Today is different

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.

2020

Where do I even begin? It’s been a whole year of not writing, not sharing, not pouring my heart out.

The day after my birthday on January 5, our golden retriever Gracie passed away. it was a day I will never forget. Sunday morning all the kids were here. My sister Cherri and her daughter Booskie were here as well. The vet came to our house as Gracie was laying on her bed in the middle of the living room. I think she might’ve had a stroke the night before. She was struggling. Luke was giving her treats. She was not well. But she was enjoying all the love and attention. I held her sweet golden paw as my daughter kissed her on the forehead and cried. She went peacefully with the shots from the vet. Dave, DJ and Luke buried her in the back underneath the pine trees. I think about her often. I think about what a wonderful dog she was for so many years.

And then April came and Rob was sick for 3 weeks with Covid. Then with dad/Orby not getting any better. His heart was very weak, his kidneys were shutting down, his 5 month battle with Acute Maloyed leukemia was taking over his whole body. COVID-19 was very scary. Dad didn’t have it. However he was in the hospital and it was grave. He wasn’t going to make it. He decided to come home on hospice so we could all be with him when he passed away. April 17 we watched as he took his last breath and left this earth heaven bound. Our hearts were broken. Mom was absolutely devastated. We watched as this “super man” on earth left his cape behind and now donned the wings of a warrior. Life would forever be changed.

All summer and fall I was furloughed with my job. I spent a lot of time in my flower garden, doing many painting projects in the house, even painted mom’s shed with the grandkids help. It was the summer to swim in the pool, to ride my new bike, to read, reflect and soul search. I also flew to Arizona to visit my best friend. The rest was definitely needed.

Late summer our miniature teacup Yorky, came into our lives. Betty. 10 years old, and unbeknownst to us, full of cancer as well as much-needed love. Two months later our little Westie, Babay Dawg passed away. Her death hit me hard. I loved her so much. I was very thankful for Betty. One dog never replaces another. However they do help with the pain and the longing.

Halloween party was a success. And then a few days later COVID-19 hit our whole household. Dave got sick first, then me the next day. Two days later Cherri, a few days later mom/Maryann, then Karah and Lars. Brennan & Marie..Madison. Thank God we all got through it and were able to spend Thanksgiving together.

I started working again four weeks ago. Doing a job that I wasn’t hired to do, however because of Covid, my Von Maur department store needed me in the e-commerce center. Online business is booming! People want to get back to living and celebrating. Christmas is in full swing. As I get ready for work this morning, I think about all the preparation that me, along with millions of other mothers do to prepare for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. The trees are up and decorated. The presents are wrapped, cookies baked, all the little details that we do to show our love for our families and friends. But this Christmas we are missing Dad. DJ has the smoker now. He’s doing 12 racks of ribs in grandpa Orby‘s memory. We have all the other traditional “dishes” we normally have to celebrate the season. It’s hard to believe Christmas Eve is two days away.

Yesterday I took mom to the surgeons office for outpatient removal of basal cell carcinoma on her forehead. We’re taking care of her now. And although she is deeply sad and still morning, she’s putting on a smile for all of us. We love her so much. She’s all that we have left now. So really, it’s not about the presents, the decorating or even the baking of cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. It is about love for family. It’s about love for each other. Truly that is the one gift that we have, may it last forever.

I belong to Dave

I woke alone in the deep of night. I reached for you, I felt some fright. In my slumber, in my dreams, searching and traveling or so it seemed. The halls were long and the rooms were bare. I kept on looking, you were nowhere. In my panic, in my scare, in my lowest hour, you appear. Your arms they comfort, your warmth did ease and before too long, I felt at peace. I woke with you in the morning light, I felt your love, and my world was right. I felt your breath upon my cheek, we were awake and spooning, we did not speak. We lay in warmth, our connection rare. The love between us, so openly shared. The sun does shine when I start this day, my steps are ordered, as I find my way. May you know this love so deep and strong, May you have someone with whom you belong.

It’s been forever.

Such a funny term we use “it’s been forever”, when we haven’t done something we really enjoy.

Some seasons in life take a while to get through. On November 10th I broke my ankle in four places. It changed my life completely. And that’s the honest truth.

You know when things happen to us, we try to find the lesson that we are supposed to learn. This one (broken ankle) was a tough lesson for me. I had to slow down. I had to allow others to do things for me. I had to learn patience, more than I ever imagined. Simple things like getting up from sitting on the couch took work. Huge things such as getting into the bathtub and getting out, then dressing for work. Making dinner, housekeeping, laundry. And, of course working. I am blessed that I have a desk job. Working for a corporate company doing internal, external investigations, auditing requires you to sit. So I have rested and allowed my ankle to heal while working. 

