nurses and MD to brainstorm how we can help her and keep her out of the hospital. that part i really enjoy, not that she is sick, but trying to figure out ways to make things easier. it makes me realize that that is what caregivers, especially to a LO with AD, do on a daily basis; try to figure out how to make the best out a difficult situation that you know won't get better.

one of my most difficult adjustments to work has been changing from owning your own business and making the decisions to working for a big company and having to keep my mouth shut when i see how they mismanage things on a day to day basis. it's then that i'm glad i'm out the door every mid to late morning to go to the hospitals to see all the sick people.

i've also been going to a grief support group through the hospice russ used. it has been good. some weeks i walk away thinking i'm doing pretty good and other weeks i drive home with tears streaming down my face the entire drive home and then just collaspe in bed. all in all, i know it's something i have to work through and can't deny that i have gone through a huge amount of life changes in the past 2+ years.

i hope to catch up with all your blogs in the next week. thanks (i hope) for understanding my need to pull back for awhile. please know that even though i was absent for a time you all continued to be in my thoughts and prayers. you are a very special group.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

a good week

after a rough weekend on mother's day, i was glad to have had a good couple of weeks. last wednesday my sister and i stopped in at the in-patient hospice unit where russ had stayed 2 times for respite and 2 times for symptom management. the nurses there were great with him and it was good to see a few of them again. sue and i had also decided to give some of the contributions we received after russ died to vitas hospice for the wonderful care he received from them. as a result, a plaque (albeit small) was placed on the wall of donations. the above pictures are of sue and i standing in front of the wall of plaques and a close up of his inscription. i especially like the "you done good" part.

we picked last wednesday to go as one of the nurses had called me over the previous weekend to say that their marketing people would be there to do a promotional video for physicians and families to see. they asked if i would be willing to be in the video and say something. i agreed not really knowing what i was agreeing to. what i thought would be a short thing turned out to be a 2 hour ordeal. i really didn't mind though as i got to see and be filmed with Dr. Q, who took care of russ when he was there, see and be filmed with a wonderful chaplin, also named russ, as well as see some of the nurses. sue was in the part of the filming with the chaplin but left the interaction with Dr. Q up to me as well as the personal testimony. i had to laugh for as long as i was there, the video crew was to be there 2 full days - all for a 2-4 min. video. i will probably be on 10-15 seconds but it was for a good cause. i made them promise to send me a copy. maybe i will be able to put it on my blog for you all to see. don't hold your breath though....

last weekend for memorial day we went up to door county. some of the grass seed bob and i planted is starting to sprout as well as the pachysandras we planted i think will make it. i was also thrilled to see the dafodills blooming. last fall, bob and i found them in the garage. they had to be at least 2+ years old at the time. gene would have bought them and never got them planted, i'm sure because russ wouldn't have understood what she wanted him to do. for the heck of it, we planted them and they all came up, just beautiful. i know gene is looking down smiling.

bob was also able to get russ' car started and running that had been sitting up there for over 2 1/2 years as well. i was about ready to just call someone to have it towed away but our neighbor has a plane and periodically flies up to door county and was looking for a car to drive when up there. bob said after he unlocked the wheels which had rusted shut (it was me that came up with the idea to use coke and whaala) and charged the battery, he got in and said, "ok russ, do you think it will start?" guess what, it started right up! bob said he can just hear russ telling everyone up in heaven "ya know i had this car that hadn't been driven in almost 3 years and it started right up!"

the weather was great and it was nice to be where both gene and russ lived and loved life. the cemetery was decorated with flags by the graves of those who had served for us. i did a little salute to russ as i thanked him and all of the others who have served this country to keep us free.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

a rough weekend

mother's day came and went. it was rougher than i thought. this was my first mother's day that i wasn't pre-occupied with russ since gene died so i really felt the absence of my mom. i have found myself crying at all sorts of little things lately that remind me of her.

it probably didn't help that i wasn't able to see either of my two boys on sunday either. mark had a final on sunday and matt had one monday so i told him to stay at school and study. i don't regret my decision but it was still awful lonely. it was nice to be with bob and his mom, but it wasn't the same, it wasn't MY mom. honestly, i think i would have been happier sitting home alone, feeling sorry for myself. it was the first mother's day since i've been a mother that i didn't spend it with my boys, or my mom, and the first one that really hit me that my mother is truly gone.

i went to the rescheduled "delayed grief" seminar a few weeks ago and it made me realize that that is what i'm going through. for so long my grief for gene was wrapped around taking care of russ that i put it off, avoided it, and probably even wanted to subconsciously. shortly after russ died there were things that needed taken care of but now i have nothing to occupy my idle time and wham, it's hitting me front and center. i know i have to walk through this grief and deal with it, that i can't go around it, yet i just want to move on and be happy again.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

labor of love

this past weekend bob and i went up to door county to tend to some spring cleanup outside. with russ' deterioration, the past few years have slipped by without the yard work getting done, except what really needed it. understandably, it seemed only the bare necessities were done. last summer the bushes in front of gene & russ bedroom had pretty much died (maybe a foreshadowing???). we were hoping they would come back to life last summer but never seemed to. this past saturday morning was spent digging out the bushes. (above picture, if you look closely that is lake michigan in the top part of the picture - it is a gorgeous view from the bedroom window) i think we will probably just plant some grass seed and see how it looks, we can always do something different later. we spent some of saturday and most of sunday raking up dead leaves from under trees (that had collected a couple of years worth) as well as raking and carrying more brush and debris deep in the woods. we were both pretty tired and a little sore but i must say it made me feel good and i felt a great sense of accomplishment afterwards. SO much so i decided we will go back up this weekend and try to complete what we didn't have time to finish. both boys will be studying for finals this weekend and mark actually has a final on sunday so they will not be home. also, i figure i can feel close to gene knowing it is her gift from me this year and we will also stop and see bob's mom on our way home on sunday. i hope everyone has a nice mother's day weekend this year. i know it will be tough for many but know i'll be thinking of you all.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

a wonderful weekend

i had wanted to post earlier but we have had some problems with our computer so.....
first of all, this picture is actually mine but it looks almost identical to chris'. i have to agree with lori and snick. this weekend was everything i had hoped it to be.

