Sunday, June 30, 2013

Death comes to us or for us...

Are you there? Yes, it's been a while and for those of you who have gone through such devastating grief, you know it takes time. The rest of you will have to take our word for it...fortunately! It's been around 600 days since Dave died and I'm still struggling to finish all the paperwork so, please trust me when I say this..."Death comes to or for us all, it's best to be prepared!"

I'm not going to clean up the former posts, even though they are gritty and raw, because grief is a process that takes as much time as it takes. No one can tell you how to grieve or how long to grieve. I know widows who have grieved and remained single for more than fifty years while other widows married before many months had passed. It's best not to pass judgement; none of us know how we'll respond or react until it happens to us so be gentle, be kind, be gracious and, above all, be merciful. We're all fighting some sort of battle.

Remember what Shakespeare said in the Merchant of Venice


"The quality of mercy is not strain'd, 
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."
Please don't let the following list overwhelm you; remember, we're going to take it in steps and, step by step, when we're finished, you'll be better prepared for both life and death. In order to be a good steward of what God has entrusted to you, you need to know what you've got. 

First, make copies of everything, front and back, in your wallet - credit cards, debit cards, driver's license, insurance cards and a check (for the account number). If it's important, make a copy of front and back then place in the front of your three-ring binder. If your purse or wallet is lost, misplaced or stolen, it's far easier to refer to this sheet of paper, for necessary information, than to search for the 1.800 numbers on the i-net; also, you know exactly what is missing.

Prepare your three-ring notebook with 

*business card holders
*calendar
*lined paper
*envelopes - legal and letter
*note cards already stamped and return label affixed
*plastic sleeves (open and closed) 
*plastic folders with inside sleeves
*two section dividers - one with seven sections, another with twelve sections (the twelve sections will be used for a simple budget...if you don't already have a budget. if you already have a budget, skip this step.)
*zippered binder with calculator, paper and binder clips, pen, pencil and eraser, post it notes, ruler, forever stamps

In an effort for clarity, information is listed in alphabetical order. The seven focus areas are

1- Family -
*business associates (ac/heating repair, auto shop, contractor, plumber, etc.)
*children (including child support)
*other dependents
*pets
*spousal support
*toys/hobbies

2- Financial and Budget -
*addresses and passwords (on-line accounts, blogs, e-mail, other on-line sites)
*bank accounts (checking, savings, safety deposit box)
*budget
*business
*credit cards
*debit cards, debt, hardship circumstances, insurance (health, home, life, long term disability, key man, umbrella, vehicles), loans, mortgage or rent, portfolio (profit-sharing, retirement or pension, investment clubs, bonds, IRA's, 401K's, stocks, treasury bills, options, commodities), utilities

3- Legal -
*last will and testament (traditional and spiritual)
*power of attorney
*revocable living trust

4- Medical -
*allergies
*blood type
*doctors
*LIFE-FILE
*living will
*medical directives
*medications

5- Property -
*bequests
*personal (clothing, computer, jewelry, tools, guns, etc.)
*real estate (Capital Gains, commercial, personal, time share, vacation property, 1031 Exchange)
*vehicle titles (ATV, car, delivery vehicle, motorcycles, RV, tractors, truck, van, work, UTV, etc.)

6- Final Arrangements and Going Home -
*body preparation (clothing choice, embalm or not, make-up)
*casket (open or closed, if closed, what drape will be used?, material)
*cemetery plot
*cremation
*funeral service location (funeral parlor, church, home)
*funeral program (music, photos - bulletin board or DVD, readings, speakers)
*headstone
*memorial service (music, photos - bulletin board or DVD, readings, speakers)
*military funeral
*obituary (cost, photo)
*wake (music, photos - bulletin board or DVD, readings, speakers)

Five short days before Dave died, he called me to his side. "Let's talk," he said, "I want to know how to get right with God." I explained, as best I could, how much God loved him, how God sent Christ to bridge the gap of sin between him and God. All he had to do was choose to believe Christ loved him, died for him and he'll spend eternity in heaven with God, Christ and that great cloud of witnesses. I've also chosen to believe and I'll be in heaven as well; will you?

