Thursday, May 17, 2018

May 18, 2018
I have not written in my blog since my Beloved's health changed our lives. Now, I have managed to  live a year without him since he went to live with our Lord and Holy Father. Tonight I found a photo of my Gus when he was healthy and we enjoyed busy times. Wasn't he handsome? 

I then found a poem that those days inspired:

We sat together, my beloved and I,
     On the swing
At the end of a hectic day.
We talked a bit and shared the load
     While the sun slipped gently behind the hills.

We sat together, my beloved and I,
     In our rocking chairs
Stretching our legs, airing our thoughts.
We let our burdens go
     While twilight tiptoed around the clouds.

We sat together, my beloved and I,
     On the back porch
Shedding the pain of grinding lives.
We absorbed strength from each other
     While heaven sang a lullaby.

We walked together, my beloved and I,
     Back and forth around the yard
Finding words for a sweet surrender.
We said I love you or please forgive
     While warm breezes kissed our cheeks.

We sat together, my beloved and I
    on the front porch
Touching hands and minds and hearts.
Then with our souls at peace
     We heard the voice of God.

Years passed and our lives...and my memories... changed:

We sat together, my beloved and I,
     On his hospital bed inside our home
At the end of each hard day.
We talked a bit and shared the load
     While the sun slipped benignly behind the hills.

We sat together, my beloved and I,
     On his hospital bed inside our home
Learning to let our burdens go.
We gazed through the window watching the sky
     While twilight tiptoed around the clouds.

We sat together, my beloved and I,
     On his hospital bed inside our home
Shedding the pain of his hard Hospice life.
We enjoyed the precious, extra time we were given
     While heaven sang a lullaby.

We sat together, my beloved and I
     On his hospital bed inside our home
And found a sweet surrender.
We said I love you and please forgive
     While warm breezes kissed our ancient trees.

We sat together, my beloved and I,
     On his hospital bed inside our home
We touched hands and minds and hearts.
Then with our souls at peace
     We still heard the voice of God.

And, now, today:

I sit alone
On my one bed inside my new house
Searching for courage in my empty heart.
But my soul is restless
     And God's voice is silent.

     Our time together was beautiful, dear Gus. I will love you forever.  Your Bride, Liz
May 18, 2018.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Learning to Change

Change is relentless.

Change requires even MORE lists to make. Constantly. Quickly.
Things TO DO.
Things MUST DO.
     Things NOT DONE.

Lists for
Next week.

I could write a book – IF I had more time. Which I don't and that is just as well: my readers who are also givers of care, would not have time to read the book. IF I found time to write the book.

Cut to the chase.

Fortunately, my foray into caregiving began uniquely: I RECEIVED the care.
Let me tell you, in case you don’t know: when a major health challenge strikes and you are tagged IT, life changes. When, suddenly, you are the one who cannot so much as get to the bathroom alone, your entire belief system changes. About everything. Drastically. Totally.

I did get well. Even at 76 years old, my health improved. WOW. A new chance to live life again.

By the summer of 2013, however, quiet warnings screamed that my husband’s health was going into big changes. Impaired vision. Stiff fingers. Weak legs. Hearing gone. My experience as the receiver of care had gifted me with new eyes so I embarked on a secret campaign to prepare.
I stepped back from myself and observed my days, routines, tasks, actions, and chores. I carefully considered how we used our time and I calculated our activities, schedules, and appointments. I paid attention to my husband’s actions, habits, movements, activities, and interests. I studied the layout of our home. I observed the flow of people and activities as we went about the act of daily living and as family and friends visited. I had the freedom to see, in advance, that the peaceful, easy, “normal” life we had enjoyed for twelve years on the hill would not stay the same.
My goals were simple:
Enable my husband to maintain his dignity.
Find joy in our adjusted daily living.
Create a safe environment.
Keep him at home.
Please note: I did not claim that my goals were EASY. Only basic.

Over the next year, the changes began in earnest. I studied my notes, cleaned out closets, assessed space. My husband began, voluntarily, to turn over to me first one household task and then another. Last winter, I began an immediate frontal attack on all my TO DO things. I had to find - - - 
Easier ways
How to work smart
Step / Energy / Time savers

Yes, I admit it. At 78 years of age, I did time studies. Even I was surprised at how much can be done while the microwave heats one cup of coffee. Thirty whole seconds. I tamed bed making, kitchen chores, and laundry by learning what can be done in a matter of minutes. 

