Monday, June 29, 2009

Some Notes on Pain and Suffering and Yardwork

This past weekend was once again Yardwork 101. I got sick of waiting for people who promised to help me so I just took the bull by the horns. (People really DO want to help; however, it isn’t like I can nag at them as I would to H to get started, time’s a wastin’…so the helping gets done on their time, you know?) Anyway, I wanted the grass blown off of the drive and I wanted the weed-whacking done…things I KNEW I could do, I just was a bit unsure about how to use the necessary tools. One new blower and one OMGmyarmisoutofthesocket weedwhacker later, I am almost a pro. As with much of the stuff I didn’t know how to do, I think it is pure anger and frustration that is getting me to learn. Oh ya, and the self-propelled mower has a hard time going from 1st gear to Neutral. Just in case you see me chasing that f-ing thing around the yard…

In other news, I got a call from my Prius-driving attorney, Leo. H was killed in an on-the-job accident, you see, and this means all sorts of insurance liability stuff that I really don’t care to understand at this time. In brief, companies carry liability insurance in case there is a catastrophic accident on the job. When said catastrophic accident happens to occur, the liability insurance company does everything in its power to find a way to not have to pay the amount of insurance that covers the liability for the catastrophic accident. It is like a game that is played and the object of the game is, of course, money. While I don’t care so much about money in the sense that no amount is going to bring back my old and comfortable life, I was advised by several close friends that this is just a part of the deal with the type of accident that killed H and it is best to be prepared and ready for when the liability game begins. In H’s case, I hired Leo to deal with all of this. Otherwise, I alone would be taking on the non-liability paying folks…and that, from what I understand, is even more difficult than starting that weed-whacker.

So anyway, Leo phoned me while I was in the midst of my yardwork session. He proceeded to explain to me the status of the situation. Surprisingly (!!), the liability insurance company is squawking about how there is absolutely no liability issue in this case. Leo graciously spared me the gory details; however, he did explain that the rhetoric has become a bit heated as to the extent of the pain and suffering I am going through as a result of losing H. Not so much, according to them. I asked Leo if those hot shot liability folks would like to come to watch my yardwork extravaganza just to get a glimpse of how the pain and suffering is going here in WalkTrotCanterLand. Leo, in his serious attorney-voice, assured me this is all pretty standard at the beginning of this type of negotiating. I thanked him for the update, hung up the phone, promptly burst into tears, and poured myself a liability cocktail. GAH, how do those folks sleep at night, I wonder…what a strange world we live in.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Somebody up there likes me...sort of

H had this red GMC truck that we bought from one of his co-workers about a million years ago. It was over 20 years old. After me (!!), it was the love of is life. I think I only drove it once or twice…it really was H’s ride. It had a manual transmission…I think that is why H liked it so much. It was simple and easy to maneuver. Plus, I think he felt really AMERICAN in that thing. Our dogs used to go crazy when they would hear the truck pull into the drive. The whole sound of him gearing down with his country music blaring always sent them into complete poodle frenzy mode. The truck had never been cleaned, in true H fashion. The paint was fading, the cab was full of boots and tools and Carhart jackets, and he often referred to it as The Office.

I work with a guy who loves engines and trucks and all things grease, so I asked him if he would want The Truck. Somehow, it just didn’t seem right to haul it to a junkyard or sell it to just anyone. That Truck was almost a part of our family. I told the guy that if he would take care of, and enjoy it, I would happily sell it to him for one dollar. He was thrilled.

In our household, I always took care of all of the bills and insurances and paperwork. H had little interest in filing and keeping track unless it involved things in drywall buckets. I have this highly-organized filing system that consists of a big filing cabinet full of papers. A few years ago, I got all sophisticated and put the papers in piles that make sense. Anyway, I searched my trusty filing cabinet for the title to The Truck but it was nowhere to be found. I searched again and again and could not find one bit of information on that vehicle. I found the loan papers from the 1985 Dodge Colt, the 1988 Mercury Topaz, the 2 GMC Jimmy’s, the Mitsubishi Outlander…but absolutely nothing on The Truck. And the more I searched the madder and more frustrated I became. Literally, by the time I looked One. Last. Time. and decided to give up and go to bed, I was in full-rage mode. Meltdown City. The f-bombs were dropping, I was crying and stomping around and yelling…the dogs just sat there and stared at me. It was not a pretty sight.

