Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~Norman Vincent Peale

As Dad and I enter into this Christmas season we are once again confronted with our ability to successfully deal with our grief over Mom’s passing last May.

We spent Thanksgiving with my sister.  There is strength in numbers.  We lovingly and successfully got through the experience with a great deal of joy and thankfulness.

After Thanksgiving dinner I set out to decorate the cabin.  Nanny’s cabin.  The family always spends Thanksgiving at the cabin.  We have for many years.  I was so afraid it would be too sad, but it wasn’t.  I found a great deal of peace and contentment being in that place that Nanny loved.

I have planned ever since that day to spend this weekend decorating the house in town.  When I went down stairs to get the decorations,  I pulled the decorations out of the closet only to find myself sinking into a devistating mood of not just melancholy, but remorse.

Due to this sense of terminal loss, I feel it necessary to walk through these stages of grief.  I need to make sure that I am doing this right.  I need to make sure that my journey to acceptance and understanding isn’t blocked from my own doing.

Schroeder in tree

denial –  As the reality of loss is hard to face, one of the first reactions to follow the loss is Denial. The person is trying to shut out the reality or magnitude of his/her situation, and begins to develop a false, preferable reality.

I am all too aware of my loss.  Living with Dad has helped me get through this state.

anger – Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. The person in question can be angry with himself, or with others, or at a higher power, and especially those who are close to them.

******* This is it!  I am angry!  I am sad!  I am mad at God!  My mothers grandmother lived to be 111 years old.  My grandmother lived to be 99.  I spent my entire life thinking that Mom would live this long too.  How dare God take her away from me before at least 99.  How dare him!

   “I want her back!” 

Of course I am an adult.  I know, I am all too aware that getting her back is impossible.  I guess that is where some of the anger I feel comes from.

Can I do this Christmas thing without her.  I’m not naive enough to think that it will stop.  I know that somehow we will muddle through. And, I believe that if there is a way.  If it is at all possible, Mom will be there with us.  She is with us now!  She never wanted to leave.  There was just nothing that anyone could do to stop it.

bargaining –   The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow undo or avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle.

Well, maybe I’m here too.  Can you be in a number of stages all at the same time.  This, I will have to discuss with my therapist.

depression –  “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die soon so what’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”

Ok, well I’m moving into this one too!  That’s it!  I’ll just move through all three of these together.  I won’t have to deal with them one at a time.  I can look forward to a time when I’m ok with all this.

Mom had a life well lived!  She was an exemplary roll model for a whole lot of people.  Her life and mission made others lives and missions more possible.

She had this overwhelming ability to cause all that were with her to feel better.  She brought hope, where there was none.  She caused love and joy where it had not existed before.

And, the most important of all…. she did it very humbly.  Never wanting anything for herself, only for those whose lives she touched.  And, there were many that were touched.

She would not have me suffering, so I will do all in my power to work through all these steps faithfully and wholly.

You see, there was a time in my life when I suffered great devistation.  I chose to deny what I had been through.  I did what the definition fully implies. ” The person is trying to shut out the reality or magnitude of his/her situation, and begins to develop a false, preferable reality.”   This nearly cost me my life, it did cause my loss of happiness and joy.  It cost so many years of my life, that I dare not think about them all.  Mom helped me through all of it and helped me to get to the other side.  I will honor her life and her presence in mine by not allowing that to happen again.

This Christmas!  This time of Christmas that Mom and I loved and cherished will be spent in remembrance of her love, her life and all that she did.  Not just for me but for so many others.

                                            “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

                                                                                Charles DickensFuzzy Christmas!

somethings in the basement !

monster in the basement

 

When I was a little girl the basement was a scarey place.

Each stair was just a step without a back, so I thought that if you were small enough, you could slip right through.

Mothers sewing room was in the very back of the house.  A large and stark room with concrete block walls and a concrete floor.

