Making it to 2022

I’m afraid that 2020 and 2021 have finally caught up with me. The sadness, the fear, the anxiety that has come with living and dying during a pandemic….all swims in my head this New Year’s Eve. To add to it, I am weaning off of pain medication from my recent knee replacement.

I can only remember a time or two in my life, feeling this empty. My youngest kids are now 15 and 13, and their dad just hired a new attorney….maybe his 15th or so? We go to court in February to hopefully put an end to the madness. He has chosen not to see the kids for the last two years and doesn’t pay the very little amount of child support he is court ordered to pay until he is ready to take me to court. I am really not afraid, but my mind wonders to the “what ifs”. Neither child has seen him, and they have both come into their teen years, full of emotions and attitudes. I remember how angry the dad use to get at my older children when they were in their teens. I had to send them to live with their dad when they each turned about 16, as the dad couldn’t stand them! My 15 year old is FAR more complex that my older kids were, so just imagining a confrontation between them hurts my heart. I know I need to let go of these images and anxieties, but they are just triggered when the dad starts this crap. Did I mention that the dad killed his own father? Yes, he was 17, nearly 18 when he shot and killed his own father. I feel like I am holding my breath hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself. There are no guns in my home, but the dad has plenty of them in his home. He has even pointed out to the 15 year old, which one he is going to use to shoot me! This was years ago, when we had only been divorced a year or two. We are at nine years now….I need to be free.

My shining spot this year has been this 8 year old Basset Hound, Wally. I adopted him this year, just feeling the need for a fur buddy. If it wasn’t for getting up to feed him and take him out, I may have had days of not getting out of bed at all. He can be annoying at times, but he has really stayed by my side this year through two major surgeries, and much grief.

I hope that going back to work lifts my spirits. I had really hoped that I would have actually been able to get some things done while on this medical leave, but that has not been the case. My poor house has been neglected since February. Luckily, we have help cleaning a couple times a month, so it’s just the clutter that has built up. I am looking forward to being able to do more, as my back and leg strengthen….I wish it would happen faster. I don’t remember it taking the Bionic Woman this long!

Hoping to make it to tomorrow….

Happy New Year!

~AoA

Back With the World for a While

2021 has almost turned the corner, and I honestly don’t know how I am still able to smile. I had a falling on ice accident in February, fracturing my back and completely messing up my knee. This year saw two major surgeries and recoveries…well actually I am only three weeks out of my final surgery.

March sent my mom to the hospital for a month. She was in and out of ICU with lungs that presented like COVID-19, but wasn’t. She ended up having a heart valve replacement and a pacemaker implant. Her dementia took a giant nosedive, and part of her short term memory is completely gone.

In August, we watched as a neighboring town, and some of our friends, faced death and devastation from flash flooding like I could never have imagined.

September was the most difficult, as my beloved dad passed away in his sleep. He was 78 years old, a Vietnam Veteran living as 100% disabled from the effects of agent orange. I miss him so much…

If that wasn’t enough, by the first of November, a dear friend of our family passed away from COVID-19. He was in his early 50’s, and a healthy parent of two young children…this was a shock to everyone in our community, and a reminder of the seriousness of this virus.

There have been days I didn’t know if I could go on another day. There was one good spot…we adopted an 8 year old Basset Hound in February. Little AoA was first to insist on a Basset. I felt in my heart that a doggy friend may be a good support during emotionally difficult times. I had no idea…

Wally comforts me…

I have so much to process and share, that my mind swims just thinking about where to start. You see, I have always had a deep faith in God, and how He shows me the path…lights the way for my life. One of the recent turns made was one I never saw coming. I haven’t mentioned it before, because I needed time to learn more. My teenager came out as transgender….new name and pronouns, all of it. I listened to a lot of solicited and unsolicited advice and opinions. I sought answers through research and support groups. I eventually found my place as mother to a transgender teen. I may write more about this particular journey in time. My teen is not flashy or pushy….just wants to be a normal, average girl. We live in a smallish Southern town that is not openly accepting or affirming of the LGBTQ community. I have been building community and support, and leading efforts to help families love and affirm their children who are questioning or identifying as part of the LGBTQ community. I can honestly say that I knew next to nothing in this area, but I have always known in my heart that diversity is a positive and living your truth is better than trying to live to please others.

