Tag Archive | presence

Eleven

Mom, my post about eleven and the calendar made me think of things over the past eleven years since you passed away.

I wrote down the years and noted some personal and family events that have happened since January 26, 2003.

2003

  • Dad and I kept each other moving forward, one step at a time. Days blurred together, but when you’re going through Hell, you keep going.
  • One of my best friends, Gary, passed away in June. At his graveside service tears were streaming down my cheeks, a gentle breeze came to oh so softly dry them. Thanks Mom. I knew that was you.

2004

  • In honor of your 70th birthday, I donated blood for the first time. Thanks to your great example, I had the courage to go through the process and do my part to try to give back.
  • Dad bought a candy apple red Toyota double-cab pick up. You would have enjoyed it too.
  • Your granddaughter, Kylie, graduated from high school.
  • Your granddaughter, Ashley, and Nathan were married in July. A beautiful ceremony.
  • For the Light the Night Walk annual event, in Portland, to raise awareness and money to fight blood cancers, I single-handedly raised close to $1,500.

2005

  • This year must have been a blur or simply uneventful, as I can’t remember much of anything really important.

2006

  • Your granddaughter, Natalie, graduated from high school.

2007

  • I spent my 50th birthday at the Oregon Coast (I know that ‘surprises’ you ;)…. ) with a great friend, who’s name just happens to be Helen. 🙂
  • Your granddaughter, Ashley, graduated from Eastern Washington University.

2008

  • Your grandson, Grant, graduated from high school.
  • Dad got a great report from his doctor. Cancer free for five years. What a relief. You would be pleased.
  • Your great granddaughter, Cadence Anne, was born at Fort Lewis.
  • You brought Jeff and I together. I know you picked him out for me. Thanks. 😉

2009

  • Jeff and I along with Kylie and Natalie saw the musical Wicked in Portland at the Keller Auditorium. The same place we saw Cats, twice.
  • Ashley’s husband, Nathan, was deployed to Afghanistan. Ashley did a great job holding things together, especially considering her daughter Cadence had such a hard time with her Daddy being gone.

2010

  • The Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. I remember how you loved to watch the Olympics and how you were so supportive of my opportunity to move to Vancouver for work and encouraged me to make that step.
  • Jeff and I became engaged during the time of the Winter Olympics.
  • Ashley and Nathan had their second daughter, Piper Joy. Another great granddaughter for you.

2011

  • Dad battled chronic kidney disease. On the brink of needing dialysis, he did what the doctors said and turned the disease around. He still is mindful of it, but doing much better.
  • On 9.10.11, Jeff and I were married in Athena, Oregon and in spirit Mom, you were right there with us. We had an awesome day.
  • Jeff and I spent our honeymoon in British Columbia – Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, Nanaimo.

2012

  • Natalie and Scott got married in May. Kylie and Eric got married in September – a week after Jeff’s and my first anniversary. With Kylie marrying Eric you gained another granddaughter. You’d love Mila. And Scott and Eric.
  • Your granddaughter, Candice graduated from high school.
  • Stuart was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. Surgery and treatments followed.

2013

  • I was able to purchase a new sewing machine for my quilting and sewing projects. Mom, you would love it and like see what it can do.
  • Stuart was sent to the Mayo Clinic for more testing/evaluation. Surgery was set up at a hospital in Seattle. Then things changed. The cancer had become more aggressive and surgery was not the best course of treatment, no longer an option.
  • Another great granddaughter was born, Harper Lee.
  • Stuart endured 8 weeks of radiation treatments five days a week and chemotherapy one day of that week. The treatments took their toll, yet, following your example, he battled back.
  • Cadence started kindergarten. I can see you encouraging her in school. I know you would dearly love the little girls.

2014

  • Good so far – the best news is that Stuart is feeling stronger, recovering from the radiation treatments.
  • Dad’s health is much better. Encouraging reports from each doctor visit.
  • Mom, your Seattle Seahawks won their division, won their conference, and next week they will play in the Super Bowl. I know you would have been so excited to see their playoff games and the ‘big game’ certainly. I know you’ll have the best seat in the house for the ‘big game.’
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Happy 80th Birthday, Mom.

Happy birthday to a wonderful woman. Mom.
A grand day to celebrate, today would have been your 80th birthday.

Today, I choose to think of the joyful life events in our family over the last eleven years that you would have been so happy to see and take part in.

Your grandchildren all graduating and going off to college, graduations from college, the weddings of three granddaughters (getting to know the wonderful men they married).

The birth of three great-granddaughters and the addition of another – playing with them, teaching them silly songs, cuddling and hugging them and enjoying their energy and personalities.

Also meeting Jeff in person – you  would had fun helping us plan and prep for our wedding. I know would have loved celebrating our wedding and being a part of our relationship.

