Good Grief?

After experiencing grief for nineteen years it is my conclusion that there is nothing good about it. My lovely, beautiful, caring, adoring wife Barbara died on this day nineteen years ago. I write this at three hours past the time she expired in 2003. Over the last few years this day has not crossed my mind as sharply as it has this year. All I know is that suddenly, like the piercing pain that shot down my back last week I am laden with depression. This phenomenon is not new to me. For years after she died I would fall into depression at the beginning of July and be miserable for the next two months. The first day of July, 2003 is when she went into the hospital with peritonitis, and never returned. The memory of her last days has faded over the years except, this year it is as sharp and clear as it has ever been.

My writing frequency has diminished over the last two months, and I am now beginning to believe that it is because of my depression. Usually, once I realize why I’m not able to think of anything to write about I attribute it to depression. One way I can dig myself out of the hole is to express my feelings to the ether of the internet. Once they are out of my mind my soul is once again free to soar.

A friend who writes the Just Cruising blog is currently going through a similar change. The writer is taking time off to rethink why he has a blog in the first place. I too have to remember why I began this journey. I know for fact that my original goal was to promote the benefits of positive thinking. I have strayed from that path and instead immersed myself in the idiocy of trying to persuade people to my conservative ideas. That was fun for a while but after achieving failure, I switched to just plain story telling; find a subject and tell the story about how that topic came into my life. I must have run out of topics because that no longer amuses me. So now, I find myself writing about myself and my depression triggered by grief.

In the days after Barb died, on a scale of one to ten, with ten being maximum unbearable pain, my grief was at a hundred. Slowly, ever so slowly over the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years it softened to where I would place it at about a four. Then 2022 hit me right square between the eyes and I am back to ten. I thank God it is no longer at one hundred.

One way I coped with grief was to remarry. I found a beautiful lady who was also a widow. She totally understood my emotions as she experienced them also. We were happy for fifteen years together. Our shared grief was mild, but still present. Unfortunately, after ten years she contracted a disease that caused her to forget who I was. We were faithful lovers and friends to the end.

Grief didn’t hit me as hard the second time, but it was certainly there. I think the first round hardened my soul to resist the emotion. Now that I think about it, my current depression began around late June, which is when she died three years ago. Add that to the first grief beginning in July and I wonder why I am having trouble? I am experiencing a super nova of grief. Maybe it is because of the way the planets are aligned and the moon is circling.

At this point of my tome of over 600 words I realize that I am embarking on the very first session of blogging therapy which no doubt will begin digging me out of the trench in which I landed. That my friends is why I probably have been doing this for so many years, it is a form of therapy for me.

The Movie Will Be Even Better

Wow! I just finished reading a lovely story based in Venice, Italy.The author Rhys Bowen held me spell bound throughout. Her story titled, The Venice Sketchbook spans several generations of family in England and Italy and begins just before World War Two. Lately I have been enamored by tales that involve the Big One. Ms Bowen’s characters are real and believable. The heroine is someone I wouldn’t mind dating myself. The theme of using artists, art, and Venice together kept my interest in this page turner. The plot of young love between a middle class English girl and a very rich and titled Italian boy stretches into middle age love. Life in Venice seemingly was untouched by war, that is until the Germans invaded Poland, France, Belgium, and began bombing England. That is when the real story begins, life suddenly became different.

I am an amateur artist and I studied art appreciation in my early college years. I still have a bent for the medium and more than ever frequent showings, and galleries and appreciate good artistic ability. To me this plot to put the central character into an art school in Venice filled a void in my mind.

I also love knowing about Italy. Another favorite story of mine is Under the Tuscan Sun by author Frances Mayes. The bucolic scenes painted of the in Tuscan countryside make me want to live there or at least visit. When combined with my recollections of twenty-four hours in Italy back in the nineties these stories are fueling my desire to travel and roam the countryside on a bicycle, or at least a Maserati, Ferrari, or Fiat.

The Venice Sketchbook is filled with complex plots told using a time traveler theme. An modern day English niece inherits her great aunt’s estate, and begins a quest to learn of her aunt’s mysterious past as a covert intelligence agent in WWII while trapped in Venice. Intertwined in both the past and present stories are love interests keeping the aunt’s and her niece’s lives interesting and alive.

I give this story five stars. * * * * *

I can’t wait to see the movie version.

Raging Hormones and Crying Eyes

I finished my KETO lunch and am spending too much time clicking aimlessly from page to page on the internet allowing my God given minutes to be wasted. The last page I stopped on was a blog “Behind the White Coat.” The blogger, a doctor, wrote a heart tearing piece about his father who had Alzheimer’s dementia. Reading it opened a new door to my own grief of losing my sweetheart Peggy. In three days she will have passed five months, but I still think about her daily as I do my first wife Barbara who is now gone sixteen years. Grief is a strange emotion that strikes when you least expect it, and can turn a great sunny day into a dreary grey one.

Reading the Doc’s blog post got me to thinking about how grief affected me after Barb died. At her wake a widowed cousin whispered into my ear “don’t be foolish like I was and seek out a grief support group asap, I waited three years.” Grief made me do strange things, and to forstall the emotion I loaded myself with as much activity as was possible. I found a grief support group right in my own church and went to the September meeting. It was one month after Barb died. The group leader led each attendee in discussion. “Tell us about your loss,” she would ask?  The grieving widow would spend as much time as she needed to tell her story. I was the only man in the group of about ten ladies. Their ages ranged from fifty to eighty, I was sixty-five. We sat in a circle on couches and lounge chairs in a pleasant setting. Immediately opposite me sat a beautiful black haired beauty with penetrating blue eyes that met my own and clicked a button in my head that said, this girl is going to be my wife. Maybe it was because my hormones were raging during that time that I would immediately think of marriage when my wife of forty-two years was barely cool in her grave, but that is exactly what happened.

