Saturday, July 30, 2011

A grey Saturday morning

It is now15 months since Di left us. Accommodation to that loss becomes a little easier, but still I find ways in which I used to rely on her for advice or agreement. For instance, I have decided to replace the siding on the house. Before, I would have asked Di about color choices, at the very least for confirmation. Now I have to decide for myself, and I have been very nervous about  making a wrong choice. But, as the siding goes up I am becoming more happy with my color choice. It town sin very well with the colors of  surrounding houses and does not stand out like a "sore thumb".   Now for the painter to paint the trim. I want also to replace the fence with a 4 foot iron fence, also. The workers have been very good, working out there in this awful 100+ temperatures. They have been well looked after. I keep a cooler full of ice and drinks just inside the back door, They can come in and refresh themselves whenever they want,  with electrolyte containing fluids, in this dangerous heat.

Choosing a new Dean is a much more complicated task than I had imagined. Probably now is the time to keep the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi in mind, rather than trying to go on ego or power trips. Love to all. Geoff

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The First Anniversary of DI's Death

The dreaded day has finally arrived.  I have concluded that it is a lot like a scheduled surgery date. the anticipation is a lot worse then the actual event. But it is ad ay to focus on the gift of love we all received from her - the giddy unquenchable love of youth, the steadfast giving love of early parenthood, the joyous, welcoming love of middle age and grandparenthood, the tender, companionate love of the later years. We remember your  courage, grace and nobility to the end, in the face of debilitating, fatal disease. We will all make it! Sooner or later, we will all feel joy in living again! For the moment, memories are still too fresh recent. A friend told me "You will know your grief work is done when ALL your memories are memories of celebration, rather than memories of sadness and loss".  Roll on that day!

I am determined to make this house and garden a beauty spot. You were so fond of the garden here, and together we made it.

You would be so sad to see your beloved Borders store shuttered by mismanagement, as are all your co-workers, there at the start up. Death and life are so commingled. "In the midst of life we are in death!"
Farewell, my love. We shall meet again. Love never dies!  Love, Geoff

Saturday, April 9, 2011

It's Saturday night

The Saturday night blues are with me again. The lilacs are ready to bloom again. That reminds me of last year when Di was in the nursing home, and could not see them. The one year anniversary is coming up fast. I believe it will be an EfM night. So, at least, I will not be alone.

Went to the COR Grief Support Group again the other night. A man was there whose wife had died very recently, after a long, long illness. When you go along for the first time and share your story, it always seems so bad, so awful and so unique. Nothing that bad could ever happen to someone else could it? One finds out rapidly that it can, and does. He, also, was experiencing the loneliness, and the loss of communication with his wife.

A middle aged friend told me recently that his wife had died suddenly at 36, when he was left with two young kids, now in college. He weathered all that, and now lives a very busy life, not remarried.  I am humbled by those experiences, and am full of admiration for the person who survives them. When the kids were young that was one thing I feared a lot. What would I do if Di had died suddenly? Fortunately we did not have to face that problem.

Inertia still has me in its grip and I do not have a lot of drive or interest. Bought some impatiens today to plant. Need to get that done before they die in the flat!  I pray for more energy and drive, so I can get things done in a timely manner. Always had a tendency to procrastinate, and achieved more against deadlines. But this is the worst I have ever been. Just listless and anergic.

Did put a lot of work in on my talk about "Understanding Diabetes", which seemed to go well. That kept me busy and feeling better. There have been a number of deaths in our development over the last two years. A former President of the Homeowners' Association here is dying. And the caring notes about him, from his family, bring back the exquisite agony of that last vigil.

But, I do consider myself a long way ahead of where I was last year, and feel that with the passage of another year I will be lots better still. The goal is to compartmentalize that past life with Di, in a safe place, where it can always be taken out and celebrated joyfully, but does not impinge so much on the present, where other business demands attention. Does that make sense? Love to all Dad/Geoff

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Last week was very busy - good in a way. It keeps me from ruminating. With all my activities at the Cathedral, I was down there almost every day, (or night) this week. Used up a lot of gasoline, and probably left a large carbon footprint. But for the first time in a few years, on Thursday night, I felt useful, and almost happy. Could it be that the heavy burden of grief is beginning to lift at last - at least for short periods? That would be nice.

Still working on my talk on Diabetes, trying to get that finished and refined. I really want people to learn something about this fascinating disease, and their part in handling the treatment of it. I badly want this to be a talk that makes people think, and not just a rote listing of details of treatment.