The last two months have been a whirlwind. Dad, Orby getting diagnosed with leukemia, AML. His cancer has been devastating. Watching him go through chemotherapy, blood transfusions, picklines, medications, it’s something we never imagined. He continues to fight. We continue with our love and prayers.

We got through Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was bittersweet. We cherish our time going to visit the folks. We hug more, take pictures and try to remember the tiniest details when we are together. Life is precious.

I have graduated from using a “scooter” to navigate my daily life, too now using crutches. It takes me forever to get anywhere. Again my lesson in slowing down.

I’m appreciating the moments. Memories are important. Last Sunday my whole family gathered around our sweet golden girl. Grace had a stoke and it was her time to go. The veterinarian came to our home. Gracie laid on the floor and enjoyed the extra treats, the petting, kisses and love. We were all around her. She barely minded when the first shot was in injected. Those big brown eyes looked at us with such love. She was 14 1/2 years old, and by far the best dog in the world. We watched with deep sadness as she closed her eyes and took her last breath. I knew we were doing the right thing for her. It was the final act of love after all the years of love and joy she had given us. It’s so different with her gone. Tears. Memories.

So here it is 6:30 AM on Saturday morning as I wrote in my journal. As I share from my heart and soul to you who care to read, who care to know. I’m doing OK. I’m resting. I am allowing others to still do for me. I’m learning to enjoy this lesson for this time in my life. I won’t say “I love this”, but I will say and forever say, I love.

My Broken ankle….

To “admit” that “I” woke up cranky is a lot. However for me, to be “honest” is easy. Which is the opposite of most people.

So, it’s almost 5 o’clock and I woke up with my ankle hurting. Then, I had to decide if I was going to take my thyroid medication or my pain pill first. I was cranky.

My ice bag had leaked all over my beautiful bright red bed pillows that my ankle was propped up on. The pillow was wet from the ice bag water and then that wet die bled onto my ivory comforter. The comforter needed to be taken off my bed, “spray n wash” and thrown into the washing machine first thing this morning. I didn’t want my beautiful ivory comforter to be stained. I had to allow Honey to do it for me. I try not to give too many instructions but I wanted it loaded into my washing machine a precise way. Cranky beans.

Speaking of “beans”, I text him for a cup of coffee. Cinnamon. He responds rather quickly and says “OK”. I wait 10 whole minutes sitting in bed, wishing that I could get my own coffee. After another text, he shows up with a smile on his face and a servants heart. I try not to show my crankiness.

Thinking back on the last 10 days, and all that has transpired, has encouraged me to write.

He ties a white garbage sack around my leg and ankle and helps me into the hot bubble bath waiting for me. Then, after I’m done bathing, he helps me to get out and dry off. I am appreciative but would rather do this by myself.

I get dressed on my own. With some maneuvering and skill, I’m able to brush my teeth, put my make up on, do my hair and get ready for work. It would be so easy to “call off” of work. I have a great excuse.

I make it to the end of the hallway, which is the top of the stairs with my scooter. He is there to watch me, to assure I don’t fall. I am off of my scooter and going down the stairs on my bottom. Taking one step at a time until I get to the landing. He has my scooter waiting there for me and helps me back on.  I realize how much easier life would be, if we had purchased a ranch style home 32 years ago.

Life will not be easy for the next two -three months. Simple tasks like using the restroom takes time. I am not able to sweep and mop my kitchen and three bathrooms. I am not able to vacuum or dust. I haven’t tried cooking yet but I’m sure eventually with some challenges, I will be able to make a simple dish. For the last 10 days other people have been cooking. Friends and family have brought food. I am surrounded with kindness and love. Allowing others to do for me is humbling. I am not a lazy person so resting is a challenge. 

I said the other day that I wish I could go back to that day. I would have slowed down and not been in a hurry. I would’ve taken my time. I have Thanksgiving coming up and Christmas. I have much to do. I have trees to decorate, presents to shop for and cinnamon rolls to bake. I have much to do. I don’t have time for this.

Isn’t that how life is? Hindsight is always 20/20.  I am learning patience more than ever. Now I am learning the meaning of rest. I’m learning how to allow others to do for me. I’m realizing that what doesn’t get done, will be OK. I will shop online. I will find tasks that I’m able to do, like sitting in my bed and wrapping presents or folding laundry. Maybe I will learn how to make cinnamon rolls while sitting at the dining room table instead of standing.

