Thursday, November 17, 2011

Grieving: The Lowest Point

 My Husband and My Father buried side by side. Both Marine Vets.
No matter how one tries to steer their course of destiny in life to avoid the hardships and the consequences, there comes a time when things just seem to fall apart… and this is my time…I have hit my wall….my lowest point…. In my grief journey….

After my husband passed away a little more than a year ago, I felt I was coping very well. I continued to engage in life and keep myself busy with work, with my family and friends. I found a purpose in including my friends in my interests and enlightened their lives as well as mine. Getting adjusted to a new boss and new management style was a challenge, but one that I dealt with one step at time. I missed my husband dearly but felt at peace that he would want me to carry on and be happy in my busy pursuits. I had made it past all the first year anniversaries, birthdays and special holidays without him by my side, with my mind and heart intact. I felt triumphant as a survivor. The word “surviving spouse” had a real special meaning and I was proud to say “that is what I am!”

So as the time came near the 1st anniversary of his death, I felt it time to do my final duty as his surviving spouse and bury his ashes, which was done in July, days before the anniversary of his death. Little did I know that all the strength and confidence acquired through the year of grieving would disappear and make it feel like I was at ground zero. Even taking the month off during this difficult month, just made me feel behind in my work, and playing catch up, which mangled my confidence even more. It became harder to focus and concentrate.

So then over the next three months, a series of grief and losses bombarded my life…changes at work, adding responsibilities, the layoff of my only assistant and other clerical staff because of budget loses, the decision by administration to take on more work without hiring enough staff to support changes, and then…….my dad died. My mentor and “compass”, whom I always went to for direction and guidance was no longer there….I was still reeling from the stress and losses when the straw that is breaking the camel’s back revealed itself…..just hanging by the slimmest of thread…the real possibility of my job position reduced to nearly nothing. Twenty years of working for the same place seemed like a new world now. Time to get rid of dinosaurs. I am feeling adrift and lost at sea.

So this is what the low point feels like?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Father's loss

My dad and I on father's day 2011
My blog has been rather silent since we buried my late husband. The days have been lazily passing us by as Fall enfolded in leaves turning colors, cooler weather approaching and days becoming darker. Little did I know we would be coming back to the same beautiful spot at Rose Hills to bury my beloved father, Raul. My 84 year old father passed away on Sept 25 from a massive stroke. We had a very lovely and memorable memorial service on Saturday. It was just as I wanted it to be….shared with family and friends sweet memories of the wonderful man he was.

As my dad had aged over the years and had grown increasingly uncomfortable with his physical health, I knew that time was short. And yet, I always thought we would have one more month everytime I saw him. He was so sharp and intelligent, even to his last day, as evidenced by his completion of a newspaper crossword puzzle.

I feel the loss of my mentor, my wise counselor, almost more than that of my husband. Perhaps it is because with Walter gone, I still had my father to be my “compass”, giving me direction and guidance. And now, I’ve lost both and feel somewhat adrift. The other day, I needed an explanation of “next of kin” in regards to how it is defined. I needed my father to explain to me the legal interpretation of this. We would always have wonderful talks. His intelligence and wisdom was always there for me.

So now, I feel alone and searching for a source of guidance. It causes one to strengthen faith in the Lord. Matthew 28:20 says “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” What comfort this is to me. I have to listen to that inner small voice of His Holy Spirit that dwells in me for guidance and strength.

I can feel all of those grieving thoughts come back to me, just when I thought I was ready to move on. Well perhaps this is a little different. The loss of a parent is different from a loss of a spouse. One you grieve the loss of security and stability and the other in addition to the others, you grieve the loss of romantic love and partnership. And yet….there is still hope on the horizon. There are others in the shape of people there to catch you from falling. Love and comfort is still out there waiting in the wings for when you are ready to accept it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11

As we draw closer to the 10th year anniversary of 9/11, I peruse the LA Times and the question is asked all over the newsprint pages….”Where were you on 9/11, 10 years ago?” As I reflect on this I cannot help but feel the emotion that horrifying moment brought me upon hearing the event unfold…

I had just climbed into my car to drive my 14 year old son to school. The news station had been set on my car radio to alert me of traffic on the way. As we settled in the car, there was an announcement that the World Trade Center was on fire, and then a report that an airliner had crashed into it. Moments later the second tower was hit. My son and I sat horrified frozen in our seats, the car idling in the driveway, thinking, “OMG! What is happening?” Then came an announcement that the Pentagon was on fire. We sat there in stunned silence in fear and shock.

