This old photo from my skinny days as a teenager reminds me that I’m still willing to dive into things. I remember how standing on that diving board was scary, but I still jumped!

Link to Song Page with more about my song  RETREAT

“I withdraw and suddenly I feel you surround me”

There was no question that I had withdrawn. I didn’t feel like writing, because I couldn’t write anything positive or share my true feelings. I stopped singing. When I occasionally sang and played my guitar, my children told me it disturbed them.


Sometimes late at night, my guitar beckoned me. I softly fingerpicked beautiful notes and experimented, searching to find a progression that would lead me to musical heaven. I kept playing the same few chords over and over. It was the beginning of a new song, but it didn’t progress.


I calmly went through my third eye surgery. On Monday, the cortical chip was removed. This time, I had little memory of the surgery. At my prior cataract surgery, I chose to have zero anesthesia and suffered with a massive headache when I left. My surgeon remembered and told me he wouldn’t allow that again. As I left the hospital he said, “I gave you enough medication to take down a horse.” I stumbled home clutching Miriam’s arm. Miriam was my mother’s companion and I could always count on her. She was like a sister now.

When I came home after my eye procedure, I was so touched to receive an edible fruit basket from the wonderful moms in my “Special Mom’s group.”

Within only a day, I could tell that my eye was much better. For a week, I had a headache and It felt as if my eye was being squeezed. The surgeon told me that my cornea was swollen due to the little piece of cataract (cortical chip) that was left behind. He felt it best not to wait to see if it would be absorbed.


The day after the removal, when I saw my surgeon he told me that all swelling was gone. I could finally move forward after three eye surgeries.

If I turn around from the desk where my computer is, this is what the inside of my coop looks like behind me.

I directed most of my energy toward solving issues related to “my new abode.” There were many things I needed to do and I tackled one thing at a time. It was very important for me to prepare myself for a possible art assignment.


I was determined to somehow get back to finishing my audio book; I was so close to finalizing it! Most of all, I missed working on new song vocals and arrangements. Because music was an IV for my soul, I felt myself withering inside.


The day after my surgery was over, I called George to finish working on the arrangement for my song “Retreat.”


This post carries titles and subtitles from my song “Retreat.” I recently updated my instrumental arrangement for that song and it can be heard by clicking the blue link below.

RETREAT INSTRUMENTAL – Copyright 2012 by Judy Unger


I eat now at the very same table in the exact room where this picture was taken. I definitely feel my parents’ love.

I hated feeling negative and unhealthy. My eating was not under control. I wasn’t allowed to swim or play tennis until all my eye surgeries were over. Although I missed my weekly tennis games, I truly did not feel like exercising or even seeing friends.


During my recent eye procedure, a nurse told me that my irregular heartbeat had worsened since my prior surgery. I believed her. Despite my attempts to calm myself, the pounding returned. It plagued me most at night and in the early morning. The sensation was so uncomfortable that I felt even more anxious.


My primary doctor gave me a referral to a cardiologist; the soonest appointment was in two weeks. I was determined not to allow stress to damage my health. What really aggravated me was that obviously I wasn’t able to prevent it.


Most of my stress related to my pain about the dragon.

This picture is of my mother on the same walkway where I’ve taken many pictures at my old coop.

“I long for you and miss you so”

Last week, my mother visited the coop. It was only a few days after I unpacked, and my mother’s companion, Miriam, brought her over for lunch.


Two years ago, my mother cried if I mentioned taking her back to see her former house. She had lived there from the time it was built in 1960 until she moved in with me in 2008. Both my parents lived with me for a year until they entered assisted living. When I was growing up, my mother’s life revolved around her husband and children. She took great pride in her garden and was an avid cook. Every day, she read the newspaper and certain comics. I did the same and together we clipped the same coupons to take on our weekly shopping outings.



I certainly understood why my mother might cry to be reminded of her former independent life. But that was when she still had the awareness that she had deteriorated. Now her dementia had progressed to the point where she was too childlike to even mourn her former life. She wore a diaper and many lunches were cut short because of toileting issues.


Despite that, I did wonder how she would feel. My intuition told me she wouldn’t be sad. I even took comfort in knowing that she wouldn’t understand why I had moved into the coop. Her dementia had even spared her from any emotional turmoil related to my divorce.


Miriam called me to say she was parking. Our plan was that together we would lift my mother and her wheelchair up the three steps into my patio. As Miriam approached, I could see my mother was beaming. Her excitement was apparent and she was definitely aware of her surroundings.


As soon as we were inside I said, “Mom, can you believe this place is clean now? Dad never let me clean it out while he was still alive!”