I hope to look back on this Christmas season with the best of memories. The house may not be cleaned the way I clean it, the trees may not be decorated the way I would decorate them. Maybe I won’t bake as many cookies as I have in the past. But I will appreciate family and friends stopping in and helping out. I have already had so many great conversations with friends who’ve brought meals and desserts.

Falling and breaking my ankle on that fateful Sunday might have been exactly what I needed to slow me down. And eventually the pain will go away and so will my crankiness. One thing that will always remain is my love for life. My love for my family and friends. My love for a sweet husband who is bending over backwards to make this new life easy. Just realized that writing has helped and I’m no longer cranky.

This is going to be a beautiful day. And yes, it’s Wednesday. 

We had the wedding without you..

The day was beautiful. Perfect really. A warm summer day in August. A week ago today, August 10th, 2019 Stephanie got married. She is your youngest grandchild. The “baby” of your ten Grandchildren.

You were definitely missed. There was a table in the foyer, with yours and dad’s picture on it. Along with others that had passed away. I didn’t see the table at first. I actually did not see the table until the very end of the night, when I was leaving.

It caught me by surprise. I felt sad and then glad that they had honored you, dad and the others. There was a beautiful poem by your picture, but I can’t remember now, what it said. I read it two or three times and then left the building.

I was silent in my thoughts as we drove away from the reception. So this is now our life, our new normal. We will have babies born. We will have weddings and funerals, birthdays and celebrations.

Yes, we had the wedding without you, but you most definitely there. You live on, in each of your four children and ten grandchildren. I still talk to Felicity and Owen about you. I’m so glad they got to know you Mom. You were a big part of their life and a wonderful great-grandma to them. So see, your even “living on” in your great grandkids.

Time for me to say goodnight. I still wish you were here. I wonder if I’m always going to miss you this much. Tears as I close this journal Mom. I somehow hope you can see me from heaven, because your daughter still loves you so much. I always will.

Not feeling the best

I’ve been under the weather for a couple days now. It’s a nasty summer cold that has me coughing, hacking and blowing my nose. I can’t seem to shake it.

It’s Saturday, my day to get so much stuff done. However today I’m just trying to will myself to feel better.

I have company coming next week and so much needs to get done. As I sit here on the porch swing, I make a mental note of at least a half a dozen must do chores. I have neither the strength nor the desire. My body is telling me to rest. Chores can wait for another day.

And because I don’t feel good, I automatically think of mom. She would be making me homemade chicken noodle soup. She’d be baking dinner rolls.

I go through different moments in my life without her. Moments of being so thankful for the time that we shared. Moments where I can close my eyes and see her sitting right here next to me. Many moments wishing she were still here.

I’m not feeling the best, Mom. And I still miss you so very much.

The Henry Doorly Zoo

On the gondola headed across the waters of the zoo, all I could think about was “what if my flip-flops fell off into the water?” And then my grandson Owen says “Grannie can I take my shoes off?”. He must of been reading my mind. Of course I said yes. He gave them to me. I tucked them safely into my tote, as we enjoyed sky-high ride to the other side of the zoo.

It was a day for making memories. The temperature was 98° and we felt every bit of it. We made sure to do inside attractions during the hottest time of the day. The kids loved the aquarium, the penguin tank as well as the alligators, snakes and the 3-D ocean movie.

I was glued to my two grandchildren at all times. I am old-fashioned and I always think that at any moment, someone could snatch them from my life. They endured me quite well… they understood the dangers that could happen. A couple of times my granddaughter Felicity asked if she could hold my hand while we were waking. She stayed close by my side as we were partners through most of the attractions.

All in all, it went super fast and everyone had a great time. After the second full day at the zoo, we decided to pick up Pizzas to take back to the hotel. It was then, that our grandson Owen declared “this is the best vacation I’ve ever had!” It made us all laugh. It also gave me great joy to know that we had made memories that would possibly last our grandchildren’s whole life.

Gifts are great, but sharing a memory is priceless. I look forward to many beautiful memories as this summer and year unfolds.

Dear dad and mom.

Dear dad and mom. Today is Saturday, July 6 2019. I just wanted you both to know that all is well in our world.

Cherri has got the Job of her dreams now. Working Days and making money. Sleeping good at night for the first time in many years

Patty loves being a grandma to little Mason. He is a sweetheart. You both would adore him. Everything is moving along nicely for Stephanie and Josh’s wedding.

Rob is happy and doing well in his job and his life. You would approve of all the choices he is making. He has a bright and loving future ahead of him.

