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.


Mom

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

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

Stable Force – Motherhood


Spring has arrived and it came in with quite a lot of busyness!  Our family grew by a couple more humans via my daughter and son-in-law.  Our youngest turned nine.  NINE!  I can hardly wrap my head around that one folks!

As I’ve spent a few days in March cuddling newborns it takes me back to each one of my own daughter’s births.  All three had a unique arrival into the world, only two from my womb, but all just as precious.   I’ve also been reminded of the absence of my own mother.  She would have unwrapped the swaddled babies and inspected their tiny toes counting each one first thing!  She would have given advice from her own days of  being a mother to an infant.  I find myself doing that with my daughter  too, only I’m trying really hard to just step back.  Allow her to experience what she has before her, in her own way.

Mom and Daughter

I’m quite a bit more emotional than my daughter the new mother. Writing is a way for me to commemorate an experience all while locking it in, (for I know the days will come I’ll forget).  So, here goes.

I’m writing today because last night the simple act of dressing a newly bathed baby made my chest fill with warmth and pride burst from me.  And I wasn’t even the one doing it!  My daughter was.  Witnessing our children doing things in life always has some sort of effect on us, doesn’t it?  Whether it is a musical concert, sharing at playtime, a fit in the store, dropping a toy for the 100th time, or having them display their own parenting skills.

All these little nuggets in life bring forth different emotions and each have their place in our lives.  I think, in my own opinion, being a stable force in my child’s life is essential to a relationship.  Raising my children has not been always sweet moments with bragging rights attached.

There’s been times I’ve wanted to hide under a rock, scream from the street corner, and throw my own kind of fit! My hope if my daughters were asked they would say that Mom was there, even when she was mad at me or vice versa.

I hope I have raised my children with a good combination of love and discipline.  If I haven’t, then I think I failed as a parent.

(Disclaimer: I am not a parenting guru nor think that I am!)

MOther Daughter Wedding

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Farming Grace Daily

When I became a mother at 17 I knew nothing, although my mindset was different!  My first child was a practice run so to speak. 🙂  Then the second one came along and she was completely opposite of the first one.  By the third it’d been so many years I almost felt lost and quite unsure again (at first).

But as I sit here today I realize that the gold nuggets of this life as a mother are not always wrapped in beautiful boxes with big bows or grand gestures.  Sometimes, it’s just the act of saying no, using a somewhat firm voice, cuddles, or talking it out later. Or that the third piece of candy is fine or getting a C on a paper isn’t the worst thing in the world.

That stable force is built on combinations of strength, discipline, tenderness, and care. My wish for my own three daughters is that they are able to display this in their own motherhood experiences.  That the example they were given was worthy.  I love you girls!

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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

Generational Parenting – Pull Yourself Up By the Bootstraps


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One of the repercussions of being raised by two “tough” and”strong” individuals is that when a tribulation arrives in one’s life and you feel weak for feeling alone in it, too quickly the guilt seeps in.

There are moments or days when my emotions seem to get the best of me regarding the latest loss in my life. Then shortly after it begins, I find myself thinking “mother would hurt but she wouldn’t necessarily show it.” That’s the guilt. I feel alone yet torn because I should just pull myself up by my bootstraps and move on.  Sometimes this task is so very difficult for me.

My parents were not heartless, they were just strong because of the things that occurred in their lives before I ever arrived. Then there were the things after their fourth child arrived that created the hardened exterior that was their armor in daily living.

mother and daughter

Like most children, my parents hurt me periodically.  As I’ve mentioned before it wasn’t a Norman Rockwell kinda life.  I have always felt that our parenting is generational and comes from things that were taught to us or seen by us while growing up.  Some of us, make a conscious effort to change those “less than stellar” qualities when we are granted children of our own. Unfortunately, in my parent’s generation this wasn’t as common as it might be today.  Although,  later in life my Dad seemed to reflect, as a lot of us do and apologize for his actions. And Mother treated her grandchildren with love and dedication and it wasn’t just a “grandparent’s right”.  I’m glad she was able to enjoy her grandchildren and see her children grow into who they became.

Dad & MOM

Some people may think this is a parenting bashing post and very disrespectful of the upbringing that my parents provided me.   Don’t get me wrong, my parents provided us with food, shelter, and taught me to be strong.  Which being strong has come into good use a lot in my own life!  They loved me how they knew best just as I do with my own children today.

As an adult that has lost both her parents now, I can appreciate what they did provide for me.  I can be grateful in the the gifts that were given, whether in a soft manner or slightly rough one.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

 

Shopping in My Mom’s Closet


I find it funny that my mother and I wore the same size clothing.  Well, actually I find it ironic that, at a time that I needed new jeans she provided.  As I began looking through her closet I found capris and like new jeans that fit me.  This is truly a blessing as I am to begin a new part-time job and I was in need of jeans for it.  Thank you Mom!

