Eliminating ghosts

I had given Kim’s phone to my granddaughter after clearing its contents. Vanessa, being a nine-year-old kid, immediately started sending texts to her aunts and uncles which, of course, since the entry remained in their Contacts list, came from Kim. After the initial shock, they were angry at Vanessa.

Rather than maintain an unused phone number as a memorial, I fell upon the solution by which I would change the numbers between the cellular-enabled iPad I gave Kim for Christmas many years ago and the phone. Since iPads cannot place calls and they text (from what I can tell) through their associated Apple ID rather than via the phone number, this would alleviate the issue. Reviewing Verizon’s site, I found the I had the ability to swap numbers between devices on the same account via a few mouse clicks.

Sweet! So I did it. Not so sweet.

The end result was that the iPhone could not place or receive calls (or anything else, from what I could tell), so a call was made to Verizon support via their horrible robotic operator. After about an hour and a half, and having to swap SIM cards back and forth, the tier 2 technician I was working with got the issue resolved, and Kim’s number will be silent until the day I pull the plug on the iPad. Minor disaster averted. And once again, I have to give Verizon’s support team kudos for friendliness, knowledge, professionalism, and “stick-to-it-ive-ness” – but I truly hope I don’t have to call them again anytime soon.

Last night was another oddly sleepless night. Unlike the last time, I didn’t pop awake with things on my mind – they were there when I went to bed and wouldn’t turn me loose. Thoughts ranging from an unfortunate display of immaturity my freshman year in high school (Sorry, JaNele – you deserved a better response than what I gave. It’s 44 years late, but I do apologize.), to more modern incidents and concerns. The ol’ sleep monitor showed it, too – the first night logging under 50% “restful sleep” since I started using the thing. These episodes are not frequent, but they’re somewhat unpredictable – and I’m not a big fan of unpredictability.

Feeding into this one is, of course, the phone/iPad debacle, but I also received a new laptop for work – the provisioning of which is always a rare treat! I always forget to export the VBA programs that I write to drive a lot of my efficiencies and end up having to rewrite them (which isn’t very efficient). That, and reconnecting files with their programs is a rare treat, too. Finally, the new laptop smoked my primary flash drive and, though I’m an apostle of frequent backups, I hadn’t backed it up all through Kim’s ordeal. I have recovered the files from it, but the utility I use recovers veritably EVERY file stub on the drive, so there’s a lot of sorting, testing, and cleaning up going on – all during that happy time we prepare to be fiscally eviscerated by the IRS…

And that, too, will be a new adventure, just as the 1989 tax year, the year Kim and I married, was. For the last 30 days of 2020, I guess I’m a “qualified widower,” instead of the “married” man I was for the last two days of 1989.

Sigh. At least it keeps me busy.

What does not kill us…

Lots going on

Sometimes you have one of those days that everything seems to happen at once. Today is one of those days. Sometimes on those days, certain aspects just “come together” for you. It was one of those days, too!

I’m still wrapping up some of the financial issues that come about when your spouse passes away. That activity sometimes requires notary service. Ordinarily, you just pop into your bank or credit union,. and request it – not so in the age of COVID: you have to make an appointment to get it done. So, I had that.

For better than a month, I’ve been planning to send some Kowalski natural casing hot dogs east to my sister – apparently, they can’t get them there. The document I needed to notarize also needed to be next-day shipped via UPS, prepaid.

I had vetibular therapy today, and it is right next to the grocery store where I have been unsuccessful for the past several weeks in getting some dry ice to pack the hot dogs in. They had it today.

All of that, plus my normal work schedule, literally consumed the day from early morning until 3:30 pm.

My trusty iPhone 8 plus has ballistically met the floor too many times and is beginning to fail in ways beyond what I can tolerate, so I bit the bullet Monday and bought a replacement for it. THAT arrived today, so a major swath of the day was consumed in prepping for its use. iPhones are a bit notorious for giving issues transferring your photos to a pc. Mine decided to follow this route. More time consumed parsing the photo and video files to determine which one was causing the file error every time I tried to copy them over.

