HIKE THIRTY-ONE

trail

Eagle Trail

One more in Door County

The last hike during my trip to Door County was again in Peninsula State Park. This time, I began at the opposite end of the park where I was surprised to find a golf course, as well as camping, hiking, skiing, biking and swimming areas. It is a wonderful spot!

Vinni, the young woman who arranged my visit to the school, wanted to hike with me on one of her favorite trails called the Eagle Trail. After hiking, we planned to have dinner with her family and an aunt and cousin who were in town to do a half marathon the next day.

As I drove to meet Vinni, I wondered to myself if I would be so open to meeting new people if Barry didn’t have frontotemperal dementia (FTD). Would I be hiking and getting to know this awesome woman? Most likely not. To be honest, I feel rather like a single person these days — but I’m really not. My options are to stay home alone or get out and meet people. I have chosen to get out!

Home alone or out solo?

Since Barry is not able to accompany me anymore, I have gone to weddings and dinner parties alone and have begun to have people over for dinner without my grill master Barry. Is it hard? Yes, sometimes it is. On the other hand, I have met and made new friends because of Barry’s FTD. Sometimes I feel guilty about that. I am having this whole new life totally unknown to Barry. This is a hard thing to think and talk about!

As we hiked on Eagle Trail, I learned interesting things about Vinni and shared my life with her. On the trail, we had great views of the ice shoves on Green Bay and saw impressive rock formations down by the lake. At the end, we climbed the look-out tower as the sun was going down. What a fun hike. I was pretty proud that I could keep up with this fit gal!

When we returned to Vinni’s beautiful house, her husband, daughter, aunt and cousin were waiting with pizza. I learned that they have relatives up in the Yukon, a place I have dreamed about visiting someday. Vinni said she would put me in touch with them if I ever get up there – and I hope I will. It was a nearly perfect evening.
out to eat
Anyone in my boat with a spouse suffering from FDT knows how hard it is to start doing things without his or her partner. It’s weird because leaving that partner behind causes so much guilt and is scary and really awkward at first. But the more you get out, the easier it gets. Besides, it’s a lot better than being alone all the time. I am learning a lot about others and a lot about myself.

The next morning I taught a picture book class with many interesting adults who live and work in Door County. I made more new friends that I will see again in November when they share their finished stories. My world is opening up while Barry’s world is getting smaller and smaller. This makes me feel so sad for him.

As is often the case now, I didn’t tell Barry about my trip or hiking when I returned to Minneapolis. I am not sure he even noticed I was gone.

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9 comments on “HIKE THIRTY-ONE
  1. Karen Robertson-Tran says:

    I’ve been in that emotional place too, Nancy, for different reasons but I understand the sadness and guilt. My husband has a brain injury and left side paralysis, so mobility and brain issues. Sometimes I choose to do things without him because it is easier for me, more enjoyable but I feel guilty or get a stab of that sadness of all that he has lost. I too am trying not to get stuck in the guilt and to allow happiness for myself. I hope that you continue to experience times of joy and friendship. Thanks for sharing in your blog!

  2. Mary Korzeniowski says:

    When I read your posts, Nancy, I always want to read more. You do tell a great, heartfelt story.

  3. jerri says:

    Is there still ice on Lake Superior? I am from Indiana and found it interesting that you talked about seeing ice shoves in August.

  4. Guilt, even when your mind realizes you really shouldn’t be feeling guilty (which it doesn’t always realize) is difficult to deal with…I hope you can see a therapist, a good one, who can help with this. I did and it did help. Our situation was different because Paul had Alzheimer’s but I felt terribly guilty and like a failure because I couldn’t cure him. And I felt guilty because as much as I grieved for him, and missed him, I also felt relief. This is very normal. You are sort of grieving while Barry is still alive, which is also normal. Be kind and understanding to yourself.

  5. Luanne Lescarbeau says:

    When one door closes, a lot of new ones open. Congratulate yourself on being able to see and act on this.

  6. I’m thinking that Barry’s new world is rich for him. We can’t imagine it or go there with him, but it’s his now.

  7. Pat Bauer says:

    So glad you’re getting out, having new experiences, writing and sharing your wisdom with us. I can only imagine how hard it is, but I think you’re doing the right thing for you and your family.

  8. Michele Olson says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these experiences. You actually hit on emotions military spouses often feel when their military member is away. While the circumstances are certainly very different, there is that same guilt; I admit that I felt it at first (and the subsequent superstition that if I enjoyed myself, something bad would happen.) It didn’t take long to figure out that isolation is not a healthy lifestyle, and boredom did not make me a more comfortable person to live with! When we venture out, meet people, try new things, we come back to our lives refreshed and prepared to deal with the “next thing.” I admire that you are finding the courage to do so. Best wishes.

  9. Mary Alterman says:

    Living life fully in the midst of what is thrown our way seems to get harder as we become older, doesn’t it? I am grateful you are still out there in the world so I can get to know you better. Thanks for being brave!

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