Yes, today is different than all the days before. She seems distant. The date is November 10, 2016.
I’ve settled into my job as home care provider. This morning, before he went to work, Honey helped me get mom downstairs to the kitchen. After he left for work, I fixed her favorite breakfast. Two waffles and a fried egg. She drank all of her juice down. We chatted and she wondered out loud “why was she so weak”. I honestly didn’t know. I told her maybe, it was because I didn’t get her downstairs yesterday. We both agreed that she should come downstairs at least twice a day.
After breakfast it was time to get her into the shower. When that was finished, I blow dry and styled her hair and gave her a Clarisonic facial. She loves to be pampered. She asked me if my older sister would know how to do all of this. I reassured her that Cherri would be just fine.
Fixed her a hotdog and some cottage cheese for lunch. And now she’s laying down for her afternoon nap. I pull the shades on both of her windows, and turned off the bedside table lamp. I covered her up and teased her that she was becoming a “old lady right in front of me”. That made her smile. Making sure the little space heater was on, I tiptoed out of the room and gently shut her door.
Here I am, sitting on the front porch swing. The sun is bright and warm. The temperature is almost 70°. Yes, warm for November, but I’ll take it. Where do I go from here? How long does it take? I don’t really even know the question that I’m asking. Will I always have this peaceful feeling? Will I always be able to care for her, the way that she needs to be taken care of? One thing that I know for certain, is this. This exact moment in time, I am where I’m supposed to be. I wouldn’t change this day for the world. You are growing old right before my very eyes, and I am cherishing every moment that I have with you mom.
My little brother asked me for a recipe. Mom’s homemade vanilla ice cream. I finally got around to looking for the recipe in one of my many recipe books. It took me a while as I thumbed through the pages, notes and notecards given to me by different friends and family members.
At the very back of this particular recipe book, I came upon moms vanilla ice cream recipe. But more importantly, under that was a letter from my grandma Rose, her mother.
I froze momentarily, trying to remember the letter. Ever so gingerly, I opened the yellowed envelope and read. Included in my letter from my grandma was a smaller letter from her own mother. At that time her note from her mother was 27 years old. She told me to hold onto it, to not lose it, to keep it in a safe place. She would get the letter when she came home at Christmas time.
We both must’ve forgotten as Christmas was very busy that year.. In my grandmother’s personal letter from her mother, was priced family recipes. Passed down from generation to generation. I truly had a priceless gift.
I read the letter from my great grandmother to my grandma. Taken back in time over fifty years ago as I recognized names, people, places. What a journey. The tears flowed many. I wept for a different place and time. I stood in my kitchen holding both letters close to my heart and I cried for my dear mother, for my grandma and for my great grandmother.
I missed them all fiercely. My sobs racked my chest for several moments. And then after a while a calmness came over me. I felt my grandma holding me in her arms. She stood behind me holding and comforting me. I knew without a shadow of a doubt, that it was her.
I thanked God for allowing me to experience her presence. After giving my brother the much-requested vanilla ice cream recipe, I put my books away. The two priced envelope tucked back in the pocket where they’d been kept for years. A hidden treasure, my memories in those recipes to last me my lifetime.
So, two days ago on Wednesday, May 9, I got my hearing aid. I went home and listened to new noises for the first time in… I can’t ever remember.
Yesterday, at work, I was able to talk to my boss with my side to him, while I was working on my computer. I didn’t have the unnecessary wasted time of turning around and facing his desk while we were casually chatting. I was able to take phone calls and not struggle. By the end of the day I have a slight headache trying to process all the new sounds throughout the day. It was a beautiful headache.
A whole new world has opened up for me. One hearing aid in my left ear. My right ear is completely deaf and no hearing aid will ever fix that. $2300 well spent. Tears of joy, for me to be able to say “I can hear you”.
I’m getting better. I just realized this morning that I did not think about mom all day yesterday. I was talking with Dave this morning and we were laughing and saying something, doing a gesture that my mom would always do. And that’s when the realization came to me.
I thought about her on and off, a lot on Easter Sunday. About how much she would have loved the Amanna luxury ham that DJ brought to dinner. She would’ve loved my baked bread, corn and potatoes. I did not make deviled eggs, but I would had, if she’d been alive. We had lots of people for dinner, family. And she always loved my big dinner parties.
It was a super busy Monday. From the time I walked in my office door until I rushed out a few minutes after five. I honestly did not have a chance to think about her, or to miss her.