Tomorrow I need to set up a time for a college aged grandson to interview me, by phone, as a person who lived through World War II. Hope that will be interesting for both of us! Love and peace to all. Geoff/Dad

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A busy week

Being busy keeps me from thinking to much! Last Monday I had a dinner party for eight. The group worked well, and the conversation was very lively. Tuesday was EfM, and tonight I went to the Cathedral for an Interfaith Group Discussion, with  New York Rabbi, a local Baptist Seminary teacher, and a monk from Concepcion Abbey, speaking for Islam. The story was that the organizers were unable to get a local Imam.

But, at that meeting, I ran into Abbot Gregory Polen again. He is one off my all time  favorite people. Our paths first crossed when I was selected to be part of the Episcopal group, renegotiating a new   covenant with the Roman Catholic Cathedral, here in KC.  The previous one was abrogated by the new RC bishop, on his arrival.  The Abbott was one of the Catholic representatives on the committee, along with the local Monsignor, and a Jesuit priest from Georgetown,  Washington, with a very dry sense of humor, and a few RC lay people. The Abbot is a gentle person, very pleasant and easy to get along with. Later, after Dianne died,  I ran into him at a local Starbucks, in mufti, and he was very comforting. Tonight he asked me how I was doing, and the tears began to start to my eyes. He said. "That is no problem. I am very comfortable with tears. They often show just how much we loved." He is the kindest person.

Tomorrow night I have a Vestry Meeting at the cathedral,so have been running down town each night. At the same time I am trying to get my talk on Diabetes finished for my April 6th session. I am discovering what Di seemed to know intuitively. That is, if  you want to live life to the full, you must go out and meet the world, or invite the world in, or both. Grab life with both hands, and hang on! Love to you all.  Dad/Geoff

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ambushed again

Was almost at the Cathedral tonight, on the way to EfM, listening to 91.5 KANU classical music, when they began to play Bach's "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring", with trumpet on the chorale part, just as John Schaeffer had played it at Dianne's Memorial Service.  I was undone, but to a lesser extent than before.   In the parking lot, I sat there listening, after turning off the motor, looking out towards the area where Dianne's ashes were interred. Above that area, a beautiful, white star magnolia was blooming.  I was happy, and at peace with the fact that she was no longer suffering, paralyzed, and in pain. She put up a mighty effort to recover her health and function, but it was not to be.

We are almost at the end of the "firsts" - soon the first Easter without Di. On May 8th, the anniversary of her Memorial Service, we will  have done all "the firsts", and be glad they are over, and that we have all survived, to live on, with memories of her sustaining us all. There are so many fond memories of you my darling!  Be at peace! Love, Geoff

Friday, March 18, 2011

Visit to the Mayo Clinic

Have just returned form my visit to the Mayo Cliic, to check on renal functioning after renal artery stenting last Christmas. This was a bitter sweet journey, retracing the steps of the last, abortive trip up there with   Dianne. On that occasion her Hematologist/Oncologist told us there was little he could do for her. There was only some very expensive, "last ditch" medication, and blood transfusion. "There are no guarantees", he said. "This is simply all we have".

ON the way back I relived that last, nightmare night at the Holiday Inn, in Des Moines, IA,when she was so confused and in such terrible pain with huge mouth ulcers, due, in turn, to her very low white cell count. She could not eat any food I got for her, could only drink. She needed to be admitted to the hospital, bur I was afraid, that, if we admitted her up there she would die up there without any of her family around her. So, the next morning, I loaded her up in the car, strapped her in, packed up all the gear, including her wheelchair, gave her as much pain medication as I could, and we made a mad, non-stop dash for St. Luke's South ER, where Mark met us, and she was admitted. I suppose, in retrospect, I realized that that was the beginning of the end, though hope for recovery lingered almost to the last.  Just wished that I could  have "waved a magic wand" and make it all OK. To lose a patient is anathema for a physician. It is defeat on a grand scale. To lose a lover and a life's companion is the most superlative agony.

Today we were home by 3 pm.  After Pete left for his home and family, in Lawrence, I had to face this house, with no other living soul in it. I felt so sad I could just have sat and wailed like a baby. Instead I went to pick Ella up from the kennel. Her welcome was worthwhile. She is always looked after well there. By now, she has almost a personal relationship with the owner and trainer.

During the trip, and while in Rochester, Pete and I were able to exchange some of our feelings about grief for Di. All the kids tell of their sad feelings about the loss of communication with her. She was so supportive of them all, and their achievements. Her love was such a source of strength for all of us. We are almost bereft without it.

