The title is a description of my old life...but these days I ramble on about widowhood, homeschooling, single parenting, adoption, special-needs parenting, & living a life I never planned for or expected - a life that God, thankfully, continues to strengthen & equip me for daily...
The last few hours of November...can
I go to sleep tonight and not wake until Feb. 21?Yeah, I know...
It's just hitting me so hard right
now.I totally unloaded on my friend,
Sarah, yesterday, when I went to have my hair done.She made the mistake of asking me, "How
are you doing, really/"And
I told her.I told her that I'm
depressed.Last year at this time I was
wrapped in a cocoon of grief, but this year I don't have that protective
covering.Everywhere I look it's
Christmas, Christmas, Christmas - which is fine.Christmas is a good thing.The kids and I spent all of Friday and some
of Saturday getting the decorations up.If it were up to me, I'd skip it, but I can't, of course.And that's a good thing.There's a reason we celebrate.But...
This year I'm seeing couples
everywhere.Why did I never realize
before how couple-oriented Christmas really is?Smiling couples on tv basking in a firelight glow (before turning to one
another and exchanging diamond jewelry) or surprising the other with a car in
the driveway donned with a 40 pound bow (do people really do that with the
bow?I've never seen it.But then, I've never been given a car for a
Christmas gift, either), couples indulgently sipping their coffee on the couch
while watching their 2.7 children merrily tear into Christmas loot...
I've been trying to force myself
into the Christmas spirit by listening to holiday music but about every other
song has to do with wanting to see a loved one (well, I guess I could relate to
those, but I know the songs aren't talking about death) or the joys of love at
Poor Sarah is going through a messy
divorce so she could easily relate and we had a real time of life-is-so-stinky
before settling into some "real" talk.She's such an encourager to me.In fact, I now have a series of 7 articles
she sent me on the Christian and dating/remarriage sitting in my in-box as a
result of our conversation.
I'll get through it.I'm actually having some pretty deep thoughts
right now about celebrating Christmas while crushed in spirit which I may
expound on later.I know that even in
this brokenness and pain the message of Christmas still rings true and is
perhaps even more applicable now than in other, happier, years.
I did get through Thanksgiving just
fine.Last year we did something totally
out of the ordinary and went to visit friends because I thought it might be
easier on the kids - and because these friends invited us and I genuinely like
them and enjoy spending time with them.I was afraid that trying to do what we've always done and not having Paul
there would be unbearable for all of us.But afterwards the kids begged me to stay home at Christmas and we did.
They wanted the familiarity of tradition.
So this year we went up to my
parents' for Thanksgiving.And it was
nice, quiet (well, as quiet as it is with a half dozen children), and relaxing
- just the8 of us.It was snowy and cold, which was kind of
different.I'm sure, in 43 years of
life, I've experienced other snowy Thanksgivings but the only one I can
remember is when I was somewhere around third grade and even then it wasn't all
that much snow.
Two nights before Thanksgiving the
Des Moines area GARB churches hosted a joint Thanksgiving musical thing with a
combined orchestra and choir and congregational singing up at Faith.We all went and met up with Will.I really, really enjoyed the evening.For the first six or seven years that I lived
in western Iowa with Paul the Omaha area churches would gather together at
Thanksgiving time and I have such fond memories of those services.Even though I'm not the least bit musically
inclined I still really appreciate these kind of endeavors.I hope this becomes an annual event.
Maybe one of the reasons I was so
thankful Tuesday night to be up at Faith was the distraction it provided.I had a rather upsetting event occur earlier
that day.I had to order a water
shut-off for a town resident.It should
have happened a few days earlier but I forgot that the payment deadline had
passed and then our water guy forgot to do the shut-off when I first asked, so,
anyway, it finally happened on Tuesday.
I, of course, got a phone call.But this was, by far, the nastiest encounter
I've ever had with a disgruntled (to put it mildly - "enraged" would
be a more apt term) resident.Eventually, he started telling me I was a "piece of work" and
"needed to be fired" which made me laugh.I have tried to quit this job so many
times!But from there he launched into a
personal attack and began calling me filthy, vile names.I hung up on him.I don't have to listen to that.
It was upsetting to me, of
course.It made me fearful for my
safety, to the point that I told the mayor I would not be the one to turn this
guy's water back on whenever it was he decided to pay up.But it also made me really, really sad.
It made me sad because I know that
Paul would not have stood for this.He
would have marched down to this guy's house, poked him in the chest and said,
"I will not have you talking to my wife that way."That's who he was.I saw him do it before with his own father.And now - I have nobody to stand up for
me.I felt defenseless.
But then, as I drove up to the
college that evening I suddenly thought ofPsalm 68:5, "Father to the
fatherless, defender of widows--this is God, whose dwelling is holy."There are other verses with similar messages
in Scripture, as well.I'm not
defenseless.No, God is not going to go
ring this jerk's doorbell and remonstrate with him for his offensive behavior -
which would give me a certain sense of satisfaction.But at the same time, I'm not so sure I'd
want to be in this guy's shoes right about now.God makes it pretty clear that nobody is to be picking on or taking
advantage of the widow or orphan.
have a new bathroom floor and baseboard now.Friday night I met Will at Menards.By then the black Friday crowds had thinned and it wasn't too bad.We picked out what we needed and that evening
he and Sam ripped out the old floor and spent most of yesterday installing the
new.I went with a different look for
the floor because it was on sale but also, during Christmas break we're going
to do something I found on Pinterest called, "planking" to one of the
walls.It's basically gluing pieces of
wood, kind of like a wood floor, to a wall for a rustic look.In our case, this will also serve to cover up
some bad drywalling.So I went with a
wood-look linoleum and white baseboard.Will
kept commenting about how much better he liked this.I think it makes the bathroom look bigger
since it's lighter in color.But I have
to fight the urge to throw down a rag rug on top it.It's a bathroom, not a kitchen!
