My house after snow blowing.
I am learning all kinds of new things, and continuing to appreciate all that my husband Steve did for our family. Financial management is a big one. I am still trying to get organized and I suppose I will finally have to create a budget. Yuk!! I have also learned how to use the snow blower, although my son Brad usually does that. But he will be moving to a new home next week. So I will have to talk my grandson into it… My next big learning project will be to take the cars to get the oil changed and whatever maintenance they need. That’s all Greek to me.
Lincoln on my lap
During Steve’s last weeks of life he often talked about the importance of families, and how they should come first always. I have been enjoying the company of my family so much lately. Just sitting and talking is so grounding and just feels good. I am blessed with a wonderful family. I love them all so much. My children, grandchildren, and extended family too. There’s just something about family that allows me to feel safe and loved.
A few days ago I went to campus (University of Utah, where I work part-time) to record an introduction video of myself for the online course I am teaching. When I mentioned in the introduction that I am a holistic nurse, the videographer and I made a connection. She had lots of questions about holistic nursing, and I we spoke we discovered we had a lot in common. For example, she is making a feature-length documentary about “announcement dreams.” These are dreams or visions where unborn children “announce” themselves to their future parents or other family members. I was surprised she is looking into that, because I have experienced an announcement dream. My first child appeared to me in my bedroom the night before I felt her move for the first time. This vision has been a strength to me for many years because my daughter has struggled with mental health issues her whole life. When the going gets tough, I can look back on that vision and I know who she really is, and where she has come from. It’s been great. I also told the videographer that many nurses I’ve met have seen spirits in patient rooms, especially at the time of death or birth. She interviewed me for the documentary and we made plans to meet occasionally to discuss our common interests. Isn’t life great? Sometimes we meet people who we instantly connect to. It feels good, and I don’t think they are mere coincidences. I look forward to getting to know her better.
I am staying SO BUSY getting Steve’s affairs in order. There are so many loose ends to tie up. Seems like whenever the mail comes there’s an account I need to call and take his name off. So many things I haven’t thought of! The funeral home was kind enough to call me in for a meeting to make sure I knew about some of the things that need to be done. For example, the Social Security Administration will send me a $255 death benefit if I just ask. Who knew?
In a previous blog I mentioned that I want to start cooking again. I got some great ideas from readers, then one of my friends brought over a crock pot and a cook book! Really, I have some great friends. Thanks Sharon! I went shopping, I mean really shopping for food to cook for the first time since Steve got sick. It was the first time in a long time where I wasn’t in a big rush to get back home. I walked down every aisle slowly. I bought a bunch of stuff that will go in the crock pot or be on hand. I gotta say, I got tearful in the store. It’s funny how some things just bring back poignant memories. Not that shopping is poignant, but Steve and I often went to the store together and I missed him. I never know when the grief will hit. Even at the grocery store!
In July 1985 Steve and I and our 3 kids moved into our first purchased home on Twilight Circle in Kearns, Utah. A month later we had our fourth child in the upstairs bedroom with the help of a midwife and several new found friends. We lived in Kearns for 12 years and made lasting friendships. Seems like just about everyone in the neighborhood was about our age, with young children to raise. We went to church together, Boy Scouts, school events, and had lots of fun. There was always someone around who understood what we were going through an was willing to listen. One by one most of us moved out of Kearns but we have kept in touch through the past 30 years. Many of these friends attended Steve’s funeral and while there planned a get-together. We all gathered for a pot luck dinner last night and had a great time catching up. Steve would be delighted to know we met as a result of meeting at his funeral. We all have so much in common still: Grandchildren, retirement, health issues. And oh how we laugh! Four in the group have passed on so we figured they were probably having a pot luck in Heaven together. I am so blessed to have wonderful, caring friends. I feel so loved and supported whenever we see each other. Life is good.
Life moves on rapidly. Seems I spend my days doing paperwork. Although Steve and I worked diligently to get everything in order before he passed, there is still a boatload of details to handle. Like taking his name off of all of our accounts, seeing a financial counselor to tell me what I need to know, seeing an attorney to revise my own will, working with Steve’s business accountant, and the list goes on. In addition I am doing my “regular” stuff like going to Tai Chi, preparing a talk for church, teaching classes at the University, going to a movie or lunch with a friend, meditating, and seeing my doctors as I continue to recover from brain surgery. I am still experiencing fatigue, headaches, nausea and dizziness. I think I notice them more now since Steve passed. Steve’s Hospice nurse said my life was on hold while he was sick. She was right. I felt like I couldn’t do much because I didn’t want to leave him alone. Now it is on ballistic mode and I am crazy busy. Life changes so fast. The trick is to enjoy the present moment because it will never be the same again. The grief still comes and goes, unannounced, so I never know how I will feel from moment to moment.
Storm eating monster fries
Brad & Marlo with bacon & eggs
I would like to start cooking again. Mainly just to save money and get rid of the guilt I feel for eating out so often. I made some monster fries the other night but had to call my friend Carol so she could remind me how to roast the fries in the oven. Some friends dropped off breakfast fixings so my son Brad and I made eggs and bacon and toast. By learning to cook again I am giving myself one more thing to do. The challenge will be to learn to actually enjoy cooking. We’ll see how it goes. If you have any easy recipes for someone who hates cooking, feel free to send them to me.
