Posts Tagged With: faith

Mom and Dad were finally layed to rest…

Since I remember, Mom had her nursing graduation photo above her bed and Dad had his pilot’s grad. photo above his.  They indicated who slept where – on which side of the bed.  They were icons.  Everyone who saw the photos commented on what a handsome couple they were.  “Your Mom was  a real looker” they’d say – and, “wow – what a mischievous smile your Dad had.” 

Any comment that was repeated in their company would be met with a blush and a grin.  “Oh”, Mom would say bashfully.  “I don’t know what happened to that gal”.  Dad would say, “yeah, cocky young pilot with the world at my feet.”

Those photos were as much Mom and Dad as Mom and Dad were.  They were the first things to come off the wall when they moved and the first to go back on the wall when they arrived.  They were legend. 

Tonight – the stager came to the condominium.  She was wonderful, kind, and sensitive. She kept watching me to see how I was reacting to the suggestions she made – but she missed my reaction – gut -wrench – when she took Mom and Dad’s photos off the wall.  They had been watching vigil over Dad as he passed and they had been watching vigil over the empty place as prospective buyers passed through.  What the stager knew had to happen, happened.  I knew it – and she knew it.  There was just too much Bill and Paula in that room. It took someone else to “do the deed”, but I knew it had to be done. 

I left apartment 1001 tonight knowing that things had changed.  Mom and Dad were no longer there – they never had been in the material things – always there in spirit in my heart. 

Yes – things were different – I was more peaceful.  Now, that’s not to say a few tears were shed as I entered into yet another stage into adulthood (finally).  But, it felt good. 

And I think they finally felt free to leave apartment 1001.  Finally, they were “off the wall”. 

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The Sentimental Journey Continues: The Christmas Season

The Snowman sits at his piano and pounds out three melodies:  Oh, the weather out side is frightful,  jingle bell rock, and finally have a holly, jolly, Christmas.  And David, my youngest son, still delights in watching the motion of this battery operated Hallmark toy.

Today, however, he didn’t do laps around the room.  David sat and reminisced about Nanna.  “It’s not the same, Mom.”, he said to me after the Snowman had entertained in his historical fashion.  The Snowman was so much more fun when he was at Nanna and Poppa’s house.

And then only seconds later, he and I were back at decorating the tree… Nanna’s artificial tree that she had given to us when she down-sized to a foot-tall model that sat on her stereo cabinet.

Was this the same tree that sat in a box for years in our basement?  Hmm.  David thought it was much smaller than he had remembered it being at Nanna’s house.

Yes, it is the same tree.  It’s just that now, this tree is the tree that Nanna gave to us – and that makes it special.  More special than a tree that we could chop down ourselves.

As David and I assembled the pieces, spread the malleable limbs,  and then wrapped the lights around it, we talked about Nanna and Poppa.  “What I like most about Christmas David …. is tradition”.  Tradition anchors us to our roots, our memories, our heritage.

“What I like about Christmas, Mom, is family.” , said David.

God bless him, that little boy.  His Christmas list that I opened to read today asked for hugs and kisses.

He is a sentimental little guy, our son, David.  I love to spend time with him – and I love lighting the tree with him – and talking about his memories of Mom and Dad.  I feel much more reassured that their memory will live on through our children when we remind out children about the wonderful things we shared.

This is the first time that we will not share it with Nanna and Poppa… yet they are everywhere … when I open my heart to them.  They are in the tree, the wreath, the photos, the children, the decorations… the list goes on.  Christmas is a season of memory – of tradition – of hope – and holly – jolly … or so the Snowman says.

TTFN

 

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons, Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Where Does the Journey End?

I have not had much to say lately.

Mom and Dad continue to be on my mind – often – but I just don’t know what to write.

Maybe it’s writer’s block?

Maybe it’s grief?

Maybe it’s time to put closure to something else?

This blog, and all you wonderful readers, have been a great source of comfort for me through a very challenging time.  I’ve lost both parents in less than 18 months.  To me, this has been traumatic.  It has been a long, long, journey.