I always tried to remind my mother that my father was gone. She often mentioned him and did not seem to grasp that he had died. I never knew what she understood, but I spoke to her respectfully and imagined she could grasp a shred of conversation. –

The day my mother visited, so did my dearest friend and former housekeeper, Rosa. For many years, Rosa told me she was so worried about how I would deal with losing my mother – she knew that I was very close to my mom. In this picture, Rosa is so happy that my mother recognized her. On the table, are many of the photographs I’ve shared on my blog.

My absolute favorite moment was when I pushed her wheelchair into farthest back bedroom. That room was my former bedroom until I moved out when I got married. For the last three decades, it was called the junk room. My father eventually locked it and did not allow anyone to open the door.


I took a picture of my mother and it captured the moment. Her mouth gaped open with surprise, bordering on shock. Now the room was no longer filled from floor to ceiling with junk; it had polished hardwood floors and new paint. It was definitely not a junk room anymore and had become my teenage daughter’s room.



My mother did not stop smiling for the entire visit.


I wanted to celebrate my mother’s visit. I wished I were able to relax and celebrate, but as soon as she and Miriam left I went back to the business of problem solving and sorting through my “to do” lists.


Below I am sharing more old photos. These photos are of my parents while on their honeymoon in Yosemite. What made them even more special were the sweet comments they both wrote on the back of many of the photos.


This is the cover to a booklet of honeymoon photos of my parents. The writing on the right side says, “After I wrote the remarks; Lee went through and added.” Reading their adorable repartee gave me such a smile.

It’s hard to imagine my mother complaining of a bad hair day!

In this picture, my father is feeding a deer. My mother wrote on another similar picture, “I caught the dear.”

My mother wrote those exact words above, but this is my father’s writing below hers. His joke was that he was talking about my mother instead of the bear.

My middle brother said to me the other day, “Jude, I’m so glad you like living at the coop. I couldn’t imagine going back to live there. I know we grew up there, but it’s really old and there isn’t much space. It’s not a great area, either.”


Of course, he was right about it being old and not very large. I had no illusions that it would be easy to move into my former childhood home. I was going to write a detailed “Good/Bad List,” but decided it would be boring to read. I am also tired of all the lists I have been dealing with lately.


I could honestly write that the most difficult adjustment for me has been taking a shower. There is very little room to move in comparison to the shower at my former house where I could actually step out of the water. The reason that’s noticeable for me is because sometimes the water becomes ice cold or burning hot in the coop. I am wedged into a tiny space where I cannot escape and screaming is not good for my singing voice. I am sympathetic to my childrens’ complaints about it, but have told them that we share the water in this building with other units; there isn’t much that can be done about it!


In this picture, my mom is standing at the same window where my computer faces right now.



This was written ten weeks ago:

I hated the dragon and wanted to escape. There was no mistaking his entry because it always caused me pain. The creature roared and fire shot from his nostrils. The interior of the home where I lived was filled with tinder. With the dragon’s arrival, embers burned everywhere and I choked from the thick haze of smoke. I put out the smoldering areas to prevent fire from engulfing everything I had. The realization came that it was important to get out before the flames consumed me.


I was not afraid of the dragon; I just avoided him whenever possible. I knew he was wounded and in tremendous pain. Although I was sympathetic, I wished I never saw him again. Tears squeezed my eyes shut, which was a relief because I did not want to see so much pain.


Ten weeks later:

I was grateful I had finally escaped and fled to new and peaceful surroundings. But still there were certain times when I returned to his lair. Each and every time was draining and stressful. The dragon was even more furious and blamed me for all the ashes.


A long time ago, things were different before my lover became a dragon. When he began to change, I accepted and understood. I did not believe I deserved anything else and felt safe because the dragon was tame. He protected me, but my loneliness and isolation became oppressive over time.


I had found peacefulness, but often felt his presence in my new surroundings. Unfortunately, I brought much of my armor with me. It was difficult to free myself because I was now a prisoner to my sadness.


I cried because although he had become a dragon to me, I knew he still had a heart beating inside. It was horrible for me to see his wounds. He was bleeding, even though he pretended he was fine.


But then I realized that I was bleeding and pretending I was fine.




Copyright 2011 by Judy Unger


Retreat is where I go when I am sad

All my tears let me know

I long for you and miss you so


Retreat is my escape from the world

I withdraw and suddenly

I feel you surround me


At those times, I’d wish you were near

and then, you’d appear

but you were only in my mind

only in my mind

you were only in my mind


Retreat is when a song

soothes my soul

A melody fills my heart

reminding me we’re not apart


Retreat is where I find peacefulness

My music has begun

to be my true companion


At those times, I’d wish you were near

and then, you’d appear

but you were only in my mind

only in my mind

you were only in my mind

only in my mind


© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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