One Lonely Day = 15 Cigarettes

This summer has been wonderful, and strange at the same time. Weather-wise I couldn’t ask for anything better, but Labor Day weekend was a big disappointment. It felt like Frankfort celebrated a weekend off. For forty years we have had a Fall Festival on Labor Day weekend. This year it was cancelled because of COVID. We will eventually recover from this shock, but it may take a long time, like several years.

Suddenly, fall is sneaking in and the weather is changing. Temperatures are dropping rapidly. It seems like I just got acclimated to living in ninety degrees when all of a sudden today it was sixty. Next week we will have some warm days but in general the temps will swing downward. Fall is in the air, the leaves are dropping from the trees and changing color too. Flowers and plant life are withering from the recent drought. I called it sneaking in, but it seems more like a thud, and its here.

The weather change has me thinking about wintering in a warm climate. I haven’t had that urge for several years, but now I do. I need to get away and shock my life into something new. The one problem I have with this plan is that it is the stress of distancing that has caused me to want to seek out a new life somewhere else, and COVID will be with me anywhere in the world I might want to escape to. I have a lot of thinking and researching to do before I make any reservations.

One scary thought is that my friend base in Phoenix is smaller now than it was six years ago. Being alone will not help to improve my attitude at all. I read a short article published in September, 2020 issue of Departures magazine titled “Happiness” by author Eviana Hartman on how happiness affects people’s lives and one sentence stunned me.

“Happy people are less likely to catch a virus, and loneliness can be as damaging to physical health as smoking fifteen cigarettes per day.”

I quit smoking forty-two years ago, and it scares me to know that I can wipe out the benefits by feeling lonely. Loneliness is one of the biggest problems I encountered after each of my life partners died. It took a long time to be happy again, and I worked hard at changing my life in order to reach a happy state. So far, I haven’t reached happiness after Peg’s passing, but it’s only been fourteen months.

All I can say is that I’m working on it, and that is all I want to say about that.

Day 72-SIP-Funk

What a beautiful day it is today! The sun is shining brightly, it is warm, and the birds are singing cheerfully. My mood however is down. Why? How the heck do I know? If I did I might do something about it. Depression, when it occurs is a strong phenomenon. I get this way occasionally, and I hate it. It is only eleven o’clock in the morning and I have already taken a thirty minute nap. Somehow my drowsiness is connected with the sadness. It could be that the 29th of the month is Peg’s death date. She has been gone for eleven months now, but I still feel her presence and wish she could be here with me. Of course I want her here like she was before she went into dementia.

She spent her time in hell on this earth. Seven years of declining memory, four years of lost voice, three years of lost mobility, and finally the end. The lost voice part had to be hell by itself. When a woman who loves to talk can no longer do so she must be existing in silent agony. She spent hours staring out of front window looking and waiting, but for what? I often wondered what was going on in her mind. What were her thoughts? What did she feel?

On gorgeous days like today, I wheeled her out to the deck and down the ramp to the patio, and we sat together next to the pond watching the fish and the birds. I talked to her by retelling our experiences while we were traveling. She never responded in any way, not a smirk, not a grin, not a smile, not a wink, not anything. Eventually, when I spotted a mosquito on her I wheeled her back into the house. She never complained that I did.

Grief is a strange thing. Until I wrote the words above about the 29th being her death date, it never occurred to me that I am feeling punk because of grief. At least it is something to blame my crappy attitude on. In the past, I used exercise to get me out of the funk, and today, I will do the same. Hopefully it will be the cure.

Today is also the first official day that our businesses in town are opening under strict rules. Cafe’s and restaurants are open for outside eating. Those that had patios have it easy, those that don’t are scrambling to put a few tables and chairs out in front of their places. Even the town is working to block off one street to open more outdoor seating space for their customers. Hair salons and barber shops are also open with some strict guidelines, like by appointment only, no waiting inside, masks for stylists and customers, and disinfecting clean ups every half hour.

