Sunday, September 1, 2013

Life Cut Short...

I am weary of death. I saw far too many people die while I was working hospice, and comforted so many loved ones.  I still think about them all. On occasion, something requires that we return to New Bern and, as we drive past various streets, I remember those whose deaths I attended. Some had lived to a ripe old age and some were still young. Each death was a loss, but a few had become special to me and I felt those losses the most.

In the last year I have lost three friends of varying degrees of friendship. All in their early sixties...far too young...far too soon.

The one year anniversary of Kathy's death is nearing. I blogged about losing Kathy some months ago. She was only 61 and left behind two children in grad school...just entering adulthood. She will never see them walk across a stage and receive their degrees.  She will never have the pleasure of watching them marry, mature and enjoy some of life's successes. She will never know the pure joy of holding a grandchild and all that follows.  We will never have the opportunity to hug one another. She will be missing so much and we will be missing her.

Ann was one of my closest friends when I lived in Miami. We lived two doors away from each other and had boys the same age who became fast friends. Rarely did a day pass that we didn't spend time together. I moved 800 miles away when our boys were 9, by then she'd had a daughter about two years younger than mine. We stayed in touch, but the friendship slowly receded into the past. In recent years  Facebook helped us reconnect. Then, in June of this year, she messaged me.  The breast cancer she'd beaten over twenty-five years ago had come back and, while it responded to treatment for a couple of years, she was not winning the battle. She said she wished I was there, that she would be needing hospice soon. She was tired of fighting and wanted to die on her own terms. She said she was almost ready to stop treatment and that she was scared. We talked for a while and I gave her my cell number. She never called. Six weeks later she passed quietly. She was 66 and had three small grandchildren on two coasts who will grow up without their grandma.

Lynn was one of the beautiful girls in high school. We were not close friends but our school was all-girls and our class small enough that everyone was friendly. I learned that she was a beloved kindergarten teacher for many years. Our graduating class began reconnecting on Facebook about five years ago. It was surprising how we felt a kinship, we are TMLA sisters (TMLA being an acronym for our high school). I saw Lynn three years ago at a reunion luncheon she helped plan. She was still one of the beautiful girls. This year was our 45th reunion. Although she still lived in the area, Lynn RSVP'd that she could not attend, that she had been diagnosed with ALS and had lost her ability to speak and to eat. It was a blow to all of us. Lou Gehrig's Disease is vicious...making you a prisoner in your own body before it kills you. Lynn bravely carried on as the disease robbed her of more and more function until she was a prisoner. A week ago her daughter-in-law announced that Lynn's quality of life had deteriorated to near non-existent and that Lynn had made the decision to discontinue her tube feedings. She died Friday, leaving behind her mother, her husband, her son and daughter-in-law and a slew of former students, friends and TMLA sisters. She was 63.

Kathy's death was unexpected, with no opportunity for anyone to say goodbye. Ann and Lynn had the opportunity to say goodbye to their families as they made courageous decisions to let go. I don't know if I could be that brave...and I hope I never have to find out.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Happy Mother's Day...

This year was the first Mother's Day I have spent with BOTH my children since I can't remember when!

We are getting ready to move into our 5th wheel camper full-time next month and are thinning out our possessions.  Michael came down from West Virginia for the weekend to pick up the things he wanted.  Along with my dining room and some bookcases, he surprised me by asking for china and silver and loved what he termed my "retro" Corning Ware!

Rebecca, Davis, Katie and Jackson came up for one day to visit, so I had a house full...and loved it!  The kids ran wild, explored every nook and cranny, made a fort under the staircase with blankets, took the dogs on a walk around the pond and worked on crafts for Mommy's Mother's Day gift.  I cooked a nice dinner for everyone...the pork tenderloin with apricot glaze was really good, if I do say so myself ;) but have to admit the asparagus were a bit overdone.  In her exuberance pointing out which slice she wanted on her plate, Katie knocked over my beer...right into my lap!  No big deal...clothes wash. It was an exhausting day, but I enjoyed having all that vitality and activity in my house.

Katie gave me a lovely Mother's Day card that she created on the computer.  Then Jackson handed me his, pointing out: "That one's made on the computer, this one is handmade."  They are both proudly displayed.  Just love those kids so much.

While he was here, Michael fixed Jack's smartphone and introduced us to the wonder of connecting our computer directly to the TV.  So cool to see everything on a 46 inch screen!  Apparently I can even download movies to my laptop and watch them on TV.  He left us an HDMI cord and may have created a monster!

I was surrounded by the people I love most, my children, my grandchildren and my Jack! It was a wonderful weekend and the best Mother's Day! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Retired...

First day I didn't have to go to work!  Got up, drove to Wilmington and spent the day with my grandkids...something I've greatly missed.  They were both delighted to hear that Grandma is finished working.  It was fun and tiring, and I'm looking forward to more days like it.  Tomorrow will be a lazy day.  I turn 63 tomorrow.  I don't know how I got here...20s...30s...40s...then boom, 63!  I don't feel old, but it sounds old.  Wish life had do-overs!  Anyway, tomorrow's my birthday and I'm going to chill.

Work ended with a bang.  Busy on call weekend, two deaths and I was out all Sunday night.  Both families were very nice and told me I really helped them get through this most difficult time.  I left feeling that I've made a difference in people's lives.

Have a bunch of things to do next week, then off we go.  Heading to Indiana to pick up our new fifth wheel RV.  The adventure begins...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Late Night Thoughts...

Having one of those nights when I can't sleep...just can't turn my mind off.

Two more weeks of work left (plus a final on-call weekend), then the paychecks stop.  So does the health insurance.  Going to have to file for my Social Security.  Need to find out about COBRA insurance, but have serious doubts about whether I can afford it.  Two years until I am eligible for Medicare.  My Social Security alone isn't going to be enough to subsist on.  Jack will have his VA benefit and Social Security...but he will also have alimony to pay.  Still waiting to see what happens re: his ex's health insurance.  Will be a real kick in the teeth if he is forced to pay for hers while I can't afford any!  Worried that the courts may take half his income for her...she could end up with more income than he has!  Men do not fare well in this state when it comes to divorce.

We are getting ready to make a huge life change.  It is exciting to contemplate, but scary too.  Wondering what expenses will be like and how well we will be able to manage.  Live safe or take a chance?  We are opting to take a chance. I do fine with some risks, but financial risks are hard for me.  We could try and live a quiet, safe life in Wilmington.  I would be near Becca and my beloved Katie and Jackson, but we wouldn't have much going on in our life.  It's not likely there would be money for travel once we paid all our basic living expenses.  I don't want to waste away on the couch.  So we are opting to take a chance...take the risk...and put adventure into our later years.  Exciting but scary.

Keeps me awake some nights... 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Kathy

Wrote a few posts catching up 2012 but did not touch on the worst happening of the year.  Probably because I am still trying to wrap my head around it.

All through my trials and tribulations early on with Jack's fear of commitment and my brother's heart surgery and various other events, both happy and sad, there was one person who was always there to support me, cry with me, rant with me, and cheer me on.  Kathy.



We went to high school together, but barely knew each other then...reconnecting later in life through the miracle of facebook.  I often lamented that I wished we had known more about each other and found our connection back then...that we lost out on so many years of friendship.  She agreed, but reminded me that we had lots of years left.

