About Gretchen

Louisiana girl, living in a Mississippi world. I am loving the rural life. I am also an Independent Avon Rep. This company is a big promoter of women's causes, mainly breast cancer and domestic violence. When you shop with me, you are supporting a real family, not a faceless chain.

Grief is not Linear

Grief is not linear, there are no set stages to follow.

In the beginning, I refused to take blame for my husband’s suicide.  The first thing the therapist says is to not take blame.  Check!  I had that mastered.  I would hear other widows blaming themselves and would think get a grip person – you are not to blame.

1 year, 4 months, and 9 days later that changed.  That changed drastically.  The guilt was overbearing.  What could I have done differently?  Could I have pushed him harder to get mental help? He absolutely loved pies.  Why didn’t I bake him more pies?

I spent that morning with tears running down my face texting with his sisters, admitting my guilt.

In my heart, I knew his suicide was not my fault.  But I guess this was a stage I had to experience.

I spent the first year of grief in an angry state.  Looks like my second year will be of a wife grieving the loss her husband, their 37 years of marriage and what the future might have held.

I look back on past blogs and cringe.  Sometimes I cannot believe I put my feelings in writing for the public to see.  I feel I made statements that disrespected my husband.  He is not here to defend himself.  And for that, I apologize to our children and his family.

This second year, I am remembering the good times and pushing the bad last years away.  I am getting better at that.  However, in my dreams, these last few months, the angry husband makes his appearance and gives me nightmares.  Let me be clear, he was never physically hurtful.  His pain made him an angry person and that anger was pointed to his caretaker – me.  Unfortunately, the sitting on pins and needles of anticipating mood swings has manifested into my dreams.  All I can do is pray for this to stop.

I am not writing this for sympathy, compassion, or for mounds of people telling me my husband’s suicide is not my fault.  I do know that, but it is a stage I had to experience.  Once again, I am being brutally honest in sharing my grief in the hope my words will help someone one day in their grief journey.

And I feel the overwhelming need to apologize to my deceased husband for all the hurtful actions and words I directed towards him throughout our 37 years of marriage.  I share the blame for some of our problems.  I am truly sorry.

I strongly felt the need to put this in writing for all to see.

2 Corinthians 7:10 

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

Don’t Call me a High Maintenance City Girl!!!

I must say I was a pampered princess growing up. My dad did not let his girls use lawn equipment, nor did he make us help with outside chores. I, personally, think he did all the outside work by himself to get away from all the girls. The yard was his domain.

My mom added to the role of pampered princesses. Whenever us girls were attending a high school dance, my mom didn’t let us do any housework. We were to pamper ourselves like Egyptian royalty, soaking in a scented bath, polishing our nails and fixing our hair.

When I got married, I remained a pampered princess. Yard work just wasn’t my thing.

Fast forward 27 years when we moved to my beloved #SpookyHollowSouthernMS. I discovered how much I love the farm life. Polished nails were a thing of the past. I dug in the dirt, touched earthworms, got a farmer’s tan……

I was quickly shedding the pampered princess persona, or so I thought.

Fast forward 10 more years to widowhood. I realized, even though I was no longer a high maintenance city girl, I was still somewhat pampered. The husband may have been disabled, but he was still the caretaker. All I did was go to work and dabble in the garden. I never had to cut grass, cook, clean or fix anything that broke.

This week is brought to you by the letter “W”. We have a broken weed eater, a broken washing machine and a broken water well.

The water well was the worst.

In the past, I would have headed off to work, come back 9 hours later, and all would be fixed.

Now I have to make the decisions. While all I wanted to do was check into a hotel and wait out everything getting fixed, I couldn’t. I had to work, wait for repairmen to get estimates, take care of a sick granddaughter, put pots outside to catch rainwater, haul in water from the redneck pool to flush the toilet, and make sure the dogs, cats, chickens and ducks all had water.

I was so mad at the late husband for leaving me with all this I rode the riding mower in the wet, muddy yard, doing donuts, leaving ruts in what was once the husband’s pride and joy. There take that!

Once I got the frustration out, I knew what had to be done. I saw another rain storm was coming so I filled a bowl of rainwater with Tide, threw a set of clothes in for the next day, put on my bathing suit, grabbed my Avon Veilment Natural Spa Black Rose Body Scrub & Cleanser, Avon Elastine PropoliThera Volumizing Shampoo & Conditioner (OK – maybe I am still a little high maintenance), and headed outside.

The grandson, who was filthy from playing on the faux farm all day, was going to join me. He stepped into the rainstorm and said no way, that water was too cold.

Didn’t phase me. I washed clothes, bathed, washed and conditioned my hair.

I have a new appreciation for our forefathers and mothers whose main job was just surviving by taking care of the homestead.

After this week, nobody better ever call me a high maintenance city girl!

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home town. Pre-Quarantine, they would bring the college students into their home on Monday nights to break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  They have since then had to find other ways to minister to these young men and women.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

Name Changing – Game Changing?

I am out of sorts. I am sure we are all out of sorts these days.

I was streaming music and Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark started playing. That entire song describes me at this moment.

Man, I’m just tired and bored with myself….

