Monday, May 28, 2007

Good times, too.

There were lots of good times in our marriage and I'll try to note a few of them - not in any particular order of importance:

Trips Jim won on the radio to Vegas and South Padre.

Once he mowed the back yard and spelled out "I LOVE U" in unmowed grass.

He surprised me with a trip to the Tartan Thistle in McKinney and a trip to San Antonio - all the while he had me believing it was a business trip for new employees.

He would lead the family devotions.

We laughed. We loved. Our wonderful kids are just that....wonderful! My pregnancies were wonderful as were the deliveries. ( I got that from Mom - thank goodness!!)

We spent lots of happy times with the extended family - including "Kelm" reunions where we just sat and talked with our own immediate family!

Jim loved to buy gifts - for anyone and everyone - just to see their reaction - not expecting anything in return.

Jim was never a husband that wanted to 'be waited on', but he appreciated it when I brought him something to drink when he was mowing.

Something strange - he never really like to call me by my name - said there was something strange about calling me "Marcia" - and when he wanted my attention - it was "DEE-YER". That was funny. I usually called him "Honey". Once after surgery he did call me "Baby".

Other good times would have to include: when he fixed up Lindsey's room at the rent house; when we bought our house; when we bought our cars; when we went on trips - and I was thankful he could change a tire.

Jim liked to tease - just about everybody - but especially Stephanie and me.

Can We Talk?

Jim and I attended counseling of just about every type....both of us to couple's counseling at church with Pastor least twice, once to Pastor A. At the suggestion of Pastor B, we were to spend a weekend 'alone', that is with Jim leaving the house, and really thinking about our marriage, the outcome to decide if we were going to reconcile - and that Pastor B would hope that is what we would do. We separated for that weekend and I was miserable, because he was to come back Sunday night to tell me what he decided he wanted to do and visa-versa. I anxiously awaited his return and his answer with knots in my stomach. He proceeded to tell me that he drove 80 mph in his truck, with the windows down and the radio blaring the country songs - all of which mentioned divorce - and wondered if that was a 'sign'. He spent the night on a back country road, after stopping at WalMart to stock up with a blanket and snacks. Then he stayed at a hotel, and told me he enjoyed sleeping diagonally across the bed in the nude and felt so free. Never once did he talk about how he thought about our marriage. I had to ask him if he wanted to continue to try and heal the marriage and he said he thought so, and I agreed. I was willing to try anything to stay together.

I also visited with both pastors on my own, as Jim didn't trust them to keep our story confidential. There was couple's counseling with Leon for over a year, then Jim to him by himself, becoming his primary counselor. I went to Jane by myself at the suggestion of Leon and Speckmiear. I saw her at least once a week for about a year, then back as necessary.

Next we went to couple's marriage counseling with Martin, at the suggestion of Jane and Leon. I wouldn't say that it went well at all. He quickly saw that our marriage was 'done'. By way of explanation, one of our first exercises was to go home and make a list of what we each wanted to get out of the counseling sessions. My list included: improved communication; plans to approach things from each other's point of view; suggestions from the counselor on what we could do; skills on 'how to argue'. Jim's list: an active wife; a wife with energy; a wife that wants to mow the grass; a wife that will lose weight. See the differences? Even with the counselor explaining things outright to Jim, he felt like Martin was 'on my side'..and basically refused to talk alot of the time. He was mean to me in front of Martin, bringing me to tears. I did not want to cry as I thought it showed weakness, but it hurt. I remember the last time we saw Martin, I was crying uncontrollably and stopped by my friend's house and told her "my marriage is over".

I tried to hold it together for the kids' sake. Even though we talked and talked and talked, nothing really ever improved. One of the final straws was when he purchased a brand new pick up truck - that he said "God told me to buy - cause an ad from this dealership fell out of the newspaper and that was a sign from God" , and he would use it for his new 'hauling business' - that is, picking up junk and depositing it back at our house, recycling the metal for money. His truck - again HIS TRUCK - cost more than what we owed on our house - but he said he would pay for it from HIS MONEY. He then proceeded to have a trailer made to his specifications - a huge thing that he could not even back correctly or up our driveway - and spent more money. Next he had difficulties with the truck and the hitch - and when he tried to get the dealer to fix it to his satisfaction, the dealer told Jim it was his problem. Jim wrote something on his back window about that dealership and drove around with it on there for a long long time. When I asked him what God wanted him to do, since God told him to buy the truck - he said that God told him to buy a truck, not that specific truck - and this truck was NOT the color he wanted in the first place.

