Honor Thy Mother

Hi Mom, It’s been six years since you passed away, and I still miss you every day. There are still so many times I think about calling you, when I have good news, or just have a slow moment in the day. I will never stop missing you, because it will never feel normal for you to be gone.

And thank you for my sign today. When I asked you to make it personal, and a sign that could only be from from you, you delivered. But I am not surpised, you were magic when you were here, of course you are even more so in the afterlife with God.

This is the first year where I am not completely gutted about today. Probably because I am so happy. You wouldn’t recognize my life now, or maybe you would. You know how much I wanted to leave GA, even when I tried to keep it from you. I know you would have encouraged me to go find where I want to be. Texas. Oh, and how you would love it here. You would love the people.

We live in such a wonderful home, in a great neighborhood we love as well. And you would LOVE him. He is everything I ever wanted and everything I never knew I needed. And he is so patient with me. He is teaching me Grace by example. I am beyond blessed to have him. I can just see you guys debating history, politics, scientic theories and books.

I can’t help but think that your brain just withered being out so far in the sticks with no one to really talk to, no one to challenge that ever so active and brilliantt mind of yours. I know why you moved out there, and I know you made a beautiful home, but I know you missed being busy and around people with whom you could truly relate. You were always reading and watching TV shows about political and business strategies.

It’s been a good day and I have tried to honor you by being happy and getting tbings done. You would think it’s so silly to sit amd be depressed or long faced about it. So I have listened to my favorite muaic all the way up, and sand as loud as I could. I danced around a bit in the house even. I ate one of you favorite meals, and enjoyed every bite, then had one of your favorite treats. I looked at pictures of you and thought of my favorite memories. And I remembered this day 6 years ago…

It was my honor to be there and hold your hand while you slipped from this world to touch the face of God as He held you in His hands. It was the most difficult and most beautiful moment, to be there with you, the woman who gave me life, as you took your last breathe. Thank you for that honor.

I took these pictures on July 13, 2015, and you died exactly 12 months to the day theynwwre taken. And I remember looking out at the horizen as the sun was setting in the distance, wondering if you would live another year. You held on as long as you could. You are like the sun, always there to greet me around the next corner, reaching out your arms in infinate love. Love radiated from you like light from the sun…

I love you always and will miss you forever. Say hello to Dad, and please visit me in my dreams. ❤

Mother’s Day

When you have lost a parent, Mother Day or Father’s Day can take on a new meaning. It can be a day of sadness, because it is a reminder that your parent is no longer there. While others are celebrating, it can be lonely for those who have lost that parent. And eventually it is something we must all go through and feel. That is part of life.

This Mother’s Day was different for the though. For the first time since my mother died, I wasn’t not sad on this day. Maybe it is because it has been 5 years, and time makes everything a little easier. Many because grief has slowly given way to wonderful memories that make me smile instead of cry. Maybe it is because I am truly happy. Maybe it is a combination.

This year, I smiled and the day was truly a celebration. This year was hugs and laughter, drinks and stories. This year, I looked up to the sky, said a prayer in my heart and felt Mom’s love. And there was so much love, I felt it all around. Not just from me, but from and to others as well. This year my heart is happy and full.

So to Mom, thank you for loving me enough for a lifetime. thank you for all of the laughs, and hugs, and smiles, and sacrifices and the everything. The all and everything of 43 years with you as my Mom. Thank you for teaching me all that you did. But most of all, thank you for being my Mom. I will love you forever and I’ll hug you in my dreams.

The Exquisite Grief

IT hits you sometimes, and the strangest things will bring it on. And then all of the sudden, you are right there, a vessel of grief, as if time has completely stopped and you are right there again. That is what happened to me the other morning, as I poured coffee into my mother’s favorite coffee cup, like I had done hundreds of times before. Coffee was our tradition. Every time I visited, when I was ready to go, I would load up my car, then always come back inside for one last cup of coffee before left.

During that last of coffee, we would talk about all kinds of things – hopes, dreams, plans, thoughts, the drive, remembering to call when I got home. There was lots of laughter and advice, and just good old fashioned conversations.

And when I poured that cup of coffee the other morning, I was suddenly acutely aware of how much I missed those coffee conversations with my Mother, and how much I missed her, even after almost 5 years. And I cried, right there over and into her coffee cup.

And the moment was exquisite in its grief, because you can only miss that which you loved.

The Last Night

It was the last night at the compound, after two of the most difficult weeks. The contractor refusing to finish the job, having to get more contractors in to finish everything, lots of family drama, lots of loose ends to get tied up, lots of rain making things hard, not much sleep and a lot of stress.  And then…suddenly, it was the night before closing, and all through the house, I was the only mouse stirring.

It was surreal as I gently packed up the last of what I would take and arranged everything to look good for the new family that would move in in less than 24 hours. I cried, as I thought of all the wonderful memories of the good times here, while we were all still a family. FAMILY. A sacred word in that space, in that house in that time.

But it was time to let it all go.  Life then is not the same life it is now.  So many are gone and not coming back. It was time to pass the torch to another family, to make wonderful memories in that beautiful place. Other laughter, other good times, other gifts given to others from others. Yes, it was time to let go.

And on that last night, there was closure of the circle. And I slept sound, comfortable in the knowledge that all was as it should be.  That the saga was over, and life is budding with new opportunities.

And in that last night, I said goodbye. And is saying goodbye, I found Peace.  And isn’t that just how life is?  Sometimes, even when it is difficult, when it is time to let go, there is a peace at the end of it. And after all, that which gives you peace will lead to happiness. And so it goes…

Hi Guys

Hi Guys,

Mom and Dad, I love and miss you so much, more than words can say.

I have been doing everything to take care of the estate.  We had buyers for the compound then two weeks before closing hurricane Michael cam e through.  It didn’t destroy the place (thanks to your incredible design and insistence that it be build beyond code Dad), but it did sustain damage.  Contractors are working on it. I have no idea what I am doing, but think I have navigated it pretty well.  I hope you are proud, and I hope I have done things up to your incredible standards. Thank you for teaching me such integrity.

When I go there now, I see glimpses of you and Dad, but I don’t feel you there anymore. I think you guys are off dancing somewhere else in the universe, happy to be together. And I think you come back to visit when I am there, but you do not stay. After all, there must be so much to do in the afterlife. And I am sure that you are the social butterfly you always were, Mom, Making friends and laughing where ever you go  And Dad, I know you are just happy to be with her, warmed by the light of her. So many people have and are helping me because of how much they loved you guys.

In a way I wonder if the hurricane was when you guys decided to leave the compound, use it as your exit. Mom, the gardens you made were destroyed, but most of the fruit trees made it. I guess in a way this makes it (emotionally) easier to sell, which is a blessing in it’s own way.

The family is a mess, if you can say it even exists at all.  I have tried to put the siblings back together, but some things cannot be unbroken. And so I accept that I am alone.  The cousins have been wonderful though, even though I have not had time to talk to them much.  But they are very loving and kind.  They are my last connection to you Dad and I want to keep those relationships going.  I plan to see them all this coming year.

Mom, I cannot believe it has been almost 2.5 years since you passed away. I don;t know how I have done all of this without you.  Accept I know you and God have been guiding me. I feel you so close sometimes, that I almost feel like I could reach out and touch you.  But I can’t. I wish you would visit me more in my dreams. And I love when you and Dad give me signs, like the rainbow yesterday.

