hankrules2011

A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Posts Tagged ‘sadness’

Reflections

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 14, 2014

Hi. It’s been awhile since I’ve actually written anything here, besides book reviews. Sorry. A lot has been going on. My mom moved from Chattanooga to Knoxville and we’ve been back and forth between the two cities a lot lately. In fact, we’ve seen my mom four of the past five weekends, which is more than we saw her when she lived here in Chattanooga.  It’s been very tiring.

A few weeks ago, we went to my high school class’s 30th reunion in Knoxville. It was pretty good, but a little odd too. So strange to see how people have changed, including me. We got a few good pics, had fun catching up with some people, and had a good time. It was nice to introduce my wife to my old classmates.

This month marks the five month anniversary of our cat Toby’s death. We miss him horribly and I wish he could have lived long enough to move to our new house with us. I’d love to see him running around here. Strangely, our other cat, Henry, has been doing some Toby-like things lately, like he’s channeling Toby. Very odd.

This month also marks the one year anniversary of my father’s death last year. He died mowing my yard and it was — and still is — a huge shock. There are so many things I wish I could have and would have told him and so many things I would like to tell him now. We really miss him. We’ve stopped at his gravestone in Knoxville a few times.

Meanwhile, I love my mother, but … she’s been driving me crazy ever since Dad died. She’s got a LOT of anxiety about a lot of things, which is somewhat understandable, but she calls me all the time. Like 6-18 times a day! She’s gotten better over the past few weeks, but the damage has been done. Now when she calls, I just sigh and pick up the phone. It’s hard. She’s changed a lot. She’s not the mom I grew up knowing and loving. She’s become extremely ADD and OCD, and that makes things difficult. And she refuses to acknowledge such things. I also got her to get Life Alert because she’s elderly and living alone. But she refuses to wear the necklace! She says she doesn’t like it and it’s “psychological.” But why is she paying $70 a month for a service she doesn’t use??? And last weekend, she fell down our stairs. She’s very lucky she didn’t get hurt. What would happen if she fell at her new place? She would not have us to help her. That’s what Life Alert is for! I don’t understand why she doesn’t get it, why she’s being so damn stubborn.

Anyway, this month also marks the six month anniversary of getting my new car. I still love my Camry. It’s so much better than my money pit BMW was. I’ve put 4,000 miles on it, mostly driving back and forth between Chattanooga and Knoxville, and that annoys me some. I don’t like to put miles on my cars. Still, it’s a great ride and I got a great deal on it and I’m very happy with it.

When health permits, my wife and I like to go to the shooting range. We have a .22 rifle we both like to shoot and my wife is quite good with it. We also have other guns we enjoy shooting, among them a Ruger 9 mm, a Glock 23, a Beretta PX4 Storm, a Ruger .22, a S&W Bodyguard, a SCCY 9 mm, and a Taurus revolver. Among others. I’m pretty good with the Ruger 9 mm, but need to work on the others. I think I’m going to really like the SCCY. It’s new and I think it’s going to be pretty good. I got a good deal on it on gunbroker.com.

I did something to my arm recently and have been having to go to physical therapy for it. It really hurts. It’s probably just tendinitis, but it’s bad. Meanwhile, my wife has a severe case of poison ivy. It’s all over and it’s tormenting her. I feel really bad for her. We need to find the plants she touched and get rid of them, but neither of us are that good at identifying poison ivy.

Oh, also, this month is our six month anniversary of moving into our new house! We love it here. It’s so much quieter and safer than our old place. We still haven’t gotten most of the pictures up, but we’re otherwise unpacked and we really like it. However, we can’t sell our old house. No one will buy it. No one is buying ANY house in our old neighborhood. We’ve lowered the price three times and have had two open houses, but nothing. We actually did get an offer a couple of months ago, but it fell through when their credit was damaged and they lost their loan. That sucked. It’s a nice house, but not in a very good area, so the property values suck and crime is bad. I wish we could sell it though. I’m sure there have to be people out there who would like it. It’s got character! It’s got a HUGE den and a HUGE kitchen and hardwood floors and a fireplace. Three beds, two baths, 2100 square feet, one level home. The yard isn’t that great though, and I think that’s probably hurting it. Oh well. Maybe one of these days….

As you know, I’ve really been enjoying reading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books lately. They’re really enjoyable and he’s so witty. A lot of fun. I still like reading Philip K Dick too though. I haven’t read much nonfiction lately though, and I was doing a lot of that over the past couple of years. Maybe I got burned out on it, I don’t know. We have a great, huge used bookstore here where you can pick up six or seven books for $10. It’s great.