When it was my turn to talk, I could not utter a single word, I was so overcome by emotion. My eyes welled up in tears and my voice choked. I just waved to the moderator and with a crackly voice said “I can’t.”

Later, I told the story of my breakdown to a friend. What really impressed me was that some of these widows lost their husbands five years earlier. I expressed my concern about the efficacy of a support group that kept people coming back with grief for five years. That’s not what I had in mind, and she asked me why I would continue to return to such a group. I never told her about how my eyes zeroed in on the azure blue eyes of an amazing woman who had a huge effect on me. Of course I attended every month if only to continue to see the raven haired beauty with the penetrating eyes. By December, I was able to speak to people, but I still could not tell my story about Barb. That night as we cleared the tables of the cookies and refreshments I hung around until everyone was gone except Peggy. I knew her story because she was able to relate it to the group. She met her husband when she was fourteen. They married when she was seventeen, just before he left for basic training. She moved with him to his base near Columbia, South Carolina and stayed in a rooming house until he was transferred to the Okeefenokee Swamp for bivouac training. She came home and lived with her parents untill he was discharged. After basic, his orders were to go to Korea. A serious mistake during a dental check caused him to miss the boat. His chart was switched with someone else’s and the dentist never checked before he began to pull Ron’s teeth. The man whose teeth were supposed to be pulled caught the boat to Korea, Peggy’s husband got new dentures and spent the rest of his tour in Germany. I helped Peggy carry a heavy bag of books and goodies out to her car. We talked in the parking lot until both of us were frozen. I asked her If I could write to her from Arizona because I was leaving within a couple of weeks to spend the winter. She said yes it would be alright.

I went to Arizona to leave my tears there. During Barb’s wake and funeral I could not shed a single tear. In Arizona one of my daily routines was to walk to the library and write in my journal. I wrote the story of Barb’s heart attack and the following two year ordeal. It turned into a tale about our life together. There were days when the pages were soaked and the ink ran the page, but I got it out. I never reread the story until about a month ago. I found the journal while cleaning and trashing stuff from my house.

I was about a month  from returning, when I finally wrote a letter to Peg. Letter writing became an after lunch routine. I cooked lunch by recipes three times a week and on those days I also wrote letters to friends. The letter was properly headed with my address and the date, but I also included my Arizona phone number. A week later I received a call from Peg.

Two years went by when I finally asked her to marry me. She responded yes without hesitation, and that sealed our deal. Now, I find myself recalling the many great times we had together. I want those memories burned into my brain to wash out the memories of her final four years of regression. She finally reached the point where she forgot how to breath. I missed her very last breath by only a few minutes. I wanted to be holding her hand when it happened, but that wasn’t to be.

I Am Proud To Be An Old Fart

I never really liked the terminology “Old Farts” but this makes me feel better about it.
And if you ain’t one, I bet ya you know one!
I got this from an “Old Fart” friend of mine!
OLD FART PRIDE
I’m passing this on as I did not want to be the only old fart receiving it. Actually, it’s not a bad thing to be called, as you will see. Old Farts are easy to spot at sporting events; during the playing of the National Anthem. Old Farts remove their caps and stand at attention and sing without embarrassment.  They know the words and believe in them.

Old Farts remember World War II, Pearl Harbour ,  Guadalcanal , Normandy  and Hitler. They remember the Atomic Age, the Korean War, The Cold War, the Jet Age and the Moon Landing. They remember the 50 plus Peacekeeping Missions from 1945 to 2005, not to mention  Vietnam .

If you bump into an Old Fart on the sidewalk he will apologize. If you pass an Old Fart on the street, he will nod or tip his cap to a lady. Old Farts trust strangers and are courtly to women.

Old Farts hold the door for the next person and always, when walking, make certain the lady is on the inside for protection.

Old Farts get embarrassed if someone curses in front of women and children and they don’t like any filth or dirty language on TV or in movies.

Old Farts have moral courage and personal integrity. They seldom brag unless it’s about their children or grandchildren.

It’s the Old Farts who know our great country is protected, not by politicians, but by the young men and women in the military serving their country.

This country needs Old Farts with their work ethic, sense of responsibility, pride in their country and decent values.

We need them now more than ever.

Thank God for Old Farts!

Pass this on to all the “Old Farts” you know.

I was taught to respect my elders.
It’s just getting harder to find them.

Five Stars Squared

I just finished reading a delightful book which I thought would bring me back to grief. I read all the reviews and picked up the story line ahead of  time to realize the main character loses his wife to cancer. I hate stories about men who lose wives to anything disease. That is how I lost my first wife and am now losing my second. The idea of awakening grief within my body made me cringe. Yet, after beginning to read I fell in love with this story. Yes there was grief, love, suspense, and excitement, all of the elements of fiction that make a story interesting. The most unlikely character is the dog. The central character’s dog Enzo tells the story from beginning to end. The ending is sad but beautiful. You will not go wrong reading The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

Five stars squared.