Monday, October 12, 2015


Yesterday I got Marshall's trike out and took it for a ride, trying to figure out all the bells and whistles.  I went to a big parking lot and practiced.  It was very bittersweet.  He loved that bike so much.  But I made progress and plan to get it out more often and maybe even some day take a longer ride than just around town.

For those of you who weren't reading this blog when Marshall got the motorcycle, he had it custom painted to represent his year in Vietnam and he took it to shows to not only commemorate his unit in the Air Force but to promote prostate cancer awareness.  He passed out brochures and talked to everyone who would listen about men paying attention to subtle symptoms.  It always amazed us that the men never wanted to listen, but the women would stop and get the brochure.  Men!

The front fairing of the bike has a replica of a piece of the Vietnam Wall and it contains the names of the men who died in his unit.  The cover to the trunk has an eagle with its wings spread holding the United States in a protective manner.  One of the back fenders has a map of Vietnam.  The other back fender has a reproduction of a photo of the men in his unit who survived being shot down.  One of the front fenders has an AC-119 gunship firing on the enemy.  The other front fender has what is called the Ribbon of Death.  The gas tank has the POW "You are not forgotten" symbol on each side.  And what makes this all so special is that the artist who painted the bike did everything in such a subtle way that you have to really look closely at the bike to see all this stuff.  It sounds gawdy but it truly isn't.

The artist also put the US flag all over the bike but you really can't see it unless the lighting is perfect.  It is phenomenal.  Marshall was able to take it to three different shows before he died and he won top honors at each show.  When he knew he would never ride the bike again he asked me to promise him that I would take care of the bike and that I would continue to show it.  I told him I would take care of the bike but that I couldn't promise to show it -- I just didn't have the confidence for that.

But now, oh how I wish I would have made that promise.  It would have meant so much to him and now I'm actually feeling like I could show it.

Another thing he badly wanted to do was ride with the Patriot Guard.  They are the group that -- when invited by the family -- accompanies a serviceman's body to the cemetery.  They try to gather as many riders as possible and it makes an awesome sight and a very moving sight, sometimes as many as a hundred riders.  Marshall never got to do it because the opportunities were always too far away and he didn't have the strength.  But I get his emails now and I see the Patriot Guard information and I'm thinking I could do that for him.  Stay tuned and we'll see.

Today I went to see the Veterans Service Officer but he wasn't in so I'll try again tomorrow.

Then I went to Pueblo and picked up my new glasses.  Not sure if I like the frames all that much (see photo) but it sure is nice to have better vision and the larger glasses help in that regard.  The trip to Pueblo was a little depressing because I wanted to see him next to me.  We would always go to Pueblo to have lunch after a doctor appointment.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Tough Day

First, I got a letter from the VA denying my application for a military headstone/marker for Marshall. The reason they gave in the first paragraph was that they don't give markers to veterans who aren't interred. But in the last sentence they say "you are eligible for a government-furnished headstone or marker if you scatter the ashes" and that I should apply again after the ashes are scattered. Kind of confusing.

But then I noticed that the letter was addressed to me but the veteran's name was Marshall J Mullins. My Marshall was Marshall L Mullins. Then I noticed they had a Veteran ID number so I got out all of Marshall's papers to try to find his ID number. I couldn't find anything in the papers so I got out his wallet (which I hadn't looked at since he died) and when I saw his pictures (drivers license, VA card, etc.), as well as all his other stuff, I had a huge meltdown.

I never found a number that said it was a Veteran ID number but I also didn't find any number that matched the number on the letter I got today. I guess I will see the Veteran Service Officer on Monday and see what he thinks.

Since I have ordered a traditional headstone for Marshall I would be inclined to not worry about a military marker ... EXCEPT that this would be a very big deal to Marshall so I will keep pursuing it.

I have heard from several caregivers who read my blog and who have asked me to keep the blog going to report what life is after the loss of a husband to prostate cancer. So I will. I'm sure it will be a long time before life settles into anything even remotely resembling normal.

Friday, October 9, 2015


Well, the VA came through.  Today I got not only the money they took out of my account in July, but also a monthly benefit was approved and I got a check retroactive for August and September.  I was so excited I ran over to see the Veterans Service Officer (who helped me through all of this) to tell him the news.  He said that he needs to do a little research but he thinks there is a possibility that the VA may check periodically to see if I have other income and they could adjust this monthly amount if they realize I am working.  I did my own research and everything I find says that my monthly benefit will stay the same regardless of any other income I may have.  So we will see.

So now I have finally gotten through everything I needed to do with regard to benefits.  The only things left are (1) the headstone; and (2) spreading the ashes.  That may take some time.

I think we are almost at the end of this blog.  I will continue to post anything with regard to Marshall (and anything with regard to his motorcycle) but it probably won't be as often.  This blog has been so therapeutic for me and I thank everyone who read the blog and helped out with support and suggestions, and I thank the new friends I've met through this blog.  I don't know how I would have gotten through these past three and a half years without you and I'm sure Marshall agrees!