Well, now I know that my feeling bad has no biochemical basis It is just depression associated with grief. "Just depression"! I need to see  my clinical psychologist again, and get some constructive help. I am not     doing a great job on my own! I am sure Di would have handled all this so much better.  Love to all.  Geoff/Dad

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Of course!

In my blog thus far the attention has been mainly on my grief, - how bad I feel at losing Di.  This morning, during the Eucharist, I had a moment like Paul, on the road to Damascus.  Should not the focus be on Dianne? And should we not rejoice that she is now beyond further suffering, rather than be sad because she is not here??

Her last 18 months were very troubled indeed. After the episode of quadriplegia, in November, 2009,  she lost control of bowel and bladder function, and had to be catheterized and filled with laxatives to achieve bowel action. During the last month in the nursing home, where she went to get some physical therapy to regain leg strength. she became progressively weaker instead,  and her legs became more and more swollen, due to the falling levels of her plasma proteins, related, in turn, to her immunological deficiency. In addition she was in constant pain. Because the nursing home could not, or would not do intermittent catheterization, her indwelling Foley catheter became contaminated with fecal material , and she finally developed a urinary tract infection with two different coliform organisms, which led to a final septicemia, and death. At the end, she was also in constant physical pain.  So, why should we not rejoice that she is spared any further struggles and pain?

So, in  future, I plan to rejoice more, and sorrow less. And quietly plan to get on with life as it is, rather than as I wished it were.

Up to Mayo's this week for renal  function tests. I shall know more on Thursday next, as to whether the surgery in December was effective. Those results will determine my future actions. Love to all. Geoff/Dad

Monday, March 7, 2011


The grief therapists talk about being ambushed by feelings. Today was such a day. It all began so simply. I went to see the CPA to file last year's taxes. This is an annual chore. Di used to do it, as she was the "detail person" of the two of us. Last year, and this year, it has fallen to me, as the only one left to do it.

I was very organized and had everything prepared. But, coming home, I was so devastated and lonely. It was a visit we would celebrate having behind us, and stop for a cup of coffee at Starbuck's on the way home. She is no longer here to celebrate having it done. What a huge loss, today and every day! The silence kills me! I love it when the kids respond to my Facebook postings. It is a conversation of sorts.

Pete is going to drive up to the Mayo Clinic with me next week. So that will be two days of company for me, with some prolonged conversation, and listening to CD's. Hope the car behaves. It has been serviced recently, and I will have some of the special oil aboard. Was prepared to do the drive on my own, but I am glad Pete offered to do it with me. We'll see what the renal function tests show.

To bed, now and hope to sleep. Love to all, Geoff

l oil aboard.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Today I decided that I must be showing some improvement. At first, soon after Dianne died, with my home being both my refuge and my prison, I would run out and buy one thing, and then run home again and hide out.. Today I managed a whole circuit of co-ordinated shopping for necessary items; St. Luke's for a blood test, Costco, Petco, Starbucks, (well, OK, that, strictly speaking wasn't necessary), dry cleaners, then home and walk Ella - just like we used to do when Di was alive. It is good to feel that I am getting some control and direction back in my life. Now the taxes are done I can spend some time organizing the study, getting rid of a lot of paper! Have five boxes of old paper in the garage, waiting to go to the shredder.  There is a lot of unnecessary junk in the house that needs to be cleared out. As time permits I will continue the task that Di started, sorting out all the family photos into individual boxes, to give to the children and grandchildren.

At Mayo's, in two weeks' time, I will find out whether there is any urgency about needing to make some permanent arrangements, or whether I can stay here for as long as I feel like doing so.

Had dinner with Mark tonight - always a great pleasure. Spike is home on Spring Break, and not sure where he fits.  Just wanted to give him a big reassuring hug, and tell him that everything would work out. Maybe I will ask him to go for a walk with me during the week, and see if he wants to talk. It is a difficult time, that first year away at college, and the transition from a loving home. Love to all Geoff/Dad

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Another reason I like Episcopal prayers!

Oh God:

Give me strength to live another day;
Let me not turn coward before its difficulties
   or prove recreant to its duties;
Let me not lose faith in other people;
Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of
   ingratitude, treachery or meanness;
Preserve me from minding little stings or
   giving them;
Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so
   honestly and fearlessly that no outward
   failure can dishearten me or take away the
   joy of conscious integrity;
Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see
   good in all things;
Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth;
Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness;
   and make me the cup of strength to suffering
   souls; in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

From "Forward Day by Day". Pub. Forward Movement,412 Sycamore Street, Cincinatti. OH. 45202-4195

Monday, February 28, 2011

Waiting for joy

Life is just not as much fun without Dianne, without someone to wake up next to in the morning, to have a cup of tea with, read the newspapers with, and comment on the news to each other. I was always amazed at the depth of her perception, her grasp of a situation, and knowledge about current events.

