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thinking about changes I need to make


swilkinson

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A few people have asked me what I intend to do with the rest of my life. To some of my older friends, 20 years older than me, from their perspective I should try getting out more, enjoying my life while I am able to, before the aches and pains of old age catch up with me. Some of my younger friends think I should maybe get a part-time job but I don't really want to go back to work now. I was a caregiver full-time for 13 years, then part-time supervisor to Ray and Mum in their nursing homes and now I am officially "retired" and I mean to spend my healthy days on doing some of the things I didn't have time to do while I cared for Ray.

 

BUT WHAT? Sure I have plenty to do. There is the cooking, cleaning, yardwork. Those things that I have always done. But not having Ray and Mum to look after or visit, has left me with a lot of empty time. After all those years of caregiving it is difficult to know what I want to do with it, in what way I could spend my time that would seem worthwhile. I have been reading Jean Riva's blog on blogspot and she has written several blogs on the same subject: what to do that she would enjoy doing and consider worth while.

 

Of course some of my friends would like me to join the groups they belong to but I need to join groups that interest me, that fit in with my values, that would use my talents and appreciate my gifts. At the moment I am going on with groups I have belonged to in the past. I went to the WAGS group lunch on Saturday. It was like walking into a reunion with old friends and I enjoyed it, but there is a sense in which I do not belong there now. I found the survivors particularly hadn't much to say once we got past: "Hello Sue, how are you going?" Because the next natural question would in the past have been "...and how is Ray?" So there were some uncomfortable silences.

 

I would sometimes like to hibernate, like bears do, just hole up with a good supply of food and shut the world out. Shut out all the loving, caring people who think if I just did this or that my life would be fine. But how lonely would I be then, even with the laptop and the visits I can have with my cyber friends? I need to do something regular where I get to interact with others. Left to myself I can go for days without a conversation face to face and for a sociable gal like me that is not good. That way lies madness.

 

In the church I am going on as before, my name is on a few rosters and I try to be there when I am rostered on. But the need is in other places and that is something I want to explore. Would I be better suited to leading groups now rather than in acting as a liturgical assistant? I think I need to do some grief training first before I volunteer to do hospital visiting . At the present my life is so unstructured. I welcomed that for a long while but now I am looking around for something to do that seems worth doing and meaningful.

 

When Spring comes and the days lengthen I am going to rethink what I am doing and when and see if I can find something that fills my time and provides me with some new relationships that may turn into friendships. I have been to a lot of funerals this year as the church oldies and the older Lions have succumbed to illness and cancer among other diseases. It has been sad to go to a funeral just about every week and it does bring home to me that I need to make friendships among YOUNGER people.

 

I don't want to rush into things, I've just had a couple of wobbly days. I think it is because I need to make some decisions that will affect the future, particularly my future in this house. There are a few repairs to do that are going to be expensive so I have to think how long I will stay on here and if spendng a good deal of money will be worth it or if I should just do "bandaid" repairs and sell "as is". There is electrical work to be done, some interior doors need replacing, the whole house needs to be painted, inside and out, and then I need to replace some flooring. Ray built onto this house last in 1983 and it shows. So do I do a large renovation or do I just patch some of the problems and leave the rest?

 

I seem to be going over and over the last year or so of Ray's life again. I thought I was over that but now it has reappeared. Sometimes as I am waking from a nap I even think I see a glimpse of him as I did this afternoon. I am not usually that imaginative so maybe it is just a form of wishful thinking? I often wonder why I can't just accept that it is over and move on? So many reminders all around me in this house that he is simply not here now. So sad.

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well you will get this figured out.... wishful thinking ? or a loving message from ray saying i am OK, or watching over you as you did for such a long, long time..... i think you should do what you want and it is certainly appropriate to hibernate for a good while..the right thing to occupy some time will find you..just dont start to worry about your neighbors business , if that happens -- then you really do have to much time ..LOL but you are so sensible i certainly do not see you ever being a busy body. It will find you, and it might not be what you expected , maybe build model airplanes ??? LOL..LOL no hurry and dont be hurried..

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Sue,

 

I read a book once called "Please Understand Me", and it said most people want the same things but how they attain those things may be different. For instance, we all want peace and a reasonable level of prosperity, accomplishment etc. Even so, some people are more artistic in their pursuit of these thing while others are science minded, or service minded. My point being that it's not easy sometimes to give advice nor beneficial to accept it. Though those folks you mentioned as loving and caring most likely are, they are different than you. I loved your ideas of service and social/pastoral endeavors but I also loved the part about holing up with food and shutting out the world.I could imagine that would drive you nuts but it's imperative at times for me to do that.

