Eighth anniversary

Eight years ago today, I met Honey for the first time. We had connected through an online dating service, chatted for several nights, and finally agreed to meet in person. After spending the evening eating dinner and watching a movie with a very polite and quiet young man, I assumed he didn’t like me. You know what they say about assumptions…

This is now the longest relationship I have ever been in. I don’t want to jinx things, but I am happy, contented, and fulfilled. I consider him to be my greatest friend, and there can’t be anything much better than getting to spend your life with your best friend.

Seven years

I met my partner seven years ago today. We met through an online dating service, began chatting for hours every evening, and finally took the plunge and decided to go out for dinner and a movie. We have been pretty much inseparable ever since.

I can’t imagine a better person to spend my life with. He is a genuinely good, caring individual who seems to worship the ground I walk on. I’m not sure why he is so crazy about me, because I certainly have my flaws. I am truly blessed.

Happy Anniversary, Honey. I hope we have many, many more years together.

Catching up

We have been very busy over the past month. It all started when our former neighbor, Mrs. J, went in the hospital a few weeks ago. We went to see her as soon as we found out, and Honey wound up spending the next 10 or 11 nights with her. No one else in her family was able or willing to do it, but he knew her well enough to know she couldn’t be left alone. She had to have constant help getting up to use the restroom, she was disoriented and didn’t know where she was, and she even yanked out her IV and tried to leave the room.

A few days before Mrs. J was dismissed from the hospital, my grandmother was admitted to a hospital about 20 minutes away. Her older brother was already in the same hospital recovering from a heart attack, so family members were able to visit both siblings quite easily. He passed away on the evening of the day she was allowed to go home.

My grandmother and her older sister are now the only living siblings. She lives near Indianapolis, IN, but was unable to get down here in time to see her brother before he died. My sister helped get her here for the funeral, then Honey and I drove her home this past weekend.

Great-Aunt Frances is such a hoot. A gentle, loving soul who never stops talking. I swear she talked for the entire trip home (several hours). She seemed most excited about her new accommodations – a assisted-living facility she moved into late last year. She had lived alone until falling, and her children decided she needed to be somewhere safer. She raved about the food, the building, the gardens, and the company. I think she probably likes having companionship and someone to talk to more than anything.

When we arrived to drop her off, she wanted us to come in so we could see her new living quarters. The place was quite beautiful, but had a depressing feeling about it. A nursing home was right next door, and she explained that residents of her facility are usually moved over there at some point. The beautiful main entrance was decorated with flowers from the funeral of a resident who had just passed away. Aunt Frances noticed them, but quickly ushered us into the elevator and onto the third floor to see her apartment.

Her apartment turned out to be more like a small hotel room. It had a kitchenette and a bathroom attached to a main sleeping area. Although she moved in this past November, she still doesn’t have a bed and has been sleeping on a sofa. It was quite depressing to see how all the contents of her home had been reduced down to what she could manage to fit into the small space. She has an overhead photo of her previous home hanging on the wall, which I am sure is a constant reminder of the happy years she spent there with her deceased husband. She also has a photo of herself looking like a Hollywood star when she was around 20 years old.

She wanted to take us out to dinner as thanks for bringing her home, but decided to introduce us to one of the other residents first. The lady we met was using a walker due to a recent fall, but quickly invited herself after finding out where we were going to eat. We got her in the car before figuring out her walker wouldn’t fit in the trunk, but she insisted she wouldn’t need it at the restaurant. She was wrong.

We had to walk on either side of her to and from the restaurant in order to keep her from falling, but there were a couple of times when she almost went over. We were tired and ready to start the return trip home, but realized how much simply getting out of the facility meant to these women. After taking them back to their home and saying our goodbyes, I tearfully realized it could be the last time I saw my aunt alive.

Aunt Frances is Catholic, even though most of her family is protestant. My grandmother’s mother died when the children were very young and their father died a few years later. The kids were passed around from family to family – often separated – until Aunt Frances wound up with a Catholic family that she adored. She decided to convert and has lived the rest of her life devoted to her faith.

Even though she is a devout member of a very conservative denomination and 82 years old, Aunt Frances never judges people. She is ordained and able to give communion during services, and she recounted how people who technically weren’t supposed to receive communion would choose to receive communion from her instead of the priest who was imparting the sacrament next to her. “Who am I to refuse those people?” she asked, “I don’t have the right to judge anyone.”

On the way to Indianapolis, as Honey slept in the back seat, she turned to me and asked how long we have been together.

“Seven years next month,” I said.

She smiled. “I told Tiny (Grandmama) you must really love that boy. And I know he loves you too.”

Goings on

Windowgate 2011 continues. We have a new company lined up to remove the existing windows and install replacements as soon as the windows are ready. We currently have plastic over the two windows that leaked. It keeps the rain out, but also makes us look a little like “white trash.” Seeing how this is Kentucky, I’m sure most people don’t even notice.

Speaking of rain, we have had more of the wet stuff than you can imagine. We missed most of the bad storms here, although we spent plenty of time in the storm shelter due to an onslaught of tornado warnings. Several inches of rain fell last week and more is falling now. The area rivers are spilling over their banks, but most of them haven’t even crested yet. Homes in and around the flood plains are either sandbagged or flooded, so I am very happy to be living on a hill in a dry home… even if there is plastic on the windows.

We went to see Beth Hart in Nashville on Thursday night, where she was performing her first of two sold-out shows at 3rd & Lindsley. We got there just before 5pm, and were surprised to see people already in line since the doors didn’t open until six. Once inside, we headed straight for the balcony and grabbed an excellent spot right in front of the stage. The place is rather small, so our vantage point was probably 20 feet from Beth’s piano. Three hours later, she was belting out songs over a very enthusiastic crowd. I didn’t know I could become more of a fan, but somehow I did.

