This is Advent season. I am in a Bible study with some sweet friends who call themselves the Sister Hearts. We just began a book by James A. Harnish, When God Comes Down. The introduction talks about a minister who studied the stars and kept watch for the stars that go supernova, comparing how the light from something millions of miles away can be seen on Earth. The first chapter asks the reader to read Isaiah 64: 1-3 and Luke 1:5-80 before Harnish’s essay on how Zecharia and Elizabeth waited for most of their lives to be parents.

There was a lot I could relate to in this first chapter, the hopelessness of infertility, old age, and coming to know a Power greater than myself.

I first learned of my infertility when I was in my early 20’s. From the time I started menstruation, my periods had been irregular. I could go for months without one, and then bleed for six weeks or more. The doctor that Mom took me to said I had a hormone imbalance. I married early at nineteen and was on the Pill till we decided to have children. (The Pill.  Birth control in a pill was still a new thing when I was young. I’m not even sure doctors used it for helping with hormone imbalances then. Home pregnancy tests wasn’t even invented. Maybe the ones that doctors gave to their patients was pretty expensive as well.) It was eight months before I had a period after I stopped taking birth control pills. I went early on to an OBG-YN hoping I was pregnant. He told me just from giving me a pelvic exam that I was about 2 months pregnant, and to start coming every month to the clinic. The clinic passed their patients around to each doctor there so everyone could get to know each other, I guess. Not be surprised who was on call when it came time for deliverly. The next month, a new doctor told me that there was a mistake in how far along I was in my pregnancy, and that I was still at 2 months. The third month, they gave me a pregnancy test and told me that I wasn’t pregnant. I was in college, taking classes, and working part-time, same as my husband. I remember getting out of that doctor’s office feeling dumbfounded, cutting a class, and going to my parents’ house. I sat on the front porch swing and told Mom that I wasn’t pregnant, cried, and then went to my next class. My doctor put me on Clomid, but I had complications from that right off. My husband and I decided to adopt, which at the time was something like a 3-year process. In meantime, I learned my ovaries had failed, and I was in early menopause. And my marriage failed along with ovaries.

Infertility for Zecharia and Elizabeth is defined in this first chapter of When God Comes Down as more “a spiritual and theological problem that was even more profound than the biological one.” This is Old Testament times when sons and daughters, (mostly sons, I think) are the wealth of the Hebrew people. Not only are children needed for daily living, but they are the future that ensures a promised relationship with God. I wonder how much of life for this couple was lived out pretending to be okay, hating piteous comments, worshiping by rote. Zecharia must have loved Elizabeth greatly to have stayed with her and not moved on to another who would have given him children. That kind of love, I believe, is what caught the attention of God. What made me laugh out loud was that Zecharia had a sense of humor that pretty much pissed off an angel of God, enough to silence the old man’s ability to speak until his son was born.

I guess that’s the thing about being older, it’s easy to get cynical. For me, I think I felt older between mid-20’s to my late 30’s than I do now in my late 60’s. My self-esteem was on a downhill slide during that time. Divorced, I looked for single men who had children to date. Unattractive neediness radiated out like a warning signal, maybe. Whatever the case, my fear of never having a real family of my own was like a self-prophesy.  

It wasn’t until I got into recovery from my codependency that I actually felt my true younger age.  Working the Steps helped me see the invisible grief I felt from being infertile, and the regret from the loss of my marriage. Working the Steps lifted those weights and woke me up to a beautiful world around me. It’s been a slow process. Here I am approaching 70, and my spirit is still awakening.

Harnish quoted Thomas Merton in the first chapter of his book:

It is not we who choose to awaken ourselves, but God Who chooses to awaken

Us…Our discovery of God is, in a way, God’s discovery of us. We cannot go to heaven

to find Him…He comes down from heaven and finds us.

Merton’s words are beautiful and full of hope and awe that God would think I’m important enough to wake up, to see family living all around me, my husband, my mother, my sister and her family, my dogs, the people in recovery meetings, my church friends. Although, I do think that we have to be willing to wake up. Richard Rohr in his book The Universal Christ says something about God’s creation of the heavens and earth was God’s First Incarnation and that Christ was the Second Incarnation. For me, either way, God blesses us with so much. I’ve spent much of 2020 and 2021 working here at my home, mowing, planting things, messing around with the dogs, cooking, and driving over to see my mother and sister in Florence.  All those things have been blessings.

