Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


3 Comments

A Challenge for You

I’ve written about the months that I spent helping my dad downsize his house for a one-bedroom apartment. If it wasn’t such exhausting work, I would advertise my organizing business more. I mean, we had only had one extra box left. The day we moved him we also had all but one box unpacked. That stuff doesn’t happen by luck.

I try to always keep a Good Will box going. Whenever I notice something we don’t need, I get rid of it. So when I make a concerted effort to do a house purge, I am always shocked at how much I have to get rid of again. It’s amazing how fast it builds up.

Summer asked me one day when I was driving home from Dad’s if it made me want to go home and throw all my stuff out. I said no because I was usually too exhausted to even move my arms. But it stuck in my head. Damn Summer. She has a way of doing that.

I gave myself a goal. I want to try to get rid of one thing in my house every day for a year. That would be a lot of items. I wondered if six months was more realistic, but so far I’ve been doing it. I’m not even sure what day I started.

I started talking to my neighbor’s about music. They recommended I download Itunes so I can upload my music cd’s onto my computer. This is kind of cheating, but now I am ripping one cd every day. Then I check all the songs on the list and delete those that I don’t like at all. The ones that I think are ok but wouldn’t really choose to listen to, stay on the album. The ones I actually want to hear go on the playlist. It’s amazing (at least with the ones I’ve started with) how few of the songs on an album I actually want to hear. After that, get this… I am putting the actual cd in the give away box. I’m going to get rid of all of them.

That will probably take up several months so that is why I say it is kind of like cheating. But I plan to keep getting rid of things. Americans are massive consumers. I don’t want my kids to ever have to deal with all my stuff. I scan what I can and then get rid of it.

That is my challenge to you. You don’t have to ditch your cds, but pick some sort of time goal and get rid of one thing every day and see what happens. Almost everyone who downsizes feels relieved. There is so much freedom in having less to take care of. People who hold on to their things, tend to be the ones who are always trying to get more or worried about getting their share. There is no freedom with that.

Go ahead and share your stories. My writing is getting boring anyway. Let me know if you take the challenge, or let me know if you have already done some purging and felt good about it. Happy garbage day 🙂


3 Comments

Eleventh Hour

Back in November, my siblings and I started a conversation with my dad about the possibility of downsizing into a smaller place. We were meeting with him once a month and cleaning things out a little at a time. Things kept progressively increasing in effort until the last two months which have been in full-court press.

Now it’s time. He is moving tomorrow. All these months of preparation and there is less than 24 hours to go. The weird thing is, it has been an especially long, long week. If you have ever quit a job and had a hard time finishing out those last few days of work, you know what I mean.

No matter how much I sleep or nap, I don’t feel refreshed. Tuesday was the last real packing day I was going to spend with him, and on Monday afternoon my feet started feeling like lead. I swear it hurt to lift them and walk. Yesterday I got weepy. We went to a neurologist appointment for Dad in the morning which led to a couple of follow-up phone calls I had to make and that did it. I started crying on the way home. There was no way I could make two phone calls that required my brain to be sharp. So I napped. That didn’t help, but I did manage to get the phone calls done. Of course I did. It’s me. But I was in desperate need of cheerleaders to tell me to just keep going. I had five sessions that night as well.

Today is the last day before the big move. Cry number one was at 8:30 am. I had to call Dad and tell him that I broke his favorite fireman statue. I had loaded my car on Tuesday (which didn’t make sense to him to begin with) and I couldn’t pack it full because Frankie has hockey camp all week and he has a very large equipment bag. Things shifted and a box fell on the statue and broke off both of the poor guy’s arms. Now Dad can sometimes be a typical dad of his generation and not great when it comes to emotions. But he was stellar today. He told me not to cry. It was an accident and he knew I didn’t do it on purpose. He just didn’t want me to cry anymore.

I went home and started on some neglected yard work. I know most people think my yard is always fine, but I can’t help seeing what I see. I know what it is SUPPOSED to look like in order to maintain it properly. I also know it wasn’t important in comparison which is why I was behind. I started to prioritize it this morning and started to feel good about the potential progress I could make.