Saturday marked six years together for Honey and I. I found a dozen roses and a beautiful card on the counter when I got home from work – and immediately burst into tears. I love that out of all of the possible contenders in the world, he has chosen to spend his life with me.

The heart that truly loves never forgets

‎”Nothing whatever, in man, is of so frail a nature as the memory; for it is affected by disease, by injuries, and even by fright; being sometimes partially lost, and at other times entirely so.” – Pliny the Elder

It will soon be two months since Honey suffered a concussion, wound up in the CCU for several days, and lost large portions of his memory. In a matter of minutes, life went from being perfectly average and uneventful to scary and out of control. I have been hesitant to share the details of those dark days here, but because I often use this blog to jog my own memories, noting such an important life event seems prudent.

September 15th started out pretty much like any other Wednesday. Honey had been teaching for a little over a month, so we were still trying to get into a routine. Because he had to drive an hour and a half each way for work, we both had been getting up much earlier than normal. This morning was no different; we got up, Honey got dressed, and we kissed goodbye. He called me almost two hours later to say that he didn’t feel like going in, so he was going to go to his mother’s house for a while. This didn’t surprise me, as I knew that he had been struggling with his new job at a school that defined dysfunctional. I didn’t give our conversation much more thought until later in the afternoon when I got a call from his mother telling me that he had been hit by a car while getting gas, bumped his head, and wasn’t himself. She said he was unable to think clearly or drive and I needed to come pick him up.

I rushed to get him, but quickly realized upon arriving that he needed to be hospitalized. He could barely remember my last name, cried incessantly while asking where he was, and had little-to-no eye contact. Scared to death, I told his mother and step-dad that he needed to be taken to the emergency room. They said he had already been to the doctor and had a CT scan that showed no brain injury, so they felt like he would be fine after getting some rest. Because I was uncomfortable with caring for him alone, I asked if they would follow us back to our house and stay until he went to sleep.

Honey repeated questions over and over on the way home. Why were we in a truck? Where were we going? Was Mrs. Johns sick? It was clear that something was very wrong with his thinking. As we pulled into our driveway, he began insisting that I take him home. I told him this was home, and he said it wasn’t. Things began to look more grim as the afternoon wore on. He couldn’t remember how to get to the bathroom, he brushed our pets aside as if they were strangers, and he couldn’t pick his sister out of a photograph.

After a restless night, we convinced him to get in the car for his follow-up at the doctor’s office. We made the mistake of stopping by Mrs. John’s house on the way – mainly because he had been asking about her incessantly since the day before. Just as I had feared, he thought the house we moved from a few months ago was “home” and started trying to go over there. When his mother and I explained that we no longer live there, he began sobbing uncontrollably and asking why we wouldn’t let him go home. As we all bawled along with him, he collapsed into the arms of Mrs. Johns and her son. Mrs. Johns sat with him for several minutes, holding his hand and comforting him as he told her that he didn’t know why we wouldn’t let him go home.

After finally getting him back into the car, we headed to the doctor’s office. We spent all day struggling to keep him there while they did an MRI, x-rays, and he was examined by two different doctors. Because there was no visible damage inside his brain or on the outside of his head, no one could explain to us why he was a completely different person. He kept complaining of back pain and headache, so they sent us home with a prescription for Xanax and ibuprofen.

Around 5 o’clock the next morning, I noticed that he was covering his entire head with the sheet and comforter. Knowing that he is normally hot-natured, I thought it was odd, felt of his head, and discovered that he felt feverish. I woke him to take his temperature and it was 100.6. An hour later, it as 101.2. His mother and I decided to call his doctor, who insisted that he be brought in to the ER.

We spent the entire day on Friday in the ER as they ran every kind of test you can imagine. Blood work, x-rays, a spinal tap (that took two attempts from the regular doctor and two from a surgeon to get any fluid). He was miserable, and kept asking if he could go home. He couldn’t recognize some of our closest friends, including our pastor.

The tests revealed that he had strep throat and a bladder infection, but they revealed nothing that could explain his confusion and amnesia. He was admitted to the critical care unit of the hospital so that he could receive antibiotics and close observation.

After three nights in the CCU, Honey’s doctor explained that all of the symptoms pointed to a concussion. Apparently, the brain can suffer an amnesia-causing injury without any visible outward or internal evidence. Doctor felt the infections were coincidental and not at all related to the concussion. Expecting continuing improvement, he allowed us to bring Honey home.

Over the next few weeks, his day-to-day abilities steadily improved. As the essence of his personality slowly returned, so did various parts of his memory. What he couldn’t remember seemed widely scattered, but the most difficult areas were people and places. Most of our close friends were now complete strangers to him, and he had no concept of how far we had to drive to get to church or the grocery.

Two months on, he remembers virtually nothing about the day of the accident or the days that followed in the hospital. He does remember the spinal tap, probably because it was so painful. He is barred from driving until the end of the year, and the doctor warned us that it could be several more months before the lost memories are recovered. Even so, he continues to improve.

In the meantime, I am trying to see the silver lining in this experience. I am thankful that circumstances forced his family and I to grow closer. And I can relish in the fact that although he didn’t know our friends or even where we lived, he never once forgot that he loved me.

“The heart that truly loves never forgets.” – Proverb

I believe…

I believe the human mind is incapable of comprehending God or the universe, and religion is our (often) pathetic attempt to package what we don’t understand in order to make it fit for human consumption. God is LOVE, so any religion that doesn’t have LOVE as its core focus will never elevate the human race or lead to God.