I have a friend on Facebook who is single and about the age I was when I first started to believe in a Power greater than myself. I don’t really know her except for being in a writing class with her for a few days. But I see her posts. She has applied to be a foster mother and just got a premature baby. Can you believe that? She amazes me. This world amazes me, even with the fear of covid deaths and our country being so torn apart, this time in my life is so sweet.

Blessings to you who read this post. Thanks for putting up with my very irregular posts.




We admitted we were powerless over others – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step One of Codependents Anonymous

Some synonyms for unmanageable are: awkward, berserk, chaotic, crazy, disobedient, disorderly, hysterical, lawless, madcap, nuts, out of control, outrageous, riotous, rowdy, turbulent, unbridles, uncontrollable, uncontrolled, undisciplined, ungovernable, unrestrained, and violent.

One of the definitions of unmanageability is that it is “difficult or impossible to manage, manipulate, or control.”

I was slow to identify many of the things that kept me from living a peaceful life. I grew up never really taking responsibility for my own feelings, so I childishly tried to make others do what I wanted with tantrums and ultimatums.  It took a while to realize that the only thing I barely had control over was my own self.

In the first step of Codependents Anonymous or Alanon, I had to let go of my denials enough to want to stay the recovery rooms.  I went to Alanon because I needed to figure out how to help someone I cared about, so I could make him stop drinking and gambling.  So then I could be loved like felt I needed to be loved. “He” was the one that was out of control.” I admit it is so much easier for me to see the unmanageability of another than that of myself. Even as I began investigating what codependence was all about, I would more think of others I knew and define them as “needing” a meeting. There is a saying in the recovery world—you spot; you got it. It took me a while to even see how faulty my thinking was.

Truth, my existence had been unmanageable most all my life until it spiraled into depression.  There were very few times in my childhood or young adult life that I remember being at peace with others and myself. I was always trying to please or control everyone but myself.


Here are just twelve ways (there are more, but thought I’d stick with the number 12) my life was unmanageable (and sometimes still is when I lapse out of recovery):

  1. I thought I knew what was best for another person more than they did.
  2. I thought I could mind read others.
  3. I kept my hurt feelings about things to myself until I exploded.
  4. I blamed others for not being able to read my mind.
  5. I felt shame about numerous things (sex, food, another person’s actions, mood swings, loneliness, infertility, and how I kept house, to name a few) and threw shame at others to keep the focus off me.
  6. I enjoyed bossing people around.
  7. I didn’t know when I was over-reacting.
  8. I didn’t know how to put words to my feelings and depended on other people to describe what I felt.
  9. I was terribly afraid of commitments.
  10. I was paranoid and judged people wrongly.
  11. I thought being assertive meant attacking first.
  12. I didn’t have a good relationship with God.


Next week I’ll discuss more about my experiences with step one.


Step One — Powerlessness

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step One of Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics keep a tight focus on their powerlessness over alcohol; it keeps them attentive to how powerful their disease is. But it is usually only after they have hit a wall or some kind of bottom do they even become aware they need help. As a member of Codependents Anonymous, what I am powerless over is others. And I had to hit a bottom as well.

I have talked in previous posts about why I went to Alanon and how I was first introduced to the steps in that particular recovery group.  I started going to Codependents Anonymous a few years after my dad’s suicide.  Just after his death, I stopped going to Alanon because in my grief, I didn’t feel their empathy.  I didn’t feel anything.  That traumatic event launched me into a survivor’s fear; I needed to take care of everyone so I would be okay.  I have compassion for my feelings at that time, but it was a huge loss of faith. And giant steps backward in my recovery process.