I go through the motions of life. I get up, clean up, eat, shave, shower. I go to the gym and exercise, and walk Ella, but take no real joy in it. There is just something big missing, that cannot be replaced. In some ways I feel her presence, in a very positive way. And I feel she will be with me, in  spirit, as I drive up to Mayo's this month, a drive we have made so many times. Doing the taxes this week, assembling all the bills for that last, nightmare trip, (for her),  we made in January 2010,  brought all the memories back.  On the way back I drove straight through, from Des Moines, and took her, immediately, to St. Luke's Hospital, South, for admission. She was in such awful pain with those huge mouth ulcers, resulting from her low white cell count, and nothing seemed to give her relief. In addition she was getting weaker all the time.  Those memories have not cheered me up this week. I think the word to describe my current mood is "disspirited". But, at least, I have the taxes done, and have an appointment with the CPA for next Monday, so I can get them filed.

How I wish I could look beyond me, and see what other people need. Sadness just overwhelms me at times. But I see other men in the same position, having the same difficulties. I sure hope the mood will lift, with time. Otherwise the future does not look too attractive. Must start looking at independent living facilities soon, and start working out costs. I promised Di and myself,  that I would make no major decisions for at least a year. That year is almost up. When I find out my results from Mayo's. that will either give me more urgent impetus, or slow me down, if they are good.  Love to you all. Geoff/ Dad

Friday, February 25, 2011

A snowy night

Went along to the last night of the current COR Grief Support group last night. It was a night fit for neither man nor beast to be out. However, with a four wheel drive vehicle, I thought  should be safe to go - and was.

Attendance made me realize that I really have made some progress over the last year. The newbies in the group, still deep in the crazy stage of coming to grips with the fact that what happened really did happen, (what I call the "numb and dumb" stage), and dealing with the tears, the anger of being left alone by events and things totally beyond their control, the powerlessness of solitariness. As a pamphlet said, "Grief lasts a lot longer than you or I want!"

This morning, as I write this, I look out the study window at the new, pure snow, It looks very pretty on the crossing, intersecting branches of the shrubs in the rear garden. I know that Di would exclaim about its beauty, could she see it, as I do. I know the snow will reach its messy stage before it disappears. But, for now, I will settle for beauty.

It still takes an extraordinary effort to get started in the morning. Having to walk Ella in the snow and ice doesn't help, though she, poor little thing, has been very good, and showers me with unconditional love every time I return home.

Have been invited to an Academy Awards party on Sunday, but, since it is a clear attempt at matchmaking, (for which I am totally unready), I think I will decline. Will I ever be ready? At the present I doubt it. One cannot find, in a short time, what Di and I built together over fifty three years. It would be desperately foolish to think that could happen. Also, I am fortunate, (in one way),  in not having a surfeit of money So there will be no "gold diggers". What a pain that would be, trying to distinguish  true love from monetary interest! I hope never to have to deal with that.

Besides, with my health conditions, I do not expect to live a long time. So I cannot see myself as a "great catch", with women lining up, eager to become a new widow!

The harsh winter has not helped my mood a lot.   If I can get to the gym regularly, I can generate enough endorphins to keep me going, so I don't need anti depressants. Besides, once  you start on those on those, you have to think of getting off them at some time. And that is yet another struggle - one I would like to avoid from the outset.

As I said earlier,  "Grief lasts a lot longer than you or I want!" And you can neither prepare for it, nor do a lot of advance grief work to ward it off. When it comes, you just have to endure the journey through the "valley of the shadow of death".  Hopefully you will have some supportive fellow journeyers.  So, just enjoy your life together, as it unfolds, without thought of what might be coming, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof". May God, and his love, be with you always. Love never dies! Geoff

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Death is something everyone encounters, sooner or later.

Reflecting on the meeting on Thursday night last, I realized the commonality of emotions experienced in profound loss, like that of a much loved spouse.  That feeling that something large has been clawed away from inside you, that a significant part of you is missing, that you are no longer WHOLE; that the duo has been relied upon for so long, that one no longer knows how to function as a single, and has to develop a whole new skill set.

