I received the nut bread and the cheese today. Thanks, dear. It was very good.
Sweetheart you’re wonderful and I catch myself dreaming of you all the time.
Especially as to how happy we were at our wedding. Oh honey, you mean the world
and all to me, and without you I wouldn’t even exist. I catch myself talking
about you all the time and the fellows have mentioned several times how I used
to say “Ibby,” but now I say, “my wife.”
can’t wait to be together forever.
Your loving husband forever and ever,
When Mom died, I’d
felt peace that her suffering had ended. I’m ashamed to say, selfishly, I
thought the situation would improve because now there was only Dad needing
care. I’d no longer have to divide and conquer when something happened to one,
while still tending to the other. But in reality, during the year that had
passed since her death, I’d been in turmoil because Dad was suffering alone.
These years of
worry about Mom and Dad had taken a physical toll on me. In the past five
years, I’d lost twenty pounds without trying, and I now weighed less than ever
in my adult life. I ate, but I worried the calories off. Often, my mind was so
occupied, I forgot to eat––or I couldn’t eat enough because the feeling of
being full was stomach-turning. My blood pressure had been on the rise and my
doctor had put me on medication. My sleep was fitful. My body had become a
panic chamber. Occasionally my heart would pound when I tried to sleep.
life became the place I felt productive and normal. I knew how to do my job
well. Positive results were always within my own control. True, I might have
slept less than a handful of hours, and I received calls at school about
situations beyond my control with Dad’s illness, but I was so busy teaching
that I could temporarily block out my fatigue and worry.
I remember a day
that I had the jitters at work and almost felt as though I could be having a
panic attack. At lunch, I stopped by the school nurse. She took my blood
pressure, and told me I needed a substitute for the afternoon, sending me to my
doctor, who doubled my blood pressure medication. My life had never felt out of
control before. Emotionally, I’d always been an even keel, positive attitude
person, blessed to have more than my share of happy juices.
So, I was in a bad
place, emotionally and physically on the one-year anniversary of Mom’s death in March of 2011. Cold wind stung and dreary rainy pelted as I
visited her grave after school that day.
One year before,
around the time of Mom’s funeral, spring began to bloom with daffodils,
crocuses, and tulips. But this year, spring refused to come. Northern Ohio had
suffered so much flooding from rain and melting snow, that even after exceeding
our quota for snow days at school, we had to take a day off for flooding!
Needless to say, I
didn’t want to go to Mom’s grave on that blustery day, but I knew I must stop
to honor her memory on the anniversary of her passing. I got out of my car in
the rain and saw the faded roses I’d left about a month prior on what would
have been Mom and Dad’s sixty-seventh wedding anniversary in contrast to the
fresh, single, vibrant red rose my daughter and granddaughter had left earlier
that day. I stood at Mom’s grave in the cemetery next to the churchyard, trying
to conjure up the peace I’d felt at her passing. I spoke out loud, thanking her
for being a wonderful mom.
I’ve never been
one to think I could find peace standing at a grave, because I don’t think of
Mom in a grave––she’s with me all the time. However, as I stood there, an
epiphany, like a jolt of electricity, recharging dead batteries, came upon me.
She spoke to me saying, “Get over it! Move on, Jean.” She told me she’d lived a
joy-filled life––now she lived through me, so I must go on and live a
joy-filled life. I needed to show joy to my husband, my children, and my
granddaughter. To live without happiness would not honor her memory.
She reassured me
Dad would join her in time and there was nothing I could do to stop it. In the
meantime, she hovered––loving and protecting him. A life ending event would
happen for Dad and it wouldn’t matter how fast I responded to the call, because
he wouldn’t know if I was there or not. She’d be with him as these events
unfolded. She released me from guilt and gave me a cheerleader pep talk filled
with courage to face what lie ahead. I took a deep, clear breath, and almost
skipped to my car. As I drove home, my dread turned to peace again...