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.

 

 

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

Words At A Halt, So I’ll Just Hug


In my life I have one particular small group of girlfriends that I like to think of as my “prayer-go-to-gals.”  They are the first ones I think of when I am in need of a prayer, which by the the way is often.  Whether it’s a joy to celebrate or a struggle of uncertainty, they have my back.  I know without a doubt they will pray.  Whether they do it during their daily devotions or at that very moment real quick-like, I can count on them.  As I hope they know they can with me.

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In this group, I was the first to lose both my parents, not exactly something I wanted to be first place in but hey, someone has to be first!  These ladies rallied behind me, allowed me to write long posts and fervently prayed.  Now as one of the other ladies is in the midst of going through the first days of losing her mother I find myself empathizing.

The thing is although I’ve walked through familiar territory I can’t find the words.  The words that let her know I understand.  The feelings inside me aren’t of me missing my parents necessarily it’s more of wanting to “care for” and almost protect my friend.  No two people are alike and her situation is different but there are similarities.  Mostly just the act of having a parent die.  I’ve seen a glimpse of the road that lies ahead.

I want my friend to know that even though I may not say many words I am praying.  I also have ears open to listen or eyes to read texts and my mouth will be shut.  And if she needs a bag of chips, a jar of salsa, a pepsi, and/or a snickers bar I’m her gal!  I’m only a text away and I deliver!

If you find yourself in the midst of not knowing what to say to someone, just hug.  As you hug, say a quick prayer.  That’s what I did last night.  God bless you my friend.

Julie

The 26th – And how it came and went.


Today marks one year since my mother passed away.  I had a restless night of sleep, by morning my anxiety level was pretty high.  I don’t know if it was due to the anniversary of something so hard or the depression or the fact that I’m traveling this weekend.

I’m heading out to  spend the weekend away from home with some girlfriends.  At the time of scheduling the trip I thought it would be a good idea for me to be away from home.  I still feel that way – mostly.  Honestly I always get anxious about traveling due to a medical issue I have.  I know being away from home won’t make me forget but perhaps a nice distraction and opportunity to relax.

After taking my daughter to school I spent the morning in my kitchen.  As I have stated before, cooking seems to be my therapy.  Maybe it calms me because I can control what goes in when and it can be done in a certain order. All the while anticipating something good coming out of my actions.  I don’t have to talk or feel or think of anything else while pouring the ingredients into the metal bowl.  I even thought of my mom while baking the cake.  It wasn’t sad but glad she was such a good cook and baker.  A gift she shared with me.

The weekend away is needed for more than one reason and I know I will enjoy the laughter, comradity, and memories made with my friends.  Although I won’t be able to control the ingredients that will make up this wonderful time, I can participate with as much as I can muster.

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Written later……

The weekend away was enjoyable and good for me.  I felt up and down throughout the weekend.  I haven’t laughed that much for so long.  And I needed that.  The laughter with girlfriends is so very awesome! Thank you to my friends that spent time with me and also listened when I did share my feelings.

I’m actually publishing this on September 3rd, what would have been my mother’s birthday.  But no more birthdays exist for her.  No more angel food cakes or family gathering to celebrate her life.  I did get to spend the morning with my two sisters and visit with my brother on the phone.  That was a good way to spend my day.  A really good way.

Tomorrow is another day.  Another step forward.  Another opportunity to reach for something better, smile more, laugh alot, and hug those around me.  I’m grateful.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

Gathering Afterwards


No one tells you how different it will be.  And if they do, you probably won’t be able to wrap your head around it or believe them. I really didn’t realize the connection that my mother made for me and the rest of my extended family.  A connection that wasn’t so obvious to me at the time but is now upon our gathering together in her absence.

It was the way you didn’t want to leave when we had family gatherings.  Where sitting around her large oval dinner table with lots of food, laughing, and enjoying the antics of a cousin, niece, or nephew.  Or more than likely Mom saying something outlandish, flirting with an in-law, or encouraging a little one to crawl up in her lap.