As hard as it will be to finally sell the compound, I am looking forward to the closure.  You guys know how hard this has all been and how long it has taken to handle everything.  It is time for that closure and for me to live my life, finally free. I am planning where to go and what to do after it all settles down.  I am thinking of what I want life to be for me. I am not sure what it all looks like yet, but there is time.

The holidays (I think) will be easier this year than last.  Last year was rough. But that first year always is. I am ready for it now. And I am taking a friends advice…I am not making it about family, but about love and friendships and laughter and making good memories. I will be with friends who, I am learning, are our family of choice. I wonder if you ever spent a Christmas alone like I did last year, Mom. And I wonder was it hard for your too?  But this year is different.

I used to hate the idea of time passing without you guys. I still hate it, but I cannot change it, so instead I am learning to embrace it more.  I look forward to not being able to say “My Dad died last year.” Because it means that I am moving forward like I know you would want me to. Like I know that I have to. I know that the best way to honor you, and to honor God, is to find all the Joy that life can hold.  And I will.  I will make this life spectacular. All the while, never forgetting that it is your blood that flows through my veins, my beautiful, beautiful parents.

I am going to decorate for Christmas like crazy this year. Two Christmas trees and ALL of the decorations. I will sit and be warm in the glow of everything Christmas and feel close to you both. I will not only embrace the holidays, I will choose to flourish and be  love. And if I don’t have family around, then I will make my own world with all of my friends I love and who love me the most. Life can never be the same, but I can choose to make a life where I am happy and loved.  If we write our own lives, then I can do that. If I don’t feel like I fit in or belong, then I will create my own world where I do.

I still listen to your voicemails, and they make me smile. I never want to forget the sound of your voices. Please keep watching over me and guiding me. And I hope that I make you proud. I have tried very hard to have Grace, but still be tough when needed. It can be a hard balance sometimes. Somehow both of you mastered it, and I hope to one day as well.

I hope you guys are happy where ever you are. And I often wonder, when I look at the moon, if you see it too from your view? Or are you magnificent stars, seeing the moon for yourself? Do you get to see the world, like you always wanted, traveling a new wavelength we cannot yet understand here on Earth? If so, I bet it is spectacular. Or, are you angels, helping just like you did here, just in a different way?

Know that I love you so very much, more than words can say. I honestly don;t know if I love you or miss you more? I carry you with me always. ee cummings said it best. Love you guys, always.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

 

 

 

Going Skydiving

We all have those moments that define us and who we are.  If we are lucky, we have many of those moments in our lives. We also have those things that we have always wanted to do, those things that are on our bucket list.

Next Friday, I mark one of those things off my bucket list.  I am going skydiving, on Friday July 13th.  And I figure it is the perfect day and date for the event. An early morning with a good breakfast, then a shoot two hour drive to Chattanooga.  We will go through training, get suited up and go up in the air.  It is a tandem jump, so I will not have to be the one to jump out of the place – which is good because I would probably freeze on my first jump.  Also, who wants a klutz jumping out of a plane?  Better leave that to the professional…and let me be tied to them.  That way if I do trip and fall, and take them with me, at least they know what to do.

The day is the 2nd anniversary of my Mother’s death.  And instead of moping and being sad, I choose to celebrate her and her adventurous spirit by jumping.  And I have a letter for her, that I will give her on the way down. The first Mother’s day I swam out to the ocean, and the the letter go in a big wave, for the sea to give to her. This year, she will find her letter in the clouds.  And it is a little defiant as well.  She forbid me to skydive while she was alive, so I waited.

And maybe in that adventure is where we will find ourselves. Because maybe we all get a little lost sometimes. And when we are lost we need something to help us remember what matters, what is sacred, what is true. When we are lost, we need to see things from high up, the big picture, to understand how to navigate and how to be unlost. Maybe from high up we can see all of our pieces and know where to go to find them and put ourselves back together.

I am going with this company, Chattanooga Skydiving, Friday July 13th at 11am central time (12 noon ET). If you are reading this come on out and jump with us. The more the merrier. It will be fun, it will be trilling, it will be a moment to remember. A way to celebrate life, love and adventure.

And if skydiving is not your thing, have an adventure somehow.  Do something that scares you, excites you, makes year heart beat faster and makes you remember that you are alive. Have a life that is well lived. Life is what we make it, so make it an adventure, make it good and make it happy, my friends.

Honor Thy Mother

Everyone loves anniversaries it seems.  And indeed, we as humans seem to keep track f how long since this event, or that.  We celebrate, reflect, drink or just quietly remember.  And we have anniversaries for everything – how long married or divorced, how long sober, how long dating, how long since we have seen someone…we celebrate anniversaries for just about everything.  Even death. Many honor their loved ones who have passed on that anniversary.  I have a shot of Makers Mark every year to mark the passing of a good friend. We honor them in a thousand ways.

In July it will be two years since Mom passed. And I was wondering how I will honor her this year.  Last year I was sad and cried a lot, drank wine and had a good dinner. But this year I will honor her by…going skydiving.

My mother was very daring and adventurous.  She was the first of her family to leave her tiny town in Tennessee.  She was in the Air Force and had special training, which was rare for a woman in the late 1950s, early 1960s.  She carried a huge .45 on her hip during some of her assignments.  Then she worked in the Pentagon, as a cryptanalyst/cryptographer, which again was very rare for a woman in that time.  She had the most secret clearances, because of the sensitive and classified information she handled.  She had to have roommates that would report her if she talked in her sleep.  And she talked about how she had to go through so many personality tests by the government so that they could find out how much torture she could endure before giving up national secrets.

She had certain medical procedures that are common now, but very experimental during that time. She traveled by herself, flew over the Bermuda Triangle, lived in Washington DC and was engaged seven time (yes, 7) before she married my father.

And she gave it all up to be with my father, who was the love of her life. She was an amazing mother and wife.  She took care of not only her children, but 65 foster children as well, not afraid to go toe to toe with judges if she was fighting for what she felt was the best for the child. She was loyal, and stubborn, and determined, and kind and cull of Grace. And now she is free.

So, to honor her free, generous and adventurous spirit, I will go skydiving. She wasn’t afraid of anything and no one intimidated her. I think it is the perfect day not only to honor her, but to take the opportunity to do something new and scary. To broaden my own horizons and celebrate the amazing woman she was, and who she taught me to be. And I cannot wait…

A Walk with Mom: Day 5

Saturday July 2, 2016

The second full day of taking are of Mom.  I was getting tired as I hadn’t slept much, but Mom had been sleeping 20-22 hours a day.  she was only up a few times to drink her protein drinks.

I continued to wake her up for meals and checking her vitals. I would check on her every hour during the night to make sure she was breathing.  I noticed a pattern – deep sighs in her breathing, sometimes shallow and quick, sometimes far apart. I understood what that meant, along with vitals that continued to measure up and down. Her blood pressure and heart rate where the most volatile.  Wide swings that scared me, but just within the safe range, except for that last reading that I took.

I researched and read everything I could find on severe malnutrition, the effects on the body, and anything that might help me figure out what to do.

In between taking care of Dad and checking in on Mom, I cleaned the house. I did the dishes, mopped the floor, vacuumed, dusted, fed the cat, did laundry, folded clothes.  Anything to keep busy and also help them.. Mom had been so sick that not much housework could be done.  And Dad, tried to do what he could but was never great at house cleaning.

