SURREAL XII

I wish I had been keeping a  journal back then, because it’s at this point where I have time gaps and get confused about the order of events. These logistical problems mean nothing to the reader or the value of the story. But as a person who really likes 100% accuracy, I’d really like to have it here. I think the reason I have fuzzy recall is because there were no monumental events at all. I didn’t do as many people do and dive right into any cancer support groups or cancer “walks”. I guess my situation of work and caretaking demanded too much of my schedule to involve myself outside my home and my parents’ home.

My son was about to be a senior in college, so he was finally realizing that his room at home was definitely his cheapest accommodations. We lived just outside Nashville, so he could commute within a half hour. He took his final part time job at a local shoe store and asked if he could rent  out a downstairs bedroom to a college kid who worked with him there. Not only was he saving me money, but he was making me money. I liked the way this kid thought. It seemed such a short time since his freshman year when I would pack up his grandmother, an elderly cousin who loved baseball, our two poodles, picnic gear, and a lemon cake for the team and drive across town to the college campus where my son was announcing the games. We’d get there early and all those baseball players would come running. Now my son was a senior, and everything in our lives had changed. We had been through a lot, and I certainly won’t say he had come through it unscathed. But he had maintained a good GPA, kept his nose clean in college, worked hard to help me keep his tuition current and keep him in clothes, food and supplies. One of my friends was instrumental in getting an internship for him with a local sports radio station because of the four years of baseball and basketball games he’d announced in college. So at least this part of my life was looking good. His degree in broadcasting, his broad experience in all areas of sports, his smooth rich voice and now this internship dropped in his pocket almost insured his future. Thank you Lord.

I had not had a romantic interest since the end of my marriage. I had formed a companionship with an older gentleman who treated me more like his daughter than a girlfriend. He took me out to eat almost every evening, took me to all the ball games he coached, pitched with my son, which Chip was quick to point out, his father had never done, and got my car washed and polished every weekend. What he didn’t do was visit my parents’  home, show any interest in attending church services, or go anywhere with my friends or of entertainment interest to me. I also learned in time that he had a dark side. He never physically abused me, but he was moody and had mood swings. When he did he would just disappear for two or three days. His employer seemed to understand or tolerate this problem, but after eleven months of this erratic behavior, I didn’t understand and couldn’t tolerate it.

The regional administrators of the nursing agency I had managed over a year all had a not so pleasant surprise along about this time. The owner made a swing across the state one day telling each of us that his funds had run dry. He was relieving all of us of our duties and reorganizing the company. It was a horrible blow to each of us who had poured our hearts and souls into the new company. The funds that had dried up were the ones that had gone into his high living and luxury automobiles. The company had run in the black under our leadership, but his personal bills had to be paid “immediately”, and our salaries were apparently going to solve that problem for him. Not fair? I had spent the past few years in the “university of not fair”. I was ready to “graduate” and move on!

A friend heard the news about the agency before it hit the streets. She owned a business that was medically related to the agency, and she called me that day to ask if I would come and do pick-ups and deliveries for her until I secured another position. It was definitely a drastic cut in pay, but I never missed a paycheck, and since I had managed well, I was going to be okay.

I asked my Dad if he would let me move into their house and take full time care of my Mom, but he wouldn’t hear of it. I didn’t understand then, and I don’t understand now why he wouldn’t release the care to the one person who would do it best, but I had no choice but to obey his will.

Chapter XIII of SURREAL will begin the “best and the worst months” of my life. I must apologize for the length of time between writing chapters. My health has become a real issue for me in the past couple of months. We are hoping to get some answers within a couple of weeks and get back whatever our family calls “normal”. I just ask my readers to bear with me.

 

“Before you go to bed tonight
give all your troubles to the Lord.”

