home again!

It is certainly time for me to let you know that I’ve made it to Tucson safe and sound.  I’ve been here three weeks now and have spent most of that time unpacking, organizing and resting.  I might have been done with it all if I had the shelving I needed but it hasn’t arrived yet.  Well, technically the shelves are here but the upright parts aren’t yet so the shelves are useless in this moment!

Our very trusty and comfortable Penske rental truck with my less than trusty car behind it!

Our very trusty and comfortable Penske rental truck with my less than trusty car behind it!

I feel quite at home here, not just in Tucson but specifically in our apartment.  Given that I rented it sight unseen that’s a good thing!  One side of the apartment faces desert which makes me quite happy.  Every evening as the sun descends the coyotes can be heard singing their good night song.  I’ve seen a family of quail right outside my bedroom window!  Just tonight I saw an owl sitting on a chimney (yeah, we all have wood burning fireplaces in our apartments, something I doubt I’ll ever use but who knows?)

A rainbow as we left Sarasota.  I took this to be a good omen!

A rainbow as we left Sarasota. I took this to be a good omen!

The trip cross country couldn’t have been any better.  The weather was near perfect, the drive uneventful and I had only one questionable day.  That’s one day out of fifteen, two if you count the day we arrived here but that was just stress and overwhelm.

Storm clouds gathering as we left Sarasota, FL.  Our weather was near perfect with very little rain.

Storm clouds gathering as we left Sarasota, FL. Our weather was near perfect with very little rain.

There were several high points during the trip.  My favorite thing was finally getting to meet a Facebook friend (Linda Van Kampen) in Florida.  She was exactly the wonderful person I expected her to be.

A rainbow as we left Sarasota.  I took this to be a good omen!

A rainbow as we left Sarasota. I took this to be a good omen!

We spent extra days in San Antonio and Carlsbad, NM where we got to do the Riverwalk and explore the caverns, respectfully.  The caverns were a really amazing experience.

The Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX

The Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX

 

The Riverwalk.

The Riverwalk.

We ate wonderfully during the trip and neither of us gained any weight at all!  We ate at a Chinese buffet, had stromboli/calzone, indulged in filet mignon, enjoyed a night of Mexican food with a mango margarita and I had my first In-N-Out burger!  We had fun driving in the truck, talking about just about everything we could and singing Willy Nelson’s On the Road Again each morning!  Davette, my trusty driver and friend, now considers herself to be Picasso’s second mother.  They became close friends during the trip.  Davette took a video of Picasso jumping from bed to bed and has shown it to quite a few people like a proud mother showing off her kid’s newest antics.  And speaking of Picasso, he was nothing but a perfect gentleman on the trip.  I even felt comfortable leaving him by himself in hotel rooms, something I’ve not done before.  It was clear that he was going to be okay with it and, yes, he was perfect.

No photograph could ever capture the majesty of Carlsbad Caverns.  It is something that truly has to be experienced.

No photograph could ever capture the majesty of Carlsbad Caverns. It is something that truly has to be experienced.

 

The dim lighting in the caverns made for some interesting standing for me!  Let's put it this way - darned good thing there were handrails throughout!

The dim lighting in the caverns made for some interesting standing for me! Let’s put it this way – darned good thing there were handrails throughout!

Another one of the high points came when we were in our room in Carlsbad.  We hadn’t even gotten settled yet.  I was coming out of the bathroom while Davette was fiddling around when a man suddenly walked into the room!  Woohoo!  The first man I’ve had in my bedroom in quite a while!  Sadly he was there by mistake, the front desk having assigned him the same room they just gave to us minutes before.  Thankfully we were all dressed although Picasso certainly gave him a good barking, all while wagging his tail.  Great watchdog, ready to lick a intruder to death.  Good thing he’s so cute!

Sugar cane fields in Louisiana.  We just had to stop at a distillery where they make rum from the sugar cane.  Of course we had to test out their wares!

Sugar cane fields in Louisiana. We just had to stop at a distillery where they make rum from the sugar cane. Of course we had to test out their wares!

So here I am in Tucson…or is it Florida?  My brain has known I have “gone back” but sometimes thinks I went back to Florida, not Tucson, so at any moment I might be thinking of going to Publix rather than Albertson’s.  My driving has been limited to a very small area but I do manage to get out a bit more than I had been.  My trusty steed, my car, has been back in the shop for the last two weeks.  The loaner car looks exactly like mine except for the fact that it has been emasculated by having been given an automatic transmission rather than a stick shift.  Supposedly my car’s clutch is just fine, thank you (I’ve heard this before), but a part of the roof (an air dam) needed to be replaced and has taken a whole lot longer than I would’ve expected.

The clouds were truly awesome during our trip.  This is but one example.

The clouds were truly awesome during our trip. This is but one example.

While I’m quite tired and my body is complaining about all I’ve been forcing it to do (packing, sitting in a truck for hours on end for two weeks, unpacking) overall everything is good here.  I’ve gotten to spend time with old friends I’ve not seen in a while, rekindled lost friendships and appear to be heading toward making some new friends.

Arizona!!!

Arizona!!!

Picasso loves it here.  As much as he hates the heat he seems to be doing quite well in the desert.  He has developed some new routines and has resurrected some old ones (howling in the morning as I grab the leash for his first walk as well as howling when I’m getting his food ready).  There is a “racetrack” in the apartment, extending from the kitchen to the dining room to the living room to the hall and back to the kitchen again.  Picasso especially loves to run the racetrack whenever I grab a paper towel to clean his face after he has eaten.  Perhaps he thinks I need the exercise but all it does for me is make me more dizzy than I already am!  He has also found playing “monster” to be a whole lot more fun here.  Of course I am the monster and he is running away from me.  Seems that running away from me is a real theme here!  On any given evening Picasso can be found in his kennel in the bedroom after having abandoned me in the living room.  He seems quite content.

Again!  The only reason my car was back on the tow truck was for a dead battery which was completely covered by warranty!  Whew!

Again! The only reason my car was back on the tow truck was for a dead battery which was completely covered by warranty! Whew!

Well that’s the quick version of how things have been.  I’m going to try to get this up on my website right away since the previous ones I’ve written never got posted.  I’ll throw in a few photos taken with my iPhone and call it good.  My camera has been taking a rest while I unpack.  I’ll try to get back to you again soon, after I’m done with the whole unpacking and organizing thing.  I will say that I’ve no doubt I’m exactly where I need to be right now.  It is good to be home again.

A Tucson sunset as seen from my apartment.

A Tucson sunset as seen from my apartment.

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

buen viaje!

The soul’s true happiness lies in experiencing the inner joy, and it will never be fully satisfied with outer, seeming pleasures. Its connection is with God, and nothing short of perfection will ever satisfy it.

Bowl of Saki, July 19, by Hazrat Inayat Khan

The above quote represents my journey so well.  While it would appear to have been a geographical one, the reality is that my journey is much more on the inner level.  The truth is this quote may have little to do with the following post but I really liked it and wanted to share it with you!

It has been one helluva journey but like all good journeys there comes a time when the end approaches and it’s time to go home.  And so it is with this journey.

A white wing dove partaking of some saguaro fruit. The saguaro is that real tall cactus that typifies what people think of when they think of the desert.

A white wing dove partaking of some saguaro fruit. The saguaro is that real tall cactus that typifies what people think of when they think of the desert.

I started out in Tucson, hearing the call of the road.  I left and found myself in Costa Rica for two years.  So much to love about that country, particularly the people and even more so my friends Juan and Renan whom I miss dearly.  Mom came down which made things a bit rocky for a while until we were able to find her a place of her own and then, like magic, it all worked until we needed to leave Costa Rica for the States again.  Mom was no longer able to walk and getting her around was impossible.  She couldn’t be treated adequately in Costa Rica and we somehow found our way to Florida.  Once we got to Florida it turned out she was also suffering from congestive heart failure so the move was quite fortuitous.  And who could forget the craziness of my pilfered shipping container when it finally arrived from Costa Rica?  Certainly not I!  That was one hellish time, to say the least!

 

The beautiful Pacific Ocean from Jaco, Costa Rica.

The beautiful Pacific Ocean from Jaco, Costa Rica.

 

I will never forget the long night I spent in Costa Rica waiting to get this shot. It was worth it!

I will never forget the long night I spent in Costa Rica waiting to get this shot. It was worth it!

 

A beautiful Costa Rican orchid. Juan and I often went out to explore the various parks together.

A beautiful Costa Rican orchid. Juan and I often went out to explore the various parks together.

 

It still makes a little sad to see the disaster the container from Costa Rica was when it reached my apartment in Florida.

It still makes me a little sad to see the disaster the container from Costa Rica was when it reached my apartment in Florida.

The Bradenton/Sarasota area is vastly less crowded than many of the eastern Florida cities and I really liked the calm of the Gulf.  I met some wonderful people there, many of whom I still maintain contact with.  However, because of mom’s illness, which got progressively worse, it was a very stressful time with my having little energy for other people and new friends.  Still, I look back at my time there fondly and I will always love Publix (the local supermarket)!  Who every would’ve thought I’d get a motorcycle license but that’s just one of the interesting things I did while I was there!

My first view of the Gulf of Mexico in Siesta Key, FL. I was still living in Costa Rica but making arrangements to rent my apartment in Bradenton.

My first view of the Gulf of Mexico in Siesta Key, FL. I was still living in Costa Rica but making arrangements to rent my apartment in Bradenton.

 

A view from Bradenton Beach.

A view from Bradenton Beach.

I made the decision to get an RV and travel after three years in Bradenton.  I didn’t go very far at first – just up the road a piece to Ruskin so I could still visit with mom frequently and easily.  It was a journey of sorts but not a very distant one.  I learned a lot about how to live in an RV, albeit a relatively small one, during that time.  But if I’m really truthful about it, summer in an RV in Florida just wasn’t the easiest thing to do!  Between the mosquitos and no-see-ems I felt like I was too often sequestered within my RV!

My first RV during our walk-through before I took possession of it.

My first RV during our walk-through before I took possession of it.

 

The Little Manatee River as seen from Hide-A-Way RV Park in Ruskin, FL.

The Little Manatee River as seen from Hide-A-Way RV Park in Ruskin, FL.

 

The Spanish Moss hanging off of a tree at my campsite in Ruskin.

The Spanish Moss hanging off of a tree at my campsite in Ruskin.

 

I took this shot when I was living in Ruskin after starting the infamous RV journey. It always makes me smile.

