Posts Tagged ‘mom’
One sure sign of birthday season is an absence of my blog posts filling your feeds. Every September and October, as I focus on my children and their joyous days-of-birth, I tend to wrap my attention around them, leaving less time to stop, pause, and reflect.
Does this mean that I have stopped showing kindness to others? Oh, goodness, no! But my time has been limited, thus impacting my natural ebb and flow of writing.
Since my last blog post, there have been countless acts of kindness, too many to recount and post. Nothing spectacular, no grandiose expressions of greatness, just me being me and you being you; small acts of love shared here and there.
I received two new book donations to our Tiny Tech Cafe which is so exciting! Our lending library is expanding!
I was able to pay-it-forward with a few notes to coworkers to lift their spirits and remind them that they matter to me:
Today when I arrived to work, there was a darling container of hand-picked flowers with a sweet message waiting for me:
When was the last time you received an anonymous gift that made you smile?
This small ray of sunshine was actually a perfectly-timed gift of compassion. As many of you know, my mom is walking through her journey of Stage 4 small cell lung cancer. There have been ups, downs, and moments where I swear I thought the train was derailed. This was one of those weeks. But these flowers reminded me that all things blossom in their own time and small things matter!
So today, I’m celebrating the small things.
My mom had to get a lung test today as she struggles daily to breathe and her pulmonologist needs to know what’s going on inside. Right now we are taking it day-by-day. To make my mom smile and focus on other things, I promised her a yummy lunch to celebrate her very first lung test.
We ate at Baker’s Crust and had the most attentive waiter one could hope for. We tasted samples of homemade soup, shared stories of my kiddos, and I even got her synced up with Words With Friends again (so feel free to invite her to a game!)
Then came the main meal. Oh. My. Goodness! We both agreed her Wine Country salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette was much better than my Caprese Panini.
On the way back from lunch, we talked again about her visiting my Tiny Tech Cafe. “Maybe we could go next week.”
How can we live in the moment, if we keep putting off today?
Forty-five minutes later, I was popping wheelies with my mom in a wheelchair as we made our way around campus.
(OK, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. You know if I tried to pop a wheelie with mom in a wheelchair we would BOTH end up on the ground!)
Today was a good day. My mom got to sit in the Tiny Tech Cafe!
As much joy as this brought to my soul, what actually made me happiest was hearing my mom’s laughter as she fussed at me for holding on to her wheelchair going down the ramp in our building. “Let go of the chair! I want to feel it roll!”
So I let go and my mom was free.
Her laughter echoed against the walls, her arms outstretched, bracing for impact as the wheelchair gained momentum reaching the bottom of the ramp.
For just one moment, there was no cancer, there were no worries, and everything was right with the world.
Friends, thank you for being such faithful readers. Thank you for allowing me to pour my heart into your life through my stories. Thank you for lifting me up when I can’t find the words, when my writing comes to a standstill, when my thoughts are going in a thousand different directions, but not a single complete thought is shared.
We are sharing this journey of life together and I appreciate being on the road with you.
Until next time! Be kind and #CelebrateEverything!
April 29, 2016.
The date on the calendar was blank except for the small printed words to the side: “T & D – Taking care of business”
I picked up my mom and took her out for breakfast, a long-awaited trip to Cracker Barrel. The morning was gloomy and my heart was sad, knowing my brother-in-law’s nephew was being laid to rest just a few hours later. There was a tragic accident the weekend before, an accident that shocked our small community, and the aftermath was, and is, too raw to put into words. While I wanted to be there to support my brother-in-law and his family, I knew it was right to keep my promise with my mom.
Today was an important day.
I arrived at my mom’s house, her breathing heavy and labored, but she was ready to get the day started. The dreary weather matched my mood as the drizzling rain made our hair frizz around our faces.
My hair. My face. My mom lost her hair weeks ago.
We sat at the table and opened our menus, the elephant in the room peering over our shoulders as we placed our orders. Eggs over easy with a side of bacon. Sourdough bread, toasted.
The banter between us was light, the usual chit-chat you might find between a mother and daughter, talk of work and weather and kids. We both knew why we were having breakfast today, and how the day would unfold, but it wasn’t until the coffee arrived that we finally invited that elephant in the room to sit down and join our conversation.
Today was the day we planned my mother’s funeral.
We jokingly called it our “Girl’s Day Out,” knowing of course that it broke all the rules of conventionality. I asked her questions – lots of questions – and made notes on my iPad as we talked about details, decisions, and death.
We talked about services. We talked about songs. We spent a long time discussing hospice. We lamented about the exorbitant cost of funerals, then pondered the necessity for so many rituals. We discovered a need for an updated will.
We were making plans, much like a mother and daughter planning a wedding, but roles were now reversed. I was the mother. She was my child. I wanted to make sure her wishes were granted.
In the midst of our breakfast with the dishes cleared and coffee refilled we talked about flowers and photos. “I don’t need much,” she said, “Let’s keep it simple.”