I started praying at that point hoping that people were being evacuated quickly. I finally was able to drive to my son’s school listening for updates and then the unimaginable happened….one of the towers collapsed. I prayed that people had got out safely knowing there were thousands of people in that huge building just arriving to work. I learned later that many had not evacuated safely and the brave firemen and emergency personnel, who were so dedicated to their mission of serving people had become victims too.

I cried for the loss and wondered how did this happen? Who was responsible for this? We must have been attacked. This was the first time in my life that such a large attack on US soil was successful. Was the US ever going to be the same? Our safe little sanctuary called the United States of America was no longer safe.

The world has changed since, and we mark the day with other significant events of War along with D-day and Pearl Harbor attack. We now fear for everything…our environment, our security, our neighbors, our identity, and yet something good has come because of it. Americans sought and turned to God.

It resulted in a united spirit of the people in hoping and believing that only God could save us through this disaster. The renewal of the Nation’s faith in God and love for each other continues to keep us grounded and together in remembering that our forefathers built this nation on faith in God. Only He has the power and gives us the inner strength to persevere in times of tragedy. We are not alone. Wherever there is tragedy, people come together in a common spirit of love, that our American freedoms allow us to express.

I think God was trying to get our attention. Many renewed their faith and turned to Him for comfort. Even now, when difficulties come, we know we can always rely on God to be there for us and put people in our paths to comfort and guide us. He has a plan for us and wants us to trust Him. Let us hope that these terrible memories continue to keep us focused on God and what is really important…to share love to others, just as he loved us and gave His life for us.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Part II: Saying Goodbye and Moving On

It’s not easy to say goodbye to someone you’ve spent 33+ years loving and experiencing life together. However, this is what happened on July 19th at Rose Hills Memorial Park. It was a warm sunny day. My family and small extended family met to say our goodbyes as we buried Walter’s urn in his final resting place over looking the San Gabriel Valley. The view all around was beautiful. My pastor gave a very comforting service. My three sons and family surrounded me as I tenderly placed the urn in the vault for the final time. It was a very stirring moment. One I will cherish forever.

Loving sons comfort their mother
So officially, this signals the end of mourning right? The past year have been filled with wonderful friendships and yet, there IS something that I feel missing. I miss a man in my life,… a confidant, a someone to feel part of, a best friend with a unique perspective to run things by. I will never lose the love for my husband but perhaps, it is time to move on and to try to find some happiness again. Amazingly, I’ve discovered that it is easier to meet people via the internet, but it is not without dangers and risks. What relationship isn’t? No matter where you meet someone, there is a matter of trust that must be established. I am finding this harder than I thought. Yet, there is also some excitement of getting to know someone who is interested in you.

I am tredding through unknown territory, and it is at times frightening. I pray the Lord will find someone for me that is as good as Walter was. I would feel so blessed to have a person like that. People keep telling me I am still young and beautiful and that I will find someone. Yet, there is always that insecurity hiding within wondering am I really too old. I’m not that spring chick I used to be. Perhaps they will see and appreciate the beauty and experience within and rather than the aging beauty without.

I have also found comfort in knitting again, although my down time is getting rarer as I split my free time between exercising, enjoying music at a local concert, reading, and sitting knitting some slippers for charity. My goal is to knit up all the yarn that I still have, including my handspun yarn. I need some ideas for this that won’t be shrunk in the first wash by an unknowing knitter who does know about wool and hot water. Life is becoming interesting again and perhaps I’ll do some more traveling with friends. It seems I’ve become the “go girl”. I love driving my little Prius around town with my friends to places. The world is open wide for new experiences.

