Category: grief

Saying Goodbye to Daddy


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Wow. It’s August already.  It’s been almost a whole year since I told you Daddy passed away on 8-22-16. I had said that soon I would write a longer post about that. Several times I have thought about this post. Just couldn’t seem to get started. Even now, I’m certain that it’s going to take me a few sessions of sitting down at the keyboard to complete it. But, for tonight, 8-6-17, I will get a start.

This story really begins in 2010. In April of that year my mother was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive lymphoma. What followed was a grueling regimen of chemo, ending with a stem cell transplant, and anyone that has been through one themselves or on the sidelines with a loved one, knows the full extent of what that means. To say it’s harsh would be an understatement. I was amazed at the strength and endurance of my mother during those days. In the midst of her battle, my father’s battle began. That’s when his Alzheimer’s began to rear it’s ugly, ugly head. He was so stressed and distraught at the thought that he may be losing my mom, his beloved wife and companion from the time they had barely entered their 20’s, now in their early 70’s, that his slipping mental capacity began to show. It was a challenging time for my brother and for me. We were holding down jobs while trying to make trips back and forth to the hospital for mom, and make sure Daddy was ok, which meant trying to keep him from attempting to set out to Amarillo by himself when mom was in the hospital there, an hour away. I was staying nights at their house in Pampa, driving to my job in Borger for a portion of the day, and then on to Amarillo to check on mom in the hospital, and then back to Pampa to spend the nights with Daddy.

At some point in this, I made an appointment at their family doctor for Daddy, and my brother took him. The doctor began to do the evaluation on him for Alzheimer’s and my father realized what was happening, and oh boy did he get mad at us. It was awful. His little sister, my precious Aunt Carla, had been able to come and help for part of this time, and she caught an earful about us, and how we were conspiring against him. She did her best to defend us. It hurt so much to have to be the “bad guys” when all we were trying to do was help him and help mom. By this time, it was October of 2010. Mom was a strong little trooper, and she fought her way through to the other side of the stem cell transplant and followup chemo treatments and has been in remission to this day. God bless her, she came through to spend her recovery becoming a constant caretaker for Daddy as his mental abilities began the steady downhill decline that comes with Alzheimer’s. We were so ready to get to the holidays and spend them in celebration of her, and her survival, but life had other plans for our family. Mom’s favorite holiday was Thanksgiving, but by the time November and the holiday came, she was still not feeling well from all she had been through, and eating still wasn’t much fun as she had lost much of her sense of taste from the treatment to save her life. Just before Christmas, as many of you who have followed my blog from the beginning already know, my husband of 14 years, Greg, was diagnosed with a benign meningioma tumor in his brain. The tumor was successfully removed on Feb. 2, 2011, however there were complications, resulting in more surgeries, more complications, and ultimately his death on May 22, 2011. This was very stressful on my whole family, including Daddy. It also put me in a position of barely being able to keep my own head above water there for awhile, let alone be much help to mom. I can only imagine, looking back, how difficult those days were for her. I know now there had to be a lot that she kept from me, not wanting to cause me any more distress than I was already under.

As the years rolled on, and we all moved forward, we knew Daddy was slipping, but he and mom seemed to be managing, really pretty well, on their own for quite some time. Mom quit driving completely after her diagnosis. She was never a confident driver anyway, and would only drive there in Pampa, to church and back, the grocery store, Walmart, etc. What we began to realize, over time, was that Daddy was doing the driving and Mom was telling him how to get there. And, that was working out just fine until the day Daddy lost his wallet sometime in the fall of 2014. They went to the local DPS office to report his lost driver’s license. It didn’t take long for the staff there to realize there might be a problem. That was the end of driving for Daddy. Honestly, we were relieved, as my brother and I had just began to to see that he had reached a point where we knew that soon we were going to be needing to figure out how or what to do to get him to stop driving. And now, it was out of our hands. It wasn’t us that were the bad guys this time. It was those “blankity blanks” at the DPS office Daddy was mad at. Not us this time. Yay.

