Saturday, September 14, 2013

Our son has died

I never thought I would need to say the words "our son has died" or "this morning your brother/grandson died". But two weeks ago, on the morning of August 30, 2013, those words came out of my mouth, even though I hardly believed what I was saying.

To say I am sad is an understatement.  I am still grieving the loss of my Dad in April, and trying to help my Mom make sense of her new normal, life without my Dad.  I almost lost her twice within a month because after my Dad died, she embarked on a journey of self destruction.  Now, we share our grief in yet another way. She lost her grandson, I lost my son.

In the past few months I have not posted on here because I have been busy getting her house ready to put on the market, helping her find a new home in another state closer to my brothers family, and trying to take care of the daily responsibilities of two households, a dog, my family, and still find time for my husband and myself. While I am still unemployed on sabbatical, I am busier than if I just had a full time job.  Now I am so happy I still not working.  I knew God worked in mysterious ways, and now I can understand better why I have not been hired yet, despite all the hours spent looking, applications submitted online and in person, and interviews I have been on.  God has a different plan for me and has taken me down a different path once more.  A detour of sorts. An angry and sometimes excruciatingly painful path.

So once I get my Mom settled in her new home, I am coming home to resume my sabbatical.  I will not post sad tales on this blog.  This is reserved for happier stories, stories of my grandchildren and quirky Mom. And don't be surprised to find a new blog started at some point this fall.

Friday, June 14, 2013

80 Days with Judy - Part 2

Mom had her knee surgery on May 31 and after several days of goofy behavior post-operative delirium she is now progressing nicely in a Senior Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy Center. Her knee looks very good and after having three previous knee surgeries, she has declared this one "beautiful".  While Mom has been busy rehabbing her knee and relaxing, I have continued to downsize, declutter, and organize her house - preparing for the possibility of listing the house for sale in the fall.

As mentioned in a prior post, over the past few weeks we have donated boxes and boxes and bags upon bags of clothing and household items, just so we can see what is in her closets.

Simultaneous to downsizing, the community my parents live in experienced major flooding.  Thankfully we were able to donate several boxes and bags to the local church who collected items for the flood victims.

With all the cleaning and sorting we have been doing, one room began to collect the "extras", things Mom decided to keep "just in case" or that she didn't want to part with "just yet", but didn't know where to store them, so they ended up in her office. 

In here 

Office Before

You may be thinking, "How did you get in there to clean?"

I tip-toed very carefully, hoping I wouldn't trip.  

Hoping I wouldn't fall - I didn't have Mom's life line on me.

Hoping I could finish the project without hurting my back, within the limited time I allowed myself during this trip back to her house.



I hardly threw anything out!!!  Just a few more pens.

I found a "home" for most of the items by grouping and organizing office supplies, books, CD's, and pens. Now everything has a place. Including the 20 dispensers of packing tape. I created a mailing station for all the big envelopes, tape, mailing labels, etc.  There is still much work to be done in this room but for now, we can move around and find what we need.

And now for the pens............

Pencils, pens, highlighters - OH MY! - placed neatly on top of the
mailing station and children's bins of crayons

These 7 containers of pens, pencils, highlighters, extra lead and erasers are what is left over of weeks of sorting through pens and weeding out the ones that don't work. We tossed away the equivalent of 2 containers and gave away another 2 containers of pens that still worked.  This doesn't count the two BINS of crayons, markers, and pencils that are marked "Grandchildren", or the red box of crayons that are Mom's.

Or the cups of pens on the filing cabinet in the kitchen or the drawers in every room.  Like I said, we still have more to do.

 But for now - it is done.
Family Tree information
Sewing notions
Mom's red crayon box - out of the reach of little hands
Mom's puzzles - she will never be bored
I pick on my Mom for all the pens she has accumulated in the last few years (Oh believe me we have downsized and SHE has downsized her collection many times over the years) but it made me think. Just for fun - I challenge everyone who reads this to gather all your pens, pencils, erasers, highlighters, markers and crayons together in one place.  Now see how many you have and let me know. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Decluttering and Downsizing

If you have read my posts all along, you will know that I spent a lot of time early in my "sabbatical" decluttering my house and downsizing the junk we had accumulated over the years. It was looking pretty good, and then my son moved his stuff back home.  Simultaneously, I started helping my Mom downsize her many collections.