She lived a full life...had many joys and endured many hardships...and came out stronger.  She was funny, irreverent, passionate and a supporter of the downtrodden.  She could put up sheetrock, lay floors, paint, move furniture.  She didn't drink, but hung out at a bar owned by a friend.  She always had room for another cat in need of a home, some of whom filled the rafters of her basement until they felt safe enough to emerge...much like Kathy who often said she was like her cats when it came to romance...hiding in the rafters, peeking out and disappearing again.  She loved the water and loved the sun, roasting to a golden brown every summer.  She dressed up as Cher on Halloween and went into the streets.  She had a way of making all her friends feel special...especially me.



 


I lost Kathy last September...the world lost Kathy last September.  She died suddenly after a short illness...leaving behind two young adult children and a legion of friends.  We won't have lots of years of friendship after all.  What we had will have to do...and I treasure every moment we had. 

I miss you, Kathy.

Love you, Sis!

Time to Retire

The stress has gotten to me.  Eleven deaths in about two weeks, five in one day, two on-call nights that had me out all night long!  It is time to retire!  My last day is April 1, 2013...three months ahead of plan.  I feel such a relief and am counting the days (19) until then.  I am excited and terrified.

Excited about the prospects of retirement and our plans to travel.  Terrified at the prospect of a greatly reduced income.  I keep telling myself - "It's only money."  There comes a time, I think, when one has to rearrange priorities.  This is the time.

Went to a funeral today.  My favorite patient died a bit unexpectedly.  I had mixed feelings about leaving him when I retire.  On one hand, because I was like part of the family, I didn't want to have to go through his death with him; on the other hand, I didn't want someone else to be there at that most difficult time of life.  He took care of it for me, by taking a sudden downturn last weekend and dying Monday morning.  It was my job to pronounce him.  I will miss our weekly visits and will likely stop in to see his wife down the road.

I have one other favorite patient...we will have to see what happens with him.  No one expected him to last as long as he has.  Either way, I will stay in touch with his wife, who feels more like a friend than a patient family member.

The rest of my patients I will turn over to other nurses easily.   I will miss co-workers and the comraderie that comes with working on a team.  I will not miss being on-call!

We have some exciting retirement plans that I plan to chronicle in another blog: Two For The Road - about living on the road in an RV.  I will likely still post here for a while, but think I will eventually transition to Two For The Road.

You may notice that my "About Me" and its accompanying photo has changed.  This is to better fit with the new blog...hoping Jack will post some there too!

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Terrifying Experience...or...Remind Me Again Why I Do This Job.

Looks like I've already missed an entire month of 2013!  Life is too busy right now and not all for the good. 

This job is high stress.  I have attended three deaths in five days...some sadder than others.  Helping the families/loved ones through this time can be very rewarding and I usually like this part of the job...though I would prefer not so many in one week.  Sometimes, when I have gotten attached to a patient and/or family, the death can feel like a personal loss.  Even when it is not, it sometimes reminds me of a loss of my own or reminds me how very fragile life is.

Then there are the increased needs or crises; responding to those throws a monkeywrench into whatever patient visits I had lined up for the day.  It can make for a very harrowing week, such as the one that is slowly coming to an end. Every day started or ended with an unexpected problem, leaving me struggling to catch up until only a few minutes ago.

But, for me, the worst is being on-call, which occurs every Wednesday night and every third weekend.  Sitting on tenterhooks, dreading the phone ringing and jumping every time it does...especially at 2AM.  I am on-call this weekend and my stress is palable.  There are weekends with very few calls and weekends with dozens, requiring one to put in twenty or more hours working over the course of two days...following and preceding a forty-hour work week, of course.

This past week included a terrifying (for me) evening.  I was trying to help out and offered to cover only two hours of call for a sick on-call nurse.  After three calls in less than an hour, the third call required a visit.  I headed out to see a patient I didn't know who lived about twenty miles out "in the country" and used my faithful GPS to find my way.  I was doing pretty well until it instructed me to turn right...onto a dirt road.  I made the turn and my GPS indicated I was on the correct road.  The road was narrow and rutted, lined with woods and thickets on each side and twisted and turned in every direction.  The night and the area was black as can be.  I could see nothing behind me and only as far as my headlights in front of me. I questioned this road, but kept going as the GPS showed I was correct and only one half mile from my destination.   About this time I came to a large puddle; as there was no way to turn around or back up, I stupidly ventured across it...and found myself stuck in about two feet of water!  My first reaction was to be terrified and when I felt the water coming up over my feet the terror turned to panic!  I scrambled over the console to the higher, passenger side of the car and took stock.  I was stranded in my car, in the middle of nowhere, in pitch black darkness with water seeping in...and no one, including me, knew quite where I was!

I called the nurse I was supposed to be helping out, who lives in the area, and told her my situation.  She was huddled under blankets and throwing up regularly, but rose to the occasion.  After I calmed down and answered a number of her questions, she figured out where I probably was...and told me to keep my doors closed as this was swampy area!  She sent her husband and father-in-law out to look for me.  The time I spent waiting in that dark, cold, wet car seemed interminable.  The headlights I finally saw in my rearview mirror were the most beautiful sight I had seen in a very long time!  The two men were able to pull my car out of the water and eventually get it back to the paved road.  Miraculously, it was still running and I was able to drive it home under my own (wet, muddy) power.  It is a smelly mess!

It was only after I got home that I began to realize how much worse it could have been.  I was lucky that my friend was able to figure out where I was stranded, and luckier still that I even had a cell phone signal to make the call, as there are so many rural areas around here where it is impossible to get a signal.

As I said earlier...a terrifying evening from which I am still (emotionally) recovering.  I'm getting too old for this kind of excitement!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Catching Up...Part IV

Summer was devoted to Jack's medical issues and to my learning a new job and adjusting to being in the workforce again.  Then came September...

As Jack was waking up from his emergency cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal), I got a call from his sister Mardell...with bad news.  Jack's younger brother, Robin had been found dead at his home in California.  He was 51.  I hated having to tell him that.  As more details emerged, we learned he had been murdered!  (details here)  Stabbed seventeen times!  It was horrible.  Two weeks after Jack's surgery we flew out to California for the Memorial Service.  I think Jack needed to be with his family at that time.  It was a nice service and a good family gathering but we were exhausted.  We flew out and back in less than forty-eight hours.  Not something I want to do again!  Talk about jet lag...

In Novemeber we had tickets to a race in Charlotte.  Bought them and made reservations months earlier.  We were almost too tired to go and might not have, had we not already had the tickets.  While there we visited Concord Mills, a huge outlet mall.  We were looking in a jewelry store (a favorite pasttime of mine) and saw a lovely solitare at a great price.  Jack asked me if I wanted it.  I said "of course" and asked him if he knew what it meant.  He said he did.  I told him he hadn't asked the question...so he proposed right there in the jewelry store!  I'm so glad we went to Charlotte!  Oh...the race was fun too.
 
Novemeber rolled right into December...and Christmas...and color coordinated casts for Katie and Jackson! 
 