Diana and Granddaughter

Friday, July 15, 2011

I’m on Summer Break! Part I

When I asked for summer break I had a reason……..

I knew that it would be tough getting through major emotional events during this month and needed to help myself and my family cope. Being with each other is the best way we support each other for there is comfort in the presence of loving family. For sure, we love each other and feel nourished when we meet.

The first hurdle……Walter’s birthday on July 4. Little did I realize how much this would mean to me. I invited my sons and sister in law over like normal to have a BBQ. We had two guests come that turned out to have good attitudes and be enjoyable to be around. If anything, they kept our spirits up. One was a 10 yr old 6th grader. Instead of playing board games, the boys got out the Wii and played bowling and Mario to entertain our guest. The rest of us played with the grandkids, lounged around in the patio swing and read quietly until my 4 yr old granddaughter couldn’t take the waiting any longer and we lit up the fireworks in front of our house. Certainly, we missed Walter and we didn’t sing Happy Birthday to You this year. We will now have to remember that it is Independence Day, but in our hearts it will always be Dad’s birthday.

After such a nostalgic holiday, my two youngest adult sons and I planned to get away a few days in Las Vegas. We wanted to see some shows. This was a very special treat. One of my son’s has been playing in an orchestra for some community theatre shows on his summer break, so he was looking forward to being entertained rather than entertaining. We saw the Blue Man Show, which was very funny and interactive. At one point, the audience pushed yards and yards of toilet paper sized streamers from the back of the threatre to the front of the stage. It looked like a sea of white water covering the audience….what fun!!! Blue Men are three mime drummers that are very good. They use neon colored special effects and make up funny skits that involve the audience in them. I highly recommend their show.

The second show was “The Phantom”. I saw the Broadway production of “The Phantom of the Opera” in Los Angeles a few years back. For the Las Vegas show, they reduced it from a 3 ½ hr to a two-hour one-act program. The costumes and sets were great. The singing and music was wonderful too. However, I didn’t feel the emotional involvement with this production as with the original. I think that the cut in some scenes, sacrificed some of the emotion and compassion development that is involved in the show. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but have tears for the song, “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”. I just thought of Walter.

Diana and the Blue M & M

Scott & Diana in the Venetian Hotel

Diana near the Lion's Den at MGM

Robby & Scott say "Cheese"

New York, New York-Las Vegas Style

Las Vegas Palazzo at night

The rest of the time we spent swimming in the lovely pool at Hard Rock Hotel, browsing the various Las Vegas Strip Casinos and shopping at MGM, Escalibur, Luxor, Venetian, Treasure Island and New York, New York. The boys couldn’t get away without riding the Roller Coaster. Our last stop was the M &M shop and I found the Blue M & M! There were four floors of M & M stuff!

So now I am preparing to do one of the final acts I have as a widow….laying Walter’s ashes to rest. Its almost a year now. I think it is time to give the family some closure and to give me permission to move on with my life. Although I have mixed feelings about this and to some extent I feel I am still grieving, people tell me this is normal. On the 19th, there will be a private gravesite gathering for family to pay final respects. The view is beautiful overlooking the San Gabriel Valley, where Walter and I grew up. This will be our final resting place.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Discovering Hope

Life can throw you for a loop with tragedy and difficulties that seems overwhelming to recover from. In my grief of losing my dear husband of 33 years, prayers were constantly sent to God hoping that He will help take away the pain and slowly revive hope in my heart. Is it possible to hope again? As I approach the one year anniversary of my late husband’s death, it helps me reflect on how far I have traveled through my grief process. I am still here. I am alive.

I have survived and I live each day with a hope, a smile and wonderment of what God has in store for me in daily blessings. He has grown in me a capacity to love and care for others in many different ways. Does one have to loose so much to appreciate how precious building relationships and nurturing them are in order to find some measure of happiness in this world? I have learned my lessons well. Life is just too short to fail to make meaningful connections in this world.

I am humbled by God’s grace, with a Thankful heart……..

