|Just my footprints and cleaning job marring the beauty of this expanse|
Friday, February 6, 2015
DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW
Feb. 6, 2014
20 months ago today...I had 20 years of marriage and now 20 months of widowhood...I wonder what my life will be like once I've completed 20 years of being Paul's widow?
I did my monthly grocery shopping this week and we had a council meeting last night and water bills had to go out. So all those things have contributed to making a busier week. But today I'm free. I'm working on my lengthy to-do list, along with doing up my monthly cooking.
Years ago, I used to try to cook on a monthly basis. But it got to be too overwhelming and I got too busy and gave it up. And then with the super-busy 2014 I had, we ate a lot of frozen pizzas. But now I'm back to cooking. I've figured out that if I can get most of the main dish prepared ahead of time and frozen then I'm good. A lady from church is still bringing me two loaves of homemade bread a week and I've discovered the beauty of instant potatoes. So, we're eating ok.
I also have plans today to run up to Paul's grave and decorate for Valentine's Day and our anniversary. I found a few things this week while shopping. I spent $20 on a heart-shaped wreath I think will look nice up there. I really hesitated about buying it, though. $20 is a lot of money to stick at a grave site. I know Paul would have a fit about that. But, I really liked the wreath. And, it's not like I'll be spending money on a Valentine's or anniversary present for him. Hopefully, it will last for several years, though. And maybe in a few years I won't care so much about grave decorations anymore.
Well, let's see...this first week of February...what has happened?
Ben had a snow day Monday. I don't think he could have gone to school anyway because he was still pretty sick with his head cold that day. But he's doing fine now. I know now it was, indeed, a cold and not his allergies, because all three of the Littles have a cold of their own. If they share their germs with me I am not going to be very happy! I'm sure layering up on the Thieves oil these days, just in case!
The next day school was in session. A few minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive the garbage truck got stuck making the turn out of our alley onto Orchard St. I've seen them do this before. I think the pay scale must be pretty low for Waste Management drivers because, overall, they just don't strike me as the brightest drivers out there. I wasn't sure what to do with Ben. The bus would be coming to pick him up but how was Ben going to get to the bus now? Sure, he could probably sidle alongside the garbage truck, but that was a foolish proposition. If that truck moved in its attempts to free itself out of the snow, Ben could be crushed to death. He couldn't wade through the yard in his tennis shoes, either, because there was 12" of snow on the ground! I finally had him put on some boots and then put his tennies in his back pack. This way he was able to walk through the neighbor's property, way out of reach of the garbage truck. It worked and then the bus drove in reverse all the way back up the street in order to turn around and go get the kids at the end of Orchard. What a morning! And you know what the worst part was? For all the irritation and embarrassment of getting stuck, the garbage guys then SKIPPED my garbage can! I had to call them to come back out and get it, which took another 2 1/2 days.
Ben is loving his new job at Hy-Vee, which I knew he would. He goes an hour a day for three days a week. Right now they have him sacking groceries. I also found out the school got him a job on Fridays at the senior center calling bingo numbers. I think that's kind of funny, actually. But Ben's liking that, too!
Sunday Ben has his very first basketball game. I'll be curious to see how he does since he's never played an actual game before. It's in Indianola so we're just going to eat lunch over there and then go to the game. Afterwards, his coach is hosting a pizza party at her house in Pleasantville. So it should be a busy afternoon. Will will be home as he seems to be most weekends anymore so we can go as a family. That will be nice.
Then, the next Sunday, the Littles and I are going swimming at an indoor water park in Des Moines. It's an event hosted by Amanda the Panda. The older boys had no interest in going. I need to figure out this week if the girls can still fit in their swimsuits or not.
I found out that Prom Alternative is being held the same weekend that Ben and I will be Florida. Ugh. I'm already feeling guilty enough about going (guilty that I can't take all the kids to Disney World and the other places on the itinerary - but then, this IS a school event and they are not exactly students themselves). And yes, when David found out he immediately began giving me a hard time about how it's bad enough that I'm running off to Florida with his brother, but now I'm going to miss his FIRST Prom Alternative, too? I can't be in two places at once! I've got arrangements made for everyone's care for the time I'll be gone. Will is going to shoot down here as soon as he's done with classes that day and will take David over to the church and then he'll transporting the girls to my friend, Mishelle's house, and will watch Sam all weekend. But I feel bad that I won't be here to see David all dressed up and take pictures.