I recognized my denials in Step One.  Back then when I first started going, I thought I needed to get help for the alcoholic I was dating. I needed to see my own emptiness and feelings of low self-esteem.  When I started to CoDA, guilt, blaming, excusing, and attacking were all the components of my denials; they made my life and my relationships a living hell. Today, some of my denials exist around my age, my physical abilities, my procrastinations, and my eating habits.  I put others needs before mine more often I ought to.  Some of my denials are deeply rooted, and I haven’t recognized them. When they surface, I hope that I will use the tools I’ve learned over the years to admit, process, and deal with them.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ first blessed “are the people poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  I believe this means that people have to get to a point where they no longer believe they can handle things on their own.  For me, I had to become depressed and scared enough to look for help.  The idea of “hitting bottom” has a lot to do with being arrogant and thinking I can take care of anything or “make” someone do something. The “kingdom” begins when I become aware enough to know there is a power greater than myself—a Higher Power who has a plan that doesn’t come from my will. That “kingdom” is filled with relief and trust.



twelve steps

Peace is the goal of the Twelve Steps–in a particular order:

  • Peace with God
  • Peace with ourselves
  • Peace with others
  • Continuing to keep the peace

Peace has many definitions:

  • Friendship
  • Love
  • Unity
  • Calm
  • Composure
  • Contentment
  • A non-warring condition

Before learning anything about the steps, I never really knew what peace meant.  To get along in my life, I thought I was supposed to work very hard to get my way.  I had to either be “good,”  be “nice,” or get very aggressive.  You know, whatever worked.  Anger was a major highway for most all of my unidentified emotions.  I blew up a lot.  (I still do when it’s been a while since I’ve been to a meeting or not talking to someone about what is troubling me.)  I stuck my nose in others business on a daily basis.  I was living in the antonyms of peace.

Disagreements, disharmony, agitation, distress, frustration, feeling upset, and worry wormed around in my spirit.  My head usually hurt because I carried tension in my shoulders.  My breathing was shallow most of the time in anticipation of something bad about to happen. Since I didn’t know how to rid myself of all that negative energy, I usually blew up unexpectedly.  Fights and broken relationships were the end result. Forgiveness from or toward others was a foreign concept to me. In my immaturity, I felt ashamed and isolated myself from others.

Looking back, when I first started going to Alanon the first miracles I experienced was acceptance and kindness.  I tried to work the steps in order, but having an over-achiever’s foolhardiness, I started in on step 4 before I fully realized there was a Power greater than my disharmony.  The shame about my divorce, my sometimes slutty-sometimes celibate single life, and the powerlessness over how people saw me were layered over me like an huge smelly onion.

I went to Alanon meetings for several years, talking with a sponsor nearly everyday, but I hadn’t learned the basic concept about being powerless over people, places, and things. I learned a lot about codependency and especially saw it in others.  I took a good look at my family systems and came to have compassion for my father, mother, and sister. But when my dad died, the grief derailed me.  I stepped away from anything to do with Alanon meetings for a number of years.

I stepped right back into my discomfortable self of living in the antonyms of peace.  You might can see some of that in my Suicide Grief Meditations on this blog.

Next post, I’ll take the first step. 🙂


How I Came To Meet Myself

This year, I’ve decided to write a few posts in my blog each month on the 12-steps and my relationship with them.  In this post I want to tell you how I was when I found them through Alanon.

I dated a sweet man. He was tall and handsome; a quiet guy in middle management.  His company was affiliated with the company that I worked for.  That’s how I met him, through work. Not a bar, I had played that scene way too much. Maybe that’s why I didn’t realize how much he drank until I was too far into our relationship. Or maybe I was just too needy.

We dated for a little less than a year. In that short time, I lost myself in the relationship. I became obsessed with him. Looking back, that obsession was a pattern of mine. I fixated on his drinking and how much he gambled with his friends.  I cared for him, but I was afraid he wasn’t good marriage material.

I need to back up further. Explain a little more of myself. I had been divorced for years when I met this man. Seriously, I married way too young.  I was an immature nineteen year-old who went straight from my parents to a young man who was just home from the war. We only knew each other for two months before we got married. I was headstrong and foolish, and I didn’t give anyone a chance to talk me out of getting married.

Our marriage was great fun for a few years before we ran into a stumbling block.  I learned I was infertile. I didn’t know how to grieve over that (and believe me, infertility is a huge thing).  I kept trying to push it out of my mind. To deny it. Something like that never gets pushed down without rebound issues. We divorced six years into our marriage.

