Bittersweet Days


Yesterday was kinda bittersweet for me.  I found myself waking in a type of funky mood, which is probably why I was so sentimental when I was with the newest member of our family.

I am lucky to say that I have a new granddaughter.  She is so sweet and is my fifth grandchild, and even though she is number five I find her just as delightful as all the others – already!

When a pivotal moment happens in our family now, in the back of my mind (and heart) there is a little tug of sadness.  Sadness because my mom is missing it.

Mother and I 2014

Mom would have loved having a new great-grandchild. I know just what she would have done the first time she met her.  She would have gotten her loud voice and excited reaching for her!  Then she would have taken the baby’s blanket off and also the sleeper.  Because she always inspected their toes and feet and little hands! 🙂

That little one and her momma joined me for lunch.   As we headed out  we decided to go to a local deli.  When my Mom was alive and we would do lunch together, we always went to this deli. It was one of her favorite places to eat, so you can see why it was a sentimental kinda day now.  I just kept thinking of her through lunch and looking at our little bundle of joy.  I loved spending time with my daughter, just us three.

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This is from one of our last lunch dates together.  We actually went to her favorite place for ice cream!  Dairy Queen. 🙂

After lunch I decided since it was on my way to the store I would just swing by my mother’s grave.  I do not visit it very often because I know she isn’t really there.  It’s just a body in the ground for now.  I put flowers on it occasionally and when I arrived there were not any.  That was kind of surprise but it has been pretty windy this past few months, my guess is they are in the next state!   Honestly, I think the main reason I put them there is because my mother would expect me too. 🙂 She loved gardening and flowers, so the next best thing is artificial ones, right? So I made a mental note to pick some up.

I normally don’t stay long and I’m not one of those people who goes to the grave to talk to the deceased.  It’s just not for me and don’t judge others that do.  Today I felt an urge to stay longer than usual.  I looked over her plot, they had placed new dirt I could tell.  I assume it had sunk in since 2015, which for some reason kinda rattled me a bit.

 

As I sat there, yes I actually sat down today, not my normal routine, I found myself inspecting the headstone she purchased when my step-dad passed away.  I giggled to myself, it is big and very pretty but really more than ever needed (I think.)  I do like the fact that she put their photograph on it.  I like that a great deal actually. One thing I don’t care for is the fact that she didn’t list that she was a mother. But it was her headstone and Mom always did what she wanted anyway, so it’s no surprise. 🙂

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A few tears fell this day and my heart-felt a little torn missing her.  Mom wasn’t in the next generation photograph with the newest member like she was with the oldest granddaughter of ours.  That photo is now a precious gift.

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This day was one with mixed emotions I still feel good about several things in it.  I’m lucky because I know the love of my mother, my daughter, and now my granddaughter.  I know the things that were instilled in me from my mother have been passed down to my daughter and now her little girl will also know them.

My mother was right, there is just something about being a grandparent that changes your world and your perspective, even with number five! 🙂

My mother has 10 grandchildren and currently 12 great-grandchildren with another on the way!  And a few of the grandchildren have not started families yet and that doesn’t count the grandchildren- in laws! 🙂 Life was full at her house whenever we gathered, that is for sure!

I hope as my children and grandchildren grow up they know how very important they are to me. I hope they also have good memories and ties to my generation once I am gone from this earth.  I hope they have bittersweet days after I am gone, because if that is the case,  I know I have done right by them.

Missing my Mom and proud to be a grandma,

Julie

Bittersweet from Zac Brown Band (played at my mom’s funeral)

 

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Widow Maker


Whenever the following phrase “widow maker” is used, whether it be in a television show, conversation with others, or online somewhere, the hair on the back of neck instantly stands up.

 

The back story about that phrase will take us to the time my mother, rest her soul, was in the hospital in 2015.  I’ve written of her prior because writing through my grief was incredibly helpful.  You can search my blog (home page, right side, enter mother or grief) to find various posts.  I have sprinkled a few throughout this post as well.

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I can see and hear the surgeon that worked on my mother the night she survived just that.

A widow maker.

Our family was in a cozy, which really means small waiting room, it was darker than I think it should have been.  But it was late into the night. While I sat across from the doctor, I had full view of his scrubs and younger than I anticipated face, all while I tried to focus through the fear I had.  As I mention, he stated she survived a widow maker and wasn’t sure how because people do not do that.