During the day, it was no problem going downstairs for any reason in the world, but at night…. Ooh, that was a different subject.  I mean, to walk quickly might cause me to go through the back of the stairs and fall to my death, but if I didn’t run…. that evil thing that lived in the basement might attack!  It was such a dilemna in my life!

Sometimes Mom did minor alterations upstairs while we all watched tv.  There were many occasions when she would realize that she had forgotten something and needed that something to complete her work.  The next thing I would hear was,  “Becky, go get my seam ripper from the drawer of the sewing cabinet please.”  Oh no!  “MOM!  I don’t want to go, can’t you take a break and run down and get it ?”.  She would just laugh and say, “Nothing is going to get you, silly!”  But she just didn’t know!  Then she would say, “Just go turn the lights on before you start down, then wait til you get to the top of the stairs before you turn them off.  If you see anything, or anyone that’s not suppose to be here, hollar.”, oh I was gonna hollar alright!  I figured I’d scream so loud the neighbors would hear, and they would come save me! I would reluctantly run down the stairs as Mom would hollar, “Don’t fall!” down the stairs

 

Oh God!  What if I do fall?  What if I fell on that concrete floor and died!  It was a horrilbe situation I am in right at this moment.  I will either be kidnapped and attacked by the evil troll from the basement or fall to my death. What was I to do?  Why would my Mom send me to my death!

But hence, nothing happend.  I know you knew I would say that.  I never fell to my death, and no one ever kidnapped or attacked me.

But, then there was that monster under my bed!monster under my bedNow, that concrete block sewing room is my studio!

There are no boogie men!  No evil lurking in the dark.  Just my art equipment, my sewing machine and all my creative implements for creations.  Oh, and Mom’s sewing machine.  And, her seam ripper.

photo 1 (3)photo 4 (2)photo 3 (1)

Things I’ve learned in a month….

  • The things I have learned in a month….
  • 1.   Life moves on 
  • 2.    time flies
  • 3.    When moving into your old room after 30+ years, you need new furniture.  
  • 4.    It’s hard watching your father grow old.
  • 5.    Even though Mom doesn’t live here any more, she does!  
  • 6.    I’ve been drawing a real long time…..  ( These hang in Mom’s cabin)

DSCN0703DSCN0701DSCN0705DSCN0707DSCN0708

 I’m sorry some of these are hard to see.  I drew them all in the 80 and 90’s.  They all hang in a room with little light, even in the day time.

DSCN0709This is what “Nanny’s cabin” looked like when Mom bought it in 1978.  I drew this after my children were born.  

DSCN0717This is what it looks like now.  Well, give or take a bush or two.  I drew this about 5 to 10 years ago.  Forgive me but time flies and I just can’t keep up!

  • 7.  my creative juices still flow, and I can learn new things.  
  • Mom Gelli

    Bought a gelli plate. Bought a book on transfers and another on gelli printing and “Voila” Named it “On her way to the ball”.

    8.  Did I say that “life goes on”?  

  • 9.  I feel her here with us.  Almost like she is in the next room.  

      10. The grass is still green

     11.  Everyone else are going about their days just as before. 

    12..  Life goes on and so will we……  

Is life a bowl of cherries?