The biggest lesson I learned, erroneously learned, was that I wasn’t marriage material. (See how that goes? There’s a saying in the recovery world—you spot it, you got it.) That thought of not being good enough was always just under the surface waiting to drown any kind of relationship I might have had. I, unconsciously, selected emotionally unavailable men to date—in some way or other.  Like that movie Groundhog Day, I kept repeating the pattern of abandoning before I got abandoned.

By the time I started dating an alcoholic who was, I believe, in the prime of his alcoholism, I was too lonely and my self-esteem was pretty much floor dust.  I needed to fix him, so I could be happy. That was the reason I went to Alanon.  To arm myself with the right tools to fix him. Instead, I stopped seeing him. Stopped dating, period, for a while. Not to abandon before I was abandoned, but to learn more about myself.

That first meeting changed my life.

Cleaning Out Closets —A Melancholy Chore

WP_20170808_14_51_31_Pro_LI[1]My goal today has been to get the guest bedroom closet cleaned out. I have stored everything in there, old records from a while back (years), wrapping paper, house plans that we got from the previous owner eighteen years ago, suitcases, a sewing notions box that folds out like an accordion, blankets, pillows, and  pictures. There was one long flat plastic box that I had to pull down from the top shelf. It hit me on the head and knocked my glasses off.  Like it really wanted to stay on that shelf.  It had several manila envelopes in it. I started checking what was in them and didn’t get any further than the first envelop after finding a copy of Dad’s funeral sermon and his death certificate.

My heart is thumping now. Maybe it’s from lifting all the boxes, but I really wish I hadn’t stopped to read anything. Especially not about Daddy’s funeral. There were quite a few comments of how much we loved him, how shy he was with his emotions, and how he didn’t handle trying to spare us from his growing old and feeble very well. A lot of the memories came back up of Reverend Pat Srinivas coming over to talk to us before she wrote the sermon–the day after Daddy’s suicide .

Not full on flashbacks.  After nearly twenty years, I think my mind has somehow learned to put a stop to going down those memory trails. Not full on panic attacks either. But my heart rate is high. My chest and throat ache with a dull terrified feeling.

Okay.  I get it now why I’ve dreaded cleaning out that particular closet. I really would rather be outside painting the front porch or going through my bookcase like I did last week. Or cleaning out the garage where I can feel strength in my body and not so much pain in my heart. Too many bones in that closet. I even have the genealogy of both my dad and mom’s families in there somewhere.

Even so, I still have to go back in there and figure out what’s in the rest of the boxes that I pulled out to sift through before that last box hit me. We are going to be moving in a few months.  I wish a friend who would come over and go through these papers and memories for me. Or at least hang out with me to give me some courage.  Decide what to do with all the cards that Alan has given me over the years. Thank God he is still alive. He didn’t die after his open heart surgery. But, do I put the cards from him  in that same box that houses Daddy’s funeral sermon? Reverend Srinivas wrote something about how we should never try to hold in so much that we become over-burdened. I guess that’s what she thought of Daddy’s mindset, that he didn’t want to be a burden in his old age. I never have been able to reason out his mindset at that time. And I probably won’t ask someone to come help me either.  Am I a nut that’s living close to the tree? Or is it just that I don’t want to dive in there again, in all the emotions of my life.  Shit.  They could become a Steven King story, I think.

Thinking you’re a burden on someone is childish. Years ago Mom went through her cedar chest and gave me back all the letters that I sent to her when I had moved to Houston. I had an active imagination even back then and never wanted to burden Mom with the truth of my experiences out there. Instead I pissed and moaned about what others did to drive me crazy. Or I would tell some dishonest story that held a smidgen of truth enough to remind me exactly what was going on at the time. At least I know those are not in there. I shredded those letters and put them in the compost pile in the back yard.  I don’t really enjoy knowing what a childish idiot I was at 25. After getting into recovery from co-dependence, I’ve regretted doing away with those letters pretty often. But right now I don’t have many regrets. I’d hate to read them again after just reading Daddy’s sermon.

I keep thinking once we get moved to our new place and the next time anyone goes through all this shit, it won’t be me.

Why Did We (Buried-In-Like Two Ticks) Decide To Build?