Truthfully, those first few months were so hard and there were weeks and weeks I wasn't sure I wanted to live. Even though I'm a Christian, this grief journey has been soul numbing cold, but knowing Dave made his peace with God and is in heaven, has made the grief bearable.

7- Worksheets - 
You should have a fireproof lock box or safe; I have a gun safe and an antique bank safe where important papers are stored. Another safety tip...if possible, make copies of everything on a thumb drive and store off site with a family member or friend...someone you trust. Thumb drives may be purchased that are password protected or you can store in another fireproof lock box.

For those who feel this is a macabre subject, please let me say these are important decisions that need to be made and if you don't make them for yourself and your family, someone else will. Unfortunately, some decisions may be made by a stranger with no intimate knowledge of you, your circumstances or your wishes. In the case of single parents, do you really want a state employee to make a decision regarding the home placement of your child? I shouldn't think so!

Please give your suggestions, advice, comments, etc. I like to think I'm handling this grief journey rather well but all it takes is one emotional twist to put me back on the floor in fetal position, sobbing my heart out while the dogs lap my tears. It's a frosty world and takes all of us to make it warmer and cozier. You are appreciated, more than I can describe, and also appreciated is the gift of your time in both reading and commenting. God bless you!

Next month, I'm attending She Speaks Conference in Charlotte, NC and, while there, I have two appointments to speak with publishers about putting this information into a book. Please pray, if God wills it, those publishers will be receptive to my book. 

Please, would you do something else for me? Would you please blog about this post and this information? Also, would you please join this site as a follower and sign up to receive e-mail updates? Later this week, I'm going to start a Face Book page and would appreciate you "friending" that page (is that the correct terminology?).


"Death comes to us or for us, 
it's best to be prepared!"

Blessings ~ making sense of the information ~ She Speaks Conference ~ readers and those who comment ~

Thursday, January 31, 2013

An Update

~ view from my front yard ~
It's been eleven months since this blog was updated and so much has happened. Life goes on, deep breathing still helps and I'm still working on the book. I still agree with Groucho, see post below, and hate being a member of this 'hood...iow, widowhood. The grief has become more manageable and even has begun to move into mourning. I'm not so overwhelmed, I'm not being poured out onto the kitchen floor, kittens playing with my hair and dogs licking my face, while the sobbing consumes me. I am able to live.
"Death comes to us or for us; it's best to be prepared" is the subtitle of my book and for the longest while, was put on a back shelf. The thought kept coming to me, "who wants to read about such a depressing topic?" Lately, I've had my skates on and the words have been flying through my fingers and onto the keyboard. Just this morning, Alistair Begg's words encouraged me..."continuance is the test of reality", "be diligent", "through endurance we have hope" and "practice patience". God gave me this, "see it through"; He might as well have said, "SANDRA! See it through!" followed by a Gibbs head smack. smile
Thank you God and thank you Pastor Begg. 
Closer to home, I was speaking with my brother and he said, "I don't have a will." WHAT?! I wanted to reach through the phone and Gibbs smack him. So, today, I'm writing his will (legal in Virginia, no lawyer required) and he and his wife can make whatever changes they want. They've only been married a few months but they...everyone!... needs a will! In Virginia if you die without a will, called intestate, the Commonwealth of Virginia takes the first twenty or twenty-five percent off the top before they start finding relatives. YIKES! That's terrible, I think. Even if you don't want your estate to go to family, surely there's a non-profit or university where you could give...? I'm also helping with my brother and Daddy's Living Trust; that's for privacy, among other reasons; more to be written about that later.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia a holographic will is legal; that's simply a hand written will that's witnessed by two people when you sign and date it. A holographic will is legal in more than half the states in the USA and should hold you until you're able to do better, this site tells you which states and has more information.
Some of you know I have another blog that's updated more frequently and where I've written about Dave, his death, the farm, my life, etc. Please visit me there.
Thank you for your comments, stories, suggestions, etc. I've asked you if you'd allow your story to be included in the book, some of you have said, "yes" and I thank you. If we share life, it's to be certain we'll also, one day, share death. Let's hold hands and be gentle with each other. Okay?