When I walk in the door at night and up to my bedroom, I see her empty room. That’s when I usually miss her. It didn’t happen last night. I fell into bed exhausted.
I’m getting better. I can think and talk about her and not be sad and get tears in my eyes every time. I love you mom and I still miss you.
My cousin had a surprise 80th birthday party for his mom last weekend. We went to Ohio for the festivities. She truly was shocked. I met aunt Georgia’s friends from church and the neighborhood. Friends that my mom had spoke about and loved. They told me wonderful things about mom. They shared stories. Several times, my eyes would well up with tears. My mom touched so many lives. I look at my mom’s only sister, my aunt, and she reminds me of mom. They are different, yet alike. I cherish my aunt. I’m so thankful we got to help her celebrate her 80th birthday. I love you aunt Georgia.
I feel myself lifted from the ground and start floating in the air. It’s a warm sunny day. There’s a calm wind as I’m carried high in the sky and I say to myself “I’m dying and going to heaven”.
Next thing I know I’m standing in a house and talking to two young boys. One must’ve been about 12 years of age. The other one, maybe 10. I find out that they are God. I ask them “how can you both be God?” They answered that they were God and they could do anything. It made sense to me.
We spoke about how things worked in heaven. They were both talking to me. I must’ve asked about visiting earth and seeing my husband. Next thing I knew I was in my house. My husband walked out of the bedroom and I said “hi Dave”. He walked right through me as if I were air and did not respond. He walked into the bathroom and shut the door. Yet I could still clearly see him from my spot in the hallway.
I remember not being sad about being in heaven or dying. More so as it was a matter of fact.
It was then that I woke up. I shared my dream with my husband this morning. It gave him the chills.
My take from my dream is that I was OK with death. Lately death has been on my mind and it’s the last thing I want to do. If I was honest with you, I would say, that I’m not ready to go and I want to be 99 years old.
But then I think about the fact that in my dream I was like air and yes it was peaceful and calm.
Here it is, 2:01 AM. I wake up, the first thing on my mind is both my parents are dead. They are both in heaven together. It’s funny the thoughts you have when you first wake up in the middle of the night.
I am reminded of the day that hospice came to their house to pick up my dad. And he shook his head “no” at my mom. He knew that “hospice” meant the end was near. And he just wasn’t quite ready to give up. And then I remember that my mom waited and waited and waited, before she finally told us that she “couldn’t do it anymore, and to call hospice”.
I wonder how I will feel when the end is near for me. Is anyone ever really ready to die? Did my dad shake his head, because he had more to say, more to do, and couldn’t believe that this was it for him. Did he wonder why he didn’t do more? Live more? And did mom wait and wait, because she still had goals to accomplish?
So as I lay here in bed, putting this note in my “word press”, I am vowing to live life more. 55 years snuck up fast on me. I am hugely aware that I will wake up one day at 2:01 and I will be 85 years old. What will my thoughts be then? Well I wish that I had done more? I’m hoping that I will wake with a smile on my face, knowing that I had lived a very full and happy life thus far.
Do you hear me, “30 years and future”, you have to slow down just a bit, I’ve got a lot to accomplish in my “more”.
Hard to believe, but it’s true. I survived my first year without you. Honestly I am still shocked at how much I miss you. And how I wish you were still here. Not a day goes by, that I don’t think about you. I wake up in the morning and open my bedroom door. Your door is always open. Your bed is always made. Your room is exactly as it was when you left it. Some small changes. Dave is now using your closet. Your clothes are all gone, aunt Georgia took care of that right away for me.
I’ve slowly been giving away some of your trinkets and stuff to the kids and grandkids. I want them to have things to remember you by. I don’t need any of those things, at the same time I cherish all of those things.
You drove me crazy at times. And I guess that’s true with every mother/daughter relationship. But, what I remember now, it’s all the time that we spent together. Our shopping trips to the grocery store, to Menards, and out to lunch. I remember bringing dinner up to your room and wanting you to eat. I remember the doctor visits and how much at the very end you struggled for your breath.
I am so glad my grandchildren got to know you. There are still things I wish that I could tell you. And there are a lot of times that I envision you watching over me. I still miss you mom.
So it’s been a year of firsts. Our first Mother’s Day without you, first Thanksgiving and Christmas, New Year’s and another birthday.
I’m not quite sure what this next year holds. But one thing I know without a shadow of a doubt, is that I will always love you Mom.