 

A Walk with Mom: Day 4

Friday July 1, 2016

This was the first full day of taking care of Mom at home.  She slept all day, would wake up only for about 30 minutes at a time, drink her liquid protein that I was desperately trying to get into her body, and go right back to sleep.  She was so weak that she needed help to sit up.  She was sleeping too much, I thought, and not getting stronger, but seemed instead to be getting weaker.  But I would wait to see how she was doing the next day before making judgement.

That day I talked to Dad about her regular doctor and was shocked to hear that he had said that there was nothing wrong with Mom other than her artery being blocked.  “She just needed to eat more,” Dad said they were told. When I said that I was going into town, they made me promise that I would not say anything to their doctor.  I promised but had my fingers crossed.  There was too much anger at that man to keep that promise that day.

As I rode the 30 minutes into town, I could feel my blood boiling at the same time my heart was breaking. I arrived at his office and requested to see him.  In about 20 minutes the receptionist led me to his office. His desk was covered with files and no computers in were in the office at all.  They had not upgraded to that level of technology yet. Everything was still kept up and written by hand. A country doctor like that might sound charming, but it’s downright scary when it’s your parent they are taking care of.

I sat down and asked him point blank:

Please tell me, how a woman in this day and age, who lives in this country and who has a regular doctor is allowed to get down to 75lbs without her doctor noticing that there is something wrong?  Please explain that to me because it sounds an awful like medical negligence.

This man was well into his upper 50’s, maybe early 60’s and I do not usually speak that way to my elders.  But the anger swelled inside me to the point where I needed an answer.  He needed to know that there were people who loved this woman who do not find it acceptable that she was allowed you get to this point.  Aren’t medical doctors supposed to help people stay healthy?  Aren’t they supposed to find out what was wrong with the patient, not just ignore the symptoms?

As expected, he was a bit defensive.  He told me that he was a great doctor, had been practicing for over 35 years, and cared for his patients. He also told me that my mother’s weight issue and malnutrition was due to the fact that her cancer was back and she was drinking wine instead of eating.

I informed him that he had done every test on her and nothing showed that the cancer was back, and she drank because of her excruciating back pain that he refused to fix. I didn’t say anything else after that, even though he responded, because it was clear that he had done the best he could and that arguing any further would do nothing constructive.  I made that observation after he admitted he did not know how to Google her symptoms because he did not have a computer.

I stopped by the drug store on my way back to get a more high protein items.  A voice inside my head told me not to buy a lot because she would not be around to eat them.  The thought ran through my head lightning fast and I immediately chastised myself as I choked down tears.

I spent the rest of the day taking care of Mom, taking her vitals, making her drinks of protein, and cooking for Dad. And praying.

I remember calling my then boyfriend and crying to him…I don’t think I can do this, I don’t think I am ready for this, I can’t do this alone.  How do I do this?  I am so scared I am terrified, I am exhausted. I don’t know what I am doing, I am not a doctor. What if I do something wrong?  What if I miss something?  What if I do too much or too little?  This is so extreme, it is literally life or death, how do I do this? He would listen and calmly reassure me.  He would tell me that I was strong and could do whatever needed to be done.

His voice brought me so much comfort.  I was madly in love with him and loved him even more for being so supportive.  I could call or text him anytime, he would be there. And it was OK that I was completely freaking out.  He was here for me. He would be my rock.

I also called the man that I had lived with in New York. He had been in the family for over 20 years, so he needed to know the situation.  It had been 11 years since our relationship ended, and we had a loose friendship.  We also always understood how much each loved the other’s family.  He loved Mom very much and would want to know that she was this sick.

As soon as he answered the phone and asked how I was, I broke down and started crying.  I could barely speak.  This was the first time that I had told anyone how bad it was. I knew I would have to call my sister, and I figured this would be good practice.  Yet I could not speak.  I could not get any words out.  I would open my mouth and try, but all that would come out were sobs and squeaks.

I finally was able to get myself together and I unloaded on him, all of it. How Mom and been wasting away for years, how I tried to warn her and everyone what Anorexia does to the body, how it slowly kills you if you do not get any help, how Mom did have a problem.  How that was why she had sores in her mouth, why her hair had gotten so thin, why her voice was so horse, why she had lesions on her cornea (lack of Vitamin A), how that is why she was so weak and had no stamina anymore, how that is what was happening to her memory and motor function.  How that is why her skin was so dry and flaky and why there were sores coming up on her face sometimes.  No one would listen, they all thought I was being dramatic, but here it was staring me in the face and  I had no idea what to do.

I was talking fast and had started sobbing again, and had to repeat several things over because he could not understand.  He talked to me for a long time.  He had known me for 30 years, and when he said if anyone could handle this it was me, I felt like he meant it, even tough I myself did not believe him.  I was falling apart. I was terrified. I did feel better when we got off the phone, thanks to his reassurances.  Someone who knows you for that long knows the things to say because they know you. They know who you are deep down.

My sister called the house a short time later, and I told her what was going on. She seemed calm and rational, and didn’t really think that it was all that urgent.  After all, Mom had been sick for years.  She would come down in the next few weeks to check on her and help out.  I tried to tell her there may not be that much time left.

Some neighbors stopped by that day as well. They were very concerned about Mom as she tried to speak to them but could not hold much of a conversation.  She tried to say that she was fine, but they could tell better.  They didn’t stay long, just long enough to say hello and make sure that everything was OK.  I walked them out and I could see the knowing in their eyes.  I told them that Mom was not doing well, and that I did not think much time was left, but to please, please pray for a recovery.  They told me had they had been concerned about Mom’s health for about 2 years and had been watching over them as much as they could.  I remember thinking that I wish I had known.

 

 

 

A Walk with Mom: Day 3

Thursday June 30th, 2016

This was the day that Mom was released from the hospital.  They checked on her early in the morning as the doctor made his rounds.  He said they would release her that afternoon.  I was praying that they would continue to keep her so that maybe she would have a chance to get better.

I talked with the doctor and asked about Mom’s nutritional status.  I asked them to explain to Mom what would happen if she continued to not eat. They said she would not heal, her health would continue to go down hill and she would die.  I was adamant about her listening it the doctor, because I still thought that it was her choice to refuse to eat, that it was her fault.  I found out later that it was not.  I asked them to prescribe an appetite stimulant to help her get back into the habit if eating.  And they did.

I listened closely and took notes for her aftercare.  What to expect, what to have her do, what to watch out for and when to call a doctor.  And off we went to go home.  I remember them telling her that she would have to consume large amounts of protein in order to heal and survive because she was so malnourished. She would need protein shakes every few hours. And a product called Rejuven that is for recovery in tough nutritional medical situations.

I remember getting her settled in at home. She was so tired that she just wanted to sleep on the couch and recover. While she was asleep I went to get her prescriptions filled, and went to several drug stores to gather Rejuven, and all the protein shakes, powders and bars that I could find, which was not easy.  First they lived in an extremely small town.  Second Mom hated anything sweet.  So it could not be chocolate, could not be peanut butter, could not be vanilla, strawberry or any other pleasant tasting thing.  And it could not be too thick or grainy (all her requirements for her to consume the products).

Do you know how hard it is to find flavorless, high protein products?  Everything that had adequate protein, calories and nutrients had some kind of sweet flavor.  So I tried to get what seemed would be the lessor of all evils.