I can’t really describe it to you.

We’ve had a couple of gatherings since her passing one year ago and it’s not the same.

Even though she may not have been the instigator of the memory made or the antic occurring it was still relevant to the connection of her.  We still laugh together, eat together, and celebrate family moments but it’s not the same.

To be honest, my biggest fear is losing connection with my siblings.  Not the love for one another but the gift that was given to us through being raised together.

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I once had a friend that knew us while growing up and then I didn’t see him for many years.  In conversation all those years later, he admitted that he was always impressed with the closeness/bond that our family had.  Primarily talking about my siblings, my mom, and myself.  I remember stating and thinking that I never felt we had that much of a closeness.  At least not any more than any other family I knew.  That observation from the outside made me feel lucky though. And with the death of both our parents it’s made me realize how true it is.

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Today as I remember that memory I celebrate the extended family that was given to me. The bond created in family isn’t always from joyous moments, dinners around the table, or cheering at ballgames together.  Sometimes it’s created by too much yelling and witnessing bad things or sleeping in a car periodically.  Sometimes it’s from just living in the house together with those that know what no one else knows.

Whatever creates the bond, it’s important to hold on to it.  There’s no bringing our mother back, but I have three people in my life that can remember her with me and who know what I’m talking about when I say I miss her.

Mother and I 2014

It will take all four of us to continue to nourish the bond/relationships and to be an example to our own children.  I pray daily for them and I look forward to the future of our family.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

When You Know What’s Coming – August


It’s here.  Year 2.  The anniversary of the death of my Dad.  I wouldn’t say it’s easier this year but it’s different.  I think part of it is that I know what is around the corner.  Last year I had no clue that my pain in the area of death and parents would become so tremendous. I didn’t know that it would bring me to a place where the darkness could almost win out.

Dad & I
He beat cancer. He was being treated for it in this photo.

This year around the corner is the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.  One year and nine days after the death of my Dad my mother passed away.  So the days between August 17th and the 26th are ones I am just keeping my head above water so to speak. Oh let me just be honest, the entire month so far hasn’t been easy for me.

I didn’t know that the death of my parents would affect me so much.  I’ve had issues with depression but only once in my life had it ever been at this degree.  At the moment, today it’s been a good day.  I got some very joyous news on the 17th which has kept the darkness at bay. It’s still there underlying but I can function without feeling overwhelmed.  The joyous news doesn’t take away the truth, the hurt, the grief, the depression 100%, but it has brought me to look at things a little differently.  To smile and focus on something spectacular.

Today my dad would have been 77 years old. He died two days before his 75th birthday.  The birthdays have stopped.  The tremendous hugs are gone.  The hearing him tell me I’m “lookin’ good” is only a flicker of memory now.  I have photographs, memories, and time. I’m grateful for the memories and the photographs.

Tomorrow will be spent with extended family.  I’m looking forward to being surrounded by people that loved both my parents as much as me.  I hope we can remember old times and make new memories they’d be proud of.

Today I celebrate the gifts that my Dad gave me.  Rest in peace.

Grace is a gift,

JulieDad Memorial

 

The Ugly Parts


You know that thing going around Facebook, the Love Your Spouse Challenge?  Well I was cringing every time I got onto Facebook because I figured one of my friends would nominate me eventually.  It happened.  I’m on day 3 by the way.  Until today I didn’t post anything gushy with the picture, just the facts of when it was taken.  In fact, I didn’t get real gushy today but it was more wordy and the truth.  It’s a start, right?

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See a happy time.  I wanna go back. I loved that trip!

Oh sure.  I could have just not did it but then the facade of our marriage might be in jeopardy! The view of my life from the outlet of social media in danger!  Don’t act like you don’t think this way (on occasion).  We want others to think and believe that our lives are beautiful and picture worthy and that the ugly never enters.  It does.  The ugly makes it appearance and it brings you to your knees.  To the point of “get me outta here!”   Which in reality means get in my car, go for a long drive, and turn up some Aerosmith or Zac Brown Band or something of that nature.