On a fun note, Little AoA recently discovered the joy of WordPress blogging. She started a private blog for tracking thoughts, feelings, experiences, and ideas. Today’s kids are so amazing! They intuitively know how to navigate technology and do some amazing things! In education, we often hear that we are preparing students for jobs that haven’t even been invented yet! Part of my educational philosophy is that we teach students to read, write, and do basic math; but we must allow them to stretch their wings and explore their interests in order to preserve a love of learning❤️

I look forward to catching up with everyone. I have missed the blogging connection❤️

~AoA

Dad’s Memorial

My dad passed away three days ago, on September 2, 2021. He was fine the night before, and gone in the morning. He had a heart device that must have gone off and sent a signal to the local Veteran’s hospital, because the sheriff and an ambulance showed up before anyone realized there was a problem. Little AoA had gone in his room to say good morning, and noticed that he was really cold…..

My dad was born on March 23, 1943, in Virginia. There were many, many chapters in his life…..but my favorite is the chapter that started 13 years ago.

He and my mom made the decision to move from Florida to Tennessee, to live near me, as I was about to give birth (at the age of 42), to their 6th grandchild, who I affectionately refer to as “Little AoA”. I begged a little, but it didn’t take a lot.

Once Little AoA was born, I dutifully returned to work when she was 6 weeks old. My parents took on a co-parenting role with me. Every morning, I would bundle up the baby, and take her to my parents house. My dad spent a lot of time holding a sleeping baby. He participated in early intervention therapy for years with Little AoA, joining my mom in taking her to various therapies and pre-school.

When Little AoA was just three, my dad took me and my two youngest kids into his home, as we made an escape from our abusive home. He became our protector, our refuge, and our rock. When it was time to meet the ex-husband at court as he attempted to lie and bully to take our kids, my dad was there beside me. I felt so loved and supported…..after years of being told how worthless, dumb, and disposable I was.

For the next several years, my dad battled medical issues that sent him in and out of the hospital. He had received a quad bypass many years earlier, so we all knew that medical issues were serious for him. During one of his emergency room trips, his heart stopped, and he was revived by a team of healthcare workers. This was our second chance at life with my dad. The rehab wasn’t easy, and took a long time. Finally, he arrived at a place of stability. The things that hurt were going to hurt, but were manageable.

He took on a passive lifestyle, and did little things that brought him joy. He restored and built guitars, of which we now have many. He restored old amplifiers, of which we now have many….he liked buying broken laptop computers and making them work again.

My dad instilled a love of music to not only my sister and me, but to all of his grandkids. His hope was always to have at least one who would make music with him…..he finally got that….in Little AoA. Around the age of 10, Little AoA fell completely in love with old country music. She especially loved Dolly Parton, and the mountain instruments. Dad and her ordered and played with many different stringed instruments. No one knew how she came to connect so deeply with the music of Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells, and so many others from that era….but we all embraced it. For the last three years of my dad’s life, he spent a lot of time making music with Little AoA. Homeschooling started at that time, so once again, Little AoA spent a lot of time with him. She loved her Papa so, so much. She gave him love and hugs all the time.

We took time to appreciate the little moments more in his last years on earth. After his last health emergency, there were home health nurses for a while. As they phased out, I took on the roll of doing the monthly pill sort. At first, dad stayed with me to make sure I did it correctly. As months went on, this became our monthly time to catch up with each other. We used this precious time to talk about our thoughts and concerns for our family members and the state of the world. There was always a plan by the end of the pill sorting….a peaceful path forward.

As we all make a path forward in our lives, there is an emptiness. We will carry dad in our hearts and minds always….he will always be part of our lives.

~AoA

Where Have I Been?

I have been missing from my blog for quite some time. After a month of my mom being in the hospital in a touch and go situation, I herniated a disc in my back. Further investigation revealed that I had actually fractured my back on top of the disc situation. I went on disability leave from work, and spent about a month doing very little, while I waited for surgery day.

