About Me

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Watkinsville, Georgia, United States
We lost my beautiful wife of 20 years on 9/12/07. Lisa was my world she was my everything and now she is gone. We are learning to live without Lisa now. I say we because I am not alone. My children are stuck in this mess with me. These are my notes, my vent, my way of letting you all know that we are doing well (some days). This is for myself, my friends and my family that want to know how we are doing and what we are up to. Along the way I hope this might also help someone else who has been dealt a similar hand.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Get Help

My blog is titled Life Without Lisa and subtitled With A Little Help From My Friends. That’s actually not very accurate. I have gotten a tremendous amount of help from my friends and family. I could not have survived without the help of many. If you are going to get through something like this, you must learn quickly to call on your friends for help.

It all started the night I got home from the hospital. There was a whole house full of folks watching over the children and waiting for me to get home. In the following days the house was full of people at all times. So many did so much during those first days I could not begin to recall it all. Not to mention that those days are quite blurry and painful to the degree that I cannot yet talk about them in much depth.

When we started getting back to our schedules and family returned to home towns it did not end. Ed came over that first week almost every day at lunch just to check on me and make sure I was eating. Sandra called most every night, Mark called most every morning. Sable and Josh ate dinner with us at least twice a week. Sable took Matt to and from school almost every day and Amanda jumped in and helped whenever I called her. Jen called on the weekends and I called her and others when I needed to. Jamie e-mailed back and forth with me during the day and the school counselors, Mike & Leah, did more counseling on me then they did on the kids. Marie stood guard over Abby during the school day. The food and gift cards just poured in. We had dinner brought to us for at least the first month. Diane and Vida planned and executed the graduation party for Abby, Ted & Linda and Jimmy & Margaret and Roy & Diane and Keith & Becky had us for dinner more times than I can count. Roy and Diane still feed us at least once or twice a month. Pastor Tony was able to join me for several Friday lunches or breakfasts. The folks at church have loved on us and continue to do so.

While we have learned to do all the things that Lisa did for us before, our friends continue to support and help us. Sandra takes Matt to school every day and brings him home on days he is not active with after school activities. I can still call Amanda for backup, she has never turned me down. Vida & Ted take turns with the orthodontist visits, Katie has helped get Matt to and from perfectly polished and Charlotte still sends cooked freezer meals home with Abby. Mom cleans and cooks whenever they come in town while Dad and I have tended to long put of jobs around the house and farm. Joey continues to send me e-mails and calls to keep me up with Matt’s busy 4H schedule and Henry helps with trips to Rock Eagle whenever I ask.

I am sure that I have failed to list someone important and wonderful but I know they will understand, as most of my friends know, I still struggle with my short term memory loss. I believe most know how eternally grateful I am. There is no way I can properly thank these individuals so I don’t even try anymore. I cannot even put into words how much it has meant to me.

My whole point here is to help others understand that they will need assistance. I have always been a very self sufficient person. Lisa and I never asked for help from anyone. Not from our parents not our siblings and not our friends. We always taken care of things our selves. When you suddenly lose a spouse that you love and depend on, your world is shaken to its core. Nothing, nothing is ever the same. I quickly understood that I had to call on others to keep my sanity and survive. You have to circle the wagons and call on people who love you. Call on their help and prayers. You can’t do it alone. They truly do want to help and you truly need the help when just getting out of the bed is a psychological triumph.

Lastly, don’t give up on God. Trust in him and draw closer to him. God has moved in my life over the past year in ways that I never expected. As I have told many, I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Kids

I just love my kids. No matter how much Abby argues with or tries to correct me. No matter how much Matt avoids yard work or school work. I just love them.

Abby is way too much like her mom. Head strong, hates to be proven wrong, independent and hard working. This kid will not turn down a babysitting job. In fact she now considers it her job. She told me recently that a young man she has been dating wanted to come over to see her while she was sitting with some of her clients. She said that she told him no. She said that it was a law. She said that there are strict laws to babysitting. You don’t have boys over, you don’t talk on the phone all the time, you don’t just sit and watch your TV shows all the time. You do engage the children and spend time with them. You do clean up any messes that accrue while you are working. Who knew there were laws to babysitting. She is a fine young lady with strong ethics and morals. I can’t think of much to say that is not positive. She will be moving leaving for camp soon and then into her own apartment. While I know we are both ready for this monumental change, I will miss her none the less.