was so eager to be of help and Will was such a good teacher.I could hear him gently giving instructions
throughout the day.It reminded me of
another twosome that used to work on our houses together and that made me
smile.As I said on Facebook, Paul's
legacy continues through his sons.
have more to write but I am getting really sleepy.Tomorrow is my monthly grocery shopping day
and it would be nice to have my wits somewhat about me and be somewhat alert as I go drop $1000 (it's
not only groceries - it's my Walmart and other misc. stuff, too).
a Sam funny to end with: Today I was dishing up the Littles' and Ben'
lunch.I don't know what it is like to
eat hot food except for the occasional meal out with friends.That's what used to be nice about date nights
but those obviously aren't happening anymore.By the time I got each of the kids their plate of food, chopped up their
roast into non-chokable pieces, and got their other food and drink, the first
one served was ready for seconds!Sam
asked for more and Lizzie pointed out to him that I had not eaten yet and he
should really be patient and let me get my own food next (I love that girl more
every day).Sam looked at her and
seriously protested, "You act like you care more about Mom than us!"
funny but a few alarm bells are sounding in my brain at the same time!
I sat down at the computer
last night to blog.But first, I
followed a link to a fellow widow's blog and found myself so impressed with her
site that I immediately had to change my own.Why do I do this?Why am I
incapable of accepting that I am, at best, computer-illiterate?Honestly, I've been doing good the last six
years to just get my thoughts from a Word document into Blogger.Why do I think I can compete with my more
tech savvy friends?As it turned out I
sat at this computer for over THREE hours working on my blog site.At one point, around I was hyperventilating because I thought I had just
ruined my blog.I had gadgets stuck on
there I couldn't get off and now I was going to be utterly humiliated every
time anyone logged onto my site.I'd just
have to shut the whole thing down and start a new one but then I'd lose my readers
(you know, all three of them) and oh, what was I going to do?You know, there is a reason people design
websites for money.It's because
there are some people that are only good with words, not html type and other
stuff not understandable by mere mortals.
As you can see, I eventually
got it figured out - somewhat, anyway.I
got my daisy background, which I wanted.I was aiming for something restful and healing.I may tweak with it a little bit in coming
days, but for now, it's done.I wanted
to get a picture of our family at the top and actually created this really cute
header with the picture - but it was too small and I don't know how to enlarge
it.Then, I tried inserting a picture
and it didn't look so good with the title over the top and then I tried it
another way and my title completely disappeared.I figured a title is more important than a
family picture so I gave up at about that point.
It was close to when I crawled into bed - without showering, which is
something I never do.I HATE the feeling
of an unwashed body on sheets.I was so
tired, though, that I just shucked off my clothes, turned the heated blanket on
high and snuggled under the covers.
And found out that while my
body was tired, my mind was now awake, thanks to three hours of having to think
and be stimulated by the computer.Ugh.On top of that, the wind was
howling pretty fiercely.Our garbage can
was set out by the alley for the next morning's pick up and since we had an
over-abundance of garbage this week (I cleaned out my freezers - I even found a
macaroni dish someone brought to us right after Paul died) the lid wouldn't go
down and it thumped against the side of the can all.night.long.So, I finally got up and took an Advil
PM.I knew that wasn't good since I had
to be up in 5 1/2 hours.It worked and I
Until 2 am when I heard gligitty,
gligitty, SWACK, gligitty, gligitty, SWACK!The icemaker was at it again.The icemaker is in the fridge - well, the freezer - which is positioned on
the other side of my bedroom wall.It's
been giving me problems for months.Sometimes it gets stuck when trying to pop out the ice.I even had someone look at and do some
research for me this summer.The end
consensus was that the fridge is 3 1/2 yrs old, fridges don't last for decades
like they used to, and LG parts are frightfully expensive to buy, even if you
can figure out what the problem is - which the guy who looked at it
couldn't.So I'm stuck with the problem
until the icemaker decides to totally die or the entire fridge takes a
dump.It doesn't do it all the time -
just in spurts.So, I had to get up at
2, poke at the icemaker, and it quieted down.I went back to sleep.
Until 4 am when the icemaker
serenaded me once again.This time I had
the forethought to turn the thing off.But when I stumbled out of bed at
to get Ben ready for school, I could barely speak, I was so out of it.I tossed a poptart on the counter, suggested
he wear a coat to school, and curled up on the couch, hoping I'd hear the
schoolbus in time to alert Ben.Then I
went back to bed - something I learned long ago I cannot do because I will
always fall into a heavier sleep.But of
course I couldn't because about 15 min. into my sleep, I hear heavy breathing
by my cheek.
"Mom?Are you awake?"No.Go away.
"Mom?"Somebody had better just opened an artery
or smelled smoke...
"Mom?Can I play the i-pad?"I've changed my mind.None of them were "wanted"
I had enough time after awakening to
get ready and then drive down to Ben's school to pick him up.I have applied for Disability for him since
he's now 18 and I had a letter in the mail about ten days ago from Social
Security telling me I had better show up at this doctor's appointment they had
made for Ben or he'd be denied.
I was immediately on the defensive
because the doctor had an Indian name.It's not that I have anything against Indian doctors, but I never know
how well I'm going to be able to understand them.Some of them have very thick accents and my
hearing is deficient, anyway.I don't
always understand the stuff my own kids say, who talk in perfect American.Plus, I always am reminded of when I was a
teenager and suffered from near constant, debilitating migraines and one Indian
neurologist tried to tell me I was merely "stressed out" because I was a
senior in high school.And then there
was Dr. Gupta I saw over in Indianola a few years ago for some foot problem I
was having.I can't even remember what
it was - must have resolved itself.He
took one look at my feet, gasped, and informed me that my feet were
"deformed" andI needed to
have immediate surgery where he would break the bones in my feet to correct my
deformity.Uh, huh.I mentioned this to a nurse friend of mine
who demanded to know who this dr was.She then said, "I knew it!" and informed me he was in the
process of being sued for doing this surgery on another woman and permanently
crippling her.Oh, I remember now - I
had plantar warts.That's what it was.