I wonder now, though, if the journey is coming to an end?

Is it time to put this blog to bed?

The condo up for sale.  I have a difficult time going back there to even check in on it.  It’s difficult to go “back” in time.

Yet, I sit faithfully in front of the digital photo frame as images of our lives fade in and fade out.  I sent some new photos to it the other day and I enjoy watching those fade in and out too.

What would it feel like to say, “good-bye” to this sentimental journey – or rather TTFN?  Letting go is the hardest thing to do, yet I think I need to know my limits and not stay too long.  I feel like the guest that never left… not knowing when enough is enough.

I need to move on – but how much of the past do we need to break from?  Does the past propel us to the future?

Does the past help us to build a foundation, yet anchor us to the ground?

It is inescapable, haunting, yet at the same time it is still my greatest source of comfort.

Should I stay or should I go now – I believe someone else used that phrase and sang a tune along with it (grin).

Maybe the falling leaves have brought this feeling of loss to front and centre.

Where is my faith? What is my purpose?  When will “this” sentimental journey end?

I guess today is a day of questions.  And having said that – maybe today begins a new “quest” for closure.

How is closure best achieved?

And the photo frame flashes images at me like pieces of a patchwork quilt.  They all blend together in an odd, yet harmonious blanket of comfort.

TTFN  – for now.

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Everything Will Be Alright: If I remember correctly.

One of the things I miss most about Mom and Dad is their infernal, eternal, and ever-so-clever words of comfort.

Mom:  “Stacey, you’ll be fine.”

(Never believed her!)

Dad:  “A hundred years from now, we’ll all be dead.  So what does it matter?”

(This one had me stumped for a long time!)

Mom:  “Just do your very best.”

(I wasn’t reassured as a child as I didn’t think that would always cut it!)

Dad: ” If they don’t like it – too bad for them!”

(Didn’t get that one at all!)

 

How I miss their reassurances these days.  It really doesn’t matter who you are or how confident you are – everyone needs a cheer-leader.

I have been juggling and struggling this week to find a balance between work, home-life, Dad’s condo, a visiting German student, and play.  Play-time has never been a priority for me as my family were strong subscribers of the Puritan work ethic.  Work first – then play.  And there is too much work to do to play these days.

Play. For a long time I didn’t understand that word.  I really thought it meant have fun at work.  I think I still do.  And I think a lot of my play is my work.  Others, however, have a more realistic version of what play means… I think.  And I get the impression that play means recreation.  In any case, I am struggling to redefine my definition so that everyone in my family is on the same page.

Anxiety.  This emotion seems to be two emotions attached to each other:  stress and anticipated failure.  I find myself anxious these days about a lot of things.  It happens usually when things pile one on top of another.  I forget to isolate the projects and so they blurr and give me an overwhelming sense of .. anxiety.  Dad’s condo. insurance – moving furniture, marking assignments, making muffins, cleaning toilets… you get the picture.

Comfort.  I long for Mom and Dad’s words, “Stacey, everything will be okay.”.  We offer these words to our children – or we ought to offer these words to our children… but how often do we hear them as adults?  Will everything be okay?  I know, in the long run, things always find resolution.  It’s the process that is sometimes derailing, debilitating, confusing, and frustrating.  But, as fate would have it – there is always a better resolution that falls than one that could really ever be planned.

Yes.  I miss my Dad’s casual, “Don’t worry, Stacey.  You worry too much.  100 years from now… ”

I know, Dad, we’ll all be dead.  Kind of puts things into perspective.

Patience.  Perspective.

Everything will be alright.

 

 

 

Categories: Life After Dad, Life's Lessons, Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Rainbow: It Only Comes After the Storm

My morning walk with Barb began with a message from Mom.  I didn’t notice it at first, nor did I put the pieces together until several houses into our walk.  It was Barb who first wanted to just “stop” and look at the rainbow.  It was Barb who said, “this is a gift”.  Her words flooded my soul and cleansed me as I understood this was a gift from Mom.  The rainbow meant, “Stacey – it will all be okay.   You can’t get the rainbow without first having the storm.”  I felt this rainbow was meant for me.  It was not meant for anyone else in the world – just me.  Of course that is ridiculous – but at the time Mom was speaking right to my soul.  And had Barb not knocked on my door to get me for our walk, I would have missed this message.