I took this shot when I was living in Ruskin after starting the infamous RV journey. It always makes me smile.  Can you see the little child?  He was playing within the sign and they are talking with him.

And then came the day for my first long journey in the RV – leaving Florida to go to Indiana to visit my son and his family.  Stops were to include Jacksonville in Florida, South Carolina, the western mountains of North Carolina, Kentucky and finally Indiana.  The plan was to go back by an entirely different route but that was not to happen.

My first RV at our first stop in Jacksonville, FL for our first journey. Lots of firsts there!

My first RV at our first stop in Jacksonville, FL for our first journey. Lots of firsts there!

My car “conveniently” broke down while in Ferguson, NC and it took over three weeks to be repaired.  During that time I fell in love with the area and decided to remain here for a while.  I’ve always considered myself more of mountain girl than anything else.  I did manage to see the grandkids twice, once with a rental car in October and again in November for Thanksgiving with my car after it was repaired.  I also made three trips back down to Florida to visit mom including the last, final trip to take care of things after her passing.  There was a whole lot of driving during that time, less than four months and over 9,000 miles!

My first real fall in nearly 20 years. This was taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

My first real fall in nearly 20 years. This was taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I loved spending my first more or less real winter in nearly two decades here in NC after watching the leaves turn all sorts of beautiful colors the previous fall.  There was something about last winter that made my heart soar.  Out of all the photos I’ve taken while here, the ice storm photos remain my favorite as a series.  But that was also the time mom took her leave.  She was sure I was supposed to be there for her passing, as was I, but it was not to happen and she passed a mere five days after the last time I saw her.  I wished I could have been there but given the difficulty she experienced prior to her passing I think it was for the best that I wasn’t.  However, it still haunts me knowing she was screaming for me, begging me to come help her since I was always there for her.  The reality was there wasn’t anything I could’ve done anyway but I do wish I had been there.  Luckily she had two very wonderful surrogates who were able to hold her hand, literally and figuratively, as she passed through this difficult time.  I maintained contact with her throughout the day of her death talking with her (or to her) three different times, even when she was no longer really cognitively with it.  I also kept in touch with those who were watching over her.  It ended up being a peaceful death in the end but getting there was so difficult for her and all those around her.  I was told that was quite typical for those with COPD issues since not being able to breathe is quite terrifying.  I will never forget the story the man who came to pick up her body to bring to the crematory told me.  As he was taking her from the room, Emma, mom’s roommate, simply said to her, “Good-bye my friend!”  That really broke me up, and still does, since mom had so very few friends in her life but when she really needed one God provided!

The second RV hanging out in Ferguson in the snow.

The second RV hanging out in Ferguson in the snow.

 

My favorite winter shot from here in Ferguson.

My favorite winter shot from here in Ferguson.

 

The day mom died we had the biggest snow storm of the season here in North Carolina.  It was also the day the first cardinal arrived to partake of the bird feeder I had out there for about two months without any visitors at all.  I believe that somehow she managed to influence that first bird to come visit me that day.  Just two days after her passing, after the snow melted enough for me to drive, I made my way back to Florida to take care of all the arrangements.  When I got back home I took some down time for myself, time to just be on my own and mourn as well as rejoice in the peace mom finally found for the first time in her life, a peace I was also feeling living in the solitude of winter.  After only a week or two I started to write again in the mornings, something I couldn’t do for years because of taking care of mom, and I wrote furiously.  In the next ten weeks I wrote over 500 handwritten pages, most of it extremely good material.  Every morning I woke up thrilled to be alive and managing to get this incredible material down on paper.  I shared it with a few friends, all of whom seemed genuinely excited about it and how it could apply to their lives or to others they knew.  This, I was sure, was the reason I moved here, so I could get this epic written.  Deep solitude was the only way it would have happened.

Mom's cardinal.

Mom’s cardinal.

 

Here's my girl getting some sustenance. To me she looks like she is nursing off the plant.

Here’s my girl getting some sustenance. To me she looks like she is nursing off the plant.

 

One day I decided it was time to go to the DMV in town and finally switch over my plates and license from Florida to North Carolina.  I had been putting it off forever!  It was a mere three days before my birthday, the day my registration and license both expired, and a mere three days after I got insurance for the first time since I left Tucson six years previously.  I had put it off long enough!

It was a beautiful day so I was driving with the top down, really enjoying life.  Things were finally going well – the writing was better than I’d ever have expected, I was enjoying my life more than I had in a very long time and I was just plain old happy.  I knew I was on the right path and it felt great to be on that path.

And then a young driver in a red pickup truck changed it all.  He hit the back of my car twice and I hit the truck in front of me once.  Those three bonks have changed my life, probably forever.  I have since had what appears to be seizures.  I can no longer drive (doctor’s orders), at least for now.  The end of next month I will be going for a sleep deprived EEG (no sleep at all the previous night with testing early that morning; the idea is to stress the brain to see if it will produce seizures.  I absolutely, positively dread this test since the plain EEG was so difficult for me.).  If I have seizures, I will be diagnosed as having epilepsy.  (Which reminds me – I didn’t take my anti-seizure medicine yet…okay, done!).  If I have epilepsy, I will not be able to drive a minimum of six months.

One of the beautiful Ferguson sunsets.

One of the beautiful Ferguson sunsets.

So now I’m looking at the next part of my journey.  Not being able to drive pretty much makes living here an impossibility.  Plus the intense solitude, something I longed for, is now starting to feel oppressive in some ways since there are few things I’m still able to do right now.  Both reading and writing the way I had been are impossible.  I’ve looked at potential places to move the RV where I’d be closer to town but none of those would work for various reasons.  I’ve known I needed to consider where my journey would take me next and ended up with two possibilities – Indiana to be around my son and family or back to Tucson to be with friends.

The next stop of this journey with all sorts of crazy stopping off points will be back to Tucson, thus coming full circle.  My son, while assuring me he would love to have me near them, believes like I do that friends would probably be even more important in the moment.  He also knows I never really did want to leave Tucson, certainly not permanently, but did so for a variety of reasons that no longer exist.  It is time for me to go home again.  My six year “vacation” is over.

I fell in love with Tucson much like I fell in love with the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina – I barely entered into the area in both cases and it was truly love at first sight.  I would’ve been happy staying here in the mountains albeit without so much solitude but a young man in a red pickup truck kinda changed all that for me.  I didn’t think I’d ever be ready to leave here and, at this point, I’m still not really ready but I will be in another couple of months when the time comes to actually do this next phase of the journey.  Right now I’m shooting for starting the journey out of here around mid-September.

And so my decision has come to end this blog.  It is up for renewal by the end of this month anyway so the timing is right.  I really debated this since I’ve loved communicating with you in this format.  However, writing has gotten so much more difficult and I really don’t have that much to say right now.  If I change my mind, I will save the whole website so I can bring it back to life once again.

One of my more artistic endeavors of a flower in Ferguson.

One of my more artistic endeavors of a flower in Ferguson.

Thank you so much for your love and support.  I have loved sharing my journey with you.  Hopefully we will remain in touch one way or another after this but if not, I’m so very grateful we have met.

¡Buen viaje!  May God bless you on your journeys!

[Okay, so I realize I can’t really just say goodbye to you at this point since my journey will be continuing.  I just got off the phone with BlueHost, my web hosting peeps, and negotiated a much better price so we will be here for a while longer at this point.  I’m pretty sure it was the right thing to do!  So, journey on!]

A stunning monsoon Tucson sunset. And people wonder why monsoon is my favorite season in Tucson?

A stunning monsoon Tucson sunset. And people wonder why monsoon is my favorite season in Tucson?

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

summertime & the living is….

Yep, it is summer and the living isn’t exactly what I would’ve expected.  But I sit here with some lemonade that I made from all those darned lemons I seem to be accumulating and I’m ready and raring to go!  However, I’m still not quite ready to get there by driving since my wings are still temporarily clipped!

I was standing in my RV kitchen looking out the back window toward the stream.  I noticed a wildflower sticking up above the other plants and grass out there.  I really liked it and have taken its photograph several times including this one.  The flowers are small, less than 3/4 of an inch.

I was standing in my RV kitchen looking out the back window toward the stream. I noticed a wildflower sticking up above the other plants and grass out there. I really liked it and have taken its photograph several times including this one. The flowers are small, less than 3/4 of an inch.

Thanks to the wonderful things many of you mentioned to me about my photography and the very real reality that there is little I’m able to do until we find the right anti-seizure medication (currently on my 4th one), I’ve decided to plunge into photography because it remains one of the few things I can do.  Every day I try to get out and take some photos or, minimally, edit them on my computer.  You’d be surprised by how much there is to photograph here!  I downloaded some updated software programs, took some online classes to better learn how to use them and even decided to add a new lens to my kit so I could take telephoto images.  Given how my credit card got more than a little bloated with this extravagance, it had better be worth it, right?  I’m happy to report that I think it was both in terms of the joy it has given me so far and as well as the images I’ve gotten!  You will be the judge of that when I show you some of my new work.

I'm not sure if this is getting ready to bloom or has already bloomed.  I just liked its "head down" shape and felt compelled to take its photograph.

I’m not sure if this is getting ready to bloom or has already bloomed. I just liked its “head down” shape and felt compelled to take its photograph.

I will say that watching those videos on the new programs I had downloaded and then trying to implement them was more than just a little interesting.  Thankfully I was able to restrain myself from throwing anything at the computer or throwing the computer out the window!  I did a little at a time to keep the frustration manageable and finally did manage to learn what I needed to learn.  Well, mostly.  There’s still something in Photoshop I used to know how to do in the old program but no longer can make work in the updated version.  I still have to figure that one out.

This little girl box turtle was down by the stream.  I assumed she was burying eggs since it is that time of year.  As soon as I got back into the house I saw another one, also a female!

This little girl box turtle was down by the stream. I assumed she was burying eggs since it is that time of year. As soon as I got back into the house I saw another one, also a female!

My new life theme is a version of “Grow where you are planted” which, for me, has become “Shoot where you be!”  The longer I stay here without being able to get out, the more I see how very much there is here to learn about, get to know and photograph.  I’ve found an intimacy with the flora and fauna that has been a surprise with both yielding their secrets to me.  I hope that you can feel that intimacy through the images I’ve captured.  Hopefully through this intimacy you will be able to see their souls.

Enjoy!

One of the flowers I was particularly excited about finally seeing was the rhododendron that are on the other side of the stream.  This photo was take around 30 feet away thanks to my new lens!