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on LOVE, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3: 12-14.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tornado Tragedy and Hope

    I woke up early Monday morning and decided to check my Facebook page before going to work. I noticed some of the chatter coming from my nieces’, living in the Mid-west, seemed to be about finding missing friends. Horrified, I learned about the devastating tornado that wiped out ¾ of the town of Joplin, Missouri. I called my sister-in-law, who lives north of Joplin and was reassured that they were OK but a nephew barely survived, as he worked in the Joplin Walmart that was now mainly rubble. He lost his home and cars, but was safe and reunited with his family. The only one unaccounted for was a great-nephew who lived in a 3-story apartment which was flattened. We learned that he was not home at the time the tornado struck, which was an F5 tornado, one of the strongest deadliest tornados.

Great nephew Jay searches for belonging after tornado destroys his apartment.
The only thing found was his late dad's baseball glove, something to treasure.

His story is reported here.

   God is good. We had some stories of hope in this tragedy. One great-niece was to be married this weekend in Joplin. She had her wedding dress in the town Bridal shop. Although the shop was destroyed, there was one lone wedding dress hanging on a hanger. Lo and behold, it was hers. Her story with her fiance as they search for his sister right after the tornado is on video via this link, interviewed by Anderson Cooper of CNN. Be sure to see the video from this link.

    Another great-niece was to be married the week after. She was staying with her parents until the wedding and unfortunately, her parent’s home was destroyed. Nevertheless, she was able to recover all of her wedding stuff. When one goes through an ordeal like this, it makes us ask “Why, God?” “How is one to celebrate happiness when so many are so sad from this type of devastation”. She had thought of cancelling her wedding. However, many reassured her that it would give hope to see a new marriage start in the midst of tragedy. I believe it will strengthen the family bond and God will bless this couple as they go on to commit to one another in love.

     There are so many untold stories that show what the spirit of the heartland is all about. We Americans pull together in times of tragedy. This heartland is well known for its strong faith in God and well anchored Christian values. There is no second thought to acting on God’s commandment to “Love one another”. My niece, who is a Nurse Practicioner, has been volunteering her time working at the a local church performing first aid and helping to meet the needs of those who are now homeless or injured. There are many more volunteers that are unsung heros and have chosen to make a difference in this tragedy. I thank the Lord that he loves us and has put a spirit of love in us. May God always bless us all.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Nurture vs Nature

We are approaching Mother’s Day again. I had a chance to take my mother out to dinner, just the two of us. I was thinking how rare we’ve had in the past to talk about girly things over the last few years. Why is this? Until now, my whole life has focused so much on the men in my life; my father, my brothers, my husband and my sons. Life didn’t leave much time for female stuff. And now, I find myself back to being a female again. I have time for myself. I have a granddaughter to play dolls with. It is a much different mothering, than I am used to, but perhaps I should be thankful I have this opportunity.

I am feeling better about myself. Did I somewhat loose part of my femininity trying to compete and survive in a man’s world? I am discovering the beauty inside myself and around me. I have a chance to do the things my nature calls for in nurturing in a gentle way. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone other than myself and to please God.

Life is just too short to have each moment planned out. There is much you miss this way. I am now letting life unfold before me as a bud opens into a beautiful rose bloom. My friend C recently gave me the largest Florabunda blooming rose I have seen. It was gorgeous and touched my heart greatly. It was hard not to notice the lovely fragrance as well as the sweet peach color. It made me appreciate the nurturing she gave me and has given me over the last months since I lost my husband. I know we will be great friends and for once this mother is allowing myself to be nurtured as well as nurture others. I have missed this and this is one thing I have needed in a long time. I have not had a sister but she comes very close to one.

Mother’s Day not only makes me think of nurturing by women but also the nurturing that men are capable of that is a hidden character trait they should not fear to demonstrate. To some this makes them seem unmanly. However, to us women it makes us honor them more than ever with love and admiration in their manhood. Isn’t this how God is? I see my son gently interacting and patiently listening to his two children. Right now he is acting as mother and father and is doing a great job caring for them. I see another man friend helping to bring a bed-ridden female friend to church, generously giving of his time helping her to gain her independence. If more men would be like these self-sacrificing men, the world would be a better place.