The junk kept piling the the the driveway. He went 'dumpster diving' at the BU dorms and brought home personal hygiene items he 'thought we could use'. He brought home broken furniture with dreams of fixing it up. Lindsey called me one morning and said there was 'a guy at the door with a clipboard' & that she didn't want to answer the door. I said that was fine. Next thing I knew we had a letter from the insurance company that they were going to drop our homeowner's policy if all the trash was not cleared out within the week.
Jim said they could move it, that he would not. I called Steph and she, Beth, John Ed and Anna came over to help the kids and me load that junk onto John Ed's trailer for the trash. Jim did not have anything nice to say about the insurance company or the fact that his family came over to help.

I am not trying to paint Jim as a bad person - but that he had difficulties following the surgery with his change in personality. Dr. Harvey told us there could be changes, but all Jim wanted was to be free of seizures and he could not understand he was actually changing at the time. I think he knew he felt like a new man, and basically went along with what the 'new man' wanted to do. I guess I could not accept these extreme changes - nor could the kids. I went to his family one night, to explain some things, including the fact that pastor wanted me to ask for their help in a type of 'intervention'. Just when we got started, Jim came in to 'defend himself against the trash' I was talking 'about him'. He just would not listen to reason. No one else was right according to him.

I don't remember the last thing we argued about, but we did argue and I told the kids it was getting bad and I was going to have to do something. They got upset, took our car keys, and insisted that we sit down and talk. (Evidently I had talked too much to them about what I observed and not so much to Jim.) Well the first thing he said was "so you want a divorce?"...and I finally just said "yes". "Yes I do". That sent the kids into orbit - cause they were listening when they shouldn't have been. We couldn't reason with them. They cussed, they cried, they stomped around and banged their fists, they went to a friend's house. Then they called Anna and told her, she got on the phone with Jim and of course he said "its what she wants and I can't change her mind". Well, duh!! Of course.

I actually felt relieved. I called Karen from my cell phone while pacing in the front yard and said "can you see it? It just hit the fan in Hewitt." She was such a good friend to listen to me and not offer advice, but helped me see what I needed to do - the FIVE FINGER RULE. If it had not been for her, my counselor, pastors and family, plus my work friends, I never would have made it through.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Surgical Rotation & Post-Op

As I mentioned previously, Jim went thru two brain surgeries, but not before lots of testing. After having a seizure and running in to two parked cars, having his license pulled in error by the court judge, and suffereing with depression, Jim was referred by Dr. Speckmier to Scott & White Hospital in Temple to a neurologist. Next he was referred for tests at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where he was confined to the hospital for a week with no drugs, as they tried to induce a seizure to see its origination.

Next he was referred to Dr. Harvey at Medical City, Dallas, a neurologist and Dr. Mickey, a neurosurgeon. After more testing and trying different drugs, Jim was scheduled for surgery to remove scar tissue in the hippacampus(sp?) portion of the brain. The surgery was conducted at Zale-Lipshey in Dallas. I think the surgery lasted for about 7 hours, after having been delayed from early to late morning. Jim's family and Pastor & Mrs. Albers came up for the surgery, only going home after he came out and was awake. Mrs. Dutschmann and I stayed with Aunt Millie & Uncle Lee for a night or two.

Jim came home with a scar and partially shaved head plus an area from which they removed a cyst, not to mention a swollen forearm where an IV infiltrated and blistered. I think that was the worst part. It was really painful for Jim and such a pain to change the dressing/keep it dry/keep it elevated. He was proud, though, to scare the trick or treaters at Halloween, looking like Frankenstein with a black eye. He had to stay on seizure medication, though a lighter dose, following the surgery, plus he tried several different sleep medications. He would revisit with Dr. Harvey on a regular basis, mostly to report documented seizures and other symptoms.