At that time I didn’t know what exactly the widow maker meant or how it would come to correlate with the woman I watched in the ER earlier that night, it all came to to me later.

The image of my mother in the ER earlier that night is stuck in a compartment in my memories.  It only comes out when allowed and it’s not what I dwell on when I think of her.  But it is part of the memory of her.  It hurts to think back at my mother enduring pain like no other.  Fighting to breathe.  Fight to live.  So much pain that she wasn’t understandable when she spoke.  My mother was enduring a widow maker for longer than she should have and still came out of surgery  alive.

Alive yet not in the same manner that we knew her. When we were finally able to see her the image took my breath away and the sight is another etching in that compartment I mentioned.  Her strength was dwindling and remembering back the images from that night and the next few days come together as a story.

This is probably a good time for me to tell you why I’m writing this post. Because I was inspired by a stupid television drama that everyone is raving about.  Yes I watch it, I did Sunday night, and as the doctor said widow maker, my husband’s head instantly jerked to look at me. It always does because he witnessed my mother’s journey while sitting next to me.  Another reason is that the very next morning the Today show shared in my Facebook newsfeed this article about cardiac arrest & This Is Us.   

By the way, I didn’t cry one tear during that show.  It was the dumb commercial after about a family moving into a house and there were markings on the wall where kids had been measured that made me tear up.  Why?  Because my mom used to measure ALL her grandchildren in her kitchen.

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I know that This is Us and the Today Show are marketing for various reasons but the main one I like to think is Heart Health. Call me naive! But I’m going with that one!

February is Heart Health month

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American Heart Association graphic

I am rounding out the story with this.  My mother was a strong,  even in the end.  There were things in her life that she had no control over that harmed her heart but there were many choices she made that did harm her heart.

Watching a parent or anyone die is a difficult thing to do.  I don’t regret being by her side or with my siblings through it.  But it also makes me realize I have work to do in my own life.  Even though I started a healthier lifestyle a year ago, I have very far to go, and a great deal to apply to my life.  I have no idea the circumstances of when or how I will die.  What I do know is the choices I make today will impact the next generation, my children.

My mother (and father) ran their hearts far longer than they should have.  Today I want to bring awareness to you about heart health, the love of family, the journey that gets us to the end.

Now. It’s up to you what you do next.  Choice is the one thing we have in our power.  Let me give you some ideas.

  • Choose to try.
  • Choose to move.
  • Choose to stop smoking.
  • Choose to eat better.
  • Choose to love others.
  • Choose to educate yourself.
  • Choose to push the obstacles aside.
  • Choose to smile.
  • Choose to get help.
  • Choose to kick your own butt today!
  • Choose to be better.
  • Choose to lend a hand.
  • Choose to extend care.
  • Choose to motivate another.

What do you choose to do today?

Thanks for stopping by!

Julie

 

 

P.S.

I was not paid to write any of this.

If you like the post and think heart health is important share it on social media to bring awareness.

 

 

Simplicity of Happiness


Family Jan. 2018 2 PFWG

Today was one of the those days when I wish I could just bottle the way I felt.  To store it for another day and open it up to drink it in.  I spent the day with my favorite people in the whole wide world.

To be honest we didn’t do anything spectacular.  We just hung out at our home.  For Christmas this year they gave us a meal a month.  Where they provide the food and clean up.  It was a lovely time today when all 11 of us were around the table.  We will be an even dozen come mid April, our oldest daughter is expecting.

The children played in the snow and then had hot chocolate and played a board game.  The big kids visited, laughed, watched a nature show, and played with babies.  I was able to continue teaching my grandaughter how to sew her quilt and get her momma going on sewing her quilt.

family day

The kids didn’t run off as soon as the meal was over and it didn’t seem like the day rushed by.  It was genuinely a stellar day for me.  I not only got time with my family but some cute photos and reached my 10,000 plus step goal.

Like I said, I’d like to bottle today, but instead I’ll just be patient and wait for my February date with my family.  I am thankful that they like spending time with us!

Hug your loved ones folks!

Julie

Mom- Still Thinking of Her – 2nd Ann.


