Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Survival Mode Update

On Monday, I went to two food pantries in the area and was able to stock up on enough provisions to get us through to "payday." It was a "good day" at the food banks. Some days are better than others and there isn't enough food to pass out. They urged me to take as much as the day old bread they had and there was a package of honey wheat bagels, strawberry pastry puffs and chocolate muffins besides. I was thrilled with the three pound chub of ground turkey I got because that alone would have gotten us through the week.

What I was most thankful for was that I actually got a package of shredded cheddar cheese - usually fresh goods aren't available. Also, I was given two gift cards for $10.00 each for a local food store that has a gas station. That means my son will have enough gas to drive to his volleyball tournament this weekend.

I was so grateful - so far everything was being covered except some extra money needed for gas for my car and for some fresh items from the grocery store - milk, margarine, etc. Last night, in going through old papers from the storage shed I came across an unused gift card from Target with a $20.00 balance. So today I will get the needed milk. Still need to come up with about $5.00 for gas for me. And I need the money to do laundry. I've taken to making due with whatever is clean in my closet - I'm no longer dressing for fashion and doing the laundry for the boys since they get so dirty playing sports.

I broke down and called my girlfriend and just left a message asking her if I could do a few loads at her home in the next two days. I hate asking for anything but at this point don't seem to have a choice. And I do feel better asking her for a service favor rather than money.

I remain hopeful that a few dollars will pop up so I can put some gas in my little sedan. So far we are limping along. But it is difficult and takes a lot out of me emotionally. To live on the edge like this is a stressful challenge. I'll provide another update later in the week and if you want to see an account of what I received at the food pantries, I will be listing that at my other blog: Plunged Into Poverty. For now, I'm trying to somewhat keep my grief and life of reduced circumstances separate in my blogs, even though there is some overlapping among the two situations.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Real Survival Mode

In the past, when my husband was alive, baseball was the most important part of our lives. He and I coached our sons on two teams together. When we were out at a game, I'd look around with joy and happiness. My family was with me, my husband and I involved and active parents - our boys athletic and talented. There was always a game, usually a double-header or a tournament on Father's Day. And afterward, we'd stop at an inexpensive restaurant for dinner and the staff would ask the boys how they'd done. Usually, they'd proudly admit that the game had been won. But those days and feelings are in the past.

Today, my oldest was off at 6:30 a.m. for a volleyball tournament. While the youngest and I got ready to go to their baseball game, I realized that the oldest had driven off with all the baseball equipment in the van. There were a few panicked moments while we all clamored to figure out what to do. I would have driven out of my way to another town to get the baseball bag but my son was allowed to leave the volleyball tournament early since there was an excess of players.

So I got to see both the boys play baseball for the first time this year. My youngest is a stronger player and hit an outstanding triple that would have been a home run had there been a fence. He also had a pretty incredible double play while manning third, which got guys out at second and first. And made an amazing catch while in the left outfield. My oldest caught for much of the game and as I watched him jog out into the field could not stop thinking of how good looking and mature he is. Kind of a golden boy I thought as I saw him grin and make small talk with the coaches, players and umps.

I hoped my husband saw the game from above or maybe he was out on the field next to the boys. Maybe he ran with them as they headed for their bases. Maybe he leaped up beside my youngest when he made that great catch in left. I want to believe that he knows what fine young men his sons are despite the hardship they've faced.

We all bickered during the drive to the game. I took my little sedan to help save gas because the van seems to eat through it. I told the boys how tight we are until payday, the 29th for the nursing home check and the first for the pension. I recently had to pay over slightly over a $100.00 for the second payment due for the van's vehicle insurance and along with the end of the year school fees we are now flat broke. My oldest just kept telling me it is all my fault. The youngest chimed in from the back that is both our faults. I should not have allowed the oldest to play volleyball if we can't afford it and the oldest shouldn't pester me to give in. I didn't say anything to the oldest when he accused me of being at fault. What can I say? It is what it is. The bills caught up with me and overwhelmed me this month. The past few months there was too much due, the unexpected car repairs needed, the driver's ed fee owed for the youngest.

