Friday, January 31, 2020

February & March 2019-Missing David

Posted: January 31, 2020                                                       Previous Posts:
About: February & March 2019                            The End and  The Beginning
Oscar Scherer, Highland’s Hammock
and Myakka River State Parks

I am truly grateful to all of you whose comments on my first post on this new blog made me feel so cared for.  You are wonderful friends and I can never thank you enough.

With the next few posts, I am going way  back into the past to document, mostly for myself, and those who are interested, what happens after you lose one you love.  It’s been almost a year and the pain of it doesn’t seem to have diminished.  I see him in everything around me.  I wish I could hear his voice, his not so funny jokes.  I wish he were here to bake cherry pies, to hug, to play games with and fix all the things that go wrong everywhere I look.  But he’s not and my two weeks at Oscar Scherer came to an end, two weeks after his death.

From Oscar Scherer I continued on with the reservations I had made last year when I had no idea I’d be alone.  Later on, I’ll explain a big part of my motivation.

Next stop was site 50 in Highland’s Hammock State Park.  It’s just Winnona and me now.  But, I still expect David to walk in the door any minute.


By now, in Mid February,  I am piles deep into the legal  and other ramifications of death.  They are many, confusing and seem to take forever to deal with.  This is even if you have Power of Attorney, death certificates and every other legal document necessary.   This is all I did for weeks.  There is no way to be better prepared than I was.   Just know that it takes over your life which is perhaps good since at least you have a sort of purpose.

It would  have been significantly harder had we not been members of The National Cremation Society who took care of absolutely everything for me in the immediate aftermath of David’s death. They were so wonderful when I had no idea what was happening or what to do next.  If you know you want to be cremated, do yourself and your loved ones a very big favor.  Sign up with the society.   It is a one time charge, no more fees ever and they will come for your body anywhere in the world.  Perfect for full timers.

The swamp trails and big trees at Highlands Hammock provided much needed solace during these next 2 weeks.   For the first time in all of our stays at Highlands, I did not go to the potluck.  I just couldn’t do it without David for whom these were highlights of our stays here.

Don’t let the smile fool you.  We smile automatically for a camera no matter how lost and empty we feel inside.


From Highlands I move in March to site 78 at Myakka River State Park.  On the way I have to get gas in Winnona.  Also something I’ve never done alone before.  Because Winnona is not diesel, I do not get to use the big lanes for trucks.  I have to use the regular gas station pumps even at Pilot.  You know the ones, where when you go to leave you have to be careful you don’t hit any of the cars parked right in front of the store and mere feet from the front of your rig.  At 57 feet long towing I also have to be watching where Ruby is in relation to the pump and the gas island.  One of my insomnia worries.  But I manage this first time.

So far in three sites I’ve been very lucky.  Each one has been big enough that with my virtually zero experience in backing into a site, I am able to handle it without a spotter.  But, when you are alone, you have to find a place to take off the car that is close enough to your campsite that you can walk back and get it after you park the rig.  At Myakka, that meant leaving the car at the Ranger’s Station but luckily my site was in Prairie Ridge.  Imagining each park’s possibilities for this is another insomnia trigger.  What will I do when/if I decide to venture beyond parks I already know and can plan for?   Insomnia worry #836.

Site 78 Monday 3_4 (1)

As I mentioned, I am having a great deal of trouble sleeping.  3 hours a night is often all I get.  I go to sleep fairly well as I’m so very very tired.  But then I wake up and my mind will not stop worrying about every single thing that I need to do, should do, might do, things that might happen, could break, could go wrong.  I hate to take sleeping pills but I’m a zombie.

I’m spending lots of long lonely days walking here at Myakka.  Perhaps I’d like to go kayaking but everything seems like such effort.


These days in March at Myakka are wonderful for birds.  These are some I see on just one walk along the river beyond the bridge.

The meaning of Hawk Eye.


Th Myakka River


Great Blue in Fancy Feathers.

I thought this took nerve.  He’s hustling by that gator for sure.

I was thrilled to see the Roseate Spoonbills here.  They brighten up my day

Happily, I run into Chris and Heike who had befriended me at Oscar Scherer in the literal days after David’s death.  Such wonderful people.

We did the canopy walk together. It was so nice to have someone to hike with again.  The loneliness continues to be among the worst parts of life without David.  Someone to talk with, to share with, to eat with, to everything with.

Thankfully the ACC Basketball Tournament is on TV and helps me get through the evenings.  I had bought into SLING for David and now I’m using it alone.  I route it through his computer since mine is too old to even have an HDMI cable.  I know from nothing anymore about streaming or anything else techy.  David was my tech man, my fix it man,my pie man, my everything  man.  Basketball too is not the same if you don’t have anyone to cheer with.


I’m jut so sad without him.