I can see you reveling in our family gatherings and having a good time seeing family and friends. You and Dad would have shared retirement and been happy to travel to see both familiar places and discover new ones.

You would have liked being on Facebook and Pinterest.

BTW… the Oregon State Beavers baseball team won two national championships. I know you would have cheered them on. OH…. and I must mention that during those eleven years, your Seattle Seahawks went to the Superbowl and now have a chance to go again. I remember that you LOVED football at all levels – I think your favorite was Touchet High School Football and then any college football. And you truly loved the Seattle Seahawks from the beginning. I did not understand the attraction until I was older, now I get it. Just ask Jeff, I get it. And, oh Yes, I am a big DUCKS football fan….. but, you really do know all this, that I am sure of. 😉

You are with us, guiding us everyday. I miss you physically being here, but thankfully, I don’t have to miss your spirit.

I love you Mom. And, based on all the comments on my Facebook page today, many others do to. 🙂

I am still oh so proud and happy to be your daughter. HUGS.

Thanksgiving…. for now…..

Thanksgiving, in our county, is this coming Thursday.

Thanksgiving, in our family, came today.
Actually, today’s Thanksgiving is just one of the many Thanksgiving celebrations we will have.

You see, today, my brother returned to grade school, so to speak.
Today, he received a certificate of accomplishment. A major accomplishment.
He got to ring the bell — the big gold bell…. a well deserved reward.

Today, my brother had his LAST radiation treatment. Quite something to celebrate.

Since early October, he has endured being secured to a table – under a mask, contoured to his  face, neck and upper body, to keep him still and in the same position to receive radiation beams every day, five days a week. He as also sat quietly while chemotherapy drugs coursed through his veins on one of those days each week. All to try to arrest the metastatic papillary thyroid cancer that had become more aggressive…. now, an angry cancer with a mean streak.

While the mask has not been the most comfortable thing, he and the mask have been through a lot and the mask helped to keep him still and in the same position so the radiation beams could be targeted to bombard the cancer, to knock it back.

The initial discomfort of the mask now pales in comparison to the current radiation burns on his neck and chest, his ravaged and raw throat complete with thick mucus that he has to cough up or choke on, the awful metallic taste in his mouth and the nausea and vomiting he battles. Then, there is the fatigue…. only rest and sleep… and more sleep can help that.

There are new medicines to take: painkillers; anti-nausea; cream to sooth his radiation-burned skin; a liquid to swallow to cool and coat his throat and esophagus.

Nutrition now is high calorie ‘shakes’ several times a day, when he can keep them down. Intravenous fluids when he can’t – that really helps him to feel better.

All these radiation treatments and chemotherapy infusions are a direct result of a visit with doctors/specialists in Seattle late last September….when he was to have life-saving surgery. He (and the rest of our family) was mentally prepared for the surgery when everything came to a crashing halt. The cancer had changed, spread, became more aggressive. Instead of surgery, more testing. More waiting and uncertainty. More agony. More sleepless hours for my brother. The testing done, he, along with his wife and middle daughter went into consult with the team of specialists while Dad and I stayed in the waiting room. I felt Mom sitting right there with us… and I was hoping that my brother felt her presence too…. he needed her there… we all did. I know she was. Mom was there to bolster us all as we learned that the life-saving surgery was cancelled. (How can that be? What does that mean? Are they giving up?) The cancer dictated what would take place in his life now. Cancer was much worse than expected. It had spread a lot. Surgery would mean removing his voice box, possibly his trachea and maybe a carotid, maybe more, totally devastating his quality of life and without guarantee it would be all gone. He was sent home, back across the state of Washington to get set up with radiation and chemotherapy at a cancer center in Tri-Cities. The new plan was to try to arrest the cancer, slow it down, anything else was to be considered a bonus. Stunned, does not really describe how we all felt.

He’s endured much, since he was first diagnosed over a year ago. The other day, at his latest appointment his radiation specialist told him that as bad as he feels now, he will surely feel even worse in about two weeks….. then the long, long road back to feeling better. Feeling better will come more slowly than feeling this bad did.

Thanksgiving for the seemingly little, yet GIGANTIC accomplishments like receiving a certificate of accomplishment and the privilege of ringing a big gold bell are worth every blessed moment of celebration.

And… Thanksgiving always reminds me of Mom.
Mom always loved celebrations, any reason to celebrate was reason enough.
Mom always loved celebrating Thanksgiving.
Mom always loved celebrating her family.

Thanksgiving for now will be giving thanks that my brother is still here… still fighting on.
Thanksgiving for now will be giving thanks that my brother has endured his radiation and chemo treatments.
Thanksgiving for now will be our traditional family dinner… yet my brother won’t be able to enjoy the food, just the company of his loving family, the energy of his beautiful granddaughters.

