Saturday, August 29, 2015


Gina and her mom are caregivers for her dad, who has been ill for quite a while now.  She needed to take a little break so today she came over to pet-sit while I ran errands and then we decided she should spend the night as well (her mom was at home to take care of her dad).  So we watched a marathon of old Love Boat shows and had a pizza.  A nice girls' night for both of us.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Not much going on

Me and the Veterans Service Officer are really getting to know each other.  I spent another two hours with him today filling out the forms petitioning the VA to give me back the money they took out of my account when Marshall died.

On the up side, today I received the small amount of money that Social Security gives you for burial expenses. It's hardly enough for even a nice dinner, but it's better than nothing.

I quit taking that new drug the doctor wanted me to take (Propafernone) and went back to the drugs she had me on originally and I feel good again.  I check my heart rate every hour or two and it never gets below 55 so I can't explain why it went down to 40 when I saw her on Tuesday.

I'm wondering if smoky air could affect the heart rate.  The air in Colorado has been very hazy and smoky for the past week due to the fires on the west coast and the local clinic has advised that everyone stay indoors if possible.  Just wondering...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Busy days

Spent the past four days running errands and getting things done.  Received more forms from the VA that need to be filled out.

Today was my appointment with my heart doctor.  My pulse was 40 and that got her all worked up.  She did an EKG and then decided to switch my medication.  I was doing so well and feeling so good for the past several months and tonight when I started the new medication I've been feeling awful.  I guess I should at least give this drug a chance.

She also wants me to consider having heart surgery and I can't even begin to wrap my head around that right now.  Very depressing.

In the past whenever I went to the doctor Marshall always wanted me to call him as soon as I left the doctor's office to let him know how it went.  When I got in the car and realized I couldn't call him I had a major meltdown.  I miss him so much.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Insurance, etc.

Another 2 hours with the Veterans Service Officer today.  We finished the paperwork and it got mailed to the VA today.  And I was able to mail out all the forms I had to fill out for his Post Office benefits.  Now I wait.

Marshall made sure I had the VA's supplemental insurance (called ChampVA) but I didn't understand how it worked so that's why I've been researching other supplemental insurance.  However, after a few of you have alerted me to how it works (thank you!) -- and after the Veterans Service Officer made some phone calls and did lots of research -- I understand that it is definitely a supplemental health insurance plan that works in conjunction with Medicare.  At no cost to me.  So I thank Marshall for his foresight.

My challenge for today was trying to find information on his previous marriages.  All of the forms I filled out required that information.  I didn't have it so I even went to one of those People Search sites on the internet and paid the money to do a search and came up with nothing, not even his marriage to me.  Marshall and I were together 28 years and I wasn't the least bit interested in previous marriages.  So the Service Officer decided to simply put "unknown" and we'll see what happens.

I believe I am now done with paperwork for the time being.  YAY!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My brain hurts

Boy, do I appreciate everything Marshall did over the years with regard to benefits. I hate doing this.

At any rate, I spent almost 3 hours with the Veterans Service Officer today.  He made sure to stress that he is not an employee of the VA, he is hired by the State to help veterans.  We went over all the benefits I should be entitled to and then we filled out a long application.  I had to bring in Marshall's military discharge form, our marriage certificate, his death certificate and his VA disability award letteer.

The first order of business is to try to get the VA to give me back the money they took out of my checking account as soon as they learned Marshall had died.  The Service Officer, Tim, told me that the disability checks are deposited a month behind.  So in other words, the check for June is deposited in July.  So when they took back the July deposit they were taking back money that was for a month when Marshall was alive so they shouldn't have done that.  We will try to get that money back.

Then he gave me a form outlining the various types of headstone I can pick out, so I need to contact the cemetery and see if they have any restrictions and then I will pick one out and decide what I want engraved on it.

The other things I should be entitled to are:

     *  Burial expenses up to $2,000.  This will include all expenses that I incur taking Marshall's ashes to West Virginia (airfare, gas, mileage, hotel, etc.) so I need to keep all receipts.

     *  A portion of Marshall's monthly disability payment, maybe as much as $1400.

     *  A retroactive payment for Aid & Assistance.  I had applied for this two years ago and never got a response to my application so since I was definitely entitled to it -- and if I can prove I applied for it -- we will ask for all back payments.