Thus began the search for a new home for them where I live, an hour away from them. My brother also agreed to relocate, to be able to live with mom and daddy. However, housing was scarce due to the oil boom going on then. We were able to get a new house that was still under construction, under contract. But, it would be months still before they could move in. What a challenging time that was. But, we managed. Not completely on our own, but with the help of some local friends that could swing by and check on them, and help us get them groceries if we couldn’t get there in time due to weather, etc. It was also during this time that we discovered a secret Mom had tried to keep from us. Daddy had began to have fits of rage, and at least some of those, if not all, were directed at her. It was very worrisome. Mom insisted she was fine and she was able to handle the situation, and refused any other options at that time. We were finally able to move them the latter part of May, 2015. After a major upheaval in his life and routine, Daddy really began to decline even faster. It wasn’t long before he couldn’t identify us as his children, or even worse in a way, his beloved grandchildren. It’s just pretty darn hard when your parent can’t identify you as their child. Mentally you know and understand why, but in your heart, damn…that just hurts. You know how confused and scared your parent is, and you can’t even comfort them as their child. You become just another source of confusion to them. There were times Daddy would say, “I should know who you are”, or “I think I’ve seen you before”.  My mom, brother and I managed for almost another year to keep Daddy “at home” before he reached a state that we simply could not manage on our own any longer. Daddy’s constant need for Mom’s help and attention really began to take a toll on her. His violent outbursts were more frequent and always unpredictable, and he lashed out at my brother (who moved in with them to help) and my mother. Daddy was still pretty strong physically and capable of really hurting Mom if he got ahold of her just right. Once he did grab a hold of her around the head, face and neck, and luckily my brother was right there to intervene. I can only imagine what might have happened if they had been alone. Afterwards, on some level he recognized hurting her and told me to have him put in jail, and then would confusedly ask me “what is going to happen to me? Am I going to go to jail?”  Shortly after, Mom finally reached the place of saying “we have to do something. I can’t do this anymore”. Aside from the aggressiveness, He kept her up all night getting up and down, back and forth to the bathroom, etc. He couldn’t find it himself, only a few feet from his side of the bed. She was utterly exhausted. It was so emotionally draining for her, as well. It was for all of us. In between the violent incidents, he was docile and very sweet. Daddy, but not Daddy.

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It was sometime in March that we moved him into the local nursing home, that was just down the street from their house. We were hopeful that it would work out, and it was so easy to visit and get mom down there to see him. Our hopes were short lived. Daddy was behaving aggressively toward the staff at times, just like at home, and in April, it was discovered that he had a blockage in his bladder. He had to be taken to a hospital four hours away for an emergency bladder surgery. In the hospital, it fell on my brother and I to restrain him when he would become agitated, to keep him from injuring himself by pulling tubes out. The hospital was using restraints, and soon we learned that every time they put restraints on him, he would have to be held another 24 hours before they could release him back to a nursing facility. He had to be restraint free for 24 hours. Well, that was not going to happen, so we finally said no more, and simply would not allow it. My brother and I would take turns holding his hands, while trying to avoid getting bitten. It was horrible. We finally managed to get him released and transported back to our local nursing home by an ambulance service that we hired.

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That lasted about a week and he bit one of the nurses at the nursing home. That got him admitted to a geriatric mental health hospital an hour away, so that they could work on leveling out his aggressiveness with medications. Our understanding was that they were usually successful in getting them to a manageable level and that he would be re-evaluated for admittance back to the home. However, that is not what happened. They discharged him and were done. They told my brother we could come pick up his things at our earliest convenience. They said it was their understanding that the nursing home in a small community about 15 minutes away, with an Alzheimer’s wing, was willing to take him.  After right at a month long stay, the psychiatric hospital had him, for lack of a better description, medicated into a manageable state, and the social worker began the process of trying to get him admitted to that nursing home, with no success in getting phone calls returned. She asked me to contact them, which I did, and ran into the same problem. When I did speak with someone, it was pretty obvious they were not interested in taking him.  The next closest facility was about 30 miles away, but in a community I drive through about 3 days a week on my work commute. They sent someone to evaluate him, and their response was that “we don’t think he would be a good fit with our other residents”. At this point, I was beginning to panic. This was not a problem I expected. It never occurred to me that it would be that difficult logistically to place someone in a nursing home. Emotionally, it was devastating. We had hoped that we would be able to care for him at home all the way to the end. My brother still struggles with the decision and the guilt feelings that come with moving your parent into a care facility. To have to make that decision, and then to think that you are not going to be able to find an acceptable one to take them, is just beyond anything I expected to be dealing with. We were just lost on this journey that is Alzheimer’s.  I was literally beside myself trying to figure out what we were supposed to be doing or could do during this time. Thankfully, the social worker at the psych hospital kept working on it and a nursing home in the city that I work in about three days a week stepped up and agreed to take him in. By this time it was late May or early June. They were caring and loving towards him, and I just prayed that he would get to stay. And, he did. I would visit every day I was working, and my brother would go and take mom on weekends. His physical decline really accelerated, though, and toward the end of August, his condition took a sudden turn for the worse and it became clear it was time to choose a hospice provider. Hospice care was wonderful, and my Mom, brother and I all were with him when he passed in the wee hours the morning of August 22, 2016, underneath the first quilt I made for him. He treasured it. It is now on a quilt ladder in my hallway where I see it everyday.