Please forgive me if some of this information runs together, but that's the best I can do. It seems like after about 14 months of not having a seizure, Jim was declared 'seizure free'. Of course he was elated, but I was guardedly happy. Since Jim would not say when he felt a seizure was coming on, it was difficult to determine if he had 'a spell' if I was not around. He was embarrassed to say anything, plus being disheartened that the surgery may have failed. After having further seizures at some point beyond the 14 months, Jim went back for further examinations by Dr. Mickey and Dr. Harvey. It was determined that more surgery could help, that possibly there was more scar tissue. Following a second surgery - with no infiltrations this time - Jim came home to recuperate again. He had to overcome sleep disturbances from the sedation, again with trying different medications, some with side effects. He was tired of taking the seizure medication and asked Dr. Harvey to take him off all together - but Dr. Harvey wanted to leave him on as he was successful with no seizures. He would try to slowly decrease and end the meds eventually.

Jim was such a witness to the power of prayer and the love of God during his surgeries. He never hesitated to share his story, even though he didn't like to talk 'in public'. I was proud that he did so, though, during Bible class one Sunday.

During the time Jim was going through the seizures and the first surgery, Jim's job changed when the gas company merged with the electric company. The gas company had been good to Jim, working him in a less stressful job of being 'on the phones' answering customer calls. He was setting up city inspections and working with folks in Dallas via telephone. I provided Jim's transportation when he could not drive - to and from work - dr. appointments - anywhere he wanted to go. He felt like 'less of a man' because he had to ask for a ride. Sure, I got tired of it, especially when he would keep me waiting - but hey, I was his wife and if he couldn't count on me, what would that be?

Maybe I was too much the 'caregiver', wanting him to be okay. I didn't mind doing things for him, but he was independent, too. Somehow I think we were co-dependent. I needed him to need me, and I wanted him to need me. He depended on me. When he started work for the electric company, he started working overtime and setting 'his money' aside. Each pay period, he would take X amount of dollars and set it aside for: Car tags; Lindsey's wedding fund; and I can't remember what else. Yes, he could save money. I was not the saver, though I was the one who paid the bills. He did not like to do so, because when he saw less than $300 in the checking account, he thought we were poor and he got depressed.

Soon it became more than just the three or four 'envelopes' or 'jars' he was saving for...he took more money from the account - as it "was HIS OVERTIME", to set aside for things I would find out about later. Granted, some of these things were jewelry for me - which I loved, but did not need. I found out later though that he would talk about his purchases at work and the ladies there would say that he 'spoiled me', and gave him the big head for doing so. He would buy them little things, like Christmas treats for them, and they in return, bought him a gift card signed 'from your harem'. He always liked anticipating a reaction from giving a gift, so I imagine he got lots of that at work. I unfortunately tended to think of the 'bank balance' when he bought diamonds and stocked up on so much stuff. I think that money became the root of our problems.

I can't recall exactly when Jim had his 'crisis', but it was before I came to BU. He told me one night that he was going to die, that the angel of death would be passing over the house and bring him to heaven. I tried reasoning with him, trying to calm him down, and at one time I thought he was just kidding - but he was not. He was serious. He had me bring the kids in so he could 'tell them goodbye' which of course sent them to tears. I tried to explain to them that Daddy was depressed and this is how he was expressing it. I called his Mom, his sisters and brother, and they came over - still trying to talk some sense into him. I called Pastor, but he could not come. I remember calling my boss and telling him I would not be in the next day, because I anticipated a long, long night. I remember calling Dr. Harvey and he suggested that I talk to Dr. Speckmiear about getting him some help as Jim seemed suicidal, though he didn't mention taking his own life. So that's what I did the next morning and that was his first trip and stay at DePaul. I think he was there about a week or so.