In 1992 I was a University of Utah nursing student in my first med/surg clinical rotation. I was really struggling learning new skills like medication management and charting. I was flustered after getting all tangled up in my patient’s IV lines (He thought it was funny) and went looking for my clinical instructor, Kathleen Kaufman. I found her in a room sitting next to a patient’s bed. She was holding his hand, stroking his brow and just listening to him. The look on his face was peaceful and calm. She was simply being present with him and I felt I had stumbled into a sacred moment. Well, it was certainly sacred for me because I said to myself, “That’s the kind of nurse I want to be.” Caring, kind, taking time out to just “be” with patients. From then on I focused less on skill development and more on relationship development with those I cared for. Seeing Kathleen with that patient changed everything for me and I will be ever grateful to her for that.
Kathleen Kaufman, Glenda, Liz Harald
Yesterday it was my privilege to tell this story to a large group of people who gathered to honor Kathleen. Afterwards, I had a nice discussion with a few people who said, they too had experiences where one person made a huge difference in their lives. I’m so glad I have crossed paths with Kathleen. We ended up working together as professors at the University of Utah College of Nursing several years ago. She has cancer now and is still an example of strength and kindness. The picture her is of me with her and Liz Harald, another outstanding nursing instructor I have had the pleasure to know. My life is blessed with inspiring people.
Lincoln, Brad, Snowman, Storm, Avery
After a wonderful first day back at work where I received lots of hugs and words of kindness about Steve, I came home to a jolly snowman in the front yard built by my family. Honestly, it was another sacred moment for me, reminding me how important my family is and how simple things can bring me so much joy.
It’s been two weeks since Steve’s passing and I have stayed very busy cleaning the house, notifying people of his death, and changing names on various accounts. I still have a lot to do, but today I finished cleaning up his office. My goal was to finish it before I get back to work tomorrow. Reaching the goal is bittersweet. That office was his signature area. He spent many hours there and now there is little trace of him left. Weird. Thankfully my family has been helping a lot. My daughter-in-law Avery and I worked non-stop yesterday on Steve’s office. We went to the store to get some storage supplies and realized we hadn’t eaten lunch. We got ice cream cones at the store. Yum. When we told Brad (Avery’s husband) and Marlo my grandson, they vowed to do better, so they sent us a picture of them having ice cream cones later that day, at a”nicer” place, just to show us up!
The grief comes and goes. I haven’t been terribly sad, probably because I’ve been so busy, but then my son Brad and his wife Avery were thrilled to have their offer accepted on their very first home. They will be moving out (they live in our basement apartment) next month. Now that brought on a FLOOD of tears! I cried throughout the day. It just seemed like such a big deal to lose my husband and then lose the kids and grandkids so soon afterwards. They are only moving 30 minutes away, but I will miss them dearly. I know I’ll get over it, and it doesn’t make sense to be so upset, but there it is. Grief is hard to figure out.
Marlo and Brad
Marlo and dessert
Sage and Braxton
A few days ago my kids and I were going through Steve’s stuff and found lots and lots of coins. I didn’t know he had so many! We decided to take them to the bank and cash them in. In the spirit of fun we had a contest: Whoever guessed how much money the coins were worth got to select a restaurant for dinner. We would use the coin money to pay for the food. Well, Pepper won and we went to the Buca di Beppo Italian restaurant and had a wonderful time. There were about 10 of us (grandkids came) and the server asked us if it was a special occasion. Pepper told her we were celebrating Steve. I was very touched by that. We continue to do well and are focusing on being happy for him. We’ll see what happens. Grief is a mysterious, unpredictable companion. By the way, I found two more jars of coins today!
Last night on the way home from dinner my grandson Braxton said tomorrow’s Thursday, right? I said wow it’s been a whole week since Grandpa passed away! I just really couldn’t believe it. I would like to say time flies when you’re having fun. But actually I have been having fun with family since Steve’s passing. I’ve also been very busy. The clothes dryer broke the day after Christmas so I couldn’t do laundry until Wednesday when the new washer and dryer arrived. So today I am catching up on the mountain of dirty clothes and learning how to use the high tech appliances. I spent TWO HOURS at the AT&T store yesterday changing the name on our account and setting my grandson up with a new phone. Life just goes on no matter what. The good news is today is a holiday so I can put off all the business stuff until Monday. Lots of accounts to change names on.
This has been a week of celebrating Steve’s life. All the kids and grandkids were here. We went out to dinner three times, and played games and laughed a lot. I know the sadness and grief will hit later, but this week has been filled with love and joy.I know Steve would like that. Right now we are all so happy that he is feeling better and reuniting with his loved ones on the other side. We also spent time cleaning out his personal belongings. I was so impressed that my kids did not argue over anything. I have heard some awful stories about children fighting over parents’ belongings. That just didn’t happen. They were very respectful of the stuff and of each other. I am so proud. And without them to help me, it would have taken weeks and weeks to get things organized here at the home.
The funeral was beautiful. We had 4 speakers: Yvette Amparo-Espinoza spoke about what a great home teacher Steve was for her and her girls. For those readers who don’t know what a home teacher is, Steve was assigned by our church (We’re Mormons) to visit several families monthly to just make sure they were doing OK or had any needs. Steve always did his home teaching and Yvette talked about that. Our three sons, Sid, Andy, and Brad, also spoke and each one brought a different personality and perspective to the pulpit. Our daughter-in-law Avery sang a touching song called “Till We Meet Again.” It was a peaceful, happy funeral and the Relief Society (women’s organization of the church) provided a yummy and cozy luncheon afterwards. Thank you!