Preheat your oven to 350*

1 box of spaghetti
1 & 1/2 lbs. hamburger
butter
green pepper
1 small onion
2 cans of mushroom soup
Lg. can of diced tomatoes
1 can black olives (drained)
1/2 tsp. oregano
sm. can of mushrooms (drained)
16 oz. of shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup of parmesan cheese

Cook spaghetti & hamburger. Dice your onion. Mix 1/2 cup water & mushroom soup in a bowl. In a separate pan, saute a TBSP of butter with your onion and peppers. Add to this the mushrooms and olives, oregano and can of tomatoes. Cook 10 minutes.

In a baking dish, layer spaghetti, hamburger, sauteed mixture, mushroom soup mixture and cheddar cheese. Keep layering until all of your ingredients are gone. Then, sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top and some parmesan cheese on top of that.

Bake 30-35 minutes

171 days. Multiplied by millions of thoughts daily equals a number too large for my computations. Some of those thoughts, in no particular order:

I miss his scent.

Being a single parent is exhausting.

I have some truly amazing friends who’ve swooped in to create birthdays and Christmas.

I have some incredibly dense, thoughtless family who fail to see and hear the needs.

Again, I have truly amazing friends.

I am in control of only so much. Important qualifiers there: only so much.

I love my house but hate living in town.  I want to find a cabin in the country and enjoy the silence, save the piano music played by the youngest princess.

I miss cooking.

I miss the hectic schedule of meds, therapy, visiting nurses and the drone of his oxygen concentration machine.

I love that I’m still finding things he hid away 2, 3 or 4 years ago.

I miss how he would rub my hands when they hurt. I wonder if  anyone will ever be able to make them not hurt like he did.

It is amazing how terrific sleeping in a real bed every night feels and how much it heals the body.  There is no cure for the heart or soul but in time, maybe they’ll feel “better”.

 

Since the last time I found time to string words together, life changed radically and set me adrift in the raging sea known as widowhood.  118 days of swimming against the current, fighting seasickness (aka grief) and trying to find a footing that seems to be miles from the surface.  I pray in time, I will find my way back to writing daily but how much time remains to be seen.

Really?

I’d like you to understand that the life of a 24/7/364 caregiver for a chronically ( terminally) ill person is not the same as parenthood, checking on your parents by phone from a distance or helping an ill friend. It’s an all-consuming job. It means making priorities flexible on a daily, often minute-by-minute basis. It’s also an incredibly PRIVATE thing, meant for immediate family only. This is not fodder for your “news” about family & friends to be spread like wildfire every time you drop in unannounced on them.

I’d like you to know that if I don’t answer the phone, return a call or message; I’m either extremely busy or want time without interruptions. No exceptions, no special rules for “special people”. Emailing me until your fingers are stubs isn’t the solution either, in case you were curious.

I’d like you to realize, you aren’t listening no matter what you think. You also drain my precious energies and time away from where I need them because you aren’t listening and I resent that.

I wish you’d see I AM AN ADULT. In fact, I’ve been one for the majority of my life. Time to adjust your viewpoint and let go of whatever old vision of me you’re holding.

When I want your advice, I’ll ask. Don’t assume I **need** your advice.

I wish you’d understand I don’t owe anyone an explanation for anything. It’s been that way for the majority of my life, I’m not about to change now. When you commandingly inquire as to my schedule, plans or whereabouts, you are intruding and are quite frankly, out of line. When you pay all my expenses, then you have a right to know…until then, stop demanding.

I wish you’d wrap your head around the fact that many, many people don’t need a church building, service or clergy to have a firm relationship with God. Implying otherwise is just insulting. In fact, when people make those insinuations, I immediately see a person so insecure in their own faith they must condemn others to shore up themselves. I see a person who has missed 2 of Christ’s most important lessons: Love one another and Judge not. I also lose respect for them. I pray the good Lord finds a way to open your eyes and widen your mind.

I wish you’d understand there is nothing wrong with introverts who crave privacy, solitude and who work hard at achieving those things. I also wish you’d understand that being an extrovert does not make you “healthier” than an introvert. In fact, I think you should reexamine why your personal life is so lacking that you have the overwhelming need to insert yourself into every situation you can whether you belong there or not.

I wish you’d hear me when I say “this is my ME time” and leave me be. I enjoy working with my hands, staying busy is vital to MY personal well-being, so please don’t dismiss this small need of mine by jumping in to “help” with something I don’t need or want help with. You’re robbing me of MY ME TIME when you do. That means you’re depriving me of my private prayer, reflection and worship time. I know, you can’t grasp it because it’s not in a church building but that does not give you the right to rob me of what works for me.