We found a photo frame to memorialize her husky, Ivan, who suddenly passed away the week before after 10 years in her care. The circle of life never stops, whether pet or parent or child. It’s important to remember those things that bring us joy.
As we window shopped for this and that, we found humor in silly things. The baby boy frog shoes we would have bought in an instant, if my baby boy wasn’t almost seven. The sparkled shoes, the overpriced scarves, even the pajamas with sailboats gave us a giggle. She glanced at the chocolate bars by the register and I had her choose her favorite to add to the pile. “Never say no to chocolate,” I reminded, “You only live once.”
We took selfies at storefronts and shared stories from our past. We chose objects that would have special meaning once she is gone.
Were tears shed today as we planned for the future that would not include her vibrance? Of course. But today was a day filled with making memories and the laughter overcame the sorrow.
Whether you are healthy or sick, feeble or strong, I encourage you to take time for your loved ones. Open the door to those difficult conversations. Make plans for today and tomorrow, even if you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
Allow yourself to be happy. Find joy in the mundane. Remind someone that they are loved and show them with actions and words. Take pictures and be silly, even if you know people are staring at you like you’re a fool.
Be you. Be free. Make memories. These are the days you will always remember, and the laughter will rise like the sun, warming your heart for years to come.
Do you ever have those mornings where you wake from a dream, still half-asleep, remembering bits and pieces of the plot, trying to recapture the events before they fade away? Or maybe you wake with such clarity, a problem solved, a peace that suddenly washes over you like fresh water from a crystal-clear mountain stream.
Both happened to me this week.
I was thinking about my mom, who was diagnosed with extensive stage small cell lung cancer in June. (Go ahead and Google it – it’s the worst kind.) Her health has rapidly declined; from sitting on the sidelines cheering at my son’s soccer game in late May to sleeping in a recliner with an oxygen tank in August. She has a big trip planned in a few weeks to Boston; the chemo stripping away her hair is providing her the extra boost to make the trip a reality. We spend our days not making plans for coming years, but cherishing the moments of now and laughing about the memories of before.
My mom has been blessed by the kindness of others. When I returned from my vacation, she couldn’t wait to show me all the “treats” she received from close friends during my absence. Magazines. Candy. Amazon gift cards (she has a Kindle and loves to read). Beauty products. Cards. Small little treasures with encouraging words. Hats. Chocolate.
She was in tears reflecting on the kindness of others in her time of greatest need. The thoughtfulness. The generosity. The compassion. These are words that now take on new meaning for my mom. She even received a handwritten letter from a girl who knew her as a child – my mom taught her how to ice skate and even to this day, the girl-turned-woman wanted my mom to know how special that day was for her.
We shared a long conversation about how people react when you tell them this kind of news and how your relationship with certain people changes. To quote her directly, “You really do see who your true friends are.” I reminded her that some people haven’t had a lot of experience with someone dying; others may be frozen in the perpetual state of “I don’t know what to say/do/feel.” She nodded, more in acceptance than agreement.
My mom is walking on the yellow brick road.
She landed here in a whirlwind, totally unprepared, taken completely off-guard; a stranger in the midst of doctors, legalities, and chemicals she can barely pronounce, much less spell. She is told to move forward. Get started. Go.
Follow the yellow brick road.
Follow the yellow brick road.
Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the yellow brick road.
(I bet I have you singing now, don’t I? Ahhhh, a little laughter to lighten the load is always nice.)
Just like in the movie, my mom is following the advice of others and hoping for the best. She will encounter people along her path that will become new friends and others that simply slip away unseen. She will have to crawl through meadows that glisten brightly, invitingly, but end up making her so exhausted she can’t keep her eyes open. She will encounter setbacks that darken her skies and threaten her with fear.
She will have to make decisions on her own and hope the road leads her to the place where her friends can receive courage, insight, and overflowing hearts of love. Despite her final wish to return to the place she calls home, she will want confirmation that her friends received their gifts first.
Did I mention that my mom’s name is Dorothy? It’s true.
My mom is on the yellow brick road. She is following the path, walking one foot in front of the other (even if only in her mind.) She will take that trip to Boston and it will be fantastic! She will then return home to more rounds of chemo that will hopefully give her a bit more bonus time to enjoy.
As her only child, and loudest spokesperson (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, lol), I want to say thank you. Thank you for remembering my mom. Thank you for being mature enough to let bygones be bygones and see the person she is now, not the person she was before. Thank you for leaving notes on her Facebook page, even if only to say “Hi, thinking of you.” Thank you for reminding her of all the wonderful reasons to live and the impact she’s had on your life. Thank you for remembering her husband and surprising her with unexpected treats and goodies. Thank you for your acts of kindness.
I don’t know how many miles this yellow brick road stretches out. I do know that when the road ends, she will meet the grand Oz himself and she will be reminded with a whisper in her ear: “You always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it yourself.”