As it turned out, though, this dr
that I saw today was perfectly nice and spoke very good English.Still, I was blunt with him and said I didn't
understand why we had to see him (rather than our family dr)and that I was somewhat dubious of his
ability to make a recommendation concerning Ben when he doesn't even know
him!I became somewhat alarmed when he
mentioned that he didn't think Ben seemed all that "off"
physically.But we talked and he assured
me that he would definitely be recommending that Ben receive benefits.He said he thought that Ben's cognitive
deficits were more of a concern and I can agree with that.I made a point to tell him, then, of all the
ways I could think of that Ben's cerebral palsy does affect his life.I think I did pretty good, considering my
lack of sleep the night before.
I needed to run to Walmart after the
appointment for a number of things, but when I arrived at Methodist, I realized
I couldn't find my list anywhere.Then I
remembered that I had suddenly realized, while still home,that I had more gray hair showing than brown
and needed to remedy that ASAP, so I had written, "root dye" on my
list and I probably left it at home.I
called David, thinking he could read it to me, but he couldn't find the
list.Drat.It wasn't in my purse, couldn't find it my
pockets.I was going to have to go home,
find the list, and then drive down to the Walmart in Knoxville, further cutting
into my day.
So we parked on the third level of
the lot, and I decided to take the stairs down to the first level because I
need to do something to combat all my other unhealthy lifestyle habits.We did that and went to the appointment.As we were walking back, I thought, "Maybe
we should take the elevator since this time we'll be going UP."But then visions of Halloween candy and
birthday cake and ice-cream at bedtime floated into my head and I resolutely
told Ben, "We're taking the stairs!"It's a good thing we did because as we approached the first step, I
happened to look down - and there was my shopping list on the floor in front of
the step.I don't know how many dozens
of people had walked right over thatthing or how it avoided being blown away when the sliding doors to the
garage would have opened and shut the multitude of times for the hour we were
at the appointment.I told Ben,
"See how good God was to save this for us!"He was happy because it meant we'd get to go
to a Des Moines Walmart.Walmart makes
him very happy.I was happy because I
could get that errand done and over with.I just wonder how it fell in the first place.Where was it that I couldn't find it when
still in the van when we arrived?
Will got my new treadmill put
together Saturday.Now I have no excuse
to not exercise.Well, I'm sure I can
come up with many excuses, actually!I
bought just a basic, manual, folding model.I roll it in front of the tv and make myself walk.I need to.I've been gaining weight and lately I just haven't felt comfortable
in my skin.I'm achy and out of
sorts.I am getting suspicious that
there is something hormonal going on.I'm not sleeping well, either, even on nights that I'm not interrupted
by the computer, kids, and ice-maker.
Will also installed a fan in the
bathroom.He said he wanted to do that
and that sounded like a good idea to me.I had no idea that he was going to put in something that ranks a decibal
level that's on par with say, a turbo jet.Wow - so much for relaxing bath times and or slowly coming to life in
the shower first thing in the morning!I
may need to look into some sign language classes because at this rate, I'll
lose my hearing a little earlier than when I anticipate losing it with the
natural aging process.Like when I'm 47.
Last Friday night added a few gray
hairs that I need to cover now.I was
supposed to meet Will in Ankeny at his employment to drop off David.They planned to go to some Christmas thing in
the East Village and then go see Joseph at the Civic Center.I was supposed to meet him at 5.I still forget how much Ankeny has changed in
the 25 years since I was student there.It was SO busy the other night - total bumper to bumper traffic.I was so slowed down that Will ended up
having me meet him somewhere else.I
would not want to live there, that's for sure.Then, I had to get back on I-80, go to Urbandale, pick up the Littles,
and then get back on I-80 and take it to 65S.That's a trip that normally takes 15 min. during the weekday.So I just started praying that God would go
ahead of me and make a smooth ride without any traffic conditions that would
cause traffic to come to a standstill.I
was already late and I had to be down in Pleasantville by 6:30 at the latest
for the school musical Ben wanted to attend.
And He did.I arrived at the school with plenty of time
to spare before the musical.I assumed
it was going to be a packed-out event like the concerts always are, but it
wasn't.The kids and I had our pick of
seats and thoroughly enjoyed the students' rendition of "The Wizard of
Oz."It was good!Ben laughed a lot and the Littles were full
of questions about what they were seeing.
Will and David didn't enjoy their
show quite as much, though.When Will
and I went to see the Piano Guys in Oct. he saw posters in the Civic Center
advertising "Joseph and the Amazing Techni-color Dreamcoat."He thought it sounded good butI wasn't so sure - the title seemed to
indicate a potential for blasphemy, I thought.So I did some research.I found
really great reviews - people praising how Biblically sound themusical is and so forth. Our local Christian
radio station started airing ads for it, too.Assuming it was something like what the Sight and Sound Theater in
Branson offers, I bought the tickets for the boys.
The boys got home and just shook
their heads.They were put out that it
was only singing - not songs interspersed with acting.And, the musical was NOT Biblical at all, it
sounds like.Will said that Joseph's
dreams were of things in modern times like trains and cars - huh?And then they had Joseph in bed with
Potipher's wife, which did not happen, either!It makes me wonder what Bible all the people
who promoted this as being sound are reading!What a waste of time and money...
