Tag Archive | daughter

Eleven. The calendar remains the same.

Eleven seems to be the most common.

Calendars repeat themselves, to the day, every eleven years. Sure leap years will vary this, they repeat to the day every 28 years. Stands to reason, but 2003 was not a leap year.

2003 to 2014 marks eleven years ago, to the day – January 26, that our Mom passed away. After all the time she had so courageously fought back the cancer that was ravaging her body, her passing was peaceful…very sad for us, but peaceful all the same.

With the 2014 calendar matching up with the calendar of 2003 memories come day by day….reliving that time frame, the last month of Mom’s time on this earth.

Taking a look back a few days prior to that last month, I remember that she had to be in the hospital over Christmas – yet we did have our family Christmas when she was back home – the calendar really meant nothing to us for that holiday. I do remember Dad and I watching a movie on that particular Christmas Eve, one that I will never watch again.

There are so many ‘lasts’ to that January – this year when those days come around the memories seem to be more vivid, even though they were eleven years ago. Yet, because they were eleven years ago, the calendar shows them on the same day, they repeat themselves just like the numbers that represent eleven, a 1 and another 1.

Some of those poignant memories, the lasts included, can be sharp and cut through your life like a piece of broken glass. Other memories of that time, the ones less painful, come and wash away some of the sadness of that day.

That month.

That eleven.


remembering January


Birth month of my Mom, my brother and my niece.

Birth month of several friends and coworkers.

First month of the new year, a time for renewal.

Also a time to look back, to ten years ago. To the most painful January of my life.

Other Januarys I don’t remember so vividly. I remember January 2003 as the last twenty days of Mom’s time on earth. Of her last trip to the doctor, when he admitted her to the hospital for observation. During the exam, that morning in early January, he saw something he did not like. Definite progression of the leukemia.

I remember  time spent in the local hospital…. hours upon hours that changed our family. I remember Dad being in the next room, recovering from prostate surgery. The hospital staff setting things up so that Mom and Dad could have rooms next to each other. As soon as Dad could manage, he could go visit Mom. I remember Mom’s birthday, January 12th, spent in the hospital. The nurses put together a special treat for Mom in celebration. We all appreciated this lovely gesture.

I remember how tired she was, yet how very hard she fought the leukemia. I remember her willingness to take medicine that would target its efforts on the cancer cells and I remember the effects of that medicine. It ravaged Mom’s body and last amount of health. I remember her last bone marrow biopsy. She was a courageous, strong woman… she took no general anesthetic, only a local shot. Each biopsy was that way. I was with her that last time and held her hand as the DR drilled into her hip bone to extract the sample of ravaged bone marrow. I remember talks with the oncologist, a family meeting to discuss medication to ease Mom’s discomfort. I remember the morning we had to have the DR start the morphine for Mom, knowing that it would greatly shorten her life. Yet, we had to allow her to be comfortable. I remember snow gently falling that morning… she would have loved to witness the peacefulness of that day. I remember when she lost the ability to communicate, when the port that allowed medicine and blood products to be administered flipped and was no longer viable…. she then had to have IVs. I remember her last visitors, many supporters of her struggle and of her family.

I remember her last moments…. it was a beautiful, peaceful and yet profoundly sad time.

It has been ten years and how it feels to me now, it may as well have been ten minutes ago.

Rock Tober

I know the radio stations usually use this phrase as ROCKTOBER… but this Rock Tober has been different. Way different.

October rocked our family’s world. And this was after a tormenting second half of September.

In September we were cruising along, nicely. The first few days, Jeff and I were putting the finishing touches on planning our Canadian vacation to Nelson, BC in honor of our first wedding anniversary. We had a good Labor Day weekend, the next weekend a great celebration with some family and friends to note our anniversary. Then, we had an amazing trip!!! We made it back home in time to attend our niece’s wedding and celebrate.

Things started to unravel.

On our anniversary, a friend’s husband passed away. We were on our anniversary vacation and friends told us the next day.

The Monday following our return from Canada, my brother went to see his DR for a lump in his neck and sore throat combined with an overall tired/crappy feeling he’d been dealing with. Primary DR sent him to an ENT specialist for further review. Testing ensued. This DR did not like what he saw. Not one bit.