So true does this ring in life.  How often is it that the darkest moments we flood our brains with feelings of doom and gloom.  The storm brews.  There is chaos – emotional chaos.  Last night was my storm.  The feeling of having to take Mom’s dishes away from the condo was just too much.  They are only dishes to everyone else… but to my brother and myself they are so much more.

They were carried in Mom’s hands as an extension of her love to us.  She served us literally and figuratively on those dishes.  We needed the food as much as we needed her love – and both were served in generous quantities.

It takes time to organize an emotional storm into something that is beautiful – just as it takes time for the rain and sun to produce a rainbow.

The rainbow reminded me that when one door closes, a window opens.  The dishes will be moved from Mom’s loving reach at the condo today – to Mom’s loving reach in my own home.  It’s my turn.  Mom may no longer be literally serving us – but we have been well served with her memory.

TTFN, Mom

Mom

Everything about Mom was gentle.

Categories: Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Sign?

Dad said, “I’ll make the light flicker”. 

At the condo two nights ago – all alone – I turned on Dad’s light – and the light flickered.  

I said, “Dad, is that you?”

He “flickered”.

I said, “Dad, that’s you isn’t it?”

He “flickered”.

I thought, “is the light bulb screwed in tightly?”.

I checked – it was tight. 

I thought, “Maybe the bulb is about to burn out.”

I changed the bulb – and there was no more flicker. 

What do I make of that… I had changed the bulb two months previously… am I looking too hard?  

Dad. 

I know you are with me.. bulb or no bulb.  

TTFN

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

One Day It Will Be My Turn

I’ve had many sleepless nights since my Dad passed away, trying to decide what to do.  The questions seem so big and so endless.  The one question that has perhaps plagued me the most is… What do I do with his house… with Mom’s house… with the Dancing Nannies’ house… my quiet sanctuary and get away? This was the oasis where we met – our home away from home.  This was where meals were prepared, conversations were had, and sleep-overs abounded.  This was where Ben and Katya and David learned how to swim, to cook, to play cribbage, to dance.

Do I keep my father’s house or sell it?

Keeping it allows me to hang on to Mom and Dad a while longer.  The house is “their” home and it is full of memories.  How can I sell it and allow someone else into their own piece of Heaven? How can I move things that my Mom so carefully put into place so that it was “perfect” for her own style and taste?  The image of the “beautiful lady” that hangs on the wall screams a memory to me.  Mom loved this print that she saw hanging in Auntie Helen’s house so much.  Auntie Helen bought her a copy of her own and sent it to Mom.  Every morning at the breakfast table, Mom would admire the beautiful lady.

How can I move the Royal Dalton figurines that Mom had collected over the years?  They are a collection. Each holds a memory.  One came from Mom’s mom and was so carefully guarded over the years.  I remember that wherever “Autumn Breezes” was I had to be very careful to not knock it or bump it.  Every time I dusted I was cautioned, “Be careful with my figurines”.  Each time someone sat in the chair next to them, they were told, “Watch your elbow”.  In spite of every precarious living movement that family and guests made – the figurines have survived.  Here they sit – on the bureau – all together.  How can I pull them apart?  How can I randomly decide their fate?

The white birch painting by Jacqueline Algee… maybe she wasn’t so famous, but she was a friend of Mom and Dad’s.  Her paintings are wonderful.  I remember Mom commenting, “How beautiful those birch trees are!  They remind me of the farm.”  Her favorite tree was the birch.  How can I take it down from the wall facing her chair?  Will it be appreciated as much in any other home?  Do I give it to someone else or keep it so that it can re-create discussions in my own home with my own family?

