Female, age ? – (click on image to enlarge)
I take the fifth on my age and I don’t know how I look. I’ve always been told I’m ugly so…I look like me I guess. And I’m satisfied with that. I went for a blood test last Friday and she goes,” Oh, lookin’ good gal”. I said, “Thank you.”
I don’t know what my role is right now and I don’t know how to categorize it; whether it’s a neglected wife or neglected mother, I don’t know what it is. I just know that…I just consider it’s me, it’s just me. I feel like my family never needs me. I just feel like if they’re in a pickle they’d rather call one of the kids or a sibling. I’m the last one they would think of. At least that’s the way I feel. I just leave it up to them. They feel what they feel and I’m not going to criticize them for it. Maybe they feel like that about me. I don’t know. But when that phone rings and it’s one of my grandkids, I know what they want. If they call me I never turn them down. Never, no matter what I feel, I never turn them down, but at the same time I just feel like I am no longer needed. It’s not a very good feeling. I guess that’s why I dreamt about Gavin Newsom and I’m not gonna forget that dream! He was supposed to be my husband. I was angry with him and I was waiting for him to show up and he shows up and he’s Gavin Newsom.
I can’t think of anything that I want to accomplish or haven’t yet. I just live day-to-day, doing all my paperwork…you know my sister calls every day, “Well what did you do today?” “Paperwork.” “Well what did you do today?” “I was on the computer all day.” “Well that did you do today?” “Paperwork.” Then she always says, “You never get done with your paperwork.” I say, “I know.”
I’m not sorry for my life, you know. And the best, the very best part of my married life was towards the very end of it. I would say the last three, four, five years were the best. Everybody was gone and it was just him and I and we did everything we wanted. There was nobody to… you know…if we wanted to take off here or there we never had to stop. We could go to a dance, which we did one time. I mean we used to go dancing every weekend. That’s the thing I miss the most after him. But, one time when we went to a dance someone said, “Let’s go to Fresno, they have a really good dance.” This is like 2 o’clock in the morning! So then we go to Fresno. We drove all the way to Fresno to get there. They knew this place and we went dancing till 3 o’clock and then we had to find a motel. We could do things like that and we didn’t have anyone to worry about. They were the very best years, but everything ends.
I loved to travel and my sisters always say, “Why don’t you travel? Why don’t you go here? Why don’t you go there?” It’s because it’s no fun going alone. It’s just no fun. Not even to the movies or anywhere by yourself. I just stay home.
Before my husband died we always used to say, “If one of us goes first, who would you go live with? Would you go with one of the kids?” I don’t know. But it’s different for a man. They can live alone. They can go where they want. They can do whatever they want. When it came to me, he’d say, “Well would you go with one of the kids?” “No. I wouldn’t.” Then he’d say, “What are you gonna do?” And I’d say, “I don’t know.” He knew I was the biggest scaredy cat in the whole world, I was. I wouldn’t stay alone in the house for nothing. Someone would always have to be there. So he said, “I don’t know what the heck you’re going to do.” I said, “I don’t either.”
So my daughter says, “Mom, I’m just so proud of you, I can’t believe how far you’ve gone. Look at you, you live all by yourself,” and that’s true. It was really hard for me, but I live alone. And you know, I went through that horrible surgery, my back surgery all by myself. It would take me like – if the doorbell rang – it would take me like 15 minutes to get from the bed to the door. I don’t know how I did it. People tell me I’m stong. People are always saying it, I’m strong.