At first, as sad as I was, it was also a relief to see him freed of his physical prison. He was miserable. After all, we had lost Daddy a long time before his body left this world. It took some time to pass before I could really begin to grieve losing my Dad. Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of his death, and I miss him more than ever. Thankfully, I know that he is once again healed and whole. His sorrow has ended and he rests in peace in the care of our Heavenly Father. It’s not goodbye, it’s so long. I’ll see you later, Dad.


If you made it to the end, thank you for taking the time to read. I tried to keep it as short and simple as possible. It was much more complicated and emotional than I can ever put into words here.

Oh Boy! Good Mail Day!


The rest of the fabrics I ordered to go with the ones I pulled from my stash for soon to be Baby Z’s quilt arrived today! I have to get these washed and pressed so I can get started cutting my squares! I’m so excited to see how this comes together! 


If you’ve read the previous post, you know I’m planning to make a chevron quilt. The light gray print on bottom will be the background for the zig zags in the other colors. Then there may or may not be an appliqué added on top in the darker gray in this next photo. 


Either way, I can’t wait to work on it! I absolutely adore this next piece of fabric. I only ordered one yard to use  in the  light blue zig zag, but now I think I must get more because this fabric just needs to be the backing also!! I was going to make the backing from the light gray print, but I’m just too in love with this blue and all the sweet sayings in it. 


I needed a dose of  pretty fabric “medicine”. A dear friend passed away yesterday. He was like a brother to my late husband, who passed away five years ago this past May. I think a wonderful reunion is happening on the other side. 

And, my new Prince and I took his young prince back to the  airport today to fly home to his mom and stepdad. We really enjoyed the past two weeks with this sweet young man. I’ve only known him for two years, but our relationship has come very easily. We seem to have bonded well. I already miss having him here. I know Efren does! I wish he didn’t live ten hours away from us, so we could be together much more often. I snapped some pics of him and his dad before we left. Love these guys and I’m thankful to have them in my life now. 

Family, Past and Present


Today, we get ready to watch my oldest “step”-grandson (from my marriage to my late husband) marry his sweetheart this evening. It will be a fun wedding, cowboy style, in the pasture with reception dinner and dancing to follow. These moments and days are bittersweet. These are the days when my past life and present life collide a bit more, and emotions tend to be more unpredictable. It’s now five years post loss. Greg’s absence is always more “acute” at events such as this. This is his first grandchild getting married. I know that my stepdaughter will very deeply miss her father’s presence at the wedding. Tonight, my new husband will accompany me, and sit on the front “family” row, as the place by my side now belongs to him. I am so thankful that he has been welcomed into the family with open arms, and that I continue to be a loved and special part of my late husband’s family. And, that he also has welcomed them into his life. Our blended family is quite complex. On both sides. I am so blessed and thankful for this new love and this precious man to share my life with. There was a day when I couldn’t imagine it, and now I cannot imagine not having him in my life. I believe he and Greg were just both meant to  have a place in this journey that is my life and in my heart. Thankfully, there are no limits to love and no limits on how much or many our hearts can hold. 

Quilting to Report! :)


For many months after Greg passed, I just couldn’t get back into my quilting. He was so involved in that part of my life. Very interested and so supportive. I just couldn’t get my mojo back. But, finally, the fire is burning within me again. I am working on my projects and it’s bringing me joy. I am trying to turn all my WIP’s into completed items. Or, at least make a good dent in them before I start on new ones. I know that I will not be able to refrain from starting a new thing, here or there, before I finish ALL my WIPs. In the past week, I have quite a little bit of new progress to report.

