Wednesday, February 22, 2017


At ages 63 and 65 we are retired. Motherhood is no longer central to my life. I no longer run a Cafe or Bed and Breakfast.  I have an over active critic in my mind that continually tells me, I am not being productive enough or that I am not very useful. I have time on my hands. I must find something to do that is useful. Making a home for my husband and myself has value in itself but it doesn't keep me busy all day. It is also useful to have a place that all our children feel comfortable coming home too...and where the grandchildren will want to come visit too.However it doesn't feel like enough to leave it at that...what else should I be, could I be doing?
One of the reasons we moved back to the states was to re-develop our family relationships in all aspects.  We started out helping Edmund's mom for a year and a half. It was nice  reconnecting with her and helping her as she aged. It was great seeing friends and some of our family there in Bryn Athyn but we both felt time slipping away. We needed to find a place of our own to make a home where we could nurture our relationship with each other, our kids and our grandchildren. We were on the same page. Time to do something about it.
We both loved the wide open space of the west and Colorado was home to Edmund's great grandparents at one time so we moved our belongings and set up our home in Divide, Colorado.
Watching my busy husband building things around the property these days leaves me feeling as if I should be doing something as well or something more than I am doing...which begs the question, what am I doing?
It has been a few months since we moved into our new house. We have done a lot of personalizing our space in each room. We painted. Had new hickory flooring put in, hung curtains and pictures. Edmund built shelves for my plants, a special spice rack for the kitchen and numerous shelves and cupboards for our kitchen as well. I have re-organized our living room so finally it "feels" good to matter where I look in the room. Success.
Someone recently wrote me and said, "you two are so industrious" this compliment gave me a warm feeling, but was accompanied by other feelings that it is all done what else is there to do? What is it I am meant to be doing?
So I ask the question: what is it I love to do? Hmmm.  Things for my husband, my family. cooking/baking, gardening, sewing, crafting, reading,writing. Writing. So here I am sharing my thoughts again.
It will be a couple of more months before the last frost up here in the mountains of Colorado so gardening in the yard is on the back burner other than planning for it and starting plants in the greenhouse.
Today I was talking with a friend about our upbringing and how we are kinda 'programmed' to think about two questions. What is the use? meaning,  what is the value of what I am doing, of what use will it be to me or someone or society? That is the question.
Our kids are grown with lives of their own, jobs that keep them busy and a couple of them have young families of their own to care for themselves. Because some of them have young families traveling isn't as easy for them as it is for us. We are lucky that we can travel to see them all. We love our times with family, grandchildren and friends.
It is so much fun to watch our kids parent.  Parenting styles have changed with the times . We are learning so much in the process too! It is exciting to be around the grandkids no matter their ages...getting to know them all is a gift.
As our kids grew and developed new relationships and married their needs have changed over the years.  They moved from the east coast to the west coast and some back again to the east coast.  Keeping up with everyone from a distance isn't always easy, but we keep at it. Thank goodness for technology which has allowed for an ease of communicating through Skype, texting and even Facebook.
From being somewhat central in their lives when they were importance in their lives is more peripheral now and actually probably has been for a long time. It is only now when I am not working any longer that I feel the distance more. Life for all of us has changed. So we have been figuring out how to strengthen relationship with our kids while at the same time giving them the space they want and creating a busier life for ourselves.  The empty nest syndrome is tricky.

So refocusing is my focus! Looking for ways to expand my interests. Reinventing myself if you will, finding new ways to develop myself. I am hopeful to find some different things to be involved with in our area and in the process have more to share with everyone.  I don't want to get a job because it would tie me down too much but I have thought of volunteering in some way in our community. We will see what presents itself. Eventually it would be fun to start a book club. And it is a good way to get to know others. And in the spring I will take up walking again.
Balance is as always the key.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Showing up for Life

Last week, my dear, sweet, husband had a "warning stroke" formally called a transient ischemic attack or TIA for short. In the space of a few minutes our normal daily life changed.
The not so quick version is he had had what he calls "squiggles " (kinda like floaters but elongated) in his eyes that afternoon and usually a nap will make it go away. We have always attributed it to eye strain. So instead of a nap he decided to drive an hour and pick up some things to continue working on our living room. We had just had our new wooden floors put in and Edmund was doing the finishing work.  First stop was the flooring place just 30 minutes away. Stopping there to pay for the great job they did. He walked in sat down and as he was trying to talk to the guy at the desk, edmund realized that what he was trying to say wasn't coming out of his mouth it was he says as if he was "speaking in tongues". Edmund thinks the guy thought he was mentally challenged and was very patient and kind to him.  Finally got the transaction done and edmund left, got in the car and drove home to me frustrated because he could not think remember things and peoples names.
I wasn't expecting him for another 3.5 hours so I was shocked as he walked in the door...but more was the look on his face...I asked him who died and he said "No one yet. " That concerned me.  He took off his shoes and came into the living room. He asked me to come talk to him and not freak out. That heightened the concern. Then he told me his little story. wow.
I said we're going to the hospital. He said no he would take a nap. I said "No you are going to go to the hospital."
" No that is ridiculous. I am going to take a nap. "
So I asked him who his brothers and sisters were...he couldn't name them or their spouses. I asked him my kids names he could only remember one, I have 7 kids. I asked him his parents names...a very long pause and he  finally was able to do that. He was concerned cause he couldn't say the Gettysburg address which he proudly can do any other time. So I called his nephew who is an ER doctor in Philadelphia and talked to him.  We are in Colorado. He agreed we should go to the hospital. He talked to Edmund and a few minutes later we were on our way to the hospital 15 minutes away.
He had test after test each coming back with relevant, but not so good news. They found a small aneurysm in his brain and Bigeminy which is an irratic heart beat...and his triglycerides were higher than they would like and the PFO which is the small hole in the wall of the atrium of the heart that usually closes day after we are born, had never closed. 2% of people have that problem and it allows unoxygenated blood to flow into the left atrium from the right without going through the ventricles  and out to the brain/ that is not good.
Concern continuing to build in my mind, the decision was made for Edmund to stay in the hospital for the night under observation. That night his breathing was so irratic that he had to be on oxygen.
All of this was happening and all of our surroundings were new to us.  We didn't have our own Dr. We didn't know the hospital. We didn't have family close by and we were just beginning to make friends in the area having moved here to Divide, Colorado in September.
I had contacted one of my kids and started an email thread and called my husband's older daughter and spoke to her. So we were connected...and they reached out all our kids that was good to feel surrounded by their loving concern.
One of our new neighbors called me out of the blue and said she was on the way home from work would I like her to stop and get anything. I told her no thanks we are actually in the hospital and she came to check on us and brought us something healthy to eat. So so thoughtful.
The next day more tests and following two dr consults we were released with prescriptions and appointments for follow ups  in the next few weeks. Taking the medicine.  Rested for a day. Back to regular routines.  Being retired that is easy. Fielding calls and so grateful for family reaching out to us and caring how we were doing. Still four days later and last night what had happened hit me like a ton of bricks. I had a total panic attack. Edmund was a gem. He cared for me, calmed me down staying up beside me late into the night until I finally was able to sleep.
This experience and our families ability to keep showing up for us brought the power of love and family right to the forefront of our lives.  We are so grateful for this warning and the ability to more fully care for ourselves. Keep showing up for one another. It is a beautiful thing from this vantage point. I am so grateful for and blessed by all of you in our lives.