I have a girlfriend, I don’t know if you guys believe in this or not, I don’t know if I believe in it myself. About a week or so after my husband passed, she called me up. She’s got three kids, two girls and a boy. Her boy is studying to be a minister. He and the uncle they go to jail to pray for guys. So she calls me up and says you’re not going to believe this, her son, she said my husband came to him and wouldn’t leave him alone. I said, “What do you mean, wouldn’t leave him alone?” She said, “No he was on his knees praying for you guys and he just started talking to him.” I said, “What do you mean talking to him?” My husband was telling her son that he was OK. He kept saying, “Oh, it’s warm, its’ warm,” and he was saying, “It’s really nice over here, you’ll like it. You don’t have to worry you’re not going to be here for a long time.” He was telling the guy to tell me this. The guy got really nervous and said, “I think I’m just imagining this.” He got up, went into the kitchen, made some coffee and got his breakfast, this and that. Later came back, tried praying again and my husband came right back. So I told her, “You’re kidding.” And she said, “No.” I said, “I gotta talk to your son.” So a couple of weeks later his aunt had a birthday and I went to the party. I saw him and I said, “OK, we’ve gotta talk. So he tells me all about it. I said, “I don’t believe this.” And he said, “Don’t worry about it, you’re a strong woman.” I said, “How dare you say that.” “Your husband told me not to worry about you, you’re a strong person.” I said, “Well how dare my husband say that I’m a strong person!” But everyone’s always telling me that I’m a strong person. Why am I a strong person? I don’t think I’m a strong person. I don’t know, I just, I don’t see myself as a strong person. I thought, how dare he say I’m a strong person. I see myself as “eh.”
I’m just trying to survive, you know. It’s hard now. It was nice with the two of us you know, he did this part, I did my part…it was just great. If he needed help, I’d be there, if I needed help, he’d be there. Now I have to do both sides. It’s hard. It’s been nine years. It feels like it just happened. To me it feels like it just happened.
And to this day I keep saying, “Why didn’t I do this?” Towards the end, he was sick and all that. How stupid could I have been? Why didn’t I let him do that, why didn’t I do this. Why didn’t I…one time I mentioned it to my friend and she said, “You shouldn’t do that. Let that go, let that go.” But it’s not that easy because you’re always remembering, thinking about…you know… I look out the window and I see him standing here and I think, “Why didn’t I realize it was that close?”
One day he went out, I took him out in the backyard. He didn’t want to go, he was standing in the kitchen and he said, “I’m going to go back to bed.” I said, “Why don’t you go outside, let’s go out in the backyard and get some sun.” It was a beautiful morning, I said, “Let’s go for just a few minutes.” So I helped him outside. We stood out there about two minutes and then he said, “I want to go back in the house.” I said, “OK.” There’s a small step. He couldn’t go up the step. And I thought, “Oh God, what am I going to do?” We tried this and we tried that, but he just couldn’t go up. I finally said, “Let me call the neighbor.” He said, “No, I don’t want you to call the neighbor.” “Well let me call the guy across the street.” “No.” He had been a strong man. I guess he didn’t want them to see him like this. I didn’t know what to do. My son was already living in – no, he wasn’t living in Hawaii yet, but I couldn’t get a hold of him so I called my brother and I asked him to come over. We just had to wait ‘til he got there. We just stood out there until he came to help us get in. That’s when I first realized he was going downhill. And now I wonder why didn’t I get the board from the garage? Once before when we came from the doctor and he couldn’t go up the steps, he told me to get that board over there
and put it there. It made it like a ramp and he was able to come up the step. I thought later, “Why didn’t I think of that then? Why didn’t I get that stupid board and put it there?” You know, to this day I keep asking myself, “Why didn’t I do that?” I mean… why didn’t I do that, why didn’t I remember?
And the hospice, don’t say that word to me, I can’t stand it. I loathe hospice. My daughter said, “Mom, I didn’t know you felt that way.” And I said, “That’s the way I feel.” I told her, “Don’t you ever, ever dare call them for me. Don’t let them put a hand on me!” And you know, when they came to the house I was rude to them, I was…I was bitter and angry and I was rude to them. And when the doctor called from Stanford I was very rude to him, I told him off. I was just, you know, so rude.
I would have changed a lot of things had I known. They always say if I only knew what I know now… just dumb I guess…but I would have done it different. I would have done it so different, but you don’t know, you really don’t. You just don’t know what to do. You know it’s an emotional time and…oh I don’t know… I still ask myself to this day why I didn’t do this, or why I didn’t do that…but that’s what this guy told me. I said, “I don’t know what to tell you.” He said, “I don’t either, but I know it was your husband that I saw when I was praying.”
And then all the other little things that happened. I know he’s around me all the time. I really don’t know if there is life after death, but I’ve had some experiences, believe me. So don’t ever say nothing nasty, cuz they’re right there.
© 2011 The Terrain Project.