I woke up this morning with a migraine.  I do this from time to time…..  I took a couple of over the counter head ache pills, drank lots of coffee and the migraine became tolerable.  It’s been raining since last night, so I didn’t do much of anything but goof off all day hoping the headache would go away. It’s midnight and I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to go to sleep  I don’t know if you do this or not, but whenever I can’t sleep I start immediately thinking about the things that have been going on in my life lately.  You know, the things you want to forget, or at least not think about…. but then here I am rewriting all these scenario’s in my head over and over again. About three years ago I divorced my high school sweetheart after 32 years of marriage.  Don’t ask, it’s too much information to dissolve at midnight. Well, just a little, If I want to be honest, I must say that my marriage was not ever what you would consider “Happily ever after”, but we had our great moments.  Happy memories were made.  But toward the end, it was “Hell on Earth!”  Any hoot, after coming home last month and spending a lot of time discussing life with my father I have realized lately that I’m running men off.  Literally running them off!  I don’t seem to be able to stop myself.  I told my father today, that I think I’m just gun shy.  The initial interest is alluring, then if the male starts acting interested, I grow cold.  Like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde  Hell, they must think I’m off my rocker.  It probably makes them quite confused. After I took one of my prescription strength migrain pills earlier, I ended up having to eat something to keep my stomach from attacking me, so I started eating cherries.  Ranier cherries, are the best in the world.  I’m  sitting there eating one cherry right after the other and I realized something. You know that feeling that you get right about the time your finishing your last bite of that food that you love.  That sense of disappointment that it’s over. It’s that disappointment that I’m trying to avoid. It’s hard to admit, but I’m doing that very thing in my relationships.  I am afraid of the disappointment that “may never come”.  My mind can’t consider a relationship without an unhappy ending. Now, what to do?  I am screwing my life up!  Me, all by myself…..  What is that saying, figuring out what the problem is, is the first step to correcting the problem.  Step 1 is done, now on I go.

Friday morning….

I woke up at 5am this morning…. I don’t know if I woke up because I have a job interview this afternoon, or I woke up because I can’t breathe.  Or, maybe both….

I have been sitting here in bed drinking coffee for an hour, I can’t help but think of Mom, in th early hours all alone, that’s always the only thing on my mind. After my first cup of coffee I went back into the kitchen to get another and I looked across the den to the big red chair where Mom had her morning devotional…. Sometimes, it’s more than I can handle.

Mom was diagnosed with cancer over 3 years ago.  ( give or take a month).  She went into remission after a year of chemotherapy.  That alone spoiled me into thinking we were done with cancer.  Then it reappeared in her kidneys, and I thought, ” She beat it once, she will beat it again.” She was in pain this past Christmas, it just got worse.  ( but I keep thinking that everything is going to be ok)  My left brain knew that Mom’s body was failing, but my right brain was in such denial that it would not allow me to fulling understand.  I didn’t want to loose my Mom, I didn’t think I could live without her,  So, I immaturely “believed” that she was going to beat this thing.

My Mom’s mother, ( my Nan-Lu ) lived to be 99.  Mom’s grandmother, ( Momma Dorough) lived to be 111.  So, you can probably see why somewhere inside I would talk myself into believing she would be ok.  I just knew she had at least another 20 years with us.

I have come to believe that denial is a bitter enemy.  I understand that it doesn’t matter if someone goes suddenly or it takes a good long while.  The pain of a loved one dying is traumatically devistating.  I know and have talked to many that have lost their mothers in years past.  No matter how long ago it happened, they talk about the death painfully and sad.  I realize that I must get to a place where I can live with it tolerably, but maybe I will always have to live with the sadness.  I’m trying to figure out a way of making it a little more tolerable.

I have so many happy, wonderful memories.   Ha!  I have a lifetime of them.  Except for the years between 13 – 18 I had the most wonderful and loving relationship with my Mom.  I will focus on remembering the love, the compassion.  I will remember all the advice, all the prayers.  I will try to understand.  I did say “try”.184426_10200629146204342_1181309056_n

 

Change is constant…

Mom0001You know how it goes….. just about the time you get real use to the way things are…. something changes.

You have to stop and rearrange your thoughts, your attitudes, your visions, dreams, wishes…..  home, possessions.

 In 2010 my Mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  It was a very traumatic experience for us all.  I watched as my Mom courageously accepted her chemo as a way of life.  She held her head high,  smiling and being as lovely as she ever was, and she always was very lovely!  Once the diagnosis of remission occurred we all celebrated.  Every month that she went in to have her status checked, and they reported more remission, we were ecstatic!