Matt is more like me. Pretty laid back, easy to get along with, slow to anger and almost no drama. It take a pretty big deal to get him riled up. He likes to say he is “keepin it cool”. He is not hard to please and is rarely confrontational. He knows when I am not doing well and tries to do what he can to help me through the rough patches. He is a 15 (soon to be 16) year old boy that still insists on giving me a hug and telling me that he loves me before he goes off to bed. He is not argumentative and is always willing to give in a little as needed. He is slowly becoming a bit more independent and self sufficient. I always told his mother, it’s a good thing we did not have him first or I would have been willing to have many more children. While he is notorious for having a lack of interest in anything concerning yard work or house work, he is coming around. He obviously recognizes me need for help and is stepping up to do what he can for me. He would probably do more if I was not such a control freak.

I give most of the credit to Lisa. While we did it together, in my mind they would not be who they are today if it were not for her. I truly hate that she is not here to see what she accomplished.

While my loss is huge, my blessings are many!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Where Are All The Dogwoods?

Matt placed Second in the FFA State Senior Woodworking competition this weekend. Not too bad for a Freshman. Now if we can just have dry dirt this Saturday, he can get the rest of his garden in. Seems like every time he has time, the ground is just too darn wet.

It was a wonderful weekend. Fantastic weather. I even skipped church to get a few more yard chores completed before a two and a half hour 4H meeting. I sprayed week killer, spread fertilizer, hardwood mulch and pine straw. I even planted some of my ornate container arraignments that over the years have garnered me so many compliments.

Over the past year or so, I have had little interest in getting outside to make the farm look better. I just felt like every waking hour had to go toward things that Lisa would have handled. Just of late I have a renewed interest in yard work. It was so very invigorating to get out and do some work. Lord knows the farm needs it. I have not hit a lick on the place in almost two years. It is hard to believe that on this 10 acre farm there are no more than 1 dogwood, 6 azaleas and only a few hostas. What a shame with all the shade our hardwoods deliver. I am going to do something about this. It is such beautiful property it deserves more beautification than just leaf litter and pine straw.

Over the past week or so, I have actually felt like myself. I feel like a big cloud has moved from over me. I almost feel guilty for feeling so good. Sure hope it lasts a while. My experience over the past year or so tells me to be on guard…

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

They Don’t Call It The Library For Nothing!

Lisa was always good about making me take care of myself. Ironically, she would always tell me “don’t you go and die on me”. She would pester the snot out of me to go to the doctor. I am learning that now it is up to me. I don’t have someone keeping an eye on me and pestering me to take better care of myself. I am doing it for me but also for the kids. I am no good to them if I don’t take care of myself.

To that end, I finally got my eyes checked. It had gotten to the point that I just could not see a thing. I recently needed to pick up a co-worker for work one morning. As I got closer to my destination, I realized I could not make out the street signs. I finally realized my old blue eyes just aren’t what they used to be. I opted for contacts, I am hoping that they will work out as I am sick of chasing down a pair of glasses just to read something. I have glasses strung out all over the house. I keep a pair in the truck, in my brief case, on my work desk, on my house desk, on the kitchen counter and in the bathroom. There is nothing better than starting your day with a strong cup of coffee and a review of the latest woodworking tools! Hey at least I don’t use the phone in the bathroom.

So far the contacts are working out. However, I don’t like what I am seeing in the mirror as much now!

Tonight we pack up Matt for the state FFA convention. He is already fretting about not making first place. He slapped a square onto his project last night and found that he was out of square in a couple of spots by a sixteenth of an inch. I tried to reassure him that the overall project looks so good. The judges probably won’t even notice. We shall see.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

First Place & Finals

I have been way too busy to do much writing of late. With spring in full force there is now much that needs to be done outside as well as inside. We have finally finished Matt’s FFA woodworking project that he will enter into competition this week in Macon. As I wrote previously, he desperately wants to win first place again. Looking at the finished project, I think he has a pretty good shot at it.