It is hard to brush your teeth when you are crying. It is doubly-awful to watch yourself cry while you try to brush your teeth. Sometimes it makes you cry harder and then you just feel like complete shit. I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed, even more of a sobbing and angry mess. For some odd reason, I peeked into H’s closet. There, on the shelf by his shirts, was a Wal-Mart bag. It was kind of sticking out, and I had not seen it in the many times I had been in his closet in the past few weeks. Wal-Mart has always been my LEAST favorite place in the whole world. I just detest the whole scene…H used to shudder when I would stop there for groceries and come home with my 8 zillion little plastic bags and a lot of swear words and grumbling about people in scooters with few teeth. Much to my amazement, inside this Wal-Mart bag that I had not seen before sticking out of the shelf by his shirts, was all of the paperwork for The Red Truck, including the title. H must have been beside himself laughing, the goof. That was so his sense of humor. Ha Ha, Ya, thanks buddy :) Guess he was just making sure I found that truck a fabulous new home.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's just stuff to me but at least it makes me smile :)

When I was in college, I had a roommate who lost her father our freshman year. The guy had been the baseball coach at the high school in her small town. He was extremely popular, good-looking, friendly, and had the all-American family…3 good looking and well-mannered kids, a lovely wife, etc. During our first semester at school, he died suddenly of an aneurysm.

Three years later, my friend invited a group of us back to her hometown for a weekend. I can still remember feeling…I don’t know, creeped out, I guess, in my 19 year old way, at how everything in the house was exactly as it had been the moment he passed away. Exactly as it had been, with the addition of a large table that had been made into a sort of shrine to the man with pictures, trophies, and medals from his coaching successes. The lovely all-American family who once came home to this place, had stopped, it seemed. My friend’s mother walked around all ghostly and quiet…and it all just seemed so very, very sad.
Grief is such a strange emotion…or bunch of emotions. There are no rules or guidelines to follow to make things straightforward and easy. I was talking with my mother a day or so after H died, and she said to me, “You will want to make this YOUR house over time, you know, and that will be ok.”
I am a cleaner-outer. I like simple, clean lines and clutter makes my brain go into high stress OMGWTF mode. H, on the other hand, was a hoarder. LOL He knew there was a use for everything if you just stacked it, put it in a bucket with 100 other everythings, or hid it in oh, say, the alcove under the basement stairs. He was also the true Boy Scout, always prepared for the latest crisis. Which is why both of our snowblowers were filled to the brim with gasoline on the warm, rainy day in the middle of April when he passed away.

And so the Cleaning Out has been going-on in the last few weeks. No big surprises, it is all pretty much classic H with many drawers full of this and lots of drywall buckets full of that. It is kind of an odd job, especially since he was gone so quickly he didn’t have time to let me know about the $90 he had stashed between his t-shirts. He also didn’t have time to get rid of the lawnmower, leaf blower, and weed whacker that don’t work. He did, however, seem to have plenty of time to purchase and store under the stairs no less than 4 table saws, 10 nail guns, 2 air compressors, 7 cordless drills, a plastic storage bin filled to the brim with switch plates, and numerous other items I have not yet inventoried. Further, the day before his accident, he had gleefully brought home a sink and toilet to be used at our cottage. He had unloaded them into the garage right next to the door to the house. This, I suppose, is so that with equal glee he could strategically position himself on the toilet with a newspaper when I drove up the driveway on my lunch hour. Sadly, the sink/toilet have not moved from their original spot. Guests think I have a garage-potty thing going on, which makes that visual of H on the jon ever more amusing. That alone makes it all worthwhile even if it costs me $90 to have someone haul the bulk of the stuff away.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On life after the Life Insurance

I was rifling thru some old posts on this blog the other day. It was a bit of a trip down memory lane. Yipes, those old Motel 6 days! It all seems so dramatic! Things thankfully settled down a bit once we were moved and settled into the new homestead. I guess that’s why it is called Home and places like the Motel 6 make a girl nuts. Anyway, I had to chuckle at this post. I completely remember that evening and so did my State Farm Agent. The State Farm Agent who, like a good neighbor, did not let us settle on H’s measly sum for life insurance.


So, a few days after H’s accident, I had to meet with our Good Neighbor to go over all of the *stuff*. The poor guy, I have known him since I was 10 (small town), he was crying and so was his adorable wife who works with him in the office. (Side note: I highly recommend going with a trusted person on matters of insurance. Yes, it is indeed cheaper online or whatever; however, when the shit hits the fan, do you want to be calling 1-800-FILEACLAIM? You don’t. Trust me on that. You really DO want them crying with you.) As a result of our heeding the trusted advice of our agent, I received a fairly healthy amount of money as H’s beneficiary. It was put into a special checking account which I have aptly named the OMGMYHUSBANDDIEDINANACCIDENT Fund.

