Archive for the ‘THOUGHTS’ Category

DOES WRITING ABOUT ONE’S GRIEF LESSEN THE GRIEF?


I am still grieving over the loss of my wife; its been several years since that awful week in which my wife died and I still cry when I allow myself to ruminate about our marriage and what it means to me. Yes, I still think of myself as being married. After 66 years as Patty’s husband, I am permanently married! We were married when we were 18 years old, but our marriage lasted 66 years; our marriage was abruptly ended by a cancerous tumor that destroyed her brain. I have never before experienced the feelings of loss and  loneliness that I felt as I witnessed my wife exhale her last breaths. These were the most profound moments of my life and they have remained fresh in my memory. As she exhaled her last breath, the strained look on her face relaxed to that of a person that has finally found a peaceful place to rest. I cannot forget these moments nor do I want to forget! But, life goes on for those who survive. Since I am still counted as being among the living, I must act as though I have some reason to stay alive, beyond that of the primal instinct of self preservation.

Today I read an article which presented ideas on how to deal with one’s feelings of grief resulting from the loss of a love one, and I need ideas, that is clear. One idea presented was to write about your grief and, in that way, find your way to peaceful accommodations with your feelings of grief.  This an approach that has a good chance of working for me and I am going to try it. I enjoy expressing my thoughts by writing them down, so here we go, for better or worse.

I have been taking pictures since 1961 and I have accumulated a ‘collection’ of about 25,000 color slides. The main focus is my family, in the ‘extended family’ sense of the word, but I also extensively documented my interests in railroads, railroad history, the great outdoors, mountaineering, and life in general.  I generally took a quick look at my slides as I got them back from Kodak, put them into ‘limbo-like’ storage, and essentially forgot about them. A few years ago, I woke up to the fact that I had accumulated a ‘collection’ of slides which was a fairly good record of my life experiences. So, I bought a scanner and began to digitize my slide ‘collection’. I started by digitizing my ‘railroad slides’ and when that phase was completed, moved on to the digitization of the remainder, a process that is still not completed. The digitization of my images is a very personal process for me, that is, I am forced to relive all of the experiences that I shared with Patty as I view the images. Recalling the events and circumstances of my life is not usually a problem for me, but after my wife Patty died, I found myself in a quandary as I started to resume my normal life. l realized almost all of the images that I was looking at evoked memories of Patty. I realized that I was faced with the choice between continuing to process the slides, and in so doing add to my grief, or to avoid the reminders altogether by deferring the scanning and thus allow myself the luxury of lessening my grief mainly with the passage of time. I chose to resume the digitization of my slides and I set aside those images that showed Patty. That was a lot of images, and a lot of memories, as Patty and I shared many experiences. This was a difficult process for me at times but I managed to edit these images of Patty down to a final group. This group became the slide show which was presented at Patty’s Memorial Gathering. This Memorial Gathering of Patty’s family, and her many friends, was the most emotionally intense thing I have ever willingly subjected myself to. I believe the experiences and emotions of preparing the slide show were responsible for my being able to attend Patty’ Memorial and not experience a complete emotional breakdown.

Living in the home that Patty and I made for ourselves and our three sons has proved to be a blessing for me, but it does give rise to a problem similar to the one enumerated above. Everything I see or touch brings back memories of Patty and of the experiences we shared. We have lived in this house since 1958 and it contains a lot of memory jogging artifacts. The artifacts that trigger these memories are everywhere in the house. For  instance, every time I brush my teeth, I am reminded of her because her toothbrush is still where she left it. I cannot avoid seeing it. The solution is as simple as it is obvious; get rid of the toothbrush! Except that is not so simple (for me). Throwing away anything which  belonged to her is, to me, a bit like denying her place in my life. This is a huge problem for me as it renders me impotent in doing the things that I need to do to close her estate. Consequently, I am not making much progress in giving away her belongings to family and friends as she wanted. The severity of my problem is compounded by my nearly complete inability to dispose of my own stuff. Recently, I did resolve to go thru some of what I have accumulated over the years and rid myself of most of it. My son David eagerly helped and encouraged me by moving many storage boxes  and otherwise facilitate the work. So far I have rid myself of three boxes of books, looked at, reorganized, and returned an additional six boxes of stuff back into storage. In looking at the contents of the boxes, I found much minutia of the early years of our marriage. and I dutifully scanned many documents into the computer with the intent of disposing the originals. I made the mistake of reading documents as I scanned them and when it came time to actually throw them away, I found I could not do so. I ended up with much of what I started with; much better organized, properly stored on my computer, and once again, stored in the garage. However, I also experienced wonderful trips down memory lane as I processed all that stuff; I literally relived the early days of our marriage and courtship. I found photographs of the engine I built-up for my 1940 Ford sedan and these reminded me of the time I spent with my Father as he taught me the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of engine rebuilding. I was reminded of Patty and the fun times we spent together as a couple before we were married. Time well spent, but not very useful as far as downsizing my ‘stuff’ is concerned. Unfortunately, I am becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of just doing what little I can and not worry too much about the actual downsizing. My apologies to my sons who will have as much of a problem with throwing Dad’s’stuff’ away as I am having in doing the same.