I brought all of it home and as instructed I fed her every few hours when she would wake up, or when i could wake her up.  And she truly tried the best she could.  She understood that she had to do this in order to live, so she choked down the disgusting drinks I made for her, already high in protein, made higher still by the extra powders and potions added to them.  Sometimes it was Enliven with extra protein powder.  Sometimes it was Rejuven with extra supplements.  She would drink them, smoke a cigarette and go back to sleep.

I would keep track of her vitals and take her temperature, blood pressure, pulse and check her MAP.  They were all over the place, up and down.  I started researching what that meant, then I started researching what happens and what to expect when death is near so I knew the signs. They would not come that day.

I told her I loved her every time she was awake, and I would try to talk about good things and wonderful memories.  I tried to get her to talk, but most of the time she was just too tired.

I would take care of Dad too, making sure he ate and had what he needed.  I would make the coffee, sit outside with him on the porch.  Fix dinner for him.  I would hug him and try to tell him it was going to be OK, even though I wasn’t sure of that either.  But I didn’t have the heart…I wasn’t brave enough to say that of which I was afraid.  It was as if I said it out loud, it would become real.  But somehow if I could convince Dad, or at least make him feel better, I could do the same for myself.

And I prayed.  And I cried.  And I prayed more. I prayed for Mom, I prayed for mercy. I prayed for wisdom, strength and courage.  I was lost and had no idea what I was doing, or if I was doing it right.  I had no idea if I was making good decisions, so I just prayed.

The First Mother’s Day: Watching Over Me

We all have those times were we just need to get away, step outside of our little worlds, take a break and see things from a different perspective.  That was this weekend for me.  The grief counselors told me that Mother’s Day would be a trigger. It would be an emotional day, so plan for it and do something meaningful.  And indeed it was.  Oddly enough, I loved seeing the all the posts and pictures of everyone with their Mother’s.  It made me grateful that I had mine for 43 years. It was reassuring and made me feel good that the world had not stopped just because my mother was gone. But I still did miss her deeply.

The plan was to go to the beach, relax, have a good time, eat, drink and be as merry as possible, while remembering and honoring my mother.  As it turned out, she had a gift for me too. As I sat in a restaurant Friday night, I saw an older lady facing me in the next booth over.  We caught each other’s eyes and connected, looking at each other smiling for several seconds, maybe 15-20 or more.  This happened several times during dinner.  We could not stop or keep our eyes off each other when this happened.  And I thought her eyes and smile look just like my mother’s.

When she and her family got up to leave, I had to go over and just tell her that she reminded me so much of my mother who had passed away last year, and that is why I kept looking at her and smiling. That my mother was my best friend. I said thank you so much and wished her a happy Mother’s Day. She just smiled and took my hands.  Her family said she was 92 and she shook her head yes.  And smiled at me again. Then she looked at me and said she loved me and gave me the most wonderful hug.  And for a moment, I had my mother back, I had my last hug and I love you with her.  For a moment, my mother was there with me.  And it was wonderful.

That lady and her family will never know how wonderful that moment was, how much it meant, or what a gift it was to me. But my Mother knows.  I think that was her gift to me. Yes, she is still looking after me. But then she always did.  I remember in 2013, after my last court date concerning the attack.  I had to face the man who attacked me in court.  And at the end of the day I was emotionally distraught and exhausted.  When I get like that, my body temperature drops and I cannot get warm.  That night, she turned the heat up as high as it would go, wrapped me up in blankets and stayed up all night watching over me in the hotel room to make sure that I slept and did not have nightmares.  She didn’t sleep at all, just watching over me, like only a mother could.

On Mother’s Day, I sat on the beach in the sun for a long time.  It was a bit crowded with families and young people enjoying the mild weather and sunshine. And when it was time, I took the envelope with the cards and letter to my amazing mother, walked to the water and started swimming out to were the water was deeper.  And as I swam, the water was cool and washed over me, caressing my heart as I made my way out deeper with the envelope.  It started to come apart as I swam, my mother anxious to read what was written inside.  And when a big wave came towards me, I let it go, for the waves to carry to her so she could open and read it.  I watched the envelope as it disappeared into the water. And I whispered that I loved her now and always.

It was a beautiful moment, soft and gentle, in the ocean, with people swimming and splashing around.  A private moment between mother and daughter, only seen by God. It was perfect. And as I eventually swam back to the shore, I heard her whisper to me in the wind, a message only for me.

Today is her birthday, she would have been 76.  I miss her so much, but I also feel her love around me, watching over me now just like she did in that hotel room four years before.

Six Months

Six months.  That is not a long time in the grand scheme of things, yet a is a lifetime of heartache, tears, reflection, struggle, confusion, anger, loss, grief…I felt each heartbeat of you not being with me in the lifetime of six months.  I still cannot fathom that much time without you.

But there has also been joy. First little glimpses, then moments, a little longer sometimes, and maybe even a day here and there.

And now I can finally say I think I am getting the hang of this life without you. And that makes me sad in a way.  Because I never want to be used to life without you, my mother, my best friend.  But I have to. It has been six months and I have to get it together.

I feel you though, everywhere. And that helps.  But I still miss you more than I thought possible.  On those days when I don’t feel you close, I just whisper to you that I need a sign…and then there it is.  And I feel your arms around me.

I love and miss you exponentially. I think you would be proud of me, of the past 6 months, even though it has been hard.  You raised me strong and to survive no matter what.  And that means without you.  More than anything, I know that is what you want.

I know you have things to do where you are.  You always stayed busy, helping others, so why would you stop now?  Somewhere along the way, I am sure you have found a need to give of yourself and help another.  We will be Ok here.  Do what you need to do. Just visit and show me you are still around. And know that there is so much love here for you, always.

I carry your heart with me.  I carry it in my heart.

Finally

We did it. We survived our first Christmas without you. It was hard. Then it was OK. And there were moments of true joy. And then moments where my heart felt it would burst. Through it all you were in our hearts, and I think whispering around us, in the warm breeze, in the sounds of the birds and in the spirit of Christmas. I could feel you close, even if not able to touch you. We will be OK. You made sure we were strong. We will continue to move forward every day and make you proud by finding beauty in this world and many reasons to smile. Love and miss you always Mom. – Me

We all have hard times that we have to get through.  And some are harder than others. This was a tough one.  This was a big one.  What do you do when these times come about?  I don’t know.  My guess, or at least what seems to work for me, is just putting my head down and get through it.  I am not sure that there is a formula for getting through the hard parts.  I know that is not the popular thing to say, as many writers have made millions writing thousands of books on how to get through it.  The secret – It’s just time.  You put one foot in front of the other and take many, many baby steps.  And after time, a lot of time, you look back and see how many miles further you have traveled.

I received many messages of love and support about how hard this first Christmas without Mom would be,  And it was; there were moments that were brutal. I have always said that my life is like a sitcom, but this Christmas was more like a dramedy…Dad took a bad fall and had to be in a rehab facility building up his strength during Christmas.  But we were allowed to sign him bust him out for Christmas.  Never did I think I would be spring my Dad out of rehab for Christmas, but I live for adventure. And I have never seen anyone so excited to be home.