some people i told i was going away for the weekend to visit with some dear friends whom i had never met gave me a weird look, or were leary, my sister included. fortunately a few, bob, unk and my niece kimi supported me and seemed to understand. i never gave it a second thought. like lori said, we have been through so much with each other over the months, that i already knew you all SO well, the meeting face to face was just a formality.

everyone was just as i had pictured. lori, i've know you the longest and maybe the best as we went through our "week from hell" with flinty and our LO's, helen, russ and flinty's dad. you have that quiet strength and loving heart that i've always admired about you and it was great to be able to finally see it in person.

snick, you have a soft gentleness about you and i swear, you have the prettiest blue eyes i have ever seen.

ann, you have a comforting calmness about you that makes one just pour out their heart to you. thank you.

jackie, i have to admit, i didn't know you near as well but i enjoyed getting to know you and admire you so much for the wonderful and giving heart you have in caring for your mom. it was cute that "she remembered all of us" as well!

i surprised myself that i didn't get too emotional all weekend. even with some reminiscing about our journeys and struggles i did very well. it wasn't until i was getting ready to leave that the tears started to flow. i know it was because i just didn't want to leave.

i can't thank you all enough for the effort that was made by all of you to come. lori and ann for traveling great distances, snick for making 2 trips on sat and sun to join us and jackie for arranging to leave your mom for the weekend and then opening up your home to us. i will treasure this time we spent together forever and hope that we can do it again and have others join us. (we talked about you betsy and still can't figure out why you didn't change the wedding to chicago so we could come!)

i love you all!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

adjusting to work

i am finding with my new job that i am so exhausted when i get home. i don't have much energy. all i want to do is just veg out on the couch. i remember the last few months of russ' life, it seemed that all i did was sit on the couch next to him and frequently wish i could get up and do something else. now i long to get home and do nothing else!

after russ died, i took about 6 months off before getting back into the work force. and even for his last year of life i had cut down tremendously, only working part-time, maybe 2-3 days a week. i really needed that time off to grieve and regroup and am glad that i did so. however, getting back into the work mode, much less a new full time job in a brand new arena has been challenging. the first week and a half was necessary yet somewhat boring. going over standards and universal health care codes and policies; these were things that i had given to our employees over the years.

the last week and a half has been much better. i started shadowing different nurses who travel to the different hospitals. there we review charts and talk to the members(patients) about discharge needs and answer any questions they have. it has been extremely more stimulating and interesting. i have found myself reaching deep down into my old knowledge base, thinking, "oh yeah, i remember studying that or having taken care of someone with that so many years ago." i am also having to learn where in each hospital i need to go sign in, where charts are kept, and who are my resource people. so much information and such a little brain!!!! i'm walking about 3 miles a day which is great, that isn't what is wearing me out, it's the information overload. i have this upcoming week to follow my last 2 people and then hopefully i will find out which hospital(s) i will primarily be responsible for and be on my own. their thought is to get me familiar with all the milwaukee hospitals so if someone is sick or on vacation i can cover.

everyone i have worked with seems very nice and willing to help and answer my questions. they have made me feel very welcome which i appreciate. i am still optimistic that once i really feel comfortable doing this, it will be for me the flexibility that i desire. i hope this explains why i have been absent for awhile and hope to soon have more to post about. i still think of all of you often and hope you have a good week!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

grief, mourning & healing

this afternoon i went to a seminar entitled grief, mourning & healing. i had heard about it through an e-mailing network i still receive from our business. it was given by patrick dean, a man who has done grief counseling for over 20 years and is the head of the milwaukee grief education center. it was excellent. maybe it wasn't necessarily new material but the way it was presented, and maybe also the stage i am in my grief, i was more ready to hear it and it certainly made an impact on me.

i am going to summarize of few of his key points not only to share with my fellow bloggers who are in the grieving process but also to record it for me, so i can have something to look back on.

grief is an internal experience where as mourning is how we exhibit our grief externally. grief is the bridge between who we were (before the death) and who we are becoming (following the death). mourning is the path to healing, how we move towards the healing.

grief is normal, natural and necessary. it is also universal yet totally unique.

through mourning, and the path towards healing, we are learning new ways to live with our necessary sadness. we are forever changed by the lives of those we loved. we need time to redefine who we are. i know as caregivers we can all acknowledge and agree with that.

the mere passage of time does not heal - it's what we do with that time. don't believe the saying, times heals all wounds, it doesn't, yet time softens and changes how we look at the loss. there is also no time limit to grief and loss. some losses are forever.

patrick was able to meet and visit with dr. elizabeth kubler-ross near the end of her life. she was the forerunner and pioneer to describing the phases one goes through with death and dying. patrick asked her if there was one thing he could pass on to bereavers as he gave workshops from her, what would she like it to be? he said she thought for a good 3-5 minutes and then answered. tell them "do the best you can and leave the rest of it up to whomever you deem your god to be." a very wise statement!

we need to work on finding our "new normal" in life. for death changes us forever so we should not look for a recovery but rather a reconciliation - learning to live with our loses. when we experience that momentary "spark" of life, we should try to build on it, nurture it into our "new normal."

though grief is hard, hopefully over time (and that will vary for each individual) thoughts become soft again, and a gentleness awaits us.
will i open my heart to an eternal love? a love no longer of this earth?
eventually, the stormy days and ways of grief will soften into something sad...AND beautiful.