Election season is coming up and the two Republican candidates for Congress here are really going at it. The incumbent is an asshole Tea Party-type who is the angriest, most hateful person I’ve ever seen. We saw them debate on TV. The other guy is really young, but it seems he wants to work with everyone on issues, so I really hope he wins. Of course, I’m a Democrat, but here in Chattanooga, no Democrat ever has a chance at winning anything, so it’s really tough. I hate living in a Red state. I often wish I was back in L.A. My wife often wishes she was back in Maryland. Oh well.

I guess that’s it for now. We’re trying to get well. I’m trying to deal with my mother. Things go on. It’s a month of reflections. Thanks for joining me. Cheers!

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Depression

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 28, 2014

I think I’ve been in a deep depression since Toby’s death last month. And I think his death magnifies my father’s death last year. I should be feeling good, living in a nice, new house in a nice, quiet, safe neighborhood, but all I can think about is how Toby isn’t here and doesn’t get to see it and live in it and how Dad can’t experience it — he was a great handyman — and how he can’t help out around the house. It’s really disappointing and I’ve been struggling. My wife has commented on it. I don’t know how to snap out of it. Of course it’s not been helped by the poor, grey weather. That’s really been getting to me too. Years ago I was diagnosed with SAD — Seasonal Affective Disorder — but I’ve never been treated for it. Basically it’s getting deeply depressed due to extended poor weather, most common during the winter. I finally caved in and bought one of those lights for it. You’re supposed to be exposed to it for about an hour each morning, but I haven’t found or made that kind of time for it, so I don’t know that it’s doing any good. I’m spending about 20 minutes a day in front of it. I need to make a better effort. Meanwhile, I’ve been listless and I don’t care about a lot of the things I normally care about. Gretchen misses Toby and my dad too, but she only got to experience being with Toby for two and a half years. He spent his entire six years with me. I watched him grow from a demon imp kitten who I wanted to kill to a loveable, dependable companion cat whose company I really enjoyed. I/we really miss him. He had become Gretchen’s cat, so to speak, over the past few years. When she came home from work, he would jump up and go to greet her, just like a dog. I’m also having to deal with my mother, who I think has unresolved issues regarding Dad’s death and who is lonely and doesn’t know how to deal with many things, such as financial things. I’m having to help her a lot, but she calls me a lot and comes over and sometimes it’s a little overwhelming. She just bought a condo up in Knoxville and will be moving back up there in a little over a month, so that’s going to change the dynamics, but it will also be weird and I’m going to worry about her living alone at her age up there without me able to come over to help her with short notice. Additionally, my job situation hasn’t changed and our cash is starting to run low due to all we’ve paid out to contractors for new home repair issues — electricians, plumbers, appliance repairmen, handymen, etc. I’ve also had car issues and have had to pay some big bills for that, and I need a new oil pan gasket which, the dealer says, costs $1,700 alone just for the stupid part, never mind the labor costs. I’ve got a lot on my mind. I’ve got a lot going on. Things are starting to ease up now, which is good, but all I can feel is blah. I’ve had moments of happiness — time spent with my wife, time spent reading or going to the gun range for some target practice — but generally I just feel bad. And I don’t know how to fix it.

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A Review of The Mourning Handbook

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 6, 2013

The Mourning Handbook: The Most Comprehensive Resource Offering Practical and Compassionate Advice on Coping with All Aspects of Death and DyingThe Mourning Handbook: The Most Comprehensive Resource Offering Practical and Compassionate Advice on Coping with All Aspects of Death and Dying by Helen Fitzgerald

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got this book a couple of weeks ago because my father just died a few weeks ago. I got several grief recovery books and I think this one was the best of the bunch. It’s pretty comprehensive and easy to read, and it’s divided up into chunks so that you can go to a section that deals with your particular issues at the moment. It doesn’t have to be read cover to cover (although I did that). Among some of the helpful issues it addresses is denial (“Don’t try to fool yourself into thinking that you can avoid the process of grief.”), anger (“You may be angry at yourself for what you may have said or not said, or for not responding calmly or quickly enough, or for being healthy and alive.” It then gives tips on dealing with anger.), and more. One section that was helpful for me was the death of a parent when you’re an adult. For many people, this signifies the loss of your childhood, the loss of unconditional love, the loss of a certain sense of security, the loss of a friend as well as a parent, the loss of financial support, and more. Although there’s not a lot of coping strategies the author provides here (which I think is a weakness of the book), it’s good to see some issues I’m facing are the same ones faced by others who lose parents. That helps. The book further goes on to advise people not to make major decisions for quite awhile, which is something I’ve seen repeated elsewhere. It gives many reasons not to do so and they make sense. Another helpful section for me was on witnessing a death, particularly if it’s a sudden or violent death (such as my father’s). It was highly traumatizing, and the book advises seeking the help of a professional, but doesn’t give too many other strategies, a continued weakness of the book.