It is my firm belief that all of us can and should benefit from sharing life lessons learned the hard ways. Caregiving will never be easy. Even for the strong ones. The physical, emotional, and spiritual drains are beyond understanding until you walk in that particular, difficult, and unique moccasin.  

There are little things, daily things, surprising things that do make the journey easier. I will share some of my experiments on this page. We who provide care are a sisterhood--sometimes inhabited by brothers--and we can benefit from sharing our lessons. 

I will not jump into the raging waters of financial, agency, government, insurance help. There are sites for those things and the trip through the mess can be vicious.  

I will, however, share shortcuts and encouragement, and prayers.

FIRST: Three LITTLE things that HELPED. In BIG ways.

1.     Laundry baskets on wheels

Inexpensive. Air Vents. Lightweight. Handle. Wheels. Available at most box stores.
No lifting required. Just wheel them into the bedroom, pitch laundry baskets around, sit on a stool that doesn't hurt old knees,  and sort laundry. Saves amazing time and my strength.

2. Drying Frames

Lightweight. Easily folded to store in closet.
For all those delicates that will shrink or pile or fuzz in the dryer.
Wish I had done this years ago.
Inexpensive. Found mind at Amazon  

3. Atomic Clock

Gradually replacing all our clocks with this fabulous, new-fangled, atomic clock.
Works PERFECT. Changes itself when there is a time change.
Knows WHEN  to change.
Now I don't have to climb on a chair and struggle and do contortions to keep us on schedule.
 Ahhhh, sweet. Twenty bucks at Walmart !!!

Thank you for stopping by.

Please share with those you know who provide care to loved ones. My ideas, hints, words, prayers are small but posted with faith, encouragement, hugs, and love.

I have absolutely no understanding of how God's goodness and mercy work or why God heard my cry just as he heard King David's.  I do know, for sure, that His Word is true.


“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple
he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. . . . .

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” 
Psalm 18.  6 & 16. NLT

L i z

Monday, November 9, 2015

Of Fireplaces and Traditions

 It was a glowing idea.  I did not need an alternative two years ago when my husband's endurance and health required him to stop bringing in wood and building our fires. I picked up the slack. We are a team. 

Local son kept firewood on our porch and several times a week, with my trusty pull-along, even on shivery cold days I could bring wood indoors and stack it next to the fireplace.


Under my husband's watchful eye and patient suggestions, every evening I built our fires.
All winter. We love our evening fires. Addicted might be the better word.

This year, it is now too much for me. Too much to lug, lift, shovel, squat, stoop, bend, lift, lug. Too much. I can't do it.
Okay, I said; no more wood fires.
Oh, I know: I will have a candle place. 

For days, I planned, thought, pondered, and decided yes! I must have something to flicker and glow.

Today was the day. I went to work with joy. One lone and charred log remained from the last fire we had just before Spring. I tossed it into the back yard and sang as I polished the glass doors, measured strips of aluminum foil, and cleaned candle holders.

I thought and arranged. Stepped back to assess. Rearranged and moved candles and assorted holders back and forth. Finally. Yes.

For the final touch, I added my collection of sea shells. I filled the floor of the fireplace, between all the glowing lights, with beloved treasures I had gathered and collected through many years. Shells from Texas beaches in Galveston, Rock Port, Corpus, and South Padre; from the white sands in Jacksonville, N.C.; from a memorable beach inTampa, Fl. and one in Charleston, SC. 

Perfect. Beautiful. I sighed deeply.  No, not the same as a blazing wood fire, but this is fine. I struck a long match and quickly the candle place glowed and flickered.

What? Did you say something about pride?  ... a fall???? 

Within an hour, one large candle melted down its center core and spilled all over the floor of the fireplace. At least that aluminum foil idea paid off.  I cleaned up the wax, added a few tall tapers, and surveyed. Okay.  Maybe . . .