I was glad we all went to the game because afterward, the boys were worn out and pleased they had played so well. And I was a little more relaxed. I did my best to focus on the game and to try and not worry about finances. But I don't know how we're going to make it over a week without any money for food and gas. This is the lowest we've ever gone. Always before it has been tight but never this tight and for so long before pay day. I am scared out of my wits. I didn't like bickering with the boys in the car on the way to the game, but when you're facing financial stress as we are, the worry and upset has to come out in some way. I also don't like having to discuss financial matters with the boys but they are involved and I suppose they are old enough to know what is going on. I can't hide the fact that we are struggling as much as we are right now. Even with working, I couldn't make it this month.

I sat on the stands and listened to the inane conversation of the other moms - moms that no longer include me. Not that I care, really. We don't share much in common anymore. I listened to the one motor mouth mom talk about her trip this week to Disney in Florida with her parents and sister. Her sister is treating her, and her 14-year-old daughter to this vacation. She also blabbed about having just gotten a pedicure for her dog. So far this summer, no pedicure for me. And that means times are pretty tough because I usually get a pedicure no matter what for the summer. All married moms and I looked at their average, balding, husbands, some with pot bellies and felt those familiar waves of envy and sorrow at what my life has become. These women haven't experienced even a fraction of the hardship we've faced. And to have to be sitting on the same bleachers with them and listen to their petty concerns is almost too much to bear at times. I'll have to see if I can sit at a distance from them so I don't have to listen to their drivel the next time.

Then, a mom came up and the conversation shifted to the storms we've had the past few days. Some people in the area lost power for a day, as had this mom. She talked about having to clear out her freezer and made the comment, "You just go into survival mode at a time like that." I was incredulous. "Survival mode?" She was describing a relatively minor power outage as having to go into survival mode? She with her strong, gainfully employed husband safely at work bringing in a decent paycheck so she doesn't have to go out to work outside the home. She who has a lovely, historic home to reside in. I was tempted to tell her and the other moms what going into survival mode really is. It is what I will be facing the next week without enough money for gas or food for my sons. Already we are so sick of peanut butter and mac & cheese. I have no idea how I will figure out how to get gas for the week. I already talked to the boys about their needing to get rides from friends. That ladies, is what the real survival mode is for some of us. Those you pretend not to notice sitting next to you in the stands. I figure that $30.00 is probably what it would take to get through the week - enough money for gas and a few food essentials. Just $30.00! Not a great amount when you think about it. But here's a widowed mom who can't even scrape that up.

To survive the next week will be a true testament of my creativity and resilience. That is the real survival mode. Not the example given by this taken care of middle-aged mom, whom I'm sure has over $30.00 in her checking account and/or family and friends to come to her assistance if she needed it. Some of us believe it or not don't have $30.00 to our name or the means in which to get it even to feed our children.

A sad and bittersweet Father's Day as all these days during this period seem to be. As I sat watching the boys I was certainly sad to reflect on how low we have fallen since the death of the boy's Dad and my husband. I would say today is the lowest point in my six and a half years of widowhood. But at the same time, there was happiness and joy as I watched the boys play together.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Not Tempting Fate

To say I became more cautious after my husband's death would be an understatement. It was about a year before I would let anyone else give my boys a car ride. I was under the deluded assumption that I could somehow control my own destiny and I wanted assurance that if anything was going to happen, it would to all of us at the same time.

Today I take the back roads to avoid highway traffic and the semi trucks that scare me when they roar past. I drive the speed limit or only go a bit above when I'm on the road long distance. Locks and the stove are double checked. No longer do I take any chances. I know too well that the unexpected bad fluke can happen. I also realize that I can't protect myself from every calamity, but I sure make an effort to do what I can.

This is one of the reasons I've probably not done so well at the nursing home job. I don't take chances with the residents under my care and I play by the rules. We were told in my training that a spotter is needed whenever using a mechanical lift with a resident. But to track down another CNA who is available to help takes time - sometimes up to 15 to 30 minutes. The old timer CNAs just use the lifts by themselves. They save time and their own skin. But not necessarily the residents' health or safety.