"no one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear."
C.S. Lewis : A Grief Observed

this tuesday night patrick dean will be giving another talk on delayed grief. i am hopeful to attend that. i know i am experiencing that with my mom. i look forward to gaining insight into that as well.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


(matt, mark and russ dying eggs 2 years ago in S.C.; my blogger egg; matt and mark dying eggs this year)

Easter has always been a time for being with family and friends. when i was little, i remember going to my grandparents. i can still remember getting a new dress with a bonnet. back then i didn't get dressed up a lot as i liked playing outside but when i did, i went all the way and dressed to the hilt. i remember my mom telling me how i not only wore the dress and bonnet on Easter, but also the lacy socks, patten leather shoes, a purse, and of course the little white gloves. i would walk around very carefully with my hands up (kinda like you see surgeons doing on tv) so as not to get my hands dirty. i can only imagine...

when my boys were little, i use to dress them up in matching outfits for Christmas, Easter and other special occasions. early on we use to go see russ & gene for Easter and when the boys were in late grade school we starting driving to S.C. (fripp island) for Easter with my sister's family and another family. we would rent a big house and spend spring break down there. 2 or 3 of the years russ and gene would join us. 2 years ago, we even took russ there with us. it was just the 5 of us. it was hard to hear him tell me what a beautiful area it was, and how glad he was to see it as this was someplace he had never visited before. i didn't have the heart to tell him differently. i am just so thankful that he enjoyed himself while in the moment.

last year, russ was unable to travel that far. or maybe the better explanation is that i didn't have the energy to try to take him there again and also didn't think the change in routine would be good for him.

this year, mark and matt have different spring breaks and with me just starting a job, it was also not meant to be. it will just be a quiet Easter. mark is still in arizona so we are down to 3; bob, matt and me.

like betsy posted, even though our kids are older, i still enjoy watching them dye Easter eggs and i think think they enjoy it as well. this year was no different. i had them dye them last weekend when they were both home. i asked them if i could do a few this year as well. the egg above is for all my blogger friends and their LO's who died this past year. i apologize for the poor handwriting but the thought is still there.

Easter is a time of rebirth and that is what i hope for myself and the rest of you. i pray that for all of us who have lost someone this past year we will continue to grow and figure out the purpose of our lives. for those of you still caregiving, please know you will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers too.

as i look out the window at the 14+" of snow that was dumped here yesterday, the sun is out and it is a beautiful day. i hope for many more beautiful days, hopefully a lot more of them without snow! we are officially into spring so i look forward to the melting and greening up around here.

a Blessed Easter to you all!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

6 months

today was 6 months since russ died. i can truthfully say that i had an ok time with it. i was ever conscious of the fact but i was not sad, i felt at peace. maybe i am finally starting to get over this heaviness of grief. even if it is short lived, i am grateful for today. today was the first anniversary of sorts i felt like smiling as i remembered. today was good. thank you God.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


i started my new job yesterday but it will be at least a week before i can start assessing what i really think of it. this whole week i will be in orientation meetings. a lot of it is boring but a necessary evil. i think over the years i have learned how to be a good listener as well as what HIPPA etc. means. actually tomorrow afternoon through friday i will have 1 on 1 training learning the computer system they use and things specific to my job. hopefully that will be more interesting, or at least more applicable. the highlight yesterday was they had a HUGE potluck to celebrate st. patty's day. i kidded a few of the staff saying they didn't have to go to such extremes to welcome me!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

having fun

this has been my final week before i start work on monday. as i kinda knew would happen, i did not get a whole lot accomplished around the house. but that's ok. it will always wait for me. LOL. i did manage to do some fun and productive things though. on tuesday bob and i went to the milwaukee public museum to see the Gunther von Hagens' BODY WORLDS 1: The Original Exhibition of Real Human Bodies exhibit. we both found this extremely fascinating. this is a process where people have donated their bodies specifically to the Body Worlds. through the process of plastination, fluid and fat are removed from the body and replaced with a synthetic polymer, or plastic to preserve the body forever. the amount of nerves and blood vessels in one's body is mind boggling, especially when you realize how exact a surgeon has to be when performing surgery. my favorite exhibit had to be the 8 month pregnant woman who knew she was going to die and donated her body with the fetus intact to the exhibit. bob probably found all the blood vessels his favorite. my biggest disappointment was that they did not have a brain with Alzheimer's on display. i have seen pictures of one on the internet but would have liked to have seen the real thing. they did show a brain that had suffered a stroke. i don't know if any of the other 3 exhibits traveling around the country have one on display or not. if you have not seen this and have the opportunity to visit one in your area i highly recommend it.

wednesday i had lunch with russ' home hospice nurse, janine. it was great to see her and catch up with her and her family. i had not seen her in many months but still think of her often and the wonderful care she gave to russ and the great support she was to me.

thursday morning i treated myself to a pedicure. or i should say the boys did. they had given me a gift certificate for one for Christmas and i hadn't used it yet with all the bitter cold weather so took advantage of it since we reached almost 50 on thursday. later that morning i had a nice talk with lynne, one of the in-patient hospice nurses and the first one who came to my house and did continuous care for russ at the end. it is always good to talk to lynne.

in the afternoon my sister and i went for a grief thing put on by the hospice russ used. i purposely call it a grief "thing" as i had a whole different perception of what it would be. somehow i was under the impression from the mailing that is would be a workshop or support meeting. well, it actually was like a church service, held in a nursing home's chapel. it was very nice and i was able to see another of the in-patient nurses, marlene. the thing though, and i know it will sound stupid, is i felt like i was under dressed. growing up my mom had a thing about never going to church unless she had a dress or skirt on. she instilled it in me as well, and now i do it more so to honor her memory than for any other reason. even though i had a nice top on and my jeans were my nicer pair, i kept obsessing the entire time about what i had on. i know i missed out of the majority of the service because of it. during one part of the service we went up to the front to light a candle for our LO. when sue and i sat back down, our candle went out. we tried to re light it 3-4 times from the person sitting next to us but it kept going out. all i could think of was how my mom was just shaking her head at me and blowing the candle out over what i was wearing. LOL. there were many others there with jeans on who i know didn't give me a second thought but it is just a personal thing.

yesterday, bob and i drove to madison to pick mark up for his spring break. he will leave monday with a high school friend to fly to arizona to relax and enjoy the weather at his friend's grandparents house. i have about 1/2 of his laundry done already. i know i spoil both my boys but i don't mind. i think matt might drive home tomorrow to see mark before he leaves. i anticipate a very low keyed and relaxing rest of the weekend. just what the doctor ordered before i start work on monday.