                                  https://i1.wp.com/www.ladcblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Child-Praying1.jpg

 

KRAFT Pumpkin, Caramel & Pecan Cheesecake

Pumpkin, Caramel & Pecan Cheesecake recipe

What You Need
1/2 cup chopped PLANTERS Pecans, divided
38 gingersnaps, finely crushed (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
25 KRAFT Caramels
1/4 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream, whipped

Make It
HEAT oven to 325°F.
CHOP 1/4 cup nuts finely; place in medium bowl. Add gingersnap crumbs and butter; mix well. Press onto bottom of 13×9-inch pan.
BEAT cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add pumpkin, spice and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.
BAKE 45 min. or until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours.
MICROWAVE caramels and milk in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 min. or until caramels are completely melted, stirring every 30 sec.; spoon over individual servings of cheesecake. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Serve with whipped cream.

Look for Chapter XIII Coming Soon……………..

SURREAL XI

 

A Very Young Photograph of My Sweet Precious Mom

As my Mom began to heal from her surgery, we began the charade of acting like things were normal. We all knew that absolutely nothing was normal; but these were my mother’s last months on this earth. I was determined to bring as much comfort and small pleasures into her life as possible. I recall a question she asked me, and I remember the answer I gave her. Because I had had a hysterectomy just a couple of years before, she asked me if it was supposed to still be hurting this much. She knew in her heart that it wasn’t, but she was looking for a “normal” answer. And I gave her one. I held my face as straight as possible and did my best to keep the tremble from my voice as I told her that this pain she was having three months post surgery seemed perfectly normal to me. I told her that I was sure I remembered that much pain and more for at least that long; maybe longer. She seemed so relieved, she even smiled. We were buying time. Time for a little more comfort, a little more pleasure.

We did things that we’d never done before. My Mom had always been such an active, on the move type woman. She had never sat down to hobbies like scrapbooking. But we took every card that came to her, and there were hundreds, and we glued them into scrapbooks. Then each time she asked, I’d get those books down from the shelf and we’d turn the pages together, reading each one over and over again.

Mom welcomed company. She quickly got over worrying about being dressed. If a nice robe over her gown felt best that day, then that was the dress of the day; no apologies. Lady friends from church, relatives, neighbors, everyone came by to see her. She was a well known and loved woman in her community. Her younger brothers would often come by and have coffee with her in the mornings. That was a great pleasure since that was also a way to keep my Dad around for a while, because he enjoyed their company. Most of the time he was out visiting up and down the country road, riding his tractor over the acreage or driving off to somewhere. That became a source of irritation between him and me as the months went on. I was trying to work 50+ miles away, and my Mom was often too weak to get her own food, bathe herself, or to keep up with the many medicines prescribed for her to take throughout the day. She would call me at work and tell me that she was a little confused about this med or that one. I would question where was my Dad. I tried not to allow the fury that I felt toward him get into my voice as I talked with her. I’d do my best to get the medicine schedule straight over the phone, and hope that she took them as I had described. My father couldn’t face losing his source of support. My Mom did everything for him. She had always put the food on his plate, laid his clothes out for him, kept up with everything about his business, and she had run the household. He basically couldn’t function without her, and he knew it. He was behaving like a small child, scared and overwhelmed. He could have developed a deeper relationship with his wife during these last months. It could have been a memorable, almost sacred time of reflection over the good times they’d shared. Instead he was hurting her deeply, leaving her lonely, often risking her safety, and he was exhausting me as I tried to care for her and everything else while I worked my own job. If anyone deserved to act overwhelmed, it was me! Yet my Dad often showed little appreciation and even acted out of sorts with me. I tried to put the best face forward that I could. I had to do this for my Mom. And I didn’t want to waste one precious moment of her remaining life by arguing with my Dad. Little did I know how bad things would get.

My Mom had been so grieved when I had been divorced. She had always suspected that my marriage wasn’t the bed of roses that I tried to convince her it was. She was a very intelligent and intuitive woman, and she usually saw right through me. So she hadn’t wasted any time letting me know that she wanted me to find real love and happiness. She couldn’t bear the idea that I would spend the rest of my life alone as I had told her I might. She had taught me a saying from childhood. I should want to be married only to a man who loved God as much as I did. I protested to her that I thought I had done that the first time! So when my Mom realized she might not be around to take care of me, she made it her mission to be sure I fell in love with a Godly man who would care for me like my Mom would. So here I am, racing 50+ miles at least every other day to take care of my dying mother, my father who was acting like an adolescent, and their house plus mine, and my Mom is playing “The Dating Game”. She gave me the 3rd degree about my work day; who had I met, was I interested, and were we going out that weekend! When I met Alan many months later, I was reluctant to tell her for a lot of reasons.