Just before Christmas, Jackson experienced his first broken bone.  He was racing Katie on his scooter and got his foot stuck...as he put it, "The scooter stopped and I didn't."  He flew over the top and landed on his right arm, fracturing both the radius and the ulna.  Damn, that must have hurt!  He said, "I tried not to cry, but I screamed."  My poor sweet boy.  At the same time, Katie has been experiencing pain in her right heel.  Turns out the growth plate is inflammed, a rather common occurence among athletic children (Sever's Disease).  It goes away when they stop growing.  In the meantime, resting it helps the pain, so Katie's right foot has been in a cast for the last few weeks to let her heel rest.  The hope is that when the cast comes off, the pain will be gone...and not come back.  Hope so!
 
That catches us right up to the present...awaiting the New Year. I am sure there are all kinds of things I've missed and lots of topics I could explore, but for now this will have to suffice.  Until next time...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Catching Up...Part III ~ A Job

On June 6, 2012, after two years, 3 months and 25 days of unemployment (but who's counting), I started working again.  Over that course of time, I applied for nearly one hundred jobs...and the one I got was one I didn't actually apply for!

I received a call from a head hunter, uh...I mean recruiter, asking me if I would be interested in a management position with a Hospice.  Now management is not really my forte but, if they wanted to talk to me, I was game.  After a few more phone calls, I went for an interview.  The interview went well and one of the interviewers (Gene) really seemed to like me...but I didn't get that position.  A few weeks later Gene emailed asking if I would be interested in talking about another position  I went to a different office and interviewed with Sabrina.  She seemed to like me and said she'd call in a couple of weeks.  I waited for weeks on end without hearing anything and finally wrote it off as another job that went to someone else.  About that time I got a phone call from Sabrina's manager, Jessica, just returning from maternity leave.  She said she'd heard good things about me and could I come in an talk with her...a third interview!  Two days after that interview she called with a job offer.  I almost couldn't believe it, perfect timing since my unemployment had just run out!

I have been a Hospice Case Manager for a bit more than six months now.  I work with good people and have learned a lot in that time.  Hospice is like no other type of nursing.  No one gets better, all our patients are on the road to death.  My job is to make that journey a little easier, for both the patient and his/her family.  My experiences will likely be the subject of future blog posts! 

The best part of the job...a regular paycheck.  I'd almost forgotten how nice it is to have money!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sandy Hook

The tragedy of Sandy Hook has affected me like no other.  I can't wrap my head around it.  The first two days after it happened, I couldn't watch the details on the news or look at the pictures of the victims without feeling sick to my stomach.  On Sunday, I finally brought myself to read the details and look at the pictures of the twenty children and the six adults who died with them and it still made me feel sick.  The funerals are beginning now and seeing those little coffins and grieving parents brings me to tears.  When I see pictures of their little smiling faces, I can't help but see my grandchilden's faces...and can not imagine a world without them.

What kind of monster guns down his own mother and then goes on to slaughter 20 six and seven year-olds in their classrooms?  Children are supposed to be safe in school.  My daughter drops her kids off at school every morning and goes about her business without worry.  Imagine the horror of learning your child was gunned down in kindergarten.  What of the children who survived seeing their friends and classmates murdered before their eyes?  Terrifying can't begin to describe it.

What kind of society are we, when there are people more concerned with their "right" to own guns than they are with the loss of these children?  The response of decent people is horror and a desire to prevent something like this from happening again, which naturally draws gun control into the conversation.  This is when the gun nuts come out of the woodwork.  There have even been suggestions that we need more guns and that teachers should be armed!  Where is reasoned thought and compassion?

This is not the first mass shooting; there have been others...Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, CO, Oregon mall, Gabrielle Giffords...all in recent memory.  Somehow this one feels even worse.  This one feels personal.  Two mothers wrote a piece examining why, entitled What Six Looks Like. It really hit home.  I too, know what six looks like...it looks like my precious grandchildren and that makes it personal. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Catching Up...Part II

With April came our long-awaited California trip.  Ten days on the west coast...and meeting Jack's family.  We flew into San Francisco, picked up our rental car and headed north.  Instead of the small car we reserved, they offered an "opportunity" to upgrade to a Jeep Liberty...at a price of course.  Jack jumped at it and fell in love with that small red SUV.

Jack, Stacey and Jack
On our first day there, we saw Jack's son Jack, along with his wife Candice and their two daughters, Chanoa almost seven and Sienna the newest addition to the family at only two months old.  Later that day his daughter Stacey, her husband Brian and their daughter Kayla (almost ten) arrived.  We all went to dinner at Murillo's Mexican restaurant...a place Jack had good memories of...but the food was disappointing.  After months of hearing how West Coast Mexican food was so much better than East Coast Mexican, it tasted no better than what I've had 'back East' and not as good as my favorite place!  Jack said the place was not like he remembered.  But...we had a great first night with kids and grandkids!

Jack's brother Melvin and his wife Robyn held a family get together at their house and Jack's sister Mardell (who I met the previous summer) and their brother Terry came up from Fresno.  Sadly, Jack started coming down with something and had a hard time keeping up with all the activity and visits.  I felt just awful for Jack, but I had a great time meeting and getting to know everyone.  They liked me and I liked them...a success all around.  Now he had to keep me!

We visited the Jelly Belly Factory and I bought candy and 'stuffies" to take back to Katie and Jackson.  We also spent a day driving up through Napa to Calistoga, had a nice lunch and saw some beautiful country.  Jack introduced me to his favorite steak place, The Cattleman. We had an excellent dinner there with Melvin and Robyn. Made him promise to take me there again on our next visit!  On our way back to the airport, we did a quick visit to San Francisco and walked around Pier 39 on Fisherman's Wharf, but by then Jack was feeling miserable.  We stayed just long enough to buy some souvenirs for my grandkids and have some dinner before going on to the airport.  It was a long red-eye flight back home for a very sick Jack.

After we got home, I took Jack to Urgent Care and we found out he had pneumonia.  He spent two weeks at home recovering and was still tired and coughing when he returned to work.  It was at least a month before he was over it.  This was just the first of his summer health problems.  June brought a hernia repair and another few weeks of recovery, but only one of them at home.  In July it was cataract surgery.  Then there was a diagnosis of anemia thrown in somewhere along the line and a GI work-up.  They found some asymptomatic gall bladder problems in July that became troublesome.  By September he was feeling bad, ended up in the ER and went straight to the OR for an unscheduled cholecystectomy and another week at home plus several more to recuperate.

Now all that's left are the medical bills...

Next up...a job?




Sunday, November 18, 2012

Catching Up...Part I

Well, my last post was welcoming in 2012 and here we are almost ready to welcome in 2013.  I was starting a new chapter in my life and wanted to document it but, as it turns out, there really is life after sixty and I got too busy living it to find time to write about it.  I'm going to play catch up now and see if we can't finish out 2012 before 2013 arrives!

JANUARY
January was get ready to move month.  Got a lot of smaller but vital things moved up to New Bern, ordered new bedroom furniture for Jack's and my new life together, bought airline tickets for California and found a new home for my kitties. 

Jack's lease on the townhouse does not allow cats, so my kitties were not going to be able to make the move with me.  It was fortunate that I adopted them from a rescue group and was able to return them to the group when I could no longer keep them.  I gave them about six weeks notice and they were able to find a foster home for them where they could stay together.  Giving them back was a very hard thing for me to do.

Jack had some bouts of cold feet during this time, but worked them out and the move went forward.  I didn't know until much later how difficult this commitment was for him.  The actual move-in date for furniture got pushed ahead several times and didn't happen until early March, but the last night I spent in my house was about three days before Christmas.  To this day, I never quite know what to say when someone asks how long we've lived together!