Monday, March 10, 2008

a cold but relaxing weekend

last friday bob and i went up to door county for a long weekend get-a-way. we just got home a few hours ago. i figured a week from today i will be starting work so i wanted one last mini vacation. the winters in door county are so different than the summers yet just as beautiful. in the summer, especially july and august, the peninsula is filled with many tourists. you see the exact opposite in the winter. we read an editorial in the paper while we were up there about the winters. they stated there is no need to use your directionals while driving. a)no body is on the road and b)if you do come upon another car, they would recognize your car and know when you would be turning. that may be a slight stretch of the truth but not by much. as much as i love the beauty of the summer, i also love the peace and quiet of the winter.

we usually keep the house set at 50 degrees when we are not up there so when we arrived, i quickly pumped the thermostat up to 68 to warm up the place. by 9pm, it was only 53; not a good sign, but considering it was only in the teens outside, we (or should i say bob) was still hopeful. by 7am it was only up to 55, definitely not good. we quickly made a fire in the fireplace and placed a call to rick, the guy that does all the electrical/plumbing work for us. rick did not answer but we left a message stating the problem but also saying that we could manage over the weekend. well about 12 noon, rick showed up. it was not good. there was a cracked heat exchange in 2 of the 5 parts so the furnace was only functioning at between 55-60%. we can limp through the rest of the winter but we will need a new furnace. they no longer make that model so therefore they no longer make the replacement parts. just what i needed to hear!!! seems to me that with some of my blogger friends having problems with heating this winter it must be the winter for furnaces.

between the sun, fire and partial furnace we were able to get the temp up to 65 by the time we left today. i thought a lot of lori and unk, they would not have been happy campers but we were dressed warmly so we did fine. we took a couple of beach walks. with all the snow and ice on the beach i really had to look closer at the shoreline as it did not look familiar. it was like we were in a different place.

on another note, while up there i dreamed of my mom. this is the first dream i can remember in such a long time. it was a good one as well. already the memory of it is fading but i clearly remember her driving up (or somehow coming up) next to bob and i and calling our names. i think we were in a car as well. bob was in the front and i in the back. she was smiling and seemed happy, asking bob first and then me how we were doing, and if we were happy. even though it was somewhat hard as i then missed her, it was comforting to think that she appeared happy and wants that for me too.

we are actually suppose to have the next few days reach the 40's. we somehow managed to miss the last major snow storm that passed through so maybe we will start to melt some of this snow. i can only hope!

Friday, March 7, 2008

end of an era

this past tuesday, the city of green bay and the state of wisconson went into a tailspin. word was leaking out that brett favre was retiring. people were in disbelief. i admit i was in shock as well. as much as everyone knew this was a possibility and that it would indeed happen one day it was something most people hoped would never happen. the media was reporting that many companies in green bay were closing for the day so that employees could go home to follow the story. employers knew that tuesday would be an unproductive day. you never would have known that there was a primary being held that day, there was minimal news regarding the voting, maybe a scrolling byline at the bottom of the screen. that national news paled in comparison to wisconsin's hero. networks scrambled to put clips of brett on the tv. regularly scheduled programs were canceled. the only news in wisconsin on tuesday was that brett was retiring after 17 years in the NFL, 16 in green bay.

yesterday, the reality of this was cemented in stone. brett flew up to green bay and gave a press conference confirming it. again, all stations covered the live broadcast. brett was very emotional. i was disappointed as i heard the news on tuesday but found myself crying yesterday as i heard brett speak. how could one not when you saw brett break down. he gave a very heartfelt explanation of how after 17 years of giving it his all, he was emotionally exhausted. anyone hearing him speak could not have helped but been touched. he thanked God for what he had been given in life, and then he thanked everyone in the packers organization and the fans. he also stated that his wife Deanna told him it is now time to look out the front windshield instead of keep looking out the rear view mirror. i found that very appropriate to all people, not just brett.

green bay is loosing not only a legend in football but a humble and wonderful human being. he brought such joy, enthusiasm and unpredictability to the game of football and made it enjoyable to watch every week. his work ethic is beyond compare. he is so down to earth, what you see is the real brett favre. he made us all realize that he experiences the same things as everyone else; death, cancer, and life's hardships. many of today's youth have known no other quarterback for green bay; realistically neither have my own boys, and they are 20 and 22.

i will miss you next year in the fall, as the football season comes around. yet i am thankful for the wonderful memories that i have of you. and i can truly say, i saw you play in person on lambeau field. you will be missed brett, but go and enjoy the rest of your life, you deserve it!

Monday, March 3, 2008

i have a job

today i accepted a position. am i thrilled with it? to be honest no, but it's been 2 months since i started looking and i guess i'm just tired of this process and want to be done with it. i will start in 2 weeks at a major health company doing case management. every morning i will go into the office, have a meeting and get my to-do list for the day. then i will be off to the hospital(s) to review charts and possibly talk with patients and their families about whether or not services are covered under their plan. fortunately, i will not be the heavy to decide that, that decision will be made by the medical staff. the things that are appealing about this is once i am fully orientated (they say about 6 months) i have the option of going home after the hospital visits to input the data from home. once trained, i will also be working independently and have a lot of autonomy. this is important to me having owned our own business for the last 18 years. i think it will be very hard to adjust to not being the one to make major decisions about things like i have been doing. the benefits seem very good at this point as well. i start out with 23 PTO days (vacation and sick). that is a little over 4 weeks. for someone who typically is not sick very often, that is great. i will also not have to be on call or work weekends or holidays. so there are definitely some good pluses. i always said i would take something and if i didn't like it after bob found something i could look elsewhere. once i am fully trained this is definitely the type of position that would afford me to look and interview without them knowing it, thus jeopardizing my position. and who knows, after i really get used to it, i may love it for the flexibility if nothing else. that and i really think compared to other jobs this could be very low stress. always a plus!

i was really disappointed about the other job. last monday i had had my final interview for the oncology nursing position. the nurse over the whole program made a comment to me that after i had met with the staff the previous week, some of the staff were concerned about someone new coming in. maybe "my skills weren't as current as they wanted" and also "how i would fit in with all of them" (one nurse having been there 27yrs). i'm sure most of these comments were coming from the one nurse who i thought was brash. well, i had a gut feeling then that this was not going to work out and unfortunately i was right. i was disappointed and then angry. i know i could have done a good job for them, and i feel that with all their longevity, maybe what they need IS someone to come in from the outside but.....bob said things have a way of working out the way they are meant to be. he is probably right, if they have not found someone in the last year and a half and the interim person does not want to keep doing this job, that should be telling me something. yet, it always hurts to admit that someone doesn't want you. and actually, the people with the new position are taking a much bigger risk, i don't have near the experience in case management as i do in oncology. oh well....