Abby is busy getting ready for the final push toward final exams. She seems to be putting in a lot of time studying and trying her best to make the best possible grades. She only has a few weeks left and then she will be getting ready for another summer at Rock Eagle.

I hope to write more this weekend when I have more time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Don't Stop

The best advice I can give anyone who has lost a loved one is to get moving and keep moving. My Pastor Tony always says, if you are going through hell, DON’T STOP!

So, I say keep moving. Get up and do what you need to do. Grab hold of what is left of your life and don’t stop. Try to get back to a normal or as normal as possible routine. Go to school, go to work do whatever it was that you were doing when your world came crashing in on you. I have found that grief is a very strong drug. It is one of those drugs that you become addicted to all to easily. It would have been easy for me to just curl up in a ball and forget that I had any obligations or responsibilities. I have never been one to take the easy road, however. This has proved to be the best thing for me to do. I must say, however, that if the kids had not been with me things might have taken a different turn. The kids are what forced me to get out of bed every day. The kids are what made me eat and breath. If I had not had the kids I don’t know what would have happened. I have heard stories of spouses grieving so badly that they soon followed the deseeded spouse. I now know how this could be possible.

If you allow it, grief can be debilitating. It can scar you for life. It has scared me. I am not the same man I was a year and a half ago. I now know that I will never be the same. I am finally starting to come to grips with this. It has taken me a long time to finally start understanding that things have permanently changed. I am finally starting to feel a little bit more comfortable in my skin. I am starting to finally understand that I am going to survive this mess. I am finally starting to understand how traumatized I was. I am just now starting to feel like some sort of healing process is actually taking place. Instead of praying to get through the next hour, day or week, I am working through the months. It was truly hour to hour for me for a long time. So, for me to be at the point of making it through the month, it is a great accomplishment.

I don’t know if anyone other than Lisa will ever actually know the depth of my love for her. I don’t think I even realized just how much I loved her until I lost her. We were truly devoted to and enchanted with each other. I loved her so much it troubles me to put it into words. I was truly smitten. I would have given my very life for her.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Any Meal I Don't Have To Cook Is A Good Meal

Abby cooked dinner last night. This was her third attempt and it was very good. She cooked a creamed chicken dish with biscuits on top of it. She, as Matt said, “Jacked” the recipe off of a friend who had cooked it for her recently. I explained to Matt that most of us take recipes from others and that with the exception of my friend Sarah,most do not come up with original recipes. I think that after he thought about it for minute or two, he understood.

Spring break is over and we are back to a normal weekly schedule. Matt is back to school and I am back to work. It is amazing how much my level of anxiety reduces when I am back at work. This is an indicator to me that it is the unusual or the out of the ordinary that makes me anxious. The strange thing is that Matt’s anxiety is the complete opposite. His kicks in when school is back in session. When he is out of school he never complains about being anxious but as soon as Sunday night rolls around I can see it in his face. I can hear him on the couch taking deep soulful breaths of air, exhaling deeply in an attempt to not let himself get worked up.

I have taken the time to read some information on anxiety and found some information that might help. We need to start getting some exercise. Everything I read indicates that exercise helps with anxiety.

Anyhow, it is good to be back on our routine.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Shop Meltdown

Matt has been on spring break all this week so I scheduled my vacation to be off at the same time. It has been nice sleep in a little. Man, I did not realize how tired I was.

It has been a hard week. My anxiety has been at an all time high several times this week. I don't know why this week has been so bad but I feel like I have been on a hair trigger most of the week. It all culminated in a meltdown Friday night. Both the kids were gone and I was in the shop working alone. Lisa's mom called and shortly after spoke to her on the phone I was crying my eyes out and pounding my fist on the work bench.