But that’s a story for another chapter…..

My mom

What’s a Simple Way to Explain Retinitis Pigmentosa

A lot of people ask me what is wrong with my eyes. They immediately begin to tell me about their grandmother who has macular degeneration and think they have hit the nail on the head. They think I have what grandmother has. I start by telling them it is exactly the opposite. Someone with macular degeneration doesn’t see the middle. They see just a rim around the picture (very simplified definition), and no one young gets it. It is an age related disease. People can be blind as babies from RP. Then I give them the illustration: if they will look through a toilet tissue cardboard core, they will see something like what I see all the time. This paragraph just gave the most elementary illustration and definition ever of a very complicated and non-curable disease. And no, there is no surgery to cure it.  If there was, there would be hundreds of thousands of RP victims running all over each other to check in!

SURREAL X

I honestly can’t remember a thing about the next few days. I had learned during the course of my marriage when something was too painful to wrestle, I could put it in a “box on a shelf”. Of course I never went back to those boxes. That’s what I did with the days or weeks till my Mom’s surgery. I went to work. I went to see my Mom. I cleaned house, mine and hers. I cooked meals for my parents so my Mom would have healthy meals when I couldn’t be there. I did laundry. I went to church. I guess I became a robot. But then the day came – the day of my Mom’s cancer surgery. I had prayed almost 24 hours around the clock every day. No matter what else I was doing, I was praying. I was praying that when they opened my Mom’s abdomen they would find nothing. The cancer would be gone. She would be cured. Or best of all, the doctors would have been wrong. There had never been any cancer there. My Mom would be fine. They’d perform a hysterectomy just to be certain she was clean as a whistle, and that would be that! That dream was my safety cushion until the day of surgery.

I remember just as little about the day of surgery. I don’t know what I did with the several hours that it took. I don’t know where my Dad was. He never knew how to handle hospital situations. And that got no better during the next few months. What I do remember is the surgeon’s somber countenance when he came to talk with the family, my Dad and me. He began telling about all the cancer cells left in her abdomen after the hysterectomy. He said the abdominal wall was FULL of cancerous cells. I remember feeling my emotions rise as I queried, WHY didn’t he take those out? WHY would he just sew her back up with those still in there? He was very understanding as he tried to soothe my wounded feelings, and he gently explained that it would have been impossible to remove them all. But he was starting her on an aggressive chemotherapy treatment plan. “Ah hah, so you ARE going to make her well? You’re going to cure her with the chemo!” His answer wasn’t the one I was ready to hear. “No, we won’t be able to cure her, but we should be able to treat her so that she can have some quality of life.” Life, life, the operative word! Okay doctor, I thought, give me an answer – how long? He must have read my mind, because I do remember perfectly his next words. “We might keep her alive and comfortable for 14, 16, maybe 18 months; no longer.” My mind raced. Another birthday, another Christmas, Easter, what else? How much quality could we cram into the months ahead? We’re supposed to live life to its fullest, but we don’t usually do it with the knowledge of when it will end. When you have that “cap” on your longevity, plus the handicap of recovery from major surgery, the pain and sickness of the disease eating away at your organs, and last, but certainly not least, the poisoning of your body by chemotherapy, it writes a whole new definition of “bucket list”. In our case the “bucket list” turned out to be more of a roller coaster.

I still had a reasonably good vision field. That’s the way your vision is measured when you are losing it to a retinal disease. In other words, how wide is your circle? I had learned to “swivel” with such grace that very few people ever noticed my vision loss. As long as I did my driving during daylight hours and did as little lane switching as possible, I could continue driving for a good while longer I hoped. Some of the after work trips to my parents’ farm got a bit dicey as I maneuvered miles of unlighted, unmarked two lane roads once I left the highway. But I’d driven those roads for years; I knew them like the palm of my hand. And nothing was going to keep me from my Mom.