so now as i look ahead to the fact that i will be working full time in 2 weeks, i suddenly start thinking about all the things that i had wanted to do since russ died, the cleaning of closets, the organizing of picture albums, etc. all that fun stuff right!?! well, most of that is going to have to wait until ?. i may get some of it done, but not a lot of it. oh well..... now i look at it as i have 2 weeks to plan lots of fun things to do instead! wish me luck!!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


today, or actually yesterday as i look at the time, i met and had lunch with 2 dear friends. one, k.d., i hadn't seen in probably 20-25 years and the other, s.s., was my best friend from high school. s.s. and i both attended illinois wesleyan university where we both graduated from their school of nursing. we moved to champaign-urbana to start our careers together and that is where we met k.d. who was also a new grad. both s.s. and k.d. remember the exact starting salary we started at, i don't, i think they said it was somewhere around 5.35/hour. that was considered very good money 30 years ago for someone fresh out of college. i was able to have a very nice apartment, have a car, pay for gas, car insurance, etc., have a social life and still put money into savings! i had contemplated going back to school 3 years later for my masters but decided against it as the money was too good and i didn't want to go back to being poor! go figure.

so many fond memories were created in the year and a half we worked together. the 3 of us worked the pm shift so we would go out afterwards for a drink or two, one of our favorite hangouts was "lums." not sure they are in business anymore. we became very close and even though i have not kept in contact with k.d. for probably close to 20 years and not as close of contact with s.s. as i would have liked or should have for that matter, we seemed to pick up and reminisce without problems.

we all are still married to the same men, a feat in itself by today's standard. we also all have children in college, although k.d wins the prize for having all 4 of her kids in college at once! WOW! we have also all lost a parent in the last year, but for different reasons. i also realized that there is always someone else who has burdens and reasons to grieve greater than mine. i will hold both of you in my thoughts and prayers as you both struggle with your family issues. we never know what is in store for us but do the best we can with the hand we are dealt. i admire both of your strength in what you are facing, especially you s.s.

it was a great way to spend a long overdue reunion of sorts. we promised each other to make the 60 mile trek for each of us to meet and not wait another 20+ years. i hope we can stay true to that promise. thank you both for being the highlight of my day.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

moving forward

yesterday was the first day since i have started blogging that i did not check in with my own or anyone's else's blog for that matter. i'm not really sure why that happened. i did think about it after dinner but bob was on the computer for quite some time and by the time he got off i decided i was tired and just went to bed.

yesterday i had an interview with the staff at the oncology clinic where i have applied and am interested. it is similar in set up to a clinic i worked at 20 years ago but this practice is larger. the staff i met seemed nice and all got along well. one of the nurses was a little brash in some of her questions to me but i think i handled it well. afterwards i wondered how i would have reacted to her prior to me caregiving, if it would have rattled me more. i don't know, we all admit that this process of caregiving has changed us and i would like to think i am more tolerant of others because of it. i also think these nurses are pretty protective of the staff they have and want to make sure whoever comes in to work with them and supervise them will be a good fit. and that's what i want to know as well.

yesterday was also 5 months since russ died. maybe that's why i didn't make more of an effort to go on the blogs. i felt pretty good about the day and i wonder if subconsciously i wanted to see if i was strong enough to get through the day by myself. like terry said this morning, i not sure anyone else realized it was an anniversary day of sorts. bob didn't say anything to me about it nor did the boys when i talked to them about the lunar eclipse last night. but that's ok too. life goes on and i want them to be happy. i want to be happy too. i know i will always remember these days whether anyone else does but i was glad that yesterday came and went without sadness.

Friday, February 15, 2008

february 15, 2006

i apologize beforehand as i know this is a long post. last year i didn't have time to write down my thoughts due to caregiving for russ so 2 years later i am.

my mom and i were always close. we were able to share a lot of things and so enjoyed doing things together as well; shopping, going out to eat, playing golf, watching tv or movies, reading books together, and just talking and laughing. even though russ and i shared something very special together, having the same birthday, if i am totally honest with myself, i always felt russ and sue were closer and maybe i felt a little closer to my mom. yet i know they both loved us both as i did them. i was very blessed to have two such wonderful, loving and supportive parents.

christmas of 2005 gene and russ stayed with me and my family. every year they alternated whose house they stayed at so as to be "even." russ was noticeably and drastically slipping at that time so i was able to have some good "heart to heart" talks with my mom as to what may lie ahead and some tough decisions she might have to make. after they went back to door county after christmas, i discussed with my sister how one of us should call them every day to check in with them. i also made the 3 hour trip up north for a day every other week. my mom was still playing bridge approx. 2x/week which meant russ was alone for up to 4 hours. not a good thing but my mom needed to keep some part of her life for just her. russ could no longer make a sandwich for himself although he would tell you he could. we encouraged my mom to make it for him before she left and write a note as to where she was and when she would be home.

on february 15, 2006 it was my day to call and i did early afternoon. as soon as russ answered the phone i could tell he was extremely anxious. i tried talking to him calmly and asked him if gene was there. he stated he didn't know. i heard him call for her but no answer. i asked him if he had eaten lunch and he didn't know. he kept mumbling about a note that said something about door county memorial hospital ER with a number. i didn't think too much about it because i knew one of the bridge groups my mom played for was the hospital auxiliary and they indeed did play at the hospital.

i asked russ if gene might be taking a nap and he said he didn't know but he would go check. bad idea. i knew he would forget that he had been on the phone. sure enough. now i had a real problem. i knew if i hung up i would lose the connection with him. i started screaming his name into the phone. this went on for at least 5 minutes. not long after i could hear a voice in the background talking to russ. soon afterwards i could tell it wasn't my mom's voice but one of her best friends. i could hear she was asking him if he had either mine or sue's phone number. all russ could say is "gene has it here somewhere." i kept screaming and hoping jinx would look near the phone and hear me or see the phone was off the hook.