Wouldn’t it be great to celebrate Nurturing Day at least once a year? Better still, nurturing should be celebrated every day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Truth about Inflation

I recently finished a hoodie made from the Leisure Arts booklet “Knit Hoodies for Kids”. It was a rather easy, simple pattern that I am sure to use again. I was trying to find a link where a booklet like this can be purchased to recommend it to others who might be interested. The first place I looked was and was astounded to find that the only one available was a used copy at…….are you ready?.......$282.42!!! I nearly fainted when I realized that the $8.95 book I bought might be a collectors item and out of print. I suspect this must be a mistake but it gave me quite a jolt. I have since found other copies online selling at as low as $7.95.

It made me recall a time I was looking for a fair isle book from Alice Starmore, a very famous reclusive and exclusive knitter from England, many years back. Everywhere I looked, this book was not available and there was no reprint date listed. I had heard this was one of the best books on Fair Isle knitting written. Fortunately, I found a copy in the United Kingdom on ebay, that of course, was inflated in cost but reasonable as opposed to the over $100 prices the US dealers were asking for. I caved and purchased the book, thinking that if ever I needed to unload something for some quick cash, I could always sell this book at the inflated prices as the current supply and demand market seemed to indicate at the time. I was even considering including it in my will and final instructions, so my heirs would not give it up frivolously when I was gone. Several years later, it was announced that Alice Starmore publishers was reprinting the book in “Paperback”! My dreams of having something of value came crushing down as the prices normalized. It did teach me a good lesson to take things at face value and in patience. If I have waited, I would have save myself some money.

I don’t know if the above example is what is happening to the “Hoodie” book or is it a case where some greedy seller trying to make a buck from trying to sell a good pattern book for over $200. Sometimes we are blinded to the truth. In reality, no one has taken the seller up on his offer. It’s nice to know that most people are not foolish and know they can get it cheaper at $7.95 or wait until it is reprinted.

With the economy so unstable, it should not be so surprising that desperate people will try desperate things and this could be one of them. I do hope that Amazon will be prudent and not be the means of fooling people into these overpriced schemes.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bouncing back -Knitting a Hoodie

I’m recuperating from minor surgery at home. Although minor, I have some limited movement restrictions that have somewhat interfered with my daily activities. I cannot lift anything over 5 lbs., no squatting, avoid exercise, no driving for at least two weeks. This is so hard. One does not realize how much doing these very things is part of your life. Of course, this is a challenge for me as I had planned to do so many things at home during my Spring Break. I feel like a slug.

I’ve picked up my knitting again, as there is not much else I can do. I am making my grandson a hoodie. I found a great little Leisure Arts book called Knit Hoodies for Kids. It’s a top down pattern. I am using Caron One Pound acrylic worsted yarn in a yellow gold color. Yellow is Ben’s favorite color. The pattern is a placket neck pullover, raglan sleeve pattern with striped rows across the hood, bottom edging and sleeves. When done I am thinking of adding a Thomas the train patch or embroider it on. So far it has gone rather quickly with Size 5 and Size 8 knitting needles.

Yesterday, I saw a documentary on Eleanor Roosevelt. She has always been a woman I admired. I was very surprised to see her knitting in many of the film clips shown with her husband. It’s no wonder why many women knitted socks and warm clothing for the soldiers with this example to inspire the women left at home. What inspires me is her commitment to all people in fighting for human rights, her commitment to her husband and marriage despite his betrayal, and her inner strength to do the very best to make a life and purpose for herself and blossom into her own identity after her husband passed. People respected her and listened to her, even in her old age. I wonder how she would be thought of in today’s world?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Death & Taxes

There is a saying that….”The only thing you cannot avoid is death and taxes”. How true is this! That is why it’s a double wammy when you have to face both at the same time.

As a surviving spouse, I had to file my last “joint” income taxes return for my late husband and I. As I signed for my deceased husband on the dotted line, I was suddenly struck by the finality of this little act. We have filed a joint income tax return over the 33 years of marriage and this final act of marriage has such an impact, it made me face the reality of an ending of the BIG marriage responsibility. Yes, even in death, someone has to pay your taxes. I wonder whether divorced people feel the same when they sign on the dotted line of their divorce papers?

