Tuesday, March 25, 2008

happy birthday mom!

mom would have been 63 today.
this is a picture from her 60th birthday.
let's just say that i was the designated driver.
i'll have a drink tonight for my mom!

Sunday, March 23, 2008


And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense.
Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen.
It gives life a permanently provisional feeling...Up till this I always had
too little time. Now there is nothing but time.


I think I am beginning to understand why grief feels like suspense.
It comes from the frustration of so many impulses that had become

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

my mom and brother at his wedding

thanks to cj for lending me A Grief Observed.

i'm going to have to agree with C.S.L. here. grief does feel like fear.
and i am experiencing the frustration of those habitual impulses.
it's easter. on easter i call each of my parents to wish them a happy easter.
today i called my dad. and then sat in a chair in my bedroom. and moped.
because i couldn't call my mom. at least not in the conventional sense.

my mom and i haven't lived near each other since i was in high school,
so most of our communication was done on the phone. we'd call each
other when something great happened in our lives, or something we
wanted to bitch about. we'd call each other when one of us was lonely.
sometimes we'd just call to talk. before my mom was diagnosed with
multiple myeloma in august, we spoke once a week. since august 2007,
until february 10, 2008 when she died, we spoke every day, with only
a few exceptions.

it is frustrating, indeed, not to be able to call her today and wish her
a happy easter, to hear all the gossip from church, to find out how
her weekend went, to tell her about the beautiful sunrise service
at the park i went to this morning and the lovely breakfast at church
afterwards. i know she'd want to know how cold it was at the service,
how long it was, how i got there, what i made for breakfast, who i talked
to at breakfast and what i did when i left. and she'd remember to ask
me about mike, how his concussion is doing, and when his next doctor's
appointment is.

we miss you mom. happy easter.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


this post is dedicated to jess, a true lover of booties.

i decided a little light-heartedness might be in order, after the rather heavy
post from last week. there will be plenty more sadness to come, i'm sure, so
here's something a little different.

i've been considering the things my mom enjoyed and/or did well in her life.
there are many things. one of the things she excelled in was saving things.
some might call it hoarding, or a certain tendency towards being a pack rat.
call it what you will.

one of the things i found in her house the last time we were there cleaning
things out was this.

this, my friends, is a box of handknit booties. f.pea, eat your knitting heart out.
these booties were made by mrs. kearns, a woman who lived down the street from my mom when she was a kid. the box actually has my grandmother's handwriting on it, which is even more impressive - my grandma saved them after they moved away and passed them on to my mom. i never did get the full story on why mrs. kearns made so many booties. all i can tell you is that everytime i was at my mom's house in the winter with cold feet, she'd offer me a pair.
and tell me to take them home with me. jess, who at that time was living with me instead of in lovely oaxaca, took a liking to these booties. she being one who also gets cold feet. so the next time my mom came to visit us in philly, she brought jess a few pairs. allegedly these were the last pairs in the house/that my mom owned. jess and i (yes, i got a few more pairs as well) were so happy.

so imagine my surprise when i came upon a whole box! m and i have decided that they will be the perfect thing for our new house - we'll have a basket at the front door for guests. maybe we'll even let a few booties walk off into the night...

her strength is in her principles

per steve's request, here's a close up of the card.

Monday, March 10, 2008

it's been a month since my mom passed away.
i miss her a lot.
this is an altar i set up for her in my bedroom.

the angel in the back is named courage.
the old woman on the card is titled "her strength is in her principles."
the ceramic tile is something that was hanging over her sink. it says,
"those who hope in the lord will renew their strength; they will run and not be weary;
they will walk and not faint. isaiah 40:31"
the cross is also something that was hanging in her house.
and the other cards are prayer cards from her funeral service.

as i continue to grieve, i will be thinking about how and what of my mom's life i want to carry on through the way i live.