Christmas Eve, after everyone went to bed, I sat on the couch sobbing while looking at the beautiful Christmas tree, wishing, hoping, aching, for my Mother.  I cried for everything I have lost and would never have again.  I mourned the things that we would never do together, my mother and me.  The gifts not bought, cards not given, and adventures not to be had. And I fell asleep for a bit, there on the couch, by the tree with so many of her ornaments.  And I thought I felt her arms around me, heard her voice whisper on my ear. And I woke up feeling very loved.

And there were moments when Joy came in, like the sun breaking through the clouds.  Christmas morning came and there were gifts and smiles and so much love.  Seeing Dad excited, looking at all wrapping and bows and ribbons.  Unwrapping everything with childlike enthusiasm.  And my wonderful man, our second Christmas together, much different than we thought it would be. Watching them both get gifts that they loved. And there were Christmas carols, and the Christmas movies, and Christmas stockings, and then…Christmas dinner.

And I swear I could hear her laughing and see her smiling.  She loved Christmas. And at that moment I knew.  We were going to be OK.  We had finally turned a corner in this thing called grief.  We got thought it, we survived. We laughed and cried and remembered.  And at the end of the day, we were all OK.  And that’s the thing about love and grief.  Even when you feel like it is going to kill you, it really doesn’t.

Today it has been six months since Mom went into the hospital for her procedure.  I met her at the hospital to stay with her so she wouldn’t be alone.  The time spent with her then in priceless.  And we just had Christmas.  And finally, FINALLY, the sadness is not overwhelming. And I think she would be proud.

I looked at pictures of my mother from several years ago when she was still happy and healthy.  She was so beautiful. Always smiling with that mischievous look in her eye.  I had forgotten what that smile looked like, she had been tired for so long by the time she passed.  I choose to remember her that way – beautiful, happy, smiling, free.

And finally I can smile.

The 49th Year

To most today is just another day, nothing special.  But to my family, this day has been a day to celebrate for 49 years now.  It is my parent’s 49th wedding anniversary.  They met 54 years ago and were married in 1967.  My wonderful mother passed 4 months ago, but we still celebrate.

To stay together so long, through the ups and downs of life.  Theirs was truly a time when you stuck with it. It was wonderful growing up with parents who loved each other so much.  It was wonderful to see them, even in their older years, holding hands and being affectionate.  They have been a wonderful example as to what a relationship truly should be.  And they taught me not to ever settle for less than what they had.

And what they had does not change with the times or social opinion of the masses.  Because they taught me about basing a relationship on similar values, friendship, trust, respect and faith.  Those are the things that last, long after looks and the superficial fades.  They taught me about doing for the other not because you owe them, but because you love them.

I have called them many times over the years to wish them a happy anniversary and they would have completely forgotten about it.  They just went along, happy with each other no matter what day.

Today, we talked about many things he remembers about her.  We laughed as we talked about fond memories and talents she held.  I want to take all those memories and put them in a place inside my heart that is so Holy and sacred, that they will always be bright and unfaded. Afterward Dad went to visit my closest sister in age and geography.  Being so close to Thanksgiving, I am very thankful for her interest in keeping in touch with him and hope the trend continues.  Tonight will be a dinner of his choice and lots of hugs.

Today marks the start of the first of many holidays and celebrations without Mom.  Truth be told I do not know how to make that sound optimistic, or nice.  It is a journey that we all must go through at some point in our lives.  I do not know how to truly process that she is not here for this anniversary. I do not know how or what to feel. In truth, all we can do is hold those who we love just that much closer.  We can make those anniversaries of whatever a celebration…of life that is here, in front of us.  And maybe therein lies the key.

So tonight I raise my glass to the 49th year. I am only 43, so I cannot even fathom what it is like or what it takes to stay with someone for longer than I have been alive.  But I do know it takes a lot of love.  I want to take those memories of love and be inspired moving forward.

This Thanksgiving

Change. It is a fact of life. Everyone, at some point, must accept it, learn to deal with it, adapt to it.  But that can very so very hard.

Usually I write about everything I am thankful for in the Month of November – a new list every day.  This Thanksgiving that seems too strange. I do look around and acknowledge the many blessings.  But I am not sure how to act really.  I am very thankful Dad is still here, thankful for my wonderful boyfriend, the fact that we have been blessed to have such a wonderful home and are building a life of love. That I have such wonderful friends who are there for me and love me, that I have a job I love at a great company.

And that I had 42 wonderful Thanksgivings with my mother.  That I was there in her last moments. And for all the wonderful talks and whispers and moments we shared, mother and daughter.  When she looked at me in the hospital and said “I know you truly love me.”  When she smiled and said “I know what that means.”  When I read the letter and notes she wrote labeled “Don’t open unless I am dead”…and how truly funny they were.  Thankful for the way she always knew just what to say, and when to say it, to make me smile and feel better.  Thankful for the taco soup and fresh cut corn that she froze, just for us, knowing she was going to pass. Still taking care of us, even now.

This Thanksgiving will be very different from the ones in the past.  Every Thanksgiving has been at my parent’s place.  Even when I lived far away, the trip would be made to make sure I was there with the rest of the family.  There was always so much food because Mom loved cooking for all of us.  The exception was last year when I begged to have the holiday feast at my place.  Mom and Dad reluctantly agreed and made the trip up to the big city.  It would turn out to be the last with my Mom.  My sister and her three boys were there too.  I treasure those memories.

This is the first year in my life that Mom will not be here for Thanksgiving, or Christmas.  This change is not welcome, but it is as it is and so I must adapt.  Thanksgiving is coming whether Mom is here or not.  And so this year we will spend Thanksgiving around M’s mother’s table. I am thankful for their generosity of taking us in. And no doubt there will be lots of love around that table. Truth be told Dad and I are at a bit of a loss this Thanksgiving…and holiday season in general.

But that is the thing about change – it opens up new opportunities. New ways of thinking about and doing things, and new possibilities.  This Thanksgiving may have a melancholy feel, but it can still be special.  This Thanksgiving is about love. And love is always a good thing.  Because love feeds the Human Spirit, fills in all of our cracks and makes us stronger.

With Love

I have long had the theory that if you do something with love, it will be felt throughout.  This past weekend is a great example.  My father wanted several of his belongings and pieces of furniture moved up.  A new home doesn’t really feel like it’s yours until you have your most favorite things around you.

And so my man and I went down to Mom and Dad’s, loaded up a 16’ truck full of his favorite things and drove them up to the new house.  Dad is taking full advantage of the fact that there is space for his things now.  So, with the help of some wonderful friends, we unloaded the truck and arrange Dad’s new room.

When my father returns, he will find his room full with his bed, his desk, his favorite chair and other items he picked to have with him.  My man and I arrange everything last night, moving heavy solid wood furniture, pulling out the tape measure with blinding speed, trying not to fall over the cats and trying not to trip over each other. The result is warmth that you can feel as soon as you walk in the room.  A room filled with, arranged with and designed with thought and love.  It is my favorite room in the house so far.

It seems that when you are doing for another, being of service to them, whatever love is felt is returned ten-fold.  Doing things for Dad helps me feel better.  It makes me feel as if Mom is smiling as she watches over us. It melts away all my heartache, channels it into something positive, and makes me smile. Serving others helps me heal. I can no longer do for Mom, but I can do for those she loved most and make sure they are good. And the is no doubt she loved Dad the best and the most.

Now, to arrange the rest of the house in the coming weeks.  To make it ours, warm and comfortable.  A sanctuary in a crazy world, a place of rest and peace.  And love.