…..I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face…..

Well, I already did some changing. Lost weight while working from home during the stay at home mandate, so I need new clothes. Definitely changed my hair. The face – nothing I can do about that except doll it up with some of my Avon. I’m good with that.

But next I am going with a name change. Heading back to the maiden name. Been thinking about this for a long, long time. COVID had me postpone this, but I am ready to see if the courts are open to schedule this. This is in no way me trying to erase almost 37 years of marriage. It’s just time. I have had a year to reflect back on my marriage. It wasn’t all bad – we had some great times and had two beautiful children. But it could have been better – better if we had been Biblical centered in our decision to marry.

My mom taught me to be independent, to always have my own job in order to have my own money, in order to take care of myself if need be. My mom was a child of divorce in the 1920s. Her dad was a womanizer, and left my grandmother with 3 children (one was a sickly infant son). My grandmother had to pack up a bag, leaving their family home with only what she and her two young daughters could carry. They had to walk miles to my great grandfather’s home, asking him for shelter. Great Grandfather Duples was a stern man. He took them in, but to my mother, this was not a loving home. My grandmother’s next husband was an alcoholic. He was a good man, but a heavy drinker. His brother, also an alcoholic, touched my mother inappropriately. When she spoke public of this injustice, she was slapped in the face, told to be quiet and not say such things about an adult. These men totally shaped my mother’s opinion of men.

Because of this independence, I watched her and my dad butt heads over the years. I did the same with my husband. Looking back now, I realize neither one of us trusted our husbands enough to be decision makers.

And that is sad.

Love, honor and obey. Obey. That word did me in and had chills running up my spine. Had I really known the Bible back then, I would have realized there was more to the story. God’s design for marriage is beautiful. When both parties are Christ-Centered, the wife is confident in her husband’s lead, and the husband leads with a pure heart. He is never to lead as a tyrant, or her superior. The husband should include her in important decisions and be respectful of her considerations. A Christ-Centered husband would not misuse his leadership.

Being as independent as I am, I just think this takes a lot of trust on the woman’s part. However, I see this can be successfully done. My daughter’s marriage is truly Biblical based and for that I am so thankful. They serve each other beautifully and focus on each other’s strengths. Lord knows she didn’t get that from her Momma, or her Momma’s Momma.

The best advice I can give for marriage is straight from Ephesians 5:33. “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Men and women are wired differently. Women crave love, men crave respect.

Women, if you do not give your husband respect, he will not show you the love. Men, if you do not show your wife the love, she will not give you the respect you crave. This is a cycle that must be followed for a successful marriage.

If you are having trouble in your marriage, I cannot urge you enough to get Biblical counseling and jump into this love/respect cycle with gusto. BUT, you must trust each other completely. You should both pray together for the sanctity and success of your marriage.

So this discombobulated way brings me back to my name change. I was raised independent, so on this Independence Day, I am putting into motion going back to my maiden name. I cannot change the past, but only can learn from it.

Marriage is not for everyone, and at this moment, I do not think I can ever be successful in this endeavor. But all in God’s plan.

As for the present, I am going to live my best life possible and thank God for every moment.

You sit around getting older
There’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me
I’ll shake this world off my shoulders
Come on, baby, the laugh’s on me

You can’t start a fire
Sitting ’round crying over a broken heart

This gun’s for hire
Even if we’re just dancing in the dark

You can’t start a fire
Worrying about your little world falling apart

I’m starting my fire by taking the name back I was born with.

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home town. Pre-Quarantine, they would bring the college students into their home on Monday nights to break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  They have since then had to find other ways to minister to these young men and women.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

I Survived the Year of 2019 – Can I Survive this Year of Jumanji?

For the most part, I am doing well.  Most part.

However, as the year anniversary of my husband’s suicide is about to roll around, I get deep anxiety as to how I am going to face that day.  Will I wake up gasping for breath?  Will I be able to get out of bed?  Will I be able to put one foot in front of the other?  Or will it just be another day?

Thank God I continue working from home, because I just do not know if I want to be around people that day.

Almost a year.  Sometimes it is flying by, some days it is dragging by.  But I know I made tremendous strides in my healing.

When I have to say my husband passed away, those words just do not seem right.  Passed away.  Passed away, to me, seems like a peaceful passing.  His was not.  His was a violent death – at his own hand.

I have not publicly shared what happened that day to try to protect what was good in Bubba, and let him have some dignity.  But by not doing so, rumors abound.  Rumors are worse than the truth.

May 29, 2019 – a day I will remember for the rest of my life.

The years of chronic pain, his body failing and the multitude of medicines he was on, I swear, turned his brain into Swiss cheese.  The last two years of his life were very difficult for him, and his moods were difficult for the rest of us.  His last two weeks of his life were worse.

I will not go into detail, but there are a few things that I would rather utter the words instead of others spreading rumors.  You will know this truth from me – the only other person with him that day.  What anyone else offers is pure conjecture.

All I will say is on May 29, 2019, Bubba had a most difficult day.  I returned home from work not knowing if I would find Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde.  I was in the front yard.  Bubba was on the carport – when I heard the gunshot.  I heard the gunshot.  I will never forget that.  I heard the gunshot.