FEBRUARY & MARCH
February brought only a rather disappointing Valentine's Day...next year's will be better...and some serious health problems for my brother, Glen.  He suffered his first attack of Congestive Heart Failure, followed by a second, finally culminating in open heart surgery in March.  As this is all catch up rather than real time, I can say that he is now doing fine, but it was a long and difficult road.  I spent more time in Greenboro the month of March than I did in New Bern.  It was very scary to consider the possibility of losing my brother.  It also caused some strained feelings towards baby brother Ken.  I know he loves Glen and would have been devastated to lose him, but I was disappointed in the amount of time he was able to allocate to helping Glen during this time.  Fortunately, Glen has some very good friends and support at Unity Church who pitched in to help with animal care, visits, food and household chores.

During one of my many visits to Greensboro I ran into an ex-husband - Bud...husband number two.  He was at the hospital for a job interview and we had lunch together.  It was a nice visit.

Jack and I celebrated an annivarsary at the end of March. One year together as a couple.  It was a year full of ups and downs, but ended on an up.  Jack came home from work with roses, the first I had ever received from him, and sweet cards.  Then we went out for a romantic dinner at Morgan's Tavern, a place we particularly like.  It was a great anniversary celebration!

APRIL
April brought my sixty-second birthday, not a milestone, just another birthday.  I learned that Jack was not accustomed to giving birthday gifts and he learned that I AM accustomed to getting them.  Next year will be a better birthday...he promised!  I did have a great birthday celebration with Becca,Davis, Katie and Jackson!

The bedroom furniture I ordered in January finally arrived from High Point at the end of April.  It was, and is, beautiful and we are both happy with it.  Good thing as it is probably the last bedroom furniture we will ever have!  One of the downsides of getting older...realizing that your are approaching "lasts' in your life.

We went to California in April, but I will leave the details of that trip for my next installment.  It was a good trip overall, but heralded the start of a summer of medical issues for Jack.

Stay tuned...



Monday, January 23, 2012

New Year, New Beginning...

Well, three weeks into the the New Year and I'm getting used to it being 2012.

I will turn sixty-two this year, which means I will be eligible for Social Security benefits, should I want to take them.  It rather boggles my mind.  I've never been able to imagine being old enough for SS - it's always felt like it was off in the distant future.  Realizing it is upon me is a bit of a reality shock!

No New Year's resolutions for me.  I've never had any luck with them.  While, in one respect, the New Year can feel like a beginning, in most ways, it just feels like a continuation of winter...and I usually can't find any good reason to want to "turn over a new leaf".

This year the New Year actually is a beginning; it is ushering in the start of a new chapter in my life.  I am moving...to a new life in a new city (town?)...moving in with Jack, into his townhouse in New Bern.  Seventy-five miles and ninety minutes from home...and from Becca, Katie and Jackson.  I never expected to move even a short distance from them, so this is a good indicator of how much building a life with Jack means to me.  I'm going to miss them a lot and plan to make that drive between New Bern and Wilmington on a regular basis.  I'm going to miss Wilmington too.  New Bern is quite lacking in things to do, places to go, and good restaurants; Wilmington, on the other hand, lacks Jack!  It is a temporary move, to be sure, only until Jack retires in the next two to three years...then we will return to Wilmington.

I may be nearing sixty-two, but falling in love makes me feel more like twenty-two.  Right now life feels good and I'm happy.      

Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 Comes To An End...

Wow!  Haven't written in a long time!  It is the day after Christmas - the holidays are coming to an end - weeks of shopping, cooking, decorating, wrapping are all over.  Nothing left to do but take down the tree, ring in the new year and forge ahead.

The holidays were...well, holidays.  Spent Thanksgiving at Susan's (Becca's mother-in-law) as we often do.  It was good...except Jack was coming down with something (and stayed sick for a week) and I, apparently, offended Susan (unintentionally) with an offhand comment on Facebook!  I emailed an apology, but never received a response, so...who knows?

Made a visit to Greensboro to see my brothers on the fifteenth - mainly to celebrate Glen's turning sixty.  We had a nice birthday celebration and a nice visit - even got to see Ciera perform in a gymnastic meet.  Then I fell.  I was shopping with Ciera and my foot hit a place where the cement was uneven...and I fell flat on my face!  My left cheek is swollen, bruised and abraded.  Also ended up with a break in my pinky right where it joins the hand!  It hurts...a LOT!  Thank goodness it's my left hand!  Face is improving...the hand is in a splint for 6-8 weeks.  It's only been a little more than a week and I'm already sick of trying to do everything with one hand!

Katie
 in costume after a performance
Christmas was good - and a bit special this year as it was Jack's and my first Christmas together as a couple.  We went to two theater performances.  Katie was in her first play - How The Grinch Stole Christmas - she was a wonderful Candy Cane Who!  It was put on by a Youth Perfomance Theater.  Jackson liked it so well he went to three performances - one with Mommy and Daddy, one with his Grandpa, and one with Jack and me!  The same weekend, after a nice dinner at the Front Street Brewery, Jack and I went to see the Santaland Diaries at City Stage at Level 5.  I always love that show and it was a great production!  Jack had never seen or read it before and really liked it.  We had a great time.

We had a nice Christmas celebration with Becca, Davis and the kids at Lee (Davis' dad) and Karen's on Christmas Eve.  They always have a nice Christmas Eve party...and make fabulous chili!  Christmas Day was Doug's turn for Christmas at Becca's, so Jack and I had a quiet Christmas up at his place in New Bern...which is soon to be my place too!  Yes...we're moving in together the end of January!

Starting a new life in the New Year...        

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Day (or Three) At the Races...

A year ago, if someone had said to me that I would be going to races and liking it, I would have said they were out of their ever-loving minds!  But, to say that Jack loves racing would be an understatement.  It's in his blood. He even loves the smell of methanol (I got a strong whiff and it burned my eyes and my throat)!  Anyway, Jack's passion is racing and I want to be able to share it with him...so I went to my first car race last weekend.

We went to the Charlotte Dirt Track for The World of Outlaws Finals. Three nights of qualifying, heat races and main races featuring Sprint Cars, Late Models and Modifieds. Mind you, most all of this was Greek to me, but now I actually know what I'm talking about...a little!

I learned how just cold it can be up in the grandstands when the wind is blowing. I learned just how much red dirt one can inhale when the track is dry and said wind is blowing. I learned the difference between Late Models and Modifieds (I already knew about Sprint Cars). I ate track food...and paid $4 for a bottle of water, a Diet Coke, a hot dog or a slice of pizza, $6 for a hamburger or a beer...and liked it. We had passes to go into the Pits; seeing the cars close up was very cool. I am now the proud owner of a World of Outlaws hoodie, goggles (for the red dirt) and ear protectors (race cars are very loud). I learned that racing is more than just driving fast...and that watching it is fun and exciting!

I'm even looking forward to our next race trip! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick...or Treat?

I went trick or treating with Katie and Jackson last night - just like I do every year.  It has pretty much become a tradition; I've missed only one Halloween - in 2007, when I had to rush to Pinehurst because one of my parents had been hospitalized.  I don't recall whether it was Mom or Dad as it was a frequent occurence for both in their last years.

