On a camping trip back in May of 2017, my husband Todd took a picture of us and posted it on social media.
His caption was, "...camping with old Sook." Someone commented and asked if "Old Sook "was our dog or me (emoji with wide eyes here.) Todd and I laughed so hard and carried the saying into many future situations. To be clear, when talking about an "old dog" learning "new tricks" in this blog post, I'm referring to me, not our dog Sookie.
For those that have cared for ill parents, you may have had the opportunity for that parent to teach or go over and review, many things like finances, tasks to upkeep the house, where important documents are kept, and other specifics that you will need to know to carry on in their absence. Unfortunately, by the time (about October of last year) we realized Todd's cancer had metastasized and was not properly responding to treatment, our focus was not on the list of things mentioned above. The numerous hospital stays, overall feeling of being sick most of the time, and energy needed to remain positive was our focus and the list of things I would need to know in his absence was not our priority. We both knew we needed to talk about things but to admit that he would not be here was something we just couldn't emotionally do, and I don't regret the decision.
This leads to this "old dog" having to learn quite a bit about various things. I have learned all about auto and home insurance, health insurance, survivor benefits, retirement options, banking, policies, and the list goes on. These are the things that came my way at a very quick pace following March 1st. When COVID closed down the state of KY a couple weeks later I had plenty of time at home to figure it all out!
Moving beyond the financial and paperwork side of "new tricks," I have also learned how to continue our love of camping on a smaller scale. (left picture is the before, right picture is the now)
Since Todd and I first started back country camping back in the early 90s, he was the one to organize, pack, tow, and do the majority of camping cooking. As you can see above, I had to downscale quite a bit. However, I can now say I do know how to tow a camper. I can hook it up to my jeep, get all the hitch stuff connected, and drive on a country road when needed. I had never done any of this before...ever! Disclaimer: if you see me out on the road just know that I will barely be driving the speed limit so please don't honk at me. I also have to mention after several months of practice, I finally backed the camper into our garage, with a little help from Maggie.
Another "new trick" I am learning is single parenting. I applaud and admire all the single parents out there with a new perspective. Even though our girls are 20 and 22, the pressure of making decisions without another person in on the conversation is a learning curve for sure. From choosing which refrigerator is the best replacement to supporting decisions the girls make as they move forward in life, being the only parent to give input is challenging. Todd and I made a good team so it makes it extra tough because the first thing I want to do is call him and get his opinion. So, I'm learning to rely on my own instincts, learning who else I can gain insight from on specific topics, and learning to involve Maggie and Caroline on maybe more than they would like to hear...jury is still out on that.
A third thing this "old dog" is learning is home improvement. When I say home improvement, I'm talking about fun DIY projects as well as things like garbage disposals. I am learning to do these home needs but have to be honest when I say Maggie's boyfriend Colin is a HUGE help and is extremely handy. The DIY projects are the fun part as I take the list that Todd and I kept on what we wanted to do next to the house. I rented a hammer drill and mounted a tv on a brick wall, assembled furniture as we created an office space out of a bedroom, updated a piece of furniture and started some other little projects. I would be telling a lie if I said the DIY was all rainbows and unicorns. There have been lots of failed projects, including hanging the mantel that Todd refinished so beautifully. I tried to figure it out and ended up calling a woodworker for hire. Our goal was to have the mantel hanging before Christmas in 2019 along with a new whitewash look to our fireplace. While we didn't hit that goal, I can now say his mantel is hanging. There is something special about seeing the mantel hanging knowing Todd's hands worked so hard to refinish the piece.
There are plenty of "new tricks" I am still working on learning. Technology will be an ongoing learning process as Todd did everything related to technology. It is a good thing Maggie and Caroline are in the know because they are a big help! I think they were a bit surprised that I actually figured out how to start a blog on my own. Again, still learning about the blog thing!
Learning is part of any journey! While I miss Todd every minute of every day and wish I didn't have to learn some of these things, I know that if I don't make an effort to learn, I will become motionless on the journey.
A heartfelt thanks goes out to all that commented, subscribed to the blog, wrote their personal connection, or messaged in support!