I bought a roast Saturday with the intent of making the kids a batch of jerky. It’s Wednesday, so that had to be done.

Finally, if you haven’t noticed in any of my writings, I’m a wee bit on the religious side. Tonight started an online bible study on the gospels of Mark – my first, true bible study since the 80s when I had temporarily walked away from the Catholic church.

That’s a lot of activity packed into one day.

Add to this that the mother of my friend is having complications after surgery, and my own mother was taken to St. Joe’s with what appears to be a repeat of an infection that devastated her in September…

When it rains it definitely pours.

All of this gave me little time to think about Kim, though I managed to do so, anyway. Certain happy, and certain melancholy remembrances surfaced. But, I have to say that I think happy recollections outnumbered the sad today. I think that’s a first since she passed.

Do I think I’m not going to have empty, lonely, sad, sad, sad days in the future? Certainly not. Do I think I’m making progress in my growth and healing? Most definitely. And to what do I credit this? I think writing of my experiences helps me – even some of the mundane stuff, like how busy today was. Moreso, I think my involvement in the Widowers Support Network contributes as well. It’s a place that I can talk about the things that are bothering me and get the perspective of a couple thousand other widowers in various stages of grief – but it’s also a place where I can give others my perspective; where I can try to console others – and I think it’s that last bit that helps me more than any other.

I’m no fan of facebook, but if you are a widower, I highly recommend this group. Search for Widowers Support Network – Members Only. It is primarily for widowers, but they also invite men who are the caregivers of their terminally-ill spouse. Frankly, I don’t think I would have found the time to interact with them when I was Kim’s caregiver; however, I sure could have used their support at the time. Check them out.

Getting out

Today conspired to drag me back to normalcy. Or I did.

Leaving the house literally takes effort. All things held equal, I would be content to sit at home, working on whatever needs working on. Generally, when I go out, I have my youngest, Jillian, for emotional support. She likes to get out and gives me the incentive to move my butt out the door.

Some things don’t seem to take effort – doctors appointments, “vestibular therapy” appointments – but the mundane…. it takes effort to go out for those things.

So, I went to see my mom. All by myself. I’ve done it before since Kim’s passing, but it didn’t end well – a few of my grand nephews and nieces, the oldest among them about 7, were visiting her, and they were kicking their heels up a bit. The noise and activity caused INCREDIBLE anxiety, and I had to leave. I couldn’t take it. This was two weeks after Kim’s funeral, and I guess it was to be expected, but I don’t think I’ve been to see mom without Jillian at my side since. This week, Jillian had something to get done for her pageants, and I had to go by myself. And I did. And had a good visit.

This done, Phase 2 of my day went into play: getting to confession. I like to go on the first Saturday when I can, but I missed the first Saturday in January for whatever reason. I felt I needed to go, so I did. It wasn’t the usual priest, whom I like very much, but a very affable older priest who made a conversation out of the experience. I very much enjoyed talking to him, and, knowing that I was grieving, he gave me some very compassionate and helpful advice on my progress through my grief, and advice to not beat myself up too much over the things I’d done that were troubling me.

Then, the big one: trying to “fix” our Sam’s Club membership. Kim had the master membership, so I needed to put the master in my name. I grabbed both of our cards and a death certificate, girded my loins, and made my way there. We were unsuccessful, the service desk attendant and I, because Kim had the membership tied to a credit card, and had it set for auto-renew, so I need to get ahold of the credit card company before trying again – but, unsuccessful or not: I did it! I made the effort! One small step for me…

Finally, I stopped in at one of Kim’s favorite haunts – one of the last stores we went to together before she just couldn’t go out anymore: JoAnn Fabrics. There, I picked up some artificial flowers and some ribbon to make her a birthday bouquet to place on her grave. Jillian and I will place it after mass tomorrow. Her birthday is Monday.