Katie was a Zombie and Jackson was the Pirate Jack Sparrow.  Every year I've found myself calling out "be careful" dozens of times; this year I didn't say it even once.  They just seemed so much older - going from house to house, staying with the group, waiting for the others when necessary, even using umbrellas when the rain came -lots of excitement and no meltdowns!

My ex came to see the kids this Halloween and was already at their house when I arrived.  As I walked in, Katie came running up to me, shouted out "Grandma", leapt into my arms and gave me a big hug!
She then quietly whispered, "Would you like to see your used-to-be husband?"

I'm still trying to come up with a reply!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Ruminating...

So much for resolving to post more often. My last post was over a month ago! Sometimes I have so much on my mind I just don't know what I want to say...and I wish my mind had an "off" switch.

There's a lot going on in the world lately and, although I have opinions and strong feelings, I'm tired of all the politics. The ever present race for the GOP nomination from a field of clowns. A surge of activism...with Occupy Wall Street as the latest. Qaddafi toppled and dead. Health care reform, rescuing Social Security, same-sex marriage. Seems people are talking of nothing else; everyone's got their opinion and no one is changing anyone's mind. One is either preaching to the choir or ones words are falling on dead ears.

Still, I have lots of my own problems. No job for starters. I've applied for nearly eighty jobs in the last twenty months to no avail. Since I'm no longer making a mortgage payment, my unemployment covers bills and living expenses for now - but I'm not sure how much longer that will last. Once that stops, I will be scrounging. At which point I will have to look for anything...even if it only pays minimum wage. There's health insurance or the lack thereof. COBRA ran out over two months ago and, although I am in reasonably good health, apparently I am too high risk to insure. Hate to think about people who have serious health problems. Then, of course, there is the aforementioned mortgage that I'm no longer paying and the inevitable foreclosure, along with the myriad of issues that brings forth. It's enough to make one crazy..and depressed.

More and more, in the interests of preserving my mental health, I take the ostrich approach and focus my energies on the upside of my life. My kids, grandkids, other family, and Jack.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Turning Five and Growing Older...

We are reaching the end of summer and moving towards a new year.  Felt the first nip of fall these last few days and, while summer weather is not gone for good (eighty degree temps will return later in the week), it always feels good the first time I have to put on jeans or a shirt with sleeves! 

Jackson turns five tomorrow.  Seems so recently that he was an infant being rocked to sleep in Grandma's arms.  Now I can barely lift him!  His party yesterday was themed around Cars 2...his favorite movie and primary passion!   

Becca baked him an absolutely beautiful cake.  She has a wonderful creative streak.  I know she didn't get it from me and her father is equally uncreative.  Maybe it goes back a generation or two.  Tomorrow the family will go out for dinner at a restaurant of Jackson's choosing.  Katie always chooses places that have good food...Jackson's choice is McDonalds!

Seems my posts are less frequent and all I do is marvel over the passage of time.  Someone once told me that once we reach the fifteenth of the month, the month is essentially over.  I'm noticing this seems to be true.  I'm going to make an effort to post on here a bit more often - before life passes right by me!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Exhausting August...

Wow!  Seems August has kept me busy since this is only my second post for the month and the last day of August.  For a little while there, it almost felt I was running a Bed and Breakfast...sans breakfast as everyone helped themselves.

Lin, a girl I went to high school with visited Wilmington with her husband Dale and we had dinner together.  We went downtown for dinner at Elijah's...one of my favorites...then walked along the riverfront in Historic downtown Wilmington.  We hadn't seen each other in forty-three years and didn't know each other very well in high school - so it could have been an awkward evening, but it wasn't.  Jack and I enjoyed the evening with them and conversation flowed easily.  A nice reunion.

The next morning Glen came for a visit and brought Tasha Dog with him.  We ate out a lot, spent time visiting with Becca, Davis, Katie and Jackson and...Glen and Jack finally met.  Tasha enjoyed her time lounging on the porch!   As usual, Glen put in time cleaning up my computers - he's a computer whiz - and he started work upgrading Jack's computer.   He pronounced Jack a nice guy and said I can keep him!  I always enjoy time with Glen.

Next came Roy and Cynthia.  Roy's a former boyfriend and Cynthia is his best friend turned girlfriend.  They were in town so Cynthia could gather more information for her upcoming book on Gullah culture (due to be published by Christmas) and spent two nights with me.  It was a nice visit.

As Roy and Cynthia left, Ken and Ciera arrived.  They wanted one last weekend at the beach before Ciera went back to school.  Got some beach time in and some good food.  Sadly, Becca and family were out of town so the cousins missed each other.  It was good to see them again...a little  odd, but good.

A few days later I experienced a first in my life.  There was a 5.8 earthquake in Northern Virginia that was felt down here!  It created much excitement and frenzy for East Coasters unfamiliar with earthquakes.  I was sitting on Jack's couch watching something I'd DVR'd (he was at work) and the couch started to shimmy sideways.  My first thought was that the dog was scratching while leaning against the couch...until I saw her sitting on a chair!  I didn't know what it was until I later went online, but I'm proud to say I didn't freak!  Jack, being from California, knew exactly what it was immediately.

Gail, Jack and Mardell
Jack's sister Mardell came to town next.  She was in New Jersey visiting a friend and they traveled to Carolina Beach for a few days, so we made plans to meet in Wilmington.  We spent most of the day wandering downtown and visiting - with a stop for lunch at Elijah's, of course, and ice cream at Kilwins.  I really enjoyed meeting her and her friend Ellen.  We got along well; I liked them and they seemed to like me.  Jack later told me I received his sister's stamp of approval.

A few days later, Irene came to town - a rather unwelcome visitor as Irene was a Category 2 hurricane.  We battened down the hatches at my house, left the cats lots of food and water and retreated to Jack's to ride her out.  She was expected to bypass Wilmington and make landfall at Morehead City so we knew the cats would be safe.  We fared well - only losing power for about eight hours.  It got a little warm without A/C and have to admit we missed cable which stayed out about twenty-four hours...but really no great hardship.

Wonder what September has in store...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

August Already?

My gosh...we're nearly half way through August!  Still no real job, but signed up with an agency to work flu-shot clinics this fall - so maybe an opportunity for some money.  The routine job hunting continues as always.

Jack and I have dinner plans tomorrow with a girl from my high school - and her husband.  After forty-three years I suppose I shouldn't be referring to her as a girl, though that's what she was the last time I saw her!  Funny how time changes perspective...though we were not close in high school, we are both excited and looking forward to seeing each other tomorrow.  We reconnected via Facebook.  Her husband is a car racing enthusiast as is Jack, so I am hoping the men will find common ground for conversation.

Saturday, Glen arrives for a visit - his first in a year.  I am looking forward to introducing him to Jack and just having time to visit!

Down the August road - more house guests and meeting Jack's sister...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July...

As usual, July has been a busy month. It is chock full of birthdays - in calendar order - Jack was 64, Michael was 38, Davis was 41 and Becca was 36.  Then there was Ken's yearly beach vacation visit.  We had a good time...as always.  The past two summers Ed was living here and did lots of cooking while they visited.  Prior to that we used to eat out most of the time.  This year was a combo of both - I did some cooking and we did some eating out.