The DR told him he thought it was thyroid cancer. My brother not only had to deal with this himself, process the news, but… he had to tell his family. And…his daughter was still in Hawaii on her honeymoon. Thankfully, her husband is a great guy and would be there with her when she got the call from her Dad. The man who walked her down the aisle just a few days earlier. The man who walked her sister down the aisle just four months earlier… and their older sister, six years earlier.

The next weekend, we attended Sarah’s husband’s funeral. This was the very day, five years prior, that Jeff lost his first wife, Tina, to the ravages of diabetes. He was of great support to me and my friends. He knew of Sarah’s pain and anguish.

My brother had surgery so the DR could biopsy the tissue, survey the area and get more testing done and formulate a plan. Test results came, another meeting with the DR. A meeting with another DR. Decisions made. Thyroidectomy scheduled.

Meanwhile, on the other side of our family, Jeff’s Mom, my mother-in-law, had suffered a stroke. She and her husband were traveling near Eugene, Oregon when it happened. Thankfully, they had stopped at a friends’ home. He, being an EMT, knew something was wrong and urged her to let them take her to the hospital. She refused. He was persistent. “You can either go with us now, or wait for an ambulance.” She took them up on the ride to the ER. She was admitted with a stroke. At first she could still speak, garbled, yet she could still speak. The next day no words. She could understand the other side of the conversation, but could no longer formulate her words to hold up her end. Jeff and I both left work to go check on her. We were met by family. Luckily, she had been headed to where a majority of family members live when the initial stroke happened. We stayed with family. We were all blessed to learn that she had been accepted as a patient in one of the best rehabilitation hospitals in the state, when she was to be released from the hospital. The morning came and we went to help transport her from one facility to another. We got her admitted and got a tour of the facility and met with DRs, Nurses, Therapists and a Social Worker. A quite compassionate, caring, professional place. With her in good care, we left for home.

Back home, my brother was to be the guest of honor at a fundraiser. Firefighters and EMTs from the surrounding areas had gotten together to support him and his family. The rural community where he lives, works, volunteers and supports those in need all came together to support him. We wanted to be there too. Not only to support my brother and his family… but to personally THANK those involved.

The next Friday was the surgery. Our younger brother and his family had come to offer support. In-laws and cousins had also come. My brother had a great DR and lots of support. He was going to get through this, but it would be a long time healing.

My dad was not unscathed by my brother’s cancer scare. Dad suffered a lot of anxiety. His health suffered because of it. He could not sleep. He was more irritable. He was more sad. This was HIS kid and his kid HAD to be okay. Dad had told us that this had scared him. Of course it did. He was scared of losing his son. He was scared of the unknown. Dad has had severe health issues himself, including prostate cancer. He had helped Mom battle leukemia…. was right along side her all the way. He had seen his father and mother both battle cancer. He knew the odds. Yet, he knows of determination and good health care professionals.

Just a few days ago, my Dad called me at work…. he was not feeling well at all and had called the ambulance. We spent six hours in the ER waiting for tests to be run, to be analyzed and results determined. I finally got to take Dad home.

Here at the end of October, my brother is healing… yes, it has been a painful time for him, but he’s still around. My mother-in-law is making some progress and is out of the rehabilitation hospital and is now living with my sister-in-law. My dad is able to relax, so he can feel better… and I can too.

Prayers and hopes for all my family members. Me, I simply hope I did my Mom justice…. with her help I was able to help my family get through this Rock Tober.

Whatever October 2013 brings us, we’ll deal with it.

An Anniversary Remembered…..

A Wedding Anniversary remembered….. Mom and Dad’s wedding anniversary to be exact.

June 16th. A day to celebrate. And, we did for 50 years. Forty-seven of those years were with Mom. Growing up, we’d usually celebrate this anniversary as a family. Unfortunately we had to celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary without her, physically. My brother’s family and I celebrated this momentous day by taking Dad out to dinner – a fine celebration.

We also celebrated the wedding of one of my friends. She and her fiance were getting married in Maui on the same day of my parent’s 50th. Years earlier, a close friend of our family got married on June 16. My parents, of course, were in attendance and gladly celebrated their wedding anniversary with Randy and his wife.

