Monday, July 27, 2009

Golden Years

Hey there-

The first year after Bob died was tough.

I guess that goes without saying, huh?!

Frequently, I felt overwhelmed with the needs of Arthur and Henry (1and 4). In the evenings after the boys were asleep I would vent to my sister, Kathy. During these phone conversations I was usually elbow deep in soap suds with the phone clutched between my cheek and shoulder, often I was whining about all the things I had to do before I could go to bed. The "to-do" list stretched in front of me like a vast dreary landscape.

"Just go to bed," she would tell me. "Get some sleep."

"I can't," I responded, incredulous at the mere idea. "It's not as if anyone is going to do this stuff for us while we sleep."

The thought of getting up in the morning to a kitchen full of dirty dishes, no clean sippy cups, lunches that still needed to be packed, and a full laundry basket was enough to keep me on task.

Waking up behind the eight ball, the "to-do" list from yesterday still before me, and the current day quickly racking up more tasks to add to that list, was enough to put me over the very precarious edge I hovered on. My sanity felt very thin, a full sink of dishes in the morning might be all it took for those last threads to unravel.

A little OCD is common when grieving. It is an attempt to find order and control when one has just been taught the biggest lesson of all; control is an illusion.

I perseverated on wanting my kids to be 4 and 7. For whatever reason 4 and 7 sounded really good to me, there would be more order somehow. They would both be dressing themselves and going to the bathroom on their own. There would be school and a chore list, Henry could surely take out the garbage for me when he was seven. What age can they mow the lawn and shovel, anyway?!

"Hang in there, Irene." Kathy repeated encouragingly, a hint of pity in her voice."You have some good years ahead with the kids, the grade school years, some really golden years. The boys will be more independent and not surly yet."

That first summer the three of us went to Door County for a few days to stay with a high school girlfriend at her family's lake "cottage". Door County is a beautiful peninsula about 3 hours north of Milwaukee that juts out into Lake Michigan.

We gals were busy with the organized chaos of nursing and making bottles, putting kids in high chairs to spoon feed mashed peas in their mouth, putting kids down for naps, trying to make sure they kept rocks out of their mouths and didn't disappear to the other side of the dunes. At night, exhausted, swinging on the porch swing and listening to the calming waves of lake Michigan I wished those golden years would hurry up.

Well, 4 and 7 are gone and the golden years are definitely in full swing!! The boys and I just spent an idyllic 3 days with my girlfriend and her family back at the "cottage". This time we gals read books in our beach chairs and swung in the hammock while the 2 youngest (5) played school and the older boys (7, 9 & 10) took sleds and shovels to the beach and were down there for hours, unattended and no intervention needed. Kayaking and sailing were on the agenda instead of petting zoos and disgustingly early McDonald's runs to keep your early bird from waking the rest of the house.

At night the happy, tired, sun kissed and sand laden children ate plates of noodles and tacos with their own hands while the adults ate on the porch with a lit candle as the sun set giving the clouds over the lake an orange hue.

Fully sugared up with s'mores the kids immediately fell asleep in sandy beds and slept late, waking up smelling of fire and coconut sunscreen and ready to do it all again. Not a surly one in the bunch!

Ah, the golden years," I thought to myself as I sat on the porch swing and watched the boys launch themselves over the dunes on a plastic sled they dragged from the garage. It is still organized chaos, but I seem to be able to find more calm within the storm these days.

I still can't go to bed without the kitchen cleaned and the house in some kind of order, an affect of intense grief, the lingering knowledge that we really control nothing but our reactions to a situation. But I will occasionally leave the laundry to fold for the next day, secure in the knowledge that it will get done eventually. (and sometimes by someone other then me)

A sign of improvement surely!

Thanks for checking in-


Friday, July 24, 2009

Walk It Out Reminder

Hey there-

Walk It Out will be happening this Saturday July 25th at 9:30am starting at the Hart Park Senior Center.

I have lots to share about the conference I attended in San Diego.

Hope to see you all there.

Thanks for checking in-


Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Hey there-

I will be attending a conference on widowhood this weekend in San Diego.

Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation is having a conference and they are expecting 300 widow/ers to attend.


There are a lot of us out there. Every widow/er changed in ways they could have never imagined.

I will be offering my lotion and oil blend of five different essential oils, all of them chosen for their powerful benefits for symptoms of grief. Essential oils helped me through the worst of my grieving and I am happy to share my knowledge and love of essential oils.

I would have never chosen this path of widowhood, and yet I find myself on it. I am proud to have embraced the opportunity and made the best of it.

I am looking forward to an inspiring weekend.

Thanks for checking in-


Thursday, July 9, 2009


Hey there-

The boys and I were invited to a dinner party the other day.

It was a group of young widows who have been getting together for a couple of years for support and friendship.

"They are a group of women whose husbands have died," I explained to Henry and Arthur at breakfast. " Daddy."

"They are all widows," Henry responded.

"Yes, they are all widows," I agreed.

"What do you call a husband whose wife died?"

"A widower," I told him.

Henry nodded silently and returned to his Cocoa Bumpers and comics. I returned to my Dear Abby and chai.

After a few minutes of contemplation Henry looked up from his bowl.

"What are we called, Arthur and me?"

Good question. We decided they couldn't be orphans because they still have me and don't have to live in an orphanage. (although sometimes they act like I make them eat gruel) But what are they? What is their label? How do they explain the situation in a word?

The three of us couldn't come up with anything. We went on about our day and I forgot about the conversation, but Henry didn't.

We drove to the party later that day with Arthur giving us his usual constant commentary. Henry suddenly piped up from the back seat.

"The Fantastic Fatherless, that's what we are."

I like that he put the word fantastic in the label. I could think of other words; strong, insightful, sensitive, wise.

Fantastic, I love it!

Thanks for checking in-