If I have your email address or phone number, you already know that my sweet, funny, generous husband, Jeff, died rather suddenly Oct 13, 2015. I’m adjusting, & am learning all the things I need to know (like hitching up & backing up of the trailer especially) so that I can continue my full-timing lifestyle & spend my winter again in Arizona.
Last winter, Jeff lost 20# or so, had numerous digestive malfunctions, & basically was just wasting away. I couldn’t get him to go to a doctor or ER! Officially he developed diverticulitis which ate a hole in his colon & produced sepsis. He had emergency surgery but was kept sedated & I never really got to say goodbye to him. BUT – I know he knew I loved him & that he loved me. He treated me like a queen (or a spoiled child some might say) for 20 years. I’m glad he never woke up enough to know how much pain he’d have been in or how bad of shape he was in. Ultimately, I was told he had cirrhosis of the liver due to alcoholism. When they told me his liver was totally shot & would not “sustain life”, I knew we had to let him go. His daughter & her husband came from Kansas City to Springfield MO & we eventually stopped all life support. He died within 5-6 minutes, never regaining consciousness. I’m relieved he didn’t suffer, but I can’t help but wish he’d had the strength to stop drinking years ago. I’ve come to believe he probably knew the last year or two even, or at least by this past winter, that his liver was failing & that it was only a matter of time. He never told me. As bad as that might sound, I’ve imagined that had I’d known what was happening, I’d have been moving whatever mountains were necessary to try to keep him alive longer. He didn’t want that. He didn’t want a long, lingering illness.
In all honesty tho, it has been a long, hot, humid, buggy, boring summer. We just hung around Branson all summer, mostly because Jeff felt so bad. He tried to hide it, but knowing now that he was literally dying, I understand why he was grumpy, critical, & unpleasant to be around. I can’t really remember the last time we laughed about anything. Although I miss talking to him terribly, I wasn’t too happy with him much of the summer - an odd way of being weaned, I guess. After we both had previous bad relationships & divorces, some of my friends think it’s so sad that he died from something that could have been prevented after we finally found each other. But I simply feel grateful for at least having 20 years with my best friend & soul mate. It was close to the perfect relationship for us two very imperfect people. Many people never find that kind of companion.
The few good things about the summer was attending a live telecast of the Weather Channel in Branson, along Taneycomo Lake. It was so much fun (& free) since I spend a lot of time watching the Weather Channel (well, more listening to as I read email & such at the same time). I’ve watched Jim Cantore since back when he had hair – & I actually got a photo with him.
Another high point of the summer was going to Kansas City to spend the day at Jeff’s grandson’s actual 7th year birthday party. We don’t usually make it on the exact day. We also finally got a new pickup shell that we’ve wanted for a long time. Jeff got to enjoy it for a few weeks.
Although we shuttled back & forth between Compton Ridge Campground, Castle View Campground, & Holiday Hills Campground all summer (all Coast to Coast campgrounds), we made one little trip east near West Plains MO to spend a week at Cloud 9 Ranch Campground. It’s a beautiful, large, wooded “ranch” with six campgrounds – but it’s all for ATVs. It was like being swarmed by a plethora of rabid bees frequently. Just not our kind of communing with nature campground.
Since Jeff’s death, I’ve visited Social Security & the Veterans Administration Benefits offices. I’ve had the pickup serviced & got new tires – all planned by Jeff before leaving for AZ. A campground staffer has been teaching me how to hook up & back up the trailer. I’m getting a backup camera too. I’ve cleaned & reorganized the trailer & pickup, & continue working on cleaning out our local storage unit. It has felt so good & right giving some of Jeff’s items to friends who will particularly enjoy those items (fishing gear, cook books, beard trimmer, etc). Besides them needing/wanting an item, they will forever remember Jeff when using them too.
The support, encouragement, & suggestions I’ve received by phone, by internet, & by person has just been amazing! Absolutely couldn’t ask for an easier way to regroup. By comparison, my last divorce 20 some years ago was dangerously devastating - without much support. Family, old friends, new friends, & even strangers have kept me going. There really has been no other viable option than to continue this rambling lifestyle tho. I haven’t discovered the place (or places) that I’d want to watch the changing seasons throughout a whole year. Besides, the inside of the Casita seems twice as big now that I can use all the closet & storage space, carry less “stuff”, & actually have room for several guests inside at the same time with the twin bed set-up & more floor space.
I will be leaving in a few days to visit my parents & then next week tag along with an RVer heading to Phoenix. I’ve received some exciting invitations for winter camping/visiting & am slowly developing an itinerary. I’m hoping to spend Christmas at Anza-Borego & then make it to Quartzsite for the RV show & the fiberglass rally. I also want to investigate more of CO this summer but have to go to a class reunion in July in my hometown. I’d like to stay away from Spring tornado threats & summer humidity in MO as much as possible. However, with my elderly parents still alive (& doing well so far), I’m always just a phone call away from an emergency trip home.
Because I’ve always been a bit of a loner & introvert (strange since I seldom meet a stranger I don’t enjoy talking to), I loved having my best friend as my traveling/living companion & wasn’t comfortable for long around large groups of people. Well, I’m trying to step outside my comfort zone now & spend a lot more time around people. I know I need the help of my friends. So please let me know if there’s any opportunity to cross paths down the road. And thank you for your friendship & compassion.