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.
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.
So 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.
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.
Today 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.
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.
Sherry, it makes me tear up reading about your first months alone. Thank goodness you made some friends at some of the parks you were in. When my Dad passed away a few years back, I had to help Mom with all the paperwork involved. I don't think people realize how much is involved,and how hard it is, especially when the grieving process is started. My thoughts are with you all the time.ReplyDelete
Your mom was and is very lucky to have you to help her. It is all so overwhelming.Delete
Trying again to comment...it didn't publish the first time. I cannot imagine how tough it is, Mama. Your strength to keep going and do what needs to he done amazes me. Your pictures, as always, are beautiful. So glad you got out on the water. I love you today and all the days forever.ReplyDelete
Wonder what happened that it didn't publish? It is tough but your love and closeness helps more than you will ever know.💓Delete
Such beautiful pictures for someone feeling so empty inside. That paperwork is a harsh reality to deal with at the worst time in life. Thanks for doing these posts as they can help others.ReplyDelete
Thank you Tom. You are so right about the harsh reality and the worst time. I do hope they help others.Delete
Good for you! I'm sure it is difficult to go it alone right now, but you will be alright in the long run. You're going through a very hard period, but I think you are going to come out of it just fine, and I also think David is with you and will help you through it. Doing the things you've loved - exploring, taking photos, etc. are good for keeping your mind occupied. Hang in there, Sherry.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your encouraging words Gypsy. The mind obsessing is difficult to deal with.Delete
When my dad passed away everything was dumped in my lap, I knew nothing about anything. Most was done but not all. I just pushed myself through it and even managed to sell his house. So I can understand and I feel for you. But the fact you pushed through and know how strong you can be. Keep going.ReplyDelete
So loving your pictures.
Thank you Jo. I'm glad you enjoy the pictures. I remember how much work cleaning out and selling my dad's house was. Push through is all you can doDelete
I am so happy that you are blogging again. I have thought about you often. Thank you for all the information.ReplyDelete
You are very welcome Kathy. I appreciate your thoughts and your comments.Delete
All of that paperwork, and the stress of traveling, and so many other worries in the days, weeks, and months after losing David...no wonder you've had many sleepless nights. You honor David's memory sharing all of the ways that he was your "everything man." I think he would be very proud of you for continuing on in following your dreams, although I know you miss him every day.ReplyDelete
Thanks Laurel for your understanding and friendship. Sad to say that at this point I don't have any dreams.Delete
Thanks for blogging. Truly inspiring to read.ReplyDelete
You are very welcome. Thank you for the compliment and the comment.Delete
Good to see you out and about and posting again. I once told you I thought your family had a lot of spunk. You just keep proving it. :O) Kayaking, taking pictures and posting will keep you busy and help get on with life. We need to enjoy what little time we have left so go to it. :O)
You are so right about the shortness of our time. Thanks for your comment and for thinking of me as spunky. I will hold that thought as inspiration.Delete
So generous of you to share your thoughts and feelings. Can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to have to do all you have had to do. Your photos are wonderful and remind us that nature is AMAZING and is so healing. Keep putting one foot in front of the other...your dreams are out there:-)))ReplyDelete
Thank you Nancy for always being here. One foot in front of the other is what it still is.Delete
Meditation and focusing on breathing has helped me when things were tough. Easier said than done. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Thanks Mike & Deb. I do yoga when I can motivate to without a class.Delete
Always love your pictures. I especially like the one your using for your blog...with "BRAVE" right behind the picture of you. Very fitting. The manatee pictures were pretty awesome. Keep it up..ReplyDelete
I didn't notice that Roger thanks for pointing it out. I don't feel very brave.Delete
Sherry so glad to see you back posting. Please keep putting one foot in front of the other, we all love you dearly. Writing can be therapeutic as well and your love of nature will keep David close!ReplyDelete
Thank you Susan, what warm and caring things to say.Delete
Really great pics! So hard to deal with losing your love. All we can do is continue one. Glad to see you are writing and taking pictures again. Love, LynneReplyDelete
Thanks Lynne. It is hard. Hope to see you in April when I'm in Virginia.Delete