 

Special note:  I am the luckiest woman in the world to have such a wonderful man as my partner.  He has been there for me, putting up with me in my emotional, grieving state.  He has been patient, letting me cry when needed.  He has been amazing to my father, treating him with nothing but kindness and respect.  He has lifted and moved heavy furniture, called on his friends to help, done dishes and laundry, eaten questionable cooking, and watched TV shows just because I liked them. I have been treated with more kindness, grace, gentleness and love that I deserve or could possibly hope.

There is a saying that when a woman is loved the right way, she becomes 100 times more than she ever could have been.  He has shown me this is true.  And I am blessed.

The Wonder They Hold

Sometimes we find ourselves in interesting places while trying to get back into the rhythm of life. This is where I find myself.  Three months after Mom’s passing, which still seems so surreal, we are all starting to get into the rhythm of forward movement.

In many ways is it the land of Almost (Which I wrote about here). I say almost, because I am not there yet.  But it feels like the brim of many things.  I am almost back into life, almost feeling like myself, almost back  into the swing of things.  We are almost unpacked, almost settled, and I almost know what I am doing. At work I am almost done with a few projects, my clothes almost match, and I almost feel like I look like I have it almost together.

It is peculiar, this place.  No longer there, but not quite at the other. It is better, as I come out of the darkness. I almost have a routine, and it feels good.  Get up, make coffee for Dad, discuss what is going on for the day.  At lunch it is either running a quick errand, eating at my desk or running home for lunch. After work is maybe going to the store for ingredients, then cooking, a little clean up and spending time with talking with my boyfriend about the day.  Still have to finish unpacking and figure out things like when to work out or watch TV.

A return to the routine after months of holding on, letting go and breathing out. The bittersweet relief of normal.  I look pictures of my mother, noticing her features as I inspect my own in the mirror.  There are enough similarities that I know I can do this. And I sleep warmly under a blanket which she picked.  She and God equipped me with all that is needed, and she loved me enough for a lifetime. Soon it will no longer be Almost…soon it will be a rhythm of life and love and hope and all the wonder that they hold.

In the Silence of Your Absence

In the silence of your absence
I am acutely aware of the space
Between the raindrops
And the heartbeats of each minute

I have deep knowledge of
The distance a whisper
Can travel in a quick breath
On the thick summer air

In the silence of your absence
I have felt, with keen understanding
The depth of love and pain
And loss and hope

I have heard and follow
The cries of the doves
And the joy of the butterflies
As their wings work their magic

In the silence of your absence
Though deafening as it may be,
I comprehend the bittersweet
Celebration of all the love you left behind.

And I recognize the calling
In the songs of the hummingbird
And I distinctly hear your voice
As the silence is broken.

Ada Burch
9/13/2016

And Then it Was Two

Someone asked how Dad and I were doing today. This day, the 2nd month anniversary of Mom’s death. Two Months.  One can live a lifetime in two months.

Most of that day is a blur to me.  I remember parts and pieces.  I remember painting Mom’s fingernails and gently brushing her hair the night before, and that morning.  I remember gently talking to her about how much I loved her and about my favorite childhood memories.  Like the Alfonso’s break dancing kit gift debacle.  And when she read Little House on the Prairie book series to me.  And when she would brush and fix my hair in the morning when I was a child.  When she taught me all those childhood songs that I still remember, how she decorated my bedroom when I was a teenager and made it seafoam green…and how I really did not appreciate that as much as I should have.  How she sat with me through each and every heartache and break up.  And teaching me how to cook and make her famous milk sausage gravy…and so many memories.

I remember how I held her hand and watched her breathing get more and more shallow.  Even when you know it’s coming, you are never prepared to see someone take their last breath.  And I remember the lights flickering three times after I said “I love you…”

And then there was talking to everyone, making arrangements. Making decisions and taking care of everything. I know it happened, and I was the one to do those things, but I really don’t remember.

Grief is not as I expected.  I thought it would be a huge brick in the pit of my stomach.  But it’s not.  It is more like an acute awareness that she is not here.  It is the extreme knowledge of the Last time I felt her arms around me. It is the silence of her absence. And it is deafening.

But my answer to my dear friend who asked was simply – We are getting better at moving forward.

Because we are. Every day we get better at honoring her by creating something beautiful.  We live for her to look down and smile.  We pray for God to hold  us – and her – in his big hands. We hold our breath for the signs and whispers.  We look up and feel the sun, see the clouds, celebrate the rainbows, feel the rain and notice the magnificence of the world. A life beautiful through honoring her, her memory, how she wanted us and raised us to be. A life beautiful by creating a safe, peaceful space that is a sacred sanctuary, protected and kept close.

We move forward by honoring her memory and being true to ourselves and those we love.  We continue forward with the move to the new house, and creating something special.  We weave together the fabric of this life with every heartbeat.

Life in Imperfections

I am learning that within our own imperfections we find the greatest truths, unconditional love, appreciation and a mirror of who we really hope to be on the inside on the good and Bad days. – Jennifer Jo Clark Singleton

We all have those times in life were we just have to do it. There is a reason why that slogan is such a hit.  It is especially appropriate after a tragedy or major setback in life.  When we feel hopeless, defeated, hurt, scared, sad, depressed, discourage, unsure…we just have to get up and do it.

I remember a lesson I learned from my mother.  She had a very bad back and suffered terrible chronic pain.  She was extremely strong willed though and worked through it.  The pain would put most people in bed…and I remember asking her why she didn’t just take a break or lie down?  With a smile and that common sense way of thinking for which she was famous, she told me that her back was going to hurt whether she got up or not, so she might as get up, and get busy. Wow. Now that she is no longer with us, I want to carry her on lessons of strength and endurance in the face of hard time.

The fact is that we will probably still feel scared, discouraged, sad, or whatever, but we just have to do it anyway.  At some point you have to decide to reach deep down, where the soul meets the mind, down where each heartbeat mingles with our breath, and pull ourselves up.  It’s going to hurt anyway, so we might as well just do it.

And so it goes.  There is much to do at this moment.  So much change, heartache, work, love, fear, truth, honor, sadness, and life.  Adjusting to having an aging parent in the house, making sure he has everything he needs and wants, packing and organizing two moves, working a full time job, trying to cook, clean and do everyday things, keeping up with friends and family… I have no idea how I am going to do it, but I just have to, because failure is not an option.

But I know I can do it, because my mother could do anything, and I am my mother’s daughter.  The pity party is over – and that is another thing she taught me.  Have a pity party, but just make sure it doesn’t last too long.  Because life and it’s demands do not stop just because you are having a bad day, or week, or month or even year.  So you better figure it out.

I can hear her voice, gently whispering to me, as I get up in the morning.  She knows I can do it.  I will not be perfect at this.  I will stumble, fall and even fail sometimes, no matter how hard I try.  And in my imperfections, I have found this truth.  In her imperfections I have found that unconditional love and faith.  I have found that mirror of who I am now and who I want to be on the good and bad days. And I am blessed to have a wonderful people around me who will stand by firm.  They are my roots.

We can also choose in what spirit in which we move forward.  We can choose to rise above the drama and pain, or let it drag us down.  We can choose to do things with a loving and cheerful heart, or we can be bitter and angry. I choose the former in both sets.  Dolly Parton Sings in her hit Hard Candy Christmas “I’m barely getting through tomorrow/But still I won’t let/Sorrow get me way down/Me, I’ll be just fine and dandy.” And I will be just fine.

