Posts Tagged ‘family’

Purple hairy sunshine

Yech. Grey days filled with sheets of pelting rain. Go for coffee and drive past the same old grey trees, grey sidewalks, and gray buildings. Sit inside and see the same old faces sprouting the same old complaints. Everyone’s mind slowing mushing like the world outside.

But wait, this isn’t a complaining blog. It’s a tale (tail?) of driving sunshine!

When we first heard the rumbles, followed by long low drawn-out scraping sounds, we looked at each other.  OMG, was this the big one everyone’s been waiting for? Were the tectonic plates beneath us shifting?  We could feel the rumbling growling vibrations getting stronger beneath our feet when suddenly Man-Wonder chuckled. I did the eyebrow rise. He said, “John.”

Sure enough, coming around the corner, was my son in his recently-acquired, low-riding, purple ’64 Mercury Meteor. And I swear the neighbor across the way was in need of a Kleenex to catch the drool as he ogled the beastie parking at the curb.

Now, lest you think this is a tale of cars, think again.

It’s more about the two hairy passengers in the backseat, Jax and Diablo (who definitely needed drool rags) and the two in the front, son John and grandson Aries (who didn’t). Usually, when the dogs are in the car they stay in the car.

Unless Grandma has anything to say about it. We have dog cookies!

However, first there was the tussle on the sunporch when Jax, a very muscular Pitty/Ridgeback cross, decided the three steps up were too fearful to climb and had to be muscled in. Meanwhile, someone had to nab Diablo before he made it inside because he’s a territorial marker (aka Mr.P). Inside or out — doesn’t matter to Diablo.  I think it’s his own clever way of making sure he’s held on a lap the entire visit.

But that leaves Jax confused because he firmly believes he’s a lap dog too, and other than his large size, there’s another really good reason Jax isn’t a good lap dog — he’s a shedder of major proportions. We are talking Niagara Falls hair loss here. I was wearing a black sweater and corduroy pants and by the time they left I looked like an over-sized hair lollipop.

But, you know, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only were we licked and slobbered over (by the dogs), we had a wonderful visit with John and Aries.

So — yeah for purple cars, big dogs with little attitudes, little dogs with big attitudes, and family.

Makes a grey day feel positively beach-like!

Time passing like calendar pages

calendar pages 2

Each winter I make up the next year’s desk calendar using photos and/or artwork I’ve been introduced to. Stuff that snags the ‘yes’ button.  July’s picture was one of those sneaky, “Hey, look!” shots I took of Mom. She’s wearing an exasperated but secretly pleased smile. ‘Turning the calendar page and seeing her looking back was quite the little zippy-zing to spirit.

Yesterday was her ninety-fourth birthday and the first one she’s been able to skip as she always wanted to.

I miss her; something pure and awful at times.

She was my voice of reason when things went stinky. She was my go-to for comfort when I was lost. She could find the good in almost any situation. Things seldom bothered her and if they did she’d just think it was her fault for being silly. She tried to like everyone and usually she could. There were the odd times when she simply couldn’t like someone and it cranked her. That was hilarious – kind of like watching a frog wearing a dress. No matter which way it was tried on it just didn’t fit right and you couldn’t help but laugh. Mom was unfailing kindness and unconditional love and I am grateful she was here for most of my life.

She was my best friend. The ten months since Mom died has felt like a lifetime and a moment.

Happy Birthday Mom and thank you for being the silver thread whose stitches made each of us in your family.

To reach out and touch just one more time. . .

It’s been six months since Mom passed away. Such a short, and yet, long time ago.  I miss her. I miss her quirky little habits and her gentle ways; the constant shuffling of slippered feet coming and going. The cloud of perfumed powder she loved to use.

Of course, I still hear Mom sounds but most of those I know are coming from inside my heart. Yet, there have been some things that I can’t say are just me wishing.

Things like;  after a thank-god-winter- is-leaving canoe ride around a lake (without falling in) Man-Wonder and I returned home to find the mobile smelling like a bouquet of flowers. No reason for it to be there and it wasn’t a faint smell. It was strong enough to stop both of us in our tracks and flood our sun-warmed heads with memories of Mom. It was like she had just freshly poofed with her powder and was standing beside us. I don’t think the place has smelt so nice since.

