The Rights of Passage

Do you remember when we were young children and it was such a big deal to get the training wheels off your 2-wheeler.  You were now an official “Big Kid”.  How about when your banana seated sting ray bike evolved into a awesome 10 speed or a mountain bike.  Now the next step was to convince your parents you were responsible enough for a …don’t say it ..a car.  These were all “Rights of Passage” of sorts.  How many passages have we all gone through in life?  From diapers to death there are many, many accomplishments and responsibilities that go with getting older and growing up.  Many lessons to have learned and to continue to learn.

In our twenties we were career driven, finished college, got a good job.  We found our significant other, the one who made us feel complete.  We started to consider raising a family if we had not already started building one.  More “Rights of Passages” conquered and bigger goals planned.  In our twenties we had no fear ( for the most part) the world was our oyster.  We felt unstoppable.

In our thirties we introduced a few more babies into our families.  We proved you could juggle work and parenthood.  We were more career driven trying to get that prized job or higher on the corporate ladder.  We didn’t really worry about or future…yet anyway… we were young, healthy, and active.  We bought our first or second homes.  We became established in our communities.  We helped at our children’s schools and on the soccer fields.  We could do it all.  A few more “Rights of Passage” conquered and life moves on.

In our forties we realized we were in our forties.  It was starting to sink in that we being out done by the twenty somethings.  What happened to us?  Some of us reached our peak  in our careers.  The excitement and challenges were gone.  Now it was just day to day drudgery.  For us women we have found all the weight we so desperately kept losing in our twenties and our thirties .  Hello muffin top.  I could say I’m still trying to lose my baby fat but come on now she’s 14 years old.  Our metabolism slows down to a turtle’s pace.   Let’s face it we generally are not as active as we were in our twenties or thirties.  We may still walk or work out but it isn’t like we used to.  ( I am speaking for myself ).  Forties can also bring some wonderful “Rights of Passages” as having a child get married or having a grandchild.

 

In our fifties, well let’s just say it’s a whole different ball game.  I move slower.  I think I’m keeping up with my family, but no there is usually one who has to wait for mom to catch up.  The weight still finds me a pound here or there.  If we have not had to come to terms with death before, we sure do in our fifties.  From losing spouses, parents, siblings, co-workers, friends or even a child, we have learned to face grief and all it has to offer head on.  Another “Right of Passage” nobody enjoys.  Also in our fifties we feel our careers are on the down hill slide.  Our mind set is I just have 10-15 more years then I can retire. Some of us thrown into having to make a career change.  We are worn out.  We are grandparents helping with these energetic grandchildren.  We have learned to settle down and understand that more is not always better.  In our fifties our physicians tend to think it’s the magic age to test just about every part of our body.  With this being said today I had my first colonoscopy not really a big deal.  To me it was.  I was petrified to say the least.  I was more scared of being sedated than the procedure.  I am kind of a control freak.  I just don’t like someone having that control.  Anyway, since my husband died of colon cancer it was a big deal for me to do this, not  just for my health but for my children to know I was okay.  I passed with flying colors.  I do believe I shouted “woohoo” a little louder than intended but I was relieved.   Check another “Right of Passage” off my list.

My sixteen year old son is looking for his first job and asking when we can start looking for a car for him.  I sit back and smile as I realize he is only just on the beginning end his voyage through his own “Rights of Passage”.

 

 

Grief, Belief and Remember When

We have reached the age now where at some point we have lost someone we loved.  It could have been a spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling, or someone who you were very close to.  It could have been a best friend, co-worker or even a neighbor.  Basically we have all been there.  During this lost however profound or minor time, how did you cope?  Did feel helpless?  Did you ask your God “Why”?

As you know by now if you have read other posts, you know my husband of 29 1/2 years passed away after a short battle with colon cancer.  His 2 year anniversary is approaching us in 2 days.  The anxiety levels throughout the family are pretty high.  We are hit with the anniversary of his passing, his birthday, Father’s Day and the anniversary of my son-in-law’s passing, all in a matter of a week.  We have stated that we wish the month of June just didn’t exist.  But that won’t happen.  Now we are beginning to have a few good reasons to celebrate the coming of June.   Our grandbabies.  I believe the birth of these babies is God telling us that life is to go on.  It does, just as you put one foot in front of the other.  Life moves on whether we are ready for it to or not, it is ever evolving.