These great reports continued for a good long while, then around November Mom started to complain about how bad she felt.  The bad feelings grew and by Christmas she was saying that she knew something bad was happening.  I just thought, that no, it couldn’t be…..  She had been given a clean bill of health…..

There must come a time in one’s life that they admit to themselves that they are too old for fairy tales.  Too old to not understand that life happens, times change.  Well, there should be that time, but it never happens until something else happens first.

After many different doctors visits, and many visits to the emergency room…. Mom & Dad were finally told that Mom had cancer cells in her kidneys.

How could this be?  There was great sadness.

I spent Spring break in Georgia with my parents.  It was obvious that Mom was not feeling well.  She wasn’t eating and I didn’t think Dad was either.  Everyone cried so hard when I left that I felt so guilty  going back to Tennessee, I thought hard about staying with my parents.

I guess I could be more detailed with dates and times, but I just can’t remember and after all in the final analysis, what does it really matter, I mean it happened!  What else matters!

My family in Georgia, me in Tennessee.  I had so many stories, from different people, different angles, different attitudes, hopes and realizations…. I wasn’t truly sure what to think.  I decided I must go home.  But, school would not be over for another month.  So, I told everyone that I would go home on June 1st for a time.  A time to spend with Mom, and help my sister and father.  ( Yes, I thought I had all the time in the world)

I got a call from my Dad the last week of April.  Mom was not benefiting from the chemo that she had taken twice after discovery of the cancer cells.  The doctor was discontinuing any further treatments.  She had been sent home.  The doctor told Dad and my sister that hospice had been called.

“Hospice!” “NO!”  OMG!

Needless to say, I went home to Georgia.  As, immediately as possible.

I got home on April 29th, Mom was sitting in her recliner with a blanket that I had given her from Christmas around her body.  My sister told me before I even left TN that she didn’t even look the same.

I walked over to Mother and knelt by her chair.  The very first thing she said, “Becky, I’m dying.”  I swallowed a sob, and said “I know,  Mom.” ” I Love You, so much!”  She said she loved me too.  I continued to stay with her for a time.  Then I went into the kitchen and made a grocery list and went to the store.  When I went to the end of Mom’s  chair, she said she was glad I was going to the store.  That is the last lucid conversation we had.

My Mom passed away on May 4th.

I guess even as an adult, I still could not accept the inevitability of my parents mortality.  I was the baby, did I mention that?  Mom referred to me to the end as her baby.  Well, when she talked to me she did.

The following Monday I went back to Tennessee.  I went to school the next day, and it wasn’t too hard to see that wasn’t going to work.  I luckily had enough vacation time left to take the last 3 weeks of school off.

At the onset of Mom’s kidney failure the one thing that I had discussed with Mom & Dad was the chance that I could come back to Georgia to be with them permanently.  I had said that I thought that would be a good idea, especially since I didn’t think that Dad was taking care of himself, even though he was taking very good care of Mom. There was just a part of me that never truly thought rationally about Mother dying, just kept telling myself that it would happen later.  After Mom’s passing, Dad asked me when I would come home to be with him.  I packed up and moved as soon as I could.   I don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t.

As of July 1st, I am back in Georgia with Dad.  I will miss everything I left behind in Tennessee, my kids, my friends.  But, I am glad to be home with Dad.

I am working on setting up my studio downstairs, and as soon as that is done…. well, I’m gonna try to get back in the swing of being creative as creative as possible.  I am in a bit of a slump, but I think just the act of doing will get me back in the spirit to creative expression.

Mom has a plaque hanging in the kitchen.  It says, ” Life is what happens, while you are making other plans.”  It is true, the only constant in life is change.  And, that’s not always good changes.

disclaimer:    I am terribly sorry if there are typo’s or askew’d  grammar malfunctions.  I wrote this mainly as therapy and so I don’t want to have to read this again.  Forgive me!  And Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Becky