I’ll never be a florist. Or a ribbon-tier…

Anyone reading this in the Canton, MI area who would like to attend: the 9:00 am mass Monday is being offered in her memory at St. Thomas a’Beckett.

Busy day.

From end to end, this was a pretty busy day. Besides my usual day of “work from home,” I had the added task of the exercises given me by the physical therapist yesterday. And I opted to make a fresh loaf of Italian bread to go with the chicken noodle soup I had planned for dinner – using the remains of the rotisserie chicken we had yesterday. After dinner, I finished the installation of the sink I started replacing Sunday in the kids’ bathroom. The old one was porcelain over metal, so the overflow was bare metal inside. After over 30 years: rusted out. And it was Garbage Day – a weekly holiday where I get to purge all the garbage that has built up during the week, as well as get rid of some of the “I can fix thats” that have accumulated around the house over the past 30 years.

The sink. I’d swear sometimes this house was built as a first-time VoTech project by some high school kids with limited supervision. There is absolutely no compliance in the drain plumbing for that sink. I put the sink in place Sunday afternoon, originally planning to let the adhesive caulk cure overnight, and finish it on Monday. Best laid plans, and all that. Here it is Wednesday. In any case, the adhesive caulk is nicely cured, and no chance of the sink slipping around as I connect the plumbing. The tailpiece is just about 1/4″ off-center to the PVC plumbing kludged together by the high school kids, but it’s plastic, and there is a fairly large and compliant rubber doughnut between it and the bottom of the sink. Should be a piece of cake.

Nope. The tailpiece tilted enough to allow water to bypass and drip down the side of it.

Ordinarily, I would have had few qualms about taking some measurements, running up to Home Depot, and putting together a collection of PVC fittings that would make it work. Ordinarily. There hasn’t been “ordinarily” since early 2020. All I wanted was for this task to be done. So I took it apart, packed more putty onto the top of the tailpiece, threaded it back on, and then strong-armed the fittings together and wrenched on that tailpiece until the drips stopped. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll hit some of the PVC with the heat gun to “relax” the set-up a bit. Maybe not. I guess it will be good enough since I’ll likely be ripping that bathroom out and replacing everything within the next few years, anyway. 1970s Harvest Gold is hard to find replacement parts for these days… Plus, I’d like to redo all that plumbing so that it at least LOOKS planned.

What does this have to do with life after my darling Kim? A few things, I guess. One, I don’t have my help-mate anymore. She wouldn’t have been shoulder-to-shoulder with me under the sink, but she’d be there to hand me this or hand me that. And she loved going to Home Depot with me to look at different things and dream of them in our home while I sorted through the aisles for whatever I needed to complete the current project at hand. She called them our “Home Depot Dates”, telling the kids “I’m going with your dad on a date to Home Depot.” It all started maybe 16 or so years ago while out on our wedding anniversary date, I asked if it would be OK if we stopped at Home Depot to look at something first. The trips were never a big deal, and we rarely came home with one of those dream items, but it was one of “our things”.

Making dinner, she’d be there telling me how good it smelled, or filling the role of guinea pig for the first taste of some new concoction I’d have dreamed up. Or she’d simply slip in behind me and give me a big hug around the waist laying her head against my shoulder as I worked at the sink. I always loved those hugs, but I never appreciated them the way I do now that I no longer get them.

Even sitting at my “work-from-home” workstation, she’d come up from behind and give me a hug and a kiss on the cheek while I was in meetings. She called it “harassing me.”

I guess we hugged a lot. Nothing wrong with that. If you’re reading this, take my advice: go find your significant other and give them a hug. Relish it. Relish every one. Store them up. Because honestly: you never know when that hug you just gave or received may be the last. Shoot: give them a kiss, too. The same goes for kisses.