Do I feel any lessening of the burden of grief that I bear? I really do not know yet. Will I continue to write? Yes, I will continue to write. Later!

 

 

HOW A LITTLE STUPIDITY BECOMES A MAJOR PAIN IN THE ASS


I have been getting junk phone calls to my house phone for years and I do not even bother to answer – I just let it ring. However, I am beginning to get these type calls on my cell phone. About a month ago I answered a call on my cellphone I suspected was junk call. I answered for reasons which escape me now. It was a call to inform me that the company making the call was contracted to make refunds to former customers of a company that I used to use to perform maintenance and repairs to my computer. In order to do so, I had allowed the company technician to access my computer. I never had a problem in doing so. My relationship with the company ended when they went into bankruptcy. This all happened several years ago. The call seemed legitimate but I was very wary. It did seem odd they wanted access to my computer to give me a refund. Anyway, to make a long story shorter, I let the caller take control of my computer. (This was HUGE mistake!) The caller quickly made it appear that I owed him $10,000 and he demanded that I pay him immediately by withdrawing $10,000 in cash and send it to him with a money order I was to purchase. The person in control of my computer was very good at confusing and distracting me.  I came to my senses about this time and turned off my computer. My computer is password protected and when I rebooted, my password no longer worked. I had been had! I got on the telephone and reported the whole episode to the Police and the fraud department of the bank. The fraud people quickly assured me I had not suffered any monetary loss but I would be required to change all my bank accounts and have my computer ‘cleaned’ and certified as ‘cleaned’ before I would be allowed to use it for online banking. This was the start of my major pain in the ass. The police report went nowhere because the ‘crime’ could be properly categorized.

I arranged to have the computer ‘cleaned’ and the technicians assured me I would not lose any of my data files but my computer would be in the same state as a new one. All my files would be on an external hard drive that I purchased for that purpose. I would have to ‘build’ my computer from scratch. I was allowed to use my computer for banking business after I sent the work invoice to the bank’s fraud department. I have been slowly rebuilding my computer since it was certified as being ‘clean’. It is a process that has some positive aspects. Some of my do overs incorporate ‘lessons learned’ and are better than before. It is still largely a pain in the ass for me, however. New bank account numbers means that I have to change all of my direct deposits and get new checks. Another pain in the ass several time over.

I cannot complain too much as I basically did it to my self. I am motivated to not do it again but one never knows.

 

SOME POST ‘CELEBRATION OF LIFE’ THOUGHTS


I thought the ‘Celebration of Life’ event was huge success. It was a fitting tribute to Patty’s life and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, which by itself would be enough to render the event a success. I want to thank everyone for their participation and thank my son John for the work he did in coordinating the event and making sure the lunch itself went well. Thanks to those who made menu suggestions. Sue flawlessly managed the two mailings, perhaps the most critical task. Nick was kind enough to be the ‘Master of Ceremonies’ and I thank him for that. The choice of music for the slide show was the work of Patty’s friend Bea Saldana. I am sure Patty would approve. I am absolutely convinced that the enthusiasm and participation of the members of my extended family and our friends was essential to the success of the event. I thank you all.

Personally, I was overwhelmed the by the kind words and expressions of love that were bestowed on me. The memory of these will provide me with comfort for the rest of my days. Thank you all. My memories of the sixty six year long marriage, that Patty and I shared, comfort me each and every day. I miss her more than words can express; the pain of my grief will be with me always. I tried to set aside this pain as I endevoured to greet everyone. However, I suspect that I fell short in that effort. I was especially pleased to see so many of my friends there. My extended family has grown to such a large group that I am no longer sure of ‘who belongs to who’.

We ought to do this again to memorialize those members of our family who have departed this world and have some fun at the same time. I am willing to bankroll such an endeavor if a committee can be formed for this purpose and present me with a plan. As a resident of the City of Lakewood, I can rent a 150 person capacity park for a day. The park is less than a mile from my house and it is very nice. Something to think about.

I have 120 size B/w and 35 mm color slide images I took starting about 1962. These are nearly all scanned into files on my computer. There are thousands of them including about 8000 railroad images. I also have about 100 rolls of 8 mm color movies which I had professionally digitized. Copies of these are yours for the asking, but I caution you that my energy level tends to be low so it may take a while to satisfy your requests. This collection was the source for the pictures of Patty in the slide show. It would be a shame if this resource was lost to our family. Keep in mind that today memory on computers is cheap and plentiful.