You saw so many wonderful birds during this time!ReplyDelete
What a dramatic shot of the heron tiptoeing by the gator! I’m very glad he made it. And the spoonbill— I would think it would be hard to take in that you were actually seeing something so unbelievably pretty! The playtime with the manatee looks SO wonderful. I’m glad all these beautiful creatures brought you some moments of sheer forgetting, and maybe some comfort, between the mountains of financial crap and abysses of endless sleepless nights. Yes, as the caterpillar said, one foot in front of the others. :-)
Laurie, you have described it perfectly. I'm so glad you enjoyed the photos. Thanks SO much for the laugh.Delete
Michele from England again. Your pictures are beautiful, thank you for sharing them. I would love to see manatees but sadly, I think your photographs will be the closest I'll ever get. I'm glad that getting out on the water is bringing precious moments of escape, even if it is only for seconds.ReplyDelete
Michele, all the way from England. How are wonderful. I'm glad I could bring you the Manatee. They are gentle giant mammals. Spending time with them is calming.Delete
Wonderful photos. As I am the only driver in my situation I always encourage couples to each know what is normally the other persons job. I'm so happy that you can continue to move forward because you know how to do these things. They will become easier with practice as I'm sure you now know. I assure you, help is always around if you need it. Asking is free.ReplyDelete
The paper work is overwhelming and I'm certain by now you have it all completed and are able to enjoy more of things you like doing. I survived on 4 hours sleep for a very long time but eventually things get better. Keep moving forward Sherry, you are doing amazing!! Deb
Thanks for your encouragement Deb. I continue to have sleeping problems but had them the last years of his illness as well.ReplyDelete
Sherry, reading your blog is difficult for me. I remember feeling as though someone turned me upside down and emptied me out. The smallest task was overwhelming. The insomnia made concentration impossible, and the depression unbearable. Crying, screaming when I was alone—like you, I was with Rich 24/7. Life will never be the same for you. However, after a time, you find a new norm. Every person grieves differently and there’s no amount of time that’s right. As difficult as it is, now, being forced to do everything on your own may be good in the end. For sure, continuing to travel is the best thing for you, I think. In the group I mentioned in another post, many of the women love to kayak and hike. You will laugh during the evening campfires when you thought you would never laugh again. You’ve got the head start I wish I had had. Warm wishes. Remember the only way to beat grief is to grieve. You are in my thoughts.ReplyDelete
I know this post is out of order, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had my blog and I had a difficult time finding the beginning. ~ Nancy from travelswithmrnimble.
Nancy what an understanding comment. Clearly you have unfortunately been down this road. It's a hard one. I appreciate your experience and encouragement.Delete
Thank you, Sherry. I love the snowy egret and the Roseate Spoonbills, and I love this blog. Thinking of you.ReplyDelete
You are a wonderful friend Pam. Thank you so much. You have a lot on your mind to take time for my blog.Delete
That certainly was a hard year and hopefully things start to get a little better for you this year. I hope you can find some other single women friends. I see a lot of posts on Facebook from women on their own, and I hope your can hook up with some of these groups. It's nice to see your pictures again.ReplyDelete
Yes Karen, it's been the hardest year. Please feel free to tell me of any appropriate groups you know of. I'm going to have to branch out from my insular life with David.Delete
love the snowy egret and the pink one! Spoonbill?ReplyDelete
of course the manatees, worried about them as we heard it was so very cold in Florida this winter, but these were taken in march 2019 right? what about this winter? they ok?
so very much had thought of you during this time....
Wish things are easier for you, suppose not really. But thinking of you...
Every one of those worries that you then accomplish need to be milestones to congratulate yourself. Nature can be your calm and healer. The paperwork absolutely sucks. Carry on beautiful lady.ReplyDelete
There is solace in nature. I think seeing those manatees in particular would have been a world of good.ReplyDelete
Sherry....If there is any peace to be found, it surely is in nature...the creatures...and the rivers. Florida is the right place to be for this. Please continue blogging your highs and lows. I absolutely understand that now there are far more lows. Continue reaching for the elusive highs. I know the challenges of dealing with a big rig by yourself must be making you Superwoman!!! Prayers for peace as you carve out this new life you didn't choose for yourself. Love, CarolReplyDelete
I am way behind in blog reading, I see you've posted quite of bit while I've been with out internet. Your love of nature will be your solace as you navigate your new course.ReplyDelete