I knew what he did.

I called 9-1-1.  Since no one else was home, the 9-1-1 operator said I had to check my husband to see if he was still breathing.  I could not imagine what I would find.  Yes, he was still breathing.  No, his face was not blown off like someone later told his sister.  How this untruth traveled from north Mississippi to the bayous of south Louisiana beats the heck out of me.  I could have had an open casket funeral if I had not chosen cremation.

To dispel other rumors, at no point was a gun turned on me.  I was not in fear of my life at that moment.

My goal in this is to make people think before they offer opinions to someone who has lost a loved one by suicide.  Death by suicide of a loved one already has enough stigma attached to the situation.  We do not want to hear you state our loved one cannot get into heaven because he took his own life.  We do not want to hear what the trajectory of a bullet does to the brain.  And mostly, if you were not in the room at the time and have no idea what occurred, we do not want you to offer opinions, or repeat hearsay as fact.

I hurt for Bubba for what his mind must have been going through contemplating his suicide.  I hurt for our children and grandchildren.  I see the pain on his siblings’ faces when they speak about him and I could just cry.  He’s left a world of hurt in cousins, aunts, uncle and friends.

His suicide hurts badly enough. Rumors and conjecture hurt even worse.

Fast forward to May, 2020.

As May 29, 2020 approaches, for the most part I am doing well.  Most part.

I am bringing on my own anxiety by anticipating I will have a bad day.

That is an unknown.

What I do know is God’s promise.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This verse brings me peace, for the most part.  For the most part I am doing well.

A common comment heard from someone experiencing new grief is, “I wish I could fast forward from this deep pain to a day this pain does not bring me to my knees.”

This crazy COVID-19, Jumanji year has accomplished that very feat for me – fast forwarded my grief.  I am not making light of others’ hardships during this most difficult time, I am only speaking of my own experience.

Usually during a time of trial and tribulation, God sees it fit to put me in the middle of the turmoil.  But this time, God let me sit this one out.  He gave me rest, peace and blessings.  I still have a job.  I work from home.  I get paid.  And I will return to my job when this over.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

Life is good during my time of quarantine.  I am finding myself, re-kindling old friendships, spending many therapeutic moments in my vegetable garden, eating better, losing weight and learning much.  Learning things such as, did you know you can open a bag of potato chips and not eat the entire bag in one sitting?  Who knew?  I have also learned I can let my bangs grow out, and I do not have to cut them myself.  The hairdo actually looks better!  I can have downtime and enjoy this without guilt.  I can be lazy sometimes, and that is okay.  My soul finds rest.

Yes, my grief has fast forwarded, but I find myself trying to put on the brakes as May 29, 2020 approaches.

Check with me on May 30, 2020, and I will let you know how I survived.

For the most part, I am doing well.  For the most part I have shed my skin and stepped into a skin I like much better.  For the most part I live, I laugh and I love.  For the better part I am moving forward, not just surviving but thriving.

For the most part I am truly doing well.

 

 

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home town. Pre-Quarantine, they would bring the college students into their home on Monday nights to break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  They have since then had to find other ways to minister to these young men and women.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

Is it Really Only Day 2?

Is it really only Day 2 of this madness?  Was it really only 2 days ago my company sent me home to telework?  Seems like a lifetime…..

Home with 2 teenage grandchildren thrilled to be set free from school.

Food I thought would last over a week is gone – gone on Day 1.

On Day 1, I hopped out bed super, super early to get my day started.  Before jumping on my computer for work, I made ham & grilled cheese sandwiches for all.  Of course, by the time the teenagers woke it was brunch, and the sandwiches were hard and cold.  Didn’t faze them a bit.  Not long after, their dad made them lunch and they wolfed that down.

I was so in tune with my work, I did not cock my head ever so slightly to the right to notice the pile of dishes growing in the kitchen.  By the time I turned off my computer and glanced around, I almost fell out of my chair.

I started cleaning and making a simple supper of salad & blackened chicken.  I did not finish until 7:30 p.m.  What da heck?  I am usually finished much quicker than this, even working outside of the home.

I vow the next day I will be better.

Close to 8 p.m., the son and grandkids go for a drive to get out of the house.  I happily lock myself in my room to watch This is Us.  I’m all comfy about ½ hour in when I am suddenly plunged into darkness.  We lost power caused by a wreck down the street.  So much for that.

Almost two hours later while we were still without power, the son and the kids entertain themselves by holding up the flashlight and making shadow figures with their hands.  I am not amused.  My grandson said this is what the future looks like.  So I do something most unbecoming of a grandmother.  I walk up to the flashlight and project half of a peace symbol onto the ceiling.  That’s what I think about that kind of future!

Day 2 – up super early again, and start with a simple bowl of yogurt, fruit and granola.  By 8:30, the dog finally wakes up.  He is not a morning person – at all.  Much later, the grands wake up and rummage through the kitchen like raccoons in a trash can.  By late lunch, my son is making chili cheese fries.  He thinks he is frying too many potatoes.  Ha!  The son did not eat any because he had to head to work.  I ate a small plate.  Not a potato was left 10 minutes later.