I spent a lot of time in that little red Miata. It was 25 miles from my house to my parents.

I hope not to take another hiatus before I complete SURREAL. I’ve been involved in starting a small business and dealing with some health issues. Nothing life changing or life threatening,but my schedule has been a bit damaged. (-: I plan to be back on my weekly installments.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Taming of the Squirrels~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When my Dad was nearing retirement my parents decided to fulfill their dream of building a log home on their farm. They had owned the 56 acres for years, and we had “camped” in the little yellow farm house down next to the road. It had no plumbing or electric stove, but it was fine for weekend outings. My parents had entertained church groups, girl scout troops, our sorority and fraternity groups and our friends with cook-outs, hayrides, pumpkin carvings, and we’d even hosted concerts on the porch of the little yellow house. My parents had raised cattle, chickens, guineas, peacocks and a few unplanned snakes down through the years. And they always had a huge garden when they could keep the deer and the groundhogs out of it. My Mom didn’t find this funny, but the sight of a big fat groundhog rolling a melon off the hill from the garden was hilarious to me.

The time finally came to get the construction of the house underway. Since my parents planned to do almost the entire project by themselves, it was going to take a while. My Mom and Dad moved tons and tons of rock into place for the foundation. It was incredible. The logs were set into position by the company, but that was the only thing done by outsiders. My Mom lay on scaffolding against the high ceilings of the huge living room and sanded the boards one by one. I never have figured out why they needed to build a 4,000 square feet house for the two of them, but I never questioned anything my parents did. My Dad even put an indoor workshop in the basement, and my Mom wanted a second kitchen down there for all her vegetable canning.

They kept the property pristine. My Dad bush-hogged the entire 56 acres. You could easily walk among the trees anywhere on the farm. We had tire swings from big old trees, and we had grapevine swings out over gulleys. When a cow had a calf it was easy to spot them almost anywhere on the acreage since there was no underbrush to hide them.

One of my parents’ joyous pastimes was feeding the little critters that my Dad tamed and trained to come up and eat from his hand. Those little squirrels were on the porch rails at the crack of dawn each day awaiting their breakfast of nuts my Dad gathered. Years later when my Dad passed away and we were moving everything from the house after it sold, we spent our last Saturday morning with our coffee and the squirrels. And I hoped that the new people would be as faithful to the critters as my Dad and Mom had been.

SURREAL IX

Barbara & Carter

I waited with dreaded anticipation the few minutes it took for them to travel from the farm. What could they be coming to tell me? It took about 25 minutes for them to arrive, but it seemed like hours.  However even the dread couldn’t compare with the stricken looks on their faces when I saw them get out of the car.

I noticed the way my Mom looked kind of bent and much older as she walked up the steps to my back door. My Mom’s usual posture was straight as an arrow with head held high. She always looked a good 20 years younger than her age. People had often thought she was my older sister. When I got a closer look at my Dad’s face, it looked as though the skin had been stretched over an embroidery hoop, and he looked ghostly white.  I seated them as quickly as possible, and I didn’t bother with the usual questions, “Want a Coke or a glass of iced tea? What have you guys been up to?” This obviously wasn’t a social visit, and there was no need trying to turn it into one. Cut to the chase. Just tell me what’s going on. Tell me what’s wrong. But I didn’t have to ask.

My Daddy spoke up and said in a quivering voice, “We took your mother to the doctor today. He wanted to go over the results of the tests he did last week. Mother has cancer. And he thinks it’s spread.”

My first thought out loud was, “He THINKS she has cancer. He THINKS it’s spread. He doesn’t KNOW!” My Daddy said, “No Honey, they know she has cancer. We’re going to Vanderbilt  tomorrow to see the top oncologist; the best in Nashville. He’ll tell us more.”