I am a big believer in Karma  or God pointing you in certain directions.  Our course in life has already been charted, we are the drivers, sometimes we may make a wrong turn and turn around and find the right road, sometimes it may a little longer to find the right road, but we will get to where we are meant to be.  I could be angry that my husband passed away, our retirement plans not going to happen, but through my feelings of sadness, emptiness and the all so famous “What the hell am I going to do now?”, but I was never angry.  I read a lot of passages some religious some not.  These passages lifted me up with the power from within me.  I ended up writing a book call “A Widow’s Memoir” and it was helpful for me to be able to put all the quotes and passages together in a collective book.  I felt God was merciful in taking my husband quickly.  You see, he was very death a phobic.  He was a very proud and dignified man.  As cancer took away his ability to control bodily functions, he cried.  He didn’t want me to clean him but he also didn’t want the nurses to know “it” happened.  He didn’t want to burden any of us.  All I wanted was to savor every second i could get because I could see end was getting closer and closer.  I know he is at peace now and pain free.  It seems unfair we only got 3 months from the diagnosis but knowing it was stage four he could have suffered for the 2 1/2 years.  For this I am thankful.

This week I welcomed another granddaughter into this world.  She came to us via a scheduled c-section as mommy has some heart issues.  I paced, I twitched, I shuffled , I did everything but the Tango waiting to hear that mom and baby were okay. I broke out in a 50 yard dash sprint as my son in law and a nurse surfaced with a bassinet. Baby looked good, pink and crying. I was still awaiting word on my daughter. After almost 2 hours passed she was released from recovery to her room..  But moral is she was okay..baby was okay.   A few hours later we are admiring this pretty little pink bundle, taking turns to hold her.  My daughter went to her wallet felt something in it and began looking.  To her surprise she found a locket she had made with her father’s picture in it.  It had been lost for close to a year as it was suppose to go in her bridal bouquet at the wedding.  We believed he was there too.  The locket was taped to the baby’s bassinet as if he was watching over her.  The next morning she sent me a video clip of the rocking chair in her room rocking all by itself.  No reasons as to how it was, no fan, no air duct nothing.  She was not scared but felt her dad had come to watch over them.  She had said you don’t think he really would of missed this.  He didn’t.

This year we will not participate in Relay for Life.  Not because we don’t want to, as we been there for at least the last 12 years.  This year we are instead celebrating life, rebirth, and happiness.  My other granddaughter who was was born at just under 33 weeks 5 days after my husband passed away, celebrates her 2nd birthday.  This baby was thrust into this world in middle of chaos and grief.  This baby who is independent and head strong.  This baby who kept pulling out her feeding tube in the NICU, and kept trying to remove her oxygen.  This baby who during the drama filled birth, had her own protector, a white butterfly that perched outside the window and stayed there through the hours of a forced induced labor, and intense delivery.  That butterfly didn’t leave.  We believe my husband was watching over them.  I went to window and told the butterfly “see I told you would make it”.  My husband feared he wouldn’t get to see his first granddaughter come into the world.  He did.

Yesterday I made a quick trip to the post office.  I popped a cd in found as we were cleaning the garage.  It was a “Alan Jackson” cd.  I didn’t think much about it.  I have not listened to music really since he died.  I feel the words to the songs, and when you feel you hurt, when you hurt you cry.  I forgot the song “Remember When” was on that cd.  Like a tidal wave the tears came, I almost turned it off but made myself play it thru.  I have accomplished many firsts since he died but could never handle music.  It was one of “our “songs.  The song says so much.  As this weeks of ups and downs hits I will just “Remember When”.

 

June…It’s So Bittersweet

For most people June signals the beginning of summer.  The kids are getting out of school.  It is time to plan vacations or a get away.  It is a time to have a bbq with friends and family.  For most June is a happy month.

For us June signals that it is time to feel bi-polar.  June is when we lost my young son-in-law at the age of 22 from a pulmonary emboli ( blood clot to the lung).  Sadly that day he had returned from the doctor with a bad “sinus infection”.  They were not home from the doctor an hour before he collapsed.   I tried to pull him to a spot I could start CPR.  I did, but it just wasn’t enough.  EMS tried, the hospital tried.  He was gone, how could it be he was young and in pretty good physical shape.  Why?  He left behind my daughter and a 1 year old son.  My grandson doesn’t remember him.  He only has the stories, pictures and few things my daughter selected to pass onto him.     He has his daddy’s big ol’ grin.  We all rallied behind this little boy to be there for him, support him in what ever means needed.  I carried a lot of guilt for quite awhile because nurse-mom could fix it.  You can’t “fix” grief…it takes time.  My daughter wandered thru the first year of widowhood.  I wasn’t much help…I didn’t know what she was going through really to say I had been there done that.   We had encouraged her after a year or so to out with friends.  She reluctantly did, but she felt a certain amount of guilt for enjoying herself.  She met another man and they hit it off and just a year later they got married.   She was feeling happily in “love” again.  All was good with the new couple and 8 months later they announced they were expecting a baby.  Things were looking good.