The afternoon scourging continued.

When at work, I park farthest away from my building to get extra steps.  I walk on my 10 minute breaks.  I walk to the farthest bathroom.  I walk to the farthest water fountain.  I walk at lunch.  I sometimes leave work with 8,000 steps.

My co-worker and I vowed to take our 10 minute breaks and walk in the fresh air of our yards.  Didn’t happen – at least not for me.  At 3:30 I look at my FitBit – 975 steps.

I vow the next day I will do better.

I did not……

Fast forward to day – well, I don’t even know what day it is of this social distancing.  Time is inconsequential right now.  We are adjusting to our new normal in our household.  I am getting a little better at my steps.  I love jumping out of bed and being ‘at work’ in one minute.  The commute is great!  Some lazy days, I work in my PJs – and make sure to put a piece of paper over my laptop camera for live meetings.

The son and I realized we were caught in this ‘stay at home’ mode so unprepared.  Years ago, here at Spooky Hollow Southern MS, we always said we were semi-prepared for an apocalypse.  Semi-prepared meaning we were only prolonging our misery and death.  We had chickens.  We had a big vegetable garden.  All of us are “marksmen” and ready to hunt.  Over time, we got rid of the chickens, and have not gardened in a few years.

With me moving back home last year, my son and I intended to revive the garden on a smaller scale.  We debated chickens, but decided against them.  We intended to slowly revamp the garden during the winter if it was mild.  The winter was mild alright, but wet.  There was no tilling rows until the soil dried.  Also, my son was in a deep depression.  There was no tilling him until the depression dried out.

The weather warmed, the soil was drying and COVID-19 made a vicious appearance.  Our lives were rocked.  We never expected to see a time where there was a food/toilet paper shortage.  Watching the gluttony on TV propelled my son out of his depression and into movement.  Having teenagers, I believe he panicked for a moment worrying about feeding them for the long term.

We shifted into high gear and did about a month’s worth of outside work in one weekend.  I decided to get a few baby chicks.  I said we were getting six chicks and that was it.  So I now have 8 chicks and 5 ducks……

None of this will help out in this current crisis, but we will be a little better prepared for the next…if there is a next….I hope there isn’t a next……

Titus 2:12

Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…

My grandson said he wants to return to pre-Coronavirus days.

I hear you child.

I want to return to days of common sense.  If you cannot bring your family to church for fear of spreading the virus, why bring the entire gang to Wal Mart?

I want to return to days of morals where morons don’t lick the ice cream in the freezer section of the grocery store, put it back, while filming this and posting to social media.  What’s worse is when idiots think this is funny, so said idiot imitates said moron, performing said ice cream licking……

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We started a Spooky Hollow Southern MS YouTube channel.  We will be documenting our progress.  For those that know us, you know you will witness major goofiness.  My aim isn’t so much to educate, but to make you think and do your own research.  We are former city dwellers, with limited knowledge of creating a victory garden and a faux farm.  We do not have specialized equipment. We use what is on our property, or purchase what we need economically.  We have many goofy moments, trials and tribulations.  I will be documenting these moments to share with you – mainly so that you can learn from our mistakes.  If you need really professional advice, you best go elsewhere. But if you want to learn about starting country life, with lots of laughs, you are in the right place.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2OtTvE0oL2k5__0fsINOsA

You can also check us out on FB:

https://www.facebook.com/RuralMississippi

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(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights {temporarily suspended due to COVID-19} – sometimes over 20 people are fed – on a youth minister’s salary!  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

www.YourAvon.com/ghegwood

Another note:  Avon has daily essentials, such as toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, liquid soap, bug guard and sun screen.  We even have Chi Hair Dye.  You do not need to leave your house.  All items will be delivered directly to your door.

Too bad Avon does not sell toilet paper…….

After the Spiral…..

I spiraled Valentine’s week.  I am not proud of it, but it is what it is.  I know spiraling can be expected during grief.  Does not mean I was ready for it though.  It was a bad spiral.  I was not sure I was going to climb out of that rabbit hole this time.

I had a panic attack in Dollar General.  I barely made it through the check out, ran to my vehicle, and cried once I shut the door.  Cried all the way home.

Grief is rough.  On top of regular grief, trying to process your husband committing suicide makes you wonder how you function every day.

With the help of my therapist, I realized I was missing what might have been, and going down the What If rabbit hole.  What if my old vehicle dies?  What if I can’t fix the problems in my old house?  What if I never get my vegetable garden started ever again?  I have to re-till and amend the soil because I have not had a garden for 3 years.  What if I can’t do this by myself?  What if I can’t fix the potholes on my dirt road?

The irony is, the hope of ‘what could have been’ sustained me through my husband’s mental illness.  I always had hope his physical and mental ailments would be cured and we would grow old together as planned.  Now, after his death, the ‘what could have been’ was driving me insane.  Identifying this emotion, owning it for what it was, sure helped propel me to once again put one foot in front of the other.

Another factor playing into my depression was the weather.  Our region normally has mild winters.  We didn’t have particularly extreme cold days, but we had a wet winter.  Most times, there are nights where we can go outside, light a fire and have outdoor movie night.  There was none of that this winter because it was just too wet.  Not being able to be outside, on the land I so love, was much more draining that I ever could have imagined.