Some time after I started work at BU, time Jim collapsed during the night when I got up to take care of Lindsey who was throwing up. He appeared to have fainted and almost hit his head on the dresser. It happened twice, him just falling with a 'thud'. I found out the next day that the medication he was on could cause a drop in blood pressure, causing the 'fainting'. He didn't want to change medication again - because then he would have to adjust to it. We made follow up appointments with the doctor at DePaul - which turned out alot like the previous doctor visits. Jim didn't want to listen to the doctor, saying he didn't like him. The doctor told him straight out that he didn't care if he didn't like him, and that it was his choice as to take his advice and change medicine. Jim had a relapse and wanted to 'end it all', landing him back in DePaul for a week or so. Dad went to visit him and noted that when looking thru the visitor's door, Jim was interracting with others and laughing. When Dad went in to visit, however, Jim became very withdrawn and said no one would talk to him. Jim also did not want to participate in the group sessions, including the one that the kids, Steph and Anna came to. I took the kids to visit him a couple of times and we played cards. He did not like being there and didn't think he had a problem.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Married Life

Jim & I settled in to married life and moved into an older-2-bedroom rent house on Watt street in Waco. Our landlady was so sweet and only charged $350/month rent. Our neighbors were nice as well. I joined the Lutheran Church after having attended classes, and became a member just in time to be a "Sponsor" (God Parent) to Brandon Kubitza. His mother Kathy was at our guest book at the wedding, pregnant with Brandon. Seems like we were always doing something with the Dutschmann family: the Kelm Reunion; Thanksgiving at Uncle Lee & Aunt Millie's house in Irving; family birthdays - wiener roasts at the Hassells or out at the Mach farm; camping with a whole big group in Navarro or elsewhere; church activities - youth groups for the kids; teaching young ones in Sunday School; singing in the Choir; helping with Vacation Bible School. We always made church a priority as well as family. We actually have photo albums from our early married years, but not so much later, except for the kids. Jim and I used to joke that we were each other's 'last ditch effort' to get married. Makes me wonder sometimes....! He was always one to want to joke - especially with Stephanie and with me. Of course Stephanie is a lot of fun anyway, but she and Jim have a 'special bond'.

Jim lived at home until we married, while I had been in my apartment for a while. When he was 13 months old, he ate rat poison and was taken to the hospital, where he actually died on the table and was brought back. At the time, the doctor's thought this is what caused his seizures. After several years of marriage, and lots of seizure episodes, Jim wanted to pursue a surgery to stop the seizures. He was tired of the meds and the seizures, so who could blame him? He was so brave and such a witness while going thru it all. I was nervous for the possibility of brain surgery - but they found it scar tissue and thought that removing it could alleviate the seizures.
More on that later.

Lindsey was born in 1985, just before our second anniversary. Jim surprised me with a diamond ring. He was and still is a proud Dad. We argued over names - like Kayla, Hillary, Jeffrey, Amanda, etc. (we didn't know if we'd have a boy or girl) , but when she came, Jim proudly announced "Its a Lindsey Kathryn" as he went down the hall from the delivery room. He worked at United Bank at the time and they posted the birth announcement on their sign for all to see.

Jim loved to shop and buy things for everyone, but especially bargains, bargains and more bargains. Lindsey did not want for anything with the help of her sponsors: Stephanie, Carrol, Beth and Michael Brodowski. It was a happy time - holidays with the family - and the Dutschmann family with their first grand-daughter - so she was probably a little spoiled. She was the second on the Mathews side, but I am a little biased that she was favorite along with Amanda. I was a first on the Mathews side, too, so I know where it comes from!!

We certainly would never have made it through our early married years without family and friends. We knew several couples at church, one of which was Jim's brother John and his wife Norma. We would get together on occasion, usually at a choir party or cookout, and always had lots of fun. A tough time we went thru was when Jim's dad, Eddie, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He suffered a long time it seems, and they tried different things to help, including traveling to Mexico for treatment. It was really sad when he passed away. I think that was my first real experience with the death of a close family member. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather - barber to all and then some. He retired from General Tire before he was diagnosed. He loved his Lindsey, that's for sure!