I never wanted to build (Alan did).  Believe me.  It is hard for us to decide on what to eat, much less all the decisions that go with building a house.

So first–there was a right knee replacement. My Facebook friends and family who have been through it with me, I guess, would really like for me to just shut up about my knees. It’s been 4 years.  I am amazed everyday what I can do.

When we moved here from Alabama, we took a long time finding the home we wanted.  Not because we are conscientious shoppers—Alan and I just have a hard time making up our minds. I think it’s mostly because he thinks “I want blah, blah, blah” and I immediately think “I don’t want blah, blah, blah.”  I really didn’t want to move but we needed to.  The place I worked for was like a supportive family to me, and I didn’t want to leave.  It was just a year after my dad’s suicide, too. I’d had enough stress already. Alan’s work transferred him up here. After two years of driving back and forth from Decatur, Alabama to Spring Hill, TN, one pre-dawn morning he fell asleep at the wheel and ran off the road on the interstate. That pushed us to get our move on. (I guess you could say it was like when 911 happened and the Democrats and Republicans both agreed to go to war against Afghanistan. It takes a lot for us to agree on something without emotionally holding the other hostage.)

The real estate saleslady told us we were driving her crazy. We’d walk into a house and then go in opposite directions.  We knew we wanted a one level house with an open floor plan.  If we could have twitched our noses and brought the ranch style house we had in Alabama up to Tennessee, we would have been set. We both loved it (rare event).  When we found this place, a one-level open concept with 2 acres and lots of trees, I knew it was home.


Front of house from driveway

Alan wasn’t so sure, but there were a lot of perks.  He wouldn’t be driving 200 miles back and forth each workday from home to the then Saturn Auto plant. He wouldn’t be falling asleep at the wheel after a 12 hour work day. This house is about 10 minutes from the plant. And he thought I’d be happy.  He hadn’t seen me happy in a while.

So now nearly 18 years later, we are building a house and moving.  Once again it feels like a forced situation.  My knees were bone-on-bone 4 years ago and I had this horrible feeling I’d be housebound forever because there are several steps to get into the house. (Okay, my mind runs away with me a lot sometimes. Yes, I had my knees replaced, and, yes, I can easily make it up and down the steps.)  My second knee replacement was 7 months later. As I recovered, we found a beautiful lot and started looking at house plans. We hired architects. We dreamed. We tried to work things out so we both would be satisfied. (Hard to do for a Democrat and a Republican living together.)

Depression happens sometimes when you have major surgery or surgeries. I dragged my feet with the architects, couldn’t make up my mind about anything. Argued with or just ignored Alan when he tried to push me on toward our goal. I mean, listen, I spent weeks in a rehab facility where I got a real look at what it’s like getting old.  And I truly felt for a while like I was somewhere around 95 years old married to a teenager.  I cried a lot. After a time of being miserable, I came out my funk.  It was an uphill climb. Finally, we were back on the road to a new home.

Then Alan had what he calls his heart adventure.  Not a heart attack, luckily, but he had high blood pressure which lead him to a cardiologist who found he had 4 blockages, severely in 3. We count our blessings that Alan didn’t have a heart attack. I think he was just days from that happening.  He did, however, have a triple bypass.  We were sidetracked again.

Nearly a year later, he has bumps where they wired his chest plate back together.  And at night, I put my hand on his chest and have memories of those days in the hospital and what his heart sounded like on that monitor day in and day out.  Now, he’s walking at least 4 to 5 miles a week.  I don’t think he’s fallen victim to the depression I went through. He did at first want to give up on our plans, but that was like minutes after the doctor told him he was on his way to Vanderbilt.

We went on a beautiful vacation to Clearwater Beach last Fall and just relaxed.  Both of us.

We are back on track now.


Next time, I’ll tell you about how we found our builder.



   We have purchased new property, drawn up plans for a new house and have started the ever-loving ($$$) building process already. And believe me, I have some stories about those things that include two knee replacements and a triple heart bypass surgery.

  I hope to post more about our building process and the getting-ready-to sale process. (With pictures if I can ever figure out how to get pics into the blog.) But I thought I would just start where we are rather than backing up about four years.

   In the house we currently live in.