Just about anyone who knew H or us or read this blog would so know how much of a money miser H was. He was brutal at times which, after living with him for 22 years, made me somewhat hesitant to spend any amount of money without mulling it over, asking myself if I REALLY NEEDED the item/service, mulling it over again, and then discussing pros and cons of the issue over cocktails. The whole thing got to be like a badge of honor…to have made the proper DECISION. Good training, I suppose, for these tough economic times. No fun when a girl just wants a pair of shoes, sadly. Now, of course, I have this newfound ability to do whatever I want. And I am not sure I feel very confident in this new place.

With the help of my 2 brothers, I made a sort of list of *Things* I need to do or have in place now that I am a single woman living alone. It is a helpful little list and I am plugging away at various items…I am very good at lists. Anyway, one major item on this list was New Car. With 98,000 miles on our trusty Mitsubishi, Brothers were concerned about safety, reliability, etc. And rightly so. My problem with New Car is that the best deal for the car I like/want is that I have to use the OMGMYHUSBANDDIEDINANACCIDENT Fund to buy it. I guess I should have called it the OMGHWOULDFREAKOUTIFISPENDANYOFTHIS Fund. I know I shouldn’t think this way, but like I said, 22 years of training…let the mulling and cocktails begin!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sunday Morning Coffee

When (and I do not recommend this in any way, shape, or form to anyone) folks knock on your door in the middle of a Friday afternoon to tell you your spouse of 22 years was killed in a horrible accident, there are a number of things that kick into gear. I suppose it is different for everyone, how your body and mind sort of go into autopilot mode. For me, I guess I was lucky in a sense. My body and head must have decided to take care of me. I was relatively calm, invited the people inside, and put together a list of who to call and what to do next. I remember all of it down to the last detail.

Looking back, I think during such an awful time you can go two ways: you can crumple into a corner and never want to get out or you can grab your wits and look forward. It's a tricky thing, that shock factor. As much as a portion of my scaredshitless brain wanted to crumple, the rest of me looked around and decided the crumple thing was not going to work.

The trick to all of it, I believe, is to have those things in your life which are just yours. Yes, marriage is great and you have this best friend and partner...that is all wonderful. Times spent together as your own little family whether you have kids or not are important and hopefully happy :) However, having your own time and your own hobby or "thing" is equally still have to be your own person. I was lucky to have had a partner who completely agreed and was on the same page. If, during a time of great stress and great sadness and your world is totally rocked and whipped upside-down, you can go to a place or do a thing that is no different no matter what is going on, you will find the *normalcy* you need to be able to face the next round of bad/sad stuff. Does that make sense?

I (duh) ride horses. I actually bought a new horse just 2 weeks before H's accident...had sold George The Bastard Horse in December. New Horse completely fell into my lap. I wasn't really looking and some friends said I should try a gelding that was for sale for a zillion dollars and was a 2 hour drive into Michigan. Ya, OK, I said. Of course I fell in love, made a ridiculously low offer, was laughed at by the sellers and then told they would love for me to have him. Crazy carma I tell you. Anyway, New Horse is the most gentle, sane sweetheart I could ever have found. Most of all, he is my Great see, my riding was and is My Thing. While H was very supportive ($$$ and otherwise!), he rarely went with me to the barn and just wasn't into riding. And, he only met New Horse one time before his accident. During all of the funeral planning and visitation and dealing with H's family goo-ga, I tried to sneak away to the barn for a few hours...and believe me, THAT is what kept me going. The barn and horse are no different whether my world is torn apart or not. There are no sad memories there...only my good or bad rides, which happen no matter what.

In thinking about how I have worked through the past several weeks, it took some time to piece together how I kept my head and continue to keep my head on straight (fairly!). I finally realized it is that sense of *normal* I feel when I walk into the barn and tack up my horse. There is no death or insurance or bank business or beneficiary business to take care of...just poop and leather and sweat! Love that stuff :)

Not sure if this all makes sense, but I wanted to get it down so it can be re-visited later as I move through this whole process.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Weekend Update

Today was a big day at Camp OMGWTF.

