Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Grandpa's Big Day Part II (An Unexpected Day, but a Good Day!)

Whew. We just had one of the first major medical issues in our immediate family in quite awhile, but everything went well and we’re on the other side of it now. My grandpa underwent open heart surgery yesterday, after going to the hospital in Poplar Bluff with intermittent chest pains last week. They sent him on to Barnes in St. Louis for tests, and he was then scheduled him to have surgery on Monday, due to significant blockage in three of his four arteries. His condition was complicated by his diabetes and related issues with kidneys, so I think we were all a little concerned as to if everything would go smoothly or not.
I headed to St. Clair Sunday night after Jace and I came home from our Saturday night camping trip (details and pics soon to follow in another post) and then Tara, Thomas and I headed in to the hospital about 9AM Monday morning. The surgery was supposed to start at 8:30, but (as with most surgeries) there was a delay, and it didn’t start until 10:30. We passed the time with Grandmother, Mom and my cousin Krista and family in the Cardiac ICU waiting area. I know Grandmother was so scared, but she really did well – she told us later that we all kept her mind off of things, and helped her to relax. (I think Tara will agree that Thomas’ crazy distorted photos of us on his iPad were the best part of the afternoon… we were all so slap-happy at that point, we were about ready to fall out of our chairs!)

The surgeon came to speak with us about 2pm and told us that the surgery was finished, and all went as hoped and planned. After that it was just a waiting game to get Grandpa out of the OR and into the Cardiac ICU unit. However, there was a wait for an open bed in the unit, so he wasn’t transitioned there until after 6pm. We were finally able to briefly see him at that point, and then said our goodbyes for the evening. I was amazed to hear that he would start physical therapy today (and we’ve had an update from Grandmother already, and he has!) and get up and going ASAP.

I know Grandpa is a very determined person (i.e. see my post from two weeks ago about Highway 67 and Tom Lawson Day!), and he will do everything he needs to in order to get back into good health. It was very touching yesterday to hear Grandmother talk about him after we had the “all ok” from the surgeon… I could see a visible difference in her demeanor – the color was back in her face, and the tension had left her body… but what she said was the best, and I thought about it as I drove home early this morning… “I just didn’t know what I would do if I lost him… he isn’t just my husband and my lover, he is my best friend. I would be lost without him!”

I know that is what most people would say about their spouse in a situation like this. But truly, this is one couple that truly IS that way. They are so close, and they have one of the best marriages that I know, and are very, very much the best of friends.

So it was a huge relief to her and to all of us (those in the family that could be there and those who were anxiously awaiting the calls and texts throughout the day) to know that Grandpa came through with flying colors and will be on the road to recovery.

I stayed in St. Clair last night and enjoyed dinner out with Dad; then got up at 5AM this morning and headed home to Springfield and back to work. I am so glad that I was able to make the trip, and be there with Grandmother for the day. And the trip was good for me as well – I didn’t mind the six hours of driving over two days. The trip gave me time to just decompress and think, and (of course) listen to music.  A couple of months ago my playlist I had made and was listening to was titled “GONE” … all the songs that reminded me of Dave, and songs about break-ups that you listen to when you’re grieving. But I have to say that I’m making the transition… and the songs that are on my “frequently played” list now are different… they’re about me, about moving on and getting better, getting right with myself. I will have to actually make a playlist tonight when I get home, and the title will be “HOPE”.... that's the theme of the songs that have been on my playlist lately.

One of my favorite songs that I’ve been listening to over and over is “Details in the Fabric” by Jason Mraz:

Calm down
Deep breaths
And get yourself dressed instead
Of running around
And pulling on your threads
And breaking yourself up

If it's a broken part, replace it
If it's a broken arm, then brace it
If it's a broken heart, then face it

And hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way
Hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way
And everything will be fine

Hang on
Help is on the way
And stay strong
I'm doing everything

Hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way
Hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way

And everything, everything will be fine…

Are the details in the fabric

Are the things that make you panic
Are your thoughts results of static cling?
Are the things that make you blow
No reason, go on and scream
If you're shocked it's just the fault
Of faulty manufacturing.

Are the details in the fabric (Hold your own, know your name)
Are the things that make you panic
Are your thoughts results of static cling? (Go your own way)
Are the details in the fabric (Hold your own, know your name)
Are the things that make you panic (Go your own way)
Is it Mother Nature's sewing machine?

Are the things that make you blow (Hold your own, know your name)
No reason go on and scream
If you're shocked it's just the fault (Go your own way)
Of faulty manufacturing

Everything will be fine
Everything in no time at all
Hearts will hold

The song starts and ends with a voicemail recording, apparently one of Mraz's friends who is going through a breakup, and is very distraught in his phone message at the beginning of the song.  When he leaves a second message at the end of the song, he has had a chance to calm down.  He basically says that life is still hard, but you just do what you can, and you get through it (warning: if you listen to the song you will find his language is much more colorful than what I'm stating here, but this is the gist of it!)