Frustrated today...have I mentioned
how much I loathe dealing with governmental agencies?A few years ago I quit dealing with TMS,
which is the agency that provides transportation reimbursement for gas costs
for Medicaid members.I got so fed up
with them that I decided it was not worth the hassle.Well, then this whole Iowa City dental thing
for Ben came up and decided it would be financially best if I tried to jump
through their hoops in order to recoup some of the gas expenditure this would
require.I didn't do it for the first
trip and another trip I couldn't do because I didn't call it in in time (not
that anyone bothered telling me that I had to call at least two days before a
scheduled trip).But I did get a check
for one and I sent in paperwork for another.Today I got notice that trip was being denied because they didn't have
an out-of-county request form.I took
care of that in Sept. and was told that it was good for six months.So I called them and was actually very nice
despite having been on hold for 15 minutes.You get more flies with honey, they say.They told me they never got the out-of-county form.I told them I took care of it and besides -
you paid me for one of the trips so how can you say you never got the form?Well, they replied, that was probably a
mistake.They tell me to get another
form.I say ok.After all, I have so much time to re-do
things!They'll fax the paperwork to the
referring dentist, they say.Oh, look,
they say - they already have the fax number and rattle it off to me.The number is off by one digit.I point this out to them and they say, well,
thatcould be why they never got the
paperwork back from our local dentist.
Then they say that they cannot pay
me for the trip that's been denied.I
tell them, think again.I didn't make
the mistake - you did.I'll have
to check with my supervisor, I'm told.You do that, I say.I'm on hold
for quite awhile longer,It will be ok,
I'm finally told, but I have to call back tomorrow and make sure they receive
the fax with the form.And no, I cannot
talk to this representative directly.I
can only phone in to the call center and explain everything
I'm finding that I'm more emotional
as we move into the holidays.I don't
think it's as bad as last year, but it still hurts.I just have zero anticipation for the
holidays.I want to survive them, like
last year.But I'm not excited about
them.That said, I did find the most
adorable ballerina outfit for Ellie on-line over the weekend.I'm going to hit the children's consignment
stores and see if I can find her some actual ballet shoes to go with them.I'm kind of excited about this.She is going to be so thrilled!I must be a good mom if I'm still willing to
make a good Christmas for a child that drives me absolutely insane most of the
The other day Iwas on Facebook and someone had posted a meme
about how successful parenting will only happen when a father fully supports
his wife and she knows she has that support.It was some quote by Dr. Dobson who I really respect in matters of
parening. If he says it's true, it must be.I just lost it.I sat at my
computer and cried and cried.I'm
already more emotional because of the season and like I mentioned earlier, I
think I have some hormonal issues happening.But it just touched a very raw nerve, too.I want these kids to turn out right so
badly.Having children that love the
Lord more than anything else in life is my ultimate desire.Nothing else matters.But I feel so inadequate to do this job
without a husband.How on earth can
children turn out ok when they don't have a dad?Most of the time I am just so tired,
worn-out, and defeated by the daily struggles of parenthood - feeding the kids,
transporting them everywhere, taking care of them physically, andkeeping them from killing themselves and
eachother, that I feel like I am failing miserably.Single parenthood creates a burden like no
other.I never knew.I kind of feel like I am destined for failure
because I don't have a husband.And that
thought just tears me apart.
See, now I'm crying again.
Better go make some supper before
they start gnawing on the table legs...
I'm still working on catching up on
my scrapbooking.Actually, my
scrapbooking group will be coming to my house for the first time in Jan.It only took ten years for me to feel like my
house was finally ready to host something like that!Anyway, last week I was working on my
pictures of the adoption more than a year ago.I felt something powerful just kind of shake loose in me as I did
so.The day of the adoption was a good
one and I was grateful for it and have good memories of it.
But I was still so numb that
day.I had imagined this day over and
over in mymind even before I knew we
were going to pursue adoption. That makes sense if you know my whole story concerning the call God placed in my heart as a child about adoption. It finally arrived
but it was so different than how I had imagined it would be because my life had
just been turned upside down and in the midst of that craziness I was agreeing
to permanently commit to two more children.I wouldn't have done it any other way, though.Those girls were mine from the moment I
received the phone call about them.
Scrapbooking the pictures I was just
impressed with what a momentous day it truly was. I didn't have these thoughts
that day sitting in the courtroom.They're arriving with the distance of time. Legally becoming the mother of someone else's
children is huge.Because of
another woman's loss (albeit deserved) I gain the love of two little
girls.I am the one teaching themabout womanhood, helping them develop
character, and pointing them to the one Parent Who will never fail them.I am the one who gets to tuck them every
night and hear their dreams and observations about life.I get to watch them grow into young women
some day and I will be the grandmother cuddling their babies.Adoption is so powerful, merging the two
events of Loss and Gain into one beautiful legal document that says,
Lizzie was helping me cook the other
day and asked if she could put some food into the
"smooshitizer."She meant the
food processer.It cracked me up and I
will probably always refer to it now as the "smooshitizer!"I just love it!
Sam pulled out his other top tooth
tonight.He pounded down the steps to
show me.I love that I am still the
number one person he wants to share his joys with.And I am totally loving his gaping smile
I got an anonymous check in the mail
this week.Well, I'm pretty sure I know
who it's from, but they want to keep it private and so I will honor that.I was definitely grateful for that.But you know what pleased me even more?The envelope was addressed to "Mrs. P.
Heywood."That meant a lot.He isn't forgotten.I am still part of a unit, even if one half
is in Heaven.
Ben did well at Sp., Olympics
bowling Sat, earning a silver medal.As
I watched him from behind, I realized, for the first time, how broad his
shoulders have grown.Maybe it's a
combination of parent-teacher conferences, his birthday, and IEP meeting all
this month, but I am just feeling so crazy in love with this boy of mine
lately.While at the games I was
chatting with the grandmother of one of Ben's teammates.Before I realized what I was saying, I said,
"Having Ben is one of the best things that's ever happened to me."I surprised myself by saying that.But what was more surprising was the
realization that it's true.
I didn't always feel this way.For years I grieved the loss of the boy I was
supposed to have.I felt like everyone
else had been given exactly what they wanted, while I was stuck with the broken
present.I loved him. From the first moment I spied his diaper-clad
body covered in tubes and wires as he fought for his life in that isolette in
the NICU, I knew I would fight forand
protect this baby with every breath in my body.I remember begging God to spare his life, even if it meant I would bring
home a near-vegatative child.And then I
felt guilty for praying that.But I
didn't change my prayer.Many times,
though, in the ensuing years I would wonder why God had allowed Ben to
live.Wouldn't all our lives, especially
Ben's,have been so much easier and
better if he'd just been allowed to slip home to Glory where he would be free
from a body and brain with limitations?Sure, I'd have the broken heart of a parent who has buried a child, but
surely that would be preferable to all that I had to deal with now.