“So they’ll do surgery! They’ll get rid of it! They’ll do chemo. They’ll do radiation. They’re going to cure her, aren’t they?” My Mom still sat silently. And now my Daddy did the same. What could they possibly say? I wasn’t going to accept anything unless it was good news, and they just didn’t have any to give me. I don’t know how long I went on talking to myself. I don’t even know how long my parents stayed. I should have had my arms around my Mom, assuring her, comforting her. I should have asked to pray with them. But I was stuck in the “no, this can’t be happening to me” mode. I think my Daddy did finally pull us into a prayer circle; but I don’t have a clue what he said. When they left I sat numbly for so long that when I finally moved myself from the chair in my kitchen, it was pitch dark outside.  I pushed myself into my bathroom and turned on the light over the mirror. I looked at the zombie-like image looking back at me, and I said, “My Mom has cancer. My Mom has cancer. My Mom has cancer…..” And then a transformation took place. After I had mouthed the words for I don’t know how many times I began to cry. I said them, and I cried. I said them over and over as tears streamed down my face and wet my shirt. And sometime after that I realized I had stopped sobbing. I didn’t know it then, but I had been preparing myself for the days and weeks to come. I would be telling hundreds of people, “My Mom has cancer.”

Look for SURREAL Chapter X coming soon. And please, if you have time, leave a comment. And tell your friends and family who may struggle with blindness to hop on board with me. The focus will turn to my retinal disease within the next few chapters. I hope to offer some inspiring thoughts about my daily life and how I cope with my slowly darkening world.

Mom ❤Do you have a favorite story about how your Mom sacrificed for you? My favorite is the “chicken neck story”. When I was a child in the 1950s, there weren’t any KFCs or any other fast food places. When we had chicken my Mom fried it. And she didn’t have packages of skinless, boneless pieces either. I don’t think they had those in the grocery meat counters back then. I think our A&P store sold whole chickens, and the housewives all knew how to cut them apart. My Mom always cooked the whole chicken. She didn’t waste anything. So we had the liver, the gizzard, and the neck and back pieces. Now when I was little there were only three of us, since I was an only child. So if I’m any good at all at math, there were plenty of “good” pieces of chicken for each of us. But my Mom ALWAYS chose the neck and the back pieces. I did ask her a few times WHY? She’d always say they were the best. When I finally got the chance to try the neck and got my mouth full of those old soft, crunchy bones, I thought that my mother must have a loose screw in her head. There was nothing good about that old chicken neck but the deliciously seasoned batter my Mom had fried it in.  So what was the deal? When I was an older teen I asked my Mom again WHY? And that’s when she told me the secret. When she was a child she was the oldest of 13 children, and those were depression days. My Mom said her Mom always chose the neck and back and wouldn’t dare let one of her children get either one. So when my Mom grew up, she asked her Mom WHY? And my grandmother said, “Well if I had taken one of the good pieces, one of my children would have gotten that old neck or back. I enjoyed watching all of them eat that tasty fried chicken much more than I could have ever enjoyed it myself. So from that point on, my Mom made up her mind that when she had children, she’d make sure not a one of them ever tasted a neck or a back, because she’d enjoy their happy faces much more than she could ever enjoy a chicken breast or thigh or leg.

    another good pix of Mom

    If you’ve enjoyed gettingblindsided, please leave your comments.

       And y’all come back now, and bring your friends and family!

     

     

    SURREAL VIII

    another good pix of Mom

    There were ups and downs. I had plenty of adjustments to make. I hadn’t been a single woman in almost 25 years. I had never lived alone or on my own. My parents didn’t let me feel overwhelmed with the house, 2 acres of yard to tend, my college son in and out with friends and my career. My dad arrived at my door one day early on with a wooden tool box. In it were a hammer, some nails of different sizes, a set of screwdrivers with an assortment of screws, a set of pliers, a wrench or two and a hand saw. He said, ‘You’re the head of a house now. You’ll need these’. Of course it was one of Daddy’s never ending line of jokes. When I needed help he and my mom were just a phone call away. The first month I was there I locked myself out at least three times until they had keys made to put in every possible hiding place. Daddy did the plumbing, the electrical, and if I’d asked him to change light bulbs, he would have done that, too. He kept my yard mowed and trimmed. My Dad and Mom were my guardian angels.