Blessings ~ grief, it allows us to move back toward living ~ mourning, it allows us to live again ~ stories, they help all of us ~ words of encouragement ~ a life well lived ~

Sunday, February 26, 2012

POD, TOD, Survivor

Groucho Marx once said, "I've never wanted to be a member of any club that would have me." That's how I feel about being a widow except I'm a club member and I hate, despise, reject and spit upon it with all my might. I'm sorry God, but you know how I feel so I might as well say it out loud. Some days are bad and other days are horrible; once in a very great while there will be a jot of laughter, some small smidgen of joy even and then the heavens crash down on my head and I'm there, on the kitchen floor, in a puddle, sobbing my heart out with the dogs crowded around giving me kisses and whines. It's not even been four months and already I am sick of going it alone; being strong, doing chores, farm work, house work, paperwork, estate work and always dealing with crappy people who tell me, "I know just how you feel."
~ the long road ahead ~
"Really? When did your husband die?" Then they look like a deer caught in the headlights. "Well, um, okay, perhaps I don't understand exactly but I'm sure it's not easy."

Really? Ya think? Well, there are some things one can do to soften the financial burden. If you and your spouse have vehicles, all titles, registration, insurance, etc. needs to be written as John J. Doe and Jane J. Doe or survivor. That survivor part is very important because it means the difference between extra work and extra money. IOW, if the "survivor" part isn't on the title or registration when you go to the Division of Motor Vehicles you'll need to take the paperwork from the Courthouse proving you're the executrix or executor. Additionally, you'll have to pay extra money to re-register the vehicle in your name. You're going to have to pay extra money to have the title put into your name and, while you're at it, have your beneficiary's name placed on the title as well. I paid to have titles made in my name and my sister's name or survivor. Should I pre-decease my sister she won't have to jump through hoops at the DMV although she'll have to pay to have new titles made.
~ Abbie ~
Also, if you and your spouse have only a will, and no Living Trust, you'll have to pay inheritance or death tax on the value of the vehicles. If you have a Living Trust, if it's written correctly, at the time of death, "everything pours over" in one's Living Trust and one ends up, on paper anyway, a pauper thus no death or inheritance taxes are paid. That's what I've been told but you need to consult your lawyer for details in your state.

At the bank...even if you and your spouse do not have the same checking account, both names need to be on every account. That doesn't mean you have check writing privileges or can withdraw money but it does mean, upon the death of your spouse, you can get their money out of their account and pay bills, etc. It also means you don't pay inheritance or death taxes on that money. For example: John J. Doe with Jane J. Doe as survivor, payable on death...POD. Another term is TOD or transferable on death; again, very important because you don't pay taxes on the money when the will is probated. And, even more important, you have money to pay bills and live on while you're dealing with all the minutiae of a death.
~ Sophie Lauren Butterball ~

I've said it before and will hammer away at it again...if you do not have credit in your name...do it NOW. Open a checking account, savings account, get a credit card...but use it sparingly...GET CREDIT!

Lastly, I am not a lawyer, trust advisor, accountant, etc. I'm merely someone who was dragged, kicking and screaming, into this "membership" and am passing along what hard won information I've gained. You need to consult professionals in the fields in which you need help whether that be legal, financial, etc.

Go with God; trust me, you're going to need His help.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Notebooks, Wills, Cell Phone

It's only been three months since Dave died and the paperwork is horrendous. At some point in time, I'll put together my thoughts in a more pleasing fashion but for now, just keep your own notes, ask questions if you like and begin getting your affairs in order.

One more word about wills before going on...if you have underage or special needs children, you absolutely must have a will. If you don't have a will and, for example, both parents are killed in the same car crash, in Virginia, if it can't be proven otherwise, it's assumed the wife dies before the husband. Who knew?! But, that's just some of the legal mumbo jumbo that's "out there" and, unfortunately, most of us never know until it's too late.

