a few thoughts regarding a closetful of clothes

A closetful of clothes –

Hanging at attention.

Dresses

                Sweaters

                                Sweatshirts

                                                T-shirts

                                                                Pants.

A place for everything –

Was your motto.

Now a new place for

Everything.

Donations –

To the thrift store

You volunteered at.

I make it clear

These are your clothes

As if you were a one-name celebrity.

You were to me. 

I didn’t give everything –

I kept a few things for myself.

Sweaters for substitute hug tokens.

And other items,

                Just because they are cute.

A pair of shoes –

To run around in

and save my expensive pair.

Still in good shape.

Not a perfect fit –

                An indication of how swollen your feet became.

So they fit a little loose.

A reminder

                I can’t fill your shoes.

                I shouldn’t even try.

It’s not right –

It’s not expected –

                To wear 2 pairs of shoes

                At the same time.

We each have our own pair

To wear on our own path.

My shoes fit me just right.

But I’ll still borrow yours from

time to time,

And remember your path.

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A Little Break from the Blog

I’m taking a break from my normal blog entries.  Mainly because the well is currently dry.   So I’m just going to write what’s on my mind right now.  My mom died 48 days ago.  This may sound odd but this is the longest I’ve ever gone without some kind of contact from her.  When I served my mission I could count on not-quite weekly letters from her.  Even when I lived in a different state, she was always just a phone call away – for chatting or emergencies (I just (sob) ran over Santa Claus!).  

I’ve become a member of an exclusive club.  A league I really didn’t want to join but here I am.  Now what?  I breathe in and out.  I eat and sleep.  I laugh and cry.  In other words, the current of life is carrying me downstream. 

I’m not worried about mom’s welfare.  I look forward to the time when we will meet again.  Yes, I believe that.  I have to hope in it.  Otherwise, what’s the point in today if there is no grand tomorrow?  Every person who sent condolences offered the same comfort – despite all the different dogmas. They offered the belief that mom was at peace now.  It’s funny how a lot of people with different faiths all agree on that point.  No, I’m not worried about mom’s eternal well-being.    I just miss her today.

I have what I refer to as, an acquired taste in humor.  There are only three people who get me.  I’m one of them.  Mom was another.  Yes, my audience is dwindling. The hardest part is not being able to share funny stories that happen.  This has led me to talk to myself.  I tell my stories out loud hoping she can hear them.  I close my eyes and imagine her reaction.  Whenever thoughts of her pop into my mind, I raise my hand and pump my hand three times.  Three squeezes and love you to pieces.

I entered the angry phase of the grief cycle.  Mom was an artist and painted ceramics for many years.  I talked her into taking it up again – with me.  Because I’m not an artist so she was going to help me.  We never got the chance, though.  So yeah, I’m angry about that.  There are a lot of things she will miss out on.  A line from the Princess Bride has been running through my mind.  An edited version, of course.  I’m not sure who I’m speaking to; it just makes me feel better to put it “out there.”  “I want my [mother] back you [son-of-a biscuit eater]!”  (That was mom’s fill in for the swear word so I thought it appropriate to use).

By no means am I claiming she was a perfect person.  But she was a pretty darn good mom for me.  Don’t worry.  I’ll be all right.  Thankfully, there were no hurt feelings before she died.  So, I don’t have any extra baggage to carry.  I’m grateful for the pain I feel.  It’s a mark of her well-lived life.  I’m honored I call her mom.  And I miss her.

Only a Dream

I had my first posthumous dream of my mom last night.  She looked circa 1988 – the same year my brother and sister-in-law were married.  In other words, 1988 was a photo op year for our family and we have plenty of pictures of even the most camera-shy of us.  Including mom.

All of her family formed a line and instead of hugging her, we bombarded her with questions.  Mom was always command central in our family and since she’s been gone, certain things have, well, kinda fallen to pot.  It started with not being able to find the prepaid funeral arrangements for her.  We found the paperwork finally.  She had put everything we needed in a file labeled, “Funeral Arrangements.”  Go figure. 

Since then, we have looked for titles to cars (found in a file labeled, Cars), bills, tithing checks, etc.  You name it, we’ve had to search for it.  Or so it seems.  So when she appeared in my dream last night, each of us had plenty of questions for her.  Mine had to do with a certain recipe that hasn’t worked out so well for me.  I never did get an answer – shucks.