One of the flowers I was particularly excited about finally seeing was the rhododendron that are on the other side of the stream. This photo was taken around 30 feet away thanks to my new lens!

 

A rhododendron bud from across the stream.

A rhododendron bud from across the stream.

 

My eye caught the rhododendron flower petals on this rock.   There was just something about it that spoke to me and so I started to shoot it.  Kind of a still life.

My eye caught the rhododendron flower petals on this rock.  There was just something about it that spoke to me and so I started to shoot it. Kind of a still life.

 

I found this guy and his friends eating my tomato plants a few days ago.  After taking his photo I decided to spray him with an all natural substance I was told would work to kill him.  It worked.  However, it also worked at nearly killing my tomato plants.

I found this guy and his friends eating my tomato plants a few days ago. After taking his photo I decided to spray him with an all natural substance I was told would work to kill him. It worked. However, it also worked at nearly killing my tomato plants.

 

I had trimmed my plants after attempting to kill them.  Don't ask.  Not intentional.  Anyway, this little guy was nestled in one of the leaves.  So pretty!

I had trimmed my plants after attempting to kill them. Don’t ask. Not intentional. Anyway, this little guy was nestled in one of the leaves. So pretty!

 

This may be the cardinal that showed up the day my mom was dying.  I waited over two months for birds to come to my feeder and this cardinal was the one to finally break the drought.

This may be the cardinal that showed up the day my mom was dying. I waited over two months for birds to come to my feeder and this cardinal was the one to finally break the drought.

 

Sunflowers - such happy flowers!  I particularly liked this one with its floppy "ear", perhaps because it wasn't perfect and had character.

Sunflowers – such happy flowers! I particularly liked this one with its floppy “ear”, perhaps because it wasn’t perfect and had character.

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

ten days

As I write this it has been ten days since my mother’s death.  Time behaves oddly after something like this.  At two days I couldn’t believe it was only two days and now at ten days it seems like it has been much less than that.  I cannot say it was unexpected since she was suffering from both COPD and congestive heart failure but in the end, it went very fast.  Just before New Year’s Day she was admitted to the hospital with an exacerbation of the COPD.  She was unable to breathe and the facility was not able to bring her back to any kind of comfort level so off she went.  While she was a DNR (do not resuscitate or re-sue-citate as she called it that day), that didn’t mean they wouldn’t embark on whatever other treatments they might deem necessary to help her.  They put her on a Bi-PAP machine, similar to the CPAP used for sleep apnea.  The difference is the CPAP is pressurized in just one direction (breathing in) while the Bi-PAP is pressurized in both directions (breathing in; breathing out).  I’m told that the treatment is quite intense and difficult for anybody but particularly so for an elderly person.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to be there since I was in North Carolina at the time.  What I was aware of two main things in mom while she was in the hospital – an incredible amount of confusion as well as a lot of chest discomfort and pain.  The nurse assured me that the chest discomfort wasn’t a heart issue but rather from the treatment she received in the ER.  I guess that makes sense if you understand that she was unable to take a breath either in or out and this machine forced that to happen.  That would have to hurt.

It was at that time that I decided it would be more merciful to not have her undergo that treatment again and began to explore the option of hospice.  From what I understood, hospice would be able to keep her far more comfortable, using morphine to help ease her breathing and Xanax to manage the anxiety that is so ubiquitous to COPD.  Hospice was implemented prior to her return to the nursing home.  By consenting to hospice I knew she would not go back to the emergency room but, instead, would have the opportunity to hopefully die with dignity and grace whenever that time would come.  Admittedly, this was not an easy decision to have made especially without support.  I just knew she didn’t want to go through what she had in the emergency room and ICU again.  Nor did I.  There had to be a better way and hospice gave us that option.

After returning to the nursing home, mom questioned me several times about why they didn’t let her die in the hospital.  She was clear that she no longer wished to live this life as it was now presented to her.  My brothers made arrangements to visit with her.  I arrived in Florida the day they were leaving, our paths paralleling each other rather than crossing so we did not see each other.  The day before I arrived she evidently had new issue.  This time her blood pressure dropped to something like 70/30, a level that caused no small amount of concern to the nursing staff with one nurse calling me to confirm my decision not to send mom to the ER if it got worse. Again, that’s a very hard thing to affirm although I did.  The finality of that statement hung over me, making me question my original decision to go forth into hospice.  I stuck with hospice knowing that was what she wanted as well as the right thing to do overall.  There were some who told me that with my brothers’ presence she totally overdid it and felt this drop in blood pressure was the result.  I’m sure mom’s tiredness was not quite as visible as it would be to me since she was so excited to see the two of them.  Her excitement would overcome her tiredness, at least while they were there.  After they left for the day she was exhausted and fell into a deep sleep.  It had been years (two and three years) since she had seen either of them.  I was concerned since I was the one to see the tiredness between their visits on the three days they were there.  I kept trying to tell her to bring it down a few levels since she was so tired but she wouldn’t listen since she was happy to finally see the two of them.

When I saw her that Tuesday evening after my arrival I have to admit to being shook to my core.  She looked awful and sounded a whole lot worse.  Her speech was slurred and she was more confused than I had ever seen or heard before.  Mom had no idea if it was day or night even though it was obviously sunny outside.  If it was really 3:30 in the afternoon, she told me, why was she still in bed?  She kept telling me, “I’m so confoosed” which was how she pronounced it.  I actually videoed our conversation since I was sure no one would believe how she sounded and was acting.  I feared the mom I knew not that long ago was gone forever.

Picasso didn't care how mom sounded, he loved her nonetheless and unconditionally.  She always said it was Picasso who taught her how to laugh again!

Picasso didn’t care how mom sounded, he loved her nonetheless and unconditionally. She always said it was Picasso who taught her how to laugh again!

That night I spoke with a friend, telling him I knew she was still terrified of death, something I had been trying to help her overcome.  Now with death pounding at the door something had to be done to help her, but what?  I knew words wouldn’t work since her mind, even if confused, would find a way to block my words and defend against them as has always been the case.  I told him how I wished I had some of my crystal singing bowls to play for her knowing how well they worked with her in the past, going right past her cognitive objections and defenses and directly to her heart and soul.  We went back and forth with various ideas when I remembered I knew someone, William, who played the crystal bowls as a Divine offering to others, even working with hospice patients in the past.  I called him that night and he returned the call the following morning.  William was available that very evening.  The timing was perfect.  Of course!

Mom was excited about having the bowl concert but forgot all about it almost immediately after I told her.  We were allowed to use the conference room since it would not be occupied at that hour.  Using the conference room and particularly the large conference table allowed William the room he needed to spread out all his sound therapy instruments.  It also gave us privacy.  Mom had again been in bed all day until 4 PM when they got her into her wheelchair as I had requested earlier that day.  Even though I told her about the concert just moments before, when we arrived in the conference room mom was convinced we were there for a conference for her, one that already happened the day before, immediately after I arrived in Florida.  I reminded her why we were there.  When she and William first saw each other it was love at first sight!  The two of them fell into a state of love that would have to be experienced to be understood.  Their two souls met and recognized each other instantly.  Oh, the love!  It transcended everything.  There are no words adequate to describe their experience nor mine as I watched.  It was love personified.

Just after William and mom first met.

Just after William and mom first met.

William and mom prior to the concert.

William and mom prior to the concert.

A conference table full of singing bowls and other sound therapy tools.

A conference table full of singing bowls and other sound therapy tools.

William walked over to her, hugged her and held her hands for what seemed like a very long time.  Finally he began to play the bowls and mom was immediately transported into another world.  Her face, previously contorted with pain and confusion, now showed what could best be described as ecstasy.  The sounds of the bowls brought her into what she said was heaven.  For the first time in her life she told me she was no longer afraid of dying.  Mom told William how very long I had been working to help her get to this place and now she was finally here.  Her gratitude for both William and me was deep and obvious.  It was a very touching moment for me knowing all the work I had been doing finally reached its culmination.  On top of that, mom was suddenly coherent again.

Mom during the concert.

Mom during the concert while I prayed for her.

William and mom hugging it out after the bowl concert.  Mom was so deeply grateful!

William and mom hugging it out after the bowl concert. Mom was so deeply grateful!

Upon reaching her room afterwards it was amazing to see how quickly she went back to complaining about how she was feeling.  No longer in the spiritual realm, she went back into the physical which wasn’t feeling all that well. It almost seemed that she had been stockpiling those complaints which went unexpressed during the concert and now could not hold them back a moment longer.  I feared the work done by William might have evaporated just like that!  It was such a contrast from just a few moments ago.  My heart nearly broke.

I needn’t have worried.  The next day she was in much better spirits.  She was happy, joyful and in full control of her thoughts.  Later that afternoon, my son Kris arrived for a visit with her.  He later told me he couldn’t believe she could possibly be that sick even though he knew on another level that she was.  The intervention with the bowls clearly brought her to a very different place than she had been.  I’d not seen her this well for quite some time.  Of course seeing Kris also helped but the reality was that she wasn’t tiring out from our visits which was quite different.

Kris and his grandmother.  Only a week after this photo was taken she'd be gone.

Kris and his grandmother. Only a week after this photo was taken she’d be gone and you would never know it to look at her!

That Friday evening after Kris and I spent the day helping mom decide who would get what from her crystal collection, Kris and I went out to dinner.  For three hours I told him about mom (at his behest) and what her life was like growing up and her experiences as an adult.  Once learning just how difficult her life had been he experienced a new found respect for her.  Up until this point they never really had a strong relationship but now it changed for him.  The following morning, prior to his departure for home, he told her multiple times that he loved her, something he never remembered doing in the past.

Sunday morning came and it was time for me to start the journey back home to North Carolina after my visit with mom.  The week had been well beyond anything I could’ve imagined.  There was a closeness between mom and me that went beyond words.  We also both knew this would be our last time seeing each other in this life.

I planned on being there for only about an hour or so but it ended up being over four hours before I could leave.  When I arrived it was clear that mom’s body was not able to maintain that higher level of energy from the bowl concert and showed signs of deterioration, as I fully expected.  She was also frightened again.  I was leaving her and she expressed her disappointment that she hadn’t died while I was there, something we both hoped might have happened.  With all the journeys we shared together, if felt right to both of us that we would share this, her last journey.  It was obvious that she was afraid to die without me being present.  She wanted my support.  During those four hours I looked to calm her and support her again.  Once I saw improvement, I left.  Since we both knew that we would never see each other again my departure felt so much more difficult but everything that needed to be said and everything that needed to be done was taken care of.  I left feeling peace in my heart.  I felt sadness, too, but the peace really was the prevailing emotion.  No matter what, I knew everything would be okay for both of us.