I think that starts with acceptance. It is going to be hard. It is going to test my limits and strength.  But’s it’s going to hurt anyway so I might as well get up and get busy.  Things are going to be unbalanced right now, so I will just grab what time for myself that I can, and just get through the rest. Maybe the key is finding the unbalance you can live with temporarily. And the bad times are always temporary; it won’t be like this six months from now, a year from now, ten years from now.

You can pack and cry at the same time; you can move mountains while still wounded. You just have to do it. And so I will. How…I am not sure.  I guess we will figure that out along the way. And in my imperfections I will find life.

Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together. – Elizabeth Taylor

Looking Up

There are times in everyone’s life where all we can do is look up.  In looking up there is faith and hope.  Sometimes, we have to put our heads down and work through whatever it is, go get through or to reach a goal.  And then we find ourselves looking up at the sun, or feeling the cleansing rain on our face.  Looking up means noticing all that is around, not only above. It is saying a prayer, giving thanks and taking a breath.

There is a conversation you never dreams of having with your loved one.  The “It’s ok if you are tired, you can let go” talk when a family member is too ill.  I had that conversation with my mother while she was under sedation and she could not really respond.  The nurse had given her the shot before I had a chance to have a real conversation, so this was the best I could do.  I know she could hear me, so I stroked her hair and gently told her that I know she had been in pain and was so very tired, so if she didn’t feel l like fighting, that it was Ok to let go.  She had our permission.

I sat at her bedside, looking down watching her while rested and reassured her that while I wanted her to be around forever, it was OK if she was too tired and I understood. And loved her more than words could ever say.  I told her about the prognosis – that her body was just too weak to fight the infection and recover.  The truth that if she did recover, it would take months of rehabilitation to get back to normal.  That Everyone would be OK, even though we would miss her more terribly and deeply that we could ever imagine.

I think it is one of the hardest conversations to have with a parent or any loved one.  Gut-wrenching and physically difficult, it is what you do when you love someone and want what is best for them. But it goes against every selfish desire you have, because you naturally want your loved ones with you for as long as possible. But not at the cost of their comfort and quality of life.  So you break your own heart and let go, letting them let go too.

After she passed, I said my final goodbye, taking her hand and telling her one more time that I loved her so very much. When I stood up to leave, the lights flickered softly three times. A gentle whisper of “I love you.”  And I looked up and knew it was her.

As we move forward without her here, there has been much to do.  Getting the old house ready for sale, cleaning, arranging, packing.  We go out to take breaks and sit on the back deck facing the water.  Feeling the breeze, watching the flowers dance. And I look up and see fireflies dancing and playing right in front of me.  And I know it is another gentle whisper.

And there is unpacking the van in our current home, taking Dad’s things out and putting them inside for him, making sure he has all he needs to keep him warm and feeling loved and not so alone.  Unloading 40 houseplants, finding a place for them, in the sun, or partial sun, or full shade so that they flourish as much as they can.  And I look up…and see a double rainbow after I asked for a sign. Another gentle whisper, this time captured on my phone.

After dad and I were down dealing with the coin collection, there was a penny at my door, the year of my birth. And I looked up, thankful for the whisper. Truth be told, there have been too many signs, signals and whispers to mention.  Every day, another whisper, just as I have asked moving forward. A wonderful reminder that she is around, looking over us.  I hope she is proud of me, when I look up at the sky, at her in the beautiful cloud formations.  I hope she likes the way I try to carry her legacy of love, warmth and laughter.  I hope she is patient with me learning how do balance everything she did so effortlessly and does not frown too harshly when my patience and Grace and running short. I hope we she is pleased as she looks down and we look up.

The fact is that moving on is not possible, because it insinuates that you close the door on that part of your life.  And that is simply not possible when missing a parent. You miss them always. But you can move forward, learning how to wade through and make new paths while still honoring and keeping the old ones.  And even the old paths will not ever be the same; but different isn’t always bad and change doesn’t have to be negative. You can build a beautiful life on the grounds and foundation of your parents.

And you never have to stop looking up.

The Blessing of a Broken Heart

It is a blessing to have a broken heart. It is a blessing to cry rivers, even oceans of tears.  It is a blessing to feel loss so deep that you wonder if you can even breath.

This may sound ridiculous.  But to me it means that I have truly loved enough to feel that loss.  My mother and I were very close.  And her passing has left a terrible loss in my life.  But I would not trade that loss for anything.

Because it is attached to my wonderful childhood, to being taught silly songs when I was little, being read to, being made to do my homework. It is attached to hot chocolate on a night when I could not sleep, and too many hugs to be able to count.

Heartbreak and heartache never get easier.  Losing those you love never gets easier. But no one said that life would be easy.  That was never promised to us.  And when our heart is breaking, is it not because whoever it was gave us joy and love?  The amount of joy and love conversely reflects in the amount of the pain.

So let it rain. Let the floods wash my soul and heart clean, let the love of those I have lost carry me through. And let the love of those who are in my life now fill in the cracks, so that all my pieces are put back.

So if it hurts because I loved them so much, then that is OK. I want to love. That is part of living a full life. And that is the blessing of a broken heart.

My Mother’s Passing

She was magic.  She taught us how to catch butterflies, make home made bread, make a bed with hospital corners, tie my shoes, sing silly songs, how to read, she is the reason I am a writer…she is the reason why I am who I am, because I am my mother’s daughter. And now I must learn how to live without her.  This wonderful, magical, strong, independent, feisty, loving loyal woman.

On July 13th, my beautiful mother, passed away.  My father and I were holding her hands. She did not suffer. She very peacefully and gently slipped from our hands into the big hands of God.  While it was the most painful moment of my life, it was also the most beautiful.  It was my honor and privileged to be there for her, in her moment in that her journey.  She was surrounded by love, and I believe she chose that moment herself.

You drew a circle that shut me out, but love and I had the wits to win, we drew a circle that took you in.

Even though we were very close, even though I was there for her during the last 3 weeks, even though we talked almost every day, what I would not give for just one more hug, just one more chance to tell her I love her, just one more chance to hear her voice.  Hug your loved ones close, tell them you love them every chance you get, make sure they know.

Even though it is the way of nature – that children say goodbye to their parents, it is a very painful time.  I loved my mother very much and I will miss her every day of my life.

And there really is no way to describe such a wonderful woman, who was so full of live, so magic, so wise, and so loved.  She was a wonderful wife for 49 years, and an amazing mother. She raised 2 children, 3 grandchildren, and 63 foster children.

So many memories, so such laughter so much love.  And above everything that is her legacy: Love

Genny Burch. She LOVED.

Of Guts and Grace

We all have those family members that are just forces of nature. They can move mountains by sheer will – that and the mountain not dare to disobey. This is my mother. . She has always been feisty (I come by it naturally) always spirited, always determined. And she will argue with you all night long that she is not stubborn.

Be beat stage 4+  ovarian cancer, many times when the doctors expected her not to make it she surprised them.  Once even leaving messages for them that if they did not come and get her out of the “dying ward” of the hospital, she would walk out herself  because she was going home. Who can argue with that? She had a team of doctors in her room shortly after leaving the message.

And yes, she still smokes, thankyouverymuch. Yes, she knows it’s bad for her, especially after she survived such late stage cancer, but she did survive, she old, she enjoys smoking and she is going to do it.

