In 2008, when we learned we would have to move and I bought a house in Quartz Hill, around the corner from my youngest son and his family, although I didn’t realize it at the time, that was a new beginning. It took us many months to completely unpack and settle into our new surroundings.

From the onset, Bob chose a long room built behind the garage but attached to the structure for his workshop. He had his desk, drafting table, television, coffee maker and shelves of books and magazines at his fingertips and it may have been his favorite place/retreat. In 2010, Bob rebuilt our secret garden, a gazebo, and found a perfect spot for it under trees and behind a wall that divides part of our back yard from another section of back yard. We planted fruit trees in the far back yard and found grape vines growing there, suffering from years of neglect. Then after rebuilding the secret garden, Bob built a library for me out of half of the garage. As quickly as he put up shelves, I unpacked boxes of books and filled them.

It was a crowning achievement.

Sometime in 2010 he began having problems swallowing. We thought it might be acid reflux. It wasn’t until after we had gone to a dinner in Gorman for a friend’s birthday, and Bob was unable to eat a steak, that he conceded he needed to see a doctor. Then, for just over a year, we went through a rollercoaster ride of trips to doctors and hospitals until it all culminated in his death September 21-22 when he began to spit up blood. It wasn’t the cancer in his esophagus that killed him. I believe it was scarring from radiation in his esophagus and the stretching procedure that his gastroenterologist did while doing endoscopies, to open his esophagus back up.

Bob had a brief respite after a stent was implanted in July. He began to eat again and regained ten pounds. It gave us a false hope. The morning of September 21, he wakened me, telling me he was spitting up blood. We didn’t know it, but it was the beginning of the end.

September 22 in the hospital I said my goodbyes holding one of his hands while Keara held the other. I had him cremated and went for five days on a long postponed trip to Cincinnati to see some cousins. It was another brief respite.

It crossed my mind that for the first time in my life I am truly living alone (even though Ethan and Savannah have spent many nights here keeping me company since their grandpa died). I lived at home with my parents until I married at the age of 18. When he and I divorced in 1985-86 I had one or more of my sons always living with me. Chris & Kelly were teenagers and took turns living with me or their father. I rented a house in Van Nuys, the first time I undertook finding a place of my own in which to live. In 1986 I met Bob and he lived in an apartment nearby but was always nearby and often spent the night at my place.

In 1989, Bob and Kelly and I moved into the Arleta house. (I had lived there with Jim and the boys from 1974-79 until we bought a house in Florida). It became available and with help from Gary, a new friend of Bob’s, we moved back to 9187 Arleta Avenue. I didn’t think of the move from Wyandotte Street to Arleta Avenue as a new beginning even though, I suppose it was.

For the first time in my life I am living alone. I am still struggling with the loss of my partner of twenty six years but suspect I may adapt before too long. This week, I returned to bowling – the league secretary called me a few days ago to tell me of an opening on the Grandmas and Grandpas league. A few weeks ago, I returned to Weight Watchers on Wednesday Evenings. I HOPE I can find my way back into writing on a regular basis.

January, 2012 is my month for new beginnings.

Sandra Lee Smith


3 responses to “JANUARY 1, 2012 – NEW BEGINNINGS

  1. Good luck, Sandra Lee Smith. You obviously are a brave and remarkable woman. Thus, I am certain that you quickly will conquer the logistical and emotionall dilemmas that can come with living alone. A caring family nearby definitely does help. From your report, it seems as if you have made extraordinary progress in the past few short months since this sea change of life was thrust upon you. I am sure that Bob is watching your progress, rooting for you, helping you go forward.

  2. Life can be very hard at times. It’s good that you’re starting to get out more and meet new people. I wish you only good things in 2012.

  3. thank you, girlfriends. Although I dont feel brave or remarkable, hearing it does boost a person’s confidence. Hope you continue to follow my blog – I am always pleased when I hear from one of my “regulars”. – Sandy

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