I feel at peace giving my notice at my job. I have some great opportunities waiting for me. DJ and his family are doing really well. Luke is still with us, saving lots of money. He’s in a good place mentally and emotionally and seems happier than he’s been in a long time.

Karah is still waiting for her miracle baby. She will never give up hope. She was meant to be a mommy. Good things come to those who wait. We are trusting and believing and will never waiver in our faith.

So being July 4 weekend, Aunt georgia and Steve are with us once again. You are definitely missed mom. I hear her talk and the way she moves her hands reminds me of you. She’s a busybody, just like you. She’s loving and opinionated. I wouldn’t have her any other way.

I think about you and dad often. And what wonderful parents you were to us four children. We were blessed to grow up in a small town and live in one home our whole life. We were blessed with a dinner hour where all six of us sat and ate and shared. Sometimes Patty and I would giggle too much and get sent away without finishing our supper. But the rules and regulations that you gave us while growing up make us all the good people we are today.

Thank you dad and mom. I still miss you both and I love you with all of my heart.

Daddys girl…

I am daddy’s little girl. I guess we all were. Three sisters loved very much by our father. He had a unique way of making all of us feel like his favorite. Even the youngest one, our little brother.

I tell you the truth, when I write about what a kind man he was. I don’t recall him raising his voice. Not often, anyway. But you know what I do remember, love.

He loved his three daughters and son tremendously. He wanted a better life for us than what he had known. He was hard-working dedicated father, husband and provider.

He loved to tell jokes and laugh. He enjoyed warm summer days. The winters were cold and hard on this man. Retirement found him in a beautiful Homestead in Florida. All of our children remember many vacations to that warm sunshine state. While there, we went to the attractions and resorts. The most important thing though, was to hang out with mom and dad. Their grandparents. Each of the 10 grandchildren loved their and grandpa and grandma so much.

I’m very thankful for all of the memories I have. I’m also thankful for all the memories my children, nieces and nephews have.

Today marks nine years since you have left us. But honestly, you’re always in my heart close by. I miss you Dad and I love you.

Your girl.

Gracie’s Time

So, you know how “you know”, but you really don’t know.

There’s this voice deep inside of you that speaks to your heart and your mind. And, you sort of ignore the warning, because you choose to. But after a while, you no longer can.

Well, I think it is Gracies time. Time to be …comfortable. Time to eat whatever she wants. Time to be loved and adored, petted, brushed and cherished.

She hobbles when she walks. She struggles going up and down the stairs. She pants a lot of the time now.

Yes, she gets two gabapentin every morning and two tramadol. Plus her glucosamine. She gets the same meds in the late afternoon. And this was working out good for her, for the last 4-5 years.

Tonight while I was petting her, I found a large mass, a lump on her right side. I could pull it away from her body and almost put my hands all around it. It felt like it was full of fluid. My mind said cancer. It wasn’t there last time I petted her.

So what does this all mean? I don’t fully know. But I know that she has the answer. She will look up at me with that beautiful white face and those deep soulful eyes and she will tell me. I will watch her closely for the signs. I will head all her warnings.

Gracie, you have been an amazing golden retriever and the best dog ever. You came to us fully grown and fit perfectly right into our home.

You would spend two to three days every week with my mom and dad. They would care for you while we worked. They spoiled you with many treats. Mom used to fry you up an egg for breakfast. She said it was good for your coat. My dad and mom loved you. We would pick you up after work and they shared about your day.

It wasn’t long after that, dad passed away and mom moved in with us. And then when she could no longer go up and down the stairs to let you in and out, you then went to work with your daddy.

What a lucky dog you have been. Daddy says the reason why he sells so many cars, is because you soften the hearts of all his customers. I believe this to be true as you soften the hearts of everyone you meet. We have so many funny nick-names for you. Crebbers. Ta-Grabbers. Gracie-girl. A few more but for the life of me, I can’t remember them while I’m journaling. Moving on..

Grace, you wholeheartedly accepted your babay dawg sister into our life. I will say though, you would get a little bit jealous while we were petting her. That was really heart warming. Who knew that dogs got jealous? You loved your pet massage therapist. I think she did wonders for your longevity.

So here we are six weeks away from your 14th birthday. You’ve been in our life for about 12 years. I believe in my heart that you will make it to your next birthday. But if you don’t, it’s OK.

We will let you decide when it’s your time old girl. I promise you that we will do all that we can to make your last days with us the best ever.

So now we wait for you to tell us when it’s your time Gracie.

Love, your momma.