The little cousins spent lots of time together, especially Katie and Ciera.  There were sleepovers in both directions and a trip to the theater with the girls to see Annie. Jackson spent that day with Daddy, while Ken and Matthew detailed my car (a great bonus!). Matthew went off on his own the first few days to hang with some college buddies.  Hard to believe he's twenty now.

We put in lots of beach and pool time.  The girls are becoming excellent swimmers and Jackson is getting braver about trying out his skills.  Katie even managed to coerce Grandma into going down the waterslide at the pool!  Ken took a picture, so my awkward plunge is preserved for posterity!  Jack spent a pool day with us and met Ken and the kids, while Katie and Jackson wore him out in the pool.  We can still hear Jackson calling out, "Mr. Jack! Mr. Jack!"

I've turned into a real beach grandma this summer and am sporting the best tan I've had in decades!  Becca has asked me several times if I am trying to give myself skin cancer.  I do protect my face, but haven't been as careful with the rest of me.  Have to admit I like the color on my arms and legs.

This Saturday Becca and Davis have a wedding in SC, so Katie and Jackson will spend the weekend with Grandma.   

I'm still anticipating visits from Glen and from my niece Laura and her family.  Ken has talked about coming down again, and Jack's sister will be in the area in a few weeks, as well as an old girlfriend of mine from high school.  Hard to say just what August will bring...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Motherhood...

Thirty-eight years ago tonight I became a mother for the first time.  At 11:37 PM to be exact.  I was twenty-three years old and as naive as any twenty-three year old could be.  I had no idea what lay ahead.  I was tired and sore from pushing a nine pound baby out of my petite body; every second of the experience indelibly etched into my memory.   I can remember that it was painful, but I can no longer remember what the pain felt like.  Natural childbirth was still in the pioneer stages and I was proud to be a participant.

Now I feel like an old hand at motherhood.  I've raised two babies into adulthood and have two grandchildren.  I can see the many mistakes I made and recognize good parenting when I see it.  The things that scared me the most turned out to be insignificant and the really big stuff sometimes sneaked by.  There is an old saying to the effect that when children are small they step on a mother's toes and when they are grown they step on her heart.  I saw the veracity of that increase as the years went by.

I found a sentiment in a Hallmark card when my daughter was pregnant that said, "Motherhood is having your heart walk around outside your body."  An excellent description if there ever was one - nothing can bring greater joy or greater pain than motherhood.  When her children are cut, a mother bleeds; when they are hurt, she cries; when they are happy, she feels joy;  when they remember her, she is euphoric; when they forget, she is anguished and if their lives should be cut short, she dies.  Only in Motherhood does unconditional love truly exist.

I have learned much over the years, made mistakes galore, loved with all my heart and then some and had my heart pierced a time or two.  It's a thankless job with great rewards and, while I would do a few things differently if given the chance, I wouldn't trade the experience for all the riches in the world.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Same Old Same Old...

The job interview went well and I was excited about the propspects - until they called today to tell me the job went to another candidate.  Such simple words to dash ones hopes.  I was highly qualified for this job; it is exactly what I have been doing for most of my career.  The person who got the job may also be highy qualified, but why her and not me?  What was her edge?  It's hard not to let this stuff get me down.  I've been looking and appying for almost eighteen months.  I've been either ignored or not selected at least forty to fifty times in the last year and a half.  I'm tired of feelings of inadequacy; I'm tired of feeling rejected or ignored; I'm tired of the chipping away at my confidence in my abilities.  I'm tired of being tired.

It"s getting old and so am I.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Updates Here and There...

Still waiting to hear about the job.  Called the recruiter in HR and got voice mail - hung up without leaving a message.  Yes, I know that was wimpy.  I'll try again tomorrow.  The waiting is killing me, but I'm almost afraid to find out because my hopes may be dashed.  Every job I don't get is one less option available to me - or at least that's how it feels.

My Sunday dinner to introduce Jack to my daughter, son-in-law and grandkids went well.  The food was good - so everyone said - and conversation was fine.  Though Jack was nervous (he said) he interacted nicely with everyone; I was proud to show him off.  Everyone seemed to like him well enough and he seemed to like them.

Well, I am officially one month in arrears on my mortgage.  The bank calls every day...five or six times if I don't answer.  Talked to them today and exlained my situation.  I got a few "I'm sorry" platitudes and several useless suggestions as to how I could get them their money.
The woman at the other end of the phone asked if I had any relatives who could help.  I expressed dismay that she would expect my children to pay my bills when they were busy trying to support their own children.
Then she asked if I had considered renting out a room.  I replied that I'd considered that, but that it would only net me about a fifth of the mortgage payment so why bother.
She replied that I might find work.  I said I was still looking, but at sixty plus and after 18 months without a job, I asked what she thought my odds were.
She asked if I have any income at all.  I told her I had a few more months of unemployment.  She asked how much that is.  I told her and said it is equal to my mortgage payment, which leaves nothing for electricity or food.  I asked if she was suggesting I give up either.
She suggested that I could get hardship permission to tap my 401K.  I said, "You want me to use what little retirement money I have to try and save a house I can't afford so that I can be destitute and eat cat food when I'm seventy?"
She suggested I contact a realtor.  I told her I had and that I would have twenty thousand dollars in out of pocket costs.  She suggested a short sale.  I told her I had considered it but had been told that the bank wouldn't be likely to approve it if I have retirement money in the bank.  She said she didn't know about that.
I think she must have reached the end of her list of suggestions because she finished up by telling me that since I am still in arrears I can expect to get "follow up" calls daily and wished me a nice day...  

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Week in Review...

Okay, I had a great birthday dinner and ice cream with Katie on Tuesday.  It amazes me just how grown she is becoming.

The dentist on Wednesday wasn't quite as bad as I expected and I have an appointment to get the the rest of the work in a few weeks.  Maybe my teeth will last me a lifetime after all.

Thursday's interview went well and the job sounds pretty decent for a hospital job.  The manager said she thought I'd fit in well on the unit.  She had one more interview to do Friday then would make a decision.  I feel like I've got a good shot at it - but one never knows anymore.  Recruiting promised I'd hear something one way or the other this week. 
The hospital is exactly one hundred sixteen miles from my front door and thirty-nine miles from Jack's front door.  We talked about it and Jack is okay with my commuting from his place.  I'm trying not to let my mind run rampant with "what if" plans for the future.

I hate the waiting...  

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Busy Week...

This is a bit of a busy week coming up - busy by my standards, though I'm sure not busy by daughter Rebecca's "busy-mom-of-two" standards.

Drove back to Wilmington today after a weekend in New Bern with Jack and arrived just in time for an appointment with Rusty, my financial advisor.  Rusty's a sweet thirty-something young man who pays me lots of attention and is helping me plan for retirement - something I should have started decades ago!  Turns out I have a bit more set aside than I thought and he has some good ideas for pulling a small monthly income out of it to supplement Social Security.  If I can wait until age sixty-six to retire, I might be able to make it on my own if I keep it very simple - if I am not alone I will be in good shape.  If I have to retire at age sixty-two, I can only make it if I have a life partner to share expenses.  Not great news, but it helps to have a realistic picture of the future.  Rusty is fully behind my plan to walk away from my house.  He says it makes perfect sense for me.