When he was in the hospital in town, I learned that John and Norma were having difficulties. I do not know all that happened - but was shocked when they divorced. Seems like several couples did the same thing, though, and divorce was not as surprising as it used to be. We had our ups and downs - for things like money and other things - but held it together.

Ryan was born in 1990, again to proud parents. Lindsey was quite the little mother herself. She was five and so attentive to her 'bubba'. I don't know what I would have done without her. We had moved to our home in Hewitt just two years before I found out I was pregnant with Ryan.
I was still at Sears and I think Jim was at the motor bank, working in the vault. (ya'll feel free to make corrections in the comments section)

Both of our children were in daycare from 6 weeks until they were in school. We both had to work to pay the bills, which seemed to accumulate as fast as ever. Daycare was great and I knew of no problems with ours at all. The ladies loved Lindsey & Ryan. I think our kids have done great - despite the daycare/after-school programs/mom & dad work routines. They were very independent from an early age - and still are to this day. Stephanie kept them once when we went on a trip to Las Vegas, and she was astounded when they got up and made their own breakfast cereal and then got dressed. She said it was like they were on automatic pilot.

The kids always loved to play with their cousins...or 'cuddies' as they are sometimes called. Jeremy and Jeff liked to wrestle with them, so it was no surprise to hear from the teachers when Ryan 'was a little aggressive' today, as he wanted to keep wrestling at daycare.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Saying I Do

I met Jim when I was a bridesmaid and he was a groomsman in Kathy and Bob's (his cousin) wedding. We walked together and sat at the reception for the meal and I think danced once. I was toward the end of a relationship with someone else at the time. We started dating in September of 1982, with a trip to the local HOT Fair, after having gone dancing with Bob & Kathy a couple of times at West Fraternal Auditorium. Our dates were usually a movie or a visit with his family or dancing at Elk. We worked in the kitchen there, too, taking orders for burgers, etc., then cleaning up in time to catch a dance or two. I invited him to my apartment once for dinner, making a mexican casserole. I remember he was late due to a train. He ate and only later did I find out he wasn't exactly hungry, but he ate anyway. I remember shopping for western boots because he liked boots, and wore them to dance in. At the time, he worked for the Hallmark store at Lake Air Mall, where he was assistant manager. I of course, was at Sears. He liked to go camping with his family, and I went along probably once or twice, usually in his parent's camper. It was air conditioned.

Jim also liked photography and had several special lenses to make different effects. At Christmas, that year, Jim gave me an opal 'promise' ring. I remember Jenny at work showing all the ladies in the audit office that it was 'official', with expectations of a wedding at some point. On Valentine's Day - Dad and Grandma's Birthdays - we went to Mom & Dad's for cake. He sat down at the organ, then in the dining room, and started to play the wedding march then gave me a card that said "Its Valentine's Day so please say yes"....and on the inside: "I'll tell you later what the question is". Denice pulled me to the back bedroom and grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me, saying "This is it!! He's going to propose!!"

We went back to my apartment where he said he had my Valentine's Day gift. I had to close my eyes and he put a large arrangement of silk daisies - my favorite - on the dining area table. As we sat on the couch, he said he had a question for me. After a pause, he said "I want to know if you will be my wife." I was speechless....didn't rush to answer....and he was anxious to hear an answer. I guess we sat there for an hour or so and I finally said yes. He wanted me to help shop for the ring so he didn't have one to give me at that point.

We planned to have a May wedding the following year, and I started looking for a ring and a dress, along with all the planning that goes along with it. Although Jim had already asked me, he had to run it by Mom & Dad. We were over at Kathy's parent's house...Betty & Richard's, along with Kathy & Bob. We were talking about it and Jim must have gotten too anxious, and it caused him to have a seizure. I knew he had epilepsy, but had never seen a seizure. They were 'absence' seizures, where he just stared and said "what'd you say?" whenever anyone spoke to him. Afterwards he was really tired. When we first dated he was afraid I wouldn't go out with him because of the epilepsy, and told me of a girl who rejected him for that reason. He recovered and we headed over to Mom & Dad's. I sat in the living room with him on the couch, Dad in his chair, Mom in the kitchen. He worked up the courage to ask, Dad said yes, then he had another seizure. I was able to guide him outside to the front porch and let him 'recover', then we came back in. Dad really never saw anything other than he thought Jim was confused about a newspaper article he was asking him about.