It is inevitable that during a melt down such as this, I speak out loud to God and even yell in anger. I tell him how horribly bad I miss her and how painful it is to have to be without her. I ask him to come and take me now. I ask him why. I ask him why not me instead. As the tirade continues I ask him to give me the strength to carry on and to show me how he would have me move forward. Then I thank him. I thank him for the children. I thank him for my family and friends. I thank him for providing for us in all the ways that he does. So goes the cycle... I have been through it so many times I know it by heart. Thankfully my tirades usually happen at home. I can only remember it happening once in public. I was sitting at a read light on my way to Sam's Club. It hit me like a ton of bricks right there at the red light on the Atlanta Highway.

As is usual, I almost immediately started felling better. I don't know what it is about a release like this but it does so much good. Because it does me so much good I dont fight it any more. However, this has not happened in quite a while. As time goes by I find that these meltdowns come less and less often. I can remember during the first weeks it was almost a daily occurrence. Most often in the morning while taking a shower. I suppose the infrequency indicates the healing process is moving forward.

I am looking forward to attending church this morning. It too will help me. However, I am not looking forward to going to the Smith's for lunch afterward. In fact I don't want to see them and am going purely out of obligation. It is just too much of a strain for me to be around them these days. Hopefully we can skip out pretty soon after we eat and get home since tomorrow we go back to school and work.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bad Morning

Yesterday did not start out so well. I made the below posting and went back to my coffee. Inevitable I started thinking about Lisa. I love to think about her but I think it can be a double edged sword. While it reminds me of the happy times it also reminds me of my loss and makes me miss her.

It was one of those things that just come over me. I was afraid when I started this Blog that this would happen. I was afraid that it would do more harm than good. I don't know if it was the writing process or something else. However, the morning spiraled out of control fairly quickly. I got to one of those points where I just don't know what to do. A sort of fear comes over me and I cannot make the slightest decision about anything. I was getting bogged down pretty quick. As a remedy I tried to make myself busy. I put on a load of wash and jumped in the shower. That seemed to help a little. Finally I decided to kick Matt out of the bed and have him run errands with me. Once I got up and got moving and focused on a goal I was fine and my head started to clear. I suppose it is the alone time that makes it hard for me. In the morning before the kids were up was when we did most of our talking. Lisa would be right behind me. We would sit and drink coffee and just talk or read the paper together. This was the time when I would get my plans validated or garner that support I needed for something. This is when it was just me and Lisa. We would talk about the kids, work, money or other things that married couples talk about.

Now I don't have that time. I am alone and that is when the fear takes hold. It is hard to explain. It is just one of those things that I don't understand.

Today is going to be better. Matt and I are going to get an early start and we have a number of things we want to accomplish. I m looking forward to a productive day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring Formal

Lisa Just loved the Perfectly Polished program and encouraged the kids to stay involved. We had the PP Spring Formal a couple of weeks ago and the kids cleaned up real well. Abby in a white dress and Matt in coat and tails. As in past years, the weather did not cooperate but it could have been worse. We got together with another family and had an overpriced dinner after the dance. The kids had a ball. I just love seeing the kids have a good time. I however, feel like more of a third wheel when it comes to this sort of thing these days. I never knew you could feel so alone in a crowd of hundreds.

This year was a lot easier than last year. Last year Abby and I spent two solid days shopping for a white dress. At the end of day two, I told Abby that I had given it my best shot but she was going to have to call in reinforcements. I called Mrs. Debra and she told me not to worry. Mrs. Debra, Mrs. April and Mrs. Cindy got together and made sure Abby had a wonderful dress. I spent two days and came up empty I think that they spent about two hours and found the perfect dress. Matt decided not to participate last year so we only had to worry about getting Abby ready. I am glad Matt decided to participate this year and he intends to participate next year. Lisa would be very happy.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Let's Burn It

It is great to be home. We were only gone two nights but it is good to be home. It was only a four hour ride but the fact that it rained most of the way made it seem a lot longer. I do wish it would stop raining long enough for us to get out and plant the garden. Matt is planting a garden for his SAE project this year. He has been pestering me for over a month now to get out and plant. I suppose as a new gardener he needs to learn the lesson that a late frost can kill a whole weekends work. It has been far too wet to do anything anyhow. We would just wind up looking like a mud ball if we tried to do much right now.