Before I even drove out of the parking lot of the nursing home she called me on the phone.  The first leg of my journey was about 4.5 hours and we talked for probably 3.5 of those hours on the phone stopping only so she could eat dinner.  She needed that contact from me and perhaps I needed it from her, too.  We shared stories from our journeys together, again expressing disappointment that this final journey we would not do together.  At one point I shared a story about her on our trip to Mt. Shasta, California.  I made her laugh so hard that she started coughing and couldn’t breathe!  I felt bad that I made her cough that badly but, on the other hand, hearing her laugh that hard and probably for the last time in her life, felt good.  It was the last time I’d ever hear her laugh.

The following day, Sunday, she really started her downward descent.  It was clear that things were different.  We spent practically no time on the phone that day since she couldn’t maintain enough energy to do so.  For the next few days she required morphine more often (used to help with her breathing) and more Xanax (to control the anxiety from not being able to breathe normally).  When I was there she was having great difficulty swallowing her food or drink and would constantly spit it back up, a well known issue with those with COPD.  Very little food or liquid actually made it into her stomach.  Now, even though she was going downhill in most other areas, eating and drinking actually became a little easier.

By Thursday she found herself pretty much unable to stay awake the whole day.  In spite of that, she still insisted on going to Bingo twice, her favorite activity, once in the morning and again in the evening.  She slept through the two different sessions she attended but it didn’t matter to her – she still wanted to be there.  Mom loved her bingo!  Her roommate Emma, the first and only roommate mom ever got along with, tried to keep watch over mom but mom was still insistent on doing whatever she wanted to do.  She was like that in life and so now, too, in the dying process.  That night, mom and I were on the phone as was usually the case.  I was in the habit of talking with her no less than three times a day most days so I could assess how she was doing.  Depending on the outcome of those conversations I would then reach out to staff for help since I wasn’t there to do things myself.  In those final days I’d also reached out to Emma, my eyes and ears, for her assessment.  After determinating her physical state what became clear was how she wanted to talk and needed to have contact with me.  As much as I thought we should hang up so she could rest she would not consider it, asking me to please talk longer.  I remember thinking to myself that one never knows when the “last time” might be.  Since something felt quite different about her request, I stayed on considerably longer.  I’m so glad I listened to that quiet voice within since it turned out to be our last real conversation.  She obviously knew on some level what was about to happen.

The following morning, Friday, I called her to find her not doing well at all.  We talked for a little while but it was obvious to me that something was quite different.  She barely responded to what I had to say, remaining caught up in what she was telling me.  It was not what I would call a conversation although she could acknowledge my presence.  I spoke with Emma to see how she thought mom was doing.  Emma told me that it wasn’t good.  I could always trust Emma to tell me the truth about what was happening and not sugar coat it to make it easier on me.  I’m so grateful for her honesty and courage to always speak the truth to me.  William and I were in contact earlier that morning and he told me he planned on visiting with her after lunch.  I told him that mom had declined since the last time he saw her.  By the time he got there, she had declined even further, becoming pretty much non-responsive.

Around 1 PM I made my second phone call to mom.  She was able to pick up the phone but could no longer respond to me.  Emma continued to keep me up to date as did the nursing staff and hospice team but Emma was much more helpful in general with painting a picture for me of what was happening.  She told me that mom had been yelling for me to let her go, something I was praying for her to know just the day before.  After Emma and I spoke I launched into another round of intense prayer for mom to know that I wasn’t holding on to her and that each of her children would be fine.  It was sometime after all that when William arrived at mom’s bedside.

William later told me that he brought his bowls but mom no longer seemed to respond to them at all.  So he sat with her while she mostly yelled the whole time as he looked to comfort her.  She had a litany of yelling that she would do.  The first yelling was for me – Deborah, help me – yelled over and over again.  Eventually she then launched into the same pattern but this time for Eddie, her brother I assume (unless she knew another Eddie I didn’t know about).  This was followed by calling for Mother and finally she called for Mother of Pearl.  I’ve no specific idea what Mother of Pearl was about and have assumed perhaps it was the morphine making her mind a bit more wonky than it already was. Energetically, Mother of Pearl is a very comforting gemstone, exhibiting a mothering type of energy.  Perhaps mom was actually calling for that energy but there is no way of knowing what her seriously addled brain was thinking.  This went on for hours with just a few short breaks.

The nursing staff was concerned for William who was there for over four hours as mom continued in this manner.  Whenever she would fall asleep for just a moment or two she would then wake up screaming how she didn’t want to die yet!  I spoke to Emma several times during this period to make sure Emma was doing okay.  I was worried about her.  After all, she is a patient in rehab, not a staff member.  Her training, however, while not medical was spiritual – her husband is a pastor at a local church.  Between the church and the people I asked to pray though Facebook mom must have had well over two hundred people lifting her up in prayer during this time.  I’m so grateful for their faithfulness.

William left only after a hospice vigil volunteer arrived to relieve him.  He told me he would’ve stayed if no one else showed up to remain at mom’s side or if he wasn’t comfortable with the replacement.  After four hours he was naturally exhausted.  Emma, God bless her, remained in her room the whole time to watch over the process and offer support when needed.  She was mom’s guardian angel, along with William, in human form.

With all the yelling and screaming mom was doing I felt certain that the end would be imminent.  No way her body was going to recuperate from the energy expended by yelling like that.  The last time I spoke with her was sometime after dinner, not that mom was capable of eating.  At that time she was repeating what I think was “Aid, PLEASE!” over and over again.  The “please” part was quite clear and emphatic; I was less sure about the first word.  I joked with her that I didn’t think she could hear me with all that racket she was making.  Briefly she stopped and then resumed again.  This happened three different times.  In talking with Emma, she felt sure mom was responding to my talking with her since she didn’t stop like that other times.  I ended my talk to mom telling her how Picasso and I loved her and we were with her even if not physically.  I said it several times hoping that she would be able to hear it over her noise.  I never spoke to her again.

I got the call that evening around 10:15 PM.  The nurse was hesitant and unsure of how to tell me that my mother had “expired” at 10 PM.  My response was, “Oh, I’m so glad!”  Probably a little unexpected but I quickly added how I was happy mom was no longer suffering.  After we hung up I sat there for moment marking this momentous occasion in my mind before starting to call everyone, saving my west coast friends for later since they’d still be awake.

At 11 PM my phone rang again.  This time it was Emma.  She told me how she wanted to call me sooner but the aides wouldn’t allow her fearing her blood pressure could become problematic.  As soon as the second shift ended she picked up her phone to call me.  Oh, how I love this woman!  In the end, even after all the noise mom was making, her passing was peaceful.  Mom had been asleep for about 15 minutes when Emma heard mom take her last breath.  Emma immediately knew this was it and called the nurses.  In the end, it was just the two of them – Emma and my mom.  I am so grateful it worked out that way.  Emma kept reassuring mom, telling mom not to worry since God loved her.  At some point during the day Mom told Emma she was ready to die but was still afraid of the process itself.  Emma eased her into the transition.

At around 2 AM the man from the crematory came to get mom’s body.  After doing what was needed, he pushed her past Emma’s bed and heard Emma tell mom, “Good bye, my friend”.  I still cannot recount that without tears in my eyes.  Mom never had a real friend in her life…until she absolutely needed one and God provided her with the perfect friend!

Goodbye my friend!

Goodbye my friend!

And so after 91 years of life, mom, probably for the first time in her life, finally surrendered.  She was always the perennial fighter, even to the end.  There is so much more I’d like to share with you about mom’s journey in life so you would be able to understand how amazing the end of her life truly was.  For now, this is all I have in me.  Picasso and I went back to Florida again only a week after getting home from the last trip to get everything of her’s in order and take care of her final arrangements.  We are now home again to begin our mourning process.

Helen Gutowski Jones Weitz

                                                          May 29th, 1924 – January 22, 2016

When I think of mom, this is the song that comes to mind.  The rose in the background image is one of 80 I gave to her for her 80th birthday.  To hear the song performed by Coldplay, please click the photo.

When I think of mom, this is the song that comes to mind. The rose in the background image is one of 80 I gave to her for her 80th birthday. To hear the song performed by Coldplay, please click the photo.

Mom, Picasso and I love you and miss you very much. You are finally free to soar with the birds!  Fly on!

©  2016 deborah kauffeld

 

just another day…

Life in an RV, while potentially fun, is anything but normal when compared to living in a sticks and bricks house.  Little things in a normal house can be more challenging in a rolling home, even if it’s not rolling in the moment.

Case in point – getting internet set up in a stationary RV.  Now you probably wouldn’t think it all that difficult, right?  I first made arrangements for them to come out here over a month ago.  I was told it would be 7-10 days before it would be installed.  At the ten day point I called them and was told that I would be hearing from them shortly.  A few days later Jim the park owner told me they were supposed to be coming that day but, instead, they wouldn’t be coming for another four days due to the weather.  Finally, on the Monday prior to Thanksgiving, they arrived to start digging the trench and laying the fiber optics.  I left for Indiana and Thanksgiving with my family the next day with an appointment set up for the following Tuesday for the install.

As it seems to be doing all too often, the rains came and kept them from finishing their work on time, thus pushing the install for another two days.

Marcus working on the exterior installation of the internet.  The coiled blue hose is my heated water hose, necessary for winter to keep water coming into the RV from freezing.  To the left of the hose is the water spigot which is also outfitted for freezing temps.

Marcus working on the exterior installation of the internet. The coiled blue hose is my heated water hose, necessary for winter to keep water coming into the RV from freezing. To the left of the hose is the water spigot which is also outfitted for freezing temps.

On Thursday they arrived exactly at 8:30 AM, as scheduled.  Now I should’ve known things were going to be different when a cable company actually arrived on time!  Two men in two trucks started to work outside the RV when Jim arrived.  I was quite grateful for his arrival since I had just found out that the technicians were not allowed to drill any holes in RV’s for liability reasons and I was about to wield a drill myself!  Jim had already gone through the various install options with me and so was ready to help right away.

The entertainment center where the wireless router is  now housed.