Early on, there was a mishap with one of the lifts - the switch wouldn't shut off and kept going. At the time, I was being assisted by another new CNA and our resident was a 300 pound woman, with a paralyzed left side due to a stroke. We managed to get the woman safely to the ground where she lay until another lift could be obtained to get her up. It was scary and very worrisome. The resident ended up on the floor for 30 minutes while arrangements were made as to how to best "rescue" her. We'd been told that if such an incident happened like that and we were operating the lift alone, we'd be immediately terminated. Also, there is the grave concern of actually injuring someone and then as a result losing our CNA certification, not to mention possible injury/neglect charges.

So, I never took the risk. For myself but most importantly, the residents I was caring for. I think that some of it comes from my husband's death. I can't take chances anymore and I won't, even if it comes at my expense. No use pushing fate. I wonder about the other CNAs though. Their carelessness and disregard for the helpless residents in their care. I guess it is easier to be confident and cocky that nothing bad will happen when you haven't suffered a loss or losses. I can only assume that others don't think about it because it isn't on their minds. It doesn't exist within the realm of possibility. Or if they do think about it, they can quickly dismiss the worries of something going wrong. But I think for the most part that people just don't think about bad things happening. And it is easier to not think about them if you haven't experienced loss.

We become different people after our loved ones die. We don't think or act in the same ways. It is sometimes hard to fit into a world where perceptions haven't changed as ours have. I'd like to believe that I am a more caring and introspective person than I was before. But it can end up being a hindrance when we're interacting in a world that isn't the same for us anymore, or dealing with people that don't think like we do.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

When Your Best Isn't Good Enough

What happens when your best isn't good enough? Didn't all of us learn that growing up? "Just do your best, that's all we can ask/expect of you." "If you do your best, you can be satisfied with your performance." Well, I guess that notion is a bunch of bunk when you're a widow. When did all these rules/beliefs change?

At work the other day, a resident complained to me because of the time it took me to get to him in the morning. I had 16 demanding residents that day and was not having an easy time of it. That group of residents is one of the two most difficult in the nursing home. I told the man that "I was doing my best." He said, "Then your best isn't good enough."

These words really stung me and I've thought about them since. What happens when your best isn't good enough? What does that mean? Am I a failure? Worthless?

The nursing home job bears such similar aspects to my widowhood life. It's a tough, challenging, tiring job and when I'm there I sometimes feel as though I'll never get the job done. I get behind and have trouble keeping up. Obviously I need to get a new job asap. And if I could, I would give my notice immediately but we need the money I am earning there too much in the meantime. I get home after working 9 hours on my feet and am so physically exhausted I can barely walk. On my days off I do my best to tend to the shopping, cooking and such.

I have trouble keeping it all together at home. It feels as though I am never caught up. But I'm trying my best and my hardest. And I still can't make it. So I repeat that question again. What if your best isn't good enough?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Victim Rebuttal

Throughout my widowhood I have heard this constant refrain: "Stop complaining, get a grip, don't be a victim, refuse to be a victim of your circumstances..." That word "victim." Why are people so quick to jump and assume I think of myself as one? Yes, there are times I gripe and feel sorry for myself. But then I stew awhile, drink a glass of wine, go to bed, wake up and face the next day. How is my complaining about my life as a widowed mom any worse than a married mom complaining about her life? It is human nature for all of us to complain at times. Why do the poor widows get slammed and told to buck up and deal with it? No one ever spoke to me in this way when I was still married. Why do people feel they can criticize me for what I have and haven't done and then still have the nerve to tell me to stop playing the victim?

The widowed are victims! Why is it so hard for people to accept that. Here is the definition of a victim: "a person cheated, fooled, or damaged whether by someone else or by some impersonal force." Now the few widows I've come to know (mostly through blogging) have all been pretty normal, decent people living average lives. No one was out having affairs or robbing banks. Just trying to live full lives with their spouses and children. And then through no fault of their own (damn unfortunate circumstances), these good people suffered the calamity of life when their spouses died. According to that definition, seems like it fits for being a victim. People cheated and damaged by an impersonal force.

