Appreciating and valuing what I have, who I am.

Today is Friday the 13th. My luckiest day. Because it's all about how you look at it. If you look for all the unlucky stuff, that's eventually all you're going to see. But if you look for the beauty, the value, and appreciate what's there, well – as I said, it's my luckiest day!
 
In 1992, my now X became disabled. He was on his first day of vacation, and while I was at work, was messing around with friends. They started wrestling in the front yard and he tripped over a tree root. Yep, he broke his ankle.... in two places. His buddies picked him up, rushed him over to the hospital where he wound up in surgery.
 
A month later, I came home to find him sitting on the floor, his other leg was an odd blue color. He said he tripped over the cat and thought he'd broken his other leg. So again, we rushed him over to the hospital.... nope, his leg wasn't broken. It was worse. He'd developed blood clots from the other broken leg and they had completely filled both legs... and because of the fall, the blood clots were moving. The doctor told me not to expect him to survive the night.
 
We lived near Milwaukee then, and the ambulance rushed him over to the Medical Complex where they could deal with the problem better. I waited HOURS for word on how he was doing. At 4 am, a nurse came over, told me that he'd made it and would be ok, and that he'd been moved upstairs to a room. She then got a security guard to take me up to see him and when I got there, he was covered in wires and tubes, but sleeping comfortably, so I went home and got a couple hours of sleep.
 
Bad luck, right? WRONG. This moment was a MIRACLE and became the most AMAZING doorway!
 
After going through tests at that hospital and later at the University hospital, they learned that he had a genetic defect – a protein C deficiency – that caused his blood to clot up and they told him that if the incident hadn't happened, he would have died by the age of 30 from a heart attack (he was 28 then). At the time, it was considered a very rare condition, but with the information they learned from this incident, they have since learned that it's in about 1 in 200 people, they also learned it can be controlled with BABY ASPIRIN if caught early enough, and it also led to great advances in genetics where they could create veins!
 
But his condition was too serious to correct. We were told that the biggest clot was too close to his lungs and that to operate to remove it would most likely kill him. They also said his life expectancy would only be about 5 to 10 years. So we went home, talked about what to do....
 
“Let's look at it differently”, I said.... “Either of us could die in a car accident tomorrow, without warning. So let's live in the moment, do the things we want to do in our future, within financial reason”. He said ok, and when the disability, etc. was all situated, we took a vacation... wound up here. We went site-seeing, fished along the creek, stood in the rain as we watched the clouds touch the canyon's walls, had picnics next to waterfalls, camped with a beautiful fire in front of our tent. He was sitting there, thoroughly enjoying himself, and said “I could live here”. Me too. So when we got back, I sent out 100 resumes'. Only one person responded. But that was the one that got us a new beginning. When I came out for the interview, I also went house hunting and found a rental 4 miles out in the country from the nearest town. The house was old, like most rentals are, but the area was incredibly beautiful. We moved 3 months later.
 
Over the years, it was tough. There are times that I think the Hills just about defeated me. There were SNOW STORMS, like the one where we were stuck at the house for 2 weeks and after the first week ran out of supplies (I had to ski into town for more); my boss turned out to be a crook and I lost my job when I refused to break the law... the nearest job service was 10 miles away, I didn't have money for gas, the internet wasn't going yet, and just to make phone inquiries around the area cost me $300 per month. There were times I rode my bicycle into the next town (a 20 mile round trip), just so I could blitz possible job openings. Bad luck? Nope - I learned how to become a survivor then... how to become self-sufficent with what I had...
 
And again, it opened doors! During that nasty blizzard, we'd been living at the rental house for 5 years, and with no internet, no cable, just 2 tv channels and a lot of video tapes, I decided to work on our budget. Out of boredom, I calculated how much we'd paid in rent over the years. $24,000.00! OMG, all that money going to our landlord – if only we could keep it for ourselves! So I mentioned it to my husband, who agreed it was time to look for a house of our own. For the next 6 months we searched... one house sat in a flood plain and got wet every Spring... one house was a foreclosure and the previous owners even took the furnace (we found out later that there was also arsenic in the water)... one house was perfect, until we found out there was a major gas leak and the entire gas system had to be replaced.... and then there was THE house. It was just this tiny little blue place between two large houses. It had poor landscaping (the bushes are bigger than the house) and needed lots of interior work. When I showed it to my husband, he said “NO WAY”, but I said – let's just look inside anyways since we're here. Well, we opened the door and WOW! An open floor plan, 2 bedrooms off to the side, a HUGE master bedroom in the back, a HUGE open area in the basement with two more large rooms at the back. “Yep,” he said... “this is it”.
 
Yep, it was IT.... even though the bathroom had holes in the walls and floor, white carpeting throughout the house was moldy, there was linoleum with large orange and black medallions on it in the back hall that was so old it crumbled when you stepped on it....
 
Two weeks after we moved in, our marriage began to fall apart. I'm not sure why the house brought it out, but that's when the drinking got really bad. As time went on, he began to complain about the house being more important than him (I still don't get that – we hadn't been working on it yet except to get the carpets out), about how he didn't want me to work (and how else are we supposed to eat?), and how I was “moving beyond him” when I was taking care of myself (HUH?). Eventually, his pain grew until the “incident” when things got violent and we divorced. It's been 20 years now since he got hurt and yet he told me when we separated that he wants to kill himself by drinking himself to death. And there's nothing I can do to help him – every time I've tried, I've been attacked physically. I realize now that HE has to figure it out, because if it were up to me, we'd still be together and happy.
 
And so, I kept the house because it was in too poor of shape to sell. And I've been working on it... The blue is gone – replaced with a gorgeous straw color with white trim on the windows and deck. I replaced broken gutters, tore out most of the remaining carpets, painted the subfloor as a temporary fix until I get the new flooring down. I painted walls, patched holes, fixed the bathroom, repaired the ceiling, replaced the lights. The roof is getting work done in the next 2 weeks and the living room still needs work – it's painted, but there's a very pale pink carpet that's GUARANTEED to be the spot where the cats and dogs get sick or have an accident, and my furniture is REALLY ugly. But that carpet is my Spring project and my mother taught me how to reupholster, so that's soon to change too....
 
Yesterday, a “friend” came in to talk about her cat that I'm taking care of since she's unable to find an apartment that allows pets. She asked me whether or not I got the carpet done yet. (Last time we talked about it, it was Christmas and I don't really care if I get it done now or later.) She and I then talked about my basement – the place her cat has taken over - which has bare studs, cracked foundation, cement floor. I told her I saw this new flooring on TV where it is like a really large peel and stick tile.... perfect for making my new “art studio” basement beautiful once I get the walls up and the foundation repaired – while at the same time making it easy to remove in the event I want to do more... and she told me it wasn't good enough. GRRR.
 
But I don't care! Because I appreciate how much I LOVE my home now that I'm getting the work done (the appraiser said I've doubled it's value)... and I appreciate the little deer tracks that were in front of my deck this morning and how the birds torment my cats at the window... and I appreciate how my dogs make me laugh... and I appreciate the beauty of the mountains outside my door... and I appreciate the sun, the sky, the trees, the snow, the sound of well performed classical music on my radio and even my friends who irritate the heck out of me, lol. Yep, life is good. :)