Toward the end of the book, there’s a section titled “You Know You Are Getting Better When…” and it provides a list of things you can do or will do which indicate improvement in your life. These include looking forward to holidays, reviewing both pleasant and unpleasant memories, driving by yourself without crying, when you no longer feel tired all the time, when you can concentrate on a book or favorite television program, etc. In reading this list, I’ve come to the conclusion that while I’m still grieving, I am improving, so that’s good.

I’m going to contrast this book to one I didn’t really find too helpful — The Grief Recovery Handbook by James and Friedman. It’s a pretty harsh book to read, often telling the reader that what one hears or feels is distorted, such as guilt, etc. There were some helpful things, but overall it had an unsympathetic tone which didn’t resonate with me. The Mourning Handbook had a much more nurturing feel to it and I appreciated that.

It’s a shame that anybody has to read such books at all, but I guess it’s a process of life most of us have to deal with at some point, so I’m glad I discovered this book. I’d recommend this book for anyone who’s experienced a death by a family member or even a friend. It’s a good resource and I’m glad I read it.

View all my reviews

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Some Thoughts

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 5, 2013

I woke up in tears this morning. I woke up thinking about the many times my dad came to see my basketball games in school, as well as my football and baseball games. How many times we played catch in the backyard. How that was never going to be a possibility again. It’s been five weeks since his death and I still feel like I’m in a state of shock.

Then I started thinking about what a great packer and mover he was. He was the best. I’ve moved some 27 times, including four cross country moves. He would fly out to L.A. to help me pack up, load the moving truck, and drive it back east. Hell, he packed up my townhouse when I got divorced a few years ago and took care of that move since I was in the hospital. He was relentless. He could pack like no other. And now we’re kicking around the idea of at some point in the future moving up to Knoxville so Mom could rejoin her many friends and church there, and he won’t be around to take care of things. I’ll have to do it. I’m pretty confident I can do it — he taught me well — but it’s unsettling to think of moving without Dad around.

I met with my therapist this morning. And I just finished a book on mourning. I wonder how long I’ll mourn. Some people apparently do for years. I don’t want to be one of those people. I don’t want to wake up in tears seven months from now thinking about Dad. There’s a grief recovery class starting in October near me that I’ve been thinking about registering for, but I don’t know how helpful it will be. Mom started going to one this week, and she was surprised at just how helpful that first meeting was, so maybe I’ll give it shot. I’d like to think that I’d be relatively okay by October though. I don’t know how long this process is or will take. It’s frustrating.

I’m through making trips to Knoxville with Mom on business. It’s been going on every week, including several times a week, ever since Dad died. Now we just have to figure out a way to sell his fishing boat, and Mom will have to make one more Knoxville trip in a month or so and that’s it. Mom’s going to wait awhile on getting rid of Dad’s clothes, etc., although she might donate his books to a library.

Yesterday I mowed the back yard and the back terrace. That’s what Dad was doing when he died. It was kind of creepy. I haven’t been able to mow because of all the rain, although two weeks ago I paid a lawn service to mow the yard. I ingested a lot of dust, grass, and bugs and wondered about what Dad ingested when he was mowing before he stopped to come to our back patio for a glass of water before collapsing. I hope his brain shut down quickly like my doctor said it probably did, because it seemed to me like he was suffering for a good 20+ minutes there on my patio. My doctor said it was the body’s involuntary reflexes — that he had probably already died. I don’t know. I can’t get it out of my head. And I can’t get what he looked like at the hospital after he was declared dead out of my head. He was dark yellow. And cold. He looked frightening. And he had been alive just an hour before. It’s freaky to think about.

I deleted the last six pictures I had of Dad. Two were taken at the hospital after he died and four were taken at the funeral home when he was in a casket, all done up for Mom and me before his cremation. I just couldn’t look at them. They were so morbid. My therapist said that was a good break and will allow me to remember him as I want to and should — as a vibrant, loving father and husband. My last picture I then have of him is at my wedding reception in April. He was happy that day. That’s how I want to remember him.

I guess that’s all for now. I was going to mow the front and side yards today, but the grass really isn’t that long, so I think I’ll wait until tomorrow. I have a number of things I need to do anyway. Sorry if this blog post seems morbid. I have a lot on my mind.