I relate the details of my life through this blog not to play the victim but to give a depiction of how a normal formally middle-class mom is living her new life as a widow. Sympathy rather than condemnation would of course be preferred. This rendition of my life is not some pity party fest. Sometimes when I look back and read about my life I do feel compassion for how I'm living and what I've lived through. It is the same sense of sympathy I'd feel for a victim of a natural disaster who has lost everything and picked up stakes moving to a new area, forced to restart their life. These folks are victims and so are widows. Victim is not a bad word. It is a description.

Yes, I believe someone can proudly hold up their head and say, "I'm a victim of some hard circumstances but that doesn't mean I'm giving up." I think you can be strong and a victim at the same time. Why do people want to take our past away from us? Widowhood and victimization go hand in hand. By telling us not to be victims, what does that end up doing to us? What is the message? That we're somehow responsible for our lives. That we brought this hardship upon us.

How we move on with our lives as widows is in our control. But what brought us to our knees was not. Admitting that I feel sad, depressed, lonely and scared doesn't mean I am submitting to a victim mentality. Saying I feel I was dealt a raw hand and I'm angry and envious of others better off than I am doesn't make me a victim either. I am a victim of widowhood - it is my reality. And I don't want to have to apologize or make excuses to others about it. Nor do I have to hide my grief or other feelings.

As a widow I've felt attacked from all directions - I shouldn't grieve so much or so long. I should or shouldn't have parented the way I did. I made the wrong decisions and that is what led me to where I am. I need to be stronger and get myself off the floor. I should be more grateful for all that I do have in my life, blah, blah, blah. And I've been accused of playing the victim. I think most widows out here are doing the best we can with the resources we have available to us. Maybe the solution should be less focused on pointing fingers and labeling and more focused on acknowledging what is being accomplished is lieu of what isn't. Criticizing me for being a victim doesn't change my circumstances or reality. Nor does it provide motivation. But it does make me feel more of a failure for not being able to overcome my adversity fast or good enough. I am a victim. Don't make me feel bad and guilty about that too.

Anyway, when did it become such a crime to be considered a victim in our society? And when did it become acceptable for people to point their fingers and tell people to stop being victims? Widowhood has put me on the defensive where I feel I am constantly under a microscope being judged for my thoughts, feelings and behavior. There is something very disconcerting about this. And whatever I end up saying or doing doesn't seem to make much difference to others, especially those pointing fingers. What is interesting about all this is that I think my life would still be where it is now regardless of how I'd viewed myself - victim or survivor. And the thing is, I think that is how I do view myself. As a combination of both.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

To Hell and Back

I felt such a connection to the widowed mom, Deb, portrayed in last night's episode of "Losing It With Jillian." She is in my age group (54), with two kids (a boy and girl, 10 and 12), and her husband has been gone almost six years. At the start of the show she tearfully moans that she is so tired (exhausted really), has nothing left to give (especially to herself), always has to do everything by herself, and feels so alone - all aspects that I cover on a regular basis in this blog. To hear another widowed mom say and relate those same powerful laments reduced my isolation and discontent for a brief period. I didn't feel so alone or so crazy or weak or like I'm a constant complainer. I'm a tired widowed mom struggling to make ends meet just like Deb. I'm not the only one. There is another widowed mom out there who leaves her dishes in the sink too!

There were some differences in our stories. Deb's kids are younger than mine and were only four and six when their dad died compared to my sons being nine and ten. She has a daughter whom she has relied on to fill some of the emotional void. Part of the show dealt with easing this burden off the daughter. I thought about how I have gone the other way in trying to protect my sons' childhoods as much as possible to the extent that I take on too much and just can't do it all by myself. I figure the widowed are doomed no matter what we do. We'll be criticized if we ask the kids to pick up the slack and then we're criticized when we try to let them still be kids. It ends up all being a balance. The kids do need to step up to the plate more than kids living in a two-parent home. Simply based on what has happened to the family - the dad/husband has died. I've tried to protect my sons from having to face more pain. But it has come at a huge cost to me. So in the days ahead I'll work on demanding more of a family input from the guys.