That is until I realized I had forgotten my psychiatrist’s appointment. I mean, I just don’t do things like that. And of all docs, you never stand up a psychiatrist. Only God knows how much that fine will be. I called and left a message and got there as fast as I could but I was 24 minutes late. She said nope. Can’t get in now until September. Sob session number two with the receptionist. Now I know there is no one to blame but myself but I was pissed off anyway. I’m scattered and not on my game because I am helping a thousand other people, not because I’m sunbathing at the beach. The appointments are only five to ten minutes. She COULD have fit me in, she CHOSE not to. Yep, my fault but I allowed myself to be angry with them anyway.

At any rate, I just had some ice cream with a friend and I’m feeling like all is right with the world again. If I can manage not to have any more crying jags, I may be able to finish my list for today. I may even be able to write up the list for tomorrow of all the things I don’t want to forget to do while I am directing the movers. Empty the fridge, disconnect the TV and all the parts, pack up the DISH for return, remember the little rocking chair that Dad has decided is REALLY important to him so we’re going to try to fit it, finish marking the items for sale over the weekend, blah, blah, blah.

It’s the eleventh hour. Overall, I have to say we have all done a pretty fine job. This might just be the most organized move in history. Most importantly, I feel closer to Dad than I have in years. He comforted me today. I felt his compassion for me. I will savor that for a long time.

If you are bored this weekend, come check out the moving sale. The more you guys buy, the less that has to be dragged into boxes. By this time next week, maybe we will be signing the papers to sell the house. Wish us luck!


5 Comments

Exhaustion

Yep, I’m a day late writing. I know it really doesn’t matter, but writing has been my Thursday thing for most of the past three years. It’s easy to write when I have a topic. It’s terrible when I don’t have a topic. Now it is actually Friday night and I’ve still been staring at a blank screen.

Sometimes I have a topic, I just can’t write about it. Especially in my later anger/menopause years, there’s a ton of things I could rattle off with my eyes closed but it just wouldn’t be appropriate to do so. Those moments, I’m tempted to start a new anonymous blog so I can write without any regard for anything. But you know I’m all hot air. It’s just not in me.

Lately, there is only one topic that comes to mind and I’m sure all my friends are tired of it too. (No pun intended, but the topic is being tired.) Exhaustion. Sleepy. Hitting the brick wall. The thing is, my dad seems to be too. We are both in the same place. Just want all this moving stuff to be over. I know it’s not true, but right now I feel like I will never feel rested again for as long as I live. I will just never recover. Whine, whine, whine.

In some ways though, it’s kind of cool that I don’t really feel depressed. I mean I get so tired that I literally feel like I could cry at any second, but it’s not because of sadness. It’s just because I don’t want to move.

Around here, things are running behind. My client notes are backed up. My house is a bit of a mess. I haven’t kept up with the yard work. Laundry, groceries, and just plain eating are all in a sad state of affairs. Every two to three days, I drive to Dad’s, which is about 50 minutes away. We clean, pack, argue, laugh, box, tape, load into vehicles, etc., etc.. Then I drive the 50 minutes home, knowing that when I pull in I have another two hours of work. Unloading everything. Then there is separating it. There is almost always a bag on papers to burn. There are boxes of garage sale stuff to pack up. Things to take photos of to sell on-line which means posting them on three sites. Usually there are a few papers to file in Dad’s new filing box. Some things are actually for our house, which usually means replacing something else.

And this just repeats itself over and over. We absolutely make progress every time. There is absolutely still so much to do it makes my head spin. I think my dad’s head spins at times too. Legal stuff. Stuff for his new apartment. Stuff for his brief stay here with us. And the usual medical appointments and banking stuff that has to get set up or kept up with.

Mom has been gone for nine years now. But lately, it feels more and more like I am losing her all over again. So much of the house has her hand print. I just found some of her writing again that I read part of at her funeral. Dad and I have had some emotional moments together where we just have to stop and cry for a bit.