Tomorrow - the summer solstice -  my beautiful granddaughter Katie turns seven.  She's already had a beach party with friends; tomorrow will be dinner with family at a restaurant of her choice followed by homemade ice cream at Boombalatti's!  It's hard to believe she's seven years old already - the time's gone by so fast.  She's becoming an amazing young girl.

Wednesday is the first of my upcoming appointments for dental work.  It will be an uncomfortable and expensive afternoon!  Thursday I have the job interview at Carteret Hospital.  That will be interesting and stressful as it can affect several areas of my life - or change nothing at all.

Finally comes the weekend.  Jack and I will spend it together as we usually do...with one change.  Becca, Davis and the kids are coming for Sunday dinner and Jack will finally meet them.  

By my standards, a very busy week... 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pro or Con...?

Last night I lamented my current situation.  Today I get a phone call responding to a job application I sent in last month.  Carteret General Hospital wants to interview me.  I have an appointment next week.  Now, I have been in the job market long enough to know that an interview does not equal a job, but it is a step in the right direction.

Twelve hour day shifts on a surgical unit - day shift is good, but that will encompass some weekends and holidays, not so good - but, I've done it before and can do it again.  The money and the benefits are likely to be reasonably good.  More pros than cons, but no point weighing pros and cons until after I've been interviewed and offered the position.  There is really just one major pro vs con.  Carteret Hospital is two hours away from here...but only thirty or so minutes from Jack.

Is that a pro or a con...? 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

If...

I find myself in a place I could never have conceived of a few years ago.  Always thought I knew where my life was going.  At this age, I'd be nearing a milestone wedding anniversary, enjoying the grandchildren and planning retirement with my husband.  I came to terms with divorces, remarriages and relationships a long time ago, but anticipated that everything else would remain stable.  How wrong could one woman be???

Sometimes it feels like my world is shattering around me.  I have been unemployed for sixteen months and prospects are dim.  In two more months my health insurance runs out, but I'm three and a half years away from Medicare.  My unemployment will end in four months and, unless a job turns up, I will be without income.  I can draw Social Security at age sixty-two, in ten months, but it will be a reduced amount and not enough to live on.  My plan was always to wait until full retirement age of sixty-six to begin drawing but I won't be there for another four and a half years.  There is always the option of trying to find a low level job which will give me some income but, again, not enough to live on.  I can also try to purchase private health insurance but it is expensive - especially for someone with hypertension and little income

As my previous post (Requiem for an American Dream) explains, I can't afford to keep my house.  I missed my first mortgage payment this month.  Judging by others' experiences, I should be able to continue living here at least six more months, but I will eventually have to leave.  Where will I go?  My daughter has reassured me that I can live with her if necessary, but that is not something either one of us wants to see happen - though it was a comfort to hear her say that and I love her for it.

It is scary to have the future so uncertain, to have no idea where I will live or how I will support myself.  If I can land a good job with good benefits I would be okay.  If my current relationship works out and if we were to move in together and share expenses I would be okay and happy.  If I were to win the lottery...

If is a very big word...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Trip to the Dentist...

Back to the dentist three weeks after my oral surgery.  Took a full set of x-rays and had difficulty fitting the radiology tabs in my mouth.  Several comments were made that I have a very small mouth.  I asked for that in writing so I could present it to my brothers and maybe a couple of exes!  Anyway, after the x-rays and an exam, the verdict was three cavities and peridontal disease.  Not too awful since it's been an unseemly amount of time since I last saw a dentist.  The downside is the cost...as well as the usual dental pain.  I need the cavities taken care of and an intensive cleaning and scaling - to the tune of $1500.  Add in what I've already spent and we talking some major money.  Now I remember why I hate to go to the dentist - it hurts twice! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Deaf Sentence...

I'm reading a book called Deaf Sentence by David Lodge.  It is about a retired linguistics professor in the North of England who is losing his hearing, Professor Desmond Bates.  His wife is in the throes of a successful new career.  Down in London, his aging father is showing signs of needing assisted living though reluctant to admit it.  About the time he is doubting his uselfulness in life, an American grad student approaches him for guidance on her dissertation.  Her chosen topic is stylistic analysis of suicide notes.  He is intruiged - by both the topic and the attractive young woman.  I am only halfway through the novel and don't know how Prof. Bates' issues will be addressed or resolved  The story is interesting, though not riveting, and I am looking forward to the second half.

What really drew me to this book was the title.  I've never before read a book where the protaganist was hearing impaired.  Add the fact that Professor Bates and I are both in our sixties and you can understand why I was drawn to it.  Prof. Bates is frustrated with his hearing loss and all the ways it makes life difficult.  The author has really hit the nail on the head with his descriptions.  I find myself saying, "Yes.  Exactly!" to so much of the descriptive writing that centers around the frustration and feelings of isolation that accompany hearing loss.  I don't know how he's done it, but the author describes impending deafness as accurately as if he was experiencing it himself.  He seems to understand that deafness truly is a prison sentence of sorts.

I wish everyone in my life could read it...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Requiem for the American Dream...

It's official.  I can't afford to sell my house.  These are not words I ever imagined would make sense in my lifetime.

I bought my house four years ago.  It was a stretch for me.  Not the first house I'd ever owned, but the first house I ever owned by myself - without the help of a husband.  I was uncertain about the move, but proud of myself for accomplishing it.  If it turned out that owning a house alone was too much to handle I could always sell it.  Real estate was always a good investement.

Who knew the market was going to tank?  Not just the real estate market, but the entire economy!  Certainly not me.  It didn't scare me at first.  I love my house.  Just the right sizr for me yet big enough to share should I find a partner.  A perfect layout in a convenient area - near the beach, near my grandchildren, near shopping.  I had no intention of getting rid of it anytime soon.  By the time I was ready to sell, the maket would have picked up...or so I thought.

Then I got laid off...almost a year and a half ago.  That's a long time to be unemployed.  Unemployment benefits help, but they barely cover the mortgage payments - and they will end in the next four to five months.  A live-in boyfriend helped for a while, but when that was over, it was over.  It's been touch and go since then.  I just can't afford my house any longer.

I talked with a Realtor today.  Like so many people, I now owe more than my house appraises for.  I am "upside down" or "underwater" as they call it.  If I am able to sell my house at all (no houses in this area have sold in quite some time), I will have about twenty thousand dollars in out of pocket costs...to cover fees, commission and the balance of the mortgage that would not be covered by the sale price.  Not the cheeriest news - and not possible.  I can't afford to pay out twenty thousand dollars for someone to buy my house - thus, I can't afford to sell my house.

My only options are to keep digging into savings and try to keep the house or consider a short-sale or a foreclosure.  I don't see an upside to trying to keep the house.  I will never get my money out of it; the best I can hope for is to break even some day and that day is some years down the road.  A short-sale and a foreclosure yield the same result; the only difference is the short-sale is not quite as hard a hit on ones credit as a forclosure.  Both require that one be behind on mortgage payments.  So it would seem that, no matter which option I choose, the next step is to stop making my mortgage payments.

I never, in my wildest dreams, thought not paying my mortgage would be a requirement to divest myself of a house I can no longer afford.  Apparently, when I wasn't paying attention, the American Dream died.

RIP...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Week...