    I wasn’t crazy about retail management, so when I saw an advertisement for an administrator of a nursing agency, I hopped on it. Within a few weeks I was hired, and it fit like a glove. I loved the job, my employees and the travel. It was long hours, and I had to pull call one weekend a month, but it provided an excellent salary. Since I still had a son in college, the salary was very important.

    I traded my luxury car for a little red convertible. I still can’t explain it, but when I got on the interstate highway with the top back on a sunny day, I felt all my cares melt down the road behind me. At that point in my life, that was very important to me. My son was having difficulty adjusting to his Dad pulling at his heartstrings while at the same time trying to make his home with me when he wasn’t at school. We had some uncomfortable exchanges for the first couple of years. But I was his source of stability and income, so I guess I knew he would always work it out and be back home when he did.

    I felt the greatest accomplishment of my life the day I wrote the check for the final balance of my son’s college tuition. Between his tuition earning jobs at school and my monthly payments, he had been graduated from a private university with no student loans. He could begin his adult life with no debt. I had bought a car for him, and neither of us had a car loan. And his first job out of college was one he loved. Everything in our lives was turning positive. I had met someone who seemed to care about me, my son and my parents. How much better could life get? It certainly hadn’t been this good in a very long time. It felt like I was living a dream until the phone rang one afternoon, and my Daddy asked if he and Mom could come by and talk. They never asked. They always just bounced in the door full of happiness and surprises. Something was about to be very different. My life was going to change forever…

    I LOVE THIS STUFF!! Oriental Ramen Broccoli Cole Slaw 2 (3 ounce) packages beef-flavor ramen noodles 2 (8 1/2 ounce) packages broccoli coleslaw mix 1 cup toasted slivered almond 1 cup sunflower seed 1/2 bunch green onion , chopped 1/2 cup sugar 3/4 cup oil 1/3 cup white vinegar. Oh golly, I cannot tell you how good this thing is!!!

    I LOVE THIS STUFF!! Oriental Ramen Broccoli Cole Slaw

    2 (3 ounce) packages beef-flavor Ramen noodles

    2 (8 1/2 ounce) packages broccoli coleslaw mix

    1 cup toasted slivered almonds

    1 cup sunflower seeds

    1/2 bunch green onions, chopped

    1/2 cup sugar

    3/4 cup oil

    1/3 cup white vinegar.

    Oh golly, I cannot tell you how good this thing is!!!

    Pinned from: food.com

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Barbara & Carter

    Random Ruminations from The Author of Gettingblindsided

    When you are losing your eyesight, a lot of little things become much more important than they have ever been before in your life. I choose to think of that as a “Visual Awakening”. Today has been just such an awakening. July 25 in middle Tennessee is typically hot, still and sometimes just plain muggy. Even nighttime is uncomfortable for everything except the mosquitoes. This year though, the whole month of July has been incredibly pleasant with only a few of those miserable kind of days. Today was incredible. A cold front had just brought refreshing rains through last night, and the sky was beautifully washed with a clear blue. The temperatures barely made the 80s, and there was an ocean-like breeze all day and into the evening.

    Our family had made plans to go out for an evening outdoor concert near our home. A couple of students who had studied under my husband are part of a rock band that plays occasional gigs, and we were anxious to hear them before they head off to college next month. So off we went with lawn chairs in hand in plenty of time to get front row spaces before the crowd gathered.

    I couldn’t help but whisper thanks to God for this masterpiece of a day He had given us and the musical group setting up on stage. We enjoyed the breeze as we watched the crowds gather, groups of teens, children running through the fountain’s shooting waters, their parents walking arm in arm, a few elderly, some even making their way around on canes. Giggles and chatter filled the air as little groups of teens joined other groups of teens, many of whom we knew.

    Once the band began the crowds became larger until the courtyard area was filled with voices joining in on the songs, and appreciative applause for the entertainment. Toward the end of the second set, teens began to move to the front to dance. My husband and I enjoyed not only the band and the music but the laughter and fun that everybody was having. It was just a beautiful evening in every way. It was the kind of evening that makes you think, “That was SO MUCH FUN!” Actually, that was what my husband said the moment we got into our car.