Wives, if you should be assumed dead before your husband, do you want his family raising your children? I'm not saying they should or shouldn't, I'm saying is that what you and your husband want? If not, you need a will or the state steps in and various government officials employees determine what happens to your children, your property, etc. But that's all after they take their cut fee.

I've never used them but Legal Zoom is supposed to be a good place to obtain legal documents that will hold up in court in the USA, perhaps other countries as well, I don't know.

Last post, I talked about three-ring notebooks. My life is built around three-ring notebooks and I have them for virtually everything. Crafts, recipes, the class I taught at University, Dave's estate, his trust, our important papers...everything!

Jill, Pam and Star all brought up good points about what should go into a notebook.  I have a notebook that holds all the paperwork regarding will, trust, vehicle titles, mortgage, deed, marriage, divorce, birth, death, life insurance...virtually everything that I don't have to deal with after the information is placed in the notebook. I'll review it once a year but leave it otherwise.

A financial portfolio in a separate notebook means you can look at just that information quickly, easily and often.

In another notebook keep information regarding maintenance on appliances, farm, yard or garden equipment, heating and air conditioning, contacts and contracts for propane and oil, insurance papers on vehicles, home, people, equipment, other contracts.

Also, print, make copies and keep in a safe location all the passwords for all on-line accounts, utilities, bank accounts, e-mail, blog and web accounts.

Have both your names on all utilities - electrical, water, sewer, land line and cell telephones. The companies might give you a difficult time but it is your right to have utilities in both your names. Also, all insurance on vehicles, house, equipment, etc.  When I called V. cell phone company to tell them Dave had passed away and his phone needed to be disconnected, I was told, "We're sorry for your loss. You have seven days to sign a 3 year contract and buy a $100 phone." I told them, "I don't want a contract and I already have a phone." They told me, "You don't understand, this is our policy and if you don't make this decision in 7 days, we'll discontinue your cell phone service for you." I told them, "Let me make this easy for both of us; discontinue it now and send me a refund check."

Oh dearie me. That's when the foot licking started. "Oh but you've been such a good customer since 19XX and we don't want to lose you." I said, "Okay, we're back to I don't need a phone nor a new contract." They said, "That's our policy" and I replied, "What part of NOW don't you understand?" Then, they wanted to wait until the next billing cycle? Why? Because I would have owned them $81 plus but if they canceled at that moment, they would have owned me money.

DUH! Now I'm using a Wal Mart Straight Talk phone that cost $80 and I buy 1,000 minutes of text, 1,000 minutes of talk and 30 mg of i-net for $30 a month. If I want unlimited, I pay $45 and if I decide to buy a "Smart Phone" that will cost $150. There aren't any contracts and I buy only what I need. Oh, the best part? This particular Straight Talk phone uses V. cell towers.

HELLO! Can you hear me now?

Have both your names on all the insurance - cars, house, buildings, equipment. That way, should the secondary need to discuss something with the company, the secondary has every legal right to do so. Regardless what the company says; "it's our policy"...fine but my lawyer says...

Next time I'll talk about vehicles and bank accounts but for now, you've got your assignments. Please, leave questions, comments or your own good advice and thank you.

BTW, if you've stumbled upon this blog, you might want to visit me at Thistle Cove Farm.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Proactive, Not Reactive

Are you a member of The School of Hard Knocks? Yeah, me too. This blog will be updated on an as I can basis. Grief is funny business; at least it is for me. For every few good hours or even a good day, the grief crashes down and covers me...sleepless nights, lack of appetite, lethargy. I tell you this not for sympathy but to explain why the posts aren't more regular. IOW, most days, I'm doing the best I can. Also, these are my suggestions based upon what has happened to me where I live. For professional advice, consult a professional in the area of need or where you live. Each state differs so check with professionals in your state.


I'm working on putting this information in a more coherent order but for now, it's going to be rather hodge podge. Still good information though, don't despair. 


The purpose of this blog is to be proactive, not reactive; to give information, based upon my experience, on how to prepare for being the spouse left behind. If you're single, you still need to know this information; knowing what I've experienced will save your heirs a boatload of money, emotional energy and their life's quota of bad words -smile-.