Less than ten minutes, my tall, expensive tapers burned down to a figment of my imagination. No way could I keep the candles glowing all winter. Night after night. The town would run out of candles before New Year's Eve. 
I swallowed hard and quickly busied myself in the kitchen, clearing away the evening meal.
Still undone, I went to the laundry room. Sounds are muted there. I grabbed a few things to wash and as the washing machine roared to life, my tears started.
I cried. Hard.
Yes, I am ashamed. I am painfully aware that I am blessed beyond measure  with loved ones, with a safe, warm house, food to eat, and that I am still able to take care of my family and our home.  I give thanks, daily, for blessings upon blessings. But, I cried.
So many changes.
So many things we will never do again.
So many people already gone.
Stories still untold, trains not ridden.
A book not written.
Gardens that soon will not be tended.
Fireplaces that will not blaze a welcome.
Writers who no longer gather, warm their hands, and read their words.
Even as I asked forgiveness, the tears gushed.
It is just a silly tradition. It is just a fireplace. Its just a silly crackle and glow and flicker.

Yet, it is more. It is change. That cannot be reversed.

They say a wise woman knows when to give in. 

Tomorrow I will clean out the candle place, throw away the aluminum foil, and shut the glass door.
I will find a pretty, colorful, and large arrangement to set next to a comfy pillow on the hearth. 

I dried my tears and retrieved the piece of burned and charred wood from our last fire that I had carelessly tossed aside. I took it to the front rock garden and it will lie in state next to the piece of driftwood Gus and I picked up the last time we were on the beach. 
We did not know it was our last time.
Those two pieces of slowly rotting wood will remind me to make an intentional effort to pay attention and cherish even the mundane things. Even through the hard days. And I will smile more.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Blessings 3 Plus MANY

       I'm thirty-one days into my 78th year and after all those birthdays, you would think friends and familywould say, "Boring. That's a lot of birthdays. Let's find something more fun to celebrate."

      But, guess what?? I was blessed with a delightful birthday. This post will be boring and non-spectacular to most folks, but this is my blessing list so I'll write it down anyway!!

      My son called first. "Hi, Mom." 
And he was immediately the Fern Creek High School Marine Jr. ROTC Drill Team shouted, "Happy birthday, Master Gun's Mom. Yeaaaaaaa."

     Then my daughter grinned and said, "You HAVE to open this, Mom. NOW!"

Gift from my Daughter. The one with special needs.
The one who can't drive. The one who had to make specific and special plans.
The one who had to ask for help. The one who spent an hour in the store searching for the
perfect gift from her to me.
An angel. On a swing.
A hundred blessings wrapped up in one.

Next, the doorbell rang. Flowers from my son's family.
His delightful wife chose a flower arrangement that would keep on giving.
A dried wreath. Bright, colorful.
A new blessing every day when I walk into my dining room.

Another door bell. OH MY !!!
Flowers from my husband's first granddaughter and family.
The one who chose to allow me to be her Memaw.
The one who brings joy and delight and smiles and surprises
and who shares her life and her family with so many.
I'll bring out the Happy Birthday vase for each of our family's birthdays.
A blessing that will give over and over.

On my birthday evening,
my husbands son and his wife, who live down the road,
invited the three of us to their home to celebrate my birthday with a family dinner.
A delicious meal, made to order with laughter, hugs, visiting.
To be celebrated by my "step kids" blesses me every day.

And, to ensure my birthday did not stop with the delicious meal,
that special family sent these flowers home with me.
A month later, the yellow blooms are still spectacular.

Even though I am just today finally finishing this blessings post, last Thursday was, technically, the last day of my 78th birthday celebration. My writer pals took me to lunch. Local Italian. We spent about 90 minutes talking, praying, crying, sharing, and laughing together.

I am blessed. Many times over. May it be also with you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Blessing Two

There are days when I simply have no energy to think of blessings to count. There are days when I cannot find my smile. There are days . . . . well, you probably know what I mean. Sick or exhausted or over whelmed by the to-do list.

That's when I forget to say or think or whisper

Tuesday was one of those days.
      I dragged out of bed at 7 a.m. to help Daughter get ready for her twice a week school for special needs adults. While she dressed, I poured another cup of coffee, looked at the day's schedule, and sighed.  Maybe it was more like a growl. My ole Restless Legs had kept me up, litterally most of the night and a fierce pain pounded in my head. 

      Daughter came in, dressed for her day and a special outing the school had planned. Sunshine filled the kitchen and I could only mumble 'thank you, thank you, oh my thank you'.
My beautiful Gift, dressed for Living Well College class outing
in the school's new tee shirt.

Thank you, Father, that you chose me to be the mother of this remarkable and beautiful and delightful woman who must struggle for the smallest of daily activities but who never gives up. Thank you for the sunshine and joy and abundant love she adds to every single one of my days.