There is probably only a month left of this pace. At least I hope so. Have you ever been so tired that your eyelids hurt from keeping them open? Or your feet feel like they have lead in them so every step you take is like an effort? Believe it or not, I’m actually not complaining. I feel good about doing this stuff with my dad. I think in spite of the occasional disagreements, we have gotten closer through it. I’m just tired. That’s it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I still wish it was over. Exhausted. Just pure and simple.

Tonight I think I’m going to try to forget about all the things I’ve left undone and sit in front of a fire. I love fires. I will also then be able to burn a whole bunch of stuff that Dad needs burned. I can take a trip down memory lane while I sit in the lawn chair and watch the flames. I’m hoping a few friends will join me. Maybe drink a beverage or two. Who knows? Maybe I will wake up with new energy tomorrow. But if not, I will just keep going. I will see this all through to the end no matter what it takes. I won’t stop til Dad is sitting on his new couch in his new apartment. I just need to have friends who pretend not to get tired of hearing me say I’m tired. 🙂


3 Comments

“Lovely”

You’ve heard me say about a million times that I have an exceptionally supportive family and friend network. Today I want to focus on just one of my sisters. When Summer got very close to my family while Tim was sick, she gave my sister Janet a nickname- Lovely. And it has stuck.

Janet is eight years older than me. When I say I’m the baby in the family, I mean I’m really the baby. Janet is my closet sibling. My brother is ten years older, and my other sister is 18 years older. In many ways, I grew up like an only child because of the age difference.

If you have ever attended one of my lectures, my family almost always comes up. When I speak of Janet, I say she is one of the nicest people I have ever met. Nice may be a generic word, but it is truly fitting for her. She just doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. As we’ve gotten older, she will often tell me she isn’t nice anymore. She has gotten older and less pleasant. But Janet’s less pleasant, is still much nicer than most people are on their best day.

I learned that life wasn’t fair many times in my life. Probably the single most unfair episode our family ever experienced, was when Janet lost her oldest daughter. She was only ten years old and was killed in a car accident. She was the sweetest thing ever. She was feminine and loved wearing curls and frilly dresses. She loved to show affection. I have read many, many times about the loss of a child and the strain it puts on a family, especially a marriage. Statistics are very high for couples divorcing after such a loss. Not my sister. She and her husband are high school sweethearts. She isn’t just nice, she is a very, very strong woman.

When my mom was sick, the hospice staff told us that I was the voice in the family and Janet was the hands. I will never understand how she didn’t pass her nursing boards because Janet is an absolute natural. She would change Mom’s bandages and bathe her with such kindness and gentleness. One time she wasn’t available and I had to get Mom ready for the day. We both laughed hard because I was an utter failure. I had her nightgown twisted around her IV’s so badly we had to ask for help. Mom and I both knew that no one could replace Janet. Not even close.

Janet and her hubby are getting ready to make a huge, massive life-changing move. They are going to Tennessee to be with their beautiful grandson.

Lisa, Carson Patrick

Lisa, Carson Patrick

Can you blame her? I certainly can’t. We all knew someday they would go south to be with their daughter, but someday came sooner than anyone expected, including them. They know better than anyone that life is short and fleeting. Why miss out of that sweet boy’s most precious years?

I know it was a hard decision for her. After all, she is thoughtful. I know she worries about me. And she worries about Dad. She doesn’t have the capacity to be selfish. I’ve done my best to reassure her we will all be fine. What I love is that I know if I asked her to stay, she would. I mean, she actually truly would. That blows my mind. It’s not like she is retiring and moving to Florida. She and her husband will still have to work full-time and they will help care for their grandson too. But she would give up where her heart aches to be if she thought it was what was best for everyone else.

I can’t imagine the void I will feel in less than two weeks. I know that we didn’t see each other as much as we would like over the last decade. The hour and 20 minute drive got the best of both of us much too often. We will do our best to stay close, but we both know things won’t be the same.

So Lovely, my deepest best wishes for the new chapter in your life. You will be missed more than you can possibly know. You have been an outstanding example for me my entire life. Your kindness, thoughtfulness, integrity, gentleness and much, much more are something I will never stop aspiring to achieve. I love you! You truly embody your nickname.