I have been watching the numbers of COVID cases in our zip code and until this week it has been flat, but yesterday confirmed cases jumped to 124 from 75, is it coincidence, anomaly, or fact? On days like today when I am in a funk, I really don’t give a damn about being careful. I might be better off as a statistic. I really don’t mean that, but it is the way I feel. By tomorrow this feeling will pass, and I’ll want to make my time on this earth worth talking about. I will want a straight pass through the pearly gates without any questions asked.

God’s Gift

Early this past week my thoughts and emotions were morose. Peg moved to another low. She began sleeping twenty hours each day. She was not responsive, nor in a mood to eat or drink. Then, on Thursday morning she awoke before me and I received a good morning smile. She even spoke a few words. Her mood remained happy throughout the day. She even had a few moments of laughter. I was overjoyed. At three-thirty, her caretaker and I lifted her from bed and placed her into a wheelchair. As usual, I wheeled her around the house and showed her what a beautiful day it was. The sun shone brightly, it was warm, and there were billowy white clouds rising to heaven in an azure sky. The views of the 2016 Monet Vision-Patriots Dream held her attention as she gazed at the pond in what seemed like a stupor.

Finally, I parked her chair at the table and we had supper together. By seven-thirty she crashed while watching TV, and we promptly put her back to bed.

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Friday morning was the same and we enjoyed another glorious day. I played an Elvis album of gospel music while we held hands, and napped.

Today promises to be a similar day, however, her smile is missing and a frown on her face signals a bit of unhappiness, perhaps it is pain. I can’t tell for sure, and she can’t tell me, nor would she if she could. Before she began this journey, and I suspected she was in pain and commented she responded with “it is nothing I can’t take.”

I’ll take these good days and I thank God for them. I know there are dark days still ahead and there will be plenty of them to brood over, but now I bask in the sunshine of her smile.

 

Bear With Me

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Life is like a road trip. Often, we spend time on a super highway with a very definite destination. At other times we are on a side road through a very dark and dense forest with lots of curves, and the destination is unknown. My life is now on one of those twisty paths where the next mile is unknown, and the destination is unclear, yet the journey consumes life.

My writing has been sparse of late because of the twists and turns of daily living. Many unforeseen incidents have arisen which have taken precedence over the joy of transferring thoughts to paper. A friend with dementia, a child with cancer, a second house that needs preparation for sale, all of these twists have cut me off from the interstate headed for enjoyment.

Perhaps, when this curvy road straightens out, and I return to the super highway, then, Grumpa Joe’s Place will again become a priority. Until that happens, please bear with me.

A Dark Day Made Worse by Rain

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Dreary December days bring on depression. I am one who needs sunlight to survive, and today was one of those dark days made worse by rain. The only bright spot was watching my bride eat one of her classic breakfasts. Usually she has a pretend breakfast. She will set out a number of things like a banana, an egg, juice, rice crispy square, and anything else that might suit her fancy. I’ll chug down my bowl of cereal with milk and a side of coffee. We spend time together, then she will get up to get her bathrobe so she won’t spill on her good clothes. By the time she returns I have finished, and I am cleaning up. She does the same thing, and puts all her stuff away, without tasting a single thing. I know better than to comment, I just shrug and ignore her lack of interest in eating. This morning I had eggs, so she said she would have an egg too. That means hard boiling eggs to please her palette. In the meantime my stomach growls loudly while waiting for those eggs to harden. It takes seventeen minutes to boil an egg hard. Then, there is a cool down and finally removal from the shell. Meanwhile, my two fried eggs are still in the shell waiting to hit the fry pan..
This morning Peg waited for the hard-boiled eggs. I finally served her two hard-boiled eggs on a plate before I fried my eggs. When I finally sat down to eat she got up to get a cake from the fridge. She wanted a slice of strawberry chocolate cream cake with her egg. I had to slice her a piece before I could finally attack my cooled fried eggs. Who eats strawberry chocolate cream cake with hard-boiled eggs? Not me for sure. I could not resist photographing the event. Today was a day when she actually ate breakfast. Oh, by the way do you see the orange juice container on the table, but a glass of Pepsi next to her plate.?

Lord help me, please.

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