Then this afternoon I spent 5 hours on the phone with insurance companies and then researching trying to figure out which supplemental insurance to get, as well as what prescription drug plan to get. I need to make decisions pretty soon.  (My thanks to those of you who provided me with information and suggestions -- I researched them all.)

Tomorrow I have errands to run (Gina will be here with the boys) so I will get back to insurance issues on Thursday.

I'm going to get back into making and selling my jewelry.  I called the store where I was selling before and the owner is going to make space for me again.  I should be up and running by October 1st.  Little by little, I'm doing normal thngs again.

Monday, August 17, 2015

MetLife Etc.

I woke up again this morning with my heart in Afib.  It has lasted most of the day.  I have an appointment with my heart doctor on Tuesday.

But the first thing I did was to call MetLife and I was told that the letter I got suspending the monthly payments was an error.  They tell me I am definitely entitled to the survivor benefits and the monthly payments will continue uninterrupted.  Big relief.

Then I started the phone calls for supplemental health insurance.  I was on the phone a very long time with Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield.  In order to get their best coverage the monthly cost will be $170.  There is no dental and no vision coverage.  But there are no co-pays and no deductible.  To get prescription coverage there is an additional monthly cost of $37.

They have one other plan that costs $117 a month but it has a deductible and a $20 copay.  So if I were to have a serious health issue where I needed to see a doctor monthly, the copays would quickly add up so it makes more sense to get the better plan.

The worrisome part of all of this is that my health insurance coverage with GEHA (Marshall's insurance from the post office) ends on August 21 and any new supplemental health insurance won't kick in until September 1.  So I will have short period of no supplemental insurance.

The prescription coverage is kind of hard to understand.  First, there is a deductible of $320.  Then different drugs are handled differently.  So if we start out with the only two drugs I am taking for my atrial fibrillation (Metoprolol and Flecainide) I would have a copay of $1 for the Metoprolol and a $60 copay for the Flecainide until the deductible is met and then it would be a $6 copay.

Tomorrow afternoon I will call Humana and see what their coverage is like.

But first, tomorrow I have a 10:00A appointment with the Veterans Service Officer.  This is the most important meeting of all.  I am very nervous about anything having to do with the VA.  I watched Marshall battle the VA for 28 years.  But this will be where the largest part of my monthly benefits should come from.  Also, we will order the headstone for Marshall.

Marshall's ashes arrived today so in the next few months there will be a trip to West Virginia to scatter the ashes and place the headstone.  The company that sent the ashes -- ScienceCare -- also sent along a beautiful little lucite pyramid that catches the light and just glitters and it has a message written in a circular pattern on the inside with a four-leaf clover in the center:  "He who has done his best for his own time has lived for all times."  I think that is beautiful.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Lazy day

I woke up today with my heart in A-fib and it stayed that way all day long until around 5:30. I didn't feel good, so I was very lazy and didn't do much today.  We've been having lots of storms, thunder and lightning, so it was a perfect day to kick back and listen to the rain on the metal roof.

I've been going through Marshall's things and I find myself constantly thinking, "Oh, I have to keep that in case he comes back and needs it."  Weird.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Ferguson, Missouri

Tricia lives very close to Ferguson and we ended up stopping in Ferguson for dinner.  When you hear about Ferguson on the news you think the whole town is up for grabs.  Actually, Ferguson is a large town and only a tiny portion of it contains the unrest and protests.

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Home again

Yesterday morning I had my phone conference with Social Security.  It lasted about 20 minutes and she asked me tons of questions.  She asked me to send her the death certificate and our marriage certificate.  And they will look at everything and then will direct deposit into my account whatever I am entitled to, which I'm pretty sure will just be the $255 burial expense money.

I made it home today after several days of driving and it was so nice to see my boys.  Coco always gets excited to see me and then it's kind of like he realizes I left him for a while and he decides to get mad and ignore me.  But now he is on my lap attached to me.  And so is Okie.  Very nice.

I had a very sad moment when I crossed over the Colorado state line.  That's when I would always call Marshall to let him know I was in Colorado and almost home.  It felt so weird not being able to make that call.