Surgery was on June 17th, and everything went well. It was a very invasive surgery, leaving about a 12 inch scar down my back. It involved a plate, screws, and a bone graft…..and lots of pain medication. I have weaned myself from the heavy pain medication, but I am sure not back to my pre-accident level of activity!

As soon as I was released to drive, I took Little AoA (not so little anymore) to Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, where we attended a concert with Tayla Lynn, Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter. It isn’t far from where we live, but I anticipated it being a lot for me, so we booked a hotel room for the night. I packed up my walker and cane, and hobbled myself to the fun! We had a really nice time!

Little AoA and Tayla (and her doll is also Tayla)

Little AoA was so excited! She had written letters for Loretta and Tayla, and made stickers for Tayla’s little boys. She also had pictures and a CD ready to be autographed!

I was planning on having knee replacement surgery this summer as well, but insurance took so long to approve the first surgery, that it didn’t leave me enough time for it. I will be hobbling along for several months at work, until the next school break season comes along in the late fall.

I have said for many years that we are all just an accident or illness away from being disabled. How true that has been….with one fall, I became a person with physical limitations, unable to navigate day to day activities without modification or help. My heart goes out to all those who live with physical disabilities. They are true super heroes!

~AoA

The End of My Rope

I thought I had a good understanding of chronic pain. I have read and learned so much over the years from so many blogging friends and coworkers. It didn’t prepare me for this. I haven’t even had the pain a fraction as long as many, and I feel like I am out of my mind! Of course, it could be my bad reaction to steroids in my body too.

I fell on Valentine’s Day, at the beginning of our ice and snow storm that trapped us at home for a week. I knew I hurt something, but thought it would heal.

Fast forward two months, and two covid vaccine’s later, and my back has a herniated disc. I have had a bulging disc before, but this is different. The pain was unbearable and crippling, sending me to the emergency room, where they loaded me up with pain meds and sent me home. Next to go was the feeling in my left foot. It has been gone for 11 days now. I walk with a cane and can’t balance to do anything. I have been trying to go to work some, to finish out the school year, but each day is worst than the last.

I have a plan now, that should let me get off my feet more while I wait for the mri, follow up appointment, insurance approval, and surgery scheduling. How long do bone and joint doctors keep their patients in pain before moving on it? This seems like a long time to me.

My heart just goes out to all of you that live with chronic pain. I am a wimp. My spirit is weakening. After a month of having my mom in the hospital, nearing death several times, I am exhausted.

I am trying to keep some positive in my life to balance it out…..here are some positive pictures of things that I am enjoying as I balance the time….

My new work from home coworker kept me company.
Learning to crochet a little dress for a 5-8 inch doll provided a little challenge and kept my hands and mind busy.

How do you get through the days of pain? Do you get cranky and irritable, or withdraw?

I feel you❤️

~AoA

No One to Tell

I just learned a couple of hours ago that my ex- father-in-law passed away last night. I am both sad and angry. This was the dad’s step-father…..the most stable one in the group. The kids and I loved him….but he could not separate himself from the family abuse enough to have relationships with the grandkids, outside the abusive fold.

Once the dad started refusing to have visits with the kids, his parents, for whatever reason, also ghosted the kids.

I haven’t told Little AoA yet. She just ended a wonderful day of peace and mourning an adult friend who passed away a couple months ago. I don’t think she can emotionally handle one more thing right now.

I did tell the 15 year old, who is sad….but more fearful of seeing the dad. I asked if they wanted to attend the funeral…they do not want to risk running into the dad.

While I am very sad for this loss, I am also disappointed that the kids weren’t told that he was ill. They weren’t given the opportunity to say good-bye if they wanted to.

The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is special. Divorce of parents should not prevent this relationship from growing. All it takes is a card now and then…maybe a phone call or text. A meal at a restaurant, or an ice cream date. The relationship is separate from that of the parents.

Why couldn’t he reach beyond the hate of the dad, and let the grandkids know that he loved them?