The hurt of watching other little
boys his age jump, chatter, and play...while Ben watched.The nightmare of his eczema. Trying to keep
him from causing bodily harm to himself.The tantrums.The tube feeding.
The dour specialists. Watching Ben live inside his own mind where I wasn't
invited. The odd behaviors.The violent
behaviors. His apparent non-emotion. The developmental delays. The allergies.
The worries about his future.
When Ben was little I didn't have
the network of fellow special needs moms that I do now.Part of that was on purpose.I didn't want to be part of that group.But when he was two I happened to be at
ladies' retreat where I met a lady who had a mentally handicapped teenage
son.I sought her out and I asked her,
"If God gave you the choice, would you take your son as he is or would you
ask to have him given to you with a healthy and whole mind?"She looked at me, perplexed, and said, "I
just don't know!"
Well, I know now.I'd ask for Ben to be exactly who He is, the
way God allowed him to be.I'd take him
with his quirky routines, and his excited jumping, his obsession with all
things Wheel of Fortune, and his still-messy eating skills.I'd take his big hugs, his fear of
"being in trouble," and the deep thoughts he writes for his school
papers. I'd take his still unclear future and my fears of being eighty-five and
still holding his hand in parking lots.
Ben, being Ben, exactly the way he
is - not as he might have been - is truly one of the best things to ever happen
I'm only sorry it took me so long to
It has been one grueling
week, schedule-wise.I'll probably have
to write this in chunks throughout today.
Monday I actually didn't have
anywhere to go.Well, I did, but I
forgot I did.I realized about 40 min.
before my scheduled time that I was supposed to visit the chiropractor.But I had already determined this was a
no-make-up, no hair drying day.So I
rescheduled.Monday was Ben's birthday.He didn't really want to do a whole lot, he
said, which is fine.Part of me thought
we should do something extra-special since it was his 18th and those are kind
of extra-special.But it was his day and
staying home would save me money.Plus,
it was bitterly cold.So I stayed home
and made him minion cupcakes.
They turned out SO cute!The idea came to me sometime this fall as I
was pondering a twinkie and realizing that a half a twinkie is very similar to
a minion in shape and color.I did some
searching on Pinterest and found that I am not the first person to put these
thoughts together.Mine actually turned
out better, I thought, than the site I went to to figure out what supplies I
would need.Ben was so surprised and
thrilled.Tastewise - not so great.Twinkies dry out really, really fast I found
Of course, for Ben, turning
18 makes a few more wrinkles than for the average young adult hitting that
milestone.I filed paperwork a couple of
weeks ago for Disability for him.Monday
we have to meet with some foreign doctor/specialist so they can determine just
work ability has Ben has.This afternoon
Will, Ben, and I have to meet with my attorney to sign paperwork for his
guardianship that we have to get into place pronto.
That kills me - paying a ton of money for the privilege to do what I've already
been doing for 18 years!But it's for
his protection.Ben, in particular,
could be easy prey for people with low ethics he may encounter.This way he can't decide he wants to go learn
to drive or sign up for a credit card or things like that.My ultimate desire is that someday we can
drop the guardianship portion of the papers and just have Will and I serve as
his power of attorney.But right now he
needs more protection.
Yesterday I took Ben to Iowa City.It looks like
that is where he'll be doing all his dental, even preventative, visits from now
on.They just have the tools and skills
to serve him best.I don't have to go
again now until next spring.At that
time they are going to xray his wisdom teeth and see if they are big enough for
extraction.That would take place in the
summer and would be done surgically.I
am really hoping it can be done this year because next summer he will have
graduated from high school and may be employed by that point and I would just
hate for him to have to delay that or take off recovery time.We'll see.
I've been hurting this week -
physically.Well, actually, both ways,
but I'm just talking about my poor, aging body right now.Early in the summer I started having problems
with tennis elbow on my left side.It
was bad, to the point I had my chiropractor look at it.He suggested I might want a brace, which I
never got.I kept applying essential
oils and finally the inflammation seemed to go down after a few months.Now, my right elbow is flaring
up!And my right knee is hurting, too.
Sunday morning I dropped a
full, mega-size bottle of hair conditioner on my ankle in the shower.Oh, that thing swelled up and has been SO
tender all week long!It seems to be
doing a little better now.I think I am
a bit of a menace to myself.
Tues. night I had one of
Paul's former co-workers come over and do a furnace check for me.If my furnace goes down, all I have for heat
is a kerosene heater, which I don't know how to use.I'd probably have to just load us all up and
go to a hotel if something happened.So
I figured it was a good idea to spend a little now for some preventative
work.I got a good report on my furnace
and enjoyed some time chatting with this guy's wife and kids.They told me something that really touched
me.They said that Paul's death had been
such a wake-up call for both of them.This couple was really there for me in the weeks and months following
his death.I didn't even know them that
well, but they were there for both the visitation and funeral.Their little daughter even cleaned out her
piggy bank for me.So sweet!They were both heavy smokers but when Paul
died, they told me they quit, cold-turkey.They'd both tried to quit before, but failed.But after his death they were awakened to the
fact that they didn't want to die young like he did.So now they are smoke-free.That's awesome - one of those
"goods" to come out of his death.
Sunday I went back to my
Sunday School class.I've been avoiding
it for months because they were doing a unit on marriage.I figured I didn't need that kind of salt in
my wounds, so I've been sitting upstairs with the older folks.But I heard they were done with that so I
went back.I didn't know what to
think.It was just kind of odd for me.The teacher was talking about life's
difficulties and responding the right way in differing circumstances and
different people shared about various trials they've encountered.