After the holidays that year my husband continued to not feel well.  I knew he had lost weight.  He was always sick on his stomach.  He skipped a few doctor’s appointments.  I went with him on the next scheduled and asked his doctor to give him something for his stomach.  We discussed some of his worrisome symptoms.  Or should I say I discussed some his symptoms while he flashed me the “shut up” look.  Needless to say he was scheduled for an ultrasound later that week.   You know it is never good news usually when a doctor calls you after 7:00 pm.  My husband was scared to to talk to him about the results so I did.  I can remember his words.  Things like that get forever embedded in your memory.  It showed a large abdominal mass with several small lesions to the liver.  We both knew it wasn’t good.  We went to Walmart ( that is our place we went to talk things out).  I don’t know why, it just was.  He was then scheduled for a CT-Scan and surgery.  I knew what we were facing but when you here the surgeon say “Stage 4 Colon Cancer with cancer into the liver.  I cried.  I cried a lot.  The world as I knew was going to change forever.  I wiped my tears and pulled my shoulders back and explained this to our five children the youngest being eleven.  Just how to you explain that the man that they love and adore is dying,  he won’t be there for your graduation or to walk you down the aisle at your wedding.  He won’t be there to answer all there questions about college, boyfriends, girlfriends or teach them to drive a car.

The next several weeks were filled with oncology appointments, chemo, blood transfusions and him growing weaker and weaker.  I knew we were going to lose this battle.  June 1st of 2016 was the beginning of his downfall.  He passed out a few times at home, I finally had to call an ambulance because he couldn’t stand.  He was nearly 6 feet  tall and I was having more difficulty picking him up, my back was tired and worn.  After being in the hospital for a week, my husband had a episode of respiratory distress.  It happened in the middle of the night.  The doctor figured it was his cancer. I didn’t believe him, or didn’t want to believe him.  They agreed to do another CT-scan.  I was wrong more wrong than I could imagine.   The doctor was kind and gentle but honest.  He brought me into the doctor’s charting area and brought up his old CT-scan from just about 2 months ago to the one they had just done.  His liver was completely consumed by cancer.  He said I’m sorry and turned off the computer screen.   Our focus now was comfort care.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought this is where I’d be,  waiting on hospice.  My husband lingered for another week, some days alert and discussing my future without him, other days he be drifting in and out.    He sighed his last breath on June 15th at about 9:20 p.m.  I became his widow.

During my husband’s final days, my daughter was having some pre-eclampsia issues.  A few days after he passed she got admitted and transported to a bigger hospital that could handle a preemie baby.  Wow, what else were we suppose to deal with?  In the process of trying to plan my husband’s memorial service, thank god my oldest daughter pretty much took over, we was preparing to welcome a premature baby into this world, ready or not.  Family from out of town began to arrive for my husband’s service.  I was not leaving the hospital, not until I knew my daughter and granddaughter we safe.  After a a bit of an anxiety  attack, I was torn between the devotion I felt to both the memory of my husband and the danger that was daughter was in.  On June 20th, 2016 my granddaughter, London Avery came into this world.  She was small, but at 3# 12 oz she was feisty.  Once I knew she was okay not great but okay I traveled back home to have my husband’s memorial service.  Soon she will turn two.  She is going to be independent strong woman.  She has a sweet, funny side and is not scared to tell you “NO”.  She was our glimmer of hope at a very dark time.

Now here in a few days I will welcome another granddaughter to be born on June 6th.  I am relieved to see for all the sorrow June has brought us, we are able to still shine on thru with these two rays of sunshine.  Each and every child is a blessing, some brought here on earth to remind us of just that.  I see my husband in each of of our grandchildren, be it his eyes, his smirk or a certain something they do.  My husband loved his grandchildren  so much and I know he will be shining down on June 6th as we meet our newest granddaughter.  Hug them, love them for tomorrow is not promised.  Go and make a memory with them.