Please go to your library and check out some books on finances such as Paul A. Tucci's new book, The Handy Personal Finance Answer Book - Your Smart Reference. It's a good book but not infallible; his section on vehicles isn't correct; at least, it's not correct for where I live. So, read, research and check the facts for your state. Yes, it's a lot of work but trust me, no one cares for you and your family like you care. Financial advisors, bank employees, lawyers...in so many cases, their care is in direct proportion to how much they get paid...if you're lucky. 


Also, based upon private e-mails sent to me, some of my information will be basic but needed. For example; you need to establish credit in your name, separate from your spouse. I cannot stress this enough...you have to have credit in your name! More later.



You and your spouse need a will, both of you...especially if you have children. A holographic will is acceptable in Virginia; check if it's acceptable in your state. 


Remember the three-ring notebook? That's where you're going to put important papers...


~ life insurance
~ health insurance
~mortgage/deed papers
~birth certificates
~marriage license
~any divorce papers from a previous marriage
~passports
~vehicle titles
~ social security cards
~ medical directives
~ power of attorney, if applicable 


This isn't an inclusive list; what else do you suggest?


Also, on a separate piece of paper, write down


*all bank account information - bank names, checking account numbers, savings account numbers, certificate of deposit numbers


I'm a big fan of the public library so take all the cards in your wallet, photo-copy them and put them in the notebook...credit cards, driver's license, etc.


Are you or your spouse organ donors? You should each know this about the other. If you're single, make sure your Executor or Executrix knows. BTW, an Executor is the name for the male whom you've named to handle your affairs after you're deceased and an Executrix is the name for the female. 


Okay, that's enough for now, certainly enough to get you started. Besides, I'm wiped out and it's time to shut down for the day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Stages of Grief


Way back when, I went to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Parks and Tourism. I specialized in convention and visitor bureau development and geriatric recreation and worked various internships including senior centers. Part of the prep work for the geriatric recreation portion of my degree was taking geriatrics classes and in one of those classes I studied the 1969 ground breaking work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On Death and Dying.


"If you shield the canyons from the windstorms,
you would never see the beauty of their carvings.”


In it Ms Kubler-Ross describes the five stages of grief when we lose a loved one. Those stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance but not everyone goes through them in a prescribed order or even goes through each one. The stages are merely tools and no one, No One, can tell anyone else in what order to take them or even to take each one. It's okay to skip one, even more, but you need to let God and yourself tell you what to do. Others cannot tell you what you need or have to do; they can tell you what they did or how they handled their grief but it's still their grief and your grief is your grief. 


Capice?
I think most Westerner's are uncomfortable with real emotions. Perhaps you've seen those foot ball games or commercials where men are naked, painted blue, hefting a beverage and screaming their heads off. Oh...that's okay -???- but a person sobbing in public or needing, yet again, to speak of their dead loved one, that's not okay.
Say whuuuttt?!


Some of us are so out of touch with God, ourselves, our emotions and feelings, we haven't a clue who we are as a person. Some of us have depths never plumbed; frankly, I am fearful of a skin deep faith because it's not if, but when, hard times come.


We seem to be comfortable with over the top emotions or emotions that require nothing in return, save perhaps a quick hug or pat on the back, but real emotions make most people uncomfortable. Real emotions are messy but real emotions are what help us cope and, more importantly, begin the healing process. That's something else...the healing p.r.o.c.e.s.s. . It's a process, meaning it takes time and, again, no one can tell you how much, or how little, time.


Anyway, time is irrelevant and as the Bible tells us a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day to God. Have you not experienced a day that fairly fled from sun to sun while another day dragged on for, seemingly, a lifetime?
There's an old saying, "grieve for three months for a parent, a year for a child and a lifetime for a spouse." Now do you understand why so many old portraits and photographs show women in black widow weeds? I'm not suggesting you grieve according to the old saying but I am suggesting you take your time; if need be, I'm giving you permission to take your time.

Remember this: it takes as long as it takes.

