November 19, 2021

It’s my mom’s birthday today! Whoop! She spent the day doing what most of us adults do, which is not a lot. She spent the day at home; went to a buffet and ate too much; then played cribbage with my sister and brother-in-law. It’s a good thing we celebrated at my house.

Actually we celebrated my birthday a bit early at our house. A friend came over and brought these yummy cupcakes and a present. We ate pizza and watched The Jungle Cruise before she realized we aren’t that exciting at our house either and left.

Too bad birthdays aren’t the thrilling adventure they are were when we were younger. But it’s ok. That’s just the way of it. I’m so thankful for my mom today. Her love and support mean everything. And I’m glad I got to see her last weekend and give her a gift that she seemed to legitimately like. Yay! I’m also thankful to have celebrated my birthday early with a good friend who is one of the most generous and giving people I know.

August 18, 2021

It’s been 7 days since my surgery, and I’m moving around much better each day. However, any extra stretch in the wrong direction can send shooting pain through my chest. And after a while, it feels like I have something pressed against my ribcage, especially at night. It’s odd and uncomfortable and makes me wish my recovery would speed up. Then I remind myself that it’s only been a week.

I’m thankful my mom has stayed this week to help out. Even though I’m getting around better on my own, I’ve been instructed not to do any push/pull motions or any repetitive arm motions. Or lift anything too heavy. So I still need help opening doors and carrying stuff and washing my hair. And while I feel rather useless around the house, I’m grateful my mom has been making up for it. Today she started re-organizing our garage. (Apparently, we have gotten lazy about putting stuff away neatly.) It does feel good to see the closets and garage tidy. I may never let her go home.

May 9, 2021

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms of all kinds out there! Since my kids weren’t around, I celebrated with the pups, meaning I went about my business all day and they followed me around or ignored me as they liked.

My lovely little mom behind me.

Today I’m extra thankful for my mom. She’s always there for me and especially so right now. She has been a champion for my recovery and has made sure I know I’m being thought of often. She’s always been supportive, but she’s also fun, creative, generous and loving. And she has a crazy sense of humor. I can’t wait for my hug.

March 3, 2021

I made it through the new chemo today without an allergic reaction, so I’m immensely relieved. There was a moment of question when I started to get a prickly sensation in my throat and tongue, but it didn’t get worse so we didn’t stop. The biggest effect was the drunk feeling that 50 mg of intravenous Benadryl gives a person. I was loopy for a while and then tired enough once we got home that I fell asleep on the sofa.

Sparkly shoes!

I was still nervous this morning and the last minute encouraging words from family and friends helped. But what really gave me sense of calm was this necklace.

When my family came to visit, my mom gave me a card that included this necklace. It had been my dad’s. When he was diagnosed with stomach cancer, a lady from their church, a cancer survivor herself, gave it to him. He wore it for years and sometimes carried it in his pocket. Mom felt like dad would want me to have it right now.

While I prayed for strength this morning, I felt like it was my dad who spoke to me, telling me I was going to be ok. And I felt calm when the infusion started.

My dad was always strong. Strong mind. Strong willed. Strong opinions. But the cancer eventually overcame him. I know he’d be heartbroken if he were still here to see me going through this too. He was when my sister was diagnosed. But I like the idea that he’s watching from a place of knowing, a place of peace. Where he is whole and happy and can share his strength with me somehow.

I’m grateful my mom shared this piece of my dad with me. I’m thankful for my dad.

February 15, 2021

The last couple of days, I felt ok. Then today, I was back to having a headache, my mouth sores hurt, my eyes burned, and I have a rash starting on my face. Why can things go great one day and then so bad the next?!

I try to remember this quote on days like today. I don’t want to be negative all the time, even when that would be so easy to do. So I did what any grown woman would do, I called my mom to whine. It helps to get it out, and then put it into perspective. And my mom didn’t disappoint. She’s always sympathetic but then helps me find something to laugh about. I felt better by the end of our conversation. Things are still uncomfortable but I’ll survive.

July 21

Some days I sit at the computer at the end of the day and I’m at a loss of what to write, which reminds me that I haven’t been paying enough attention to things throughout the day. I know that’s pretty normal…get on a routine and life sometimes becomes a habit that requires little concentration. But that’s exactly why I started this blog to begin with; I didn’t want to blithely go through my life and then wonder what happened to all my time. So, I guess today is one of those days where when I look back over the last… I’m counting on my fingers…16 or so hours, I need to pick out the small stuff. So here goes.

I actually enjoyed my coffee this morning. Not that I don’t normally, since I’m a coffee addict, but I noticed it this morning, I didn’t just gulp it down. I had lunch with a girlfriend I don’t normally get to go to lunch with. We went to a place called Dandy Donuts where they make bite-sized donuts that come with every meal. And I smelled like donuts for the rest of the day. I interviewed a student for a tutoring position who seems to be a great candidate. That was a good start to my Fall planning. I figured out a name for my new puppy. More on that tomorrow. I also had fun shopping with my boyfriend for the items I need to bring said puppy home in the morning. I heard from a girlfriend I haven’t talked to in a while. We’re planning a catch-up night soon. And tonight I chatted with my mom, which is always a blessing. Unless she’s crabby or giving me advice I don’t want to hear, but probably need. But that wasn’t the case tonight. Thankfully.