Fortunately, Saturday was dry and mild.  With my newfound grasp on reality, I was able to spend some time in sunshine and this lifted my spirits tremendously.  I felt empowered!

I tackled the yard, starting with cleaning up some messes.  Then, I learned how to drive our zero-turn lawnmower while wearing my bright pink Avon Mattitude Liquid Lipstick.  I also learned how to connect my headphones to my cell so I could listen to music while cutting the grass.

Progress!

I broke the lawnmower.

Not progress!

And as if widowhood wasn’t enough, a lizard got in my house.  I picked up a magazine, saw a little stick sticking out of it and proceeded to remove it, when said stick jumps on my finger.  Said stick turns out to be a baby lizard.  I shake my finger while screaming and hopping around.  The baby lizard scampers to parts unknown and can probably live in this house to adulthood because I am not picking it up.  I realized I should have known that wasn’t a stick because why would a stick be sticking out of my magazine?

Not so much progress, but that’s okay.

So heck on this day!  I went out for boiled seafood and $2 margaritas for National Margarita Day.

Problems not solved, but who cares when you can get $2 margaritas?

Sunday rolls along.  I decide to pick up sticks in my yard to burn, which gives me the idea that I can burn some oak logs in my garden area.  That would go a long way in amending my soil.

Hallelujah moment!  Garden problem partially solved!

Later, I went down my muddy dirt road, noticing my husband’s shovel that he kept in the woods to dig little trenches when the rain got bad.  So right there, in my good tennis shoes, I hopped out of my vehicle to dig a few trenches to drain some of the water.

Pothole problem temporarily solved!

I go back home feeling really proud of myself.  Now to clean my tennis shoes and take a shower.

And then….

I see that baby lizard in my tub.  I run out the bathroom, stop in the hallway, and say ‘time to man up, Gretchen.’  I march back into the bathroom with new resolve.  Taking the advice of one of my widow friends, I threw a face cloth over the lizard.  She said she heard little lizard screams as she carried it outside.  I am hard of hearing so I did not hear any little lizard screams, but I did feel it wiggling in the cloth.  I almost threw up.  I opened the back door to release said lizard, and it was clinging to the face cloth for dear life.  Before it could jump on my hand, I threw out the cloth, ran inside and locked the door.

Lizard problem solved!

Days later, when I know the lizard has left the face cloth, I will just burn that cloth in my garden burn pile.

Problem solved!

Man, it’s grand not to be stuck in a spiral.

 

The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.  Proverbs 14:1

(Just a note to my U.S. readers:  Since I am the Avon Lady, I tithe my online order earnings to my daughter and youth minister son-in-law’s personal ministry of reaching out to college students.  My daughter and her husband are the sweetest Valentines I know.  Every Monday night, they open their home to the students, break bread and play games.  Some of the students are foreign exchange.  From a handmade table in south Mississippi, the gospel is being spread around the world.  Please check out my Avon website.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time ordering online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any order.)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

Avon tip of the day:  For a limited time, you can join Avon for FREE.  Got to my website and click on Become a Representative.  Start selling immediately. Your sign up comes with loads of perks, benefits and goodies to help you start strong. Plus, you can earn up to 65% in sales and bonuses!  Personalize your free online store and then text or email the link to friends and family for instant sales. Sell anywhere, anytime with our mobile app and get paid fast in 2 business days with Rapid Pay!

 YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

 

The First Valentine

I did not think Valentine’s Day would be too bad.  We had been married for 37 years and didn’t really celebrate the day anymore, for goodness sake.

Or did we?

I opened FB that morning and 10 years of memories hit me.  We didn’t do elaborate celebrations anymore, but I realized we quietly marked the day with sweet little traditions.  He would cook me breakfast before work, which included a heart shaped omelet.  I would pick up a couple pounds of crawfish for a quiet dinner to be eaten in front of the TV (watching Walton’s re-runs, no doubt).  Filling a vase with whatever we could find growing in the yard to decorate our dining table.

I will never experience those moments anymore, and that made my cry.

I have been growing stronger each day, so this step back took me totally off guard.  The mourning was so tense, it became physical.  My heart was burning and felt tight and constricted.  I could swear someone had my heart in their hand and were squeezing as hard as they could.

I reached out to a few other widow friends, and we were all suffering.  Julia and I discussed how memories were normally comforting, but today we were drowning in them.  Debbie said even after 3 years the pain was still so raw for her.  Julie told me God’s got us, the firsts are always the hardest and we will make it.

I do not want to bring others down on this day of celebrating love, but my co-workers find me crying in my cubicle.  I do not want to allow this sadness and anger to turn my heart to stone and become bitter.  I want to celebrate love and I want to always be happy for couples who get to celebrate this time together.  God, please allow me to be happy for others even though my heart is breaking.

I’m still mad at him for taking his own life, and that anger continues to buffer some of my sadness.  I took his picture off of my cubicle wall, and threw it in my top drawer.  Then I removed the picture and flung it in the bottom drawer because I decided he wasn’t top drawer worthy.