I have listened to this song so many, many times over the past month...  it just helps remind me that I WILL be okay, that life will be okay, that getting through all of this is just a part of it.  Once the coffee kicked in at 5:30 AM this morning, I spent my three hour drive in a great mood, listening to my iPod and just thinking about all of the positive things in my life - the fact that I have an awesome family, that we have our health and all that God has given us, and that I have Jace and so many, many wonderful friends in my life.  I know I will still have difficult days - sometimes I think I'm doing fine and then something just reminds me of Dave, and it is hard.  But it is getting easier, each day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thought for the Day... Month... Year.

An impulse buy at Hallmark yesterday when I went to buy a card for Paige...   I love Peanuts - reminds me of when I was little!  And this saying has been my mantra, and now it is right here in my office, to help me keep remembering this.  Life is not "going" to be be better, there's no magic formula, or location, or future trip, or whatever that will be the "end all be all" to my happiness.  I'm happy, here and now, with what I have. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday morning and a post in which I catch up on the past couple of weeks...

Who knew just getting up on a Saturday morning, in which I really have nothing big going on, could be so exciting?   I'm just a little giddy this morning -  perhaps in part to my second cup of coffee, I don't know.  But really, it has been two very looonnnngggg weeks at work, and so nice to  have two days at home,  just to get some things done.   I know Jace will sleep in until 10 or so, and my morning started at 7AM, with some coffee and music.  Much of my plan for the day involved outside activities - early morning brisk walk, then perhaps taking some photos (practicing on the aperture settings on my camera) trimming hedges on the side of the house, and also painting the remainder of the front steps.  But I woke up to the sound of rain outside, and it is a cool 53 degrees.  So I'm inside, getting some of the other things done.

Another reason to be so giddy?  I have been working on my bills and I think this is my "extra" paycheck, so I will be able to put a large chunk towards my small remaining credit card balance AND also buy a pair of boots that I've had my eye on... a woman has to have priorities, people!   I have done pretty well on the bills since Dave and I split, I think.  Given that my previous method of budgeting (before "the Daves" - Dave Ramsey, and my Dave) was at times fairly haphazard, this is a big change.  It really was so nice to have him in charge of all of the finances, and I knew what  my allotted money was for each paycheck, and also all the other budget categories if I needed to buy anything for the house, etc. I definitely was spoiled with that - I hate numbers.  If it came as easily to me as grammar and spelling, I'd be home free.  But numbers - what a struggle.

So I have to make SURE this is my extra check, and that I will be on track to pay bills timely if I shift things to the next paycheck... part of me really just wanted to email Dave and ASK him (because I know he could easily look and tell me - he was always so on top of everything, a spreadsheet for every frickin' thing) but I thought "No, I don't need to do that - I can figure it out myself!"... and I can.

I signed the papers for our divorce this week - we agreed on everything, and there is really only one item that we will have to jointly pay off.  So we used the same attorney, and I went on Thursday to sign the papers.  Dave will sign them when he is in next week, and then they'll be filed, and it will be a 30 day waiting period.  It was a rough week, we had an email exchange on Monday that turned ugly on both sides, and I spent the better part of an hour crying in my office.  But we did resolve it, and both of us apologized, and will move on.  I don't think we will be friends in the near future, because there are still a lot of emotions - but I hope eventually we will be.  I know we both care very much what happens to the other, and want each other to be happy. 

We are meeting on Tuesday at the bank to separate accounts, and to take care of a couple of other financial things - it will be the second time I've seen him in two months, and the first time for any extended period of time.  Part of me is worried about it - how I will feel, if I will cry, etc.  But then I also know that this is what needs to happen, to move on.  I made the comment to him this week that I've been trying so hard the last two months to convince myself that "I'm okay", but the thing I am starting to realize is that I'm not going to just be able to pick up and go on like I'm not changed by all of this, because I am.  And I need to honor that, and just figure out how to be okay with NOT being okay for awhile.