And those dishes!  They are so carefully tucked away in the cabinet.  “They are hand-painted, Stacey. You can’t buy those dishes anymore.”, I remember so clearly was Mom’s message to me.  “One day, they will be yours.”  I’d really rather Mom than those dishes – but somehow the dishes had out-lived her. What will they be when they are removed from that cabinet?  Where will they go?  Will they bear witness again to so many wonderful dinner conversations as they did in our family growing up?  Will they sample such good meals as my Mom prepared for them during Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter?

The stereo cabinet.  What of that?  When Jamie, my brother, was younger he was into wood-working.  This cabinet was a gift from him to Mom and Dad.  Dad had cut down this beautiful tree when we lived on the property – black walnut – or cherry?  I don’t really know as Mom changed the type of wood each time she told the story of how Dad chopped the tree and then took it to a local mill to have it dried and cut. Jamie took the wood and formed it into “this” cabinet that Mom cried over when paramedics moved and broke it while trying to get Dad to the hospital after one of his episodes.  Tessie’s husband fixed it – months after Mom’s death – and it just felt like all was right again.  On top of this stereo cabinet sits a display of Mom and Dad’s travels:  the man from Quebec, the character from Marguerita Island, the Samovar from Mom’s brother who brought it back from Russia… and finally the photos of our kids growing up.  My children were displayed on the cabinet and Jamie’s on the end tables.  How can I split up this display of memories?

I went to the house yesterday (to be honest it is a condo, but it feels more like a house) as the first step in my journey to negotiate the decision.  I was alone.  I poured Dad a glass of wine and had one myself.  His pink chair was gone and so the ceremony didn’t seem quite so real.  I walked into his bedroom, but the sheets were piled on the bed beside his and the comfort quilt from the church had been removed and washed and so the visit didn’t seem quite so real.  I walked into the pantry where “Mom” had stored everything in God’s little acre, but some things were missing and there were empty spaces where the food steamer and the salad spinner had been – and the pantry had seemed to loss some of its charm.

After some time, Ana walked in.  And it suddenly felt much more like home.  Could it be that it was not the contents of the house that held the meaning as much as the people?  Where were Mom and Dad?  They seemed to be in the print, the figurines, the dishes… the cabinet.  But when Ana walked in – I knew they were still living in her and in me and in our relationship that had been forged through their lives.

My father’s house will be sold and the contents will be moved and the move will be very painful for me.  I will be closing the door on apartment 1001 on day soon.  I will be walking down the hall to Dad’s room, pausing to peek into Mom’s room to see if she is still asleep.  It will be, one day, my turn.  Image

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“That moment” with Dorothee

It seemed so unattainable at first.  Her Mom said, “Stacey, you will bring Dorothee to work for your Dad.  It is easy.”

Okay – so it was not so easy.  The application  forms for a foreign  live-in caregiver changed three times in between one step of approval to the next.  I am not a good paper-person to begin with and so having to re-do application forms almost killed me.  Dorothee’s Mom said, “Stacey, it will work out.  You will see.  Don’t worry.”  Dorothee’s Mom, Tessie, you see was also anxious to have her family reunited and Dorothee was the last child she had to bring to Canada.

Dorothee landed for another employer in British Columbia.  She didn’t really understand how BIG Canada was and so, thinking that she could visit Barrie, Ontario on week-ends was logical.  She paid her fees to a nanny agency and was all set to babysit for a family of five.  As luck – or no luck depending on how you look at – would have it, the family cancelled their contact the last minute and Dorothee was left in a new country with no job.  Well – there was a job – it was just in Barrie.

To make a long story short, Dorothee’s first day with Dad was – how shall I put this – quiet.  She was shy – very young – and homesick.  What an ordeal to have flown so far away from her husband and daughter to a new country with a different language, different customs, and different food!  And what was even worse was that Dad ate POTATOES every day… not rice.

It did not take long, however, for Dorothee to find herself at Dad’s home.  She and Ana would take turns on shift with Dad.  Throughout the week while they were on duty, I never had to worry about what was happening, whether Dad was happy, or whether Dad had care.