I wish you’d pick up on the fact that asking Hubster about your car, house, lawn mower–whatever, is not as helpful to him as you imagine. In fact, it’s quite devastating and usually means the girls and I are in for a rough night or two while he works through his resentment towards his condition and inability to do anything he loves now. Doesn’t seem to matter how I say it, you aren’t getting the picture. I resent your blind attempts to include him (and us) in a life that no longer exists. Each time you do this, we are set back weeks.

I won’t apologize for not “leaning on you” when I need things. I won’t apologize for drawing close those who understand on a deep, personal level and avoiding those who think they know because they’ve read a book, watched a movie, or had a friend once, for reaching out to the ones I trust the most, the ones who cry because we’re hurting and laugh when we’re having a good day. Until you’ve walked the soles off your shoes doing what I’m doing 24/7/365, don’t say you understand or know. Don’t offer “helpful” hints or advice because you clearly don’t have a clue what it is to open water bottles for your husband every day because he can no longer grip the cap, to help him bathe and dress, to manage multiple medical conditions along with the vast array of medications required to keep him stable and semi-comfortable.

Think you can try to wrap your brain around any of this or should I just explode on you in person the next time you show up unannounced?

I realized this week how much I counted on blogging to keep me on track with the day-to-day stuff and give me a record of who said what, who went where, what grew and what I cooked. I want to get back on-board with things, I’m praying restarting my blog will be a simple first step.

The garden is in. I tilled it myself. I planted it with the help of Princess who also helps me weed it daily. We threw in a few new things this year: swiss chard, beets, strawberries and rhubarb. So far, things look good. I’m anxious to get that first ripe tomato and start canning in earnest. 3 batches of jam don’t really count, do they?

The scoop is something like this: my mother and I speak but not really. Our conversations are more like words between semi-estranged friends. It’s been this way since about 1980, maybe earlier, I am not sure. Let’s just say it’s been like this longer than it wasn’t like this. The rare occasions the talk isn’t something from Planet Strained, it’s from Bizarre-O-Land.

Like tonight when I called to apologize for not responding to an email from her earlier today so that tomorrow my inbox wouldn’t be flooded with emails about how I’m too busy and self-important to take .02 seconds to answer a completely moot point. ‘Cause I’m just not down for that this week. She totally forgot about emailing me after all. Seems having my wacky uncle from Florida move in with her has pushed her that much closer to the edge of “Not on this planet anymore”. Turns out, the dog that owns him (and now apparently her) is so smart, she no longer needs an alarm clock and the dog will not eat until given permission to do so. I expect the next dog update will include details on the dog’s super ability to not only use the toilet but how it cleans the bathroom to such an impressive sparkle, Martha Stewart wept openly. I’ll be shocked if the dog doesn’t drive the van by the end of the year, that’s how amazing it is according to mother. (and yes, I meant to use lower case letters there.)

I think I’ll take the other mom person who’s cracked out on super pain meds after having her chest cracked open last week. At least she knew what day of the week it was.

Because there is somewhere else I want to be this week but can’t be, this song has been playing on the mental soundtrack.

26 Cents sung by the Wilkinsons, written by Steve Wilkinson
She sat alone on a bus out of Beaumont
The courage of just 18 years
A penny and quarter were taped to a letter
And momma’s goodbye in her ears

She watched as her high school faded behind her
And the house with the white picket fence
Then she read the note that her momma had wrote
Wrapped up with 26 cents

When you get lonely, call me
Anytime at all and I’ll be there with you, always
Anywhere at all
There’s nothing I’ve got that I wouldn’t give
And money is never enough
Here’s a penny for your thoughts
A quarter for the call
And all of your momma’s love

A penny and a quarter buys a whole lot of nothing
Taped to an old wrinkled note
And when she didn’t have much she had all momma’s love
Inside that old envelope

When you get lonely, call me
Anytime at all and I’ll be there with you, always
Anywhere at all
There’s nothing I’ve got that I wouldn’t give
And money is never enough
Here’s a penny for your thoughts
A quarter for the call
And all of your momma’s love

Oh its been years since momma’s been gone
But when she holds the coins she feels her love just as strong

When you get lonely, call me
Anytime at all and I’ll be there with you, always
Anywhere at all
There’s nothing I’ve got that I wouldn’t give
And money is never enough
Here’s a penny for your thoughts
A quarter for the call
And all of your momma’s love

Here’s a penny for your thoughts
A quarter for the call
And all of your momma’s love

For the person I think of as a second mother, you’ve got my 26 cents, the car is filled up and I can be there in 8 hours if you need me. Lots of prayers of thanks and for healing are being said every minute of the day.

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