 

ROUNDED EDGES ARE A PLUS


I fell! I fell while getting out of bed to pee last night. I am OK as of now. The emergency room doctor told me to be alert to any changes in how I feel. There is a slight chance of cranial bleeding as I take blood thinners. I feel fine. It is my good fortune that my brain implants were not damaged. My head hit a heavy oak night stand that thankfully has substantially rounded edges and I did not suffer a penetrating blow due to sharp edges. The impact was near my left temple. The impact point is slightly swollen but not discolored. We applied an ice pack immediately and that seemed to reduce the swelling and discoloration. I am very fortunate to have not suffered a serious injury.

My memory of the events of the fall are only partially available to me. I remember throwing the bed covers back, nothing of the fall itself until the impact, and complete disorientation for a moment. I never lost consciousness and was able to walk out the bedroom to seek help. I think what happened is that I slipped off of the edge of the bed and lost control of my movement and fell, hitting my head in the process. My only recourse is to be very deliberate and move slowly when getting out of bed in the future.

I view this falling event as a valuable wake up call. I will certainly be more aware of the hazards I face as I go about my daily life. I must be much more careful.

 

WORN OUT FAUCET, NEW FAUCET, ALL IS WELL – WRONG!


David, my son, and his wife Jeanie are constantly working to maintain our home to the high standards set by my wife Patty when she was alive. David and Jeanie recently pointed out to me that the the kitchen sink faucet was worn out and leaking and they proposed that we install a new one. I readily agreed and David purchased a new faucet and installed it without any significant difficulty. We did not suspect that we were  engaged in an enterprise which would provide absolute proof of the truth of the old adage “No good deed shall go unpunished”. We later realized we had a problem when the area under the sink was discovered to be flooded. The connecting lines were leaking! After a brief interval of finger pointing and blame assignment, we decided that continuing down that particular path was not in keeping with our mutual goal of fixing the leak. We then went through a period of time involving the inspection of relevant washers and the purchase and installation of new ones.The end result is that we called our plumber and made an appointment for him come the next day and fix the leaks. Later, after the plumber said he would be delayed by a day, we resolved to fix the leaks ourselves and cancelled the appointment. By unanimous consent, we agreed that my continued active participation in the work would stop. This had already proved to be somewhat counterproductive. I had came to the realization that my only proper role in the project was that of a spectator. David and Jeannie were unable to find the source of the leaks and, after an overnight timeout, we reexamined the various washers. David discovered that the the shutoff valve washers, installed on the advice of a ‘big box hardware store’ clerk, were made of an inappropriate material and were too small in diameter to work in that particular shutoff valve in any case. A case of the blind leading the blind. A trip to our local Ace hardware store, where the correct washers were purchased, led to the elimination of the leaks. Problem solved at last! Jeannie then proceeded with the task of cleaning up the mess accumulated during the period when the faucet was being installed. She ran the garbage disposal and was very surprised when the waste water discharged into the area under the sink and onto her shoes instead of down the drain. We quickly determined the drain pipes were misaligned and leaking. They were probably disturbed sometime during the ‘fix the leaks’ work described above. Fixing the pipes was easy but the cleanup was not. Wiping up all that ground up uneaten cat food was not fun.

As of now, the new faucet is working OK and we are recovering nicely.

SHOULD I LOOK FORWARD TO ANYTHING?


I read SCIENCE magazine as a way to maintain my awareness of what is going on in the world of science. In the 23 November issue there are several articles which caused me to question my ongoing lack of interest in subjects which seem to require that I must live a long time so that I might learn the outcome of work being done in the present. I am 86 years old and this line of thought seems reasonable for me. However, my recent reading of SCIENCE magazine articles caused me to uncharacteristically hope that I would be around in order to bear witness to what the outcomes of these projects would be. Also, I recently read the summary section of the US Government climate change report that was released the Friday after Thanksgiving day (2018). What I read made me comfortable with the certainty that I would not live to see the worst of what is coming for the humans of our world. We are now seeing for ourselves the early effects of climate change. I am convinced we Humans are in line to experience some terrible events. Read the report for yourselves if you believe I have succumbed to an unwarranted alarmist point of view regarding climate change. This was the context of what I was thinking about when I read the SCIENCE articles. It is confusing to me to entertain draconian thoughts about the future effects of climate change and at the same time try to look optimistically toward a future reward of increased insight into science subjects. I suspect I am not alone in being confused in this way.

