Thursday, March 16, 2023

My Life with Jim, Part 3

After we were married in July of 1964, we decided to buy a house while Jim could avail us of  the perks of the GI Bill - no down payment.  The following Spring, we moved into a compact, but nice 3 bedroom home in Norfolk, near the Chesapeake Bay. We had a good sized lot and Jim soon learned that home-ownership meant constant maintenance, especially for the lawn.  He had been raised in NYC, in apartments where lawn maintenance was not required of tenants. He hated it, but he did what was required. 

I set out to make it the floral showplace of the neighborhood. My neighbors all gave me plants from their gardens, and that summer, I planted 7-8 canna lily plants, 7-8 rose bushes and numerous marigolds and zinnias. I had a green thumb then, and the plants prospered, especially after we had a cedar stockade privacy fence installed.  Prior to the fence, the plants were in the path of the daily salt spray from Chesapeake Bay, moved by the constant windy conditions on and off the bay. But the 60' by 4' deep flower bed continued to grow well for years. 

I shudder now, to think of the decor I bought to decorate the  inside the house. It was right up with the times, of course, mostly avocado green, gold and pumpkin. Our couch is now the subject of memes on Facebook - the ubiquitous large print floral and trompe l'oeil patterns of the 1960's, in orange, rust, gold and avocado, of course.  

Eleven months later, we found out we were going to be parents. The guest room (one of them) was decorated as a nursery, leaving out color until we knew the sex of the baby. He was born before the capability to find out early.  After his birth, in 1966,  I sewed red-white-and blue curtains and kept that color scheme until we moved to Raleigh in 1969. By then, we had baby number 2, who arrived in July, 1969, six weeks before we moved.  

The only thing either of us knew about Raleigh was what we had seen on The Andy Griffith Show on TV, where Barney talks about going to Raleigh and staying at the YMCA on Hillsborough Street. At the time, neither of us could have imagined that Jim would play basketball in that gym and our children would attend the "after-school" programs put on by that YMCA.  Raleigh proved to be a sleepy small town (back then). We chose to rent a 3 bedroom apartment for a while; not wanting to buy a house there until we learned more about the area.  The apartment complex was at that time, almost the northernmost building in the city. Sometime in the 90's I learned that that corner was now the center of the city.  It had grown so fast it couldn't be believed if I had not seen it happen. 

I achieved the best tan I had ever had that first summer. The pool was just outside our apartment and the children and I went there often. Jim joined us after work. We had never had daily access to a pool, and we both loved it.   After 18 months in that apartment, we bought a home across town. Baby three made her presence known soon after, and was born in October of 1971.  

Our new home was a 4-bedroom split level, and it had a big yard too, but no landscaping to speak of. I soon learned that the land was full of small rocks, and I would pick them up and throw them into the woods, only to have another layer visible after each heavy rain. It was very discouraging to both of us. 

To be continued.....

Monday, March 06, 2023

My Life with Jim, Part 2

On March 2nd, after 39 days at UNC Hospital, we moved Jim to a Hospice facility in Pittsboro, NC. It was not our first choice, but it was the only Hospice around with an available bed. 

My daughter and I had to leave Jim about 4:30 at the hospital and drive to Pittsboro quickly, in order to sign papers. We waited and waited, and at 7pm, he arrived. After the nurses got him situated, they came to get us, and said...."He is awake, and mad." For a long time, he has had a lot of pain in his hip flexor and leg, related to the stroke he had in 2007. Moving him was torture for him, and he avoided it like the plague.  So he was not pleased at being taken from his hospital bed, placed on a gurney, put into an ambulance and taking a 30 minute ride to Hospice. After which, he was taken from the gurney, and put into another bed. 

I guess the trip hurt him and he was not happy abut it, so they sedated him to rid him of pain, and by the time we got to the room, he was asleep again.  We stayed a while, and after our son arrived to spend the night with Jim, our daughter and I left to eat dinner and go home. But, we said our goodbyes to Jim and promised to return to see him the next day. 

That night, I took melatonin so that I might sleep well. I was so tired that I went to bed early. At 4 am, I awoke, and stayed in bed, in hopes I'd go back to sleep. At 6:40 am, I heard my name just as clearly as if he were in the next room. I sat up in bed and said..."Jim, is that you?" of course, I had no answer, but I sort of knew then that he was gone. 

At 7:15, my daughter and granddaughter came into my bedroom to wake me, and I thought they said "Papa's fine." but further clarification proved he was gone.  Time of death was called at 6:35. I have no doubt that he came to say goodbye to me before going to Heaven. It is so gratifying to know that! He was always a wonderful man, and he will continue to look after us, and I am sure of that. 

Sunday, February 26, 2023

My Life with Jim

In August of 1963, fleeing from an engagement which I had  broken, I moved to Norfolk, VA to take a new job. I had just graduated from the Charleston (WV) School of Cytotechnology, and I was eager to get into my new profession. 

Having lived at home all through college, I was somewhat anxious to break free of my mother's long reach, and simultaneously scared to set out on my own.

I knew no one in my new city, except for a woman I had known in high school and college. She was married to a guy in the Navy, who had also gone to Morris Harvey College. I was making excuses for not calling her: she was married and the last thing she needed was a single girl to mix with, they had two kids, she was a teacher and I thought she would have no time to spend with me. How wrong I was!  After 3 months of working and going home to a rented room, Pat called me and chastised me for not calling her as soon as I moved in. "I have a guy for you," she said. Little did I know what an inveterate match-maker she was! 

We made plans to go to a basketball game on the Navy base, as her husband and this guy played on the same team - Sublant.