Lost a filling last Friday - just fell out while I was flossing.  It didn't bother me at first, but by Sunday my mouth was tender and I noticed a little swelling on my cheek.  On Monday the swellling was noticeable to others and the tenderness had graduated to soreness.  Now I'm one of those people who has a dentist-phobia and will do anthing to avoid seeing one, so needless to say I didn't have a regular dentist.  I called my daughter and got the name and number of hers.

They were quite nice and gave me an appointment for the next day.  Apprehension building by the minute, I made the trek to Wilmington Tuesday morning to see the dentist - who appeared younger than my kids.  He said there was an infection and gave me antibiotics - then the bad news - there wasn't enough tooth left to save.  It had to come out and, with a curved root, would need the skills of an oral surgeon; and I would need sedation.

The oral surgeon's office was equally nice and again I was given a next day appointment.  I called Jack, who arranged for time off to accompany me, then headed back to New Bern - dreading what was to come on Wednesday.  About half way up US 17, I fell into a Trooper's radar range and got a speeeding ticket.  Yes, I was speeding - but so was everyone else.  My abysmal luck was holding.

Wednesday arrived and Jack drove us to Wilmington.  I was nervous and hungry.  They started an IV and injected some Versed.  Things went smoothly - or so I thought- until I woke up.  Turned out I had an adverse reaction to the sedation and my oxygen saturation levels dropped.  I was extremely groggy and don't remember a thing - still don't - but my jaws ache and there's a bruise on my chest!  Jack got me home and took care of me, for which I am grateful.

Now, if I could just bite into something solid...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What's Next???

My thirteen week work contract lasted three weeks.  Seems they decided they didn't need a nurse after all - or maybe they just didn't want me.  Either way (and it appears I'll never really know for sure) they backed out of the contract.  So here I am, once again, unemployed and at-large.

The agency that hired me is looking for another spot for me, but I do not want to travel outside a radius that will allow me to live either at home or at Jack's, so there may not be much available.  I like having time to myself again, but it was really nice having an income for a little while.  Funny what a boost that is to ones self-esteem.  Now I am back to weighing every expenditure and depending on savings.

In the interim I learned that my unemployment benefit year has ended.  When my original twenty-six weeks ended, I moved into emergency benefits and need to keep those.  Fortunately I was able to take care of that and get benefits restarted with a phone call.  One goes through four tiers of emergency benefits before they end and I am in Tier 2, so for now I still have unemployment benefits.

One thing I've learned over the years is that life constantly changes from one minute to the next.  A month ago I was unemployed, last week I had a good paying job, this week I am jobless again; who knows what tomorrow - or next week - will bring...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Perspective...

I made a home visit the other day to see a sweet male patient who is about seventy-five.  When I removed my hearing aids to put the stethoscope in my ears, he commented that I was awfully young to be wearing hearing aids.  I smiled and asked him how old he thought I was.  He lookied intently at my face for a few seconds then answered, "Oh about forty-eight."  Thanking him for the compliment, I told him I am sixty-one.  His reply: "You're damn near as old as I am!"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

First Week of Work...

Finished my first week of work.  It's a long drive - sixty-eight miles from my house and fifty miles from Jack's - each way.  Then on the road throughout the day seeing patients.  Right now I'm riding with one of the nurses...Billie Jo.  She's showing me the ropes and we are getting along well.  I like spending the days with her.  It's a tiny office with very few people and no computers - I'm having to learn paper charting all over again!

After a year of leisure, getting up and going each day is exhausting but I'm sure I will get used to it.  I  do miss my free time but I like being able to use my skills again.  I am also enjoying the fact that I can spend lots of time at Jack's.  That's a real bonus.  Think going back with a thirteen week contract was a good move.  I have an end point to look forward to....a vacation.

One week down, twelve to go... 

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Birthday Gift...

Got a call from a recruiter last week - on my birthday as a matter of fact - she found my resume online.  After a flurry of phone calls and faxes and with a little help from my friends, everything started to fall into place and I start work tomorrow!

I have a thirteen week contract doing home health nursing in a small town about seventy miles from home (but only fifty miles from that new man in my life).  I'm a bit nervous as I haven't worked in over a year, but excited too.  Hope it all comes back to me!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Birthday Thoughts...

Another birthday has just rolled around.  They seem to be coming more often now.  I don't look forward to them like I did as a kid, but I think I appreciate them more.  I remember when I couldn't wait to get older.  I wanted to be twelve or thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one.  There was always an age to aspire to.  Now, I'm in no such hurry to get older.  Older is what my parents were - not me!

Sixty -one has always sounded older to me.  Grey hair cut short, a grey Oldsmobile, sensible shoes, conservative values and a touch of dismay over the younger generation.  But that's not me.  I keep my hair dark and shoulder length...with just a splash of silver bangs and have never driven an Oldsmobile of any color.  My values, far from conservative, include choice, gay marriage and tolerance and I envy the younger generation in some ways.  I do wear sensible shoes though - no fun having ones feet hurt!  So what does sixty-one really look like?

This time last year I was in Spain.  Took a marvelous ten day trip with my then boyfriend.  My first across an ocean.  We explored Spain and took a quick hop to Africa, spending a day in Tangier, Morocco.  It was fun, exciting and exhilerating; I revelled in the different cultures and turning sixty slipped by almost unnoticed - which was my plan!

This year there was no milestone, just a simple transition from sixty to sixty-one.  Rather than jumping continents, I traveled only a few counties away and celebrated with the new man in my life.  We had a lovely dinner out and watched a classic - Gone With the Wind.  I hope to spend my next birthday with him too.   

Monday, March 28, 2011

On Being Unemployed...

Unless one lives in a cave...or on another planet, the economy is the story.  Joblessness is at an all time high, foreclosures are rampant and a majority of people are "upside down" on their mortgages.  We all know someone who has been affected.

I am one.  I got "laid off" a year ago.  Was told that the company numbers couldn't justify two RNs in our department and I was being let go.  It sounds like they are doing you a favor, we're "letting" you go...so much nicer than "you don't have a job anymore."

Being unemployed evokes so many different emotions.  Disbelief, hurt, anger, fear, for starters.  It deflates one's confidence and shatters self-esteem.  I am useless, no one values me, I contribute nothing, I accomplish nothing.  I send in resume after resume, apply to job after job...most don't even bother to reply.  A few say thanks but no thanks and fewer sill want an interview.  The phrase one hears most often is "the response was huge."  It is one rejection after another, "We have selected another candidate."  You get close sometimes, but success is elusive.

Then there are the financial worries.  Unemployment is available as well as the much welcomed emergency extensions, but it isn't equivilent to lost income and doesn't cover all the bills...so every month the hole gets a bit deeper.  I own a home but, like most people today, I bought when the market was high and am now upside down.  Renting would be less costly, but selling is not an option.

There are upsides.  Plenty of free time and flexibility, no alarm clocks...a leisurely life with time for family, travel and activities.  I've done lots of traveling over the past year, entertained houseguests and spent quality time with my grandkids...and enjoyed it all.

Sometimes I like not having to go to work; other times I am quite bored and lonely.  I often worry about money...how deep is the hole getting...what happens when my health insurance comes to an end?  I notice that my confidence in my ability to do a job is waning and I don't like that.  I've always been proud of my ability to support myself and now that's no longer true; something else I don't like.

I'm entering the second tier of emergency unemployment benefits, trying to enjoy my life, visiting doctors while my COBRA is still in effect, submitting resumes and applications...and keeping hope alive.