July 10

So I was texting with my mom today about house projects and tv shows and how there isn’t enough time for everything. Here’s how our exchange went:

Mom   Clone yourself.
Me    Ha! There’s an idea.
Mom   I think the world could use a few more of you.
Me    I’m not sure the world could handle it.
Mom   We could send out a memo preparing everyone for it.
Me    Doomsday.
Mom   No, no…wrong train of thought. More like a multiple blessing.
Me    Aw, thanks!
Mom   I only speak the truth. Unless I’m texting your sister Jenny. Haha!

I love my mom. I really thought she was being sarcastic, which would not surprise me in the least. After all she’s not the type of mom who’s blind to my faults, some of which had come up in a prior phone conversation. Instead, she was being sweet and I was thankful for that today. I needed it. Of course, I love that she ended our exchange with a sense of humor. I’m guessing my sister, who reads this blog, knows what my mom was referring to. My mom isn’t really a liar. But she does like a good joke.

June 5

I’m back home from my mom’s and looking forward to sleeping in my bed, without the train whistles rumbling the windows during the night. I forgot how close her house is to the train tracks. I know it’s easy to eventually get used to anything, but a couple of nights is not long enough to get used to trains passing by every few hours. I’m tired. I’m glad we got done as much as we did, though. My mom was very happy with what we accomplished and I’m glad I was able to help her out. I’m only disappointed that I wasn’t able to get her new kitchen faucet installed; that will be next visit. Mom also let me go through dad’s tools and take whatever I could use since she was planning to get rid of things over the summer. I took several items, including the table saw and miter saw, two things I’d been wanting to get anyway. She also gave me the soldering torch that was my grandfather’s. It’s still in the old painted wooden box with his initials carved in it. I love the history of items like that. I’m thankful to have it and the other tools, not just because I can actually use them, but because I remember watching my dad use them, and that’s pretty cool. Now once I’m done painting my house, I’ll be looking for a few new projects…

 

April 29

My mom finally got a smartphone. It’s amusing to me because she fights technology. She doesn’t know how to use her computer and sees no use for wireless internet at her home. (Which drives those of us visiting crazy.) However, when she needed to change phone plans after my dad died, my sister talked her into upgrading her phone–to an iPhone. And it’s taken her less than a week to text like a pro. Tonight I called her in response to a text she sent today, knowing that my answer would be too cumbersome to type out on my phone. After I explained that to her, she replied Yes, I’m finding it sometimes easier to call than text. As if she’s been texting for ages. It made me smile. Partly because it’s funny how quickly she’s adapted to the technology that just a month ago she would have denied needing or wanting or being able to understand. But mostly, I’m proud of my mom for branching out in even this small way. There’s a sort of independence I see in the fact that she’s embracing the new. I think that’s important now that my dad is gone. We talked a little tonight about how she’s struggling with the moments she’s too keenly aware of his absence. How she’s trying to stay busy. It’s not an easy task to learn to be alone after living with someone for 40 years. Not only does she need to navigate the practical aspects of that (she wishes she had paid attention to how to run the lawn mower, but she thought she’d have more time to learn) but she also needs to figure out how to maneuver through the loneliness. I’m grateful for the fact that she’s not shrinking from the independence that’s been thrust upon her, but rising to the challenge. She’ll make it. I know that. It’s these baby steps that are helping. Well, that and the fact that she’s a strong, intelligent woman. More so than she sometimes gives herself credit.

April 8: Dad

My dad died today. My sisters and mom and I sat by his bedside all night last night, listening to his labored breathing, holding our own breath every time he stopped too long between gasps. He never woke up. So we chatted amongst ourselves and cried intermittently and finally, around 2 am, requested pillows and blankets and tried to sleep on wooden folding chairs. There’s something exhausting and guilty-feeling about waiting for death. The constant wondering if the next moment is going to be the last one together. Just after 5 am, when it was just my mom awake by his side, my dad simply stopped breathing. My mom said she had just told him he didn’t have to hold on any longer. He could go, and so he did.

I have to admit that when I first got the call yesterday that my dad had taken a turn for the worse and maybe wouldn’t survive the day, I didn’t want to go back to the hospital. It wasn’t that I had just made the three-hour drive back home, it was that I didn’t really want to face it. I wasn’t sure I had the energy or the strength to watch my dad die. But then I knew that whatever I felt didn’t matter. What was real was that the man who spent his life taking care of me and my sisters and my mom would be gone within hours, and I had the privilege to be there by his side. No matter how much it would hurt to see, this was a gift, to say a final goodbye.

I’m thankful my dad was a Christian. He believed that he was headed to a better place and had absolutely no fear of death. I know that made his final days easier for him. And I’m sure he was looking forward to seeing the many people he had lost in his almost 67 years: his own dad who died too early in his 30’s, his mom who suffered from Alzheimer’s, his brothers, his son, his best friend. It must have comforted my mom also, allowing her the strength to tell him to go to the others she believed were waiting for him.

The world lost a wonderful man today. A man with a hearty laugh and a deep love for people and animals and the Lord. A man of strength and honor and commitment. A man who loved my mother and her children as his own. He was my stepfather, but I never thought of him that way. To me he was always my dad. I’m thankful he entered my life so long ago. And I’m thankful I was there when he left so peacefully this morning.