And I get that.I have daily trials along with everyone else
in the world.Two weeks ago my laundry
sink started spraying water everywhere.It's still in pieces.This week
my kitchen sink backed up and had to be dismantled and last night the main
floor toilet overflowed and now my linoleum is puffing up causing the door to
drag.I get trials.I have trials!
But I also have a perspective
now that I never had before.All this
plumbing stuff?It's nothing.When you have buried your husband there's not
much else in the way of troubles that can really get to you.Everything else in the world is secondary.Try lonely nights, trying to make sense of
mounds of paperwork, attempting to do the work of two people,soothing your children's shattered hearts,
living with the sensation that you have just been ripped in two and suddenly
you have an altered perspective on everything.
So I sat there Sunday just
feeling kind of odd.I could find
some application for what was being said and I couldn't argue with any of
it.But yet, my life has been so
radically changed in the last 17 months that I found it hard to relate to what
was being said.But...it's my life that
has been changed, not everyone else's. I
cannot expect people to pussyfoot around my feelings for the rest of my life
because I've had a shattering loss and they have not.And truthfully, when it's your life,
it's big, whether it's a death of a spouse or a backed up kitchen sink.It's all big.The last thing I want is for my friends and loved ones to feel like they
can't share what's going on in their own lives because it can't compare to what
I'm dealing with.
But all that doesn't change
the fact that I am changed.I am no
longer the person I was before Paul died.
So I had these unarticulated
thoughts/feelings floating around in my heart and brain for the rest of
Sunday.And then that evening a friend,
who had been in the class,came up to me
and put into words what I had been feeling, to let me know that she was aware
and that she cared.She said, "And
this widowhood thing?You shine,
Sarah.You really do."
That made me feel so warm
inside and teary on the outside.To know
that others understand how I've changed, inside, because of Paul's death is
huge because, as humans, we tend to be rather myopic and it takes a huge amount
of effort and sympathy to step outside our own little box of viewpoints and
life experiences to really feel what someone else is experiencing.That's a major run-on sentence.And to know, too, that at least one person
thinks I'm doing this widowhood thing right is huge because it's what I've
desired from the beginning - to handle with widowhood with a grace that comes
from outside myself.Because, I don't
always feel graceful about it on the inside.
Today has been a big day for
me concerning Ben.We did go to my
attorney's office.I had to kind of
laugh at myself about that one.My attorney
is youngish.In fact, all the prior work
he's done for me has either been done at my house or at his.For awhile he was working for another
attorney and then he quit that job and went to go work for an immigration
attorney in Omaha.But he wasn't
real fond of that and then this summer he opened his own office for the first
time on the east side of Des Moines.As
I walked into this tiny little store-front office with its freshly painted
walls and shiny floor I felt almost a maternal sense of pride for my attorney.And I really shouldn't because it's my
checking account that's helping to pay for this new office (lawyers are expensive!)
but I guessI'm enough of a mom that I
did, anyway.And then I thought it was
so cute that when we got there hisdad,
who I have met before, was sitting in there in the teeny tiny lobby.I realized later that he was there
specifically to witness the paperwork that we had to sign.
I questioned my attorney if
this office is just his first step for a lucrative career.Maybe I'm not supposed to ask those kinds of
questions, but when has that stopped me before?I asked if someday he hoped to be a hot-shot lawyer out in W. Des Moines, but he said, no, he wants to stay right where he
is.He gets a lot of business from the
Hispanic population and wants to continue to be able to help them.
It sounds like we may have to
go to court after all.At first, we were
going to do a voluntary guardianship, but the more my lawyer thought about it
and the more he observed Ben today he finally said he thinks we'd be best to do
an involuntary one.That will probably
mean appearing before a judge.
And then this afternoon was
Ben's yearly IEP meeting.At first,
these meetings filled me with stress, but that's not the case now.It's so obvious how loved Ben is by the staff
there.Seriously, the whole meeting is
one big love-in! Everyone just talks about wonderful Ben is - how funny he is,
how responsible, how smart, how social.It's wonderful! I talked quite a
bit with the Vocational Rehab. rep that was there today. It sounds like a lot of things are just going
to be in place for Ben after graduation.They have so many options and available choices for special needs
individuals - particularly higher-functioning ones like Ben - anymore.I'm grateful.
As I sat around the table
today and listened to all these reports on Ben I couldn't help but be reminded
of the head of the NICU who looked at me 18 years ago and counseled, "It
would be best if you never expect anything out of your baby."I know she was trying to help prepare me for
what she believed to be reality and her words crushed me that day.But I also took them as a personal
challenge.I don't say that to my
personal credit because I didn't know what I was doing.I made plenty of mistakes with Ben - probably
more with him than I did with any of my other kids, so far.But if she could just see him now!
The other day the girls
cracked me up.I was in my closet,
trying on a new dress and heels I had ordered from a catalog.I think I'm going to keep them, but I'm still
trying to convince myself I'm ready to wear the color red again.I've just wanted to avoid bright colors for
the last year, which is not like me, but indicitive of my mood, I guess.Anyway, I had the door shut because I was
dressing and because my full-length mirror is on the inside of the door.The girls wanted to come in but I wouldn't
let them, so they sat outside the door and began to pitifully sing, "Do
you want to build a snowman?...ok, bye..."
There was some major eyeball
rolling going on on my side of the door!
My new laundry basket arrived
this week.I don't want it.It has sat down in my laundry room all week
long, its bright whiteness and brand new plastic begging me to fill it with
clothes.I can't do it.I need to do it, but I can't...yet.There's a story.Of course, there's a story.That's what I do - tell stories about my
life.This is the laundry basket story:
I have seven 1.5 bushel round white baskets setting on a 6' table we inherited
when our old church replaced their fellowship room tables.I used to have eight baskets when we had
eight people in our family.I latched onto
the idea a long time ago of giving everyone their own basket.Then, when all 1.5 bushels are filled with
clothing I either unload the basket myself into drawers or summon the more
capable family members to do the job themselves.I never had any problem keeping track of
whose basket belonged to whom.It was a
pretty simple matter of keeping them lined up in birth order and glancing at
whatever clothes were already in the basket.But one day Paul decided that this would not do.Each basket needed to be labeled.So he took a fat sharpie marker and wrote the
name of each family member on the rim of the baskets.Now there would never be cause for mixing up
baskets.Not that ever happened, anyway,
but I didn't say anything.On my basket,
he wrote, "Princess" because that was his name for me and perhaps he
was in a sweet mood that day.So for the
better part of a decade my clothes have come out of the dryer and gone into the
round white basket labeled, "Princess."
