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Friday, October 13, 2017

My Wish For Teresa




I wish I could go back
To the way it was before
when you were still with us
and standing at our door.

Mom, can you watch my kid?
I need to study tonight.
I’ve got a big test tomorrow
and sleep she’s trying to fight.

I loved to spend time with her
she made me feel young again
she reminded me so much of you
the way you were back then.

And now, she’s all grown up
and moved so far away
how I wish I could change her mind
and bring her home to stay.

you were so proud and happy
a nurse you finally would be
you worked so hard and long
for that license you wanted to see.

the fire that took your life
was such a tragedy
I hope the scholarship we made
can help set your soul free.

please watch over your little family
your daughter is hurting deep inside
and your granddaughter is so sweet
their pain they try to hide.

we love and miss you dear
our daughter you’ll always be
 in a special place within our hearts
where your soul can forever fly free.

Dixie Barnes
c. 2017

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Chasing My Tail!

I know. I've not been posting very regularly.  This time of year always gets crazy for me.  We have several graduations, all on different days, and in different towns. We have had birthday parties, confirmations, First Communions, and my house is gross, because it has gotten so dirty.  So I'm jotting this down quickly so I can get back to cleaning before I go to work at the library.

At the library, I am in charge of planning and implementing our annual Summer Reading Program for toddler age patrons on up to 8th grade.  It's not always easy to find activities that will please that wide of an age range.  So we are planning a few for each age, and hopefully I'll have enough volunteers to keep the kids busy.

Ok. Better get back at it.  Have a nice day everyone!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What to Do First?

Your loved one just died.  What do you do first?  
The first thing we did, was go to her house, to see for ourselves that she was gone.  The firemen were still battling the blaze, and her vehicles were still parked outside.  We watched, held each other and cried.

After one of the firemen came to tell us that her body could be seen but they couldn't get to it yet, we went to a friend and neighbor's house to call home.  Since it was about 5 o'clock in the morning, we weren't surprised to not get an answer.  Our sons, Josh and Jason, were both adults, and were usually up late at night, then slept in as long as possible on Sunday mornings.

We began straightening the house.  Partly as "busy work", something to keep our minds on something other than reality, and party because we knew as soon as the word got out, we would be deluged by caring neighbors and family.  And we were.  All that day, we had food, paper plates and plastic silverware, cards, money, and lots of hugs and words of comfort.  For the next 5 days, we took in more food than we could possibly eat, so we farmed some of it out to neighbors and family.

Some things to keep in mind, once you have lost someone, especially in a sudden manner:

Don't do anything that takes concentration.  You won't have it.  You are in shock.  Everything is surreal.  You see people moving around you, talking to you, but don't expect to comprehend fully what they are saying, because your mind is not on their words. 

Don't make any big changes in your life.  You've already had the biggest change you could ever imagine. You will need to make funeral arrangements, and those will be incredibly hard if the loved one hasn't already made known their wishes.  They will be asking you to select a casket, or do you want cremation? What scripture readings do you want to use?  Our minds were blank.  The funeral home director helped us with some of these decisions, but later, we wished we had chosen different songs.

If the loved one had a house, don't sell it or make any quick decisions about it.  You will think differently after you have had time to think about it. If there are many pictures of the loved one, try to make a collage or a video with photos that show the loved one's personality and special memories.

Be prepared to write a lot of thank you notes.  Keep track of the gifts and donors, so you can write more personalized thank yous later. 

Eat. Drink plenty of fluids, preferably non-alcoholic. You will need your strength for the upcoming onslaught of well-wishers and the funeral. 

Plan what  you will wear to the funeral and any other services.  Don't wait until the last minute.

Lean on friends and family.  Let them help you.  Don't let your pride get in the way of your sensibilities.  People want to help.  Some will give money, some will help cook, others will drive you to appointments.  This is their way of coping with their loss, too.  You are not the only person affected by the loss of this person. 