We are also on spring break this week so it will be nice to sleep in a bit. Regardless, I have high expectations for the week. Matt is entering the state FFA woodworking event again this year. We must get him into the shop this week and get a lot of the work done this week. It we don't get most of the work done this week, we will be hard pressed to finish given our schedules. Year before last Matt won first place in the state competition, last year he placed sixth. The project for last year was a berry box (pictured above). Some girl won first place last year which made the sixth place finish even that much more humiliating for Matt. Matt held onto his loosing berry box and decided to burn it along with the certificate of merit and the sixth place ribbon during his birthday camp out party. Of course the boys that spent the night were only too happy to assist Matt in the venture. We are out for payback this year. Who ever came up with the idea to award sixth place anyhow?

It will be nice to spend time with Matt in the shop this week. Working in the shop is very therapeutic for me. I enjoy sharing what I know with Matt and it is good to have the company.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Holding Hands

Matt and I are in Savannah visiting with my brother and his wife's family. It is good to get away for a few days. It was an interesting ride down here. Abby is staying home tending to school work and just "chillaxing". It was just me and Matt on the way down. I don't know if I will ever get used to traveling without Lisa. We hardly ever went anywhere without each other. When we did travel without each other we could not wait to get back together. We never could understand why married couples would do things like take separate vacations. We loved each other too much to do that sort of thing. It was not uncommon for us to be buzzing down the interstate holding hands. I would be concentrating on the traffic and Lisa might even be reading something but we would be holding hands. It was a wonderful feeling to just have her reach over and grab my hand. Riding with Matt is much different with the silence being broken not with a soft "I love you" but with a mind numbing explosion of toxic gas. What is it that makes guys laugh about farting and then talk about how bad it smells or how loud it was for the next five minutes. I am truly blessed to have such wonderful kids. They have gotten me through the really dark days. Matt has a pretty calming effect on me and it really helps on the days that my anxiety is kicking in hard. He is so patient and most times understanding of me. Most 15 year olds are more interested in getting away from their parents but my kids dont seem to mind being with me. We will be heading home this afternoon and i am looking forward to getting back home to see Abby and even that little rat dog, Ally. There is no better place to sleep than your own bed and I always look forward to getting back home.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mayfield Milk

During our first year or so, I tried very hard not to change anything. After all we had experianced one big horrable change in the loss of Lisa. I suppose I figured that Abby & Matt did not need any more change in their life just now. So I did my best to make sure that I did things just like Lisa would have. I would find myself asking the kids, where did mom buy this or that. I tried to keep the house just like Lisa would have. At one point we needed some new kitchen towels so I drove all over town trying to find these stupid towels. Finally, I found them at Bed Bath & beyond. Was it worth it. Yes. To me it was and thats all that counts.

The down side was that I was putting a lot of unnessasary stress on myslef as a result. Latley I have been comfortable with letting some small changes take palce. I only heard "thats not how mom did it" a few times. I think the kids know that I am doing my level best and that these small changes are just something that ,make it a tiny bit eaiser on dad. I am sure that there are some things that I will never allow to change. However, I think some small changes are fine. After all, I think Mayfield milk tastes better than the Publix brand anyhow.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rain, Rain go away

Its raining again today. The rain pulls me down. It reminds me of my loss. I used to love the rain. It was always a good excuse to do nothing. The rain always felt so cleansing and refreshing. Now it just makes me sad. The only bright spot for me when it rains are Abby's yellow boots.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On the fly

My first post is from Matt's guitar practice on my phone. Kind of hard for me to believe since only a year or so ago I would hardly use a cell phone. When Lisa died I was forced to become organized and keep up with three calendars, three different schedules and all the different activities. I got the i-phone and a mac for the house. What a difference! This was the first thing I had to learn to do, schedule everyone and everything. I know it doesn't sound like much. However, when your used to just showing up and being told where and when to be it's a big deal. Lisa was an over achiever and could do more in an hour than most folks get done in a day. This was my very first challenge in living without Lisa, getting it together.