Until that moment of signing off that tax return, I had not realized I was truly unmarried. Next year I will be filing income taxes as a “Single”. I almost feel as if I have cut off a limb or something vitally important. I’m not sure I like this feeling of separation. Perhaps it might have been easier had one divorced and made a willful choice to separate from their partner, but this was not my choice. I expected him to be here helping me work out our taxes on Turbotax. I gathered up all the paperwork, W-2s, 1099’s and worksheets, as I had done in the past, and brought it to H&R Block.

The decision to hire someone was one of convenience rather than frugality. This is the one mistake I realize after the fact. Since I had everything in order ahead of time, all the tax person had to do was plug in the numbers and press a button for the software to compute the tax. I realize I could have done the same had I not been insecure with this uncertain stage in my life in widowhood. Coping is hard enough and I didn’t want to chance getting any taxes wrong. Going through an audit for the first time, without the support of my wise, intelligent helpmate, was not something I wanted to chance and therefore sought the expert’s advice and counsel. I suspect I will never look at a tax return in the same way again without feeling this loss.

In the end, I realize the Lord was with me every step in our finances, so I would not have a deep financial burden. There is no way I could have planned our spending in such a way as to come out even in our taxes. This is just more evidence how God provided for us in our time of need and even after death.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eight Months of Reflection

Ever so often I indulge in a little reflection. It is almost eight months since Walter’s passing. Lately, memories flood my soul and I miss his silent strength and presence, especially in times of stress and trials. There are times I feel my faith in God is constantly tested as I have lately encountered more trials than some might experience.

I reflect on my coping styles and how God places the right people in my path and the right diversions to keep my spirits up and focused on him. I have never been one to panic in times of stress. Perhaps, this is because of my training as a nurse, that demands of me to exercise some self-control to function in life and death situations. I think that having this calm spirit helps a stressful situation rather than hurts it. People who are stressed fear loosing control and will seek out anything that resembles confidence and peaceful assurance.

Yet, this calmness can later catch up on a person. I succumb to feelings of being overwhelmed and need to seek a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on. Friends have been so wonderful and available to me for this. It surprises me to be so open and honest with them, sometimes not leaving any thought protected. Is this taking a risk? Perhaps. Yet, God has put in my path friends I trust, more than they know. I have always felt that being honest and open yields much better results than holding back. I expect honesty back, even if it hurts. I have a good capacity for forgiveness. God helps me with this. More and more I am learning to let go of hurts and disappointments as I realize it doesn’t help me move on if I keep them inside to fester and multiply.

I am starting to explore some outside support groups to seek information, and an impartial group to work out the stresses in my life. The hardest step is to go to the first meeting. I feel the need to build my support base beyond my inner circle. Perhaps this is an opportunity to discover additional supports available to me, as well as work on me. I have a choice to alter my behavior to influence the behavior of others. Life is all about choices, isn’t it? I can choose to keep things the way they are or the choice to change it or change the way I behave in it.

If there is anything I miss most with Walter’s absence, it may be the access to human touch. I have friends and family who are not shy about giving hugs. Our church has people who will come up to you to give a friendly hug greeting and this helps tremendously. My sons are not shy about hugs either. All of this helps. But there is something about the simple holding of one’s hand or the intimacy of a simple kiss that I have found myself grieving for.

I feel like I have survived the major hurdles of the calendar, ie. Wedding Anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines’s day. Depression has come and gone throughout these times, but amazingly less than I expected. Supportive friends, family have helped as well as implementing coping strategies I’ve found in books on Widowhood . I still have Easter, Walter’s birthday and the 1st Anniversary of this death to cope with.

And throughout all of this I pray, for He is with me.

Cares Chorus

I cast all my cares upon you,

I lay all of my burdens down at your feet.

Any anytime I don’t know what to do.

I will cast all my cares upon you.

~Kelly Willard

Monday, March 7, 2011

Worship Walking

As the winter thaw begins to take hold in California, I have ventured out to walk every morning before work for about 30-45 minutes at 6:00 am (Yikes!). I dress myself in layers: my wool hat, scarf and gloves and brave the near dark sky and cool temperature (lately in the upper 30 to 40s).