Don't exclude the children in the family.  They may not fully understand what is going on, but they have excellent sensors for distress and anxiety.  They will know something is not right and will ask questions.  If they are too young to talk, they may be fussy and cry.  If you find yourself short on patience, let them stay with family or friends until you can get a grip on your own emotions.

I started a scrapbook of sympathy cards, photos, and mementos of Teresa's life. It was a bittersweet project and I shed tears, but it also comforted me.  It was the first of many "projects" that I used to comfort myself. 

When I am feeling strong emotions, I write poetry or fiction stories, or letters to the person who brought on the emotions, including the lost loved one.  In this letter, you can express all the emotions you are feeling, whether it be rage sorrow or denial, or even acceptance, although the latter usually doesn't put in an appearance until much later.

Dennis planted rose bushes all around our yard, and maintained them as his "gift" to Teresa.  She loved roses and when someone was sad, or she wanted to express gratitude or love, she would give them roses.   We picked out a casket with roses on each corner.  

I will write more ideas in later posts.  If you are following the path of grieving a loved one, please accept my most sincere sorrow in your loss. Hang in there.  It takes a long while, but eventually, your life will find a new normal.  Nothing will be quite the same as before, but you will learn how to survive.

"If God brought you to it, He will bring you through it" has been my favorite axiom in the past 18 years.  I'm not sure of the original author, but he/she is very wise.  God Bless.
Our daughter, Teresa Marie, in her LPN graduation uniform, around 1998.

Monday, April 17, 2017

New Page: The Grieving Journey: How to Survive the Loss of a Loved One

After losing Teresa, I have seen so many friends and family struggling with their Grief Journeys.  I thought about writing a book about how we managed to get through ours, but writing a book takes an interminable amount of time, and our friends and family need the help now.

Therefore, I am starting by using my blog and adding a separate page to it to start my amateur grief counseling now.  With that in mind, I'd like to introduce my new Blogger page : 



As of now, I only have the introduction written, but hope to be adding several posts a week. Please be patient with me as I am still going through the grief stages myself intermittently.  Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed and have to back away from it for a day or two.  But I plan to write in here regularly and truly want to help others find their way back to a new normal and eventually some form of happiness once more.

God bless all of you who are struggling.  Don't feel alone.  Never feel that it is your fault, even though others may blame you.   If you have faith, lean on that, talk to your pastor. When those who offer to help, take them up on it. Don't feel guilty about doing so. Keep your mind open to new ideas.  Some of my ideas may seem a little outrageous at times.  Keep in mind, that coping mechanisms do work.

Keep on keeping on.
                                                                                                                                                                                       

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Teresa's 39th birthday tribute