Subsequent studies are similar and say the stages are

shock - initial paralysis
denial - avoidance
anger - out-pouring of emotion
bargaining - trying to find a way out
depression - realization of the situation's reality
testing - trying to find solutions
acceptance - moving forward

but it was Swiss born Kubler-Ross who first introduced us to the stages of grief.
From my experience, grief is physical; dang physical as well as being a black hole that, initially, is totally overwhelming. It's all consuming and life is, at the very best, hard. Extremely hard and even breathing, at times, is all consuming. There are times I gulp air like a guppy and only because I realize I've not breathing. I've been holding my breath and haven't taken a breath in several seconds so I gulp air in an effort to restore oxygen to the organs and brain.

The few good hours, eventually, turn into a few good days which turn into a few good weeks, months...in time or so I'm told and hoping. Time is the key, don't try and rush it, grief cannot be rushed.


Amongst the grieving, there's a lot of living yet to be done, especially if you have children or go to an outside job every day. Thank God, my job has always been taking care of Dave, the farm, the animals and myself but I'm still finding it hard to remember to put myself first. I still forget to eat three meals a day, to sleep eight hours a night and to do two things, daily, that move me forward. I try, but I don't always remember, to be gentle with myself. God knows there are plenty of folks standing in line to kick my fanny so remembering to be being gentle with myself is a Very Good Thing!


If you're a Christian and know someone who has lost a loved one, please, don't judge them. Don't tell them what they should, or shouldn't, be doing; don't tell them they are grieving "incorrectly" or "it's been xx amount of time, don't you think it's time you moved on?" If you're not a Christian, be tolerant. It's so easy for any of us to tell someone else what to do, but remember, when we're pointing a finger at someone else, we've got three fingers pointing back at us. While we're busy looking at someone else's life, telling them what to do, there are others looking at our lives and thinking we could be doing better as well.
This writing is being cross posted here and on the Thistle Cove Farm blog. There are so many things that can be done now  while you, and your loved one, are still among the living that will make it so much easier for those left behind when you die. Doesn't matter if you're the wife or husband, one of you will, more than likely, go first and, statistically speaking, it will be the husband.


Oh, you're not married? Guess what? You can still do some of these same things to make it easier on whomever you've designated to be your Executor or Executrix. It will also be less stressful, money will be saved and precious resources won't be lost during the grieving process...when one can ill afford to lose anything because losing something means you have less at hand to deal with an already overwhelming situation. What I write is meant to be helpful but use what you want and toss the rest. It's your life and your decisions; what works for me might not, for whatever reason, work for you.


Please, do not fret over any of this! If you don't have something or can't afford it, make do. The important thing is you get your affairs in order...now.

HOMEWORK - collect a three-ring notebook, lined note paper, plastic sleeves that are open at the top, plastic sleeves that can close at the top, section dividers, three-ring pen holder attached to the notebook and contained therein a pen, small calculator, small ruler, paper clips

Blessings ~ Kubler-Ross ~ friends ~ stages of grief ~ grieving ~ emotions ~ kindness ~ patience ~ gentleness ~

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Introduction...of sorts


We were in the midst of preparing and had been ever since Dave was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. In the first part of 2011, different doctors told us six months, one to three years, and the most heart breaking of all, especially in hindsight, was in May when our GP privately told me, “maybe Sept, no more than October”. The chance we'd share Thanksgiving, much less Christmas, was slim; but then Dave began making a recovery, of sorts. He gained the thirty pounds he'd lost in hospital as well as strength. Granted, his energy was still low but we were overjoyed with the weight and strength gain; he no longer needed me to help him shower and dress and, if he got hungry and I was out doing errands, he could heat up something in the microwave...a huge step forward! In hindsight, it's so easy to see how we put on rose colored glasses and tricked ourselves into believing what we wanted to believe...one to three years.

Those three wonderful October weeks at the beach are now the last wonderful memories I have of Dave. We had a very short period of time at home, less than two weeks, between the beach and his death and, almost always, spent most of that time talking. Talking about this and that, what we needed to do to get ready for the end, the paper work, hospice, banks, the farm, vehicles, friends, family, finances and, most importantly, heaven. Sometimes we'd just sit in the sun room, drinking something and enjoying the sunlight as it played across the valley. As much as talk was our friend, so was silence and we were both comfortable in the white noise that is silence. The dogs, some snuffling and others snoring, the cats purring in splashes of sunshine, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee...the comfortableness of being together. Of knowing we had this moment, this now, this memory in the making. 