I remember the look on her face after all the questions.   She seemed to say, “I came all the way back – for this?”  In my dream I thought, “This isn’t so bad.  I can still communicate with mom.”  But then I woke up.  As the day wore on and I realized it was just a dream, I sunk back into the reality of, “No, I can’t communicate with mom anymore.”  Dang me!  Hopefully, in my next dream I’ll have the presence of mind to ask fewer questions and give more hugs.

The Great Dandelion War: A Tribute to My Mom

I wanted to speak at my mom’s funeral – sorta.  I wanted to but I didn’t have confidence that I’d be able to when it came time so I declined.  Now I wish I had been able to say a public goodbye and give my mom a tribute from her favorite child…okay, I just added that last part to get a rise from NJ who will undoubtedly read this.  That was one thing both my parents made sure we understood:  there were no favorites.  However, I think each of us kids might have thought we were because mom was each of our best friend.  Even though she made it understood Dad was always her true best friend. Continue reading

What’s Going On

Today is Black Friday.  This year, I’m referring to it as Bleak Friday.  But that might sound a bit pessimistic.  I don’t want to sound gloomy because I have a lot to be thankful for.  Let me explain my predicament.

A couple of weeks ago we found out my mom has run out of options regarding her CLL.  The doctors sent her home so that she could put her house in order before the tumors overtake her body.  A couple weeks ago we found out death would be visiting but we have no time frame or schedule.  And so we wait. 

I thought of calling this blog, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting Death,” but I thought that might be too crass.  Even though, that’s exactly what I want to know.  How many good days can I expect?  What can I do to provide her the most comfort?  What words need to be said right now? 

A co-worker has buried a brother and sister due to cancer.  She told me, “At first, we wanted to make each day count and not waste any precious moments.”  Her eyes narrowed, she leaned forward and touched my forearm, “But there will come a time when you will be begging for mercy for her.”  Maybe I’m better off not knowing.

Someone mentioned to my mom that this isn’t fair.  I’m not claiming injustice.  In fact, I think if I were to even utter the word “unfair,” I’d have a line-up of people ready to dispute my claim.

  First in line would be my Grandma T.  “Unfair?  Really?  My dad died before I was born.”

Next would be my Grandma L.  “I lost my mom when I was nine years old.  N. I. N. E.  The following year the very first Mother’s Day was celebrated.  That was unpleasant.”

A friend, “My mom died when I was still in high school.”

Even my mom could join in, “My mom died when I was 24 and expecting my first child – her first grandchild.  She was undergoing surgery so that she could enjoy her grandchildren.  But she never got to see any.  That was 45 years ago.”

The line would be long.  No, I’m not going to cry “Unfair!”  Especially when we received a four year extension with mom that most people don’t get to have.  There is one exception, when I see old women who still have their moms.  A former classmate of my dad is still carting her mother around.  Okay, that’s unfair.

For the most part, I don’t feel inequality with this trial.  As mom said, “It’s our turn.” 

The other day I asked her what she was thinking.  Her voice is gone due to the incessant coughing but her eyes are still very much alert.  I know there’s more going on inside than she lets on.  So I asked her what was going on in there.  She forced a small smile and hoarsely whispered, “Life sucks.”

There are two words my mother does not use because she considers them vulgar.  They are not the mild swear words that sometimes slip out of her own mouth.  I have been taught a lady never uses the words “crap” or “suck.”  When she told me “Life sucks,” I nodded my head in agreement and said, “Yeah, sometimes it really does.”

For two weeks I’ve been praying we’d be able to enjoy one final family feast for Thanksgiving.  And we did.  Which I am extremely thankful for.

This is why I haven’t been posting regularly.  But someday I will get back to my schedule.  For now, I’m trying to be thankful for each day as it comes.

On a Dime

Thursday:  I was assigned to a CPR class at work.  The annual CPR class is a requirement for each employee.  The teacher told us that on average, each person will have to use CPR at least once in a lifetime.  As I was getting ready to leave the class for the day I had a feeling I would be using the skills I relearned.  I scowled at the thought.  But the thought occurred to me I’d be using it soon.  Perhaps, even that weekend.

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Things Happen

This is my recollection of events that changed my family’s life.

It was in the fall of 2007 and my mom had been sick for months.  Though, every time she was questioned about it, she always had a self-diagnosis ready.   My dad had torn his rotator-cuff and needed surgery in Laramie, 200 miles to the east.  I had just started a new job and wasn’t comfortable enough requesting time off which meant mom had to take him.  I knew she wasn’t physically well but she insisted on being his driver.  I prayed the whole time they were gone that they would have a safe trip.

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