    But that wasn’t all that struck me about this evening. I said to my family, “that little group on stage this evening received such a special blessing from the Lord. I can’t ever remember a more perfect evening in July in middle Tennessee. Praise be to God for ALL HIS BLESSINGS.” And oh how I hope I can see a few more of these perfect days. These are the days that are a “Visual Awakening”.

     

     

     

     

    SURREAL VII

    good pix of Mom.

    Over the next six to eight weeks of recovery from my surgery, I began to realize that the pain I had lived with for months was finally gone. I was feeling like my old self again, physically.  But life was not to return to normal. We discovered that our oldest daughter was suffering some type of mental and emotional duress, and she had internalized it for quite sometime. Worse, she was pregnant and made a hasty decision to marry someone she had known just weeks. How could so much go on in our home without my knowing it? It was heart breaking and disappointing, but she had already closed her mind to allowing her family to intervene and try to help her.  Life would go on, the sun would rise and set another day, but our beautiful child previously dubbed the “child with the golden halo” would never really be a part of our lives again.

    My husband’s father had passed recently, and his mother’s mind was being eaten away by dementia. We would either have to put her into a home, hire someone to live with her, or I could bring her into our home. She didn’t have the funds or insurance coverage to do either of the first options, so I brought her into our home and vowed to give her the best of care. I had no idea how life consuming this task could be. I truly believe the Lord God does not place more on our shoulders than we can handle, but I was beginning to wish He didn’t trust me so much! At one point we had had in our home a mind boggling set of dynamics and demographics. Besides ourselves we had our two teens, 17 and 14, two foster daughters, ages three and two, and my mother-in-law in her 70s with dementia. Entertaining and caring for the wide age range of needs in our home sometimes became overpowering.  And it was beginning to push my husband over the edge. He had also had a crushing business failure not long before all this, and his patience and endurance were at an all time low. He began staying out later and later night after night. He was entertaining clients at nice dinners, and I sometimes wished that he’d hire a babysitter and take me out with them. But when I asked it seemed to anger and upset him, and we certainly didn’t need anything else to upset the balance in our lives. My impending blindness was so difficult for him to accept I think he actually closed his mind to it. Our paths were beginning to separate, and it seemed nothing could save our marriage. Eventually we agreed to a divorce which became final shortly before our 25th wedding anniversary. And the day I moved out of the dream house we had built together, his future wife moved into my place.

    My son and I moved into the house where I had grown up. My parents were glad to have us there since they had built their log dream home on the farm, so it was a beneficial arrangement for both sides. It gave me time to become established in a new retail management position. Finally I felt my life was moving in a positive direction. I felt the worst things that could happen to me already had. Little did I know…

    See VIII chapter of SURREAL in a few days. Comments are so welcome. If you know anyone with an eye disease that is blinding them, please recommend my blog. If you’d like to follow me on Twitter, It’s @bjoclark. On Pinterest you can view my many other interests by going to http://www.Pinterest.com and entering Barbara Johnson-Clark. Feel free to contact me by email at bjoclark@comcast.netFresh Vegetable Salad

    Fresh from the Garden Salad                                                                                            I love fresh garden vegetables! In the summer when I can stop at all the little truck stands, go to the Farmers’ Market, and in past years even harvest my own, I just can’t eat enough of these healthy, vitamin rich veggies. Take a look at this beautiful dish. It’s pretty enough to be your centerpiece!

    2 cups fresh broccoli florets                                                                                           2 cups cauliflowerets                                                                                                      1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper                                                                                                                                       1/2 cup chopped onion                                                                                                  1/4 cup grated carrot                                                                                                   1cup mayonnaise  (Hellmans is my choice)                                                        1/4 cup sugar                                                                                                                             3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese                                                                                  2 bacon strips cooked and crumbled

    Directions: Toss vegetables in a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar and Parmesan cheese; pour over vegetables and toss to coat. Cover and chill. Sprinkle with bacon just before serving. Yield: 8 servings.