my prayer was answered. jinx picked up the phone and told me that she had been gone but when she returned there was a message from the emergency department stating that gene was there, she had collapsed at bridge and was taken to the ER. they were able to revive her and she asked them to call jinx and see if she would go look in after russ. jinx called the ER back but they wouldn't give her any more information since she wasn't family except they would be flying gene to green bay for further evaluation.

i quickly hung up and called the emergency department. luckily being a small town, even with HIPPA, they were able to update me. my mom had not been transferred to green bay as when they were getting ready to load her into the helicopter she coded again. they had been working on her for the past 40 minutes when i called but with little success. the ER nurse, barb, was wonderful and kind. she described to me what was going on. they were able to get her heart going but there was no perfusion (or blood flow) in her extremities. her skin was mottled and they were unable to get a blood pressure. barb's best guess was that gene had a leaking aneurysm which then had ruptured. the next question for me was did i know if my mom had a living will and what her wishes would be, should they continue and hook her up to life support or let her go.

in the course of a few minutes i had to decide between life and death for my mom, my mother! i knew she had a living will and had instructed that she did not want to be hooked up to life support. she knew that would be no quality of life. my mom had always been such a vibrant, giving and loving person. she would not want to live like that. when i relayed that to barb she kindly told me that was the loving thing to do. she would do the same if it were her mom. she told me that in the short time she spent time with my mom when she was awake and alert, how gene was so sweet and cooperative and obviously loved and was concerned about russ being left alone. barb stated if we kept her alive she would never be the mom i knew as her brain and other organs had been without oxygenated blood for so long.

i had barely gotten off the phone with barb and was explaining it all to bob when the ER doc called me back to say my mom had died. i felt numb. what was i going to do? how would i tell my sister, much less russ? somehow i got through all that and the rest is history. russ came down to milwaukee to live out the rest of his life.

i truly believe my mom had no idea the severity of what was happening to her. as i stated, she and i were always close and i know that she would have asked to call me if she thought it was so life threatening. i thank God she did have enough where with all to call jinx to go stay with russ until we could drive up there. i also thank God for having a nurse like barb who was with her so that she wasn't alone at the end. i will never forget barb and am glad she was there to hold my mom's hand when i couldn't. barb even came to gene's visitation. this was a nurse who met my mom for the first time when she came into the ER. i'm not surprised that my mom touched barb's life, she had a way of doing that with everyone who met her.

i also thank God for sparing gene the last 19 months of russ' life. she had done so much for him, had been with him every step of the way and suffered silently alone for so long. my mom was a very proud and stubborn woman who hated to admit that she needed help. she also kept a lot of her feelings in and didn't let others know how she felt. i guess i can be a lot like my mom in that way. but most importantly i thank God for bringing me into this world, to have had a mother like gene, to teach me so many things. i miss you terribly every day. i know i miss you more this year than last year as i have had time to grieve you now but i hope you would be proud of me. i tried to continue what you did, caring for russ and surrounding him with love and security.

i will love you forever and never forget you. i think of you when i see a mystery book or a crossword puzzle. i think of you when i go out to eat and see certain foods on the menu. i think of you at the most unpredictable of times as well as the predictable ones. i think of you every day. yet i also thank God that you and russ are together again, with God, where you both are safe, and happy and loved.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

happy 'tines day!

i just wanted to wish every one a happy valentine's day and let you know i'm thinking of you today. you all have a very special place in my heart!

Monday, February 11, 2008


when i was younger i used to dream a lot. for the most part they were happy or funny or even strange dreams. they seemed very vivid when i first woke up but then as the day wore on they faded from my memory. i think that is probably true of most people. one recurring dream i had as a youngster, or maybe it was more a nightmare, seemed to repeat itself and last forever. i was probably about 8 or 10 years old. i can still remember it. wolves would somehow get into our house and chase me around the kitchen. i would climb up on the counter tops to try to escape them. they would bark and snap at me until i woke from my dream. to this day whenever i hear the theme song from "peter and the wolf" it sends chills up my spine.

chris posted a week ago that she has been having nightmares. it got me to thinking. i can honestly say that since my mother died almost 2 years ago i have not dreamed. i seriously cannot remember waking up one single morning since her death having had a dream. i wonder if i will ever dream again.

Monday, February 4, 2008

pure beauty

a friend of mine in book club is a master gardener. pat is also a very thoughtful and giving person. in november she gave me a white amaryllis plant in memory of russ that she hoped would bloom around Christmas. it actually bloomed in the beginning of december but lasted until almost the end of the month. it had 3 large flowers and was absolutely beautiful. about the time it died i noticed that another shoot had started growing. i mentioned it to pat and she said that it did not happen often but wasn't totally uncommon either. she told me how to care for it and that if this one bloomed, it could remind me of my mother.

well, this one fully bloomed a few days ago. this one has 4 large flowers, each one more beautiful than the next. the pictures above are of this blooming. like a fool i forgot to take pictures of the one blooming in december. it stands about 40" high and i had to put a stake in as it was starting to lean. the flowers are about 8" in diameter and absolutely gorgeous.

i like to look at symbolism in a lot of things in life. the first bloom had only 3 flowers, one for russ, my sister and me. this current one for my mom has 4 flowers, including her this time. i anticipate that it will be done blooming as we approach the 2 year anniversary of her death. what a wonderful plant to be able to look at every day and enjoy. i know both gene and russ would have enjoyed it as well.

p.s. as an update on the job front, the phone interview went well. i am to anticipate getting a call in 3-5 days to set up a face to face interview for the case management position. i also spoke with the gal about the oncology position. unfortunately they are still working on the job description BUT she is very interested in me so she will have HR set the ball in motion about the job i originally applied for and when the new one is finalized we can potentially look into that as well. so hopefully in the next week or so i should be able to make an informed decision about what is the best fit. i will keep you all updated.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

end of the month

the end of the month came and went. i have not heard back about the oncology job i am interested in. another company called me yesterday about a position in case management. while not a passion for me, the fact that i could input data from home and somewhat set my own schedule sounds appealing.

this second company will call me monday morning for about a 20 minute phone interview (or so i'm told). these phone interviews continue to amaze me. i understand it may streamline things on their end, but what happened to the face to face talk, gut feeling impressions? although, the thought of being able to do this in my jammies is right up my alley, especially if i find it is not what i'm looking for. after i finish with that, i will call the other place and see what the status of the new position is. i'm hoping that soon i will have a clear sign of what is meant for me.