Disclaimer here – I love my husband but it takes more than love to make a marriage work.  Divorce isn’t in our language so don’t go telling others our marriage is over please.   Just wanted that documented.

Struggling times, problem times, hiccup in the road times. Whatever you want to call them  – happen in marriage.  It’s the ugly truth and hiding it I suppose is the “norm”, sometimes I just wanna buck the norm!  Sometimes I don’t want to feel alone in this struggle after 13 years of marriage. The frustration.  The loneliness.  The anger.  The sadness.

I’m an expressive person where my husband is not. I don’t necessarily need to share my dirty laundry with the world. Or perhaps I do since I’m blogging here today.  Maybe I’m angry at the world because sharing your dirty laundry is frowned upon.  Then again that would make me a hypocrite cause when I see some of the things posted on Facebook I want to reach through the computer screen and smack the person that posted it!

Do I seem a little feisty today?  Yes I am but it’s milder than it was two days ago I promise. Perhaps snarky is a more accurate word.  I don’t want depression, marriage issues, struggles, and grief to be something that people shy away from when seeing it in others.  I don’t want to feel uncomfortable or have them uncomfortable.  But I am.

When a couple of friends have reached out, I now feel embarrassed and ashamed.  I feel like by now I should have it back together.  That I should be happy with the newer house, the healthy kids, the hard-working husband, the easy job I have, and so much more.

They’re right. I should.  This darkness won’t go away though.   The heaviness that I feel is not dissipating.  Although hearing God’s word yesterday did help.  Then again this morning reading and writing in my prayer journal.  It’s a start right?

Whether it’s depression or marriage issues or work issues or family issues hang on.  If you are struggling out there know you are not alone.  Others in this world are in the midst of something not so sweet and beautiful.  The point is to move forward.  Right now I feel like I’m stuck in a spot of mud but I know in the back of my mind I will get out.  I will move forward to a better day, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe in an hour.  I don’t know when but it’s coming.

I’m pushing to the light of grace.

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See the light in the corner?  It’s there and I’m heading for it. 

Julie

Only One Post


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Well folks it’s been fun in 2015 hasn’t it?  I mean we have laughed and shook heads in agreement with Honesty Days, touched base with God in the God’s Grace posts, and walked through grieving another death.

I hope that in my Music to my Ears posts you found yourself dancing while reading, enjoyed some awesome stories about adoption, but most of all I hope my writing inspired you.  Inspired you to do whatever God was leading you to do.  Whether it be through an act of kindness, pray with another, speak of His truth to others, or start a new adventure!  I’m so very glad you have joined me in every aspect of the journey.

I’ve written many times about connecting with others.  I know that between us is some sort of device, but I hope that my words have touched you in a way that has brought you joy.  Writing about my life experiences is a way for me to grow, help others, and deal with whatever is at hand.  I feel fortunate to be able to write in a blog setting.

Does this sound like a good bye?  Well,  don’t worry, I’m not. I’m just taking an extended vacation to focus on family, the holidays, and create a new space for us to meet.  I do have an upcoming very special post in December, just one.  Of course it has to do with #pfwg44thbirthday and you will see if I made my goals!

I pray that your Christmas season is a joyous one and that it holds the true meaning of it all.  Jesus Christ.  May you take time to watch the little ones play, sing, and be silly.  May you see the glimmer in your spouse’s/significant other’s eyes once again, and watch the adult children’s life unfold before you.  Hug and kiss the family too much and eat the good food that has been provided for you, and TAKE PICTURES!  Take moments to be generally kind to the clerk at the store, the elderly one, the ones less fortunate, and the ones alone this holiday season.

May we all encompass Christ’s love and share it too much!  God bless you and I will see you in a few weeks!

Grace is a gift,

Juli