Teresa, we miss you very much. I remember when you were born. Your dad held you in the hospital room and fell in love with you immediately. You were so tiny. less than 7 lbs. You were my tiniest baby. We looked you over and were mesmerized by your tiny toes and fingers, your dark hair..and so much of it! You were so beautiful.
You grew to be an adorable little girl. You were so much different than your sister, Becky. She was a girly girl. You were like a little tomboy. You loved sports and playing outside with the boys, even though they weren't always very welcoming. Who wants a baby sister tagging along, anyway. But that never deterred you. You found a way to fit in as best you could.
You were very accident prone. I remember a large plate glass window breaking and you received a nasty gash on your upper arm. You carried the scar from that the rest of your life.
On the school playground, in 4th grade, the teeter totter came down on your knee and gave you a 4 inch gash across the inner fleshy part of your knee. I don't even remember how many stitches it took to sew you up. I couldn't watch. Another scar for you to wear your entire short life.
As a teenager, you loved playing sports. Volleyball was one of your favorites. Every time I go to the Jr. High School I look for your name on that wall for your perfect serve game. We are so proud of you for that.
Basketball was another favorite for you. It was maybe a little harder for you, but you were aggressive and a good guard. We loved going to your games and watching you. You loved playing with the Francis kids. You messed up a leg playing there. It didn't keep you down long, though.
Softball was your favorite, though. Unfortunately, it was rather dangerous for you. One game, while we were in California, left you with a broken fibula. Surgery involving a plate and screws and then removal of the hardware left you with more scars on your leg.
You were independent, but needed help. You had a child while still in high school. No one could ever love a baby like you loved yours. You gave up on a lot of social activities and events to care for your child. She became your life. Grandpa and I tried to help as much as we could so you could have some social life. We all loved little Regan more than life.
We were proud of your studies to become a nurse. You were working full time, going to school, studying every evening while caring for Regan. I know it was so hard for you. But you wanted to do it. We were so proud when you took your State Board exams in Topeka. That was on February 15, 1999.
On the 20th, you stopped by the house to ask us to check out your furnace, because your pilot light kept blowing out. It was so dark outside that we asked you and Regan to stay with us. We promised to check it out that next day. You were angry when you left. If we had only known that would be the last time we would see you...ever.
The phone call at 4 a.m. woke us up. We immediately got up and headed to Clyde. We could see the orange glow in the sky and dreaded to see what we knew was coming.
The fire department was struggling to get inside the house because the flames were so high and so strong. Their equipment was malfunctioning. But it was too late, anyway. When they came to tell us they had seen your body through the bathroom window, they had tears in their eyes.
We drove home, woke your brothers and told them what had happened. They drove over to see for themselves what they could hardly believe. We prepared for the onslaught of well-meaning family, friends, and neighbors we knew would be coming to our home. We called Becky, who was with Rusty in Colorado. It was one of the saddest days of our lives.
We buried you on my dad's birthday. I took off about 3 weeks from work. We were busy that entire time, writing thank you notes and cataloging all the cards and gifts. Becky told Regan about her Mommy going to Heaven. Regan, in her 3 year old innocence, told Becky that it was ok that Mommy's in Heaven, because that's where the doggies are. She had just wanted All Dogs Go To Heaven.
Your short life was a blessing to us. We are so proud of you, and we cherish your daughter and now your granddaughter. I think you would like Tim, Regan's husband. And I know you are watching over all of them and us. Thank you, Teresa. God bless you and keep you. We love you. Mom.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Loving and Patient? Who, Me?

BRRRR!!!  The thermometer reads 39 degrees right now, but it feels like about 10 degrees.  The air is moist and rain is predicted.  This house is drafty.  The windows don't fit quite right lately.  I wonder if all the earthquakes we've had made the house settle?  Or is it just old houses settling like they normally do?  Either way, it is very inconvenient.

It's just me and the two dogs tonight.  Dennis rode with Becky to a ballgame our granddaughter is playing in.  We had talked about going out for supper, but Karsyn comes first.  I had bedding in the washing machine, and I've been fighting off a cold, so I'm remaking the bed, then I'll climb in and enjoy a good book.  I don't get a chance to do that very often.  Supper consisted of a cheese sandwich, peaches, a cup of yogurt (key lime pie flavor) and lemon pudding.  Quite a variety of flavors, but it was satisfying.

Sometimes I just enjoy being alone for a little while. I can always find something to do. I do enjoy having Dennis around since he retired.  Last night he made supper and this morning he fixed breakfast while I was in the shower.  He takes me out for meals and shopping several times a week.  He spoils me rotten.  

Yesterday, I was watching a video on Facebook.  I wanted to share it with Dennis.  He was watching a rerun of one of his favorite tv shows. I turned the volume up a little and turned the screen around so he could see it.  He reminded me that I need to use my earphones with the computer.  He wasn't interested in watching the video.  I confess I was a little peevish about it.  I didn't say anything, but I did glare at him, then put my earphones back on.   A while later, he asked me what he did to make me mad.  I told him that maybe I should get him some earphones  for the tv, so I wouldn't have to hear it.  He replied "but you are using the computer."  He missed the whole point.  Oh well!

