Day 22-Quarantine-Too Many Bad Memories

Today, I woke up and told myself that this day is dedicated to Uncle Sam. Yes, it is the day I finally do my income taxes. Over the years I have whittled down the amount of time it takes me, but I still spend eight to ten hours compiling data for the dreaded IRS 1040. I will say one thing, I didn’t think or obsess about the COVID-19 virus. Instead, I sorted receipts, credit card statements, doctor visits, drug purchases, charity giving, anything deductible that I could find, big or small, to reduce the amount of tax I have to pay.

The Tax Man Cometh

Thanks to COVID-19 and the accompanying market crash my fixed income is drawing from a much smaller pool. The thought of draining the pool before death is not comforting. Instead it brings on thoughts of how the virus might be an advantage. Catch virus and die, then leave something for the kids. The opposite is catch the virus, don’t die, and run out of money to live on. The kids will visit you living in a tent city under an overpass. Morose. Of course, I should feel guilty about my high taxes in light of the fact that the government just threw two-trillion ($2,000,000,000,000) dollars at the economy to save it from obliteration. I should feel patriotic and happy to be donating to the cause.

Uncle Sam brought me an unexpected benefit today, grief. As I sorted records, each one brought back memories of life over the past year. Most of the expenditures were for health-care items bought to bring Peg some comfort. As I reviewed them, my mind returned to the situation that incurred the expense. Most were not happy times. Like the last visit of the podiatrist who trimmed Peg’s toenails and inadvertently irritated one of her toes into a wound that we could not heal. Or the rental for her pneumatic mattress that was designed to keep her from getting bed sores. Her skin was so broken down that it was too little too late. These are all the kinds of memories I can do without. I am afraid they will haunt me in my dreams. My prayers will be to never see another pressure sore for the remainder of my life.

Tomorrow, I will wrap up the details of my data and send the pile to my tax man. He basically pumps the numbers into a neat program and it spits out the results. He’ll have it completed within four hours. There is something wrong with that picture, I spend ten hours compiling data so it is nice and neat and he spends less than half that time entering the data, and he gets paid. This is the last time I can claim Peg as a dependent and next year my taxes will be much higher, I can hardly wait.

The weather was fabulous today, but the only time I set foot outside was to gather the mail. Tomorrow, I will spend time in a ZOOM meeting with the support group for sight impaired. All I can vision is a bunch of blind people staring at a computer screen waiting for something to happen. It’ll be interesting for sure.

In the meantime, I found a grocery store that actually gave me a delivery date, get this, it is the local grocer that I go to all the time. My previous attempts were with huge stores like Walmart, Meijers, Shipt, and Target. I don’t even get an acknowledgement from them, but my local gave me a date for next Monday a full week out. The company called Shipt is an online delivery service that will shop for you from any of the major stores and bring it to your door. Their problem is they can’t deliver either. Wow, I wouldn’t want my brainstorm of an idea to blow up on me like that. I guess I can live on my crumbs until then. The downside is the selection of items is about one quarter of what it was in the big box stores. It is a famous trick for companies to sell what you want at a very low price when they don’t have any stock.

It is time to turn on Homeland and fill my brain with violence and terrorism before I retire to have nightmares about Peg’s bed sores and her death.

To Die For

Learning to be single in one’s eighties is really different. Throughout my life I always had some type of support. From birth until college it was my parents, brother and sister. In college it was a room mate. After college it was back to my parents for a short while, then, marriage. That phase lasted forty two years, and I was single again, living alone, then marriage again. The second time it lasted fourteen years, and that brings me up to today, single again. I vowed never to get married again, but never say never. I am determined to stay single.

Life has become a battle between grief and loneliness, but after nine months of it I  can claim I am gaining on the task. To combat loneliness I have developed a daily pattern. Basically, it is get up, make breakfast, clean up, read mail, listen to my radio show, make lunch, go for a long walk, surf the net, work on my art, make supper, cleanup, work on my art some more, watch movies, read, then go to bed. Exciting? Not really, but it takes my mind off my loves and keeps grief away. After seventeen years I still grieve for my first wife Barbara, and now my second wife Peggy, such is life.

I thank God for allowing me to have Xfinity On Demand, and Amazon Prime, both services are keeping me going. I stay away from zombies, terminators, cartoons, satanic, comic characters, and stick with drama. Do you know how many movies are in the genres I just listed? Thousands. I do like action movies involving espionage, and mystery. All of them have to be included with the service, I refuse to spend money on rentals to get recent selections.