The first of the SCIENCE articles is entitled “ASIA SET TO TAKE CENTER STAGE IN HIGGS STUDIES”. The existence of the Higg’s Boson was confirmed in 2012 by tests conducted at the CERN proton beam collider, located in Switzerland. This is a very large and expensive machine by any standard. It will be used to conduct more Higg’s tests over the next several years to refine the original confirming data. However, the exploration of the physics of the Higg’s boson depends on future tests which require higher energy levels than which is available using the CERN collider. The article informs the reader that China  and Japan are the only nations that seem willing to provide the several Billions of dollars necessary to build the higher energy colliders. The US Government does not seem to be interested in pursuing the matter. The work has the potential of lifting our understanding of the physics of matter to a higher level of understanding. Another article, with the title CRACKING THE CAMBRIAN, advances the notion that fieldwork now underway to obtain newer fossils of life forms from the Cambrian era and new technology instruments, that will be used to analyze them, will combine to provide a much richer understanding of how life evolved on Earth, perhaps we will learn more about how life began on Earth. New advances in artificial biology are described in ARTIFICIAL CELLS GAIN COMMUNICATION SKILLS. Other articles include LUXE RESEARCH SHIP TO EXPLORE THE DEEP OCEAN and NASA TO PAY PRIVATE SPACE COMPANIES FOR MOON RIDES. Taken together, these articles suggest to me that the next ten years will be filled with many new and exciting discoveries in the world of science. However, I am convinced the World political order will be challenged as never before, in the same period of time, by deleterious environmental changes. It is obvious to me the collective response of the human race in mitigating and adapting to the World’s climate change will determine the fate of mankind. The present political situation in the United States does not tempt me to believe the prognosis for us is anything other than grim!

 

 

 

 

A NEW EXPERIENCE FOR ME AND A BUG BITE ADDED


I have been undergoing a new experience for me. My body is retaining water and this is evident in my swollen legs. My doctor had prescribed a diuretic to deal with the leg swelling when he was first presented with my problem. When I returned for a  followup visit, he saw that my legs were not improved and he immediately put me into the hospital. He said he wanted to “dry me out” and run some tests. I informed my son, who had brought me to the doctor’s office, that we were undergoing a change in plans; we were going to the Lakewood Medical Center and I was going to be admitted as a patient and I was going to be ‘dried out’. After a short drive to the medical center, and the signing of many, many consent and acknowledgement forms, I was reintroduced to the ‘hospital gown’ and its drawbacks (pun intended), the joy of trying to find, by trial and error, a suitable location for the IV needle, and a pee bottle to measure my ‘output’. I quickly learned that ‘diuretic by IVee’ plus a Pee bottle plus a hospital gown equals big mess. Ballet it is not, but I learned some new moves in a short time and managed to avoid any major spills in so doing. Soon after we began this ‘drying out’ process, I noticed that the IV pump was very frequently signaling its ‘displeasure’ with the status of the IVee line (flex tubing) by making a loud, periodic, and irritating noise. The  noise seemed to be an alert , aimed at everyone in the vicinity of the IVee pump, that something was amiss and some action must be taken. The action finally taken was to relocate the IVee site to yet another place on my arm to minimize the chance of arm movement causing a IVee line kink and more alarms. Now I know why my wife Patty said she felt like a pin cushion when she was in the hospital.

While in the hospital I was put on a special diet that required low sodium  food preparation. That, and my age related loss of my ability to properly taste my food, meant you could have fed me cardboard and I would have been just as satisfied. Take away taste and one is left with presentation and texture (mouth feel?) as the remaining factors that allow me some satisfaction in eating my food. The food that I was served at Lakewood Medical Center was uniformly good; I cleaned my plate at each meal even though I could taste very little of what I ate. Loss of appetite was not my problem. The quality and consistency of these two food  factors are largely controlled by people and this demonstrates to me that LMC must have a very capable staff in their kitchen. 

In the hospital I was bitten on the back of my left hand by some kind of insect. I first noticed the bite while I was washing my hands and I  felt a sharp pain in my left hand. When I investigated I observed a rapidly increasing swelling on the back of my left hand. I showed my hand to the nurse and she drew a line round the area of the swelling with a felt pen. We watched in amazement as the swelling doubled in area as we watched. There was little pain. After a short while, my skin began to appear as though I had been bruised. Although several nurses were involved in the incident, no further mention of the bite was made by hospital personnel. Since I was experiencing no great discomfort, I did not pursue the matter and I was discharged from the Hospital. Since that time the discoloration has almost gone away and there has been no new swelling or pain. There is however a hard lump at the original site of the swelling. I do not know what I will do at this point except I will mention the episode to my doctor when I see him on Monday. I am moderately concerned about the possibility of future problems such as Lyme’s disease.

 

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