Still Looking

Stages of life . . .

We all go through significant stages in our lives . . . when we were young we had them to look forward to (or sometimes, not). I seem to have entered that one that we all dreaded – what do they call it, the Golden Years? I say “seem”, because somehow it just happened, without my consent. I’m sitting on the other side now, the one where you can look back a long long stretch, and looking ahead – well you see the end of the road in sight.

What do you do when many hopes and dreams died along the way? When the story of your life didn’t quite go as you envisioned? Through circumstances, including a good deal of trauma and loss, the “golden years” are actually faded and tattered and life feels empty. If I had been asked when I was younger what I saw in my future, I would have probably said that I wanted to see my kids grow up and live lives with love, meaning and purpose. A large part of the joy of aging would be enjoying grandkids and knowing that somehow some kind of legacy would be passed on. I’ve had friends who grew up with aunts, uncles, cousins, grams and gramps, near and far. That wasn’t in the cards for me. And starting when I was 27, the dwindling down of the small family I did have – my dad, then my mom when I was 40, my brother when he was 43 and my other brother when he was 35. The most devastating loss was my son, when he was 28. My beloved daughter moved to the east coast to go to college and then begin a career that doesn’t include children.

So here I am. Just turned 69. Major health issues (but so far, not debilitating) that I struggle with. I live in a beautiful house with a beautiful view. I am married to a very special guy (45 years) and we fortunately share values, humor, and faith. I have a few very special friends who are like family. And we have our doggies who give us lots of love and giggles. I have always been involved in some sort of volunteer “work” – at this time I tutor English as a second language. So in some ways, I am very blessed. So why do I feel empty? I am writing this for myself, really. Hoping that some unraveling of my inner thoughts in writing might bring some understanding? I have to be honest – I feel like I got ripped off. If I admit that, can saying it out loud help me to come to terms with my reality? How do I let go of my disappointment and find meaning and fulfillment in these last days? That is my final quest, because honestly, there are days when I feel like the lyrics of the song, “Is that all there is?” The singer concludes,

“If that’s all there is, my friends
Then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is.”

How bleak! How depressing. That is not my idea of living out life in these “golden years”. But, I haven’t found what “it” is that will make it all feel worthwhile.


“I did not believe I would make it. Others swore that I would be okay, and that offended me the most, because at the time I didn’t even want to entertain the idea of ever being okay. The aftermath of grief felt like a comfortable place to crawl up and die.

But once again, humanity proved me wrong. Humanity is unreliable at best.”

Why Others Fear You as a Bereaved Mother

Why Write?

I was thinking about writing on my grief blog today. I thought about the reason for writing. Why write? Is it just for me? So again, little signs started pointing the way. An Anne Lamott quote the other day. lamott quoteA blog post by someone unknown to me that I came across that touched my heart – she shared her experience of how it feels to have lost a child. Grieving Mom to Non-Grieving Mom  So here I am. I see that it’s been almost a year since I wrote here. Just like a journal, I start reading at the top and go back in time. It’s almost like reading what someone else wrote, but it brings back memories and feelings – which I have a tendency to block too often. Writing does help me get in touch with my feelings – I need to keep it up! I hope this helps inspire you to start writing, or keep writing, or get back to writing.

I ended up getting an appointment at Cedars Sinai, and how that came about is a story for another day. I drove to L.A. with my friend Cathrine and we spent the night at an AirBnB room in Venice Beach. We brought our things in and sat on the bed for a bit, resting up before heading over to the beach. It was a very plain little room, but at some point I took a closer look at one of two little paintings propped on top of a wall heater. It was a picture of a dove, of all things.

The next day, following my appt. with the doctor (and being faced with the stark reality of what I had ahead of me  (next step, being tested by a vascular surgeon), I was driving down Santa Monica Blvd. back towards the beach and the PCH – very stop and go traffic. At one point I was stopped behind a white truck and said to Cathrine, “Nueva Vida – New Life”, and she looks at the sticker and points out the dove which I hadn’t noticed.

IMG_1716 dove 2 web

What are the odds of the sign of the dove two days in a row? And New Life? I left the doctor’s office feeling overwhelmed knowing the gravity of my condition, maybe life-threatening – sooner than later . . . “When troubles surround us, when evils come. The body grows weak, the spirit grows numb. When these things beset us, he doesn’t forget us, He sends down His love, on the wings of a dove.” I don’t really know what it means. It may not mean I won’t die soon – but it does give me comfort and peace as I face the uncertainty of the coming days and weeks.