When I worked as a counselor or in social services, I was extremely kind, gentle and empathic. I have always believed that you get more from honey than vinegar. I cringed when viewing Jillian's boot camp tactics. Both last night's and last week's families are dealing with grief issues in their pasts. I say lets tone it down some for people already in deep pain. But that's my opinion. I'd also recommend some therapy or counseling for these families. It is good to change from the outside in, but to change from the inside out doesn't just happen on its own. You have to work at it.

Deb's house was very cluttered with piles of stuff. In fact, I know someone with a bedroom that looks very similar to the one Deb was living in. Although I don't have the piles in our living area, I do have storage sheds filled to the brim. It looks like next week's episode is going to deal with that issue - and again, in the promo, the featured mom says she doesn't want to part with her stuff because she has already lost too much. There it is again - that word - LOSS.

I continue to hope that people watching last night's show felt empathy, compassion and gained some understanding about widowhood. It appears there is an underlying theme connecting these families - loss. Maybe there will be a greater comprehension for the havoc loss can play in our lives. I learned something about myself last night and I felt less alone. That's a pretty good combination.

Jillian told the Deb that she'd been to hell and back already. Now she needs to go on/move forward. While I understand what Jillian meant, I also felt she was just giving lip service. For some of us the hell doesn't cease. Financial worries, working, loneliness are mainstays of my life and Deb's. There was no mention of Deb having a love life and the family even admitted not engaging in many fun activities together as a family. I can totally relate to that. So I saw a bit of that can do, get over it attitude depicted. I'll counter that it's not that easy to just turn your collapsed life around. I think some viewers last night may have had the belief that Deb hadn't tired hard enough, or she'd let herself go. So not true!

Deb - My heart goes out to you as another mom who has walked in your shoes. I get you and I appreciate you. Your courage and strength inspire me to get up off the couch and try and improve my life too. If you can do it so can I!

There is no magic wand for widowed moms unless maybe we win the lottery and even that wouldn't be a total cure. Life is still hard and grueling. Deb losing 32 pounds doesn't take away the pain of not having her beloved husband here to be there for her and the kids. But it makes her physically healthier to face the road ahead. Thanks for sharing your story, Deb. You are amazing.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Two Songs, One Night

Saturday I watched a PBS special on Peter, Paul & Mary. It is a group that I grew up with but have since pretty much taken for granted. Seeing footage of the war demonstrations and March on Washington brought back a surge of memories. One of the facts that most impressed me that I didn't know was that Paul wrote "There is Love" (The Wedding Song) in honor of Peter's wedding. He felt that the song had been "given" to him to compose as a gift. Thus he never received any royalties for the song. He considered the song his gift to the world. Some kind of charitable trust was set up in lieu of the royalties. Now that just blew me away!

First of all, I'd forgotten how great the song is. The words to this verse especially hit me:

"Is it love that brings you here or love that brings you life?
For if love is the answer then who's the giving for?
Do you believe in something that you've never seen before?
Oh, there's love. There is love."

Hearing the song just reaffirmed all that I believe about love since my husband died. It is what brings us here and it is what brings us life. It is the answer and the reason. It's unseen power is the fuel of the world. I felt moved, motivated and inspired by this song. It was a gift to hear!

Later in the night, I started to watch Saturday Night Live which was a rerun from the 1/9/10 show. I'd already seen that show but something propelled me to watch it again. When I heard the song Alicia Keys sang I remembered being blown away back in January. I had made a mental note to get the CD but then forgot about it. Alicia sang "Sleeping With A Broken Heart" and if you haven't heard it, the lyrics relate so much to my widowed feelings of heartache.