So, moving on.  And there has been lots to keep me busy -  some work, some fun.
  • Work -  I'm still really liking my job after a year, and actually starting to feel like I KNOW what I'm doing.  I just had a manager of one of my clinics take another job and leave, so I have been extra busy with her clinic.  It is probably my most "high maintenance" clinic, so the docs there are emailing me often, with drama, issues, questions, etc.  Has made for a FUN couple of weeks.
  • The Lake - I've missed the lake!  I still have the fortune on my fridge from a few weeks before Dave and I split up... "Boats and water are in your future" - yes, they are, that is one thing that I will have again, at some point, a boat.  I headed down to spend the latter part of Labor Day weekend with friends Jana and Chris, on their boat... it was chilly that Sunday, but so nice to be out on the lake, with the brisk breeze, the sun and some good friends.
  • Greater Ozarks Blues Fest last weekend - my cousin Krista came up from PB with her hubby, and they stayed with me Friday and Saturday night.  Soooo much fun on Saturday, we went to the Japanese Festival at Nathanael Greene Park, and then came home to change clothes (it was warmer out than we had anticipated) and just sat on the back deck enjoying a beer and the fall breeze.  Then we headed to the Blues fest about 2pm, enjoyed a beautiful day, even with some rain.  Will have to post some pics of our day.
  • My new camera - I bought a DSLR about three months ago, and I love it!  Have taken a couple of classes at the store where I bought it, and getting ready to take a 8-week class at the community college. 
  • Jace -  He's back in the swing of things for school, and playing fall ball... I wish he was more conscientious about checking and doing homework every night, but he does okay.  I have to remember he is a 13-year-old boy, and some of this is just par for the course.
  • New technology - I am now an iPhone user - bought a slider Blackberry about three months ago, and it performed horribly - slider screen broke, and just generally did not hold up well.  I did love the touch screen, though, and after a brief , very unsatisfying stint with a former Blackberry model I threw in the towel and bought an iPhone 4.  I have to say, I still hate typing on it after two weeks- I liked the tactile keys of the Blackberry... but I do love all of the apps, AND the best part?  The music - it is ON MY PHONE.  How nice is that.... for a music person like I am, to have it all on one device is fabulous.  Wish I had done it sooner.  Have been listening to Pandora on my iPhone all morning, as I sit here and work on the computer.  Sweet!  (Yes. I know I am full of ALL CAPS and "!" this morning, and it is annoying, but I'm just happy to be in that kind of mood!)
  • Friends - Thank goodness for my friends.  Gail, Laura, Jana, and some other old and new friends.  One person from my office is also single, and she and I have enjoyed a couple of happy hours after work.  Another friend of Laura's is also going through a divorce, similar situation to mine - he and his wife split up about a month after Dave and I, so it has been good to hang out with him over the past couple of weeks... someone experiencing some of the same feelings that I am, it is good to just be able to talk.
Ok, Jace is up, and there's laundry to be done (Jace) and bathrooms to be cleaned (me).  Off to get some things accomplished on this rainy but wonderful Saturday!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Grandpa's Big Day

Last Friday morning I had the pleasure of traveling to Poplar Bluff to see my grandfather honored for his service as chairperson for the Highway 67 expansion project in southeast Missouri.   It was quite the celebration, and there were plenty of photo opportunities to get Grandpa "in action" - accepting his commendation, speaking with State Rep Joann Emerson and other local and state officials.  But my very favorite shot of him was one that I captured "on the sly", walking up beside him as he sat on the stage listening to the other speakers:

Grandpa was featured in their hometown paper the Sunday previous to the celebration.  The opening paragraph of the article read:

"Tom Lawson, who was born in 1932 on a farm two and one-half miles southeast of Neelyville, Mo., remembers when U.S. 67 was a "narrow, crooked road" during his childhood.  He had no idea he would be one of the leaders in the effort to get 50 miles of Highway 67 four-laned north of Poplar Bluff, Mo.  He was instrumental in the campaign to convince Poplar Bluff residents to approve a half cent sales tax for Highway 67 on April 5, 2005."

"...Completion of the $180 million project "16 months early and under budget" will be celebrated August 26th, which will be proclaimed Tom Lawson Day by Poplar Bluff Mayor Ed DeGaris."

Grandpa has always been a "do-er" - he knows how to get things done, and isn't afraid to put the hard work in to make something happen. When my dad and stepmother first met and married back in the early 80's, Grandpa was the superintendent of one of the largest school districts in St. Louis. After he retired about 3-4 years later, he and Grandmother moved down to Poplar Bluff to be closer to both of their parents.  But he was not content to stay retired, and instead accepted the position of the city manager of Poplar Bluff, a position he held from 1991 until his second retirement in 2003.

I knew he had been working on this project for some time, and had heard him and Grandmother talk about meetings, etc., but I had no idea of the amount of time or effort he had put in over the last six years, to see this project come to fruition.

Hwy 67 Ribbon Cutting with State Rep Joann Emerson
 He has been the chair of the project since 2005, and now I realize more about why there were times that he and Grandmother made a quick trip to St. Clair for holidays and other visits, but needed to get back to PB.  I was so proud to be able to hear all of the people who spoke before him, talking about the Hwy 67 project, the collaboration between MODOT and the Hwy 67 Corporation and others - and the job that Grandpa did in bringing it all together.  Of course he was very humble, as he always is, and made sure that he mentioned many of those who were involved in big and small ways - taking the focus off of himself.

I know my siblings would have really liked to be there as well; but since it was a Friday and a long drive for many of them, I was happy to join Dad and Mom, and "represent all the grandkids", as Tara said!  Congratulations, Grandpa!  We love you!