I finished my “chicken quilt”. Just a simple turning twenty made with mostly chicken themed fabrics, quilted with Willow Leaf studio’s Fancy This panto. I had everything but the binding finished close to two years ago, now. Now, it’s finally draped over the back of my sofa, ready to snuggle up in during the chilly Fall/Winter months. I actually took a little nap under it yesterday.

I pulled out a little pre-cut table runner kit I have had for probably three years now. I  bought it from Chery’s Quilt Corner, in Guymon. It was designed by Judy Rice. I am so happy to see it on my table in time for pumpkin season this year! I quilted it on my longarm. For the pumpkin vines that were supposed to be done by machine or hand embroidery, I just threaded my longarm with some green thread and did them as part of the quilting.

That little table runner just makes me smile. I love pumpkins!

Last night I loaded the Oklahoma Backroads (pattern from Bonnie Hunter’s Quiltville) quilt that I started making for my Mom, back before she was diagnosed with lymphoma. So, I know this has been a WIP for over two years. I pulled it off the longarm just a little bit ago. It’s a scrap quilt, with pretty much bits and pieces of any and ever quilt I had previously made in it. I could have done a better job with the fabric values, which would have made the stars and “roads” stand out better, but she will love it for snuggling up in. It’s so busy that I decided to do a freehand “paisley-ish” allover meander on it, just to give it a nice texture. Also, being that I really avoided my longarm for over a year, and the year before that it was barely used, these little projects are a good way to sharpen up my skills again. I’m a little rusty and these are good confidence builders. I am pleased to report that my longarm just took right off, and is working perfectly, even after all that sitting, waiting for me to come back to her. That was a big relief.

Now to get the binding and a label on it, and it’s soon to be a finish, as well. 🙂 I’m ready for it to go live with Mom!

Greg was in one of my dreams last night. At first, I wanted so badly to dream about him, because it would feel, in a way, as if he was still here, as if I had seen and talked to him. And the funny thing is, those dreams didn’t come right away. Now, when they do, I have really mixed emotions about it. Waking up after one is certainly  more painful. Because, it does feel as if he was just here, as if I just talked with him, saw him, and possibly even touched him. And then, I wake up.

I alluded to a “special someone” in a previous recent post. Yes, I am seeing someone. But no, that takes nothing away from the loss of what I had.  And, he lives six hours away. Long, but sweet, story. Someday maybe I will share it here. 🙂

In the meantime, I will be trying to figure out the best way to reply to your comments. While I was away, it seems WordPress changed the comment notification emails. It used to be that I could reply directly, and privately to the commenter by replying through the notification email that WordPress sent. That is no longer the case. I can click on the email address of the commenter, and send a whole new email, which is probably what I will begin doing. If I reply through the WordPress email, it posts directly here on the blog, but I don’t know if the commenter gets notification that there has been a repy. Do any of you know? I do read all your comments and have been very lax about responding during these past many months. I intend to start doing better about that again! Thanks for stopping by, and thank you for all the cyber love you have sent my way. 🙂