I just opened all my mail and there was a letter from MetLife saying they were suspending all payments.  Good grief.  I had a long conversation with them last week and they assured me the payments would continue uninterrupted.  So now I guess I have to call them on Monday and see what's going on.  I went a whole week without any A-fib episodes and I'm not home more than a few hours and they are back.  Ugh.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Heading home...

I made a few phone calls today so that when I am back in Colorado I will have appointments all set up and ready.

First call was to the post office Personnel Management.  They have confirmed that I am no longer eligible for the health insurance and it will end on August 21.  Bummer.  I was really hoping I could keep that.  But I have Medicare and Marshall also spent a lot of time making sure I have the VA's supplemental insurance.  But I think a third policy is probably in order.

The lady I spoke to on the post office call alluded to the fact that Marshall had life insurance and I need to fill out the application to get those proceeds.  I thnk she's wrong because I am quite sure there's no life insurance.  But who knows, maybe they had some kind of insurance that just came with the job.  Wouldn't that be wonderful!!

Then I called Social Security and they set up a conference call for tomorrow morning to see if I'm entitled to anything in addition to the one-time payment of $255 for burial expenses.

Then I called the most important person, the VA Veterans Service Officer who will walk me through the labyrinth of VA paperwork.  I should be entitled to part of Marshall's monthly disability check.  I am also entitled to a one-time payment for burial expensss (although not sure how that plays out if the body is cremated and not buried).  And I am entitled to a headstone.  While I was in Ohio, my sister-in-law Audrey took me out to where her husband is buried to show me what the VA's headstone looks like and it's very nice.  I have an appointment with the VSO on Tuesday.

So my days are slowly filling up with chores and appointments.  And I am really looking forward to seeing "my boys"!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Another relaxing day today. I really needed that.  I think my stress leel has dropped and I'm about ready to go back home.

I checked my bank balance yesterday and the VA has taken about $3600 out of my account.  That was very disturbing, although I figured they would take some of the money back.  So the first thing on my list when I get back is to talk to my Veterans Service Officer and get him to working on what's going to happen to me with regard to the VA.  My understanding is that I am entitled to some of Marshall's monthly disability check but it is concerning that they took that much money out that quickly.  I'll try to not worry about it until I know for sure what will happen.

Hopefully by the time I get back I will have gotten mail from the health insurance people so that I will know where I stand with regard to insurance.

This may sound creepy but I am keeping Marshall's Facebook account going as well as his Twitter account.  And I've switched all of his email accounts so that they come in on my computer.  I know that sounds weird but it's kind of like having a little bit of him around with those accounts open.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Another day

Each day gets a little bit easier to handle.  Tricia and I relaxed today and told a few Marshall stories.  We were both still pretty tired from the weekend, especially me.  It was so emotionally draining and kind of wiped me out.  So we didn't do much.

I'm going to relax again tomorrow and head back to Colorado on Thursday.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Trying to get back to normal

Tricia and I spent the day marathon shopping, just like we used to do in those distant days before Marshall was diagnosed.  So it felt good to do something so normal and fun.  But I found myself constantly wanting to pick up the phone and call Marshall to tell him what we were doing and that was tough.  It's going to take me some time to really accept that he's gone.

I got a call today informing me that Marshall's body has now been cremated and the ashes are being sent to me.  So we will be able to plan a trip to West Virginia to scatter the ashes.  But first I need to get the headstone that the VA says they will provide so I guess that will take a while.

I thnk I'll stay here in St. Louis at Tricia's house for another day or two before heading back to Colorado.  (By the way, it is VERY hot here in St.Louis ... typical August.)  It feels so weird to be able to stay here in St. Louis and not have to hurry home to take care of Marshall.  It's going to take a while to get used to the fact that I no longer have any kind of schedule.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Back in St. Louis

We drove back to St. Louis today -- and stopped in Indianapolis to have lunch with our cousin Amy and her husband Roger.  It was so nice to get caught up with family members we hadn't seen in a while.

The trip was uneventful and we got back to Tricia's house around 7:00, had dinner and went to bed.  Emotionally drained.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Yesterday my sister Linda and daughter Tricia and I drove from St. Louis to North Baltimore, Ohio and checked into our hotel. Marshall's daughter and grandkids arrived yesterday evening shortly after we did. We visited a bit and then went back to our rooms to get some sleep.