Preface: I have lived with the effects of having a genetic disorder called familial hypercholesterolemia. My dad’s dad died of heart attack at 54, my dad died of heart attack at 58, my brother died of heart attack at 43. My mom’s mom died of heart attack at 61, my mom’s brother died of a heart attack in his 40’s and my mom died of heart attack at 62. In my late 40’s I started having angina and at 48 I ended up having emergency quad bypass surgery. At that time my total cholesterol was over 500. That was 19 years ago. I have been on statin drugs ever since my operation and eventually my total cholesterol has been in the low 200’s. Gradually I have been getting plaque buildup in my carotids. There is a blockage in the artery to my left arm and they can’t feel my pulse any more. Over the past year I’ve been experiencing fatigue and achiness in my thighs when I walk which has become worse lately. Went to a chiropractor to see if I had any spine/nerve issues. She ordered an xray of my spine and told me I had a lot of calcification in my abdominal aorta. Long story short, my cardio dr. is going to refer me to a vascular surgeon.

Do I need to say, this is pretty scary at this point?

Here’s my story – it took place yesterday. I had an appointment for a massage for my hips and legs at 12:00. I got a call asking me if I could come 45 minutes later just as I was backing out of the driveway. So, I decided I would go window shopping or something – in other words, I had a little time to kill. Now mind you, if I had to be at my appointment at noon I would have been on a mission to get there.

So as I’m driving down Graves Creek Rd. I come around a bend and see a pigeon sized white bird standing in the middle of the road. As I passed it I was surprised that it didn’t take flight. Looked in my rear view mirror and saw it still standing in the same spot. Well, I did have the time, so I turned around and went back and pulled over to the side of the road. It still didn’t move. Another car comes by and thankfully threw on the brakes to avoid hitting it . . . whew! I looked around inside my car and lo and behold, there was a sheet (don’t usually drive around with a sheet in my car). I walked towards the white bird and it then finally moved – walked, didn’t try to fly. I was able to throw the sheet over it and wrapped it up and called a vet friend – she told me I could take it to the Atascadero Pet Hospital and that they would get a hold of Pacific Wildlife Care. So I drove over there, they took the sheet in the back and put the bird in a cage. I asked them what kind of bird it was. They said it was a dove.

Done. Now I had to get over to the other side of town for my massage. You know how we get busy and sometimes don’t have or take the time to reflect? So I go from a somewhat hectic situation to laying on a table in a serene setting, having someone taking care of me (Alitorias Therapy). And at some point a song comes into my head – I can only remember a few of the lines to it: On the wings of a snow white dove, He sends His pure sweet love . . .

On The Wings of a Dove by Dolly Parton

Well, it stayed with me after I got home, and when I had time I went on YouTube and found the song – and these lyrics that just touched my heart: “When troubles surround us, when evils come. The body grows weak, the spirit grows numb. When these things beset us, he doesn’t forget us, He sends down His love, on the wings of a dove.”

It is difficult to express what those words meant to me.  The vessels in my body are clogged up. I could have a heart attack or stroke at any moment. No matter what happens, I have been given a peace about it. But I also have a fighting spirit and I’m not going down without a fight. There is an uphill battle I’m facing and I’m taking it on. That entails researching my options, which, believe me, is not an easy task. I have many to thank who have been an encouragement to me along the way. Including since only today, Catherine Davis Ahmed, the Director of Outreach at the FH Foundation, who gave me some invaluable advice on where to seek the best care available for my condition.

Ultimately though, what I want to express is – always have an open heart, ears to hear, eyes to see, the little (or big) signposts that are set before us that we can easily miss in our busyness, our haste, our focus on a goal that diverts us from being able to recognize the message of a dove . . .

pexels-photo- mali maeder

The Dream Foundation is the only national dream-granting organization for terminally ill adults and their families.

The Dream Foundation

This organization in Holland was created by Kees Veldboer to help the terminally ill to have positive end-of-life experiences.

“Even more beautiful than the work this organization does, though, are the things its patients are asking for.”


ambulance 2

Here is the link where you can learn more about it and see photographs taken that show the tremendous value of granting end-of-life wishes.


Maybe this will spur loved ones to consider ways of providing a similar experience here in our neck of the woods.