But on this day, there was no anger, just deep, gut wrenching, heart constricting pain

My therapist advised me to accept these days and just to sit in my grief for a moment.

But oh God, it just hurts so bad.

For your Maker is your husband– the LORD Almighty is his name– the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.  Isaiah 54:5

 

 

(Just a note to my U.S. readers:  Since I am the Avon Lady, I tithe my online order earnings to my daughter and youth minister son-in-law’s personal ministry of reaching out to college students.  My daughter and her husband are the sweetest Valentines I know.  Every Monday night, they open their home to the students, break bread and play games.  Some of the students are foreign exchange.  From a handmade table in south Mississippi, the gospel is being spread around the world.  Please check out my Avon website.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time ordering online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any order.)

 YourAvon.com/ghegwood

Avon tip of the day:  For a limited time, you can join Avon for FREE.  Got to my website and click on Become a Representative.  Start selling immediately. Your sign up comes with loads of perks, benefits and goodies to help you start strong. Plus, you can earn up to 65% in sales and bonuses!  Personalize your free online store and then text or email the link to friends and family for instant sales. Sell anywhere, anytime with our mobile app and get paid fast in 2 business days with Rapid Pay!

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

A Happy Saturday

I don’t know why.

Maybe it was a residual affect from the steroid shot I had to have the evening before.  Maybe it was that my grief is progressing through the next phase where I feel like living again.  Maybe it was a blessing from God, saying, “Child, you have been through so much these past few years that I am granting you a joyful Saturday.”

Maybe it was all of the above.  I woke up that Saturday morning feeling like a million bucks.  I woke up really early – around 4:00 a.m.  I wanted to try to fall back asleep, after all, I set my alarm for work 5 days a week.  Can’t I just sleep in for a bit on the weekend?  But I was feeling to euphoric to stay in bed.

Sure I still had the same issues I had the day before.  My husband took his own life 7 months ago. I am facing repairs on my house alone, something I have no idea how to handle.  But for some reason, I was euphoric.  And I am going to ride that euphoric horse for as long as I can.

About dang time!

I had forgotten what euphoria felt like.  I lived years having to be the sole provider of the family due to my husband’s disability. And I would do it again, for better or worse – that was my vow.  But living for years with an alcoholic had taken its toll.  Add on top of that, the man was living in severe chronic pain from his body turning on itself, which caused him to turn on me.  I watched my fun-loving husband morph from the life of the party to a bitter old man, who couldn’t be happy about anything or anybody.  I couldn’t do anything right in his eyes, and I finally gave up trying – and didn’t really care anymore.  When he would start his rants, I would simply go in another room.  All I can say is life was downright miserable for all of us the last two years of his life.

I was able to handle all of the responsibilities only by the Grace of God.

So when I woke up feeling euphoria, I figured I better treasure that moment because I don’t know when that next tidal wave of grief is going to hit me.

I leisurely piddled that morning.  Felt like a luxury.  I was facing a day of house chores, but I decided I was going to look dang good doing it.  Normally, I throw on ratty weekend clothes, don’t bother with hair and make-up, have to run to the store for something or the other – and run into

Everyone. I. Know.

I am the Avon lady, at least I should look the part.  Right?

So I picked out clothes I could do my chores in, but ones that wouldn’t make me look homeless if I ventured into the public eye.  It was going to be a humid day (well, that is almost every day in our neck of the woods).  So I had to do something with the wild locks spiraling out of control.  A few bobby pins later and I had a messy updo look that still manages to present ‘I kind of have it together look.’  I figured I came this far, I better put on foundation.  For my age, my skin is in good condition due to my Avon products, but I do have rosacea.  (My favorite skin care is our Avon Anew Hydra Fusion line.  Check it out on my website.)  So let’s dab on a little foundation.  My go-to product is Avon True Flawless Cream-to-Powder Foundation – heavy enough to cover my rosacea, but feels like a part of my skin – never cakey or heavy feeling.  My favorite is Natural Beige (#593-360 if you are looking for something new).  I could have stopped there – but you know – euphoria carries you a long way.  Let’s dab on some blush.  I have dry skin.  I like something creamy on my face, so I use Avon True Color Be Blushed Cheek Color Stick (#578-295 Blushing Nude).  I wonder if I can accomplish a little eye shadow, applied just so, so that it is an enhancement, but looks natural.  What’s in my stash?  Avon True Color Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Quad – Naked Truth (#528-117).  If I put on eyeshadow, I must put on eyeliner.  Now that my face is – how should I put this – is much bigger than when I was younger, my once big eyes have disappeared into my chipmunk cheeks and round face.  I have to use eyeliner so people even know I have eyes.  Have you ever tried Avon’s True Color Glimmersticks Waterproof Eye Liner?  I used Blackest Black (#488-328).  This goes on so smooth.  One of my customers quit using Lancome eyeliners because Avon went on just as well, and is oh so affordable.   Well now my lips look pale, unadorned and sad.  They want attention too.  Hmmmm.  Need to be careful what I pick here because my daughter tells me some of my lipstick is New Orleans Bourbon Street worthy.  Hey!  So what!  New Orleans is where I am from and proud to say it! And I am a product of the disco era where everything was flamboyant.  But still, I didn’t want to look like I was heading out for a night on the town. I just wanted to feel good about myself.  Let’s use Avon 2-in-1 Lip Tattoo Lip Line & Fill Duo, Inked Rose (#494-239).  I have to put a little color on my lips.  Nude lipsticks do not do a darn thing for me.

