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{Part 2}

If you missed Part 1, catch it here!

On the afternoon of August 10, 2016 I received a call from my stepmom telling me my Dad passed away. I would later find out, my stepmom had signed the paperwork to remove my Dad from oxygen and feeding tube. My brothers and I were not asked nor were we made aware that her plans were to disconnect him from life support. She did not allow anyone to be present except for a woman she had met in the waiting room only three weeks prior. I was devastated. I learned two days later from my Dad’s heart doctor that my Dad’s prognosis was good and that the doctor begged her to wait and not disconnect him. I struggle every. single. day. with her decision. I don’t believe she had the right to make the decision to end his life. , especially based on what his doctor claims was a full recovery. I have many, many questions regarding my Dad’s death. I sought legal advice and that is ongoing. I hope to find the answers I am seeking.

The rest of August was spent healing, both from my Dad’s death and my surgery. At the end of August, my Mom decided she wanted to move to California to be closer to our family. We made arrangements to start her move across country.  This would involve selling her house, having a huge garage sale and packing the rest of her belongings and driving us all to California.  While packing her house in Indiana, we received a letter from an attorney my stepmom had hired. It stated I could not pursue probate or any legal action to obtain my Dad’s medical records because I was not his biological daughter nor did my Dad adopt me. Another set of challenges and emotional to say the least. After a discussion between lawyers coupled with proof of my Dad being my father , my stepmom agreed to sign the paperwork releasing the copies of the medical records. 2,000 pages total.  I am still not able to read all of the records. It is too painful for me to see his struggle in medical terms. In due time I will read it all and hopefully find the answers I am looking for.

Our trip across country turned into a bit of a vacation. I was feeling better physically by this time and we decided to take our time driving to California. Wayne and Hannah flew to Indiana the day before we left and my nephew decided to come and stay with us in California, so there were five of us travelling. One of the best parts of the trip was stopping to eat at restaurants where the food was indigenous to the area. Our first dinner was in Memphis, Tennessee. We ate a great restaurant with the best barbecue I have ever tasted. We spent the night in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Nest stop was Texas. My stepsister lives in Fort Worth, Texas. One night was not going to be enough time to explore Texas so we stayed two nights. The Stockyard and Magnolia Farms were just two of the places we visited. We had a great time just exploring all the sights and food of Dallas and Fort Worth.

And then I found a lump in my breast. It was October 12, 2016. I will never forget that date. I didn’t tell anyone while we were in Texas. I wanted to enjoy our visit and not worry anyone. I thought for sure I had injured my breast  while loading furniture or I just had a blocked duct. I ended up sharing the news with Wayne at the hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At that point I couldn’t wait to get home to make an appointment with my doctor.

I plan to share “My Breast Cancer Journey” every step of my treatment. It will be a long process. I will pick up the rest of my story with you in my next post. I hope my story will help women who are going through the same thing as I am and help women to know what to look for .

Reflecting back on the past two years is emotional, but empowering. I made it though losing my vision, sickness of Hannah, my daughter, Wayne’s PTSD, the deaths of both my father and stepfather, the betrayal of my stepmom and aunt, a cancer scare and tumor resulting in a hysterectomy, eight surgeries in a year and a half and finally breast cancer. We all go through storms in our lives. Many times I didn’t know how I was going to see through this storm. It was not easy physically,  emotionally or financially. I was strong spiritually. I tightened my grip on my FAITH. I know God has held my hand through this. I am grateful that i am able to see what HE had in store for me all along. He has given me strength so that I can share my experiences and help others along  the way. Had I not gone through the storm, I would not know what to say to other women who are experiencing struggles. Now I know.

I have my goals set out before me. In times of crisis or trouble, I think it is important to dream and set goals for yourself. It helps to maintain some control over your life when it feels like everything is out of control. What trials are you going through? What goals can you set for yourself? Even small goals WILL be worth it. It is time to move ahead to the path in front of us. Will you join me?

{Part 1}

As bad as I thought 2015 was at the beginning of last year, 2016 proved to be the worst year of my life. I want to be positive and say that I am sure I will learn some valuable lessons from all that has happened last year, but first I must rest and fight for my life from everything that has happened in 2016. Reflecting on 2016 will allow me to dig deep and perhaps start 2017 with a fresh outlook. I share my story with you to show that even in the darkest times, living life to the fullest is always possible.