Hugs to you all....

Monday, October 5, 2015

Catching up

I haven't written much lately because this blog is about Marshall and there hasn't been much going on.  The VA still hasn't made a decision on my application for benefits.

My sister and daughter were here for a week and it was a very enjoyable week.  (We spent a lot  of time spiffing up the inside of the house so that it will be "showable").  I was sad to see them go.  But I'll be going there for thanksgiving.

When I got Marshall's motorcycle back from getting serviced three or four weeks ago my friends Gary and Karen let me store it at their house, trailer and all.  But I needed to find a permanent storage spot for it.  Over the weekend I heard from a place here in town that had a spot for the bike so today was the day to move the bike.  I had never personally handled putting the bike on the trailer or taking  it off of the trailer, so I was a nervous wreck.

But Gary and Karen said they would help.  So Gary hooked the trailer up to his truck and we headed to town.  I was driving my truck and Gary and Karen were behind me.  I was watching them in the rear view mirror.  It was almost like a comedy movie -- at one point I looked in the rear view mirror and I saw Gary behind me but the trailer was heading off into the ditch.  So I turned around and went back.  The first thing we did was open the trailer to see if the bike had been hurt.  It looked like it bounced around a bit but there was no damage.  It appeared that the trailer somehow bounced off of the hitch and the security chains broke.  The trailer brake that is supposed to take effect in situations like this didn't work.  Not sure why.  (By the way, Karen got some pictures of this whole ordeal and as soon as she sends them to me I will post them.)

Two guys were coming by and they stopped to help.  It was a lot of work but they somehow got the trailer jacked up enough (it had dug into the muddy ditch) so that it could be hooked up again.  We continued very slowly and made it to the storage facility without further incident.

Unless you count the fact that the battery was dead and the bike had to be pushed off the trailer and then into the building!  Sheesh!  I know Marshall was up there watching and shaking his head.

So we got the bike settled and we hooked up a battery charger so it should be okay.  So now that the bike is in a really nice storage place and I don't need to navigate the trailer situation I can actually take the bike out for rides.  I'll try to do that this weekend.

Anyway, I was very glad to get home today and very very glad to get that bike off the trailer and into its new "permanent" spot. I paid a year's rent so I don't need to worry about it for a while.  I need to get it up to the Harley place to get a new air filter so I am going to enlist a guy here in town who also has a bike to see if he will ride with me.  I will be nervous the first couple of times I take it out.  But who knows, I might actually get to the point where I would be comfortable taking it to rallies and enroll it in competitions.  Marshall won several awards with the bike and he really wanted me to keep showing it.  He would be happy if I gave it a try.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Family visit

My family is here this week for a visit.  It's great having them here.

Still no word from the VA.  And the headstone is not ready yet.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

VA Check

I got a check from the VA to reimburse me for the money they took out of my account when Marshall died.  So things are moving along.  I am still waiting to hear about the monthly benefits.  I have the headstone ordered and Marshall's sister called and told me that the concrete slab has been poured and ready for the headstone so that should happen soon.

We are getting closer and closer to the time when we will scatter the ashes, but I'm not looking forward to that.  Once those ashes are scattered he will truly be gone.  I'm not ready.  Yesterday was the 2-month anniversary of his death.  Doesn't seem possible.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


Well, I should eat my words.  The generator guy is here -- on a Saturday -- fixing the generator.  This may be a good weekend after all.

I am having a heck of a time figuring out how to use this chemotherapy cream without getting it on things that can cause problems.  (such as "don't rub my nose because it would be hell on the mucus membranes" or "don't rub my eyes because it could cause severe eye problems" or "don't let the dog lick me," Etc.)  The doctor's nurse yesterday said, "This cream has been used for over 30 years and have you ever heard anything about an animal dying from it?"  Well, no, but that won't keep me from worrying when the instruction sheet I got stresses the danger of this cream.  Neither the doctor nor the pharmacist seems to be able to tell me if this is a "vanishing cream" that is absorbed leaving skin that is safe to touch.

And when I take a shower, I can only really use my left hand, the right hand has to stay clear of the shower -- washing my hair should be interesting.  I guess I'll figure out how to make it work since I definitely want to kill the skin cancer!

I bought a motion detector light and I'll get it installed in the next day or two.  It is solar-operated so I have to figure out the best place to put it so that (1) it will get enough sun to stay charged; and (2) it will point in a direction that will make sense.  Now, this light will be both good and bad.  If my neighbor comes up here at night I'll be alerted.  But if a few deer walk by, I will also be alerted.  My adrenaline could get a workout.

I talked to the real estate agent this week and as soon as I can get the inside of the house "show ready," it will be back on the market.  I'm ready to be in a city again.