I have committed myself to be more healthy and to give myself some alone time to contemplate the Lord, contemplate my life, and cleanse my spirit for the new day. So I wrap myself up, and turn on my I-pod with Chris Rice Christian music or some other worship album playing, and think about how God has blessed my life. As I warm up to a good pace, I retrieve all the trash and previous disappointments and grief I have long stored in the back of my mind and have a good cry, where no one but God can hear me. He knows my groanings.

“Romans 8:26 ….the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit, himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

He cleanses my heart and smiles on me as the beautiful sunrise arises during my walk. What beauty he shows me as I walk! I see the mountains covered in fresh snow from a previous rain/snow storm. I see deer (yes, can you believe it! There was 7 deer in Duarte!), feeding off the tender leaves of orange trees near the bike trail. I see the beautiful hummingbirds going from flower to flower gathering their breakfast. There is so much God calls my attention to, that I am overwhelmed by his goodness. I start singing to the worship songs as I walk. I must look like a mentally ill person to others, but I don’t care…….I’m worshiping the Lord.

As the sun comes up peeking over the mountains my troubles are left behind me and God reminds me in Romans 8:37 “ In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Now, isn’t that something great to wake up to?!!!

Fiber Meditations: I have been working on knitting the Celtic Tradition afghan from the book “Big-Needle Afghans” on Size 11 needles. I started it many years ago for my son and recently brought it out from storage. It is made with Acrylic Yarn that is washable and it is nice and heavy, just like my son likes it. He wraps himself under a pile of blankets like a mole under ground. It is so big, I cannot take it anywhere, but must knit it at home. A few rows every other night is what I am hoping to do. It is coming out so nice, my family and grandkids may have to fight S for it when done.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I have been blessed with three wonderful sons. Being a parent has always been a most cherished dream of mine. I have my ancestors to thank for this as each generation has faithfully stressed the importance of “family”. I saw the sacrifices my own excellent parents made to ensure we were educated and cared for and loved and with this as my example, I have tried to perpetuate the same in my own raising of my sons.

How satisfying it is to pass the torch and witness for myself the development of my son’s loving parenthood with his own children. With only the example of his parents and grandparents to emulate, my son has become a wonderful father. I have the special priviledge to witness this in my own home and oh, how it warms my heart to see the special bond my son has with his children. Who else but a father will let his little daughter paint his toenails, while he is caring for them? Who else but a father will tenderly get them ready for bed and read a bedtime story? Who but a father would plan a special day with his daughter to take her miniature golfing or a day with his son to go Jumping and Jamming at the local mall? Who else but a father would sacrifice his own comfort to ensure his child is warm and happy? I know his earthly father, who now watches him from heaven, would have been very proud of him.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Two weeks ago, as I saw this day approaching, I couldn’t help but feel some sadness and missing my late husband. The memories of some of the special Valentine’s days came to mind with some melancholy. On a Valentine’s Day, one of our sons was conceived. He was our Valentine to each other. I am comforted by this special son Walter has left behind to remind me of our love. This son and I went to dinner  tonight and he is a great emotional support for me.

Today, Valentine's Day was a special day in so many ways. Our boss pampered us workers with strawberries, raspberries and other assorted goodies. Several of my friends sent Valentines and flowers. I truly felt loved and cared for.

On this day at work, we had Federal Reviewers show up at our school to evaluate our program and everything seemed to go so well.

The weather was perfect. I really enjoyed my early walk this morning as the sun came up shining as if God was smiling. I thought , “Isn’t it a beautiful day? How blessed I am!”

I purchased a Valentine’s gift for me of a ring and necklace set with red pink hearts. This is a reminder that I am a survivor in a new independent life. A new life that will be better and hopeful for a fulfilling future. I am starting to realize a purpose. It seems to be falling into place. Rather than seeing the emptiness, I am having a vision of the possibilities in my life.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves….12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Grief Work Status Check

Wow! Where has the month flown? This has been a month of reflecting, coming to terms with realities and making plans.