"Even if you were a million miles away
I could still feel you in my bed
Near me, touch me, feel me

And even at the bottom of the sea
I could still hear inside my head
Telling me, touch me, feel me
And all the time, you were telling me lies

So tonight, I'm gonna find a way to make it without you
Tonight, I'm gonna find a way to make it without you
I'm gonna hold on to the time that we had
Tonight, I'm gonna find a way to make it without you

Have you ever tired sleeping with a broken heart?
Well, you could try sleeping in my bed
Lonely, own me, nobody ever shut it down like you

You wore the crown
You made my body feel heaven bound
Why don't you hold me, need me?
I thought you told me you'd never leave me

Looking at the sky, I can see your face
And then I know right where I fit in
Take me, make me, you know that I'll always be in love with you
Right 'til the end


Anybody could've told you right from the start it's 'bout to fall apart
So rather than hold on to a broken dream, I'll just hold on to love
And I can find a way to make it, don't hold on too tight
I'll make it without you tonight


I did a lot of crying on Saturday. Tears for the power of love I continue to believe in. And for the loss of loves and the sadness of sleeping with a broken heart. I was just stuck by the opposite continuum of these two emotions. Trying to remain hopeful that love will continue in my life, while grieving the loss of love. A knowing that I was meant to hear those songs on Saturday. To find consolation, solace and hope in them. To continue to believe in love. As Alicia so beautifully put, "I'm going to hold on to the time that we had." "So rather than hold on to a broken dream, I'll just hold on to love."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Love and Pie in the Sky

Just finished the book "Shelter Me" by Juliette Fay and have very conflicted feelings about it. As with most books about widowhood, either fiction or nonfiction, this one is about a young widow's FIRST YEAR following the freak accident death of her husband. Janie has a preschool son and baby daughter to solo parent. Here is the novel's main plot - Janie's husband had planned for a front porch to be built on their cape cod home as a gift to her. The building contractor shows up four months after her husband's death with the "surprise," unaware that Janie's husband had died. She decides to go ahead with the project and ends up falling in love with the builder AS WELL as her hot, sexy, troubled priest who has been making weekly grief house calls.

The crush on the priest doesn't go anywhere but the relationship with the builder progresses and by the end of the book, which looms on the one-year anniversary, Janie and the builder are a couple. Happy ending for everyone! And all tied up within that one-year grieving period.

But the fact of the matter is that I don't think Janie was really working through her grief, pain and loss. How could she when her emotions were tied up romantically with the priest and the contractor? Grief work takes such huge amounts of emotional energy. But so does falling in love and starting a relationship. Based on my own experience, I don't think the two are mutually compatible. So this part of the book wasn't believable to me. It would have been far more believable if it had occurred in the second year following the death of Janie's husband.

Did this author do any research or speak with real widows before and during the time she was writing this novel? Come to think of it, I wish there were more widows out there telling their stories about how they fell in love again. I want to hear it from a reliable source, not a fictionalized account by a woman still happily married who has not had to face the circumstances surrounding her main character.

I finished the book feeling more upset than revitalized and hopeful. Just another account depicting how we should have the pieces picked up and our lives restored (even our love lives) within that magical one-year period. During the first year I was so busy caring for my sons and trying to figure out how to navigate in a new world, there wasn't any time for even contemplating a new relationship much less starting one. That doesn't mean I wasn't lonely or missing sex/physical contact. I just had a whole heck of a lot on my plate that took priority over me dating or getting back out there.

I guess I need to remember that this is a work of fiction. But I remain serious about the request for more of the widowed community to get out there and share their stories of love and romance, including the successes and failures. I don't want pie in the sky but reality. I do want hope - but hope that is attainable because no hunky building contractor will be making house calls any time soon. And if there have been widows/ers who've found love again quickly, more power to you. But lets hear those stories too!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Teaching the Untouched

I saw the promo ads for the new series "Losing it With Jillian," a knock off of "The Biggest Loser." I've never watched The Biggest Loser but the ads for the new show caught my attention. Jillian goes to the homes of overweight families and moves in with them for a week. She helps them "restore" their unbalanced lives with healthy meals and menu planning, exercise and so on. In the ads, there appeared to be a family coping with the loss of the dad/husband. So I made a note of when the show started.