There were several holes to be drilled but the fun began when trying to determine just how they were going to do the interior install.  The wiring was going to come in from the far side, opposite where the hookups were located.  To accommodate them, Jim had to install a conduit under the RV so they could bring the wires to the other side while protecting them from weather.  After going beneath the RV, they emerged into a little cubby designed for the various hookups, all insulated.  From there a hole had to be drilled to allow the cable to then cross back to the other side again, but this time inside the RV.  They needed to reach the electric outlet in the “basement” storage area of the RV for the transformer.  Another cable was then fished up into the entertainment center, requiring hole number two to be drilled.  Now if this sounds confusing to you, well, that’s the point!  Those wires went back and forth either in or out of the RV three different times – first outside in the conduit, then inside to the electric and finally back across again to reach the entertainment center.

The utility section of the RV with its various connections.

The utility section of the RV with its various connections. Beneath the RV you can see the white conduit housing the internet cables.  This shot was taken prior to the hole being drilled so the cables are all bunched up still.  

Now while this might sound simple enough, it was anything but.  Working within an RV, particularly when dealing with electrical systems, is always going to be a bit of a challenge, minimally.  Even the best built RV’s seem to use cheap labor to build them and electrical systems tend to be more than just a strange as a result.  I remember when I had work done on my other RV how the TV antenna system was more than just a little wonky and needed to be fixed prior to my being able to get TV coverage.

Jim working at finding a way to get the internet wiring into the entertainment center.

Jim working at finding a way to get the internet wiring into the entertainment center.

 

While the last shot looked like Jim was about to come up through the hole in my floor, this one appears as if the tech is going to go the other direction!

While the last shot looked like Jim was about to come up through the hole in my floor, this one appears as if the tech is going to go the other direction!

In the process of fishing wires through here and there, I got to see some of the guts of the RV.  Plumbing runs, electrical runs and sewage lines were all quite visible.  The so-called insulation – a sheet of maybe 1/2 inch foam – surrounded all the vulnerable parts.  In many RV’s there is actually even less or no insulation around these items which is why most RV’s are not appropriate for winter camping.

This is a shot I took with my head poking through that floor opening so it is looking down.  What a mess of wiring and piping down there!

This is a shot I took with my head poking through that floor opening so it is looking down. What a mess of wiring and piping down there!

While expecting the job to take around 45 minutes, it ended up taking just over two hours.  Then the hard part came – they asked me to pick a name for the router.  Oh, I hate doing those kinds of things but somehow managed to come up with the name “Picasso’s Place” rather quickly.  Then it got worse – I had to pick a password for it!  Ugh.  Just as I was ready to give up, Marcus, one of the technicians, came up with a dog related one that works perfectly!  Soon enough they left and the fun was over….

….until the next morning when there was no internet at all and no more landline either.  Worse yet, Jim closed down the internet down here so while I was able to get online for a few minutes in the morning using his internet, it wasn’t strong enough for me to place a simple Skype call.  I ended up having to go down the mountain to get cell coverage.  I had to call Brian the RV guy and confirm that he was coming at lunch time.  He arrived not too much later to fix the water heater again.

After Brian left I ended up going back down the mountain again so I could call the communications company to tell them of my problem with the internet.  They asked me to try something so that necessitated a trip back up the mountain and then down again so I could call them to tell them it didn’t work.  Now here comes the surprise – they told me a tech would have to come up.  I asked them, “Today?” to which she told me yes so I scooted back up the mountain once again.  The tech was actually here in under an hour!  Wow for their customer service! It was Marcus again from the day before, the tech who gave me my password!

After going through it all he determined that the transformer indeed needed replacing.  Within moments we were up and running again.  I’m happy to report we are still running a little over 24 hours after the last visit!

Another story about how things are different in an RV – my hot water heater still isn’t working when on electric.  For those who don’t know, most RV’s have hot water heaters that work on either electric or propane.  If one is at an RV park and hooked up to electricity, one plugs in and uses electric to heat their water.  On the other hand, if one is out “boondocking” (not using any utilities), they can have hot water by using propane to heat it.  Propane is also a whole lot quicker to heat the water and can be used when hot water is needed quickly.  Hot water tanks on RV’s are typically significantly smaller than a household tank and usually hold either 6 or 12 gallons.  My first RV had a 6 gallon tank.  I quickly learned to take short showers, turning the water off between rinses.  Works well in the summer but a little less well when it is really cold out.  The new RV has a 12 gallon tank so in theory I can take a bit longer in the shower.

I mentioned that Brian was here yesterday to fix the water heater yet again.  On his first attempt he replaced the heating rod and figured it would be good.  Thankfully I now knew not to just hop in and hope for the best!  After determining the water was too cool to shower, I switched it to run on propane, waited a little while, took my shower and then called Brian to let him know of his failed fix.  Yesterday he replaced the two relays and, finding one to have a bit of corrosion, figured it was once again fixed.  Nope, not so!  We are back on propane once again while he comes up with the next fix.  At this rate we will be soon enough replacing all the parts in the tank!

The two most recently replaced parts for the water heater.  You can see some corrosion but that still wasn't the issue.

The two most recently replaced parts for the water heater. You can see some corrosion but that still wasn’t the issue.

The reality is that I enjoy when Brian comes over since I get to pick his brain about this or that.  He is extremely knowledgable about all things RV as well as automotive.  Brian is not only a good businessman, he is also a very fair and honest man besides just being an overall good person.  Let me give you an example – I was telling Brian how I had to go to Winston-Salem to pick up my desk but given the size of my car I really wasn’t sure I would fit it and figured I’d have to rent a car.  After picking up the desk I also had to go to another town to get the office chair.  I’d be driving probably something like four hours or so.  What does Brian tell me?  Well first he tells me that I really shouldn’t take my car since there was probably no way it would fit even with the roof open.  Instead I should take his truck.  Huh?  You want me to take your truck?  He goes on to explain to me that he buys one regularly from a dealer he is friends with and gets a fleet car with high milage but low in years.  For this he pays only $5,000 and he is very happy to loan it out when needed by someone.

Now I’m not at all used to this kind of kindness and generosity.  Yes, I do believe this is how we people should all be but, sadly, it rarely materializes like that.

I don’t think I’ve ever run into so many genuinely good-hearted people as I have here in North Carolina.  Just writing about this brings tears to my eyes, tears of gratitude.  After everything I’ve been through in the past one of my biggest fears had been that I would die while still not healing the wounds from the things I’d been through.  People have really hurt me, taken advantage of me, broken my trust and proven that humans just aren’t all that nice in many cases.  I’m a trusting person but it has been so very long since my trust has been appropriately placed.  But now it appears healing is coming and I have no words to adequately express my gratitude.

Slowly my RV is becoming my home in a way the first one never could.  It is more than a function of size although that figures into it greatly.  I think it has to do with the usability of this RV as well as finding some really good people to help support me when I need it.  As a result, the RV life feels a bit more safe to me.  RV’s are not like homes and can always find new ways to show you their differences.  Part of that is the issue of taking them out on the road and bouncing them all over the place.  Imagine if you put your house on wheels and then drove at 60 miles an hour, the equivalent of a tropical storm, for hours on end.  It is no wonder they develop issues.  The other reality is that they are built terribly, even the more expensive ones, and that causes issues over time.  Staying stationary will help to ease some of those issues but there will be others.  That is the nature of an RV.

Once I’m fully settled and am ready to put the move-in process behind me, I hope to take some time to give you a tour of my home as well as the surroundings so you can see why I’m so enamored with this place.  The peace of nature here truly nurtures my soul.  I cannot wait to share that with you!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

moving – the good stuff (part 2)

[This is part two of my moving process.  You can read the first part here.]

Well, the last post covered the drama.  Now, to the other side of things.  While going back and forth between the two RV’s I couldn’t help but notice the size difference.  But rather than thinking how large the new RV is in comparison to the old one, which I would think would be the more normal response, I found myself blown away by just how small a space I was moving from!  How did I ever live in that little space for 8 months and find it to be okay?  I still can’t believe the difference!  I feel like I’m coming out of a cramped hotel room and into an actual home!  There is no comparison.  Two very different experiences.  But the first RV really did serve its purpose and I’m very grateful for it!  It got me to the beautiful mountains in North Carolina!

The next thing I couldn’t help but notice was how much stuff I crammed into that little RV!!!  It just kept coming and I thought for a while that I’d never get done – ever!  Yikes!  The thing is that while I was able to pack all this stuff into that RV, I didn’t use a whole lot of it because I couldn’t get to it easily enough.  Now things are much more spread out and more accessible.  It will be interesting to see how this affects me and how I use things differently.

As I write this I am almost completely done with the move.  I have only the desktop computer and my TV to be moved.  I need some help with the computer for sure since it is probably a two person operation to get it off the table with its monitor arm.  On my own I’d risk dropping it since I just don’t have enough hands!  The TV I could probably do on my own but my back really has had enough and if I can get a little help, why not!  Better still, pretty much everything is put away in the new RV.  Now that doesn’t mean the move-in process is actually done. Because I have to leave Tuesday (tonight is Sunday) I don’t really have the luxury of doing a great job of things.  Tomorrow I have to spend doing a bunch of errands, things that have to get done before I leave.  I’ve got all winter to reorganize things!

Now to my conclusion – I am so happy that I swapped RV’s!  I wanted a fifth wheel to begin with and now that I’m in this one I can really see why.  I feel like I’m in a real home now, something I never felt with the other one.  Don’t get me wrong – I loved that little RV but I quickly outgrew it!  The views from this RV are nothing short of stupendous!  Every window with a view!

The view out from my  current kitchen table which will soon be transformed into my desk.

The view out from my current kitchen table which will soon be transformed into my desk.  I didn’t get to take a shot of my favorite view yet so we will have to save that for another time!

I’ve only been here for three nights but already it feels quite a bit like home to me.  I’m pretty sure it will continue to grow on me since I’ve not done a whole lot other than unpack so far!  I cannot wait to begin to use the kitchen with its expansive counters!  When I get back I still have to get a fair amount of winterizing done.  The drafts through the windows are horrible so I’ll need to work on that.  I still need to get a skirt for the bottom of the RV to keep the wind from blowing underneath it.  But I love it here even if I’m a bit chilly and wondering if I will need a mortgage to pay for the propane to heat it!  Once I get to working on it, though, it should be fine.  Oh, and Picasso loves it!  He likes to romp and stomp throughout it and seems really happy here!

We even have a fireplace (electric, of course).  As you can see, Picasso is already loving it!

We even have a fireplace (electric, of course). As you can see, Picasso is already loving it!

