Downgrading

Typically in life, you upgrade… newer car… bigger house… you know… “the American dream.”

When you’re a widow… not only are so many dreams crushed-gone… over… D E A D– you also have to deal with the reality that there are no more two incomes… there is one… and in my case John made close to twice as much as I did.

Sometimes you are forced with the reality of downgrading.  A few weeks ago I discovered the freezer was no longer working and I had to throw out the entire contents because everything was soft.  I needed to clean the freezer and fridge out, but not really to that extent.

I held my breath when the repairman came… please let it be cheap… please let it be cheap… please let it be cheap.  The generator had just needed repaired and took a LONG time and I was anticipating a $400-500 bill from that!  We built the house in 2004 and didn’t move in till the end of the year… way too soon for the fridge to go.

Within a few minutes the repairman came back with the verdict… the compressor was toast.  The next day the estimate brought worse news- over $500 to fix it and the repair person recommended purchasing something new rather than repairing.

So… I faced the reality… DOWNGRADING.  We have a nice fridge… side by side… GE… stainless steel… ice maker & DE-LICIOUS filtered water.  John always believed in quality and he’d rather pay more for something and purchase something good than get a piece of junk.  The repair person guesstimated that it had been in the $1800 to $2000 when we purchased it.  I have no idea.  I let John make the decisions about the appliances.

$1800 to $2000 is not in the budget.  The budget has already had a tough year with purchasing needed thing like horse run in sheds (at 25% off), and base, and a big unanticipated vet bill for Gadget- the Now Almost Toothless Wonder Dog.

It has been a tough experience going into different stores and saying… I need something under $600… and answering the “what do you have now?” and saying “I have to downgrade.”

It is hard to see how limited the options are in some stores… one store didn’t have anything in my budget.  Others had one or two.

I know I’m not the only one to have to downgrade and I know lots of people have to downgrade for many reasons… divorce… loss of job, etc.  I know it’s not JUST me, but that doesn’t make it any easier to BE ME!  I don’t want to be in these shoes… I want the extra pair of shoes… my husband’s shoes… with him in them… and healthy!!!

Today, I ended up in the scratch and dent Sears Outlet store which came highly recommended for deals.  But… my options were limited there, too.  OUCH!!!  I looked at these fridges that smelled funny and bore scars and dents.  In some ways I almost felt a strange bond with these appliances… we were both damaged goods… cast off by society… not good enough… we had scars, dents, scrapes and dings.  But, in other ways, I was repulsed, too… I wanted my old life back… nice, shiny, stainless steel.

But, life is different now.

We’ll see.  I’m still checking out sales and hoping I can find a good fit.  But, if not… I’ll have artwork and pictures and magnets to cover those dings and scars and life will go on.  All I need is a fridge that works… and hopefully will last… I’m downgrading… no need for fancy water dispensers and ice makers…

And… I look at my current fridge and am reminded how it is a reflection of my life… sloppily covered in a hodge podge of items… including Christmas and Easter magnets (neither which are close).. kiddo’s artwork… magnetic letters… vet’s magnets- easy to find the number if an emergency arises and I don’t have access to my cell… a “save the date” magnet from the last wedding that I’ve been, too- in 2008… and other things…

My sloppily covered fridge

like John’s IL2 schedule that I couldn’t bear to remove because it had HIS writing on it and he put it there.  What woman in her right mind has a failed cancer research study medication treatment schedule plastered to her refrigerator?  (note “failed” in the sense that my husband died- for some people the trial may have been a success).

John’s IL2 Schedule

There is also a 2009 calendar,

2009 Calendar

and the 2009 Ravens schedule.

2009 Ravens Schedule

A Christmas card with a note from 2009.

Christmas card with treasured note,
“Mrs. Smith,
We all miss Smitty. He always made me laugh.
Duane (AFD)

A photo John had taken of our now deceased cat, Winnie. His favorite. Along with a list of things that needed to be done from back in 2009 when I had help with my “To Do List” Now it would be shorter to make a list of what actually got done.

2009… the year when everything ceased to matter in the way that it had previously mattered.

Cancer magnets and kiddo’s artwork.  The penguin was a library project and I LOVED it!

A Palm Sunday cross from last year and a 2009 Christmas card. I put all of the Christmas cards on the fridge from 2009… it made me feel loved and comforted… in 2010 there were fewer… and then in 2011 even less.

I gave John these magnets for Christmas in 2008. I didn’t know what he did with them. When the contents from John’s Annapolis fire locker were given to me… they were in there. His boy meant the world to him.

A magnet of my dearly beloved mare. I lost her on July 7, 2010… within a year I lost my soulmate husband and horsey friend of over 17 years.

The magnets of both her and Winnie had been on the fridge well before they passed– I’m not THAT weird… and I also do have a magnet of Remington with a photo that John had taken at a show, and a photo magnet of Winston.

And a few of kiddo’s masterpieces!

In my defense, I do have a 2012 calendar, but it kept sliding off the fridge… and I have had relatively few appointments and plans, so it hasn’t been up for a while.

As hard as it is to downgrade… letting go is harder… I know when the new fridge comes… I can’t put those magnets back up.  I also know I can’t throw away that IL2 schedule.  Someday, I may need it to help kiddo understood how hard his daddy fought to stay alive, to win the battle.  John was insanely afraid of injections… sweating… heart racing… practically panic attacks… in fact in the academy a brilliant mind thought it would be a great idea to do the TB testing while standing… well… John passed out… skull to concrete floor resulted in a tripod fracture and surgery.  John didn’t accept the injections – that he had to give himself… till he was a DAD.  Then he wanted to do everything possible to stay alive for his son.

So the downgrade in the fridge will also mean a change in scenery… which some people will see as a positive… but to me it will probably signify one more way that John is less present in my life.

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About Mary K. Smith

I was widowed in July 2009, when I lost my beloved husband, John, to melanoma. Cancer SUCKS. We have a young son who was just a year old when his father died. I live on a small farm in Maryland which is home to horses, cats, and a dog. I started this blog as a way for me to heal, a way to remember my husband, and eventually I'd like to share it with our son so he can see the love that his father had for him, the love that we had for each other, what a great person his father was, and how hard his father fought to live.
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One Response to Downgrading

  1. Deborah Gray says:

    Uplifting thoughts and prayers….a lots of warm (((HUGS)))!
    Hang in there Sweet Lady.

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