1) I did yardwork...which is so not on my list of favorite things. You know, when you get married or you have a significant other you sort of have this agreement about who does what, right? Well, my stuff was INSIDE, H's was OUTSIDE, and he was really quite proficient at I have to do both and it so sucks! OK, I cheated a bit and hired the kid across the street to mow and weedwhack. He is a great kid but I am sort of disappointed he does not seem to find my lawn/weedwhacking the most important thing in his life!.He just finished his Junior year of HS yesterday so I probably should cut him some slack. BUT OMG, IT IS SUPPOSED TO RAIN THE NEXT FEW DAYS AND MY GRASS/WEEDWHACK ITEMS ARE SO OVERGROWN! To be honest, I am terrified my house will become the crappiest one on the street. Or, everyone will say, "That place looks like shit...used to be nice but the lady's husband died and it all went to hell." AAAHHHHHH!!! Do they know I am only used to cleaning the toilets?? That is a lot of work, folks. So, anyway, I did yardwork and I got lots of weeds pulled and things trimmed. It looks nice and will look much nicer once the kid mows :)

2) Oh ya, remember my list of *things*...and how the neighbors don't know what to do? Well, while I was in the midst of my yardwork, the neighbor kid (not the mowing kid but the son from the family that lives behind me) came over with a baggie of chocolate chip cookies. He handed them to me and said, "My mom made these and thought you might want one while you are working". Well, he would have said it like that except for the fact that he has this tic of sorts that causes him to not really stutter but he just. can't. say. the. words. To make matters worse, he is 19 and sort of awkward or whatever and I seem to make him very nervous. Which makes the speaking thing more amplified. I feel like Mrs. Robinson when I talk with him. Once he got the cookie news out, he *casually* mentioned how he will turn 21 in just 2 short years and he can come over to have a beer with me. I didn't quite have the heart to tell him I am not sure I will be ready for a young cabana boy even in 2 years. GAH! The whole other thing is that the neighbors NEVER brought cookies over to H when he was in the midst of his mowing and weeding. He would be upset that I got cookies on the first try.

8 weeks and I am still here and still sort of sane. Score one for The Sarcastic One That is a good thing! Let's pour a Bailey's, shall we? :)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Some initial thoughts to get the conversation started

1) Folks say and do things which seem rather odd and out of character. I had one person yell at me because I did not rush down to the accident site to *see* it and him and yell at everyone.
2) H died in a work-related accident. Take #1 and multiply by 10
3) Upon advice from my insurance agent, I hired a lawyer to deal with the liability insurance issues. His name is Lou and he drives a Prius.
4) H’s family is rather far away. In the 22 yrs we were married, they never came to visit, and we always went to see them. They arrived after his death and wanted to change some of the funeral arrangements. They were also upset I did not prepare the traditional smoked salmon for the wake. They asked me to make them tea. I don’t think they understand the term “Next of Kin”. Clearly, they did not see me as family. That hurt.
5) Re #4, I did make it clear to them. It was not pretty and only one of them has contacted me since they left. That also hurts.
6) Neighbors and friends really do care and often don’t seem to know what to do. As time passes, some of them ask HOW AAARRRE YOU? In all caps. The close friends know you are totally f-d up and thankfully they just bring you booze.
7) Someone brought fried chicken and Italian beef to my house in the first few days. I will never be able to smell nor eat either one ever again.
8) H loved birds and often had dreams he could fly or was flying. I have noticed that when I think about him a bird of some sort will always fly by. I am not sure if it is meaningful in any way but it is sort of comforting.
9) These days (~8 weeks out) I feel like I am just moving along but I am not sure if I am doing this right. I am not sure there is actually a right way so I suppose I’m good.
10) What I miss the most is talking about our days while I made dinner or while we ate. I have so much to tell him.

And then she was welcomed to the real world

Not quite 8 weeks ago, my husband H died in an accident. It seems so cliché to say how it started out as any ordinary day; however, it really did. I was drinking my coffee, he had his oatmeal, we read the newspapers, I complained how he didn’t wipe the counter. Very, very ordinary. He left for work and I never again saw him alive.

Welcome to your new life.

While I was fairly content with how my life was going before any of this, I am suddenly in the midst of figuring out how to go on with this new life that I really didn’t want. In one way, I want to throw myself on the ground in a childlike tantrum. In another way I want to sit back and see how all of this plays out. In the meantime, I want to put some of this into words just to document this journey or whateverthehell you call it. While it is sad and scary and uncertain at times, I have found it also to be quite funny. Perhaps it is just my sick and sarcastic sense of humor. That hasn’t changed at all. Whatever, it is what it is. Here goes.