The basket is falling apart
now.It needs to be replaced.I couldn't find one in the stores, which
seems really odd to me, but ok...I
found one on Amazon and ordered it.It
arrived.But there's a problem with
it.It doesn't say, "Princess"
on the rim and because of that I don't want to use it.
I don't know.Maybe I'll take a sharp pair of scissors and
cut off that part of the basket and then throw the rest away.But what do I do with a piece of dull white
plastic with faded lettering on it?I
could just put it on the dryer with all the other junk that makes it way into
the laundry room, I guess.But I don't
like that thought either.So I'm
thinking.And in the meantime I'm still
pinching my fingers and catching my clothes on the jagged, broken edges of my
basket that reads, "princess" on the top.
the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.
This - right here, right
now.I had been praying with increased
fervency this last week asking God to just show me, what - if anything - I
needed to be doing regarding the circumstances with Paul's family.In that same Sunday School class I referenced
earlier, someone happened to bring up these two verses.It was like it was a hand-delivered, signed,
and sealed note just for me.I love it
when God does that!
Tomorrow will be another
busy, busy day.The Littles will be
going to Merritt's, which is wonderful for them and gives me a break, as
well.But it's going to be a little
hairy as the day comes to an end.Will
and David have tickets to go see "Joseph and the Technicolor
Dreamcoat" at the CivicCenter.There is also
the Wizard of Oz musical at the school that Ben really, really wants to
see.So, I am meeting Will at his
workplace in Ankeny at 5 to hand off David.Then, Ben and I will dash over to Urbandale in rush hour traffic to pick up my Littles.Then, we'll fight against the hordes of
traffic heading home for the weekend in order to make it to the school in time
for the rising of the curtain.I am
tired and tensing up already just thinking about it.But Jenn has graciously offered to feed
supper to my short people, so that will ease one concern in my mind.I'll just need to pick up something for Ben
And then late Saturday
morning we have to be in Des Moines
for the state bowling meet for Special Olympics.I am crossing my fingers and hoping that
David won't want to go so he can just stay home with the Littles.That thing is always such a packed
madhouse.Talking to Will today, he is
anxious to get started on the bathroom.He wants to put a fan in there, as well as replace the flooring.He'll be home all day on Sat working on that.
Sunday is church, which will
include an extra trip so David can get to program practice.And then Monday morning I have to have Ben
meet with some Voc. Rehab person that Social Security is sending him to in
order to determine if he's really disabled or not.Never mind that I already have reams of
educational, medical, and psychological papers that say he is.
I cannot keep up this
pace.I just can't.
Since that's kind of
negative, I do have a Sam funny with which to end.Today he complained, " Ugh - I just
can't get these ladybugs out of my eyes!"Peering at his bespectled eyes, I sure didn't see any ladybugs crawling
around in there.I shrugged, not sure of
what he meant.And then I got it -
sleepy bugs.That's what I've always
called the bits of dried matter the kids get in their eyes.It's kind of a cute name for something not so
I'd sure rather have sleepy
bugs than ladybugs in my eyes, any day, though.
Snow today!There's enough that it's accumulating and
it's cold enough that it will stick around for awhile.Boy, is it cold.It's been this way all week long.I don't remember it getting this cold this
early in past years.Of course, everyone
is saying, "Oh, this means we're going to have a terrible winter!"I hope not.I had to drive in the snow today and it was slick and made forslow-going.I don't relish the thought of six months of that.
It's Saturday night and the week is
drawing to a close.I still have a lot
to do, though, before I can call it a night.I'm not even sure where the week went.
I did get a phone call in the first
part of the week from an older couple at church who wanted to give us a fourth
of a steer again this year.What a
blessing!I was able to call the meat locker
this week and order that how I liked.I
picked up my Zaycon order yesterday and that was 80 pounds of chicken
breasts.I got them all cut and bagged
today.What a job!Now, I really need to get my freezers cleaned
out.But that's not going to happen
Ellie is still being...Ellie.This week she bit several people.Fortunately, they were her siblings so I
didn't have any fast explaining to do to irate mothers.She took apart an ink pen, smeared the ink
all over her dresser and then mixed it with water.She found some sharp object and did the
equivalent of "keying" to her sister's dresser.Today, a friend of mine gave me a china doll
for the girls.I suggested to Lizzie it
might be a good idea to hide the doll for awhile lest it meet an untimely
demise at the hands of her sister.
She makes my weeks long.
My face has been breaking out
lately.I've done enough reading to know
this is not uncommon as a woman ages, but I wonder what it signifies?Encroaching menopause?I hope not.The last thing I need right now is to go through the change of life!
Lizzie said to me one day, "If
you were to bake Sam and me in the ovenyou would only want to eat Sam because he's vanilla and I'm
chocolate."What, huh?I didn't even know how to begin responding to
that one.It's just wrong on so
Jenn and I went out Thursday
night.Lizzie was a little put out when
she discovered just which friend it was I had supper with.She thought she should have been invited.As always, it was a refreshing time.Jenn has a real gift of encouragement.This time we talked a lot about the
circumstances that brought our children to us through adoption.It's a really neat thing to look back on the
experience and to just know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were created to
be these childrens' mothers.They were
born, of course, to another woman and entered into a life full of sin and
chaos.But yet, God was able to redeem
that situation, pluck those children out of the home, safeguard them, and
ultimately nestled them into our hearts.