Luckily nearly all  our reservations are for 2 weeks so it is mid March when for the first time ever-in 9 years of wintering in Florida - I do not have a reservation or anywhere to go.  It is so hard to get Florida State Park reservations with the advent of RVing as the  hottest new trend.  And it’s not just boomers.  30 somethings are the biggest group of new full timers – telecommuting and homeschooling their children.

I’d forgotten about this hole in my plans in the overwhelming months of December through now.  But it’s been insomnia inducing for these last weeks.

Getting a reservation in Florida at the last minute any time in the winter is pretty nearly impossible and March may be the very worst because of all the spring breaks for local high school students and for college students up and down the east coast.  Spring break in Florida.  A tradition.  This is why I couldn’t get a reservation 11 months ago.

20190317_165942So on Sunday March 17, I pack up,  leave Myakka River and go to the only place I can think of that is still walk in only. 

Hillsborough County Parks. 

I try my favorite first, E. G.  Simmons and amazingly luck is with me.  It’s hard to feel very lucky given what has happened but this is definitely a piece of  luck.  I hear from the person at check in that they plan to  go to reservations perhaps as soon as next year.  How horrible I think.

You can see in my site photo above that the water is just behind me.  Since I can launch my kayak right from  my site,  I do.

It’s wonderful to be back on the water again.  David could get into but not out of his kayak this winter.  He just didn’t have the strength.  So we were not able to kayak together.  Still, I have both kayaks with me.  

There is a variety of water here – wide open (above) and narrowed down (below).

Great balancing act in the mangroves for this Little Blue Heron.


With that look on his face, I wonder if he realizes that is Winnona on the bank behind him.  He’s our neighbor apparently.

A Snowy Egret, all dressed up with the fancy breeding feathers that nearly made him extinct at the turn of the 20th century.


Not sure who Ms Osprey  is talking to.

Perhaps this is Osprey for “feed me”.

I’m only able to spend an hour or so on the water because I’m having to spend too much time on phone calls  fighting every step of the way to get David’s retirement changed and into the right account, his social security moved, investments taken care of.  As is often the case for those  of us of a certain age, our husbands made more money over a life time than we did.  I am still being taken care of by David with the things he set up for me when he was first diagnosed.  It brings tears to my eyes to know how angry he would be that all of this is so difficult for me.  

And of course it’s March and taxes are due next month.  I’ve begun to look into that.  From what I can tell,  it appears that Trump’s Tax Cut is going to mean we will owe taxes for the first time in years.  Just what I need now that my income has been cut almost in half.

As an escape, every day I spend time on the water with birds and manatee.  What a great site I have.  I am so glad I have just put one foot in front of the other and gone on with the reservations we have rather than make any big changes.

Terris pic 2

I take time in the morning to go out on the water since the kayak is right there and it is so easy.

The red mangroves at the edge of my site reach for the water in their on going quest to take over and spread.  They make wonderful estuaries for young fish to hide in while they grow. 


The Red Mangroves roots on the other side are covered in oysters.  Best not to get your boat, especially an inflatable near them.    At high tide, you would not see the oysters.  The park is very near the gulf.


An osprey has caught his breakfast.  Not very appetizing in my opinion.


You’d think his stern looks would scare off any attempts to steal his food but our National Bird is a very persistent thief.  I don’t see any Bald Eagles nearby today lucky for the Osprey who often loses the who is the meanest contest.


I think this is a Common Merganser.

I know this is a Double Breasted cormorant.  Along with Anhingas, they swim on top of the water, dive and swim under the water to fish and fly through the air.  Nature is amazing.    I have to catch them quickly as they disappear under the water before I can get them in focus.  Can you see his blue eye?


When they take off to fly, they seem to run across the water.

IMG_7691Today I take 256 pictures of Manatee and spend two hours just hanging around watching them playing and rolling and having a great time.  

These first two shots are just to show how close to me they are.   Notice my paddle in the lower part of the picture and then their gray bodies beyond.  Don’t worry I’m posting less than 4% of what I took.



Look at that great face.





Rolling over.  Tiny flippers for such a big mammal.

Dual noses.

As I approach Winnona and my pull out,  I think what a wonderful way to spend my morning and put all the problems aside for at least a while.



On my last day here at E.G. Simmons, my neighbor, who took the picture  of me in my kayak above as I went down the channel by her “back yard”,  says I need a picture of me alone with Winnona.   So she takes one.  I hope David can see me.  I know he’d be proud of how hard I’m trying to fulfill his last wish which was for me to put his ashes in the passenger seat and take him with me.


I do have a new co-pilot.  But, he has a harder time reaching the gas than I do.


March is nearly over.  I’m off to Silver Springs State Park, Rainbow Springs and then back to Gamble Rogers before heading to Virginia to deal with everything there.