    Have you ever seen a person sitting in a restaurant who looked hungry but wasn’t being served? One afternoon we had hurried into a McDonalds in the city. We were grabbing a quick meal between our daughter’s children’s chorus at the University and her dance classes. We noticed just such a man sitting at a table over near the door. It was obvious he wasn’t going to receive a meal. We ate till we were full, and the gentleman was still at the empty table near the door. Our daughter asked if she could go over and give the man some money for food. Her Dad thought about it for a few moments and explained that might embarrass the man or hurt his feelings. He obviously wasn’t in this restaurant to bum off anyone. “But”, my husband said, “I think I know a way.” He got up and ordered some more food, came back to our table and sat down. He waited about five minutes and then walked over to the gentleman. “Sir, I believe we have bought more food than we will have time to eat. Could you help me out by taking this burger and fries?” The man looked up at my husband through grateful eyes and mouthed a quiet “Thank you.” We left as quickly as possible and never saw the man again. Our daughter will hopefully never forget this Random Act of Kindness from her dad, but more importantly, I hope she’ll never forget that allowing the man to maintain his dignity was food for his soul, just as the hamburger and fries were food for his stomach. (The photo above is not the man in my story.)

     

    SURREAL VI

    Barbara & Carter

    If you’re new here, Surreal is a continuing journal of part of my adult life that has been full of twists and turns. Many of the twists have been medically related, one of those being that I’m going blind. I’m not writing SURREAL because I need sympathy or attention, and I’m not writing it because I’m a whiner. But I feel it needs to be written, because I believe there are many who might benefit, and hopefully there are many who would be encouraged and even inspired by some of the ways I’ve learned to handle life. Be sure to start all the way back with the first “chapter”. If you feel SURREAL is a worthwhile read, please share it with others, and by all means share it with anyone who has a retinal disease. This will be a short chapter.

    I woke up in recovery with my parents by my side, and my surgeon told me that he had indeed done a complete hysterectomy. I not only had the large tumor in my uterus, but I had endometriosis, a benign disease of the uterus that causes heavy and prolonged bleeding every month. I had suffered with this “flooding” to the point of carrying towels and blankets around in my car to put under me each month, and I always had plenty of extra clothes with me whether at work or out for fun. It had been painful, but I never realized I could be doing something about it. I just thought it was that way for some women. It had been for my mom. Also my remaining ovary was full of hundreds of cysts. The surgery had finally revealed answers to many questions. The tumor had been “unreachable” simply because it was literally unreachable. My doctor said before he made the incision, he did a complete pelvic exam. With the patient completely under anesthesia the doctor can move his hand around freely inside and discover the exact location of tumors he will remove. He said mine was so remote, it was basically impossible to reach without the incision. And it was resting against and causing pressure to the urinary organs. Where some have a uterine tumor and never feel pain, mine was definitely not one of those. He also told my husband that he frequently took the appendix during a hysterectomy, but mine was so high he couldn’t reach it. Wouldn’t you know, I’d have all the odd and unusual. This wouldn’t be the first time!

    Please join me next week for SURREAL VII

    https://i2.wp.com/media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/34/d5/ef/34d5ef694af012e5ab12d8dfd46fced6.jpg

    “God, help me to be the person my dog thinks I am.”  Do you have a beloved pet? Dogs, I think, are the lovers of the pet animal world. Especially if you have a small lap dog, they are the most cuddly, loving, snuggling things imaginable. They never get tired of you, they don’t get embarrassed by anything you say in front of their friends; they don’t feel a need to separate from you between the ages of 14 and 21. They’re always happy to see you. They can’t stop jumping up and down, because you mention a drive in the car in any kind of weather. The bottom line is, you are the one single thing they live for each day of their lives. And even when they are on their last leg of life and their strength is draining from them, they will still aim to please you. AM I REALLY THAT AWESOME? My dog thinks I am. AND GOD WANTS ME TO BE.

    sign saying "leave room in your garden for the angels to dance" - stock photo