But...this is a once-in-a-lifetime event for Ben. And he is so-o-o excited. He's worked hard to earn the money to go and I have to be there to help him. I'm actually not crazy about the idea of 48 hours on a charter bus with 50 high schoolers. The idea of traipsing all over Disney makes my feet hurt in advance. But I'm going to do it for Ben. And, David's only a freshman. It's not like I'm missing his senior prom event.
Mother guilt...nasty stuff.
I sat down to do some filing up at City Hall this week. It had been a few months since I'd tackled this job. I opened up one of the filing drawers with my paper in hand...and I could not remember where to file it. I knew that I knew where it should go, but that piece of information would not come to the front of my mind. It was kind of scary. And then, moments later, I could not remember one of the garbage customer's names. I needed to file something in their folder, but I couldn't get the name to come up. I felt nearly panicky. Is this what the rest of my life will look like? Right now I'm blaming this on hormones and widow fog, but what if it's not? What if my mind is slowly slipping away? What if it's early-onset Alzheimers? Will I spend the rest of my life forgetting names and important pieces of information?
That night I then dreamed that I had had another baby boy. We named him and then I was on a bus with the baby when I suddenly realized I had no idea what his name was anymore. I got to some building where a lot of people were sitting at tables and I asked Paul if he could remember what we had named the baby. He just smiled at me. In a panic, I turned to our pastor who was also there and asked him and he said he didn't know. Then, a gentleman at the table laughed and said, "That's what you get for having seven kids!" It was a nightmare.
Maybe I'm just tired. Last night I actually turned out my light before 10. And I have felt pretty good today, as a result. I woke up 20 minutes before I had to this morning with a racing heart, but I just read recently that heart issues are very common in peri-menopausal women - palpitations, racing, etc. So I wasn't too worried about it. Unless I should be.
The girls new Social Security cards arrived Wednesday. Unbelievable. New names, and new official numbers - almost like they're new people, entirely. I guess they are, in the eyes of the government. Unbelievable in the sense that it took me months upon months and frustration galore to obtain these - and all it took was one competent employee who knew what she was doing and I had the cards in 8 days.
I've had two close parking lot calls in the last few days. Neither were my fault. The first happened last Saturday out at the Valley Community Ctr where I dropped off the Littles for the single parent event. Also going on in that building was some basketball thing - tournament or something. The players all looked to be middle schoolers. I was driving through the parking lot, in the snow, and this dumb kid runs right in front of my van through the parking lot. I could have hit him so easily. It was snowing heavily, the lot was slick, and this kid wasn't looking around at anything. In fact, he was so "cool" that he was out in the snow in just his shorts and jersey. I wasn't really mad, though. I remember being a not-so-smart middle schooler myself and I've raised a few already. It's not a time in life where the brain readily engages. I'm just glad I was able to avoid hitting him.
Then, this week I was in the Walmart lot. As I pushed my full cart, a large package of toilet paper fell off the bottom rack so I had to stop and pick it up. That delay may have saved my life. I was, literally, one step away from stepping behind a car to get to my van on the other side when the car suddenly screamed into reverse and shot backwards - absolutely no warning, no visible back-up lights. I jumped backwards, yanking the cart with me, and the front passenger window rolled down and a silly young, teenage or college age girl yelled out, "Sorry!" Wow.
That was actually my second trip to Walmart. I was planning to do my all-day, monthly shopping on Monday. Well, that was the day after the snowstorm and I wasn't sure about the roads (in fact, Will skipped college on Monday and didn't head back until that afternoon) so I didn't go. Tuesday I wasn't able to go until the afternoon because I had promised to take the kids to see Clifford (more on that later). It was Ellie's turn to accompany me. By the time we got to Walmart it was early evening, I would guess. My cart was finally too full to add anything else so I went through the check-out lane, thinking that I would pay, unload the groceries, and then come back in and finish my shopping. I had a ton of coupons this time around for some reason. That evening I had about $30 worth. There were about 3 coupons that refused to go through. So I had to unload every single bag out of my cart to find the items so they could void them and then rescan them with the amount of the coupon taken off. I was not happy. I did it the one time and, of course, the needed items were on the very bottom of $400 worth of groceries. And then they told me I had to do it again. It was at this point I began to throw a mild fit and tell them that if they wanted to do it this way, then they could unload all the groceries I had just re-loaded into the cart. They got a manager who did just that. And when she got them all loaded back, it happened again. I do not see WHY they cannot look at the grocery tape to prove that I did, indeed, purchase the item and then do a miscellaneous credit in the amount of the coupon. And by this time the line is totally backed up which is embarrassing. I don't like holding people up, but I do think if I have the coupon and I have followed the instructions on the coupon in purchasing, I should be awarded the money off that has been promised by the manufacturer.