Thanks for giving me a reason to do these posts.  Looking forward to your comments.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The End and The Beginning

January 29, 2020

It is now nearly  a year since David's death and more than 8 months since I tried to use Open Live Writer to post this.  There were problems and more problems with it and since I hate using blogger I gave up.  But recently I upgraded my ancient and wonderful Dell laptop to Windows10 and so I'm trying again with the help of a wonderful blogger friend John Hinton whom you may know as Heyduke.   I had some troubles with duplicate pictures showing up on the post so I gave up again but I need to keep track of where I’ve been and what I’m doing so I’m trying yet again.

Hopefully, this is my first post in the new blog I'm writing because I need something to make me get out and about doing things and taking pictures.  I'm feeling devoid of energy and motivation.  At times life just doesn't seem real.

This post is very old news, a year old to start with,  but it is my first effort at trying life alone.

The story of our nearly 9 years full timing can be found in our blog  Without David, there can be no Direction of OUR Dreams.

I feel I should start this story of my new life with the closure of my old one.

clip_image001This is the last picture I took of David, the day before he died.  He was watching ACC basketball on my laptop in the hospital.  He didn't live to see our hometown team finally win the NCAA Championship.

At the time of David's death, we were camped at Little Manatee River State Park.  Our reservation was over on Monday February 4th.  On Saturday February 2nd when it appeared that he was not improving, I talked with the park rangers about staying beyond my reservation.  I explained to them the serious circumstances, told them I just needed somewhere to park the rig, that I did not need hook ups as I had solar and would park anywhere if I could just be near the hospital.   They turned me down flat.  No spot in a field, next to work campers, nothing at all where I could stay.  In all our time of traveling with his illness, this is the first Florida State Park that has not accommodated us in an emergency.  And this was the biggest emergency of all.  I will never forgive the staff at Little Manatee River for their callousness.   I hope that those of you who camp in Florida State Parks will honor David’s memory by avoiding this park and sharing my story with others.  Such callous unfeeling treatment is unconscionable.

I was actually arguing with them on Sunday February 3rd when he died.  He was sleeping after dinner and I'd come back to the campground to try again when the nurse called me and said he had died.  I wasn't somehow expecting that.  His doctors had told us there was nothing more they could do and it was a matter of days or weeks.  But we both just didn't  believe it.  He had always rallied.   I will never forget or forgive the unkindness of Little Manatee River State Park. I was not with him when he died because of them. Never in all the years of traveling with this illness have I not been told by other Florida State Parks and parks all over the country that they would find a place for me and not to worry.
David died on Sunday February 3, 2019 at 6:35 in the evening.  And so, the very next morning I packed up and moved to Oscar Scherer State Park.  I had driven the rig before but I had never hooked Ruby up by myself before.  Up until this  last week David had always been able to help.  I had never backed into a campsite.  We knew this day was coming for me but practicing ahead of time just seemed too grim.

But I did it.  What choice did I have?  When you have to, you do.


I backed into my site at Oscar Scherer State Park without help but with having helped a master for the past 9 years.  I was lucky to have two wonderful sets of neighbors on either side of me, Chris Abbott and Heike Daigle on my left and Linda and Mark Cole on my right.  They really helped me get through the next two weeks and I can never thank them enough.


Though I have no pictures of Chris and Heike, they took me out to dinner with their friend Mary Ann.  Heike brought me flowers of which I do have a picture.  Linda and Mark helped me with increasingly impossible to make Reserve America reservations.  I had to stay in Florida in order to deal with the legal ramifications of his death. 


In addition to spending time with my neighbors, I spent the two weeks hiking in the park, reading and visiting Nokomis beach.  Even with my wonderful neighbors, to say I was lonely is an understatement.  For 9 years I'd had David as a companion in all our travels.  Now there was no one to share what I was seeing and doing with. Everyone seems to be part of a couple and I'm so alone.

Only someone who has been down this road can possibly understand how very unreal it all seems.  Any moment, I expect him to come back from a walk or catch up with me on the trail.  No matter how long you know death is coming or how prepared you think you are, you are not.

I forced myself to do things and take my camera. 

clip_image005I went to the beach to read but I would get to the end of the page and have no idea what I'd read.

I visited the resident eagles and with my camera was able to get a shot of one of the two chicks with an adult.  They have been nesting just off the Green Trail for a number of years.


I went for a hike with the Venice Audubon.   I felt less alone in a group.


And in the middle of the month I just put one foot in front of the other and moved to Highland’s Hammock State Park, the next reservation we had made 11 months ago when we had  no idea our time was seriously running out.

Even a quick wrap up of the past months, which I have lived in a fog, will take me several posts.  I hope you’ll be here with me, to keep me company, and let me know you are out there by even a short comment.  I’m writing this in late January and I don’t feel like I’ve come very far in this past year.

As my friend Gaelyn would say, I’m still making tear soup.  Thank you Gaelyn, the book means the world to me.