I pray for the kids to hold onto the good memories they have of their grandpa.

~AoA

Vaccine Gone Wrong?

Hello WordPress family! I have been silent for a while, keeping very busy! I am sad to say that my mom has now been in the hospital for seven days now. She has “covid lungs” according to her ct scan. She is having a lot of trouble breathing, and has been in the ICU for one day during her hospital stay so far. She can barely move, only able to assist to transfer from bed to chair.

I have many swirling thoughts, and I am just doing a day at a time. My sister came to help out until my mom comes home. I will be taking time off work once she is released, to get her personal care and daily living tasks done in the mornings.

This is a lot to process…..

~AoA

You Don’t Realize How Much You Do, Until You Can’t Do It

I had a COVID scare this past week. I started having tightness in my chest that remained constant for 48-76 hours. I was going to try to just sneak to get a COVID test, so that everyone would not be upset with anxiety, and I wouldn’t have to be out of work for a week if it was negative. Well, the odds were not in my favor to follow my plan.

I called my doctor and left a message to consult before I took time to get a test. No response…..so I drove to our county health department….they had changed their hours and days, and did not update the website. So…..I started calling pharmacies….no luck. There goes my plan to do it all “under the radar”. I had to take the next day off work to go get it done. While I was in line at the health department, trying to figure out the “do it yourself” test kit, my doctor called. They urged me to come in (in my car, in the back parking lot) and let my doctor check me out. So, I ended up with a flu test, two covid tests, an inhaler, and some medication.

Next was the wait….

I did not expect to get any results for 3-5 days. In the meantime, my family went into shock mode. My teenager had conversations with me from across the hall. We reviewed my symptoms over and over again. We discussed my contacts…over and over again. We discussed other things it could be….over and over again.

The grandparents tried their best to stay on their side of the house. Their biggest worry…who was going to cook for them. I had checked with my doctor about this, and was assured that with precautions, I could still cook. The grandparents were use to me serving as well, which I couldn’t do. I would just cook, and tell them it was ready.

Living in a multigenerational home has been full of blessings, and also a learning curve. Over the last year, my parents have become very dependent on me. It can feel overwhelming at times, as I still have to work full time as well. They stopped going places when the pandemic started, except for very close places like drive thrus and sometimes a doctor’s office. My mom can no longer navigate a big store, as her knee gives out, and she can’t find things. She can’t remember how to operate the oven, or deal with dishes that are either too high or too low. We have learned to be very intentional about making sure that she can get to things she wants.

We had weekly help with the housework before the pandemic, but that has now become my job. I don’t get to everything as quickly…but it gets done. The AoA kids have learned to adapt as well. They are a great help when I am at work. By great help, I am referring to watching out for the grandparents, and helping them navigate technology. The kids are pretty typical in that cleaning isn’t their life priority- just a need to do.

I will be working from home this week, even though I received a NEGATIVE COVID result! My job is actually very enjoyable. If our county would just make the students mask up, it would be pretty safe, and definitely not as anxiety producing. I don’t think that is a lot to ask for the health and safety of our teachers and their families. I have had several teacher friends lose loved ones to covid this year. This didn’t have to happen. With the knowledge we now have, it should not be happening as frequently, but in fact, it is happening more.

We are tired….

~AoA

Adoption Application

Guess who is ready to adopt a rescue Basset Hound? After years of being pet free, we are ready to welcome a four legged, floppy eared, furry friend into our family! Our state Basset rescue does not have any Bassets right now, but I went ahead and submitted our application and did the “virtual home visit” so that we will be ready when the right dog becomes available. Just for fun, I have started looking at Basset Hound pictures and memes….enjoy!

I am just as excited as Little AoA! When I think back, I realize that the AoA kids have never had the experience of having a pet who reciprocates affection. The dad pretty much hated animals, yet we lived on a farm. He didn’t want any animals in the house (when my animal history was to have pets who lived with the family). The kids witnessed animal abuse in their very early lives, probably contributing to their anxiety. Both the kids have finally had time to heal. I wondered if this time would come.

I would love to hear about your pets!

~AoA