Most of the films I watch are family oriented stories. Most of them have plots based on the effect of someone dying. I estimate nine out of ten stories depict the hardship that life brings after a family member dies. Knowing a little bit about life after losing a partner I can attest to the truthfulness of how life gets screwed up. Many stories are about the effect of death on children. I watched one last night called “A Father’s Choice.”  A cowboy falls for a city girl, and they marry. They have two daughters. Their marriage falls apart and the mother raises the girls alone. She meets a man she wants to marry. The happy family to be is returning from a night out at dinner and the movies. As they exit their car and approach the house the new man notices strange things, like the dog is out in the back barking, the front entry light is out, etc. They take two steps toward the door and a man in black jumps out of the dark and begins shooting. He kills the mother on the spot and nearly kills her fiancé, the girls are spared. Think of the impact of this scene on the kids. The rest of the story involves how the kids cope and how their estranged cowboy father learns to be a parent after a long absence. I love this kind of plot, but there are too many off them that rely on death to become a story.

Many of the better films are not produced int he USA, but rather in Canada or Australia. Folks in those countries are not as focused on the weird zombie stories like we are in America. come to think of it, zombie movies are dependent on death also.

I got hooked on a series called Jack Ryan, based on author Tom Clancy’s stories about espionage and intrigue. The remarkable thing about these stories is the unbelievability of the central character to endure enormous punishment and his bullet dodging capability to stay alive while killing untold numbers of bad guys shooting at him with machine guns with single shots from his pistol.

If Hollywood ever decides to quit making this genre I am in trouble.

 

It’s Over

My attitude is still positive in spite of the fact that in 2019 I lost my beautiful wife to Alzheimer’s, and just this week learned of two very close friends who passed also. Death is a bummer when taken from the earthly perspective, but it can be the greatest gift one gets when viewed from the heavenly side. Whenever I first learn of a death, I am saddened but within a few days I begin to recover and move forward. There is nothing one can do to change the outcome. I had both of these friends on my daily prayer list for more than two years, It was all I could do.

This year ended my two year term term as President of the Frankfort Lions Club. I took the position seriously and gave it my all, but I was glad it ended. The position gave me a lot of respect from the community, and I enjoyed that, but it also meant I was more available to the community than I was to peg. My term ended the day after Peg died. Needless to say, my regret was not spending more time with her because of my responsibility to the club. Could it have been different? I don’t think so. I needed to get away for a few hours regularly to keep me from going insane watching Peg fall apart.

In 2019 I reached a new milestone. I passed 157,000 miles on my car and I have owned it for fourteen years. That is huge. I never owned a car that provided reliable transport for more than ten years and 110,000 miles. By that time these autos were too tired to be reliable anymore. With my present car I would not hesitate to get in and embark on my Great Last Time Around Tour of ten thousand miles. In my previous jalopies I would never have considered it.

My bucket list is one item shorter because I entered and displayed my Intarsia art in a public show and sale. I didn’t sell anything, but I did enjoy receiving many compliments on my work. It was a joy getting the display ready and borrowing some of the pieces from their owners to display them.

I started a new art project in March only to set it aside in April because Peg needed my attention more than the new piece. A week ago, I returned to the work and this morning I had a long talk with myself about starting another work as ambitious as this one. I find myself sitting and staring at the assemblage to study the contours of the model and then to envision the same lines in the flat pieces of wood before me. What was I thinking runs through my mind. To date, I have recut six pieces, broken four during shaping, and have added more cuts to split large pieces into smaller more manageable ones.

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Although I have not decided to put my house up for sale yet, I spent three months clearing the clutter of too many souvenirs, un-needed gadgets, and clothing, it is show ready.

For the very first time since I retired from work I bounced a check. In fact, I bounced several for three months in a row. I am still trying to determine what I spent so much money on to run my checking account dry.

Twenty nineteen is over, but I look forward with relish and intend to spend as much energy as possible to not waste the precious seconds God is granting me to make humanity better.

Have a very, very happy, and prosperous New Year!

 

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Grief Made Me Do It

The Great Last Time Around Tour

One of the things I have done recently that I consider to be productive is to come up with an idea that would take my mind away from grief. This one is fabulous in my mind and my friends get excited for me when I talk about it. I sat at my desk one day and began to think about all my friends and relatives that live outside of the Socialist-Democrat bastion of the mid-west. I started a list. I finally ran out of gas at twenty-four. I’m sure there are more, but I would have to change the rules to include a wider span of friendship and relations. What if I were to visit all of these people on one big trip around the United States? I am also hankering to see some of my favorite sites again, like Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Glacier NP, Redwoods, Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, and of course Crazy Horse Mountain. The last time I saw Crazy Horse it was just a scratch on the side of a mountain in the Black Hills. If I remember right, the original sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski was still alive in the seventies when I was there, blasting this mountain-sculpt by himself. As I continued to envision the trip it expanded more and more, and the miles began to add up. Hell, I might even have an excuse to buy a new car for this idea.