Even so, with all the talking, I was left unprepared. We'd planned on sitting down and getting things “right” after I returned from a business trip. On the Tuesday before he died, Dave sent me on a business trip to tend to various things that needed attention. My trip would end on Saturday where I would celebrate, with family and friends, my parent's 60th wedding anniversary. The next day, Sunday, I'd head for home and, bright and early, Monday morning Dave and I were going to put together a notebook to help whoever was left behind. We both knew that would be me but we always rather danced around the end; it seemed gentler, kinder to us both.

At 11:30 Saturday morning, I received a phone call from Mom telling me the farm sitter was trying to get in touch with me. Long story short, Dave passed away, where he wanted, on our farm, about 11:00 and was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. I contacted Lynn at the funeral home, told her what had happened and asked her to make arrangements to have Dave's body moved to the funeral home. Lynn agreed and we made an appointment to speak by telephone the next day. There are times that living in a small community is a very good thing; Lynn and her husband David are so good at what they do; professional yet warm and caring.

Dave was gone and there was nothing I could do for him that I wasn't already doing so I made the decision to stay and M.C. Mom and Daddy's anniversary party, as they had asked. Was it difficult? Oh yes but, for me, it was necessary and the beginning of the end of the last gifts I could give Dave. When people ask Daddy about New Year's Resolutions, he always says, “if you're living the way you're supposed to live the rest of the year, you don't need to make New Year's Resolutions.” That's why I stayed to celebrate Mom and Daddy's 60th wedding anniversary; I'd done everything, within my power, for Dave during his life and he would not have wanted me to leave the party early. He was always big on doing the right thing and he taught me well by example.

If you're familiar with this post, perhaps you'll understand why I choose, at the party, to read God's love letter. During that sad, happy time it brought comfort to not only me but to the rest of the hurting people in that room. Aren't we all carrying around some kind of hurt or pain? There were people in that room who don't know Christ, who suffer from depression, who are struggling with finances, failing businesses, decreased faith and a host of other ills. Hearing how much God loves me/us, brought a lot of comfort to people that day; it was my privilege and God's gift to tell and remind them of His love.  

“I, the Lord God, can be trusted with your heart.”

Labels. They define us whether we want to wear them or not. For more than 22 years, Dave and I were together; the first six plus years as neighbors and the rest as husband and wife. Dave taught me more in those twenty-two years than I anticipate learning in the rest of my life. Does that sound strange? It does even to my ear but it's true. He taught me how to be his wife and, in turn, I taught him how to love again. Cathy, his first wife, died of cancer the year before I met Dave. For so many years, she was the love of his life, the love of his youth but, in the end days, I, as well, became the love of his life, the love of his old age and there was a circularity, a roundness, a rightness in all of that and it was good. No. Actually, it was great. Would God have asked me to die for Dave, I would have said yes. As it turns out, God tells me it's not my time to die; it's my time to grieve, to take care of me, the animals, the farm and, as much as possible, help others prepare. Thus, this new blog, Wife to Widow

One last thing...least someone think Dave and I had a perfect marriage, we did not. Our first days were spent learning each other's ways, getting to know each other. Even after six years of courtship, the early days of marriage were still difficult. Yet, we made the decision “through sickness and in health, for richer or poorer” meant we were a team and would stay the course. We were better people for having done so, the marriage was strong and unbreakable. I used to tell people Dave and I had “loyalty issues”, meaning neither one need ever worry about being betrayed. Ultimately, the glue that was our bond was our word, our commitment to each other and it was that bond that carried us to the end.

Please, tell others about this new blog; take a button for your blog and let's help each other. It's a frosty world, we need to reflect the Light that leads, and warms, the way.

"Knowing that when light is gone

Love remains for shining"

~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning ~