Five Years


August brings a whole collage of emotions for me.  This past weekend marked the fifth year anniversary of my dad’s passing.  This year, I was able to spend the day with two of my siblings, my sisters.  It was good for the soul to sit with them and laugh, listen to what is going on in their lives and just relish the time spent with them.

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I call myself lucky because I was born into a family that already had three children.  My siblings, although we don’t see one another that often are what I would call close.  Our parents passing has only reinforced that verses making a larger gap.  My degree of gratefulness for this can not be put into words.

Siblings 2019

But there is something I wish for.  I wish our family, our generation and the rest would talk more about Dad and Mom.  I guess it would make me feel closer to them, allow the current youngest of our kin to know them somehow and quite possibly help the part of me that is broken heal more.

PicMonkey Collage

I find myself feeling better in regards to the grief I have felt in the past five years.  Mostly in the past couple months, finding strength and health.

I sat with my husband on the date of my father’s death and as I realized the time of day my thoughts went to that night.  I can see and feel moments of panic, sadness, hear sounds and recall smells.  I am able to do the same with my mother’s passing that will be marked on the 26th of this month as being four years.

While waiting to go up to the church altar just yesterday I was standing by some flowers from a recent funeral in our church.  The smell wafted over me and it brought about the scene of my parents funerals and the smell of the flowers at them.  It’s interesting to me how much the brain can store and bring back just by simple smells and sounds.

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Four years without the super glue of our clan.  Mom.  The lady that could make you angry quickly or rolling in laughter in seconds.  She required your presence at gatherings and if you didn’t, she’d serve up some guilt with your name on it.  The lady that only required her family be surrounded around her and the gifts could stay at the store.  The woman that chose newcomers and grandchildren and in laws over her kids most often in life.  But that was her way of showing us (her 4 kids) that she loved us. See those folks are extensions of her own children, people her children loved very much.

Five years has come and gone and the year before my dad’s death was hard for me for other reasons and that added to the brokenness of me.  My mother’s passing really shook the core of me and I went to some places that were not enjoyable.  But time has passed and I have learned a new normal so to speak.

I’m still broken due to the losses I’ve felt.  But I can honestly say I am finding a balance and I rebound from the lower times quicker.  I feel stronger I guess.  I can  look around and see that I can celebrate my parents by just doing a few things.

Closing my eyes and bringing my memory bank up.  This includes my dad’s big hands and his hugs that no one will replace.  Sitting down at my sewing machine that sits below the picture my mother painted or looking at the photo of her nearby.  I can hear my older daughters laugh out loud about an outrageous story that included grandma.  Then there is my three siblings that I can plainly see a mixture of our parents in. I can feel a bond with them that I don’t even have with my own children or grandchildren.  Only my siblings grew up with our parents and lived with me, that created something pretty cool.

Dad & MOM

I’m sad in August but I’ve got so much to celebrate as well. My sister’s birthdays each year.  This year a family reunion that I hope will become a tradition where we can honor dad and mom and grow closer.  There’s more to celebrate but I’m focusing on those for now.

If I have learned nothing else in my 48 years of life I’ve learned family matters.  The family that brought you into this world.  The family that grew with marriages, babies and close friends.  The family that teaches the next generation what they know in hopes they will learn from it.  Whether it was good or bad advice, there is always something to learn.

Rest in peace Dad and Mom.  You are loved and missed.

Julie

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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)

 

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

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

Treasures can be Hidden by Despair


I will never taste the Spice Peaches or Macaroni salad again that her hands made.  These are two of my favorite recipes that my Mom made as I grew up.  I remember requesting her to make the peaches for Christmas often.

She loved peaches.  She would eat them fresh with cream on them or in a peach pie.  I love peaches too.  That’s something nice to have in common with her.

When it struck me one afternoon that I would not be eating the food she made anymore tears began to fall.  I clutched the book that held the recipe to my chest and just let the tears fall for a bit.

I can still smell the aroma of spiced peaches and the taste of the macaroni salad with cucumbers.  (Another thing we both loved)  Connection to our past can come in different forms.  Whether it be with food, photographs, a song, poem, or holiday.

 

Craft Projects

Although I wouldn’t want those connections to be gone, sometimes they are hard to handle.  One must not stay in the mode of connection that brings them despair.  If I stay in my grief, the treasure of the past will be eventually be forgotten.  All there will be is sadness, despair, what if’s, or I should haves.

So, when those moments of connection occur, I will allow myself to wallow in them but eventually I will make my way out.  For instance, on the afternoon those tears fell I found my way down a country road.  To walk among the fall foliage and beautiful milo field.  This gave me distance from the sadness, opportunity to clear my mind, and see that the treasure was just that.  A treasure.

I’m not over my mother’s death or my father’s for that matter.  I am just making my way through this journey called grief.  I am managing my life the best I can with the tools provided to me.  I’m not ignoring the past, the grief, or how much it hurts.  I just will not allow it to rob my present life of the treasures that have been given to me.  Having the joys God gave me is not something to throw away by living in the past.

Mother and I 2014

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.

Hankie

A partially used bottle of her perfume.

Perfume broch rings

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

tea towel

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