   Right now, my feet are in this house.  I am working hard to prepare it for sale after we move to our new home. (You know, hiring people to come fix things, especially if sweet-talking or bullying my husband doesn’t work.)

   Everything is here. I know the neighbors and have watched their children grow up. I have cried when my next door neighbors moved, and gotten to know new neighbors with a guarded heart.

   I know the sound of woodpeckers and the color of robins eggs, and am serenaded by mockingbirds on a daily basis. One year during a lonely time thinking about my father’s death, I heard a screech owl singing a terrible and beautiful mourning song.

I know all the trees who live here by name, and some by their growth rings.  I have met the squirrels (they are little mobsters who eat the wires out of your car), the skunks (they have terrorized us with chemical warfare tactics on several occasions), and the snakes (they have slithered into our AC/Heating unit and made us think a helicopter had landed next to our house in the middle of the night). I’m sure when we get to the new place, we will develop friendships (and enemies) with the wildlife there.

I am really looking forward to only mowing one place.

Still, it’s hard to say goodbye to what is known.

2016 – Advent: Christmas Memories

One of the thoughts for Advent this year is to share with my family and friends a Christmas memory.  During my life, Christmas season has been hit or miss as far as my being in the Christmas spirit.  That’s because I had Christmas mixed up with something like a Bing Crosby movie with snow and jingle bells or a Norman Rockwell painting of a happy family gathering. I have been cynical about Christmas, never giving the season much of a chance, and always looking more forward toward New Year’s Day.

But God helped me through others learn what the season really means. (Even though I forget, still, sometimes.)

In the eighties—all of which I was divorced and lonely—I spent most of my Christmas Eves with my sister’s family.  My nieces were young, and they loved everything about Christmas.  My brother-in-law was as much about making Christmas fun as I was about wanting to be done with it. He cooked candy during December and he taught the girls to put cookies and milk out for Santa on Christmas Eve. When the girls went to bed, my sister, brother-in-law and I would drink beer, put together different toys and wrap them while watching something like Jumping Jack Flash on television. The three of us laughed and talked about everything. My sister and I always gave each other neck and foot rubs, too, while my brother-in-law checked the outside lights and took a bite of the cookies, drained the milk and left raindeer droppings (tootsie rolls).  Those are such nice memories for me that I hope I can take them with me all the way to the end of my days on earth.

Even though I thought I was alone because I didn’t have a significant other in my life, those were a conglomerate of Christmases I felt the love of the season. And didn’t even realize it for the longest time.

Now another Christmas tradition has to do with the family who adopted Alan and me as their own.  In the year 2000, Alan’s father, Fred, died.  He wanted his organs donated. The man who received his liver, Raymond, was grateful. He told Alan he would love and care for Alan like a father if Alan would only allow it. Raymond was such a humble man.  He and his wife, Jane, lived in Tupelo, Mississippi. Fred’s liver donation extended Raymond’s life for eight years. We were invited for several events, giving us a chance to come to know his family. When he passed away, his wife asked us to share Christmas with her and their adult children and grandchildren and dogs and cats. Bring your dog, too, she said. We enjoyed dinner and gift giving with them, went to church with them the next day, and visited his grave. Alan and I fell in love with all of them, such sweet people. They really have become family to us. (One year Jane’s cat even peed on our coats. That made us feel really at home.)  We have been going back every Christmas since.  Jane passed away last year, and though we won’t be at her house this year, we are still planning to spend it with their children.  We feel so honored by them.

I know this time of the year can be hard, especially to those who are down in their feelings over a divorce, or a death, or even steeped in sadness because they grew up with a not-so-great Christmas history.  I’ve allowed my feelings to hold me back from giving and receiving love during the holidays.  But, I’m so grateful to the people who really know what the season means. They’ve taught me it’s all about the love.  Just like the first Christmas when baby Jesus came.  It’s all about God’s love.



Goodbye 2015! You sucked for the most part!

I am glad this year is on its last day and very glad for the hope of a brand new year.  This is one last glance before I dust off for 2016.