I found a ring I liked at Wilson's .... gold with diamonds inlaid on the wedding band, and a single diamond with inlaid diamonds on either side of the engagement ring. Jim put it on layaway and before long, I was wearing it. That May - on the day it would be a year until our ceremony, Jim called and asked what I thought about moving the date up. "To When?" I asked. He said "How about September 17th, this year?" I told him that was a little short notice, but thought we could do it! That was it, we planned to get married the day after the one year anniversary of our first date.

We shopped at JoAnn's for my wedding dress and bought the first one I tried on, though I tried on a lot of dresses. I wanted my bridesmaids to be in rainbow pastel colors, and we found the dresses there as well. Beth was my maid of honor, followed by Laura, Amy, Kathy, Stephanie and Beth Hassell. Pink - Beth, Peach - Laura, Yellow - Amy, Green - Kathy, Blue - Stephanie and Purple, Beth Hassell. The flower girls were Lindsey Griffin and Kimberly Kubitza, dressed in white eyelet with blue ribbon sashes. The bridesmaids carried open baskets with silk daisies, with the handle wrapped in ribbon to match their dress, which I put together. Jim ordered my bouquet from a lady at church, and it included sunflowers and daisies. Jim wore a grey tuxedo, and his groomsmen were in black - John, Michael, John Ed, Bobby, Mark and Billy. Ring bearers were Aaron and Brandon Reinke, in little white suits. Christopher was a baby at the time, also dressed in white. When Beth could not fly in from Virginia for the wedding, John's wife Norma filled in...the dress fit as long as she wore flat shoes. Our wedding invitations had a rainbow on the front with little flowers, and Jim chose the font we used, which was a roman script.

We were blessed with many bridal showers...including a 'his & hers' at Kathy & Bob's and a 'pantry' shower at church which was huge, plus two showers from Sears co-workers and one from my church, a personal shower at Denice's house and one at home as well. We had more gifts at the reception!! Lots of thank- you notes later, I doubt we had to buy much of anything except groceries.

When the wedding date came around, Kathy & Bob were divorced. Their son Brandon was little at the time. I was a babysitter for him, and often had made it a point to go by and pick him up for Sunday school. I was his 'martian'. The wedding was held at our family's church, Lakewood, with Tim Griffin officiating. Amy sang "The Wedding Song" and Linda Gately sang "The Lords Prayer". Those pews were packed. I was not nervous, but Jim was so afraid he was going to have a seizure. Our prayers were answered and he made it through the ceremony just fine. We had a cake and punch at church. Our photographer, Johnny Bates (who I had previously dated) captured the day in posed shots, plus Ricky took lots of pictures at the reception - which I had no idea he was doing. It was a nice surprise to get those pictures with all the 'casual' shots of the receiving line and all the guests.

Jim's car was painted up and filled with balloons when we left the church in a shower of rice. It even had cans and shoes tied to the back. We had decided to go the Hilton for dinner, before heading out to West for a dance. We stopped at Mom & Dad's first, where Amy was sitting on the couch and Mom was hemming her dress. JoAnn evidently didn't get it done for the ceremony! We also went by Hillcrest Hospital to see Denice, who was admitted for difficulty with her pregnancy. Everyone was so sweet to give us best wishes as we walked thru the halls in our wedding attire.

We ate dinner at the Hilton where I have to tell a funny story. As we were giving our orders to the waiter, Jim asked "How big is this steak?" He thought for $14.99 he should know what he was getting!! I was embarassed, but we all laughed. Afterwards, Jim and I headed to West, with several of the wedding party in tow. Leather and Lace were playing that night, and we stayed probably until about 11 pm. Grandpa and Grandma paid for our hotel room that night at the Hilton, in the wedding suite, on the 7th floor, overlooking the suspension bridge. It was a beautiful view.