So where did it come from? Did some burglar break in, loaded in Mom’s powder and wander through the mobile rubbing themself all over everything before leaving? (Like Euwh)

If you believe in souls, in spirits, in life after death, then  it makes sense. If you don’t, well, when things like that happen common sense will be dancing the jig with Bob Marley in your head.

Another time, maybe a month ago while I was home alone I had one of those moments. I’d left the kitchen, gone to the bedroom and then come back into the kitchen. Sitting right in the middle of the floor was a tiny, brilliant-blue, stick-on tag. What a brain-zing because I hadn’t seen one of those battery covers since the last one I’d changed a hearing aid battery in Mom’s hearing aid. . .

So how did it just happen to show up in the middle of the kitchen floor during the few minutes I was gone from the room?

What do you think, or are you mentally waltzing with Led Zeppelin?

Me? I’m calling them sweet little hellos from my best friend. Someone I miss every single day. And if she wants to drop off little hellos now and then I ain’t going to complain.

Only I wish she could do it in person.

Mom relaxing in chair 082Mom at her favorite sport – the Scrabble board.

Run—here comes the camera!

We recently discovered a small park in the middle of town with this funny little path along one side of the park.


Can’t you see little Red Riding Hood skipping along the path? I’m pretty sure I saw the big bad wolf lurking behind a tree.

Looking at this picture made me realize I’ve taken tons of pictures throughout the years—just not the usual kind; very few where everyone is smiling nice-nice at the camera. And looking back it’s a wonder my son isn’t in deep therapy.

Take the first time he wore suspenders. By the time he arrived home from school that day he’d tightened those suspenders so tight it’s a miracle he was able to produce children later. What did I do? After getting my hysterical laughter under control I took his picture then fixed his pants.  Poor little bugger.

Another time he’d fallen off a bike (motorized) and after we’d gone through the horrific route of having the emergency staff scrub the gravel from his face —what did his loving mother do?

Took his picture!

“You’ll think it’s funny one day.” I told him.

He still doesn’t!

Then there was the time his face poofed up after running through a field of tall grasses and he ended up looking like a Botox addict. Yep, have that one filed away too.

My favorite is one I have to take total blame for. It was the year he needed a new house coat and I decided to make him a warm fuzzy one. Did I use the usual flannel or nice soft fleece? No, I went with a fake fur fabric. The poor fellow looked like a bald-headed badger in that awful house coat!

And I think I just figured out why Man-wonder gets a weird scrunchy look every time I pick the camera up.


Cardboard boxes amid flashes of light

Since moving Man-wonder and I have been feeling like old elastic bands—struggling to stretch and fit around something strange while resisting the pull to slip back to things more familiar.

In the short time frame of two months we’ve gone from a family of three living in roughly three thousand square feet (with cable television) and surrounded by a half-acre of wooded privacy to a couple, living in just over nine hundred square feet (no cable television) and being barely ringed by a thin strip of green grass.

A bit of a difference. . .

The move was fantastic. Family pitched in and threw their all into a back-aching case of stuffing a twenty-six foot moving van to the brim, driving it five miles, and unloading it all again. Lots of groans, grunts and annoyed-puzzled looks mixed in with snorts of laughter and plenty of love. It was fun.

Since then it’s been two weeks of emptying and flattening boxes, hustling to get everything into place and rushing out to pick up this and that then turning around to do it again. Collapsing for short naps during the day, because night sleeps still aren’t solid enough; Waking over strange unfamiliar noises and Man-wonder’s flashlight bobbing about. I swear as soon as he loosens his grip on that damn thing I’m hiding it. I wonder what the neighbors think as he does his daily stand in the carport turning circles while aiming his flashlight at the walls, roof and all areas in between.

man with flashlight

I noticed a new package of batteries on the counter yesterday—obviously he’s not planning on slowing down any time soon. Maybe I should insist he pack a clipboard and stuff a pen over one ear in the hopes of making him less conspicuous?

Is it the male version of sniffing telephone poles?

Speaking of slowing down—I was catching up on Danny Gregory’s blogs yesterday and one had me doing a lot of head nodding. It’s about his mad dash to settle into a new life away from New York. How he found himself pushing to settle in at his normal above-average city speed and how he’s learning to slow down and allow his new life to gather around him as it should.

Slowing down—it’s a good thing. I think I’ll try it.

Who knows—maybe the twitching will stop . . .

From septic tanks and wood stoves to ashes

It’s been one hell of a couple of weeks!