And once again she has surprised me.  After hearing the news that she was not in good health and doctors were not optimistic, she is, once again, just fine. I have often said she will outlive us all, cigarette in hand. And after this I am nore4 convinced than ever. And even though she will swear she is not stubborn at all, I am very thankful for it in her, because I have no doubt has been a combination of unwavering Faith and simply determination that has seen her through.

My mother: Pure Guts and Grace.

Family Habits

We, as humans, are creatures of habit.  Whatever we do, the cycles we have, the patterns we display, all show habit is part of the human condition. And what is great about having my family living with me, is seeing habits and cycles form.

We, as a family, seem to have a rhythm. I know the days my sister will be tired, and nights my nephews will want a good meal after that hard class. They know my moods and rhythms too. Now, if we could only all get into the rhythm of cleaning the kitchen, that would be great.

But it is interesting watching them form. Which days we sit and watch TV, which nights we sit around the dinner table laughing, which nights we drink wine, and which nights we all just want to go to bed early. Who does their laundry on what night of the week.

I love when we all get together in one of our rooms and chat. Love when we enjoy a good dinner together, love when we gather around the calendar and talk about who needs to be where, when doing what. I love the planning that goes along with being a family. Love moving as a unit, together, even when we are separate. It makes my heart happy to have those that I love so dearly, around os close.

I have learned that family is what makes a house a home and what gives a home a soul. The cabinets in the bathroom for Mom. The caffee for my nephew, the teas for my sister. The place where we write down what we need for groceries. Seeing their things around to remind me that others are close by. Hearing them get ready in the morning, as they try not to trip over the playful cats. grilling on the back patio, buying things I know they will love. All the joy that comes form the soul they bring with them into the home. And they Peace they bring into my own heart.

But that’s the thing about family – friends, lovers, jobs and even habits may come and go, but family is forever. So you might as well get into the habit of being a good strong one and working together for a happy household.

My Mother

She is and has been one of my best friends for years, and yet she still know how to be my mother.  She has been an absolutely amazing mother, standing by me through everything, thick and thin, even when she did not agree with my decisions. She has dried countless tears, mended a thousand scrapes, bruises and cuts, has always been there with a hug or wise word and more love than I could even fathom.I share everything with her (well, almost everything) and we are extremely close. We stay up late and talk, drink wine, cry, tell secrets and stories. And she has taught me so much.

Dad was often away working much of my childhood, so mom raised us by herself for the most part. and yet, we always knew that he loved us and she always made sure that even when he was absent, we never felt like her was far away. I remember her brushing my long hair as a child and putting it up in french braids or pony tails, or curling it making pretty waves cascade down my back and shoulders.  I remember her reading to us, every day and every night, instilling is us at a every early age, the beauty, magic and mystique of reading. She was the first person to encourage me to write. She taught us proper table manners, how to set a proper table, all the social graces we would need to carry ourselves with class and ease, the importance of a good vocabulary, sentence structure and speaking proper English.

She taught us about being honest, studying hard, faith, Jesus, the Bible and God. She answered the strange questions that only children could ask, with Grace, wit and patience. She taught us how to make our beds, do the dishes, clean our rooms, even how to mow the lawn. She taught us about things like empathy, compassion, being of service to others, and why she deserved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, our utmost respect. She said things like: I love you enough to make you hate me – Because I love you and you are my child, I will always do what is best for you. And when I tell you you cannot do something, then it is because I love you.And when I tell you No, and you get mad, it is OK to hate me a little. Because i love you enough to make you hate me.

I remember getting up one night as a child, upset. And she made me hot chocolate, held me while i cried and told me that it was OK if I did not know the reason, that sometimes it is Ok to just be sad.

Yes, she has been a wonderful mother, not only to me, but to my friends and many other children as well.  She has always been the neighborhood mother and our house was (and still is) where al the neighbors and their children would go. I remember all my friends wanting to come over to our house, because of the home my mother had created. Children have always loved and trusted her, but hen she has a gift for being able to walk in their shoes and see from their viewpoint. Because of this amazing gift she has with children, we were the only therapeutic foster home in the state of Florida. She helped 65 kids in 3 years 0 65 of the worst, most abused, most troubled children, and she was able to reach and help them all. And she taught me how to understand children as well.

There are so many wonderful memories about my mother, so many things that she has taught me about life, love, honesty, Faith, friends, people, children, cooking, cleaning, relationships, money…and the list jsut goes on. All I can say really is that I have been so very blessed to have her as my mother. And if I could have chosen who I would be my Mom, I would have chosen her. God could not have done better.

I love you Mom. Thank you for all that you do, all that you taught and continue to teach me, and for just being you! I hope to be as good a mother to my children as you have been to me.

Mother’s Day

I saw this posted on Facebook and it was so beautiful it made me cry. My Mother is truly my best friend. I am so beyond blessed to have her in my life. And grab a tissue!

Letter from a Mother to a Daughter: “My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep. When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl? When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If I occasionaly lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you. And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked. When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling daughter. “

Easter Reajustments

Easter has always been a very spiritual time and this year was no exception. We were all tired from a very hard emotional week and all of us rested, talked, cried, cooked, laughed, ate and celebrated together. Pictures were taken, little chicken peeps were held, eggs were gathered, neighbors were welcomed. Normally the family gets up early for the Sunrise Easter Service, but this year we worshiped by being thankful for everyone being present and alive. This Easter was Sacred. Hugs were held just a little longer, and no chance to say I love you was passed up.

And as I watched the love and affection that flows so easily from my parents, I looked down on their wedding band on my finger. I am blessed to have such an example of love and family. And I want to pass that on to my children. I also took stock in my life and the recent events that played out. I am not going to date for a while…my poor heart needs a break. And I should not bring issues into the next relationships from the last. Also, I want a man who wants a family, because I want a family. He could already have children, we could have children or a combination of both, but this is what I want. And it is not a biological clock thing, it is a finally, I am ready to share my life and build something more thing. But first my heart needs rest.

So for the next while I will focus on love of a different kind – love of Friends, love of Family, love of God and love of Faith.

Yes, sometimes life gives you curve balls, and you must re adjust. You may cry, vent, talk, write, whatever to get it out of your system, but in the end, you calm down and readjust. You Pray, you focus, you enjoy the moments before you…and you take baby steps. And before you know it, those baby steps have taken you across miles of road, and you look up and see how far you have come. I look forward to that day.

Shameless Promotion

Writing runs in my family and I am going to do a bit of shameless promotion. My mother wrote a children’s book in 2009 called My Name is Bobby Claus. It is a wonderful story of God, Faith and how sometimes He uses unlikely angels to change lives.

We are a strong Christian family and my mother was looking for a great way to explain how Jesus died and was brought back to life. What evolved was actually a wonderful Christmas story that will make you laugh and cry. It is  truly more than a childrens book, it is a story people seem to just fall in love with, from ages 4 to 88.

My mother had been telling this story to the boys for years, and we begged her publish it. After she survived stage 4+ Ovarian caner (by the Grace and Miracle of God), she finally did. A labor of Love.

My Name is Bobby Claus

I am not only so proud of her for this wonderful story, but proud of the person she is, proud of the Christian values she taught me, leading by example. Both my parents lead by example when teaching their children about honesty, integrity, character, morals, how two people in love should treat each other.