As a kid, when we were old enough to walk to town by ourselves, I remember going to the local bakery (and a fine one it was) to make arrangements to purchase a cake. Not just any cake mind you. A “Happy Anniversary” cake. We told the baker what we wanted and gave them the money we had saved up. Then, the day came when we could go pick up ‘our’ cake. We CAREFULLY walked THE cake home and took it to our family room in the cool basement. Then we finished our planning for the surprise anniversary party we were throwing for our parents. I remember this was so much fun… to share in their joy of being married…. we knew of course that without their wedding, without their marriage… they’d be without us… we may not have been at all.

We had a grand celebration. This was not the only one, but one that holds a special place in my memory.

Years later, as a young adult living five hours from my family, I decided to throw them a 25th Wedding Anniversary party. I enlisted the help of my brother and his girlfriend (they were in high school then) and my younger brother too. I worked for a printer, so I’d take care of all the invitations and other printing needs. My eventual sister-in-law took care of reserving a lovely room in a building adjacent to the City Library — one of Mom’s favorite places. My brothers helped with other arrangements. We even ordered a special cake. 🙂

With Mom and Dad’s wedding photo and my calligraphy I designed the invitation. I had them printed and mailed out. I even sent it to the hometown newspaper to be placed in the local events section. The newspaper complied with my wishes (for a small fee). I knew the paper would come out on Thursday. Mom and Dad would soon be invited to their own surprise party. 🙂 🙂 🙂 The best part was… Mom was reading through the newspaper and took a double-take on what finally caught her attention. Calligraphy that looked surprisingly like that of her daughter. She looked again… and this time actually read the invitation. It was her daughter’s calligraphy.

Dad was a bit more difficult. He was at work as a parts-man for a farm implement company. Dorothy, the company secretary, asked Dad if he had seen the newspaper yet. He said he had not, he had been busy all morning. “Besides, not much of anything new, same paper as usual. I’ll read it when I get home.” Dorothy…”You may want to take a look at this one sooner. There’s something that just might interest you.” So at her persistent urging he took up the newspaper and began reviewing the pages. “See, not much here.” he said. Dorothy told him, “Look again.” …..  Dad did. “Well, I’ll be a son of a bitch!!!” “That’s our wedding picture.” “My kid put our wedding picture in the paper.” “Looks like we’re having a party!!!” He called Mom to share the news. The same she found out only a few minutes before.

For their 25th Wedding Anniversary we went all out. A traditional wedding cake with a 25th Anniversary theme. Punch. Nuts and mints. Guests of family and friends at an afternoon reception. A grand celebration. Not bad for some kids who no longer lived in the same house. We even decorated their car. Mom and Dad had made such a big deal of their car NOT being decorated at the time of their wedding that we felt compelled to make up for it. My brothers were charged with that task… they were also on the hook for cleaning it all up too. 🙂

Their 40th Wedding Anniversary was not a surprise, but we did have a lovely celebration. This time an afternoon garden party at my home, since I had moved back closer to family. We invited family and friends and even ordered up a beautiful June 16th. Was such a happy and fun day. Another grand celebration. Another anniversary cake.

Their 45th Wedding Anniversary was far more sedate. By this time Mom had leukemia. We had a quiet celebration at their home. Just immediate family. Yet a beautiful event to celebrate, regardless.

As I noted earlier, their 50th was celebrated without Mom, a family dinner out with Dad.

At times Dad has not enjoyed celebrating since Mom is gone. So, we’ve tempered our remembrances…. yet, we seem to acknowledge it in our own way. We realized that at times Dad needed it to be just another day.

This year, on Father’s Day — June 17th — Jeff and I had Dad over to celebrate Dad… to celebrate Father’s Day. We had planned a late lunch, a relaxed day… good visiting, a movie to watch and… later our traditional Strawberry Shortcake… Fresh stawberries, homemade biscuits topped with whipped cream.

During the Father’s Day pre-lunch conversation with my Dad, he asked, “You remember what yesterday was?” “Dad, of course I do. It was your’s and Mom’s Wedding Anniversary.” “Would have been 56 years.” Dad said. I smiled and told him that Jeff and I had just calculated the years out the day before, on the actual date.

So very pleased to hear of an anniversary remembered….

Happy Mother’s Day

My mom, Helen. The compass of our family, a great influence on my life and the lives of so many others. I am happy to be her daughter.