First off—housekeeping rates about 71 on my list of favorite things. Way, way behind reading a good or even just a decent book, drawing (okay, doodling) and walking the world with Man-wonder. Having to keep the house spotless has been hard, hard work.

I like a little dirt and cobwebs can be artful.

But the clean show has paid off. We received two offers on our home—and from the first two viewers too! How nice is that?

Since accepting one we’ve been on a merry-go-round of inspectors: septic tank sucking men, roof climbing tile checkers, property-lines measurers (not sure what that’s going to do because the house has been in the same spot for 27 years now) and finally, tomorrow the last one arrives, the W.E.T.T. inspector. He’s the taskmaster of soot and will declare whether or not our wood stove is safe.

Let’s hope so since we’ve been toasting beside it for a goodly number of years.

After that – it’s all done except putting the bow around the house and handing it over to the next family. I hope it soothes their woes, warms their hearts, and offers them many years of joy like it has us. Will we miss it? I think so but when it’s time to move on it’s time to move on and it’s our time now.

. . . . . .

On another note, my brother, sister and I scattered our Mom and Dad’s ashes two days ago. Thanks to our brother who protected Dad’s ashes until just the right time.

I thought I’d be like a Buckingham Palace guard about the scattering since I’m not completely trusting in the cremation process. I mean, really, honestly, without standing there watching, can one be one hundred percent sure just who’s ashes are in the can? I know what they (the cremators) say but in my heart of hearts. . .

Anyway, it was important to do it together and so we did and I was a nose-blowing, crying goombah and all because I decided to clean out my emails the day before and found a email sent to me from me.  I’d  snapped a picture with my phone and sent to the house and then I guess I filed it away. So I popped the attachment open . . . and there was Mom lying in the hospital bed the day before she died. No, I don’t know why I took that picture, but suddenly missing her came rushing back and hit me like one of those boxes of books we’ve been packing away.

Needless to say I was in shitty shape by the time we arrived at our destination the next morning and just wanted it over so I could crawl back home and wallow in sadness. But you know what? Once the ashes were scattered on the water I felt a warm sense of calm and peace fold around me. It was as if my soul was being hugged—I don’t know how else to say it.

I even remember standing there watching the ashes just hanging around the shore, like they didn’t want to leave, and having an insane urge to giggle about it. Even make a joke. But I didn’t. I stayed silent and watched.

We three over-the-hill orphans stood silent and watched.

I know now she knew

Grief is a funny thing. You think you’ve given it enough time. You’ve rested, you’ve blubbered until your eyes burn and your nose hurts to touch it. You’ve sat ever so still and let everything wash over you until you become sick of your own sadness. Finally, the urge to get up and start moving forward pushes you and, when you do, it feels good. Good cheer slips into your life again.


The brain, the good old prehistoric monkey brain, finds an unhappy bone to knaw on and fills your head with miserable questions you figure you’ll never know the answer to. Questions like—did Mom, under the weight of her dementia, understand how much she meant to me? Or what about the times, when, no matter how hard I tried not to show my frustrations, they were in my face and then in hers—did she know I loved her to pieces? Did she?

I found my answer while sorting through papers in her wallet. I came across a small clear plastic envelope with the words for Cathie only written on it. Tucked inside was a letter I’d written to her thirty-five years ago on Mother’s Day.

I choose to believe that letter was her way of telling me she always knew.

A belief I’m going to hang onto . . . along with the letter.

Days of Reflection Amid the Emptiness

During the last week of Mom’s life, the dementia had ramped up. It seemed to be stomping over her brain like Huns on a battlefield. Leaving her full of angst and confusion. Early one morning she fell and banged her head. It caused a brain bleed and three days later Mom died.

During those three days in palliative care, my brother and sister and I watched over her. I took the nights. The quiet time—a gift of time to say goodbye. To say the things unsaid in the stress of living with dementia.

As I watched her breathing, part of me wanted her to never stop. To never leave us. But I also wanted her to let go. To go find the peace and rest she couldn’t get here anymore. I knew what a struggle it was for her to find joy in anything anymore. Mom had grown bone-weary of living.

Since Mom died, I’ve done a lot of sitting. A lot of reflecting on her. Reflecting on what the dementia did to her and the one thing that has surprised me has been the depth of my anger at that soul-sucking disease. I feel it every time I stand in the doorway to her room. I feel it when I step outside and realize there’s no reason to rush back in and it bubbles around the edges of that uncomfortable hollow in my gut as I pack away the pieces of her life. I see the anger, I understand it  and I know only time will absorb it. So I quietly wait.