Another week…


has passed in this journey.  I had a lot of positive feedback from the last post, publicly and privately. I will, at least for now, continue to share some on my blog about this time in my life. Just getting myself up, and getting presentable for work is a monumental task these days.  I perceive grief almost as an illness…what feels like an incurable disease. I am hopeful that the symptoms will ease with time, but I can’t imagine being completely “cured” or “whole” again. At least not now, while the wound is so raw.  I don’t feel “well”. Not physically, mentally or emotionally. Physically, I am exhausted all the time. Some of you may remember a couple of years ago that I was participating in some of the online weight loss groups. I finally gave up on those last pesky ten pounds. I have lost twenty since the beginning of Greg’s illness, til now. I have trouble sleeping through the night, though during the day, I wish I could be back in bed. An acquaintance I bumped into in town this week asked if it was getting better, with the passage of time. Ummmm…no. An innocent question, I know, with only the best of intentions. But, let’s see…it hasn’t even been a month. At this point, if anything, the missing of Greg seems only to be intensifying. You know the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. At this stage, it’s like he has been gone on an extended fishing trip, and it’s time for him to return home. My mind knows that it will never be, but my heart cannot stop longing for it. Nor, for that matter, can my mind. I want some big red, magic “easy” button, like that from the Staples commercials, that I can just push and put my life back the way it was. With Greg here, present with me, in a physical form. I wonder when, at what point, and how…will these feelings begin to diminish. I find that he is constantly on my mind, no matter what I am doing. I go to work, and try to do one task at a time, and anything I manage to accomplish there feels like a small victory of sorts, and I worry that I am leaving something important undone. My concentration level is not at it’s normal level. People frequently comment to me that I am so strong…am I? I have my doubts. This weekend, I have barely been able to move. I don’t want to do much more than lay around and read. I did manage to write a handful of thank you notes, (still so many to get done) and do a couple loads of laundry, but that’s about it. I have been reading some books about grief, and I encourage others going through a loss to do the same, if for no other reason than to know that what you are feeling is not crazy. It’s so easy to feel that way in the midst of this situation.

Something else I feel in overwhelming proportions, is appreciation. Appreciation for all the love and support that has been shown to Greg, me and our family throughout this whole ordeal.  Even though no one can fix this, the love, support, and prayers do help. And, I am so thankful for all of it.  Whether from friends and family locally, or my “cyberspace” friends.  I believe that it will make me a better friend. I am so much more aware now how important it is to let others know you care, or are thinking about them. You never know when your message may have been received at a most needed moment, or what a difference you might have made for that other person. I want to once again thank each and every one of you that has commented, prayed for me, emailed me, and sent me cards. I haven’t been up to responding to each of you individually, ever since this started, but I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

I have a lot of thoughts running around in my head that I want to write about, but this is all I can manage for today.  Feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I love hearing your stories and points of view, as well.

 

Smiles…


are hard to come by these days.  The pain of losing my one true love permeates every part of my existence. Grief.  I hesitate to write much about it on my blog, but…at the same time…it is my blog.  My musings about my life.  And now, grief is a part of my life’s daily journey. This is the road I’m walking now. How can I not write about it? I can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist. That it isn’t now a part of me. Grief is not something you feel for a few days after the loss, and then it’s all better…you just get up, go on, move on. No…it’s not neat and tidy like that. It’s messy, it is rough around the edges, jagged, a wound that keeps bleeding. It has a life and a movement of it’s own. It’s like an ocean, ebbing and flowing, calming at times, and then crashing back over you in big, uncontrollable waves. Some days you are stronger, and some days you feel as if you absolutely cannot do this. But, you must. There is no escape. You must travel on down the rough, rocky road.  Your friends and loved ones hurt with you, and for you, and naturally want to make it better, but no one can bear this pain for you. It is yours. Yours alone. It is unique to you. Grief is deeply personal. There is no right or wrong way to do it. There is no time limit on it. I don’t write to be melodramatic, or depressing, offending, or for attention,  or sympathy. Just to be  real. Honest. I read in a book on grief that stating what you are feeling can be helpful. Even as I write, I am hesitant to push the “publish” button, to share something so deeply personal to me with “the whole world”, but maybe it will not just be helpful to me, but someone else out there that is being tossed about in their own personal ocean of grief. For whatever reason, I feel compelled to share this.

Now that I have gotten those thoughts down, and out there, back to the topic of this post. Smiles. Yes, they are fewer and farther between these days. But, this is what made me smile this morning…backyard visitors…a toad, a frog, and a turtle. When your heart is broken, it’s the first thought that crosses your mind when you wake up in the morning. The pain is fresh all over again. But, I got up…let my dogs out…started a pot of coffee…and stepped out in the backyard with them. First, I found the toad, then the frog. Anyone that has read my blog for any length of time knows how I love God’s creatures. He gave me heart full of love for them. Some people find toads and frogs yucky. Not me. I think they are adorable. Then, after letting the dogs back in and feeding them, and giving Libby her insulin, I got a cup of coffee and we went back out in the yard. And, then I saw the turtle. I immediately went in the house to rummage up some food for it. I picked baby carrots, a tangelo, and some apple slices.  And, yes…I smiled as I watched it eating an apple slice.

I do hope I get to see my little visitor again.