The larger part of your life has been spent focusing on the needs of others. Even before caregiving as a wife, mother, volunteer etc.

Maybe you said more than you realize when you said after all these years maybe you just don't know what to do with your time. I really don't think you can't accept and move on. I believe you aren't sure where to move on to.So may do what you suggested...explore. A worthwhile exploration that may lead you to something you hadn't even considered.

 

Jamie

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Sue, right after the stroke, I too "hibernated"; avoided old friends and especially family, until I was called on it by my sister in law. If not for Nancy and her bravery, I might still be hibernating! But I purposely shut out the world, because I felt like I didn't belong anymore.

 

Well I don't belong to that old world, I just couldn't image one where we would fit in, for a long while.

 

Now not only are we building a new life, with many unimagined twists and turns, but Nancy and I want to pass on what we've learned in the process. We have a couple of ways in mind and slowly, slowly are starting to make our future plans. After all, it's been two and a half years since our lives changed forever, and that seems a reasonable time frame to get back on your feet. One thing I was told long ago and I never forgot (it was a religious thing but not mine) that for one year after a life changing event, you should do nothing important at all, such as moving, marriage, divorce etc. Let the dust settle, and then the answer will start to come to you. If you feel like you don't want to do anything yet (although I see you ARE thinking to the future) that means the time isn't quite here. But it will present itself at the right moment, and you will know what to do then. You can't hurry it.

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Well, here is my take! I'm a man and a survivor unlike a wife, mother and care giver as you have been for a better part of your life after marriage to Ray! I guess I can claim I had three other wives to care for in a marriage meant to be long term but it didn't turn out that way and I continued to seek a marriage and a wife with principles like mine!

 

Being a single person again by way of divorce, death or an agreement leaves a person, male or female, many outlets to pursue for the remainder of their lives. Choosing the right one is sometimes hard or maybe even very difficult. There are so many choices!

 

The mind thoughts has to reorganize with your brain to determine what path you desire to travel with the remainder of your life and there are many choices!

 

In my case the thoughts worked out, now my here afters like yours now is determined by what way I want to go and that would be to stay single, go places, see all I can in places I haven been yet and perhaps always wanted to go there! My life wouldn't change but I would seek adventures in visiting places I haven't seen yet.

 

That would be my desires of course money and bills would dictate how far and often I go. In your case getting your house redone may take priority in things you can do for satisfaction then think which way you want your life to go! That would certainly change the atmosphere and constant reminders of you being alone without Ray, mum or dad!

 

That answers your question of doing a large renovation instead of patch work. You can then see something YOU did with later on thoughts of how else you should have done!! Your rememberance will be lost in your thoughts of how it was until you walk pass a photo you may have on the wall. I hope thoughts like that will help you determine your best way to proceed in your life.

 

 

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Sue: my Mom only lived in this house 3 months and the addition was not finished. I can't tell you the number of times I have walked out of the kitchen to go upstairs and there she is on the stairs. You know my parents visit often in dreams. Dad, not so much, so I know I am really overstressed and need to re-eval when he arrives. I don't care what others think. Bruce is always so anxious to hear of their visits. It makes my heart sing. I feel so less alone and struggling.

 

As to the house, no advice there. I think about ours often. I do think, for me, that clean out is imperative in case we have to go somewhere more accessible. But I look to our neighbor, who lost her husband so young and is still in their home. She has done all of the renovations since her retirement and I know time is coming she will relocate closer to her family. But she took the years to find herself and her interests. You do have to consider that the home is paid for and that relieves some stress. Stay put until you know.

 

Big doings coming up. Hope those suitcases are out! That could be part of the unsettledness. It is a big adventure. I pray that you are looking forward to it. Yes, you will miss the family, but this is so important for your healing and growth. Debbie

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I always hate it when people ask what you intend on doing with the rest of your life. It seems so presumptious of them. Like 'you better have a plan'. I think I'd just say, "live it" maybe "live it my way, one day at a time".

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Take your time and your life will take care of itself without plans. The worst thing I went through was all the people telling me that now I would be on the hunt for another man - B.......t! I had just lost the one I loved - how callous!

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