I’m finding another little surprise too. There’s this little wobble of peace poking up here and there because finally, finally, she’s no longer afraid, Or hurting, or confused. Or sad.

And because as long as her family is upright and breathing she hasn’t left.

I love you Mom

The nightly news again and again and . . .

Well, I’ve had my computer system back for a week now. Most of the programs are running well but some issues it had before are slowing raising their ugly little blank faces causing me to use big juicy fat vulgar words to soothe the angst when I run out of jujubes.

I wasn’t kidding when I said I rather liked not having the internet. There was a sense of quiet in the house. True I missed the instant gratification of finding information. But I survived that lack of instant knowledge and I found my attention span for other things growing.

And honestly, there’s enough electronic vibes winging around here from the television.

Especially with Mom’s continuing passion for watching the nightly news. Her watching the news isn’t the issue here, It’s that she won’t settle and enjoy it unless we join her. So we sit—for the five p.m news. And then the five-thirty news which is almost exactly the same (for Man-wonder and myself anyway. For Mom it’s all new news.) Same thing for the six p.m. news, and finally, for the six-thirty news. I suppose it’s a good thing I’m right there beside her because there is a lot of questions from Mom over what the closed-captioning is printing. (Mom has severe hearing loss).

Take last night—the news anchor was discussing a new Spanish restaurant’s menu and was describing each dish as the camera panned them. The closed-captioning program finally gave up trying to spell the names and simply wrote suspicious language. .

Trust me when I say that closed captioning is for the deaf. It is not for those suffering from dementia. And trust me on this too—I am eternally grateful there is no seven p.m. news around here.

Mind you, there is another source of nightly entertainment happening just out of Mom’s peripheral vision as the news plays out—thanks to Man-wonder and his dislike of all news.

Oh, he can usually make it through the first half-hour but by the second half-hour of repeating news he begins a sneaky slither out of his squeaky recliner. That’s followed by a strange sideways walk along the edge of the room until he’s close to the kitchen door and then !cid_D1D57C02-A775-44AB-B9E6-BE412DA87BBC he takes a fast jump to freedom.

I admit I’m half-envious and half-annoyed at his antics; if I leave who’s going to explain the closed-captioning?

I guess my point is who needs the antics of a bad-mannered computer? I’ve got Man-wonder and I’ve got the news. . .and they got me.

Ahhhhhh. . . Spring has sprung

ImageSo here I am trying to think up something to write about and coming up with pretty much nothing.


Brain-drag: A heavy tiredness; like marching with your gumboots full of water.

Sure, I can take a nap. In fact I insist I do. It helps for a while, but before long the tiredness slithers back in. I swear I feel the fuzzy  mold spores spreading over my brain as it does.

I know part of the tiredness comes from watching Mom grow a wee bit more weary each day. She’s 92 and she’s not going to live forever so I can’t help but be on alert. Each morning begins by standing outside her door. I need to hear her soft breathing before I let anything else into my day. If it’s a good day, she’s snoring like a dainty logger and I can move away smiling. If I don’t hear anything, tension sits on the shoulders until I do. The rest of the day Man-wonder and I both have one ear and half of our nervous systems following her around.

So, yeah, that is wearing. But, it’s also life.

Another reason is the grey of winter (and whoo hoo—Spring has sprung). Winters around here tend to be grey  and normally we up our Vitamin D supplement and chug through. This year was tougher since we’ve had to deal with half the normal amount of sunshine and no snow to whitewash anything. Lots and lots of soul-sucking grey with a big lack of yellow . . .

Wait! There was some yellow but only noticable if we were to turn ourselves inside out. Yes, I’m talking about the winter gathering of fat cells. And, as everyone knows, fat thinks its an adhesive. Hell, if they could make duct tape with half the sticking power of body fat . . . Man-wonder and I would be surfing over waves made from loonies and toonies.

But we aren’t, so I need to look elsewhere for hope and cheer—like the pre-season dragging out of the wooden summer chairs. Can there be anything as cheerful as sitting inside and watching the rains wash the chairs shiny clean and knowing, one day soon, we’ll be sitting in them.


Better yet—the knowledge that those chairs are just a heartbeat away from the official hanging up of the hammock. Under a tree.

With leaves!

Oh, yeah! I feel better already.

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