i talked to pastor dave last week. as i have blogged before patience has never been a strong suit for me. he assured me that the Spirit works in ways we do not always understand so hang in there. still, this patience thing is beginning to wear thin....

i hope everyone remembered to say "rabbit rabbit" yesterday!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

visitations / funerals

a friend of mine from my book club lost her mother early monday morning. she had not been in the best of health and vicki said they used to say her mom had 9 lives as numerous times in the past they thought she would not pull through only to rebound and enjoy life some more. this past weekend, that was not to be the case.

visitation was this afternoon/evening. i wanted to go yet must admit i had some reservations. this was the first visitation i would attend since russ died. what i think affected me as much was the memory of my mom's death. in a little over 2 weeks it will be 2 years since she died. today was also bitterly cold, -30+ wind chill. schools were closed due to the cold. this was also the exact weather when my mom died. i remember some relatives and close friends were unable to make her funeral due to the cold weather. i had not been outside all day and the thought of it was not appealing for many reasons.

i drove with bob and 3 other gals from my book club. strength in numbers definitely holds true. we stayed for part of the visitation but i knew i was not ready to stay for the funeral service. i think everyone understood but to be honest, if they didn't, too bad.

when we got home, i decided it was a good night for chili. that also triggered memories. i remembered how my mom always cooked chili in the winter about once a week and how it always tasted so good, especially on cold nights. well, tonight would definitely qualify as a good chili night. i also remembered how last year we only had chili once. as much as russ loved chili, it went right through him, so bob and i decided, it wasn't worth it. well, life changes and goes on whether we want it to or not. and days like this are hard but we also learn how important it is to take those baby steps. i'm proud of myself for making it through the day. one day at a time.....

Friday, January 25, 2008

cold, snow, bitter cold, more snow

this has been a different winter so far. yet when i stop to think about it, it really reminds me of the winters when i was growing up. back then we would get much more snow than we have gotten say the past 10-20 years or so. the same with the cold. we have really been spoiled the past few years, we have avoided that bitter cold we have recently experienced.

traditionally when it gets really cold, single digits or below, it is too cold to snow. the same has been true this year yet we have experienced both. it seems the weather warms up for a day or two, we get the snow and then, it returns to the sub zero weather.

we have already reached close to our season snowfall this year and we are really only 6-8 weeks into true winter in wisconsin. we typically get snow into april and on rare occasions may. moving here from illinois i noticed the biggest difference is that wisconsin has little to no spring. we tend to go right from winter to summer.

where am i going with this thought? i have been reminded a lot lately of what my oldest son matt asked me this past summer. we were sitting around and he asked, "mom, do you think grrr will make it through the winter?" matt didn't as he thought the snow and especially the cold would get the better of him. as i think about the winter we have had thus far, i know matt was right.

russ used to love the season's changing and for the most part winter, cold never seemed to get the better of him. his last 6 months of life he was forever cold. it could have been 80+ degrees out and he would have said he was cold and wanted a sweater on. even last winter, and we had a really mild winter, he was forever cold. it would be nothing for him to wear long underwear, a turtleneck, a wool shirt and then a fleece jacket - inside!

our upstairs stays warm in the winter but our ground level, the family room, and sun room, which became his bedroom and living quarters the last 4 months of his life once he could no longer do stairs, gets pretty chili in the winter. the sun room (his bedroom) has windows from floor to ceiling on 2 sides. it made a wonderful room for russ to be in, in nice weather with the view and all, but it has been pretty darn cold lately when we get our cold snaps.

matt was right, i don't know how he would have survived. as much as i miss him, i know he is warm right now in God's loving arms and enjoying the snow from afar. keep warm everyone! early next week, we may get up to close to 40 degrees. i can guarantee you that people in wisconsin will be wearing shorts!!!!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

empty feeling

the boys both went back to school today - the house seems lonely already.

the packers lost - too many missed opportunities, mistakes and not enough offense.

really cold here(below zero) - plus i have 4-7" of snow to look forward to tomorrow.

it was 4 months ago today that russ died......

Friday, January 18, 2008


my meeting went as well as i think i could have hoped for today. the director of the oncology program was very kind, informative and honest. she explained that this new job has been in the works since june as the oncology program has been growing. we seemed to get along well, discussing physicians who we both knew and worked with 20 years ago, and shared ideas and philosophies about managing staff and patient care. i was asked some tough questions but i think i handled and answered them well. she gave me a few indications that she was interested in me and hopes to have something in writing to share with me by the end of the month.

i respected her honesty so even though i will continue to pursue other options i will also hang tight until the end of the month. patience is something that is not always easy to practice but once again it is something i will try to do.

an unexpected highlight happened as we were talking in the open cafe like area. one of my neighbor's walked by and asked me if i worked there. i stated no but i was finding out about some job opportunities. my neighbor looked at who i was meeting with and said, "oh nancy's great, you should hire her!" i hope it didn't look like this was a set-up! LOL.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

things starting to look up?

(another picture taken from our yard with all our snowfall)

i had my telephone interview yesterday. HR called me at 9am and when i hung up my phone said 10min 55sec. HR basically reviewed my resume with me, confirming dates and job responsibilities. After that was completed HR asked me to define my definition of customer service and give an example of how i have given good customer service. pretty quick and harmless. still not sure why it couldn't have been done on monday. oh well......

this morning i e-mailed the nurse who runs the cancer program to see if she could shed more light on this new position that is being developed. she e-mailed me back 5 minutes later and stated she had already contacted HR to set up a time for me to come in to discuss this new position. YEAH!! maybe there is some hope afterall.

i will meet with her on friday morning. hopefully i'll have a better feel after that what the position will be and if it might be a good fit for us both.

2 nights ago i had my book club. it was my turn to host it. i actually had fun getting ready and thinking about what food to serve, etc. one of the gals even commented to me that i was starting to look like my old self again. as much as i hated hearing that maybe i have looked like sh-t the past few months, it was nice to hear a compliment.

on a final note, it's my sister's birthday today. happy birthday sue! i'm sure gene and russ are singing to you today.

