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I will admit to being behind. Grief does that to a person. Especially to those of us now in the "widow" catagory. Those that have had to join this club know how a spouses death cuts your world in half. It cuts you in half. You can no longet be the person that you were while they were alive. Suddenly, you just do not know what to do. So you do nothing that matters.


The desire to do any new artwork has been swallowed up in grief and cagegiving. Taking care of my father with dementia in the midst of grieving has not been easy during these past seven and a half months since my lover's untimely death. It has afforded me the silence I needed to go through this early part of grief. The price though for shutting out the world to deal with my pain has been the increase of caregiving chores. My father's health is declining. Faster than he will admit. As a result, I have had to spend more time taking care of his basic needs. There is no time to get going on any artwork. No sooner than I start up something when I am interrupted by going to take care of the next thing he has need of. I am on edge all the time, even through my sleep. For the past three months, life has literally been on hold for the next catastrophy to deal with.


There have been many little catastrophies over these past months with caring for my father. I was able to deal with everyone of them. Did not like it, but dealt with it like any other caregiver. There was one large disaster though I did not forsee. My hot water valve sprung a leak and was leaking for a very long time. Maybe a month or more. I discovered the closet which it abides in full of water one day. The results of that leak means that I lost much of my insulation under the house where all that water dripped down during that time I was unaware. I live in a manufactured home so all of the subflooring is particle board and must be removed. My bathroom floor is toast. So is the front hallway and area leading around the closets to the hallway to the bathroom. All of that now has to be replaced.


I wish it was that easy, but this home has several problems that surfaced as a result of the leak. Two closets with electrical wiring must be removed. The whole floor, except for the bedrooms are connected. All of that will have to be removed and replaced as well. In a nutshell, I am looking at having to pack everything up and moving out of the way for the living room, (which I am using for my art studio), the dining room, the kitchen, and the back family room area. Let's not forget the front entrance, the hallways and front bathroom. Plus, the front door has dry rot. It too needs replacing. As well as half of the skirting on this manufactured home. Oh the joys of living in a rain forest on the back of a creek in Oregon!


I obviously have no proof, but I think my husband's spirit is behind all of this. He never really liked the idea of me having to care for my father instead of doing art. This was the nudge I needed to finish my searching for a memory care community to place my father into. His doctor warned me months ago to prepare for the time when I would not be able to care for his needs anymore. She did say it was coming soon. And she was right. His physical health has declined much in the past months. If this leak had not had happened, I would have pushed myself too hard to keep caring for him at risk to both of us. 


As of next week, my father will return to the place I had him in for a month for respite care while I took care of my husband's death. I will tell him tomorrow. I wanted my father to enjoy his birthday today. He turned 89 years old. He will not like it, but the contractor has flat out told me there is no possible way for him to be around the construction. He buried his mother-in-law two and a half years ago who also suffered from dementia. This contractor understands what I am up against. 


My job as a full time caregiver will end after two and a half years. Dear ol' dad ended up in my care four years ago after he suffered a heart attack. I had just finished my K-12 Art Educator's program at Montana State University only three months prior. I never got a chance to apply for any jobs in Montana due to my father health crisis and my new role caring for his needs. It has been a very difficult four years. It was hard on my marriage, it ruined my career goals and now I am back to square one without my husband by my side. My youngest son comes back in two weeks after his year long internship in the Grand Canyon. At least I have him to look forward to.


Like most unknown artists, I will be looking soon for that day job to pay for my passion. How do you start a new life and career when you are closer to retirement? When the past four years have been tied up in the role of caregiver, POA, and managing the daily affairs of those in your life? How do I go back into doing my own artwork when I feel like I have just been sent back to the camp wounded from being on the front lines of an ugly war? I will still have my father to deal with. I still must manage his finances and visit him on a regular basis. Until the his time draws to an end and I must be there for his days of hospice to his end. And another death to grieve. I may be in the camp for now, but those front line days are looming closer and closer. Experienced soldiers only get to go back to continue the fight. And to deal with the grief that comes from those experiences. 


I have almost completed packing up my artwork and will begin taking down my studio soon. The last painting I did was in memory of my love. I called it, "Moment of Inpact." It is my interpretation of that awful moment of his death when his soul/spirit left this world and became once more just pure energy in the universe again. Grief can make one morbid as well some of the time. The painting is done with acrylic paints and I painted over my "Fall of Fundamentalism." That too was a bit morbid, but that is another blog story that will have to wait.