As I made my way through her blouses I could pick out the ones that she wore most often.  She would be sitting in her recliner, playing Free cell or reading a book or watching an old movie while donning them more often than others.  Days of long ago I can see her in the yard working on it while in a sleeveless button shirt.   The older jeans she wore were Wranglers, men’s I’ll tell you.  She always worked like a man and said men’s Wranglers fit her better! 🙂   Her night gowns and house coats were an item of softness.  Upon trying on one of my mother’s blouses it smelled just of her.  Downy and cigarettes.  I know, odd but comforting at the same time now.  Don’t worry, I’ve washed the clothes I brought home. 🙂

I can recall while growing up one particular image of my mother.  Curlers in her hair, normally overnight, but sometimes during the day.  I’d see the black rollers with pink plastic pins holding them in tightly.  She still had them, in her Artex painted canvas bag in the bathroom.

She preferred to roll her hair in curlers but as her back injury got worse she was unable to.  She began to cut  her hair quite short and although she looked pretty, it just wasn’t quite the same for us kids.

Her hair was always parted to the same side, bangs curled.  Her forehead was hardly ever covered up in her life until the last few years.   It’s funny the things that you remember, the things that are memories.

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While shopping in my Mom’s closet it brought back memories. The rest will help another, I hope they feel warmth and comfort in the clothes that were my mothers.
Grace is a gift,

Julie

Game Face – Under the Covers – One Month Down


Cross Upon My Wall

One month has passed since my world changed.  Yes, I’m writing about the death of my mother once again.  This blog provides a type of therapy and it’s needed these days. I honestly do not want attention, I only  hope that in some small way it helps someone else that is struggling.   May they know they are not alone, may they find hope in God, and may they reach out if help is needed.

The past couple days have been quite difficult for me, I have felt the depression coming on, and the sense of loss very present.  The moments of just sitting and staring blank at the wall across the room or only half hearing what someone is saying.  There weren’t too many tears on these days but more numbness.   It’s progressing.

Progressing to the point that I want to just not have to deal with anything that has  to do with the passing of my mother.  I am ignoring the items in my garage to go through, wishing away the messages about my mother’s estate between us siblings, and the reality of the fact that she isn’t in her recliner in her home on a daily basis.

That’s where I am for the moment.  I don’t feel guilty, I just feel I need a  break.  Yet when I try to take a break or walk away things happen that bring the reality to the forefront. It’s no ones fault, it’s just this way in life.

As I walked through a store today I noticed they had Christmas items out.  The thought crossed my mind of how we always do an ornament game at Christmas at my mothers.  Mom had no problem stealing your ornament if she thought it was the best one.  That used to bug me, now I wish she was here to do it this coming holiday season.

As I washed the dishes a few days ago that I brought home from her house I did it in a quiet manner alone.  I wondered if there were dishes from my kitchen that my daughters would see and recall memories from childhood like my siblings and I did.  The yellow bowls, yellow and white platter, and the green glass bowl just to name a few were the ones for me.

The friend or acquaintance that means well and asks the same question I have to others many times myself.  “How are you?”  For just a slight moment I think, “I wonder if they really want to know?”  Then I normally tell them I’m fine or getting by!

It’s not the end of the world that my mother died.  It’s not.  But it still hurts, it still makes me feel sad, even when I know the truth.  The truth that this life on earth is not what we are promised.  That eternal life will bring me more peace and happiness than I could ever imagine and both my parents once again.

So, for now.  Just know that I’m not myself, even if I am trying hard to be just that.   For when I’m going through the day at a steady pace, odds are I would like to crawl into my bed and pull the covers up over my head. This too shall pass.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

Treasures – From a Mother


As most of you know, my mother passed away in August.  My siblings and I spent 2-3 days recently going through her house and choosing the items we wanted.  Although it was a bittersweet time, I am glad we could do it together.

Some of my favorite treasures from Mom are below. I’d like to share them with you.

Her embroidery patterns!

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A hankie that was one of my grandmothers.

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A partially used bottle of her perfume.

Perfume broch rings

An embroidered tea towel that my mom’s mother made.

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There were many items that were of higher dollar value, but honestly these simple things that brought Mom joy make me feel quite lucky to have them now.

I could live without any of the material items that are now mine.  I would be fine, and who knows, quite possibly better for it, but I like the idea of passing something down to the next generation.  That’s part of the beauty of this thing called death.  Not only will the material items be passed to the next generation but so will things my mother taught me in life. I already see her in my two older daughters.

Craft Projects

I’m sure when the time is right, I will sort through the incomplete craft projects and begin attempting to assemble them.  There’s joy and sadness in each project not completed by her.  On one hand I will not be able to crochet or embroider quite like her, the difference will be evident. The quilt blocks may not match up exactly and I will surely struggle.  But the opportunity to put together things that were touched by my mother’s hands will bring joy to my heart I do not doubt.

Grace is a gift,

Julie