Well now that the face and hair is all done, a little costume jewelry will be the crowning glory.  I put on my necklace that says “Avon,” combined with a necklace that says “Beauty Boss.”  Then that led to earrings.  My hair was up so I could show off earrings.  I couldn’t find any of my post earrings.  I guess I still have not unpacked those from my move 7 months ago.  But wait!  I belong to the best Avon group ever.  I had just received a pair in the mail from the best upline ever, Karen!  I ripped open that envelope and put some earrings on that may have been a little too fancy for chores – but hey – euphoria – what can I say?  (You need to check out Avon’s jewelry line…..)

All of the above explained in painful detail is to give hope to those newly grieving.  I know you feel you will never think of anything else but this sorrow.  I was shocked I was able to concentrate on something trivial as hair and make-up without thinking of my husband’s suicide.  Those thoughts usually plague my mind almost 24/7.

I sat back and looked at the face in the mirror.  Oh how she has aged – and gotten rounder.  A few weeks ago I had been going through old photos and missing that young, skinny woman with the great hair.  Oh how I would love to go back to those carefree days that didn’t involve bills, mortgages, alcoholism, DUIs, fines, chronic pain, clinical depression. But that face in the mirror today is so much wiser than that face that looked back at me in my younger years.

It is what it is and I am who I am. And I can hold my head up high.

I am going to treat that woman in the mirror right.  She deserves it, and she will preserver.

I am living, I am breathing, and I am functioning in society without all of my husband’s added drama.

This Saturday morning was a blissful moment for me.  This was proof that I am healing.  Finally, a turning point to the good.

I like that person in the mirror!

James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights – sometimes over 20 people are fed – on a youth minister’s salary!  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

GLORY TO THE ORDINARY!

 

Glory to the Ordinary

For 37 years, just before midnight, I would say Happy New Year to the same man.  For 37 years, upon waking, I would say Happy New Year, again, to the same man.

Needless to say, I have been stressing and dreading this New Year.  I feel I am stepping forward into the future and leaving my husband behind.  In 2019, my husband was alive.  In 2020, he isn’t.  2020 won’t know him.  2019 knew him.  This seems to solidify he is gone.

I have started New Year’s with him for 37 years.  How do I not do this?

Well he left me no choice, did he?

In the year’s pre-kids, we would go to nightclubs, drink champagne and ring in the New Year.  Once kids arrived, we hosted family parties at our home, making great, great memories.  Years later, we rang in the year with the two grandchildren living with us.  Most of the time it was just the 4 of us on our little acreage, lighting sparklers and throwing snappy pops.  Such a cozy setting.

Fast forward to this year, the oldest grands are in their teens now, doing their own thing.  I don’t want to go to any parties – socializing – that would hurt too much.  But I don’t want to be home alone.  I figured I would go to Waffle House, sit at the counter (because booths are reserved for 2 or more), and have a lonely dinner.

Then I would go home and wait for midnight – counting down by myself.  3 – 2 – 1.

I can’t.  I. Just. Can’t.

But the past few days, something started changing in me.  I have been feeling the need to socialize more, and not just with my friends in my computer (my Facebook friends).  I need face to face contact.

Is my grieving progressing to a new stage? Am I seeing light at the end of the tunnel?  Well, I am not to the end the tunnel, because grieving never ends.  But grieving does morph, and I am seeing some light.  I am coming up for air.  I feel I am beginning to breathe again.

Fortunately, a high school friend threw out a rope and saved me from drowning in my pity.  She invited me to spend New Year’s at her house, drinking champagne, wearing our jammies and talking the night away.  (After all, we have 40 years to catch up on!)  We will skip the parties and have a girl’s night in.  This is just what I needed.  I won’t have to be in a social setting, and I won’t be home alone.  The next day, we will cook the required black eye peas and cabbage.  Well, she will probably cook.  She knows my cooking horror stories and she may not let me in her kitchen.

But I still don’t know if I can say Happy New Year.  I am thinking of starting a different tradition, similar to Seinfeld’s Festivus for the Rest of Us.  I think I will say, “Glory to the Ordinary.”

Those of us grieving or hurting just want to be ordinary.  We don’t want the stigma of being the wife whose husband committed suicide.  We don’t want to be the parent who buried his/her child.  We don’t want to be the wife/husband whose spouse left them for a ‘newer model.’  Glory to the Ordinary.

Instead of having “Airing of the Grievances,” we will hold “Remembrance of the Non-Descript.”  For example, I kiss my husband goodbye as I leave for work.  I come home in the evening, opening the front door and smell his famous chili cooking on the stove.  Or Saturday mornings when we were feeling lazy and we would linger in bed while watching PBS, and grandkids would climb in with us.  Or Sunday Saints’ games, boiling a sack of crawfish.  (He took his famous boiled crawfish recipe to the grave with him.  I don’t think I will ever taste crawfish again as good as his.)  These days, nothing out of the ordinary happened.  These were just regular days of existence.  Glory to the Ordinary.