January brought  fresh perspective. Literally. My third eye surgery was in November 2015 and my eyesight slowly improved. I no longer had to wear contact lenses and use a magnifying glass to look at my over-sized computer monitor.  (You can read all about my eye surgeries HERE). However, I started experiencing some pain in my lower right side and made an appointment to see my primary doctor to get checked. On a brighter note, my Dad planned his move to Southern California from Northern California. It was nice to have him be closer to our family again after he had lived away for a year and a half.

In February I had surgery on my left eye. The purpose of this surgery was to pull together the back half and front half of my eye so that I can slow the myopic degeneration occurring in my eyes.  I was glad this would be the last step in my long journey to eyesight recovery.

In February, I had an ultrasound on my abdomen and the tests came back abnormal. The ultrasound revealed a large tumor n my right side. I I dealt with the pain as best as I could and was hopeful that pain probably means I don’t have cancer. We started scheduling doctor appointments with specialists to figure out the plan to remove the tumor.

I continued my eye surgery recovery in March. Around this time, a shift happened in my relationship with my Dad. He became very combative and negative with me and everyone around him. His health began to decline. His skin was very wrinkled and dry. He no longer tested his blood sugar or ate healthily, which for a diabetic is critical. After a miserable Easter holiday with him, I chose to create some relationship boundaries and tell him I needed space  from him if he continued to have a poor and negative attitude towards me and others. This decision proved to be life changing.

Another life changing event happened in March when my daughter, Hannah, called us to tell us she wanted to move home from college. She had been unhappy at college for several months. She cried and my heart was breaking that she was so miserable. She shared that she wanted to change her major from Pre-Med to Nursing. There is nothing her Dad and I want more than for her to be happy in her future. We moved her home at the end of the quarter and began “healing” her heart and soul from anxiety.
I was so happy to see Spring arrive. It had been a long Winter and I was looking forward to improving eyesight, Hannah being home helped and it looked as if things were stabilizing except for the tumor. Hannah signed  for Summer courses at our local college and our business was booming. I was scheduled for exploratory surgery at the beginning of May. My Mom was able to fly from Indiana and take care of me during my recovery. Surgery in May went well. The tumor was discovered attached to both my right ovary and uterus. My doctor and I decided the best course was for me to have a hysterectomy and right ovary removal. Surgery was scheduled for August. Those weeks of waiting for surgery was troubling and depressing. I was nervous I had cancer and just wanted the surgery over with.

When July rolled in I was recovering from surgery well and just waiting for my next surgery in August. However, on July 10, I received a phone call from my brother in Arizona. He wanted to know what was wrong with Dad. Since I had not heard from my Dad or stepmom since March, I wasn’t sure what he meant. My brother explained that he received a text from my stepmom telling him and my youngest brother in Indiana that Dad had suffered a heart attack and was in the hospital. Since both brothers live out of state, I called my stepmom to find out what was happening with Dad. She never answered my call, but did answer my subsequent text. My stepmom stated she didn’t know if I wanted to know since I said I wanted nothing to do with my Dad, which was untrue. The month of July would prove to be the hardest time emotionally for me as my Dad spent the rest of the month of July in a coma. The emotional tug of war between me and my brothers against my stepmom was exhausting and heart breaking.

I had surgery on August 5  2016. This was my sixth surgery in 13 months. I was exhausted emotionally and fearful my Dad would die while I was in the hospital, but since the threat of cancer was possible, I knew I had to continue with the surgery as planned. My surgery was successful, but the recovery was painful. I was released from the hospital on August 8, 2016. I was so fortunate to have my Mom and Wayne and Hannah with me to assist in my recovery, but the worst was yet to come.

Looking forward to sharing the rest of the story in my next post. Until then….

 

 

And Life Goes On….

As much as I want my life around me to stop so I can catch up, it doesn’t. Life still goes on. Days pass and the feeling of not being able to catch my breath and organize my thoughts continue. Until now….

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Its time for a fresh perspective. Its time to remove the toxic people out of my life who don’t support me or encourage me or love me without conditions. When I walk through an open door, I choose who I want to walk with me through it. I don’t have to settle for family relationships that leave me feeling empty and bitter. I don’t have to keep friends who intimidate me or fail to encourage me. We only have one life to live!

I choose to walk through a new door and leave behind the family members who have abandoned me in my grief. I choose to leave the drama behind me in regards to decisions I have made that people disagree with. I choose to live with a clean heart and a fresh start.

This week I will be traveling to Indiana to pack and move my Mom to California! Now THIS is opening a new door!  Wayne, Hannah and I will be driving from Indiana to California with my Mom and nephew Shea. We are going to make this trip as fun as possible! Scheduled stops are  Branson, MO: Fort Worth, TX: Waco, TX (yes, Magnolia Farms here we come!); Amarillo, TX and Albequerque  NM before heading home and our new life together. I hope to treat you to posts and pictures along the way.