Monday, January 14, 2008

frustration with the job search

i had felt really good 2 weeks ago about getting out resumes. it had been a new year's resolution to get out my resume early and get on with my life. there were a handful of jobs i applied for, some of which i felt qualified for, others just seemed might be a nice change to try. the nice thing with nursing is there is so many opportunities out there and so many jobs.

there is even this one job that lately i have felt good about, it would be helping oncology patients. that is what i did many years ago and has always been a passion of mine. my mom's mom died of breast cancer when i was in nursing school and i know that she is what lead me down that path. even with bob's and my business we have always had a few oncology patients so i have been able to keep my hand in oncology.

it has been over 20 years since i have applied for a job though. last thursday someone from HR called for me, unfortunately i wasn't home, and left a message stating he wanted to set up a telephone interview with me. we played phone tag thursday afternoon and friday. he called me this morning stating he wanted to set up a time for this phone interview and asked when i would be available. i asked how long it would take and he said 10 min. he said it was to make sure i was qualified for the position and to answer any questions i might have about it. i said i was available now, or tomorrow morning, etc. he suggested he call back at 9am tomorrow.

i was polite but after i hung up i thought, what the heck?!? why not just do it then? i had the time, and obviously he called me, so he had time. how long was it going to take to see that having more than 20 years of oncology experience i was more than qualified? i just don't get it. IF i qualify after tomorrow, then i will have to go and meet with someone in HR, and then if they like me, i will finally get to talk to someone that i will work with and really get down to the job stuff.

i realize that HR serves a purpose but i also think that there is a lot of layers involved to just make things more difficult than they need to be.

from people i have talked to this is pretty standard for at least health care positions in the milwaukeee area. no wonder there is a nursing and other health care professional shortage! boy was i ever out of touch to think that you could apply for a job and have something a week or two later. with bob and i having our own small business we were able to do that and it seemed to work. if i saw a resume i liked, i called them, talked a bit with them, and then set up a time for them to come in and really see what it would be all about.

at this pace, it could be march before i start working. i had no idea this is what i was up against. to make matters worse, the guy from HR said they are tweaking the job description from what had been posted but when i asked how it might differ, he didn't have the new one in front of him yet. AWWWWWWWWWGH.

guess i'll head back to the want ads and drawing board. as much as this job looked promising, bills will never get paid waiting on it.

on a better note, we have again had snow so we are back to our winter wonderland. AND the packers won on saturday. with the cowboys losing yesterday, the final NFC game will be played in green bay on sunday. Go pack go!!!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

tornadoes in january?

2 evenings ago, south eastern wisconsin experienced multiple tornadoes. now if it were spring or summer it would be quite normal but in january? there has only been 1 other tornado reported in january in the state of wisconsin since the national weather service started keeping records in the late 1800's and that was in 1962. it is also not common to see 70 degree weather in wisconsin in january.

fortunately there were no deaths but over 30 homes were leveled around the racine and kenosha counties (just north of the wisconsin/illinois state line and about 30 miles from our house).

we had high winds at our home and what appeared to sound like a severe thunderstorm with the heavy driving rain. i can remember having occasional thunderstorms during winter months and it always feels so weird to hear them in the winter. fortunately no trees or other structures were damaged but our winter wonderland of snow is now gone.

Monday, January 7, 2008

cleaning up and starting over

yesterday, and for the most part saturday as well, was spent putting all my Christmas decorations away. the tree is down, and all the reminders of Christmas 2007 and past Christmases. I always marvel how much bigger and more open my house looks after it is all back the way it normally is. funny thing though, after a few months i don't look at it like that anymore.

now i have more time to dedicate to finding a job. 2 more resume's were sent out last night. now it's just a waiting game to see what will transpire and where i will end up. at least it's given me something to focus on which is good.

the boys are still home for 2 more weeks. the last time they left for school it was the time that russ died, creating a new life for me. this time when they leave i will hopefully be getting ready to start a new phase in my life again. time will tell....

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

happy new year!

2008 is upon us. how glad i am that 2007 (and 2006 for that matter) is behind me. there were many struggles for me in 2007 both with russ and personal so i'm hoping that as lori said, 2008 will be "my year" as well. i not sure it could get much worse.

today i have been updating my resume and applying on line for jobs. i needed to take a few months off after russ died to start to make my way back to the "real" world before i started looking for a job. i know i'm not really back yet but with 2 boys in college and neither bob nor i bringing in a paycheck, 1 of us needs to get back to work.

bob continues to pursue new paths and i continue to fully support him in this quest. we both know he could find a job in a flash (he is a pharmacist by nature) but i hate for him to just take something that he doesn't want because then he will not have the time to continue to network and look. i figure if i get something now, by the time he finds something if i don't like what i'm doing, i can quit and look for something else.

what do i hope for in 2008? joanne posted a few days ago and really got me to thinking. to be honest, i still haven't fully figured it out but here are some thoughts. i hope for a peaceful year, a calm year, a year without the stresses and pressures i have felt for so long. i know that won't always be possible yet i hope for more good times than bad.

i hope for love and understanding as well. this journey that i traveled on at times made me have many negative feelings about myself and others. i want to be able to put all that behind me and start to build on positive relationships as negative ones only bring me down. life is too short and no one is perfect so i need to try to be more tolerant.

i want to laugh more. too many tears were shed this past year, enough to last a long time. laughter soothes the soul so i will try to take life less seriously and laugh. i use to laugh a lot. i know i haven't laughed near enough these past 2 years. and i hope for joy and happiness for not only myself but for all my blogger friends and family.

for those of you still caregiving, i pray and hope for easy days, for i know that the road you are traveling will not get better. cherish those lucid times and remember to take long deep breaths along the way. don't forget the importance of touch with your loved one and tell them you love them. we all know how scared they must be.

for you caregivers no longer caring, i hope 2008 is also a year to find and rediscover yourself. take time if you can for just you. indulge yourself as you never had time to do before. you were all so unselfish with your time, now it's time for you.

i have to have faith and believe that God has a plan for each one of us. i hope both bob and i will find what we are looking for career wise and that both matt and mark will continue to make smart choices as they continue to grow into young men.

God bless us all!