Thanksgiving later…. when he feels better and can eat food again… will be a feast…. a GRAND CELEBRATION. A truly thankful Thanksgiving celebration.

Soup’s On

A cloudy, pre-Fall Saturday.

First soup of the season…..

Made with acorn squash (baked and pureed), chopped sweet onions, chopped celery.
Some heat (red chili flakes, a few dashes of ancho chili and some cayenne).
Herbs (basil and sage)
Sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice)

All in an orange juice base with a bit of black pepper, some brown sugar, some butter to smooth is out and milk to thin it a bit near the end of cooking. YES… I forgot to add any granulated garlic and ginger… but it tastes great without it. YUM..

Won’t do any good to ask for a recipe… I just started cooking and tossed in things I thought would make it taste good.

I learned this cooking method from Mom. It worked well for her and usually does for me.

Replacing chicken stock with orange juice made for an interesting flavor, not to mention far less sodium. I just added ingredients, stirred and let the scent of the mixture guide the next step. Of course, I taste tested along the way.

Yes… another made up recipe.

I was taught to cook this way by the BEST…  My Mom.

I can hear her saying, “Soup’s On.”

Helen Blessings…

WOW……………. I totally got a “Helen” Blessing the other day.

I’d had another crappy day and another headache. Yes, I was at work… at a job where we’re short-handed and unfortunately at one of the two busiest times of the year… fiscal year end. I left for lunch to get away from the office and run an errand at Home Depot…along the way I saw a Swallowtail Butterfly…. aka Mom…. At Home Depot, I got the paint I wanted (NEEDED) and saw my friend’s husband Carl… Carl told me that Sue was in the Garden Center… so I went to surprise her and soak up some laughter and healing vibes…

AHHHHHHHHH, turned around my day…………….
all I have to say is..
“Thanks Mom!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Just had to share … I was so in need and I received.

You see, my Mom, Helen, loved butterflies, dearly loved them. So much so that they are a fond reminder of her gentle spirit. I think that she may have had them as a guardian… now, I do. My husband Jeff also sees them as a guardian spirit and counts them as “Helen blessings” too.

The first actual “Helen blessing” I remember experiencing was when I had taken one of my nieces over to the Oregon Coast. This was in summer, after Mom passed away in January 2003. We had stopped at a lighthouse to take a tour. While taking photos, out front, a butterfly – a swallowtail butterfly – followed us around. She even landed on the seed head of some tall grass, pausing just long enough for me to take a good photo. Then she floated away, yet never far from us. I had a calm feeling as if Mom was right there enjoying our day with us. I still get these feelings ….  a great calm …. such a peaceful feeling that all will be okay, things will get better. Mom is nearby not about to let anything bad happen. And thankfully, more often she’s just floating by to say “Hi” and enjoy some time with me.

Regardless of why, I am always happy to receive a “Helen blessing.”

This particular day, what felt like a lousy day, ended to be a good day… thanks to the “Helen blessing” and the opportunity for me to see my long-time friend Sue.

Mom always knew exactly what I needed and she still does. I know I was directed to Home Depot on that day and so was Sue…. seeing the “Helen blessing” on the way is proof enough.

LOVE in the generations

Mom truly enjoyed celebrations. Not only did she like holidays and birthdays,  she was always up for a bridal shower or a baby shower.

Many a family member and extended family member share memories of Mom at those celebrations. One of the reasons why is that Mom liked the shower games. Not only did she like them, but, she was good at them. Really good. So good that she had a great chance of winning. A few bridal showers and baby showers that I have gone to in Mom’s absence I have heard that since I am Helen’s daughter there’s a good chance that I will win. Well, I have won a game or two, but Mom’s record is still in tact. 🙂

What Mom loved the most about these gatherings was the very essence of them. Love. She loved Love. All the warmth. All the kindness. All the well wishes for others.

In late March, I went to a bridal shower for my niece and her cousin. Both young women had their weddings set for May, two weeks apart. Since they are from the same large family it was decided to have a dual bridal shower since both would invite about the same people.

Their Mothers were there, cousins themselves. Sisters, Cousins, Aunts, Great-Aunts and Grandmothers too. A real family affair. Some family members were asked to bring a crock pot of soup so we could all dine together and visit before the games were played and gifts were opened. What a great way to share. We had a great time visiting, catching up, sharing soup recipes. I felt Mom’s presence there. She was right there with us, with all the LOVE in the generations.

Love in the Generations

Just a few of those attending (not even half). Loving cousins, grandmothers, aunts and great-aunts all gathering to share love and support at a bridal show for two young ladies in the family.