Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Day 133


October 16, 2013


Day 133


It is firmly fall now.  Summer has completely faded away.  If Paul were alive, he would have built the first fire in the woodburner already.  That event, the first of the season, always filled him with glee for some reason.  All the credit card offers and Ben’s Social Security statements that I’d been stuffing into the woodburner for months would be gone with that first fire.  We’re going to heat with wood this year.  But since we’re about to move it to the basement, we’ve decided to just use the furnace for now – set at a ridiculously low temperature.  If I didn’t know better, I’d think Will is eyeing my life insurance policy and hoping that I’ll freeze to death in my bed some night soon…Life is too short to be this cold during the duration.  I’m going to have to figure out how to set that thermostat myself – at temperature levels more suited to the warm blooded than  to amphibians.


I feel kind of bad that it is autumn.  Paul isn’t here.  Just like when I turned the calendar over to July after June, now we’ve rolled into a new season – without him.  For the rest of my life this will happen over and over again. 


Today the pain is sharp – like white hot daggers poking at my heart. Other days it’s just a presence located in the pit of my belly.  Today it migrated north, though.


But God (there’s my favorite phrase again!) sends encouragement when I most need it.  I had just typed those words when my friend, Don, arrived at my house.  I remember writing about the chairs Paul had brought home the night of his death.  They were old 1950s fan-back metal chairs – severely rusted and coated with numerous layers of paint.  Paul was so tickled at his find, though, knowing how pleased I’d be and promised me that he’d sand them and paint them whatever color I liked.  After Paul’s death, Don implored me to let him take on that project.  I was more than happy to agree.  Tonight Don brought me the first completed chair – new bolts, sanded, and now a cheerful fire-engine red.  His wife sent me a goody bag full of scrapbooking supplies and a sweet card…and a Willow Tree figurine which made me smile.


It made me smile because I’ve always loved the simplicity of the Willow Tree line.  But I don’t have a single piece.  It’s never bothered me.  But just a couple of weekends ago at the craft fair one vendor had Willow Tree pieces and I found myself admiring them once again, even wondering if they had something for someone in my situation.  I didn’t buy, but laughingly thought to myself, “Well, maybe sometime, someone will buy one for me!” and thought nothing more of it.


Until tonight.



Well, what else is going on in my world?  I now have 40 lbs of chicken in my new freezer.  Today was my first Zaycon pick-up.  A friend of mine in Arizona first told me about this company that sells bulk foods below retail price.  I was interested enough to look them up and to sign up for their news alerts.  But at the time they didn’t come to Des Moines.  But a month or so ago I got an email from them letting me know they were coming!  So today I got up at 6 (horrible time of morning) so I could drive up to Ankeny to get my chicken.  They had called me Mon. and asked if I would be willing to help with the distribution.  In return, they’d give me some credits to use toward my next purchase.  That’s why I had to get up so early.  Only – they didn’t need my help.  And that’s good because I discovered that a 40 lb box of chicken is really heavy!  My hip started causing me some severe pain a couple of days ago, although it is doing better now.  I’m really dubious I could have handled lifting those heavy boxes.  I was so tickle by my chicken though!  As soon as I got home I got out a heavy duty knife and started whacking up those breasts and dividing them into 3 lb bags.  I’ll be interested to see how long they last, if one box is enough to last me until the next chicken event in 6 months, or if I really need to be ordering two at a time.  Next Friday I get my bacon.


The other day I overheard Sam complaining to Lizzie after she had simply asked him to get her a straw off the counter, “You just want me to be your slave, don’t you!”  So-o-o…we had a little talk about what service to one another really means…


I have some new shoes that I love.  But I think I am the only one.  I have noticed in recent months that my feet hurt.  I thought maybe it was because of my summer sandals.  But I wore my sturdier loafers to the craft fair a couple of weeks ago and I knew within just a short amount of time that it wasn’t just a sandal problem.  My feet were killing me all day.  So I went to the Naturalizer store this week and bought some really expensive shoes.  The brand is called “Walking Cradles.”  They’re wonderful.  I tried on several different pairs, and I explained to the clerk that I was trying to avoid anything too geriatric looking, but I needed some relief for at least when I am doing quite a bit of walking (I think I can wear my other, cuter shoes other times).  She laughed and said she has 95 yr old women come in there and reject certain styles as looking like they are “for old ladies!”  But I found these.  They’re really padded and come up around my foot and I don’t think they look elderly one bit.  I got home and David opened them up out of curiosity and commented, “Hmm – it’s a good thing you didn’t ask my opinion about these shoes!”  So, yes, I bit and asked him his opinion.  Without missing a single beat, he spat out, “They’re old lady shoes.”  I object.  They are not!  Yes, they may have Velcro closures, but they don’t look like white Velcro tennis you see in nursing homes (that stuff can actually be quite dangerous – Paul’s grandma broke her wrist a couple of years ago when the Velcro on her shoes became stuck to a blanket that got entangled around her legs).  They’re black and sleek looking.  But now even the Littles are calling them, “Mommy’s old lady shoes.”  Thank you, David!  At least my feet won’t hurt – mission accomplished, even if I have to endure the kids’ wretched opinions.  They just need to wait until they’ve been walking around on their feet for 42 years!