Tuesday's show did not depict this family but I was still glad I caught the episode. This was a working class family from the East, around Boston I believe. The daughter and dad had already gone through gastric bypass surgery with the daughter successfully keeping the weight off but not so for the dad. The mom was also overweight and the son interested in shaping up, although not as overweight as his parents. The daughter was getting married and the family all made 6-week goals for the wedding.

Having never seen The Biggest Loser, I wasn't prepared for the drill-like, boot camp tactics of Jillian. But even more surprising was the big family secret that came out in the hour. I was really impressed with this family and just fell in love with them because of the great family love and loyalty they shared with one another. It turns out that the first child born of this couple, a son, died only a month after birth. This became a taboo topic between the family but it was clear how the events of some 22 prior years had been literally destroying them.

The unresolved and unspoken grief that persisted over the years was evident and could be detected in the relationships the family members shared with one another as well as their overall family dynamic. There was some initial healing with the simple acknowledgment of the underlying pain. The family went on to make great strides in their overall fitness plans with the dad losing almost 50 pounds and the mom 30 within that short 6-week period. The wedding was absolutely beautiful and a fitting beginning for a new life for all of these truly lovely and courageous individuals.

I am curious what will be exposed on Tuesday's upcoming episode with the widowed mom. It appears that she is holding on to old belongings which I also struggle with (two storage sheds of my husband's and parent's old belongings). I am hoping to be inspired to break with the past and move onward into the future.

But more importantly, I hope one of the benefits of airing last week's show was that it helped those unaffected by grief to gain a little glimpse into the havoc and pain resulting from losses, even years following their occurrence. This family was very brave and did far more than become healthier themselves - they helped educate, they faced their albatross and hopefully inspired others to do the same, and they promoted sympathy toward those stuck by grief. The ramifications of their strength and courage pour out into the Universe.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Discount Shoes and Discounted Groceries

Yesterday was pay day - both with the pension check and my pay from the nursing home. My youngest asked for a new pair of shoes for the summer. He had seen a pair of canvas slip-ons for $20.00 at Payless when he was out with friends. I took him there after school. They had a buy-one-get-one-half-off sale and I suggested he also pick out a pair of sandals and he did (cost us another $10.00).

I felt so sad and yet strangely happy at the same time during the shoe store excursion. Sad that my son is only getting a $20.00 pair of shoes, from a discount shoe store no less. But then happy that he was so grateful and pleased with the shoes and that he got a bonus pair besides.

After our shopping (which with boys is pretty much in and out quickly), I dropped him off and went to the store for something for dinner. My oldest complained when I told him we were having turkey hot dogs. He said he'd eaten hot dogs all weekend, whenever he'd gone to one of his friend's houses - all the dads were grilling!

So, I hit the store I frequent to see if there was anything on sale that I could prepare as an alternative. As I've mentioned in other posts, this store sells meat and dairy products for half price when they are at the expiration code. Yesterday, they had some gourmet skillet meals (chicken and pasta) for just $3.00 and I picked up two for the boys because they looked especially hungry. They were excited having just gotten their practice football equipment for summer camp.

I came home and made the pasta along with bagged salad (99 cents from ALDI) and while I was cooking gave the boys French bread with artichoke/cheese spread. It was such a nice meal and I felt proud of myself for being able to feed the boys until they were full and do it on such a limited budget.

The boys wanted to watch "America's Got Talent," which we have never followed. While they were watching I served them strawberry shortcake, the ingredients I'd picked up to have over the holiday weekend. But I never made it because the boys were never home - busy with friends, marching in the parade, plus I worked this weekend. Just seeing the boys scarf down their meals with appreciation meant a lot to me. To give them a little extra with the bread and spread, to have dessert.

I felt good as a mom - that despite the financial hardships, there are glimmers of hope in a new pair of inexpensive shoes and a filling meal. I don't often feel this way, like I'm doing an adequate job since we always seem so lacking. But I did feel a sense of pride in my abilities to stretch out a dollar and again am reminded of how in the end, happiness doesn't come from the amount that is spent. I was able to provide for the boys beyond the mere basics - stomachs and hearts were content as we watched t.v. together as a family.