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Anniversary

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 30, 2013

Today is the one month anniversary of my father’s death in my backyard. It still seems so unbelievable, so surreal. One minute, he’s mowing my grass, the next he’s dead on the ground. It really seems cruel. I’m still stunned that I didn’t get to see him coherent on his last day alive. That bothers me so much. I wish I could have said some things, done some things. Mom’s telling people he had been depressed and was “ready to go.” I don’t believe that. Yes, he had been depressed, ever since he retired. He thought he had no further value, which was untrue, but he still had plans and dreams. He wanted to take we four back up to Nova Scotia where we once lived and show my wife around. They were going up to Pittsburgh to be with old friends that weekend. He wanted to take we four up to Iowa and Minnesota to visit family and show Gretchen around. He still had a lot of life in him and I resent the fact that it was yanked away from him, and he from us.

There’s one thing I’m trying to keep in mind though. Mom showed me a computer print out Dad brought over to my house on his last day alive, for me to keep and ponder. It reads “The past should be left in the past because it can destroy your future. Live your life for what tomorrow has to offer, not for what yesterday has taken away.” Wow! How prophetic was that??? Did he somehow know? I can’t believe that he did, but why did he bring that to me on that particular day? I do need to look to the future and quit tormenting myself about the past, about what I didn’t say or didn’t do. I said a lot and did everything I could possibly do to keep him alive. It wasn’t enough. The paramedics couldn’t save him either, so maybe I’ve been too hard on myself.

My mom is doing okay. Yesterday was their 49th wedding anniversary, and she and Gretchen and I went out to eat. Some tears were shed, but Dad was fondly remembered. I just can’t believe I can never pick up the phone and call him again and get one of his funny emails he sent me. It’s quite sad, really. RIP Dad.

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An Update

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 25, 2013

So after our break in of two weeks ago, we now have a home security system in place. We signed with ADS Security, a regional home security company with a good reputation and we now have an alarm system in place on all four doors, as well as interior motion sensors. We also have signs in our yard. We feel a lot safer now. Yeah, you can have all kinds of weapons in your house and plans for robberies when you’re there, but those don’t do any good when you’re not around. The break ins in this neighborhood have been happening between 10 AM and noon on weekdays when people aren’t around. Ours was on a Tuesday in broad daylight! How brazen. ADS responds in 45 seconds or less, so we feel like this security system is a good investment and we feel a lot safer now.

Meanwhile, we’re still trying to get used to Dad’s death three and a half weeks ago. It still feels so unreal. I can’t believe he’s no longer around. And I can’t get the image of him on the ground gasping and moaning as he died out of my mind, and of my mouth to mouth as he was obviously dead by then. I feel helpless and guilty. I feel a great sense of loss. And my mom is trying to do her best, but she’s been overwhelmed and is a little OCD about many things. I’m trying to be patient with her.

Mom had a DVD made of Dad’s funeral service and we got a copy. We watched it a few days ago. It seemed surreal. I’m glad we have it, but it’s a little weird too.

We got the items that were stolen replaced, and my external backup worked for my computer, so I’m happy about that. There was only one software program I had to buy again, as it didn’t transfer over. That’s okay.

I had a lot of poetry submissions to Ray’s Road Review to go through. They had really piled up. I accepted poems from two people and rejected many from quite a few people.

Yesterday we went to a seminar given on the Affordable Care Act to educate people about the details. It was pretty informative. Since neither of us has employer given insurance, we’re hoping this will really help us out come January.

Mom sold Dad’s car. That was kind of sad. Next up, it’s time to sell his fishing boat. I have no idea how to find out basic information on it and how to determine what to ask for it. I need help with this. Mom’s going to be donating Dad’s books to the library of their home church in Knoxville and I guess she’ll be giving his clothes to Goodwill. She’s going to get rid of his tools, although I think I’ll take a number of them myself. Mom’s freaking out about finances, because she’s never had to worry about this before, but I’m trying to remind her that Dad left her in good shape. She doesn’t seem to get it sometimes.

We didn’t go to church today. Gretchen went biking and I want to cut the grass, but it poured last night and I think the grass is too wet to cut. I think we’ve had one day all summer long without rain. It’s been crazy! You’d think we live in Seattle or London. I’ve never seen a summer like this. I can’t wait for fall. At least football’s here. That’s something. I do think, however, that my Steelers are going to suck this year, and I have no idea how UT is going to do with their new coach.

I guess that’s all for now. Just wanted to give an update. More book reviews to come later this week. Cheers!

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