Today is National Adoption Day.A friend of mine whose been a long-time
foster/adoptive parent and now works for DHS in some capacity, I believe, was
at the Polk County Courthouse where a number of adoptions were taking place and
where they were celebrating Adoption Day.She took pictures and put them on Facebook.Right in front of the courthouse a pick-up
was parked with a professional sign protesting adoption.Apparently this person or persons was actually
confronting and harassing families as they walked into the courthouse,
too.It just makes me mad.Her sign declared that DHS "steals
children for money."Seriously?I am not saying that
DHS gets it right every single time.Any
government agency run by fallible humans is bound to make a mistake here and
there.But to accuse them of child theft
for profit?That's low.
Oh, speaking of adoption...Monday
night was my Word Weavers group.For the
first time, we had a guest speaker, a woman who has runs her own publishing
company in Kansas.Since we're a small
group still we all met at Village Inn for supper before the meeting.It turned out that in this group of 8, 4 of
us were adoptive parents - including our guest speaker!It was really kind of neat to compare notes.
Lizzie asked Will this week,
"When are you going to get rid of that apple in your neck?"She was talking about his Adam's apple.
Today, David informed her that she
could help him and Sam clean out the van.He commented, "Many hands make light work!"Lizzie looked down at her own and protested,
"But I don't have many hands - I only have two!"
Here's yesterday's Facebook post: I
knew he could do it.
ew he could do it.never come easy for him and as a result, his
confidence levels tend to be on the low side. I've watched him study the
driver's manual for several months now and have been impressed with his
diligence, although dubious, still, of how that would translate to actual test
taking. I finally took him in this morning for the test. I assured him that
many young people, his mother included, need multiple testing opportunities and
that's ok and to be expected and so forth - trying to cushion the blow of his
first failure. The Littles and I then sat out in the courthouse hallway and
actually held hands and prayed for David whose self-worth was about to
decimated. A few minutes later my son poked his head out the DMV doorway and
announced, "Hey, Mom - I passed!"
There are few parental
satisfactions greater than observing your child accomplish something previously
thought impossible. Awhile ago, David expressed an interest in learning how to
drive and I encouraged that because right now I am the sole proprietor of Mom's
Taxi Service which is tiring and makes for a lot of time on the road.At the same time, though, I was doubtful of
David's ability to pass the written test required for his permit.Learning and retaining information has never
come easy for him and as a result, his confidence levels tend to be on the low
side.I've watched him study for several
months and have been impressed with his diligence, although dubious, still, of
how that would translate to actual test taking.I finally took him in this morning for the test.I assured him that many young people, his
mother included, need multiple testing opportunities and that's ok and to be
expected and so forth - trying to cushion the blow of his first failure.The Littles and I then sat out in the
courthouse hallway and actually held hands and prayed for David whose
self-worth was about to decimated.A few
minutes later my son poked his head out the DMV doorway and announced,
"Hey,Mom - I passed!"
I knew he could do it.
What a morning!I am so proud of that boy.He was so stunned and excited about passing
that when he signed his name for his license he mispelled it!When we got home, he excitedly posted a
picture of his temporary permit and Will, of course, was the first to point
this out to him!
Now I just have to find
someone willing to teach David how to drive.I really don't want to be that person.
Normally, I have gone up to
the DOT in Ankeny for all our licensing needs.I don't know why.It's never been an enjoyable experience - so
crowded with impatient, impersonal employees.For some reason it just occurred to me this fall that maybe I didn't
have to go up there.I made some phone
calls and found out I could just go to the courthouse in Knoxville.The DMV there
shares a room with the property tax people.It was great.There wasn't even
enough room for all 5 of us to fit in there, so the kids and I stayed out in
the hallway while David tested.The
Littles were all over the place when we were in the room, though.Lizzie saw a posted sign picturing a cell
phone with an X through it.The sign was
asking people to refrain from talking on their phone in the room.Lizzie, who cannot read,saw the sign, gasped, and exclaimed,
"Mom!You have a cell phone in your
purse - you have to get rid of it!"The DMV lady humored all the Littles by letting them check their vision
in the machine multiple times.They all
had many, many questions, and each one had to pose themself against the blue
background used for taking license pictures.It was like trying to herd cats.At one point, the lady looked at me and said, "You must be so
I've been having an on-going
conversation with my pastor's wife for the past week about the idea of redeeming
Paul's death.I don't mean in the sense
of becoming an activist for some cause.That's probably the most common direction people take when confronted
with loss.There's nothing wrong with
that and it's good to bring attention to different disorders and
situations.But, I have no desire to
slap a purple ribbon on my coat for epilepsy awareness, either.I'm wanting something deeper than that.
I want to do something with
eternal value.For awhile I was
questioning if death can even serve a redemptive purpose since death was never
part of God's original plan for mankind.But I've pretty much worked that out in mymind and determined that yes, it can.
Yesterday, Marcia sat on my
loveseat and looked at the pictures of the kids lined up on the wall.She pointed them out to me and said that
perhaps my greatest act of redeeming Paul's death is to continue parenting the
kids in the way Paul desired while alive.That gives me something to chew on because I had not thought of this in
that sense before.
I'm sure my thoughts on this
will continue to eke out in future blog posts.
We actually had snow flurries
one day earlier this week.They were the
first we'd had this season.We needed to
get going to Learning RX and I was trying, almost frantically, to get everyone
out and loaded into the van so we could get on the road.I got them all done up their coats, with the
needed hats and mittens and instructed everyone to get in the van while I
grabbed the stuff I needed and locked up the house.I got outside and not one child was in the
van.Frustration mounted.But then I saw them.These three small children of mine stood with
arms outstretched, faces to the sky, and little pink tongues extended, catching
snowflakes.The wonder of the moment was
not lost on me and I immediately forgot the scolding words I was about to
utter.In another decade, these little
ones won't be nearly so excited by the first snow of the season.
Let them be children.They're only little for a little while.