Hello, I’m Doodlebug and I’m a procrastinator…

Wow! It seems like I haven’t blogged in forever! Yes, I am a procrastinator and I’m not proud of it.

This was the first month of December that there hasn’t been some kind of “large” medical event in our families for quite a while. In 2014, my mother-in-law had a heart attack & then a stroke, along with many other complications that happened in the first part of December.

In 2015, I fell off a 9-inch step and broke both ankles. That required surgery and being in a wheelchair for FOUR MONTHS! Bless my husband’s heart! He did the cooking and cleaning (most of it) during that time.

Then my dad died on New Year’s Eve, 2016. He was 98 years old and had spent his last two years in a nursing home.

Did I mention that we live 1500 miles away from our families? Driving from Montana through Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois in winter is not fun. We drove through blizzards, black ice, below zero weather and more – each time. Once we had to stop in South Dakota and spend the night on cots in a small town gym.  Therefore, I was more than happy not to have to travel at the end of the year.

Currently I am about 5 years from retirement. I’m so looking forward to not going to work five days a week. Not sure I’ll be content to always stay home, though. Hubby is four years younger & will be working after I retire. Maybe I will be able to finish all those craft projects that I’ve started in the last three years.

It would be nice to find a niche to fill that would also bring in some extra income. Wages in our part of the country rank 49th in the U.S., which means that the social security paid out after retirement will also be low. Too bad my “rich” aunt didn’t leave me a bundle. I did receive funds from the family trust after my dad died, but not enough to enable me to retire early, no matter how careful the funds are handled. The cost of health insurance alone (outside of employment) would take up most of it.

Enough of rambling and complaining. I have a few more thoughts, but think I’ll save them for later this week. (What am I saying, it’s the middle of the week already!)IMG_1956



Life’s ups and downs

Last New Year’s Eve I lost one of the most important men in my life – my dad, James Dee Miller, aka “Uncle Dee.” He was born on April 28, 1918. He was 98 years old.

We planned to go back to Indiana for his 99th birthday, planned to make it a real celebration. Instead, on Jan. 6, we celebrated his  long life.

Dad wasn’t famous; he didn’t discover a planet or come up with an amazing invention. In fact, he had only an eighth-grade education. During the Depression, he rode the interurban car to Indianapolis to sell pickles for a nickel to help provide for the family. Despite all that, he did something that was truly a sacrifice: he served his country during World War II.

He was drafted into the Army and began his military career with basic training in Alabama. After training, he was sent by train to the west coast and then across the Pacific in late winter to Japan. They arrived in Nagasaki just after the bombing of both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Dad told us that they had to wait aboard ship three days for the harbor to be cleared before their ship could enter.

Dad never told us – his daughters – much about his time in Japan. I learned of the things he went through by eavesdropping while he talked to my husband and son. Dad drove our son, Adam, home to Montana after Adam finished training at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Adam’s first duty station was in Yokosuka, Japan. I suppose it was natural for Dad to want to share with his grandson some things from his own experience in that country.

What I heard made me realize how strong my dad had been. He had to leave his wife and infant son to go halfway across the world to do his duty. Dad was a cook’s helper. He also performed duties for which he had not been prepared — things like going into villages, rounding up the people and taking any form of protection they had. Things like liberating soldiers who had been captured and tortured. Things like recovering the bodies of those men who had died in underground prisons.

There was no recognition of anything like PTSD in those days. Soldiers came home, locked away the things they had

Long, rough road

Our pastor’s wife, one of my closest friends, succumbed to leukemia on Sept. 17th.  She was diagnosed on July 6th. The doctors/specialists gave her one to four weeks. Her funeral held locally was on Sept. 26 and she was buried in North Carolina on the 30th.

Donna was an amazing lady! She was the embodiment of the virtuous woman describe in Proverbs 31… loved people, served her family, her friends, her church family and anyone who came her way and needed help.

There will never be another one like her! She was more than just a close friend, she was my substitute mother after my own mother died.

The last two months of her life, she was brave, strong, always concerned about those around her. And she SUFFERED! Leukemia is  such a nasty disease. The effects of it on her body were horrid. But she soldiered through.

She died at 6 am on Sunday morning. The church members decided to go ahead and have a short service, not expecting our pastor to be there. But he came. As difficult as it was for him, he came, knowing that Donna would not have wanted him to miss a church service.