I found it utterly weird to move but still be in the exact same location.  That’s a first for me!  I doubt there are too many who’ve done that!  I kept thinking I’d walk out the door and be somewhere else but, nope, I was still here but my experience of “here” was quite different now since the outside was now part of my inside experience because of the windows.

But perhaps the piece I cannot help but notice is the healing that being here has brought to me.  I’ve had such a hard time trusting people as well as my own intuition ever since I lost my business.  By nature I’m a rather trusting person so this has been tough on me.  Throughout this whole process I kept doubting either myself or that Brian could possibly be who he presented himself to be.  I thought I’d be snookered or that this RV was going to be a piece of garbage.  Having some of those odds and ends going wrong didn’t help but I stuck with it.

Tonight (Monday now) Brian came over and this RV is officially mine and the old one is gone.  The swap has been completed.  Brian was here with Scott, his employee.  The hot water heater turned out to need a new element, just as Brian predicted.  [Update on the hot water heater – although it appeared to work after the element was replaced, by morning the water was again only lukewarm.  Not willing to make the same mistake twice, I didn’t take a shower that morning!  Brian will be back again to fix it after Thanksgiving.) The door got fixed needing just a little adjustment.  The circuit breakers were checked and all was good.  The thermostat turned out to be working properly although the LED was a bit wonky so numbers appeared different than they should.  I now know how to work it while Brian looks for a fully working replacement.  Furthermore, Brian is here for the long haul and will be available to help with whatever work might be needed and at prices that will be much more realistic and reasonable.

I cannot tell you just how grateful I am for the help I’ve received since moving here.  Brian singlehandedly has helped my broken truster to start healing.  I followed my intuition, also broken, and have been well rewarded. I have to admit that my life has been just a little strange since I decided to go for this adventure and has been absolutely nothing like I would have expected it to have been.  My favorite activity so far in my new RV is to just sit in one of the lounge chairs with a cup of tea and just take in the wonderful pine tree outside my window as peace envelopes me in her loving arms.

My new kitchen!  Just look at all that counter space!  And speaking of counter space, it's all Corian!

My new kitchen! Just look at all that counter space! And speaking of counter space, it’s all Corian!

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I leave for Indianapolis to be with my family.  I am so grateful that we will be seeing each other again after such a relatively short period of time.

I cannot express fully how grateful I am to see this healing come over me.  It has been quite a long time and, to be honest, there were many times I had lost hope that my life would ever come together again.  I just had to keep holding on while moving forward, neither of which was easy at times.

I have to admit to wondering what will be next on my agenda.  I’ve been asked what I would be doing here all on my own for a whole winter.  The reality is I don’t have a clue!  I’m hoping to be writing but I don’t know yet.  Seems whenever I have an idea it turns out to be something different anyway which makes me wonder if I should make plans at all!

I’m also very grateful to each and every one of you who takes the time to read about my crazy, adventurous, healing life.  It’s a real pleasure to have you with me!  Life can be good again even after falling apart.  When I first decided to get the original RV it was because “my body” told me that the experience would bring healing.  I thought it would be about the travel but apparently that isn’t the case.   I just needed a new, healing location.  I feel like tremendous healing is and will continue to take place in my life while I’m here.  I’ve met some wonderful people and I’m grateful to each and everyone of them.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Our lovely turkey on the rotisserie while being smoked!  Yum!

Happy Thanksgiving! Our lovely turkey on the rotisserie while being smoked! Yum!  My son Kris did a great job on this bird while Elizabeth my daughter-in-law did all the rest!

May this Thanksgiving season find you with people you love enjoying each other’s company.  May there be a great many things for you to hold in your heart with gratitude and, if not, know that things can really change.  They have for me; they can for you.  Blessings and love to you all!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

…to the best!

When last we met, our protagonist was barely making it to the campground in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina.  As we see our heroine it is obvious that she has had the crap beaten out of her.   Oh, my!  What will happen to her next?

So let’s go to a point just prior to the getting lost part.  I’m driving the RV down the last part of the last piece of highway.  The road was hilly – up and down, up and down.  Suddenly we reached the crest of one of those hills and the Appalachian mountains were visible in the distance all covered in their smoky haze.  I looked at them, smiled and softly pronounced  – I am home!  It was an interesting statement considering this was my first time ever in North Carolina other than driving through what was probably Route 1 as we were going to Florida when I was 11.  But, yes, I knew this was home and my heart was full!

This is the crest of the hill when I first saw the mountains in the distance. Can you see them? They are hardly visible in the photo. Sorry for the quality but I was, after all, driving an RV at the time!

The crest of the hill when I first saw the mountains in the distance. Can you see them? They are hardly visible in the photo because they blend into the clouds. Sorry for the quality but I was, after all, driving an RV at the time and the windshield was quite dirty!

Not long afterwards I missed that fateful turn (see my previous post) and my trip was suddenly extended by another hour and a half.  I didn’t feel “at home” after we got to the campsite nor while we were getting settled in.  I was beyond tired at that point and actually felt pretty much nothing at all, very much a state of “left foot; right foot”, just getting the job done.  But later that night, when I took Picasso out for the last time, I heard the nighttime symphony of the owl and various insects and then I looked up at the sky.  Oh, that is heavenly!   Stars filling every space in the universe!  Yes, I felt like I was home, certainly more like “home” than I have felt in many years.  Oh, this is heavenly!

I have always thought of myself as a “mountain” girl.  I have lived in the more suburban/urban setting of New Jersey with New York City as my backyard, then moved to the desert (an environment I still love although the summers are too harsh for me), then lived in a rain forest (Costa Rica) and finally a swamp called Florida.  Okay, to be honest that “swamp” does have some great looking beaches but, no, I’m not a beach person.  I love the feeling of power as I look out at the ocean but have no need to be there as some do.  No, I’m a mountain girl and always feel most alive when I’m in the mountains surrounded by trees and breathing in the air that is somehow so energized by all those trees.  It’s my place and yet I’ve never lived there.  For years I’ve promised myself since I’ve lived in just about every other environment that I would some how, some way live in the mountains before I died.

This is the size of my side yard. Impressive, isn't it?

 This is the size of my side yard. Impressive, isn’t it?  I’ve lived in houses with smaller side yards!

Perhaps, then, it should come as no surprise that I feel so at home here.  To say I’m in love would be an understatement.  There is an energy that I’ve not experienced in 20 years since the last time I visited Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  Shenandoah forms the northern part of these Appalachian mountains and so there is some similarity.

In all that time I’ve not once experienced the turning of the leaves, the smell of the leaves as they decompose on the forest floor, nor the anticipation of spring after a long winter.  Spring is my favorite season and whether we are speaking of the desert, the rain forest or the swamp each offers a rather insipid version of spring.  My whole being craves these cyclic events.

My grill on the picnic table looks great along with my chair and the fire pit. I do need to make a fire at least once while I'm here.

My grill on the picnic table looks great along with my chair and the fire pit. I do need to make a fire at least once while I’m here. The stream is just behind those trees and quite audible.

At this point, I am expecting to come back here next summer for the season.  I will make up my mind as the two weeks progress.  I should mention that one four-footed little guy better known as Picasso seems to really love it here.  When we are outside he pulls me all over the area to see what new sniffs he can find.  I’ve never seen him so excited to go for a walk.

I have to admit to thinking that I might want to actually consider the very real possibility of moving here on an annual basis, even living here through the winter.  I love and miss snow.  I don’t want to be snowed in for weeks on end or break my back shoveling but I want to have fun in the snow and watch Picasso romp through it.  He’s not seen too much snow but he did seem to like it once he figured out where to do his business!  If I do decide to seriously consider this as a full-time place to live, I’d probably want to get a different type of RV, one that would afford better protection from the cold, and just park it here without moving it.

All this is a bit like putting the cart before the horse but I really do think I could live here.  The peace, calm and joy that are inherent with being in the mountains are all here.  Yes, too soon to tell at this point but while I’m here this remains always in the back of my mind – can I live here?  Jim, the owner, was telling me yesterday that if I thought I was relaxed, give it a little time and I’ll find out what true relaxation is!  He went on to tell me how there is no real crime up here and how very safe it is.  Yes, I can feel that, too.

My backyard.

                                                  My backyard.

For now I just need to slow myself down and allow nature to soothe and heal my tired being.  The stress from the journey here is still affecting me, even more than yesterday.  But in spite of the tiredness I feel alive.  There’s no TV or telephone so I’m cut off from the world and even that feels good.  Assuming I do make it back here next summer there is supposed to be a new cell tower that will provide cell coverage and I’d get a satellite dish for TV so that would all be taken care of.

Earlier today all I wanted to do was get a blanket and spread it out on the ground and lie down on it.  I’ve not laid down on the ground since leaving NJ 20 years ago.  Too many snakes, stinging bugs or other hazards.  I long to embrace Mother Earth.

That’s my story for today.  I wanted to leave you with something more upbeat than yesterday’s story of how I got here.  That was the worst but today, well, you got to read about the best!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

a valentine’s day gift (part III)

A photo taken during my bankruptcy journey as it came to be known.

A photo taken during my bankruptcy journey as it came to be known.

{Part I}  {Part II}

Finally it was time for me to leave for the States to complete my bankruptcy, a direct result of the business fiasco.  While there I took a 2,100 mile journey through most of the western states.  I felt free!  The business was closed, my finances were back in order again even if there was nothing left to speak of and I was away from everything else that was a problem.  But not all was perfect, however.  When speaking with mom over the phone I could tell something was very wrong and that was confirmed when I got back to CR.  She had been going downhill and we couldn’t get the medical treatment she needed there.  We were members of the nationally run health care system but it was in deplorable shape and not helping her in the least. For example, an EKG was scheduled for her and all she had to do was to wait 9 months for it!  When she first left Tucson, we attempted to sell her townhouse which would have netted her $10,000 or so but that never happened since the market tanked.  When making the decision for her to live with me in CR that potential $10,000 was intrinsic to the plan since I knew she would need to pay for good medical treatment down there.  Her townhouse eventually was “given” back to the bank with a “deed in lieu”, a process I did for her.  Now, only two years after my arrival in Costa Rica, we had no choice except to go back to the States for mom’s health care since she had no savings and clearly needed more than she could get in CR.  The decision was made to move and less than three months later we landed in Florida.  Why Florida?  I couldn’t exactly tell you other than the fact that it wasn’t Tucson.  Don’t misunderstand – I still love Tucson but at the time of the decision I wasn’t ready to return there especially since I never wanted to run into the man who had sued me.  As it turned out I needn’t had worried since he died the very same month I returned to the States.