She picked me up and we arrived at the base. As she escorted me into the gym, the guys were warming up before the game, and Pat said..."He is the best looking guy on the tell me who you think it is."  I peered at all the guys, and said "It has to be #40." and she answered...."Yes, and if I can't have him - I want you to!" 


That was the start of it all.  Six months later, we married at the Catholic Chapel on the Norfolk Naval Base. There were only nine people present, including the Priest.  We had opted to marry at a time that was completely inconvenient for both our families to attend - mainly because Jim did not want his parents to know that I was not Catholic, and a marriage ceremony without a Mass is a dead giveaway.  

In retrospect, we should never have done that. I had no idea how badly that would affect my parents, especially my mother, not to see me, her only child, married.  Oddly enough, his parents found out years later, when someone decided to spill the beans. By that time, we had 3 children, and they didn't care that I wasn't Catholic, at least, not as much as the person who told them had hoped they would be.  

I think God meant for me to be exposed to Catholicism. The engagement I broke just before I met Jim was also to a Catholic. My mom was leery of that and the first guy, but she loved Jim, and so she came to terms with it. 

We have, as I write this, been married 58 and almost a half years. I have been looking forward to reaching 60+ years with him, but it may not happen .  I still hold out hope; I know miracles happen, and perhaps God will see fit to give us at least a few more years together. 

It has not always been a bed of roses, of course, but I would definitely do it all again. I have written and spoken about my wonderful children and grandchildren until you are all undoubtedly blue in the face. But I will continue to sing their praises. They have all stepped up magnificently during this hospital stay (35 days and counting) and every one of them has been here to visit and sit with him, some even overnight. They enjoy him, he enjoys them, and it gives me some time off, for which I will forever be grateful. 

NOTE:  I know some of this is a repeat, but I feel the need to write, so I beg your indulgence. This is only Part One.  

Thursday, February 09, 2023

It's Always Something - Isn't It?

 My husband has been in UNC Hospital since January 23rd, his 82nd birthday. He doesn't want me telling anyone about it, but since he doesn't know about this blog post - what he doesn't know won't hurt him. 

I can't say what is wrong; but I wanted you to know that is why I probably will not write a post anytime soon. 

I really hate long hospital stays, either for myself or someone in my family.  It takes a lot out of you to sit in a hospital room, day after day. 

On a brighter note:  I took my first Uber ride today. The car was so clean I almost thought it was brand new, and the guy drove safely, so it was a good ride.  It cost a small fortune, though. Too bad I let my driver's license expire isn't it?  I need to make an appointment to get my new license, but the DMV offices are so full of people all the time, I will have to wait months to get in there (and probably take a test.)

You might ask:  How did you let your license expire? Well, it all started 3+ years ago, when Jim was at Duke hospital for nearly 3 months. I had gotten a new license; the kind with the star that will be required before too long, and I noted that it would expire in 2020. That was the last I ever thought of it, apparently. The only time I had to see my license was when we went to the doctor, and we had to show our photo ID and insurance cards. But I never really looked at the card or read it - so I didn't notice that it expired.  

My daughter looked at it a month ago, and discovered it had expired. Subsequently, I went online to our DMV and found out that if your license has expired within the last 2 years, you can get a new one on line. BUT - since I had been such a dummy and let it go for 3 years, I have to go into the office and I will probably have to take a drivers test as well as a written test. I don't know for sure, yet, but I am afraid to ask. 

Have you ever let your license expire? Did you have trouble getting it back?

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

It's Always Something...

 On Monday, our handyman came over to install a new ceiling fan, 4 smoke detectors, a new shower head and a grab bar. While he was here, my granddaughter noticed that there was water standing in the shower floor and neither toilet would flush well. So, he took the cap off the sewer line in the yard and discovered that the cable company had cut the line when they installed theirs (4-5 years ago), and tree roots had grown into the sewer, impeding the flow of refuse. UGH! It's always something.....but how lucky were we that he was here at the time??? We have to call the city organization responsible for the sewer lines to come and mark the lines on the grass, so that the old lines7 can be dug up and replaced. Naturally this happens in winter when the ground is hard. It figures. 

The new shower head has a large spray opening and the wand attached to the wall pipe by magnet! It works great. No more fumbling to get the sprayer back into its "home". 

The grab bar makes it unnecessary to use the handicap toilet lift seat (YAY), so now, the lid goes down when I want it to.  

We hope the new smoke detectors are not as sensitive as the former ones, which managed to alarm loudly at least once a week when I used a skillet, even when there was no detectable smoke. 

I hope your week is better.

Friday, December 30, 2022

I, for one, am glad to see 2022 on its way out.

 Who's with me? 

Actually, since 2019, my life has changed exponentially, and I am ready for some solitude and serenity. And travel!  I would love to be able to travel, but with our situation here, it is nearly impossible. We went to our daughter's house for 3 days over Christmas, and while we had a very nice time - we had to pack up what seemed like the whole house, in order to go. 

We took Jim''s hospital bed, his Hoyer lift, his wheelchair (of course) and multitudes of meds and supplies for his needs. It's nearly impossible, or so it seems. Insurmountable is the word I was looking for. 

Our other daughter wants us to go on a cruise....and we found out that the cruise ship has handicapped rooms/bathrooms, and a suite that would hold 10-12 of us, and be accessible for Jim. I don't know; I'd love it, but if Jim didn't, our week would be miserable. 

Here's hoping that 2023 brings better health for all of us,  the ability to go and do the things we like, the continued love of our families and enough money to bring it all about. 

Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas, everyone!

 I sincerely hope that all of you have a good Christmas - one to remember - and a very happy new year!! 

We have been beset by one thing or another for the last 4 years; illness, Covid, the economy and inflation. I decree that 2023 will be a better year for all of us!