Mom – I celebrate you.


I remember this lady. She was funny and outlandish. Strong and hard working. Opinionated to say the least. Used profanity more than she should have. Always went for the underdog, sometimes more than her own kids. She loved her kids by working tons of overtime, having hot dogs and bologna in the frig, Wonder bread on the kitchen counter and just putting a roof over our heads. Her love was expressed back in those days as pushing us to do whatever we had to to survive.

She is sitting in the trailer house that I spent a few years in after my parents divorce (jr. high years). When we moved in I still wore pigtails but by the time we left they were no where in sight! We spent the summer while they worked on the trailer living in my uncles pop up camper. (Think Kansas summer storms, not real fun) Grateful to Uncle Terry for helping my Mom at this time in her life.

The trailer was completely burnt up inside and my mom with family members like my Uncle Terry completely redid the inside. She was making a home for her family that sat on her brother’s property. She worked way more than 40 hours per week at her assembly line job a few miles away, all while have 3 kids still at home. She didn’t have time to attend games or music concerts but loved us just the same.

I recall my bedroom was TINY to say the least but I loved it. My grandmother had made me a quilt that had my favorite color – yellow that was on the twin size bed. A built in desk that basically was 4 legs and a top with a mirror in front of it. This is probably why my sister Elizabeth says I was spoiled, she had to share a room with Mom when we lived here at one point. She was in high school, sorry sis!

Paneling. It was ALL paneling! 🙂 Orange curtains and green bathroom decor. Mid 80’s, whether in style or not it was home. Home where I didn’t see Mom much cause she was working so much to support her family as a single Mom, Dad never got us kids every other weekend, a place I fought with my sister alot and talked on that telephone while standing clear across the kitchen. Which was so very cool back in the day I might add! I cooked meals for the family, did homework on my own, and I was thrilled when one Christmas we each got sweat suits! One gift. That’s it. Sears was the place she shopped! It was blue and had black & white stripes diagonally. There’s a picture somewhere 🙂 But here’s the deal. We didn’t have much but we had our family. The tree was ALWAYS full of silver tinsel. Mom loved it.

My brother was in the Marines. My oldest sister became a mother during this time and I babysat my nephew in that trailer house. Now he is raised with a beautiful family of his own. My siblings are what I have left that connects me to the woman in the photo. I am lucky for that.

Although she could make me madder than anyone else and embarrass me like no other, I love her immensely. I miss her, not just during the holidays but when one of my girls recalls a memory. When my siblings and I get together or I look at my coffee table where her photo sits. When I smell lilacs or look at photos from the past or the date of her death arrives.

Today though I’m celebrating her. Cause the lady in this photo was being super silly and was enjoying life in one of the most difficult times of her life. If she can do it, so can I! When things get hard I hope I can just remember her strength and of course turn to God.

#strength #loveyamom #youaremissed

PS – No comments necessary, this picture just inspired me. And in a world of a bunch of yucky stuff going on I wanted to celebrate the lady that taught me how to be strong. She led by example. Thanks Mom.

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My Parents & the Next Generation


Our family was watching a movie the other night together, a holiday one on Netflix.   One of the lines was ” I see your dad in you daily.”

Recently my own thoughts have been swirling around my dad and mom and the memories I have of them.  I suppose the holiday season is why and the fact that our extended family no longer comes together very easily.  Not because we can’t get along but more of just life gets in the way.

After the line was said, my 10-year-old daughter asked me what it meant, see the father figure was deceased.  I explained in a manner I thought she would relate.

“Don’t you see my dad and mom in me at times?”

Although quite innocent, yet I could tell she was hesitant to say the following she did.

“I don’t really remember Grandpa.”

Sadness inflicted my entire body and my next thought to myself was  “but you were such an important part of his life.”  I wasn’t angry with her, I mean she was only 6 years old when he passed away.  We only saw him 2 to 3 times per year.

But the story of when she was born and meeting him is one forever in my heart.  I guess I need to get the scrapbook out and tell her the story again and again and again.

The very next morning, upon returning to Kansas, we headed to the hospital to have Grandpa meet his newest grandaughter. I can recall walking down the hall, getting close to his room, an

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I am blessed with three siblings, three daughters, son-in-laws and grandchildren and a husband. But I still find myself missing the days of having extended family meet up more than once a year at Mom’s house.

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To hear her loud and outrageous comments, the kitchen island filled with good food and all of us crowded into her somewhat small home, then sitting together around her big table to laugh and eat!

My fondest memories are from years ago when we would play games or cards around that table.  This is somewhat lost now in our family.  We would all stay for hours and enjoy each others company with the littles running a-muck!

When all my children and grandchildren are in my home, gathered around my dinner table, that is when I find myself happiest.  Back in the day my mom would always say she didn’t want anything except her family home and us being there was gift enough.  We always got her gifts anyways but now, now that I have my own large family, I totally get what she meant.

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I am lucky because my children and grandchildren live quite close.  But when there has been a few days and I haven’t heard the twins say Gaga or my oldest granddaughter say Grandma Julie in her special way or the youngest grandaughter smile huge for me, or even the 12-year-old grandson hug me, I get to missing them and will video call them.  Grateful for technology but even more grateful for them when they are in my home together.

The thoughts of my parents recently, the subject of my youngest not recalling my dad has made other things to ponder in my mind.  What do I do that is similar to my dad?  Will my grandchildren remember me when I am gone,  the way my own girls recall my mom now? Will they notice the attributes that my daughters have that are similar to me?

Those are for another time.  I’m heading off to reminisce and think of days gone by now! Happy Holidays!

Julie

Turning 30 – Tashley Kay


Tashley b aby

I can’t believe my eldest daughter is turning 30 this month. It’s not about me feeling old or worrying about how it reflects on me. It’s just so very odd to me how the time has passed by quite rapidly.

tash & IShe was the first to make me a momma. The first to test my patience, give me messy kisses and warm hugs. The first to make me worry about ear infections, bumps on the head, and choices I was making as a mother. The first to challenge me and exceed my expectations. She was my “test run” as I like to say.

This is the gal that is most like me,  I think, out of all my children but yet she brings her own flair to life.

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tash and me concert

 

Tashley forgives quicker, has more dramatic responses, and has a smile that is larger than life. Cooking is her delight and even though she doesn’t get enough praise for it, she takes care of her family pretty darn good!  I’m one proud mom!

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She’s a mother herself now, two daughters and a son.

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There are times I relish in the witnessing of her being a Mom and other times I want to step in and say HEY STOP!

But that isn’t my job now. My job is to support, love, and allow her to take the motherhood journey as my Mom did me. Watching from the sidelines and praying for strength for her.

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The bonus to having her be a mother is the fact that I get some awesome grand-kids outta the deal! 🙂 It’s a win-win for me!

Thirty years ago I could have taken a much different route. But honestly, I think I made the best choice.  I would do it all over again if presented with the same circumstances. I would become a mother when I was really only a child myself and go through the heartache,  the changes and challenges that life gave us.

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Because in the end, all that really matters is the fact that this human existed and she was worth every second!  Choosing her and being with her every day as her mother is what I was meant to do. Plain and simple.

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Thirty years of watching a life transpire into a million different things and changing daily or even hourly. The opportunity to be Tashley’s mother wasn’t an easy one to start but  knowing her has made my life much, much better. No matter the obstacle or joy, she has always been worth it.

Happy 30th birthday to my girl that was such a laid back baby, a little girl that played well, the tween/teen that had to have the last word, the young lady that found her way even without me, and the woman that through it all, STILL has that huge smile!

 

I love you,

MOM

 

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)

 

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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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.

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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