A Year Later

Hard to believe it’s been a year.

Last year on this day, at about this time, I got a text from my friend Laurie letting me know her brother, Monte, had died. We’d been expecting this news; he’d been battling cancer for several years. His treatment had been compromised in the beginning because he developed an infection after surgery, and eventually, it was evident he was going to lose the fight.

I’ve detailed Laurie’s story before, so I won’t go into it here, except to say, a few months before her brother died, her mother had passed away. I imagine yesterday, so close to the anniversary of Monte’s death and only the second Mother’s Day since losing her mom, might have been emotional.

Several of my friends lost their moms last year, and my heart goes out to all of them as they face the day with a sense of sorrow and longing. At least one woman had a challenging relationship with her mother, which brings with it a different, yet equally difficult, set of emotions.

My mom is still with me, and I’m grateful for every day. My dad, my brother and my sister are all still alive and healthy, and I know I’m lucky for that blessing as well.

To those who faced the loss of anyone you loved in the past year (and I include beloved pets, because their loss brings its own pain), may you find peace.

Peace, and purpose.


Photo Credit: © Bigstock

More Stories Than Time to Tell Them

My mom called today, and with shaking voice, clearly in pain and a little pleading, said she’s having hip surgery, and asked if I would be there to help her when she came home.

home free III“Of course,” I said immediately. It didn’t matter the day, the week, the month. Of course I’d be there. My mom will be 80 next year, and I’m not going to miss any opportunity to spend time with her. She lives 700 miles away, and if anything were going to truly prompt me to move, shortening that distance would be it.

My boss & friend, Beverly, is planning for her mother’s 90th birthday party later this month. Ruby, her mama, is a wonderful woman, funny, engaging, and almost always cheerful. She’s also lost much of her memory. While she’s been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s, no one’s quite certain if that diagnosis is entirely accurate. Certainly there’s dementia, but so many of the other telling signs of Alzheimer’s aren’t evident. Yet.

Ruby’s excited about her upcoming party. Her oldest son has flown in from Thailand, and until he arrived, she was telling everyone he’d be taking her to Hawaii for two weeks. Now she’s saying Beverly will be the one traveling with her.  Sometimes we hear about a boyfriend, Ray, and his private plane. Truth is, there’s no trip to Hawaii planned (and as far as we know, no Ray). It’s quite possible later this winter we’ll hear tales of her imagined vacation, and her memories of the birthday party may be of conversations and such that never take place. As long as she’s happy, no one cares.

dancersSome of her memories are very real, and she surprises those who love her with the chance telling of them. One friend over & over hears the story of Ruby’s engagement to her first husband, Beverly’s father.

It was the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, and Ruby and her friends were at a picnic (it was the South, so yes, a picnic in December). The food was wonderful, the sky was bright and everyone was dancing when they heard the news of what would be the start of U.S. involvement in WWII. Coy, the man Ruby was dating, told her they’d marry before he left for war so she’d always be taken care of in case something happened to him.

Beverly had never heard this story. She knew her parents had gotten married before he went off to war, but the details about Pearl Harbor and the picnic were new.

She doesn’t want to lose her mother and all the untold stories that will go with her.

The last time I visited my mom, we sorted through some pictures. When we came upon a photo of a particularly beautiful young woman, Mom told me about her best friend, Lee, who was killed in a plane crash when she was only 26.  I knew a little about Lee, but not all I heard that day.

It’s not just the stories, of course. It’s the moms who go with them we don’t want to lose, the sense of endless time to hear what they have to say.

So I’ll be there when my mom has surgery, and every other moment I can make it.

Image Credits: Top: (bird) © Vera Kuttelvaserova; (leaves) © imagincy; (wood table) © MaskaRad; Bottom: (outline of couple dancing) © inga; (starry sky) © yulias07; All, Fotolia.com

Christmas in August

One of the delightful aspects of moving is coming across items long hidden and much beloved. Years ago I made this miniature Christmas scene, and as long as my cats are playful, it will remain in its box. Those tiny pieces are toys to my kitties, and there’s no place (in my current home at least) where it would be safe from inquiring paws.

Christmas Miniature Scene
This scene was inspired by a similar piece my mom made when I was a child. She still has hers, and still adds to it from time to time. As I do to mine.

I’ve collected miniatures since I was a child, although admittedly in recent years my collection has remained boxed up. I haven’t added to it lately either. I have plans for more  scenes similar to this one, but again, with cats it’s hard to display anything. A shadow box would work for some things, but not everything. It might work for one idea I have though… hmmm….

Seeing this scene again, each piece with its own memory and special meaning, was a gift to me today. A gift I hope I’m able to display this holiday season. Happy things should be shared.


Miniature

Feeling Grown-Up Ain’t What It Used To Be

I’m feeling like a grown-up today, and I don’t like it.

My mom had hip surgery last week, and I went to stay with her during her recovery. That’s a much shorter period of time these days, in part, thankfully, because of advancements in procedure. The surgery went beautifully, and she’s experienced only a moderate amount of pain.

christmas c 1965
Not sure what was going on here, but it was clearly important.

Until now, the day after I had to leave. Actually,  I didn’t have to leave, I planned to stay a day or two (or three) longer. But the weather was worsening, Mom was worried, and  she insisted I leave. So I did.

She also confessed that as long as I was there, she’d depend on me, and she couldn’t do that any longer. So I made the long drive home, normally one I somewhat enjoy, feeling guilty, even knowing I did what she wanted.

Or said she wanted.

It leaves me to muddle through from my home 700 miles away. She’s my mom, and I could never do enough for her. Yet I’m being called on to be responsible for at least part of her care, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I’m muddling with the help of others, but putting those pieces together weighs on me. Do I move to be closer to her? It’s what she wants, but is it what I want? Is what I want important here? Would I regret not moving after she’s gone? I have to make adult decisions and it’s hard.

Me & Mom Jan 2004 cropped
About ten years ago, on my birthday

Should I have insisted I stay longer? At what point, as the daughter, do I call the shots? Aside from this surgery, my mom is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. She’s proven that, time and again.

What decisions lay ahead? Will she be able to live on her own until she dies? Family history says yes, but that isn’t a true predictor of her situation.

How could I move her out of her home? I couldn’t.

I’m feeling like an adult, and I don’t like it.