My mom, Helen. The compass of our family, a great influence on my life and the lives of so many others. I am happy to be her daughter.

Since I can not physically hug my Mom for Mother’s Day, here’s a tribute to her and all Mom’s everywhere.

I saw this on a friend’s Facebook page. I thought it was worth sharing.


This is for the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, wiping up puke laced with Oscar Mayer wieners and cherry Kool-Aid saying, “It’s okay honey, Mommy’s here”.

Who have sat in rocking chairs for hours on end soothing crying babies who can’t be comforted. This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse.

For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who DON’T.

This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they’ll never see. And the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes.

This is for the mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging on their refrigerator doors.

And for all the mothers who froze their buns on metal bleachers at football, hockey or soccer games instead of watching from the warmth of their cars, so that when their kids asked, “Did you see me, Mom?” they could say, “Of course, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” and mean it.

This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for ice cream before dinner. And for all the mothers who count to ten instead, but realize how child abuse happens.

This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all about making babies. And for all the (grand) mothers who wanted to, but just couldn’t find the words.

This is for all the mothers who go hungry, so their children can eat.

For all the mothers who read “Goodnight, Moon” twice a night for a year. And then read it again. “Just one more time.”

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead.

This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot.

This is for every mother whose head turns automatically when a little voice calls “Mom?” in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home — or even away at college.

This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomach aches, assuring them they’d be just FINE once they got there, only to get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up. Right away.

This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can’t find the words to reach them.

For all the mothers who bite their lips until they bleed when their 14 year olds dye their hair green.

For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting.

For the mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school, safely.

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and now pray they come home safely from a war.

What makes a good Mother anyway?

Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips? The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a shirt, all at the same time?

Or is it in her heart? Is it the ache you feel when you watch your son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time?

The jolt that takes you from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 A.M. to put your hand on the back of a sleeping baby?

The panic, years later, that comes again at 2 A.M. when you just want to hear their key in the door and know they are safe again in your home?

Or the need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child when you hear news of a fire, a car accident, a child dying?

The emotions of motherhood are universal and so our thoughts are for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation…

And mature mothers learning to let go.

For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers.

Single mothers and married mothers.

Mothers with money, mothers without.

This is for you all. For all of us.

Hang in there. In the end we can only do the best we can. Tell them every day that we love them. And pray.

Please pass along to all the Moms in your life.

“Home is what catches you when you fall – and we all fall.”

I LOVE YOU MOM…. Happy Mother’s Day

Today, January 26

My mom, Helen. The compass of our family, a great influence on my life and the lives of so many others. I am happy to be her daughter.

Today, I had taken a day off from work.

Today, out of the blue, I had decided to make some bread. I got out my favorite recipe for bread dough, along with all the equipment and ingredients.

Today, I’d take the time to make a treat for my Dad and my husband. One pan of dinner rolls and a pan of cinnamon rolls (with orange zest, dried cranberries and walnuts).

Today, I’d spoil my family.

Today, again, I’d honor my wonderful memories of Mom, Helen.

Today, I’d do something she loved to do.

She was a good cook and quite a baker. More than that, she loved doing things for her family. She really loved her family. She guided us through or over or around many of life’s obstacles, shared in our joy of accomplishment and always helped us to succeed. She was the compass of our family, a great influence on my life and the lives of so many others. I am happy to be her daughter.

After being diagnosed in 2001, she battled leukemia with all her might, all the while keeping our spirits up and showing us how this battle was to be. She passed away on January 26, 2003… (just before the Super Bowl… We have always joked that she went to get a great seat… Mom, you see, was quite the football fan. Her team won that day.).

Each January 26th since then, I have done something creative to honor her memory and to take back the day, the best I can.  I usually do graphics or some art work all day. It reminds me of the times I’d be coloring in a coloring book (or on the wall) when I was a little girl and Mom was nearby. Always nearby. By doing graphics, working with my own photos I feel that Mom is nearby.

Today, besides the graphics projects I do on this day, I made bread.

Today, I made bread for my Dad and my husband… something she would have loved to do.

Today, my home was scented as if my Mom was in my kitchen baking.

Today, I channeled my Mom… you see, I’ve never made really good bread, let alone cinnamon rolls.

Today, Mom and I made some damn good rolls.