Monday, March 3, 2008

where's the manual?

like most big events in life, there doesn't seem to be a manual instructing the unschooled on what to do when a loved one dies. too bad i don't own a television - i hear six feet under is a pretty good education in this stuff.

when mom died, i had no idea how busy we'd be in the next week.

we scheduled the wake, funeral, and burial; chose a casket; chose the concrete box one is required to buy for the casket to go in (!); decided on a design and prose for the prayer cards; wrote her obituary and decided to only have it published on one day and in one newspaper; picked out clothes and jewelry for her to be buried in; found a new home for her cat; decided on and purchased the paper for the funeral program; planned the funeral service with her pastor; created two displays of pictures of mom for the wake and funeral; chose flowers for the top of the casket; met with a lawyer to start the (long) estate process; notified friends and family of her passing; and tried to remember to eat and sleep.

one moment, i felt perfectly fine and at peace. the next moment, feelings of deep sadness, panic, and/or exhaustion would overwhelm me. this is the way my grief continues. coming back to my "normal" life, but without mom, has been extremely difficult. i hear that this gets easier; right now it seems to be getting harder. i'm confident the grief will become something easier to understand, to grapple with, to mold and shape into something i can handle. right now mom comes to me when she will - at night, on the bus, at work, during yoga, whenever and wherever. i'm just trying to ride the waves of grief and not fight too hard against the current.

from my mom's friend corrinne

here is a message from my mom's friend corrinne about walk she is doing in mom's honor...

A couple of years ago my daughter, Julie, started telling me I could/should run a marathon. After all, there were many women who were over 60 and running their first marathon. Being older and wiser I knew this just wasn't going to happen. Then in August 2007 my friend Ginny Gilbertson was diagnosed with myeloma. Julie took the opportunity to suggest that I could/should WALK a half marathon in honor of Ginny. She was getting older and wiser too since this was definitely a possibility.

So Julie found the Country Music marathon/half marathon to be run and WALKED in Nashville on April 26, 2008 and I could train with Team in Training. For those of you who don't know, TNT is associated with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society who Julie used to work for and who trained her to run her first marathon several years ago.

Last November when I visited Ginny and mutual college friends in Albany, NY, I studied with her the info from the Leukemia Society about the drugs she had begun taking and we both learned about her disease. I saw how grateful she was to have been contacted by people from the Society, including the buddy she was paired with. I saw the pain she was already beginning to endure. I saw her sitting in her dialysis chair for 4 hour stints. I told myself I didn't want my current health issues to take over and put me that situation so I committed to walk this half marathon for her and for me. It seemed like a win win situation to me.

Last December 28 I met Ginny at the Tampa airport where her son, Andy, who lives in St. Petersburg, pushed her in a wheelchair because already her back pain was so great she couldn't walk long distances. We drove down to Venice where Ginny had a condo next door to the condo of another Albany friend and we spent several days by the pool (and hours at the dialysis center) and saw the New Year in with much laughter and loving friendship. We both returned to our colder climates, she to her dialysis/chemo/pain coping routine, me to my training and regular work routine.

On January 28 Ginny went to the hospital with severe back pain and paralysis in her legs. The dialysis wasn't working to clean her system. Her heart wasn't behaving. Her children, Sue and Andy, and their mates came to be with her and her Albany friends kept vigil. She spoke with her pastor. On February 10 Ginny left this world for the next with Sue and Mike, Andy and Bonnie, and dear friend Anne by her side in a peaceful Hospice room at St Peters Hospital. We will miss her greatly. Less than 6 months from diagnosis to her passing; this should not happen to anybody.

I am walking this half marathon in Nashville on April 26 in memory of Ginny, and have pledged to raise $3000 for the Leukemia Society to help find a cure for myeloma and to give comfort to families and patients with this and other blood cancers. Please help me by donating whatever you can to this wonderful organization. My website to receive donations is www.active.com/donate/tntnca04/walking4hope.


i can't believe in my last post i forgot to mention the amazing homemade ginger snaps and tofu spinach pie. it's only because as soon as we got back from the funeral and burial we ate them all while watching a project runway marathon. i know everyone handles grief differently, but i highly recommend tofu spinach pie and project runway.