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The days leading up to where we find ourselves I honestly felt strong, for the most part.  I didn’t feel I was going to fall apart when it arrived.  I didn’t anticipate the tears streaming down my face the moment I read the caption on the sweet snapchat I received on my morning walk. Those tears needed to flow, they really did.  It’s okay and I’m grateful my dear friend touched base with me.

The back and forth moments of whether I should post on social media to recognize she isn’t forgotten.  If I do is that me not moving forward?  Will others feel obligated to acknowledge the loss of my mother, even though I don’t expect it?  Am I opening pain for my siblings and her grandchildren?

That’s why you find me writing on my blog.

Grief is a thing that is sometimes hard to grasp and even harder to control. It will smack you in the face or makes a suttle appearance, depending on it’s plan.

Words are not coming easily for me.  So here.

I miss my Mom.

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I had a pretty good day since I spent it with four of my favorite people in the whole wide world.  FAMILY.  Mom would have liked that. She always loved her family together.

Four of my most favorite humans ever!

I’m heading to work on a quilt and have some quiet time alone.  I’ll think of her I’m sure. Not only today but tomorrow and the next day and so forth.  I just have to keep moving forward.  Through the grief and through life. Better to have loved  than not have loved at all.

Until next time,
Julie

A Day of Remembering & A Shot of Anxiety


I slept well last night. Maybe to prepare me for today. I don’t know but I liked it.

My anxiety is heightened.  I noticed it pretty quickly this morning.

The dog barking only once. Shrill ran up my neck.

The sudden awareness that my husband & child had left and I was alone in the house.

On the drive to work my struggle was real to contain my perspective.  Switching the songs more times than  needed on the radio.

Continuing to use my peripheral vision on the guy & his dog at the park.

Anxiety and depression are partners. They walk hand in hand.  When one stops the other can easily pickup where his pal left off.

That’s how it is for me at least.

Let’s go back to the car ride to work.

Country music reminds me of my Dad. It was on the radio.

Today is the 3rd anniversary of his death. Blocking the emotions from that day, 3 years ago is normally pretty simple for me.

But not today.

It’s not like I’m not functional. I am. I got out of bed, walked, went to work, and so forth.

There’s just this blah existence in me today.

It really hit me in the car. The point where tears were coming but I said NO! Not today, at least not right now.

It’s the recollection of my feelings from that evening that creates this emotional upheaval within me. Not necessarily that he is gone.  It’s the way it all went down. I really thought I had come to terms with this.

I came home to find flowers from my husband and youngest daughter and a piece of snail mail from a friend.  Life is sometimes really hard and filled with sadness and anxiety.  But the glimmer of hope is still there, it lies within the area around us.  It may not be in our view at the moment but it is  there.

It’s coming back into my view.  Tiny bit by tiny bit.  Perhaps tomorrow.  Yes, probably tomorrow.

Dad & I

Until then,

Julie

The View from the Rear


I was really feeling good about myself until I saw this recent photograph of myself.

The width of my backside brought me to a place of …. well…..um…. “maybe I haven’t made as much progress as I had thought.”

Then  my eyes moved to the little girl behind me. The one that is following me.  

That follows my actions, my perceptions, my lead.  She will look instantly to me before answering someone.  (Not sure that this is a good thing but we’ll go with it)  The one that if I am not careful will say she doesn’t like a food because I don’t.  

At this point in life, she doesn’t care what I looked like from the backside.  She only cares that I was there. That I was participating and engaging with her. That I was taking her on an adventure and spending time with her.

Now, don’t get me wrong, she is very interested in my health. Each time I take my blood sugar she instantly looks at the monitor screen or asks me what it was. Which in turn she gives her response depending if high or low or “not bad.”  I have even let her be the one to poke me and test it.

We both love cucumbers, watermelon, chocolate, Dad’s chicken fried rice, upbeat music, cuddles in the church pew, and walking in nature. This child of mine doesn’t care about the width of my hips just that I’m using them to enable me to guide her.

One day, in the not so distant future this little girl will want to take her own path.  She will be the one leading someone, whether that be her own child or not.  This makes me become aware of how I share with her the perception of my own body, my own beliefs, my own guidance. One generation to another carries something with them from the past. I can only pray that her hip width is not something she lets run her life but maintains a healthy lifestyle physically and mentally.