I was actually quite happy to get back to the States.  “There’s no place like home” to quote a famous ruby slippered young lady.  I didn’t actually have a plan on how I’d get mom into the system but I was pretty sure I could find a way.  Not exactly easy.  I still hadn’t recovered in any way from the stress I had been dealing with but I had no choice except to plunge in head first.  Nothing was easy.  I found out mom had to be in the hospital for three days before I could get her enrolled in Medicaid.  I guess I had hoped that because she was on Medicaid in Arizona it wouldn’t be all that difficult here in Florida.  Yeah, right.  Guess again!

Manatee Memorial Hospital where I finally got mom admitted!

Manatee Memorial Hospital where I finally got mom admitted!

I couldn’t get mom admitted into the hospital no matter how hard I tried.  Mom was getting extremely depressed and telling me how she wanted to kill herself.  I knew she wouldn’t follow through since she’s too afraid of death but decided to use this as my door into the system.  We went to a psychiatric hospital here to get her admitted that way.  I knew she really needed the help and she wanted it.  They went through their process and determined that, yes, she would be admitted.  All we needed was an okay from the insurance company.  The insurance company agreed but required mom to undergo one test prior to admittance, a test for congestive heart failure.  She had suffered from CHF in the past and they wanted to rule that out as a potential cause of her depression.  From the psych hospital we went off to the ER for the test which came back positive for CHF.  She was promptly admitted and placed in CCU!  I finally got mom into the system.  Unfortunately, 24 hours later she was committed and placed on suicide watch, something I was no longer expecting or wanting.  The nurse told me I could have nothing to say about her care since that role was now taken over by the state.  I panicked since this was clearly not exactly how the plan was supposed to go.  I called my brother, hysterical.  He basically hung up on me and, for the most part, has chosen to no longer talk with me.  He eventually left the area and even though still in Florida hasn’t seen mom in over two years now.  Mom was taken off the psych hold the next day.

This is what the shipping container looked like after the trucker opened it for me.  Clearly it had been pilfered.

This is what the shipping container looked like after the trucker opened it for me. Clearly it had been pilfered.

It was in the middle of all this that I found out that my shipping container from Costa Rica had been broken into.  I remember that Friday.  I got an email from the shipping company with the subject line “Photos of your container” and nothing else.  I had been on the phone with a friend of mine and asked him to remain on the phone with me as I opened the email.  I knew there could be nothing good in the email but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw.  I couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t even speak.  I was in total shock.  Worse yet, there was no one from the shipping company I could speak with until Monday, one long weekend away.  There was no insurance and I feared that I had been left with absolutely nothing.  There was no way of knowing how bad it was from the photos.  It was clearly bad but just how bad was it?  I didn’t know.  I collapsed both emotionally and physically.  I was not only in charge of my mom all on my own but now my own life had just turned completely upside-down and I was in a new area with no support here whatsoever.  Nevertheless I began the arduous job of unpacking and noting all the missing items.  Thankfully it wasn’t quite as bad as it could have been but it was still a huge loss.  It was very emotionally grueling.

Nothing felt safe anymore.  I retreated to the only safe place I could find – solitude.  I did the barest minimum of things and then escaped to my safe place, alone.  Things continued to get worse as my body finally showed me it could no longer function.  I began to get physically sick.  My adrenals tanked from all the stress and were barely functioning.  I was going into anaphylactic shock on a regular basis related to the decrease in adrenal functioning.  Only once did it actually feel life threatening.  Now I was getting scared, really scared.  Without some kind of intervention I knew that my life would be over, perhaps not through death but certainly because I no longer had enough energy to live.

It was at this time when I came across a blog with the following suggestion – ask your body what it needs to heal.  I did and the answer I immediately received was to get an RV, live in it and travel the country.  My heart leaped with the possibility though I thought it a bit crazy.  It was one of the few times I could actually feel something that resembled excitement!  I looked to purchase an RV but it didn’t happen since the only RV loan I could qualify for had an interest rate of a whopping 18%!  When it was clear that this dream wasn’t going to happen, I again crashed.  This time I lost hope completely, perhaps for the first time in my life.  Losing hope is not a good thing since the body quickly follows suit.  It was not long after that when the anaphylactic shock got really intense and my adrenals seemed to nearly fully crash.  I could no longer get up in the morning and stayed up way too late.  One morning I had to go to a doctor’s appointment with my mom.  Normally I never scheduled a morning appointment because I knew I didn’t function in the mornings.  I went anyway.  When we got there they wouldn’t take mom since I forgot to bring her ID.  I literally fell apart and couldn’t function at all.  I just stood there, staring as every bit of energy from my body drained out completely.  The pharmaceutical rep standing next to me became obviously concerned, asking me if I was okay.  No, I wasn’t okay.  Just that little bit of stress and I was totally collapsing.  I drove home and, to be honest, don’t have a clue how I managed it.  Driving was often an awful stressor in and of itself.  When I got home I didn’t leave the house again for days.  I couldn’t.  I wasn’t able to function well enough to leave let alone drive.  I recognized the symptoms as being from severe adrenal exhaustion but was powerless to do anything about it.  I was in too deep and was still sinking.  Darkness was quickly taking over.  Depression was my new “friend” and suicide seemed like a good option far too often.

After the situation at the doctor’s office I finally called my doc and he decided to put me on small doses of steroids, the substances made by healthy adrenals.  Within a week I started to feel a huge difference.  The lights came back on and began to banish the darkness within.  The anaphylactic shock symptoms began to abate.  No longer was I feeling like the smallest stress would be too much for me to handle.  Hallelujah!  To be truthful, I don’t know how I ever got through this.  There are no words to really express just how awful it was.

It was then that everything started to come together again for the whole RV thing.  So here I am now almost finished with the process of getting myself ready to embark on this new adventure.  The boxes are packed for storage.  Over half of what I owned has been donated or sold including all my furniture with one exception – my futon.  While I don’t feel quite as well as I have in the past, I feel totally different from where I was only about 7 months ago when I started to feel my life was over.  But then last night I found myself sinking again.  It still happens when I get overtired or overstressed.  My exhausted adrenals are unable to make up the difference during stressful times so I’ve learned to be very careful not to overly stress myself but, let’s face it, it happens especially with such a big change.  When I find myself overly stressed I experience the world as being very unsafe.  It makes sense since the adrenals manufacture the hormones necessary to survive stress.  Without them, death will occur.  You cannot survive without adrenal hormones and when they are significantly depressed feelings of not being safe will naturally ensue along with depression and a myriad of other potential symptoms.

I slept very well last night and woke up this morning to a dream.  I am at a dinner table with most of my family.  It could be Thanksgiving dinner, at least that’s what it looks like.  My mom is to my left and Peter (remember Peter?) is to my right, something unexpected since no one in my family knows Peter.  I’ve not seen or spoken to him in years yet here he is in my dream.  I put my hand on his leg near his knee, looking to just make some kind of contact with him.  Eventually he takes me into his arms and holds me.  I feel safe for the first time in well over a decade.  I melt into his arms knowing everything is okay in this moment.  I fully let go, surrendering completely to the moment.  The weight of the world has been taken off of my shoulders.  I breathe fully and deeply and I suck in all the “safeness” I can.  Life feels so good in the moment.  No, life feels great in the moment.  When I wake up the difference between where I feel in “real” life and where I was in my “dream” life doesn’t seem so great.  It is all good.  I feel peace.  I feel loved.  I feel safe.

And that is how I know I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing at this point in my life.  I believe the Divine intervened this morning to let me know that I am safe and I am loved.  It is Valentine’s Day and I got a most wonderful gift of Love this morning.  I am safe and I am loved.

Now it is time for me to get back to work!  I’ve got to get this place ready for my big move and experience the healing that my body needs so desperately.  Actually, it has started already.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Let the journey continue…

a valentine’s day gift (part II)

{For part I, please go here}

This is the guest bathroom from the second house we built. The photo was taken by a professional, not me!

This is the guest bathroom from the second house we built. The photo was taken by a professional, not me!

My business partner and I already owned a construction company at this point and so I immersed myself in my work.  One of my business attorneys suggested that work really was the best way to get through it all.  I had to agree.  I loved my work even if the rest of my life felt quite shaky.  Suddenly I was discovering a creative side to myself that I never knew existed.  I had started working with digital photography and Photoshop while I was still married.  My husband categorically told me he didn’t like any of my work.  Nice.  But now I felt the freedom to finally pursue my artistic side.  I did just that while designing homes, decorating them and doing photography.  A whole new side of me emerged and I loved it!  After work I would stay up late at night working on photography and printing it.  I loved what I was doing like never before.  I also began to write poetry and found it to be a tremendous avenue to express my feelings.  The poetry at that time was raw and quite expressive, sometimes even funny but always intense, too intense for many.

Then 2007 came with Lehman Brothers crash landing, heralding the crash of the stock market.  I could feel it coming but no one would believe me at the time.  We were having trouble selling a house, one that should’ve sold easily.  After lowering the price we were finally able to get rid of it.  I had loaned the business $200,000 during that time believing we would be getting it back with the sale of the house.  I only could pull out $100,000 when we finally sold it and even that hurt the business.  We had another house we were building and two more pieces of property we were ready to break ground on.  On top of those three properties we had another piece of dirt that we had abandoned plans for since I was getting cold feet because of the dying market.  It would have been a glorious multi-million dollar house with a killer view of Tucson.

The view from the piece of dirt we hoped to build on but never did. On a clear day you could see Mexico!

The view from the piece of dirt we hoped to build on but never did. On a clear day you could see Mexico!

The crashing of the stock market was mirrored by the crashing of the real estate market.  We now had three houses that needed to be sold and no action on any of them at all.  They were great houses in great locations but we couldn’t get any traction on them since we couldn’t lower the price enough to get any interest.  Eventually all three were foreclosed as well as the dirt.  When they were sold after the bank owned them, they were sold for about half of what it cost us to build them, not including any profit.  No wonder we couldn’t sell them!