In the meantime, I’ll finish up my hysterectomy journey on the blog and tell you a little about ME and whats next for the blog.

 

A Proper Goodbye

Today is a memorial service for my Dad who passed away on August 10, 2016. I won’t be attending. How he died comes with questions not answered. Danette, my stepmother, has not called me since the day after my Dad died.  She did not call when I had my surgery. She did not call when we were evacuated. She did not ask my opinion or suggestions or wishes for my Dad’s memorial service. Danette only called the day after my Dad died in response to a text my Aunt sent to me and my brothers letting us know of the date of the memorial service and to let me know of the arrangements already made. She DID tell me there would be time at the end of the service for people to stand up and speak. She  said would open up the floor to anyone who may want to share a story or memory of my Dad. I assume that would be my time to speak. My brothers and I have chosen NOT to go to the memorial service (which is being held at their house no less). My Dad always said “funerals are for the living. I don’t want my kids and grand-kids standing around crying that I’m gone”. We have chosen to honor him in the way he wanted.

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His obituary was written and published by his wife, Danette. She included me and my brothers and another woman who claims to be his daughter. Although this woman does bear a resemblance to my Dad, she only sought to know him in her adult years beginning in February of this year. They never met and no DNA test was ever done. However, she along with my stepsister and stepbrother were included in the obituary. You can read his obituary here. My Aunt rewrote the obituary to have published in the local paper in Lafayette, IN in the town where he grew up. You can read the revised obituary here.

Dad’s obituary is not reflective of his life. I choose to honor him by telling you a few things about the man he is / was:

  • He always ate all his fries before his cheeseburger.
  • His favorite color is green.  He hated the color blue.
  • He loved Ford trucks. He drove is red Ford F150 for 15 years before buying a new, shiny charcoal Ford F150. He gave his old red truck to my daughter. It means more to her than ever now.
  • Chinese food and Mexican food were his favorites. He loved ceviche with a little Tapitio and lime.
  • He didn’t drink but a couple of times a year and didn’t like to see people drink or smoke. He felt they were ruining their health
  • His grandchildren melted his heart. He loved each one of his grandchildren. He also “adopted” a ton of his children’s and grandchildren’s friends and neighbor’s children.
  • He loved to watch movies. All. The. Time I couldn’t tell you his favorite movie because he had so many he loved. Benny and Joon. Christmas Vacation. The Ghost and the Darkness. A Walk In The Woods.So many….
  • He loved old time rock and roll. The Eagles. Bob Seger. Michael McDonald.
  • He thought Celine Dion was the best female voice to ever sing. He also loved true, clear voices like Karen Carpenter and Barbra Streisand.
  • His tools were his greatest treasure. He knew where every tool went in his toolbox. He always cleaned his tools after each use. Many of his tools he had for as long as 40 years.
  • He always had calloused hands. Even when I held his hand in the hospital his hands were calloused. He was the hardest working man I know.
  • He had a sarcastic sense of humor and loved to laugh.
  • He loved motorcycles.
  • He thought a man should always carry a pocketknife. he carried one my whole life.
  • Most of all, he loved life! He cried the day before he went into surgery because the man in the room next to his had died the night before. I let Dad know that all the man’s family was surrounding him and loving him. He seemed comforted to know this. Unfortunately, my Dad was not given the opportunity to have his family surrounding him when he died. Danette chose to unplug life support from him without telling his children. Her wishes were not his wishes. However, I am CERTAIN that Dad knows his children and grandchildren are with him in thought and prayer every single day.

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My Dad died without a will. I begged him to set up a Will, a Trust and an Advanced Directive. He did not do it. I will be sharing more of the heart ache we have had to endure because of the choice he made not to have his “end of life” paperwork in order. We will need to open probate and deal with a stepmother who is not willing to speak with us or allow us to have any of his belongings. In the end, it isn’t about material items though is it? My brothers and I have hired a lawyer to explore the option of wrongful death. We also must deal with probate issues. This is unfortunately a part of the process. I will keep you updated periodically on our progress. I love you Dad!

 

A few life {and death} lessons

To say I have been through a lot the last month is a definite understatement. I had major surgery on August 5th, my Dad passed away on August 10th and we evacuated our home on August 16th because the Blue Cut Fire  was dangerously close to our house.