The next step I took involved Google Maps. I could plan the trip from person to person and city to city in a way that didn’t waste too many miles. I lost faith in Google Maps when I ran out of space to enter more cities at about Phoenix. Hell, so much for all this wonderful technology that can only go so far. I’m sure if I were still eighteen, I would have figured out how to make it all work. As it was I just started a new map and charted the second half of the trip on a second map. After looking at the route on the two maps I realized I missed a huge part of the country by skipping the northwest and northern states. That’s when I decided I wanted to see the Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier again. Another idea came back to me. As long as I’m driving all around the USA why not visit the four corners. I been to two of them(Key West and Washington) but I missed the point in Maine and the one south of San Diego. The problem with the four points route is that I would miss the entire center of the country. Missing so much started me to thinking of revising the whole idea to one where I visit every state, including Alaska and Hawaii. I don’t have friends in every state but I could fix that by making some.

As I write this I am reminded that Peggy and I traveled extensively in Canada. We took several driving trips. She wouldn’t fly nor take a boat so I said okay we’ll drive. It took three separate trips but we made it from Quebec city to Vancouver. I loved those trips and I wouldn’t mind exploring all the Provinces by car. One of my work acquaintances, Myles Murphy, migrated to the USA from Labrador which is still somewhat primitive compared to New York or Chicago. He often told me some funny stories about his relatives whom he visited yearly. He drove and then boarded a ferry. One of his stories involved his mother. It seems she got into his suitcase out of curiosity and found a grooming mirror. She picked it up and held it to her face. She saw the image of a woman, and said to herself,  “look at the ugly old woman he is carrying on with.”

The bottom line here is that the trip I routed on Google maps involves driving for 130 hours over 8500 miles. Since I am only physically able to drive five hundred miles a day or eight hours which ever comes first that amounts to seventeen days. If I spend a minimum of three days at each location that would add another 75 days. The whole trip would last three months provided I live through it.

Least of all I had to name this venture. I call it “The Great Last Time Around Tour.”

. . . and I still haven’t touched Alaska or Hawaii.

Week Eight of Twelve

 

I don’t believe the meme. We enter with our mother, we leave with family or friends, and it is rotten to be alone.

I took on a super goal after Peg died. I vowed to move out of this big house into a smaller less expensive place after she left me. Right now I am in week eight of a twelve week program to empty the house of all unnecessary stuff; most of it belonged to my beloved Peggy. As long as she lived with me I happily tolerated her belongings, but once she left I no longer feel the connection. The house still looks like a train hit it, but in reality it is much more empty than it has been in a long time. By the end of next week I will have removed all things Peg except her memory which I will cherish for as long as I live. She was a beautiful woman who really took my heart, and I couldn’t do enough for her. We shared an amazing fourteen years together, and I miss her.

Peg had a habit of never throwing anything away. Yesterday, I attacked her desk to clear the drawers. Grief overwhelmed me, but I persisted and succeeded getting through everything in an hour. Toward the end, she was  packaging all the newspaper articles she saved in plastic bags or manilla envelopes. Most likely she did this out of boredom while I stayed engrossed in writing or cartooning. No doubt this finding will be one of my regrets that will haunt me during my lifetime.

Regret is an amazing emotion, and coupled with grief it can destroy a person. The only tool I have to fight it off is a promise not to neglect someone I love like I did Peg.

There are four weeks remaining in my project and I will once again be alone with my thoughts, regrets, and loneliness. I’m not alone yet because I retained Peg’s caretaker as my helper for twelve weeks to clear out the house. She is like a sister to me and a wonderful companion. Just knowing someone is in the house with me is comforting.

Yesterday, I got a call from an agent about an apartment that I  have my eyes on. I’m on a waiting list (currently number thirty) to get into the place. I have never seen what these apartments look like and asked to be shown. When I got the call I got weak in the knees thinking the place became available.  Lucky for me, an apartment became empty and I was able to walk through to see it. Someone else on the list is moving in.

The apartment is very nice, but I had a problem accepting it as a place to call home. Maybe, it is because it is the only building within 500 yards of another. Or maybe because it is occupied by seniors, living in a neighborhood with kids of all ages has some social advantages. Everyday I see people walking past my house with their dogs. In the afternoon I see kids returning from school. In the evenings I often see neighbors exercising their dogs by playing fetch. If I get to feeling alone, I walk up to the library and browse. Social contact is important in one’s life. Living in the senior complex so far away from everyone is definitely a negative.

Another negative of living in an apartment is having to give up my wood shop and Intarsia work. I look forward to giving up my garden, but the shop is another thing. I have worked with wood since I was twelve, but then again I worked with plants since I was four. I think it must be a brain thing.

The worst part of living alone after so many years of marriage is losing the soft cushy body to snuggle with. Although I have just endured four years without snuggles while Peg and I slept in separate beds in the same room. I can go on and on listing the advantages and disadvantages of living single, but it won’t do a thing for me to do so. I just have to live through this and get into a single routine like so many of my friends have already done.

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