Then the hell really started.  I was getting phone calls daily from the bank regarding each of the houses while they were going through the foreclosure process.  For those who don’t know, it isn’t the quickest of processes.  I tried to befriend the callers whom I began to know by name.  Interestingly most of them had been in parts of the real estate field and were shut out of their previous jobs because of the collapse.  They found these jobs but really didn’t like having to call people whose financial positions they understood all too well.  And then it got really bad – I got sued by a “friend” with whom we were in business.  He was tenacious in his attacks on me, absolutely sure that I had money that I was hiding from him.  He was able to obtain copies of all my financial transactions and went through each one with a fine tooth comb asking me what this or that expenditure was on my American Express card.  I felt completely violated and had no privacy at all.  It is one of the main reasons why I refuse to post photos of myself online to this day.   It was a nightmare.  He accused me of defrauding him (I didn’t) and eventually of elder abuse (ridiculous!).  My life was rapidly crashing all around me.  His mother was the one who actually held the property we bought and we owed the money to her but couldn’t pay her back because we were unable to sell the houses on what was her property.  Because he was responsible for making the deal with us, he was willing to pull out all the stops to make things right for her.  I knew that even though I was clear of any intent to defraud and certainly innocent of elder abuse since I never even met the woman, I was also aware enough to know that when faced with the “big bad builder” versus the “cute little old lady” I was surely to come out on the losing end if it ever went to trial.  I eventually sold my beloved house mostly to help put a stop to this abuse, taking about a $400,000 loss in the process (because of the market) while paying his mother $30,000 from the sale.  I also had this weird piece of property that was needed if one was to build on that piece of dirt I mentioned earlier.  The bank didn’t own it since it was deeded directly to me so they couldn’t foreclose on it.  However, their property was useless without it.  He took that in the deal and sold it for about $50,000.  While I had an excellent attorney, I was the one to find a way to settle the law suit. My attorney didn’t understand just how crazy and tenacious this man could be.  I did and knew I had no choice but to settle and settle quickly.  Still the process took over six months and his mother was nearly made whole in the process.

Another attorney with whom we were in business refused to pay my business partner and me what he owed us for a deal we had done together.  I needed that money for when I was going to move out of my house.  I decided to pull the crying, girlie thing on him and it worked.  I got the money he owed me but only because my business partner didn’t look to collect his half.  He never did get anything from the deal and his generosity was a real saving grace for me.  Not long afterwards I promptly packed my stuff and moved to Costa Rica.  I needed to get away from Tucson and desperately needed some rest and recuperation time!

I was in Costa Rica for only five and a half weeks when I had to come back to the States.  It was Christmas eve and rather than spending my first Christmas in my new home I was off to Tucson again to be with my mom who had just fallen and broke her pelvis.  In the process of being with her, it became obvious that she would need more care after getting out of rehab.  Mom has a doctorate in pack ratting (didn’t know it was a major, did you?) and it was clearly time to start working on her home to get her ready for whatever move was to come next.  I was overwhelmed with the prospect.  My brothers came to her home in Tucson for a week to help with the cleanup process.  We didn’t even make a dent.  I stayed there for over three and a half months cleaning up the place and getting her things packed or downsized and that was with hired help!   No way I could’ve done it on my own!  It was way too depressing going through all those things that she cherished so much.  Most of her things were still in their original boxes having never been opened!  They were the kind of things that might have sold well at a yard sale but that wasn’t possible where she lived so she didn’t get money back on any of her things.  It was heartbreaking to do that work.  If I was exhausted before, it was far worse now.  A word to anyone with packrat parents – don’t help them downsize if at all possible!  It is an entirely thankless, exhausting job!

In the meantime the decision was made for mom to come down to Costa Rica and live with me.  I didn’t think it was a good decision at all but mom insisted this was what she wanted to do and it would be fine.  I hadn’t lived with my mom for over 35 years at this point and for good reason!  I grew up with a mother who was terribly neglectful as well as horribly abusive.  I will not go into details here out of respect for who she is now but it was awful growing up in my family of origin.  Mom was capable of doing some very awful things, particularly while under the influence of alcohol.  Mom’s drinking was a nightly occurrence during my teenage years.

It wasn’t until she was living with me again in Costa Rica that I began to realize that she was still the same person in many ways, just without the alcohol.  The term, I believe, is a dry drunk.  After everything I had been through I was now sequestered in a foreign country, the place where I was to get some rest and recuperation, with an abusive mother from whom I could not escape.  I always had a safe place during the bad times but in CR that was no longer true.  She was now in my space and I couldn’t get her out nor could I escape.  As unsafe as life felt during the fall of my business, it was now even more unsafe since I couldn’t get away from the source of my “unsafeness”.  After 7 months of this I finally found an apartment for her and promptly moved her into it.  While that helped since it stopped the daily assault, I was now in a place of major recovery and having a hard time getting that started.

{part III}

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

a valentine’s day gift (part I)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today is Valentine’s Day and I received a wonderful gift of Love.  Before you can understand the depth of this gift I must go back in time, going through what has proceeded today.  It is a long story and as a result I’m going to divide it up into three parts.  I think it is a good story and I know it helps elucidate exactly why I’m starting this RV journey in only ten more days!!!  Ultimately it is a story about the death and resurrection of hope.

I’ve said it before and evidently I’m going to say it again – life has not been easy for nearly 15 years.  Try as I might, things just seemed to be going wrong, often through no fault of my own.

A liver with her friend gall bladder still in place.  One can easily imagine why a liver would mourn the loss of her closest friend.

A liver with her friend gall bladder still in place. One can easily imagine why a liver would mourn the loss of her closest friend.

Fifteen years ago I got sick, very sick.  I had my gall bladder taken out and my liver decided to mourn the loss of her best friend. It was funny how it happened.  About a week after the surgery I was okay although in more pain than most from what the surgeon told me.  That afternoon I sat on the floor to do some very gentle yoga.  I was doing a posture that required a torso twist which I obviously did with great care given the recent surgery.  Just as I relaxed into the posture I felt something in the area of my liver, like a squishing for lack of a better way of explaining it.  I stopped the posture but also experienced an immediate change in how I felt as if some kind of drug was now coursing through my body.  It turns out that the yoga I did accomplished what it was supposed to in that my liver emptied out all the toxins it had been storing within.  It was horrible.  I felt high as if I was on some kind of heavy duty pain killer, perhaps from the accumulation in my liver of the anesthetic from the surgery. Of course I was a bit frightened but the highness kept me from panicking.  I knew this would clear shortly.  Or so I thought.

Hours stretched into days, into weeks and into months.  I alternated between feeling high and feeling just the opposite.  When I wasn’t “high” I was in intense pain.  For instance, if I slept wrong, the next day I would wake up in excruciating pain that wasn’t relieved by taking anything.  Worse still, that pain would last for weeks on end.  A simple stiff neck lasted over six weeks one time.  I could barely move as a result.  I couldn’t function either because of feeling so high I couldn’t think at all or because of the pain.  Too often it was because of both.

Being the tenacious person I am, when I could I would look to research possible things that might be going on.  There were so many other symptoms.  With regular frequency my heart would start to race reaching over 160 BPM on various occasions.  I couldn’t sleep when that would occur.  I was being poisoned by the toxins within my body but had no clue what to do to stop the process until I found a naturopathic doc who helped guide me.  Because of the intensity of the toxicity everything we did had to be extremely gentle or I’d run the risk of the cure that was supposed to help me killing me instead.  I had gone to a massage therapist thinking that gentle massage would feel good.  She took one look at me and wouldn’t put her hands on my body for fear of releasing the toxins she could clearly see were being stored in the tissues throughout my whole body.  We resorted to only doing energy work which helped immensely.  She much later told me that I was probably the sickest client she ever worked with and she regularly worked with some very sick people.  She feared that if she massaged me at that time my body would release all those toxins and I would die.  In retrospect I now know she was not being overreactive.  I think she was completely correct and I’m so grateful that I walked into her office and not some overzealous therapist who would’ve gone for the gusto instead, potentially killing me.  How did I know she was correct?  In the middle of all this my pelvis went out of alignment causing excruciating pain.  One potential way to help deal with it is to wear a sacral belt.  Just one problem – every time I would attempt to wear this belt the symptoms would immediately intensify.  I realized that the compression of the belt was actually pushing the toxins out of my body’s tissues and into circulation where they caused the exacerbation of symptoms.

I was very alone during the healing process.  Unfortunately my husband at the time was overwhelmed by my illness.  I only saw him on weekends since he worked out of state so I was home alone during the week.  I believe he may have tried to be supportive but would too often fail completely.  He told me things like “you’ll never get better so why am I wasting my money on you” while trying to keep me from seeing the doctor.  I clearly remember the day I took the very last bit of energy I had and forcefully told him that he was not going to take the very last shred of hope I had left.  Of course I sometimes feared I wouldn’t get better as months stretched into two years of illness.  I couldn’t afford to have that kind of negativity around me.

I continued to ever so slightly improve until one day my doc suggested a very unorthodox treatment which I decided to try.  What was there to lose?  What happened was very interesting – I found that the most recent symptoms went away nearly immediately and never came back while others exacerbated, always around 3 or 4 PM at which time I would take “gloppy drink”, a concoction designed to gently remove toxins from my system.  I came to find out that the exacerbation was because my body was clearing out the toxins at that point.  I would take the remedy in the morning, it would do its magic of toxin removal, those toxins would begin to circulate in my system making me feel much worse and then I would take my “gloppy drink” and almost immediately feel better.  I trudged along on my journey since when I felt well I was starting to feel fantastic.  What a contrast from where I had been!  I was so grateful to feel alive again even if it didn’t last all day!

It was around this time that I met someone who helped change my life completely.  Hmm…might help if I give him a name.  We will call him Peter.  And for the people who know me and think they know my life I can assure you that you do not know this person.  You have never met him nor have I ever spoken of him.

Peter and I went out together for lunch one day, strictly on business.  But the connection we both felt was obvious.  Neither one of us chose to move on it since we were both married.  Still, it was intense.  It was during this time that I began to question my marriage perhaps for the first time, not because I had any sense of ever getting together with Peter since I knew that would never happen but rather because of something that I felt in his presence that I’ve never felt before – safe.  I couldn’t help but notice it.  We made a decision not to see each other any more since we both knew we were courting disaster since the attraction was way too strong but in a way it was too late.  I understood that I was in a relationship in which I didn’t feel safe and that I did not have to continue to do so.  Other options existed.

It didn’t happen immediately since I was still not completely well and was unable to follow through on that decision.  In the meantime I did my best to work on the marriage since I already had over 30 years invested in it.  I really wanted it to work.  However, as I continued to feel better and better things in the marriage looked worse and worse.  After 32 years of marriage it was over.  In fact, it was on my 32nd anniversary that I found out about his girlfriend.  That definitely  cemented things.  Two weeks later, on my birthday, I filed for divorce.

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(Part II)

© 2015 deborah kauffeld