We can keep “Feats of Strength,” but this will not entail wrestling.  Those of us grieving or hurting show our strength everyday just by getting out of bed, showing up for the day, accomplishing what is necessary, celebrating small victories over our pain and managing to make it to nightfall.  Glory to the Ordinary.

We want an ordinary day without the heavy burden of our losses.  Glory to the Ordinary.

We don’t want to say Happy New Year, because we really do not feel it.

So to all of us that are hurting as we approach the New Year, I will not say Happy New Year.  But I do wish you a Glory to the Ordinary.

 “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” – Proverbs 23:18 (NIV)

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights – sometimes over 20 people are fed – on a youth minister’s salary!  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

GLORY TO THE ORDINARY!

Clutter Can be a Beautiful Thing

CLUTTER!  This time of year, parents start thinning out children’s toys to make way for an influx of Christmas presents.  People start looking forward to a new year, and vow to be more organized.  Markets are gearing up for promoting books and items to help you organize.  In other words, buy more clutter to help corral your clutter.  The irony!

I have been back home for 6 months, and have spent way too many weekends battling clutter – purging, donating, throwing away and burning.  I should be out with family and friends, starting to actually live my new life.  But no.  I only have two days out of the week to do this, so I grab every chance I get.  I even joined a site where I get daily messages for one year to re-train my brain how to deal with every type of clutter, whether physical or emotional.  Funny thing is, I rarely open the messages and this is now cluttering my inbox.  More irony!

Just about every weekend has been dedicated to simplifying my life by having less possessions.  I cannot believe how much clutter has been stuffed into this tiny house.  It’s insane.  First world problems.  Clutter is controlling my life.  I made a vow that once this massive project is finished, I will think twice before buying any item and bringing into my home.

This weekend, I parted with some of my husband’s kitchen items I knew I would never use.  That hurt.  I felt so guilty.  I was so sad going through his clutter, and this made me cry.  Did he even think of the mess he was leaving me in when he took his own life?  I guess not.  I am sure clutter was not the last thing on his mind.

I want to get rid of as much clutter as I can so that my children are not faced with clearing out my clutter when I join their father in heaven.

I had to take a break to regroup.  Of course, a break meant perusing FB.  Mental clutter.  A memory popped up from 5 years ago.  It was a picture of two of my oldest grands decorating our Christmas tree.  I remember my granddaughter was quite peeved we bought a tree off of a lot and didn’t cut a scrub pine out of the woods.  I looked at my dining room table and it was covered with clutter.  Groan!  That table clutter was the bane of existence for me and my husband.  We lack storage in this small house, so things ended up on top of our table (including a dirt bike my husband was working on for our grandson – but that is a story for another day).

We had a lot of good memories around that table – family gatherings – crawfish boils.  But when I moved back home 6 months ago, all I saw was clutter.  The table was really too big for our house to begin with.  And I just couldn’t see gatherings happening there anymore.  My mom was gone, my husband was gone, my stepdad is getting too old to head up this way.  No, it hurt too much to keep the table.  I gave it to one of my best friend’s.  Her family hosts other families after church, and I knew she would create great memories like we did.  This did my heart good.

But back to that picture.  I looked closely at the clutter.  My grandkids were wearing their Santa hats.  Ornaments were all over the table.  The plastic bin holding Christmas decoration clutter was sitting on a chair.  I saw my grandkids school pictures.  We had a clutter of egg cartons donated to us for our 60 laying hens.  There was a garden watering can, probably to fill the tree base.  That was my favorite little can to water my herb garden.

But the biggest memory was my husband’s flannel jacket thrown over a chair.  He wore his flannel jackets until they were in threads and embarrassing.  However, we couldn’t throw any away until we found one to replace it.  That ratty jacket was always thrown over a dining room chair, the back of a recliner or on the bed.  As he got older and was on blood thinners, he wore this jacket year ‘round because he was always cold.  Seeing this flannel jacket tugged at my heart.

This time, clutter was a beautiful thing.

A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.  Ecclesiastes 3:6.

See – even the Bible is telling me to cast a way my clutter.

 

(Just a note to my U.S. readers:  Since I am the Avon Lady, I tithe my online order earnings to my daughter and youth minister son-in-law’s personal ministry of reaching out to college students.  Every Monday night, they open their home to the students, break bread and play games.  Some of the students are foreign exchange.  From a handmade table in south Mississippi, the gospel is being spread around the world.  Please check out my Avon website.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time ordering online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any order.  And, you get FREE SHIPPING on any $40+ order.)

 YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 Avon tip of the blog:  Of course, Avon IS NOT CLUTTER.  You purchase a product and use it up!  Have you tried Avon’s eye make-up remover (product #579-359)?  Avon True Color Moisturizing Eye Makeup Remover Lotion works quickly and easily to gently remove all traces of eye makeup. Plus, it conditions and moisturizes your lashes and the fragile skin around your eyes.

 YourAvon.com/ghegwood