That morning we received a last gift from Donna. She had written a letter to her church family – one of encouragement. And Pastor read it to us – with great difficulty, stopping a few times to wipe tears and composing himself.

They had been married 40 years. I shudder to think what that will be like, to lose a spouse after being with them so long. I’ve been married to my soul mate for 37 years. I don’t doubt that losing him will be one of the most difficult parts of my life.

A Slow Ending

Tomorrow marks 7 weeks since my close friend was diagnosed with leukemia (AML), the fastest type of leukemia. The doctors gave her one to four weeks. She has fought valiantly to stay strong, to be able to get up and move around, spend time with her family as well as her church family – of which I am a part.

Last night, after services, I went to the house to visit. She had no strength, couldn’t even lift her head off the pillow. Part of the reason was that she had been up to be bathed. That her strength was spent was so obvious. Yet she held on when I held her hand as we talked. She apologized for not being able to sit up – always thinking of others.

Such an amazing lady. She has been like an older sister, and sometimes mother figure, to me these past 18 years. Her death will have an incredible impact on our church family. Her declining health has proven that.

Even though I hate the fact that we are losing her, I am equally happy that she will have no more pain. She is going to a perfect place where others of her family, including her daughter, have gone before. The loss of her oldest daughter changed her and the loss of Miss Donna will profoundly change those of us who will miss her every day!

Sorrow or not?

This is the middle of week 6 for my “friend” who was diagnosed with Leukemia – the most fast moving type of the disease. The doctors predicted she would live between one and four weeks.
We can all see that her health is deteriorating – and she knows that as well. She has less energy, spends more time resting, her voice is not as strong as it always was – except when she sings. Singing praises to the Lord gives her joy.
I used the word friend in quotes because Donna is more than just a friend. She has been like a big sister, and sometimes mother, to me for nearly 20 years. She has always been willing to help anyone – friend or foe – as long as I’ve known here.
When I was wheelchair bound with two broken ankles, she drove to our house to help me shower. The day after my surgery when I was flat on my back for 72 hours, she and another friend drove out and cleaned house for us EVEN THOUGH she had to work an 8-hour shift at a nursing home that evening.
It is so difficult to even think of life without this amazing woman in it. Even more difficult to watch her waste away. I visit 2 or 3 times each week, short visits so that she doesn’t feel she has to be strong during the time I’m there.
I have made a few meals for the family. Her only daughter and 3 grandchildren are here for the duration, filling the house with youth and helping where they can. It’s hard for all of us, a close-knit church family.
Her husband is our pastor & he is having trouble dealing with the situation. She is such a huge part of his life, he doesn’t want to live without her.
Oh, but what is waiting for her on the other side! To be welcomed to heaven by her Savior, what an awesome thought!!

Getting skunked

I have NEVER ONCE gone fishing without catching anything… NEVER!!  Until Sunday!!

It was “free fishing weekend”.  Every Father’s Day weekend (Sat & Sun) in Montana, everyone can go fishing – no license needed. I haven’t been fishing for many years. It’s not really worth the cost of the license when you only go once or twice each summer. Call me cheap, but I don’t like to waste money that can be put to better use. You know, for things like craft supplies. But I digress.

In my younger days, and even since marriage, I have always been able to catch at least a few fish. Up until a few days ago any time that hubby and I went fishing I either caught more fish or bigger fish than him. I kid you not. He was always a good sport about it. Let me clarify by telling you that this weekend is only the fourth time he has taken me fishing. (Maybe that’s why he has been such a good sport.)

Anyway, even though hubby & sons caught fish (one was a good-sized sucker), none of them were worth keeping.

Here are photos of  youngest son and hubby with part of their catch at Warm Spring Creek:

Finally spring!!

It has been about 2 weeks since our last snowfall. Since then we have had 80 & 90 degree weather, rain, windy & cold weather, & back to the high 70s. That’s about to end. It’s currently 78 degrees in central Montana but a cold front will be moving in tomorrow afternoon. With it comes rain, wind and possibly hail.
On the plus side, my niece is coming out from Indy to take a little trip with me. We plan to go to Seattle, tour the Pike Place Market and see other sites as well. I want to go to Bainbridge Island as well. We will have to take the ferry & spend the day.
I’ve been thinking about heading down into Oregon before going to Seattle though and add another state to my “visited list”. I’m not the best at planning ahead for things like this. Our “vacations” the past 20 years have been either visiting family in Indy or spending a week at the cabin while hubby archery hunts.
Guess there’s a first time for everything!!