Our church has been studying the Book of 1 Timothy. It has generated a lot of lively debate and 1 Timothy 5: 3 talk about widows, “Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need”. It reminded me to check my temperature on my grief work. How am I doing?

I’ve been reading a book, “How to go on Living, When Someone you Love Dies”, by Therese A Rando, PhD. It is a rather comprehensive book of the grieving process, all kinds of grieving. In the Chapter on “What is Necessary to “Resolve” Your Grief”, it tells of a set of processes that must be completed. They are:

1. Experiencing the pain.

2. Reacting to the separation from your loved one.

3. Readjusting to the new world without your loved one.

4. Changing your emotional attachment to and investment in him.

So I ask myself, “How am I doing”?

It seems that I have been going through 1 and 2 over the last two years. Number 3 was started when my late husband entered the hospital and Number 4……..? Well, six months after his death, I might be starting to work on this one.

I keep asking myself, how did I get this far so fast? All I can say is that that the Lord is good and provided me the very best of friends, family, and people who were there for me every step of the way. I was able to cry and talk about my feelings, get information, and not feel so isolated knowing that others had experienced similar grief feelings. We all seemed to hold each other up with love and care.

The book goes on and gives a checklist of examples how one can know they have successfully resolved their loved one’s loss….

1. Remember their loved one without pain.

2. Mention him or tell stories about him without falling apart.

3. Express regrets without undue guilt.

4. Love others without feeling they are betraying the deceased.

5. Write the word “widow” without feeling abandoned.

I can honestly say I can do most of these. I acknowledge that there might be times of lapses but I understand this is normal and expected. It is not intended to wipe away the memory of your loved one but to adapt into a New Life without Forgetting the Old.

This involves…..

1. Developing a new relationship with the deceased.

2. Keeping your loved one “alive” appropriately.

3. Forming a new identity based on your being without this person and encompassing the changes you have made to adjust to his death.

4. Taking the freed-up emotional energy that used to be invested in your loved one and reinvesting it in other relationships, objects, activities, roles, and hopes that can offer emotional satisfaction back to you. “

This book has been very helpful to me. I am thinking of going back to school to finish my degree, making deeper commitments in friendships, and my focus in my work is coming back. Life is good. Thank you Lord!

I have also finished my Friendship Shawl. How appropriate for me to have finished it when I am completing my grief work. This shawl is a celebration of the friendship and support given me. I will be giving it to a very special friend. It is a garter stitch shawl with a Feather and Fan pattern knitted in to prevent the shawl from falling off the shoulders. I knit it dark red Superwash wool . Mornings are still chilly and should come in handy on those cold mornings.

Friendship Shawl

Feather & Fan pattern

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

It’s hard to believe another year has slipped away! However, rather than reflect on the past, I feel it is important that I focus on the future. Perhaps this is a turning point for me. I need to think on the positive as Philippians 4:8 says “ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever, is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Of course, when one focuses on the future, one needs to have a goal. I don’t think I made many New Years resolutions last year as I feel I had little control of it. I had to surrender totally to where God was to take us. The surrender is still there, but I want to have a little direction for my life, at least the part I have some control over.

Here are some of my initial resolutions:

1. Declutter my home- I am reading a book called “The Joy of Less, Minimalist Living Guide: How to declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life.”

2. Find more time to connect with people. Build relationships. Visit more with people, especially those that have less support.

3. Read more. I’ve given up on TV-can’t get many channels in my area anyway. Most TV is bad news, too. I do not want cable-too expensive. I’ll stick to the internet and Kindle books.

4. Downsize my fiber inventory. Why am I keeping so much around? I have less time to use it.

5. Have fun with the grandkids. What a joy they are and a challenge. Give them a supportive, stable and loving living environment.

6. Read through Proverbs.

7. Loose weight: find time to exercise. Consider joining a gym.

8. Stick to my budget. Save up to take my grandkids to Disneyland.

9. Take a weekend trip before summer.

10. Experience Joy! Last year it was the Search for Joy. This year, I want to experience more Joy than ever before.