Take my Mom's books.  I spent many months reading, sorting, dusting, and giving away piles and piles and piles of books from every corner of my house.  Most of them I read but some I discovered I had either started and couldn't quite get into, or just wasn't interested in that kind anymore. My shelves were dust free, orderly, and I could see what color the shelf was for a change! I had room for every book ON A SHELF! There was a point in time when no book lived in my house without a home of its own, rather than stuck in a box or bag or cornered in a room unable to breath.

I was so proud of myself.

So why, when I am so at peace, would I want to bring more books home from my Mom's while I am helping her find such order on her bookshelves? Last fall, I helped her downsize her large collection of books, discard old magazines, and sort through boxes and bags and more boxes and bags of books, puzzle books, and magazines, only to find my shelves cluttered again! Since my Dad died, we have sorted and tossed and given away even more things, including more books. Her shelves are dust free and looking darn good now.  And mine are over crowded again and as I write this post, I have a bin of books sitting on the floor to my right, waiting to be loaded into my car to take home.


When I was first unemployed on sabbatical, I was thrilled to have the time to read.  I had been looking forward to a time when that's all I had to do.  Of course I had hoped it would be a few more years down the road but since I had nothing better to do (at first), why not spend my day reading? But now I am getting more contracts and taking care of my Mom.  In a sense, I am back at work.  And I have a kindle now so I shouldn't be collecting as many hardcover books.

I need to learn to let books go on without me.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mom's set back

Well, I might need to extend the "80 Days with Judy" tour to include 30 more.  Please, pray that it does not become 180 days, as Mom suffered a set back and had to postpone her knee revision surgery by 1 - 2 weeks.  Let's hope all goes well from here on so she can finally be without all the pain she is in.

Last week Mom contracted pneumonia AND just to make things a little more exciting......acute kidney failure. Tuesday started out beautifully, we planned a day of  running errands and going to doctor appointments. She has been cooped up in the house so long I wanted to give her some time out watching people and feeling "normal" again. Tuesday the confusion and tremors were so much worse, it made moving difficult and getting in and out of the car quite challenging. After her pre-surgery blood tests, breakfast in the park, stopping to make a donation at the Hospice, we stopped home to re-curl her hair (I am NOT a hairdresser and forgot the shellac hairspray) and while we were there I made her call her doc to see if the tremors she was experiencing were caused by all the medicines she is on and request that he see her. Her tremors had progressively become worse over 5 days and she was so much more confused and forgetful. 

She had also developed a cough. When she called her doctor, the nurse told her to get over to the ER right away, that there was an abnormality in her blood work, that her potassium was high. Long story short, the next set of blood tests at the ER suggested she had 17% kidney function. That night, she was hospitalized.

She is home now and feeling much better.  They want to try to clear up the pneumonia and get her physically stronger before she goes into this surgery. She feels bad that I have to stay longer because she knows I am missing my husband, dog, and grand kids.  What I say to that now is - "All in good time Mom. You took care of me many times over the years, and my kids as well when I was too sick or injured to care for them myself while Dave was at work. And you did that when you had a full time job yourself. 

I got you now."

Monday, April 29, 2013

80 days with Judy

Ok I am back.  I will try to post here at least 4 times a week but not promises.

A lot has happened over the past few months and frankly, I update people on Facebook but my writing has taken a backseat to other things.

First, I am still on sabbatical but the contracts for grant reviewing have started.  I did write for about retirement living, which I know now was in preparation for what I am experiencing with my Mom. I have had to put the job search on hold a bit for another important "job" - more on that in a minute.

Second, and the most joyous part of what has happened in the last few weeks - my first grandson was born. I would like to introduce, Preston Elijah Berndt, born March 27, 2013 - all little man - eats, sleeps, burps and farts, loves his head to be rubbed, and smiles when kissed.