That reliance means some significant things to the survivor, eg what happens when I get sick?  On whom can I rely?  If that happens, it seems inevitable that I will have to move into at least an independent living unit, at some facility. Have two check ups within the next month. I will await the results of those before I start to move with any speed, in that direction. One is almost in a constant state of apprehension, waiting for the "other shoe" to drop, and the next medical complication to arrive. I just hope that I will be able to handle it with the same grace and dignity that Dianne did.

One of the checks is up at Mayo's. We used to drive up there together. The enforced seven hours of     togetherness was something to look forward to. But I would not wish her back to endure that lsat, nightmare trip, for her, in January,2010.

We have been at our closest, at times during long drives. Before leaving, Di always went to the library to get some entertaining books on CD. That's how I was introduced to Janet Evanovich as an author, and her zany circle of characters.

Psychological and emotional intimacy is a huge loss. Loss of a presence, and the opportunity for ordinary conversation is an enormous, and irreplaceable loss.

Well, service at the Cathedral tomorrow morning, and the opportunity to talk to real human people. There is so much suffering and illness among the congregation, that it is hard to moan about one's own.

Good night. It is bedtime for me. Love, Geoff

Friday, February 18, 2011

Grief work is so bloody hard!

Last night, I felt the need to connect with the old grief support group and went along to the 5th session of the new series of meetings. Was it a mistake? There are more men in this group. Would have felt more supported had there been more in my original group. It was interesting to hear play out, similar stories of preoccupation with the loss, and the loss of energy and initiative that I feel. I feel completely anergic.

I have been able to bestir myself to work on getting the tax information ready in good time, but there is no drive, no initiative. It is just sheer self discipline. It is a hard chore to get up each morning, with no one else in the house, going through the motions of a routine we used to have - take the dog out, cup of tea, newspaper, breakfast. There is no on else here to do things for, or to talk to. Sometimes I wonder if I really have had a stroke, and am brain damaged. But, I think my cerebral function is too high grade for that. But I certainly am having a lot of difficulty with drive and initiative, and getting things done in an orderly fashion. Vestry work is beginning to come in, and I wonder how I will cope. But that work is mainly in committee, so there will be others there to bounce things off.

On the positive side, I have been going to the gym regularly, working out,  meeting people, and talking to old and new friends. That, I believe is a healthy necessity. and I think I am seeing some body development.  It is sometimes an effort to go, but it is human contact that I desperately need. The loneliness is awful.  So, I try to make it most days. even at the weekend. Have met again R., a pianist who plays at certain restaurants round the city. Dianne and I both knew him quite well, through the gym, and went to dinner to hear him play on a couple of occasions. He might come by some time and play the piano. It needs tuning.

Have also had a couple of dinner parties, to get humans into the home, for contact and conversation, though it is a lot of work. Maybe I am a better conversationalist than I thought.  Will have another one March 21st. after I get back from Mayo's.

Time for sleepy time milk. Maybe, having started again, I will write more frequently again.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The New Year 2011

We are now in 2011, and one aches for the pain to stop! I so miss Di and our life together. She was a woman who gave and received love to the full. This love was given in a courageous and non discriminatory way. I try to analyze and discern why it was that she was so loving, and so loved by all who knew her. It must be because of her freely, giving spirit, and her confidence and independence. She did not need to ask anyones permission. She just did good things in the most natural manner.  How I wish I could attain to that spirit of giving so freely. May a passion for volunteering for good causes find me.

This is the "winter of my discontent". It is snowing, and cold and will be icy. Ella cannot get out freely and barks constantly. Walks are abbreviated because of the risks of icy slips and falls. It is so cold tonight that even the furnace and a fire do not heat the house adequately. Maybe things will look better when the sun shines again. Let's hope so.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Post Christmas

It has been more than a month since I last posted anything. How time flies! I find myself dissatisfied with progress in resolving my grief, and, to that end, have ordered a book of additional strategies to help me progress.

But let's go back to December. My surgery at Mayo's took place on December 17th, and went very smoothly and painlessly. The result seems to have been good, since, for the moment,  I am now not needing any blood pressure medicine at all. My BP is running in the 135/85 range without medications. I seemed to be behind the eight ball all Christmas, and just had no energy or drive to  get anything going, or to feel good. I was, in fact, clinically depressed. But I do not want to go on antidepressants again.and go through the effort of getting off them again. That is a pain!

Was Christmas simply an effort in denial? Perhaps. but it was also an effort to show we can and will live again. even without Di. Having had absolute trust in Di, (founded on 52 years of living together), it now is more difficult, even impossible, to find that sort of trust in other people.I probably will never have that sort of feeling about another person. Don't feel like writing any more tonight Will write again tomorrow.