Wrapping up, I have all but forgot the width of my hips and am basking in the joy of watching a child grow up in my home.  A child that I didn’t plan to have following me around but am very grateful it came to be.

Until next time,
Julie

Past moments in time are never that far away


Dad & MOM

The past few days my parents have been on my mind. Maybe because Facebook has that deal that shows you past posts or just because it’s July.  I know August is around the corner.

At lunch on Sunday with my entire family I was laughing and joking.  I made a comment about moving in with my kids when I was old and the son-in-laws weren’t too sure about that. I started to say I understood that I wasn’t sure I could live with my parents and it brought me back to the day my Dad died.

 

That morning, while we were alone in his hospital room, he told me that he needed to take me up on my offer.  The offer I had given him a few days before about moving in with us.  I had forgotten that, which surprises me.   I couldn’t stop my eyes from filling with tears but I gathered myself quickly I think.  I had a beautiful baby boy in my arms to look at and hide my tears.  I felt my husband’s hand on my leg for reassurance as well.

Dying Alone

While dancing and singing with my other baby grandson later,  in my home office, I saw the pictures of both my parents from various times in their lives.  The display has a photo of each of my parents holding me when I was a baby, I told G how that was me and continued to dance.  My mother loved to dance.  When I danced with my father at my second wedding we glided across the floor and if I shut my eyes I can still feel it.

The memories are here  in my mind and next to my heart.  Although they may fade they are still inside me.  Tears may have fallen on this day but I’m glad I remembered that memory with my Dad.

Until next time,

Julie

When You Realize You Aren’t as Kind & Empathetic as You Thought You Were


I always thought of myself as someone that was more empathetic and kind to others, than not being that way.  That my Christian faith aided me in that way of life.

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I mean it wasn’t like I volunteered at homeless shelters, raised money for the less fortunate, gave money or food to every person on the corner asking for it.  But I have done some of that plus donate to organizations and people I don’t even know.  I enjoy doing mission work at my home church as well.

But what happened that July morning? What happened to the person that normally sees the aid someone needs before becoming stricken with fear?  Is that only available when it seems a safe distance from me or my husband is home?

As the experience becomes a memory with each passing day I feel guilt on occasion. Guilt for not looking closer and seeing a person in need.  A person that needed medical help. Where was my thinking that these individuals stopped to rest and my porch apparently was the most inviting or just closest?

Instead I saw someone that would hurt my family.  I saw, no I felt fear and the image in front of me became blurred.  Blurred by the fact that later I would find out he was having a seizure.  At the time I had no clue why the scene in front of me was happening but it was only a few seconds glance to be honest.  My mind went to the darkest place verses the light place.

Instead of choosing to secure my daughter safely and take pity on the two strangers on my porch I called 911. (yes I know 911 would help them)  I also proceeded to bunker down in a room with my daughter.  I waited and visited with the lovely dispatcher for a good 20 or 25 minutes.  All the while these folks sat on my front porch.  What did they think, no one was home.  Did they want to be found?

The sheriff showed up and he seemed pretty laid back about the entire situation. Perhaps because he was familiar with the situation, the people, and knew things I didn’t know.  I felt better of course when I spoke to him.  Yet….

I wonder why didn’t they ring my doorbell?  Why did they choose that chair to sit in that they did?  How long had they been on my front porch?  During the night or just a short time? How long did they sit outside my daughter’s window? Are they getting the help they need now?

Many questions have run through my mind. I am the type of person that thinks, that is part of my processing.  Sometimes I never find the answers and it drives me crazy but eventually I let go and move on.

I have no clue who they are to this day or where they are now.  I now wish I would have stepped around the corner with the sheriff next to me to see them completely.  To put a face to the images I recall.  To humanize what occurred that morning, to make some sort of connection.

How to finish this post isn’t coming to me.  So I’ll just close for now.

Julie

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Compromises, Second Glances, & Window Treatments


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The differences between my husband and myself are ones that after fourteen years of marriage can still be seen.  At least by us.  There has been a meshing of sorts with some of them but some just will not break down and come together.

When we built our home a few years ago  I found out my husband wasn’t a fan of curtains.  (Or tree lines to block the winter storms.)  He likes his wide open spaces and clear views of the world outside.  He prefers to be outdoors as well. Now I’m a little different creature.  I like to close my blinds at night and keep the happenings of the interior of my home to my family.