Even before the year 2015 actually started, Alan and I were moaning with a stomach flu. We sniped at each other because both of us felt like—well, like crap.  Alan had to go to the hospital for fluids. I fumed at him for not drinking enough water. I got over it within about a week. But Alan didn’t. He took antibiotics and came down with C-diff. That’s short of Clostrdium difficile colitis. Goggle it. It’s not fun to have or to live with someone who has it. I turned into a classic germophobe and bitched at him for not eating yogurt, afraid he might die.

That’s how the year started off. I gotta tell you, I am just not great as a caregiver. I’m not sure if he got well, or just quit talking about it.

That situation went on for months. He lost weight. People at church were praying for Alan, and I think some of them were praying I wouldn’t kill him.

When Spring rolled around, we did lots and lots of yard work because we have two properties now.  One we live on and one we have intentions of building a house on in the near future.

I worked on the second draft of my novel and met with a small critique group every other week. They saw me enough on a regular basis to realize I was depressed. They are good friends and are kind to me in every way except, you know, for the critiquing part of why we met.

In June, Don, my brother-in-law passed away. I say he was my brother-in-law; he and my sister had divorced a few years before; they stayed friends. He and I were friends. Don had had health issues for several years, but his death was sudden. I loved him.  I was proud of how my nieces handled his memorial. Proud of my sister being there for him and for their girls. I thought about him a lot this year and my heart ached for my sister and nieces.

In July, Alan went for a regular health screening at work for his insurance.  His blood pressure was at stroke level. He went to the doctor and got meds to get it under control. It stayed above normal.

In August, he went for a stress test. Afterwards, we did yard work at our new property.  The doctor was calling Alan while he was weed-eating the back side of the property and I was mowing. Alan never checks his phone. The day went by.

He rode his motorcycle in to work the next morning. The doctor’s nurse called our home phone first thing, saying that Alan really needed to see a cardiologist that day. His stress test showed he had ischemia, low oxygen to his heart. I got a hold of him at work through instant messenger and told him I would come pick him up.  He told me if I wanted to come, I could just follow him back on his motorcycle. How do you argue with someone who might have a heart attack any second. I followed him home.

So…there began a wild and powerless experience as I stayed in the hospital with him when he had open-heart surgery.  One day about a week after he was home, he fainted in the bathroom because his blood pressure went too low. That day scared the hell out of me. Between weight restrictions, so many pills, a new diet, and his not being able to drive that first month he was home, I was too busy and too frightened to do much for myself except maybe brush my teeth.

I can’t believe how sweet people are. New friends who live next to our new property mowed it for us for the rest of the year. One of Alan’s friends at work came and helped us around the house, lifting things I couldn’t, trimming the yard after I mowed. People watched after us in all sorts of ways. I really believe God watched after us through all our friends. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to everyone who was there for us during his hospital stay to the days at home later. I know Alan feels the same.

The day of Alan’s surgery, a close friend of ours, Jane Kellum, had a stroke.  She died two days later. We missed being there for her family whom we consider our extended family. We did celebrate the holiday with most of them a week before Christmas. The first thing they said to us was how sorry they were for not being there for Alan when he had his surgery. We sat and talked about our different experiences, and somehow those conversations healed us. We really love the Kellum family.

This month our dog chased a damned skunk and got sprayed by it, again. (It’s the third time she’d been skunked.  Twice this year and once a few years ago.)  She twisted all over the ground trying to get the smell off her. Alan and I gave her a bath outside and made her stay in a room by herself.  Then we cleaned the house because smell followed her in.  As the weeks went by, our little Zee started exhibiting a lot of pain when she went up and down our stairs. Long story short, she had a compressed disc in her neck and arthritis in her hips. She just kept getting worse no matter all the things the vet and we tried. We put her down a couple days ago. Her death is a heart-breaking period to this year’s continual stress.

Goodbye 2015.  I have learned some great lessons from you.

  • One lesson is something I seem to learn over and over again. I can’t control anything except my own attitude, and more often than not, I can’t control that.
  • Eat healthy. We were fat and salty until August. Our diet was so full of sodium, I think we may be preserved forever and need no embalming when we die.
  • Heart surgeries don’t just happen to the heart patient. They affect the family and friends and they are traumatic events.
  • Just let go and work at living life on life’s terms. I don’t have enough time in my future to fill it with strife and fear anymore. Make gratitude lists instead of resentment lists.
  • Relationships are priceless.