By the time I got out of Walmart it was 8pm. I was tired, Ellie was tired and figured, "phooey!" and went home. All the way, I was pondering out this Walmart dilemma. I hate this. So what should I do? Do I quit clipping coupons? But - when they go through - I'm easily saving $20-40 off my grocery bill every month. Is it a matter of where I'm shopping? Would buying my groceries elsewhere mean I'd encounter more competent employees? But if I went somewhere else, I'd be spending more money, which kind of negates the whole point of couponing. I already go to one of the nicer Walmarts in the metro so it's not like I'm shopping in a poorer neighborhood (that might attract less educated or polite employees). I don't know. I am growing to really, really HATE Walmart. It's not just the couponing. The employees are surly and difficult to find when needed. But, they are the cheapest...at what point should money not be as important as how I'm being treated? I just don't know.
Maybe the answer is when I'm not longer responsible for feeding 7 people!
As I mentioned, I did take the kids to see Clifford, the Big Red Dog, earlier this week. This is something IPTV does this time of year - sends someone dressed up like the cartoon character to different metro libraries for a story and greeting time along with Dan Wardell, who is kind of like the ambassador or representative for the kids club portion of Iowa public television. Two years ago I had surprised Sam and Lizzie by taking them. This year, they saw advertisements for the event and begged to go. So we went clear up to the North Side library. I didn't really want to do it because it would delay my shopping by several hours, and I don't like that section of Des Moines, but I reasoned that it was getting the kids out of the house and besides, if they're in school next year, they may never get to do this again.
I was a little embarrassed when Dan Wardell was doing his little introductory thing, explaining to the kids that yes, he is on tv, but...He said, "Now, when you get home today I want you to go up to your tv's a-n-n-nd..."
And from the front row, my three chorused excitedly,
"Turn them on!"
Uh, no. That's not the answer Dan was looking for. In the meantime, I was studiously gazing at my shoes, hoping nobody connected the three kids to me.
It didn't work because after the event was done and the kids had posed for pictures with Clifford, Dan approached me and said, "I can tell your kids really have it 'together' and I was wondering if you'd be willing to stick around after everyone leaves so I can interview them." Um, sure...but I'm pretty sure my kids don't have it "together"! But he had just gotten an i phone 6 and wanted to try out the videoing on it. He said the quality is so good with these phones that he is hoping to be able to put the interviews on the IPTV Kids Club website in the next week or so. He said the quality isn't good enough yet for television, but seems to be working fine for computer. So I'll have to remember to check back on their website and see if the kids make it up onto the site!
I didn't hear the entire conversation, but Lizzie was talking about some of the different US presidents. She made a comment about how one of them was named "Mount Rushmore" and another was, "John the Baptist."
Also, the subject of scratched corneas was raised. I don't remember exactly, but more than likely, I was warning the kids about doing something near each other's eyeballs. And then David launched into his story about how Will scratched his cornea with his toenail years ago. Lizzie listened, her nose wrinkled. She then asked, "So how did David get corn in his eye?"
And that's all I've got for this week.
I did get up to the graveyard this afternoon. It was completely untouched up there, other than the path on the road that the snowplow pushed out. There was just whiteness as far as you could see - so pretty. Paul would be pleased to know his body is resting underneath all that snow right now.
Will is home. I knew he'd be here sometime this weekend but I didn't expect it at 2 this afternoon. And now, looking out my window, I see that Ben just stepped off the school bus. All my chicks are home. I've got a roast in the oven and bread rising on the table.
It's a good day.