Sunday, September 15, 2013
A year ago today, early on a Friday morning, my father died one month after suffering a debilitating stroke. Although his speech was severely impaired, and he had difficulty swallowing and walking without assistance, we had hopes that he would recover. But he contracted pneumonia while in the hospital. This weakened him even more but he continued to struggle to regain some mobility. Even the efforts of the staff of the rehab facility where he spent his last few days were not enough to turn things around. Mercifully, he died peacefully. The attending nurse had gone to his room at around 5AM to give him his meds and wasn’t able to wake him.
I say mercifully, because I believe that Dad would not have wanted to continue in the state he was in. He was fiercely independent and would have fought any efforts that he perceived to take away that independence. I sometimes wonder if, in those last few days, he realized that he would no longer be able to paint, and stopped fighting against the approach of death. In an interview with the local newspaper the year before he died, he had said, “when I quit painting, I’ll quit being here.” A long-time – over 40 years – resident, he was widely known and respected for his dedication and artistic talent.
Although he was 87, he still went to his studio almost every day. With the passing years, the hours spent standing at the easel had shortened and the coffee breaks had gotten longer. It was evident that he missed my mother intensely. He spoke of her often. Keeping busy helped keep him going. There were plans for future paintings, trips and other projects. He talked of closing the gallery and working at home, but hadn’t quite made the break yet. In fact, there was a large commissioned land- and seascape in progress when he suffered the stroke.
After he died, I decided to keep his gallery open for the winter season while I spent the months clearing out the condo, handling other estate business, and working part-time at a local retail store. It was a difficult time but also very gratifying. Sometimes I had to be the one to break the news of his death to a long-time customer or friend. Other times, people would come by to pay their respects and tell their favorite stories of time spent with him, with my mother. Many talked about how much they treasured the prints or paintings that they had bought over the years. “Grief shared is grief diminished” as the saying goes (Rabbi Grollman). I consider it a blessing to have experienced this first hand, especially during those months in Florida.
I’ve been back in Germany now for about three months. Like my father, I’ve found that keeping busy is a good way to keep the sadness at bay. Being too busy, however, just masks the pain, so I also make efforts to write about it, to talk about it, and to let the tears flow when they come. Losing both parents within such a short time – and saying goodbye to the home they loved and shared – has been very hard.
I find comfort in knowing that my emotions will heal. This has been a detour in the road of my life, but the road goes on. God hasn’t abandoned me and his purpose and plan for me are not at an end. There are times when I wish he would turn up the lights so that I could see down the road a little further. But that’s what faith is about and I need to exercise that faith, trust in him, and keep doing the next thing until his direction becomes clear.
Thanks for reading!
Friday, September 13, 2013
Tomorrow will be a much-needed free day after a strenuous week at work, and dealings with the lawyer, bank and real estate people who are back in Florida working to get my parents' condo sold.
I've wavered on some of my September goals but am still hanging in there on most of them. One thing I need to do is rework my meal-planning and prep. I do well at the beginning of the week because I generally cook a big batch of something that will last for two or three days, cut up lots of veggies, and plan my work lunches. But by Wednesday, my "provisions" are used up and I sometimes end up grabbing a sandwich or something and have to guesstimate on the Spark tracker. Guesstimating is ok once in awhile, but right now I need to be more accurate if I want to take off the weight.
On a happier note - I FINALLY rode my bike this evening! It has been sitting in the cellar for years - literally, probably 10 plus years. And it's only been ridden a few times so it's really like new. Now that I'm doing without a car, the bike needs to be put to work. A neighbor took a look at it for me, and pumped up the tires. So tonight I went for a 20-minute ride and did it feel good! Wonderful to have a form of exercise that doesn't make my feet hurt! The plantar fasciitis is getting better but still not such that I can take extended walks or start running again. I hope the weather allows me to get out on the bike this weekend. I'm optimistic that this will boost my cardio minutes and calorie burn.
Woohoo! I can finally use this emoticon:
1. I tracked food and exercise but petered out on the food tracker toward the end of the week. Back on it tomorrow.
2. Still drinking about half the Coke Zero I was. Some days none at all.
3. Got in my 30 minutes of exercise a day. My feet (plantar fasciitis) are feeling better and I started biking! Did ST 3 times this past week, even if it was only 10 minute sessions!
4. No eating after 9 PM. Did pretty well on this except for Thursday night - was up late on the phone to the US and got hungry.
5. Oops - have been forgetting my vitamins.
6. Got 6 hours sleep or more every night. An improvement that I can definitely feel.
7. This may be my blog post for the week or I may post again over the weekend. We'll see - in any case, I hope it's a good one for you all!
Sunday, September 08, 2013
Here's an update on my progress toward the fitness goals I set for September.
1. I tracked food and exercise every day except yesterday (Saturday) but I think I was within my ranges nonetheless, and posted on the 5% challenge thread as well.
2. I cut WAY back on the Coke Zero, drinking a glass here or there, but probably consumed half of what I have been drinking and had none at all on at least one day.
3. Got in my 30 minutes of exercise a day. My feet (plantar fasciitis) are feeling better and I hope to be getting back to longer walks, even running, soon.
4. No eating after 9 PM - to be honest, I forgot about this one, but I think I did pretty well, may have snacked but it was tracked!
5. Missed a day or two on the vitamins but I'm on it.
6. Got 6 hours sleep all but one night when it was only 5...working on this one, too.
7. Blog once a week. - well, here you are!
Oh....and I lost a pound.
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Preferring to call it that instead of "early fall." Or does "early fall" sound more optimistic? with the "early" and all?
I haven't posted in over a month, I see. I have been working a LOT since I got back from the States at the end of May as I've mentioned in previous posts. That has left little time or energy for anything else, which I also mentioned. These courses for the unemployed are not easy. They are people who are in life transitions (as I am!) and there are emotions and tensions that aren't usually part of my teaching work. It's a good thing I love my work teaching English and am happy that I also get to minister to people at a critical time in their lives...but it can be taxing!
I joined the 5% challenge in hopes of getting back on track Spark-wise. That has been a help only in so far as I haven't gained a ton of weight and have been making sporadic attempts at tracking. My feet (plantar fasciitis) are getting better but it's slow-going. I now wear a boot/brace at night that has helped some. And new orthotics are on the way! I'm able to walk comfortably for most of my daytime activities but miss having distance running and walking as an outlet and stress-buster.
On Friday, I had a meeting with the pastor of the church where I've been serving. I haven't eased my way back into the work of the church yet. He was very understanding when I told him that I'm not ready to go back to doing some of the things I've done in the past, and that I want to see how the Lord leads as far as taking on new responsibilities. I felt relieved, but also sad after the meeting because I would like to be ready NOW to take on new challenges. But I'm just not in that place yet. I'm still quite tired...and with the anniversary of my father's passing coming up in a few weeks...sad. I actually dreamt of him last night for the first time since he died. It was kind of strange, as dreams are, but I think it was a hopeful dream.
I'm finding that Romans 15:13 is a good verse for me to hold on to these days: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Anyone else setting some monthly mini-goals for September? Something about a fresh month that encourages me to make a fresh start. Will post mine tomorrow.
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