The memorial service today was awesome. It was everything you could want it to be. Marshall's sister Audrey did pretty much all of the planning for the service and she did an outstanding job. His grandson Brandon spoke and so did his great-great nephew Hank. Very moving. Then there was a 21-gun salute, the playing of Taps and the flag (and spent shells) being presented to me. Couldn't stop crying.

I was especially emotional to see a few of my friends walk in the door who traveled from Chicago to attend Marshall's memorial (Karen and Victor; Sue and Stas), as well as my cousin Amy and her hubby Roger who traveled from Indianapolis. It meant a lot.

Getting ready for salute:

21 gun salute:

Presenting the flag to me:

Memory table:

Marshall's photo on the honor table:

Poster/photo of Marshall's motorcycle:

Sent from Marilyn's iPad

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I made it to Topeka...

It was a beautiful drive today and I enjoyed the quiet time, just me and my mind...  I made it to Topeka and am all settled in a Holiday Inn Express for the night.  Gina will be staying at the house watching my "boys."

I should get to Tricia's house in St. Louis by mid-afternoon tomorrow.  I gave in to temptation today and had a cup of coffee and I am suffering the consequences.  An A-fib episode that has lasted several hours now.  That's good, though, it reminds me to stay away from those triggers!

Before I left home I remembered that Marshall had two big poster-size photos of his beautiful motorcycle, one of just the motorcycle and one of Marshall on the motorcycle.  These posters were made for him by a professional military photographer down in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.  They are quite special because this photographer contacted Marshall and said he had heard about the motorcycle and wanted to photograph it.  So he met us at our hotel and he took photos until his batteries died.  Then later that evening a messenger showed up with these two huge posters.  Marshall was so tickled with that and he just LOVED the photos.  He got them out and showed them to anyone who visited our home.  We always meant to get them framed but other things took precedence.

So I grabbed those posters when I left the house this morning and I stopped at a Michael's and got frames.  They will be great memorials to display at the service on Saturday.  I'll try to get a picture to post later.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Busy Day

I picked up the death certificates today and was then able to send them off to the insurance company and MetLife.  I'll have to wait until I get back from Ohio to meet with the Veterans Service Officer and give him the paperwork so we can apply for whatever benefits I'm entitled to.  I am kind of anxious about this one.

The Veterans Service Officer also told me that the VA will provide a marker for a cemetery plot.  Since Marshall will be cremated I wasn't sure how that would work.

Marshall wants his ashes scattered over the graves of his mother and father in West Virginia.  So today I called that cemetery (Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens) and asked them if I could put a marker in the same area with Marshall's mom and dad and they said yes!  They said that we should have the marker sent directly to them and then whenever we come to scatter the ashes they will put the marker in place at the foot of his mom or dad's plot.  I really like that idea.  There will be a fee but I expected that.

While I was at the courthouse today I filled out the paperwork to give up the license plates on our truck -- they were disabled vet plates and were free for Marshall.  So now they are no longer free. I got regular plates for a mere $481.  I remember when I used to think the $50 plates in Chicago were expensive, but Colorado wins hands-down!!

I've been getting tons of sympathy cards which feels so good.  Many of them contain cute stories and memories about Marshall.  I've really enjoyed them (and sometimes had a good cry).  Marshall would be so pleased.

I leave early tomorrow on my way to Ohio.  I like to drive, especially by myself ... it helps me get my thoughts together.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Getting ready for trip to Ohio

My wonderful neighbor Dave came over with his tractor and got the road in good shape again.  Thank goodness!  And thank Dave!

Today I called MetLife regarding Marshall's annuity and I learned that this check will continue to come.  Evidently when we set this annuity up we decided to take a smaller monthly check so that we could get rights of survivorship.  That was very good news.

Also, the Clerk called today to tell me the death certificate is finally ready so I can now finalize all of the various claims.  I won't be able to finish up with the VA benefits (which is the most important one) until I get back from Ohio next week.

I got Marshall's wedding ring from the jeweler and I am now wearing it.  It is a very special reminder of him.

I've got the car all packed and ready to take off for Ohio Wednesday morning.  I am not crying as often now but I imagine the memorial service will be tough.