Speaking of old…the other day Lizzie informed me, “When you get old, Mom, I’m going to help you a lot with housework!”  I hope she doesn’t wait that long!  Not to be outdone, Sam chimed in, “Well, when you get old, Mom, I’m going to visit you every day!”  Now, I can see myself holding him to that promise!


I called my mortgage company yesterday.  I thought it was a little strange that I sent them my final payment on the house several weeks ago and have not heard a word from them.  The representative asked me, “Well, would you like me to send you a letter saying the mortgage is paid off?”  Um…yes, please!  I would think that would be standard procedure.  They told me insurance is paid up on it for the next 11 months, so I guess I don’t need to worry about that for awhile.  And taxes aren’t due until March.


I got my bill today from the monument company.  I knew it would be coming and they did such excellent work on Paul’s stone that I didn’t mind paying it.  As I wrote the check, though, I realized, that is the final “big” payment of any sort I have to make because of Paul’s death.  It seems like I have had all sorts of those in the months since, but now I’m done. 


I did my bi-monthly shopping on Monday.  I am definitely not a super-couponer like some of my friends.  But I do clip them out of Sunday’s paper and my All You magazine.  I had $35 worth of them Monday (sorry to the lady in line behind me!) – an all time record.  Paul loved that I clipped coupons (I didn’t start until several years ago – always claimed I didn’t have the time and wasn’t organized enough to do so).  So I would always brag to him about my coupon total when I’d get home from shopping.  Of course, I’d get really mad if I couldn’t use a certain coupon because I had misread the requirements or expiration date.  He’d always laugh at me and exclaim, “Oh, boy – 75 cents is going break us this month!”  As I walked out of Walmart with a feeling of self-satisfaction, I thought, “Just wait until Paul hears how much saved this time!”


Oh, yeah…


I read a horrible story this week.  It was well-written and kept my attention, but it was awful, just the same.  It was the short story in Good Housekeeping, a magazine I have been faithfully reading since I was about 8 years old.  The story was about a 9-11 widow.  As she is organizing a memorial service for her husband, she goes into his emails for a contact list of people to send invitations to.  And she discovers that he is carrying on a torrid affair with another woman.  It was a fictional story, but it could have happened.  I just found myself so drawn into the widow’s emotions.  What you do in a situation like that?  Suddenly, you discover that the man you grieving is not the man you thought you were grieving.  But he is no less dead.  And you can’t confront him and gain any type of resolution to the tremendous hurt of betrayal – not even an, “I’m sorry.”  My mind is still boggled over that kind of scenario.  How horrible.  How grateful I am that that is one thing I never had to worry about Paul.  He was so committed to me.  I’ll have to remember to write sometime about his “eye-bouncing.”  That always made me feel so good, so protected.



This is turning into a really long post. 


Yesterday I encountered an acquaintance, the mother of one of Ben’s Special Olympic teammates.  It’s such a small world - we actually grew up in the same hometown, 2 hours away.  She was in band with my brother and he once gave her a ride home from practice.  Twenty five years later we have children with disabilities in the same tiny school district.  I don’t know.  Maybe when you live in Iowa, that’s the way it happens.  The entire state is its own small world!  I remember her coming to Paul’s visitation and being surprised and touched that she had done that.  But she told me yesterday that she has been reading my blog, as has her mother.  I don’t even know how she knew I blogged.  She was an incredible encouragement to me as she told me how my words were touching her.  She suggested that perhaps I am ministry-bound.  I don’t see that as a possibility right now.  My hands are so full of “ministry” as I raise these kids that it’s hard to see beyond that at the moment.


But I found myself ruminating on her words all evening.  Ministry – me?  Could there be some sort of ministry that arises for me because of widowhood?  I’m not talking about anything in a professional sense, of course.  But yet, there is 1 Corinthians 1:3-4,


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.


Is this not speaking of ministry?  Just as I have had the ability for years to comfort other women who have experienced miscarriage and infertility  and whose children have been given devastating diagnoses, like it or not, I will eventually have the ability to reach out to other, suddenly single, widows and mothers.  Right now the thought of extending myself seems a bit too exhausting, but the day will come when I’ll be better equipped and ready.  I find the thought of this kind of exciting, really.  How is God going to use this most painful and devastating event?  We are promised in Rom. 8:28 that all things will work together for good.  Could some of the “good” be my ability to minister to other emotionally wounded and eviscerated women someday?  I feel like I’ve been laying face-down on the ground for a long time.  But I’m slowly lifting my head with hope and curiosity.


I want to be used.  I want to be able to take Paul’s death and have it be an instrument for healing and hope in others’ lives.


In time…on the very last page of that Good Housekeeping I referenced earlier was a short article by author Anne Lamont (I just love that name – it sounds so writerly!).  She concluded her article – which wasn’t even about death – with this quote.  I loved it so much I ripped it right out of the magazine.


…you realize the secret of life is patch, patch, patch.  Thread your needle, make a knot, find one place on the other piece of torn cloth where you can make one stitch that will hold.  And do it again.  And again.  And again.


But I don’t think it has much to do with my own efforts.  God is doing the patching, stitch by stitch by stitch.














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