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My Dad went into the hospital on July 11, 2016. He passed away on August 10, 2016. He was only 66 years old. His life and death story needs to be told.  His life was worth living and he died much too soon! I will share his story this week. Although I’d rather share his life story, the reality is his death was preventable and the truth needs to be revealed regarding his death. One very real lesson I learned from his death is to have an

Advanced Directive  and A Last Will and Testament.  

 

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I am happy to report that my hysterectomy surgery and recovery from surgery has gone amazingly well. NO CANCER! I am well aware my outcome could be so much different than it is. I feel better each day. This week I will share with you my experience and tips to help you recover from surgery.

 

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You may have heard about the Blue Cut Fire?  It was dangerously close to our house and burned over 36,000 acres. In the midst of my hysterectomy recovery add my Dad’s passing, we had to evacuate. We were fortunate enough to have very generous friends who took us in. I’ll share with you what personal items we decided to take with us and why. I hope you are never in the situation to evacuate for a fire or flood, but preparation is key!

I hope you have a great week! Stay tuned in for upcoming posts!

When setting BOUNDARIES mean you’re out of the family

Do you fear getting the call telling you someone you love is in the hospital and in critical condition?

What if you never got the call?

This is what happened to me exactly two weeks ago today. Technically, I DID get a call, but it was from my brother in Arizona asking me “What’s up with Dad?”  “I am not sure. I haven’t talked with him in awhile” I responded. My brother goes on to tell me that our Dad has had a major heart attack and is in the hospital and will have open heart surgery.  He received a TEXT from our stepmom telling him and my youngest brother about my Dad’s condition. Hey, at least they got a TEXT.

Why did I not get a call from her when I live 2 miles away from them? BOUNDARIES.

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I had established personal relationship boundaries with my Dad and in exchange for not tolerating disrespect to me or my family, my time, my truths, my health and my home, I was (according to him and my stepmom) out of the family. At least that is what their actions revealed.

I love my Dad and our extended families very much. My Dad and I have always been very, very close. More so now that we live 2 miles away from each other. My heart aches that I wasn’t given a call that there was something wrong with my Dad that was life altering and critical. When I called my stepmom to find out what what was wrong with my Dad and I confronted her with why I wasn’t notified, her response was “You didn’t want anything to do with your Dad, so I didn’t let you know. I can give you updates if you want” she replied.

I don’t tell this story to “shame” my Dad or stepmom (although I feel she should apologize for being disrespectful), I tell this story to share the repercussions from setting boundaries with the relationships in your life. BUT YOU STILL NEED TO SET BOUNDARIES.  Sorry….I didn’t mean to to yell, but I really want to make my point. I have no regrets. I HAVE had conversations with my extended family about being disrespectful to me. I needed to do this for my happiness.

I want to add to the discussion that I am not innocent in overstepping boundaries with others. I have also participated in family “gossip” and said inappropriate things about other people in my family so I share blame. Sometimes we must set boundaries within one’s self too….about not gossiping, disrespecting others and holding yourself to a higher standard and having integrity when it comes to others boundaries as well.

Are you dealing with BOUNDARIES issues in your life? I highly recommend this book:

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If I am being completely honest here….I have had to read it several times.  It provides great insight to why we must establish boundaries and be true to our own self for the betterment of relationships we have.

Some warning signs that you need to establish boundaries with others:

Time

  • Does the person expect you to drop what you are doing to help them at a moments notice?
  • Are you doing more for the person time wise than they would take doing it for themselves?
  • Do they drop by unannounced and stay for long periods of time with no attention to the time?

Personal

  • Does the person ask personal questions about your health or body?
  • Does the person give unsolicited advice regarding your finances or health or family?
  • Does the person “assume” the facts of your life without finding out if what they are saying is true?

Values & Morals

  • Does the person try to shame or coerce you into “their” way of thinking if you do not agree on an issue?
  • Does the person tell you who you are or what you are feeling?
  • Is the person loud and combative when talking about an issue?
  • Does the person insult you or your values?

Although, thankfully, I have not dealt with all of these issues  from others in relationships, even just one or two of these warning signs can lead to an unequal balance in a relationship.

An update on Dad: He had open heart surgery a week ago last Thursday. I was able to see and talk with him at the hospital before his surgery. His last words to me were “I Love You”. That was all my heart needed. I get regular updates now via a group text (with others I do not know), but nonetheless I am getting information about his condition. He is in an induced coma on a breathing ventilator.  His prognosis is good. We are hopeful. T I pray that me and Dad can establish a “new” relationship with set boundaries when he is able. Prayers are welcomed!

How about you? Do you have trouble setting boundaries with others?

Please share your story in the comments below….