There’s a very good reason that I’m not too good at my words.

Last year ended up being a very difficult year as my husband Richard had a return of his prostate cancer, which coincided with his memory becoming much worse. It seemed like a struggle every day to take care of him and the animals and I would come out of the house in a disheveled state to meet friends that might stop by.

He didn’t sleep well. He’d want to go to the farm, which of course we had to sell 16 years ago as his knees got too bad to continue the farm work, but he thought of that all the time and did want to be there. I reflected on the fact that very few retired people look back and want to return to the job that they had throughout their life. But here, my husband Richard, he did. It was a life that he loved. It brought the world alive for him, working with the land, being with the animals, struggling to make any money, and he spread that enthusiasm to me as well. We really had wonderful times and sad times on the farm, but neither one of us would give it up for anything.

At one point in our farming time, Dick wrote articles for grazing, worked on the Sustainable Agriculture Grant Program, and he would go to the University of Vermont and other places to review the applicants and give input. He became known as a real grazing advocate. And surprisingly, one day, he was selected as a farmer to go to Moldova to teach the farmers there how to manage their fields with minimum amounts of machines (which they did not have) and to use the land simply and improve it through having their animals harvest the feed with grazing. Moldova had been part of Russia, and is now independent, but as he drove around the countryside, you could see remnants of old Communist farms, and the whole country seemed more like our country in the 1940’s with milk being delivered to the marked in jugs pulled by a horse, hay being baled loosely and being hauled to the barn in a big pile handled by pitchforks. A few farmers were able to buy a large machine and then they would rent their time out to help get special tasks done for the smaller farmers.

Dick got to speak to many farms and make lots of suggestions that the farmers felt helped them and they felt a new optimism to their whole profession. Dick also liked visiting the wine cellars in Moldova. We didn’t know that it was a major wine-making center in the world, with some of the finest, most interesting wines. And he was invited as a guest to have dinner with most of the farms that he visited, whereupon, besides their own homegrown food, he was always offered a magnificent glass of wine, and the people were very proud of it. He was there for about six weeks, while I stayed home on the farm and had help from different neighbors and willing people that were interested in our Jerseys and loved cows.

But it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing for Dick to do, and I missed him. And as I see him now in a nursing home, sitting and forgetting much of his past, I think back of how vibrant he has been.

It was in the autumn that he had trouble staying awake to have a conversation. He kept falling asleep. And on the other hand, he had trouble going to sleep at night. The whole thing was exhausting for both of us.

Then one day, at a doctor’s appointment, when he went in, he was very exhausted when he got to see the doctor. And the doctor discovered that his heartbeat and pulse were extremely slow and his blood pressure was very very low. At that point, he was sent to the hospital immediately. They realized that he would need a pacemaker to keep his heart beating at an adequate level to stay conscious, and they did perform the surgery, after which he was much better. He could actually stay awake. He stopped being agitated all the time and there was improvement. But he also had cellulitis in one leg that was quite severe, so he stayed in the hospital for a week, after which he was assigned to a nursing home. Fortunately, it is nearby.

We didn’t think he would be staying there, but they are very reluctant to release him and he does need a lot of care. I go in and see him every day and help out a little bit – bring him some magazine or story, some snack, and a drink to cheer up his day. But it has been a tremendous adjustment being at the house alone and looking at the things that we owned together and realizing that he’s not there.

Even the cats were completely thrown off by not having Dick in the house! One cat refused to even come into the living room, and Black Shadow was more inclined to attack the other cats and make things difficult for them, and now four months later, they are just getting back to adjusting and acting like normal cats. Not sure I can say the same about myself.

As spring arrives, though, I do look forward to getting some time to do my art. There was barely a moment last year when I could apply wax and start a little bit of dyeing. The leaves are coming out. The maples are first, then the beech, then the oaks. Blossoms are filling our yard slowly, one plant species at a time and it won’t be long before we can’t see the mountains to the West from our living room, but it won’t be a long walk to get to see them.

I think it’s my favorite time of year, spring… When the leaves are ethereal looking and the colors are gentle, kind of like fall.

 

18 Comments. Leave new

  • Holding you all in my thoughts

    Reply
  • So touching. What a good looking fellow, too!

    Reply
  • char shamel
    June 9, 2022 8:27 pm

    Carol,
    Thank you for sharing. You and Dick are in my thoughts and prayers.
    char

    Reply
  • Jeanne Nivard
    June 9, 2022 10:13 pm

    Carol, I didn’t know things had gotten so bad for Dick. I’m glad you had so many good times together. Sending you many hugs and positive thoughts.

    Reply
    • Thank you Jeanne. Things did get very difficult. we were a great team and live now with our memories. My husband is in a nearby home and I visit every day.
      I am just starting to get to do some artwork again..

      Reply
  • Joan Radven
    June 9, 2022 10:26 pm

    Carol – I’m so glad I got to read your story today. I was unsure of your husband’s condition but knew you had been giving him much care recently. It’s no wonder you are out seeking the light filled moments in your surroundings! They light me up and I’m sure many others as well, so keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Thank you Joan. I sure appreciate your words of love and encouragement. I am happy to share the beauty I see and am glad many others enjoy what I have to offer.
      Bless you and wish you light!

      Reply
  • Holly Bucalos
    June 10, 2022 9:41 am

    Carol, Thank you for sharing the stories of your farm years with Richard! Both of you have made others’ live better with your art and your commitment to sustainable farming. The photos of Richard in Moldova are a tribute to his legacy. You are both an inspiration. May you be blessed with peace during these challenging days of Richard having to life in the nursing home. You are a blessing to us.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much Holly. WE were a great team and I feel grateful to you and others for appreciating our life together.
      Lives do change and we must adapt and accept what we have been given to work through. I appreciate your kind words…

      Reply
  • Theresa Raker
    June 10, 2022 11:40 am

    Thank you for sharing all of your memories. What a wonderful life together! Time catches up to us all and things change. Enjoy the spring, your animals, visits, and your art. ❤

    Reply
    • Thank you Theresa Raker, be sure I will appreciate all around me. I have so much beauty in my life. My husband is in a nursing home and I see him each day.
      I miss him a lot but am grateful he is safe and nearby..

      Reply
  • Wishing you much love during this time. It is hard when a Loved one is not well and we have to make decisions for their future. Wishing you blessings and stay well! Best to Richard!

    Reply
  • Susan Diggle
    June 10, 2022 3:30 pm

    You and Dick were fortunate to share and build a dream together, and you’re still living it, in that beautiful space you call home. Thank you for sharing the story and photos of Dick’s trip to Moldova. That really honors his life and vision. I’m glad you’re getting back to doing your art again.

    Reply
    • Thank you Susan Diggle. Yes we have had a great life together but now my good husband is in a nearby nursing home. I visit him everyday but miss him terribly….
      I am finally managing to sneak in a bit of my art. Hugs to you.

      Reply

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