Just as with Avery, you will be updated rather frequently about my adventures as Gramma Gaga only now there will be even more to tell. I am so looking forward to that, and I hope you will enjoy the stories I post here as much as I enjoy living them.

Finally, a few days after Preston was born, on April 6, my father passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by family.  I will share more about the way he chose to live his last few weeks, but until then please go to the blog I set up for him at "My Dad's Health"

Since his death my Mom has been bedridden but not completely caused by the grief of losing her best friend and husband of 57 years.  She needed a knee replacement and had been in the process of scheduling that until my Dad suddenly took a turn for the worse.  The day after my Dad died, she twisted her knee wrong and the hardware in the old replacement loosened so she has not been able to walk.  My brothers lovingly cared for my Dad during the last couple of weeks and then it became my turn to take care of Mom and get her through her surgery.  So far, it has been a hoot trying to balance working a part time contract and running to get her latest "must have now" something. She can't hear but insists she doesn't need hearing aids.  I will refer to this special time with her as "80 days with Judy".  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Updates on my updates

If you follow this blog or just check in now and then, I apologize for being absent for so long. Between the holidays, being diligently aggressive in my job search, and suffering from occasional bouts of minor depression - I just didn't have much to say.

I kept up on my sabbatical activities however.  I spent time trying to sell things on eBay.  I am "opening" an Etsy store for vintage treasures hold sentimental value and I don't want to just give away but  don't have room for them now.  Remember?  I am downsizing and simplifying.

I have learned a lot in the last few months also.  I spent several days with my Mom helping her downsize.  We are ending "Phase 1". Phase one is the step of trying to psych yourself up for the journey you are about to embark on - parting with things you have that you really don';t need but still think you might "someday", or reflecting on which beloved treasures you want to give away or keep to take to your next home, which could be sizable smaller than the one you are in now.  It can be a very emotional process. And one that takes lots of time.  I found that I am quite a bit like her.

Like my Mom, I am a keeper of things that I find value in but others think are pointless to keep and simply rob the spirit from you by taking up energy in your life.  Like magazines.

I think I mentioned this in another post in the beginning.  I was once considered a magazine hoarder. My Mom is too. I had boxes upon boxes of magazines in my basement that dated back to the early 80′s. I also had magazine files and binders of “important” and “inspirational” articles, recipes, craft ideas, and who knows what else. 

I had a three inch binder filled with exercise routines to do someday. Seriously? 

That does not include the organizers and stacks upon stacks of “current” magazines I had readily available (in piles stacked in every room) for someday when I had time. I was a busy professional who worked 50 - 60 hours a week and even though I traveled and carried with me some of those articles I clipped, I was always reading work related material on the trips and would always find a more interesting magazine I couldn't find in my local Walgreen's so I always bought another one - which ultimately found its way to one of the piles for "later"...........

In May of 2011 I was unemployed and suddenly I had time. What did I do? For the entire summer I de-cluttered and I started with the magazines. What did I learn? Most of it was outdated material. (Really?  Parenting changes THAT much in 30 years? 

Some of the crafts I really didn’t want to do anymore. I had way too many recipes that if I cooked it all I would need 4 binders of exercise routines to get rid of the extra weight. And those exercise routines? I figured that if I haven’t used the information in the 10 years since I had started “organizing it,” I doubted I ever would. 

So I recycled it all! I set a new rule that only VERY special magazines (collectors, special editions, etc) would be kept in the magazine organizers. I also vowed to read one magazine until it was done, cook the recipes and keep those that the family liked, and then recycle by donating the magazine by sending it along to a single mom who can’t afford to buy them. 

I also found Pinterest!!!!!! That is my new inspiration go-to place now and it provides me with the same joy I would receive from magazines with a lot more diversity. I only subscribe to one or two magazines now that provide meaningful and useful information, or whose pictures are so good, and evoke such feelings, that it requires me to snuggle up under a blanket or in my Adirondack chair in my yard to truly enjoy. 

Now my family says I hoard Pinterest boards. At least I don’t have to dust them or move them when I clean!!!!