He won the battle of no curtains or blinds except for in the bedrooms.  I can appreciate his perception and why the man I married is the way he is.  I even recently moved my sewing machine to the room where I get the best view of the sunset and my memory flower garden. He has rubbed off on me folks, it just doesn’t always show! 🙂

But he only won the battle for six years.  After my recent experience I think he can understand why I have him measuring the large front window and I’m shopping for just the right blinds for them.  Is this a drastic move?  No I don’t think so, I think it’s a compromise for the sake of our marriage. Both sides willing to give in and mesh together.  I won’t have them shut during the day, he won’t keep them open when we go to bed.

The experience I’ve mentioned but not totally explained is one that doesn’t have me running to the therapist or wigging out in front of our daughter.  But it does have me putting things in place that make me, my family, and perhaps even others more comfortable in our home.

As the outside world becomes dark I find myself taking double glances and looking behind me as I walk through my own home.  I listen more acutely to the sounds being made and keep my families whereabouts in check. I wasn’t a slacker to begin with in these areas but I am more on point now.

With each passing day I am better.  With each passing day I find myself thinking less about what happened and more about what is in front of me.  I’m continuing my process and I appreciate the fact that my spouse is allowing me to find my “comfort zone” even when he may not like it.

Until next time.

Julie

 

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May the Skipping Never Stop


I was sitting on the couch one night recently with my daughter. We were huddled in our own blankets, watching Supergirl. She was watching intently and I just stared at her for a few moments.  Her expression changed with each event of the show.  My chest began to tighten and a small smile across my face appeared, and a slight moisten of the eyes happened. (stick with me folks)

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The child that shared the couch with me that night, at times is still my little playful youngster while at other times little bits of independence make their appearance.  The body is changing and I see it, yet forbid it.  I know from experience it is only the very inkling of beginnings of things transpire in the world of physical and emotional childhood.

My thoughts this summer have periodically been of time to continue conversations of the “could be uncomfortable nature” or “she’s too young” or “in reality it’s not too soon”. Back and forth in my mind the role of motherhood is played out.

The battle of wanting her to be prepared in all aspects of life, yet wanting the innocence to stay at the core.  In the past year I have come to see how very differently we handle situations and honestly she’s better at most of them than I am.

I want to lock in this time for I know by next summer a whole new set of changes will come and I’ll probably be writing a post about it.  If I write here, hopefully I won’t be like the dramatic teenager I can be when dealing with her at times! 🙂

This is the child that has spent her nine short years skipping. She used to never really run but skip everywhere.  It represented a life of freedom and a go with the flow kinda mindset.  She still encompasses some of that, most of that.  But this year softball became more of a challenge and hustle was brought into play.  So running had to be done and well, she did do it, with some skipping too!  🙂

girls softball daughter

I’m proud of the kid.  She isn’t perfect by any means but she took on a challenge of being a pitcher and not letting it break her “skipping spirit”.  Just with the degree of playing the game of softball changed, her life too changes with each passing year.

My role as her mother I think is to teach, guide, and allow her to fly on her own.  Three daughters later and I finally  realize that having them make mistakes  while home and I’m still a guide is essential to their adult life.  Saving them each time doesn’t teach them a damn thing!  I apologize to my first and second daughters for failing you in some aspects of my parenting, well let’s just throw in daughter number three too! We all know I’m far from perfect, remember I said I’m the one that acts like a dramatic teen at times! 🙂

I’m better at this motherhood thing now I think.  My “skipper” is better today than yesterday in this thing called life too.  It’s not all due to me.  She has a good father, super sisters, awesome grandparents, a loving church family, extended family, friends, teachers, and many more that help us in raising her.

But as her mom, I get an inside view of what is changing, even if microscopic in her daily life.  A front row seat if you will, to seeing each physical change and interpretation from her mind.  Sometimes this is a blessing beyond my own ability to comprehend and other times it’s hard.  Super hard to watch the innocence fade a level and the reality of this harsh world smack her in the face.  

mother daughter grace

One thing is certain.  Until I take my last breath, I will sit in the front row, whether it’s comfortable or uncomfortable, right next to her or ten seats away.  I’ll be there, even when she doesn’t know it.

And may she NEVER stop skipping through life!

Love,

Mom