We get along very well.  Sometimes I get irritated when I have to pick up after him, or if he criticizes my cooking, which doesn't happen very often at all. Sometimes I get frustrated because I have different ideas about how to spend our money, what little we have.  But I try to stifle the urge to be nagging and critical of him.  Why?

Because I don't know how long I'll have him around, and I don't want to spend the time we have left fighting.  His cancer is in remission so far.  But the cells are still there. His cardiac doctors say his heart is in good shape since  he had his bypasses.   The diabetes is a constant struggle for him, and he gets so frustrated because even when he eats very little at all, his sugars stay out of the normal range.  He is terrified that the surgeons will have to start amputating limbs.  He has enough on his plate.

So, I will continue to love him, and try to keep him happy as I can. No one is more generous than Dennis Barnes.  He is a soft touch for sick and abused children, and animals.  We give to several charities on a monthly basis.  We support veterans' organizations, children's hospitals, and other charities, as well as the Church.  We'll never have much money, but we can sleep at night.

Love is not unkind. It is never selfish. It serves to protect, not imprison. Let me be perfect in my love. Amen.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year, New Beginnings

Yesterday, January 1, 2017, we began a new year.  With the new year, we get a chance to make new beginnings, continue that which works, and eliminate that which doesn't.  So I'm thinking about which way I need to go from this point onward.

No, I'm not planning on getting a divorce, or quitting my job.  I love my husband, and I love my job.  In fact, today is our forty-sixth wedding anniversary.  Our relationship is stronger than it ever was.  Rather, I'm trying to decide what priorities to set in my life from this point forward.

One of my resolutions is to get my house back into shape.  Since we closed our store "Eagles Nest Boutique", I brought a lot of the unsold merchandise home with me, and it is stashed all around the house.  I want to make a concentrated effort to find homes for most of it.  A yard sale may be in the future.

I have not been working on my art or my writing much at all in the past year.  I hope to renew my interests in both.  I have family who are asking why I never paint anymore.  They looked forward to seeing new paintings and drawings.  My house is so small that there doesn't seem to be much room to set up my paints and canvasses.  Perhaps once I get rid of the store stuff, I will have a little more room for my art.

My writing has also been neglected.  I have a novel that is almost finished in rough draft.  It is time to finish that rough draft and start editing it.  Then I can see about publishing options.  Space is not the problem here.  It's motivation and concentration.   I am resolving to start writing almost daily this year.  It might be on this blog, it might be newspaper articles for the library, or it might be short stories, or my novel.  I want to write some books for toddlers too.  

I want to work on improving my health this year too.  I need to walk more.  Back pain has been a huge issue for me in the past few years.  If I keep getting the back injections that are so helpful, I may be able to get back to walking short distances again.  I would love that--to be able to go for walks with Dennis, to ride bicycles with my granddaughters, to be able to shop with my daughter.  I'm praying for a little relief for my back so I can renew my exercise routines.

I want to do a great job at the library. I've not heard any complaints, but there are aspects of the job where I know I haven't been able to achieve much progress.  I want to change that.  I have so many displays I want to make, programs I want to initiate, housekeeping chores that need done, and so much more.

I want to be able to divide my time between family, job, and work, while maintaining some equilibrium.  I want to keep my faith in God as a priority, and find ways to serve Him more selflessly. 

The above resolutions are achievable, if I keep my priorities straight.  If I stop wasting time on Facebook games, or at least keep them to a minimum.  I'm going to print out my resolutions on a poster, and place it on my computer desk.  I'll enlist Dennis to remind me of my family priorities.  The library board has already listed priorities for me, and our board meetings help to enforce them.

Lastly, I'd love to wish all my readers, family and friends a very happy New Year, and I wish the coming year to be safe, healthy and full of wonderful experiences and faith.

Happy New Year!