Dorothee adopted my Dad as her own.  Her quiet manner would sometimes give way to comedy as she and Ana giggled at some of Dad’s expressions.  “Bologne!”  Dad would respond when they told them how in the Philippines they whistled for the wind to come.  They teased Dad that they would prepare a nice fish for him – and especially the eyeballs. “Yum, crunchy!”, they would say.

Dorothee involved my Dad in her life and he would advise her how she should save her money.  “Did you go shopping and spend money?”, Dad would ask.

“Yes, but everything was on sale.  I got some very good deals, father.” Dorothee would answer.  And Ana would remain silent behind Dorothee hoping she would not be asked the same question.

I would often pop over to Dad’s house for a brief visit – unexpectedly – and ALWAYS be welcomed with gracious hospitality by the Dancing Nannies.  Dorothee would always know the answer to the question, Stacey, would you like a glass of wine.”  And the dance began.

“Are you having one, Dad?”  I would inquire..

“Only if you are.”, came the response.

Dorothee knew this dance well – and the wine would already be beside my Mom’s former chair where I took up residence when I came to visit.

They were happy, the three of them:  Dad, Ana, and Dorothee.  They were a family.  They laughed together, cried together, worried together when Dad became ill, and they celebrated together.

I will never be able to thank Dorothee, however, for what she gave to Dad during his final moments.  If I could capture her the way I see her in my mind’s eye in words I would be forever grateful.  The memory that defines “Dorothee” for the person she is was created during the final day of Dad’s life.  My brother, Ana, and I were getting lessons about how to administer morphine.  I was anxious.  I hate needles and I knew where this was headed.  Morphine, in Mom’s case, signaled the end.  There were few words exchanged.  There were a lot of glances exchanged.  There was a great “understanding” among all of us that this was it.  Dorothee watched as the stint was inserted and the first needle injected.  And that was all it took.  Ana was right beside her.  And my brother and I shook.  It was was it was and it needed to happen.  Every two hours, we administered the morphine – whether it was needed or not.  That was a decision that we arrived at after much discussion and prayer.  At one point – I seemed to be in a daze.  One slips almost into a robotic state when faced with circumstances such as these.  Here is my memory. Dorothee – almost floated into the room.  She did not exchange glances, did not talk, but went right away to Dad.  She lovingly examined him to ensure that he was comfortable.  She was graceful, gentle, and her movement reassured me that he was in good hands.  Then, she tenderly pulled up his shirt – only far enough to have access to the stint – and inserted the morphine.  As quietly and tenderly as she arrived, she left.  She was angelic in her movements.  She was almost more pure energy than form.  I saw the love between my Dad and Dorothee.  He had adopted her too.  Their exchange was certainly not something that anyone else could have seen had they not had the history – but I saw it – and I was deeply moved.

This post, today, is dedicated to Dorothee.  It is her birthday today.  And she will celebrate it – too – without Dad.  This will be a first for her – it would have been a second birthday celebration with Dad … and I know she will note his absence.

Dorothee has become a part of my family now.  It is difficult to describe the type of relationship that I have with her as a result of her compassion for my Dad – but there is no other person who shares “that” bond and “that moment” with Dorothee other than me.  Dorothee is well loved by her family and friends.

Today – I celebrate Dorothee and offer her my most heart-felt, “thanks”!

Happy birthday Dorothee!  I wish others the opportunity to have a “moment” with Dorothee.

TTFN

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Firsts.. for the Second Time..

Today is the first time ..

  • I’ve wished my oldest son, Happy Birthday, Ben! through a post…
  • I’ve made Ben escargots for breakfast
  • I’ve changed Mom’s recipe for cauliflower soup to suit my health-crazed daughter (that’s also the last time I’ll change it..)
  • I’ve recognized how birthdays, as you age, can be opportunities
  • I’ve been able to catch up on these posts
  • I’ve sat under the gazebo this summer and had the morning dew drip on my back
  • I’ve heard “Dad’s songbird” sing in the garden and not had him try to whistle the tune back to the bird
  • I’ve realized that I’m holding onto Mom and Dad’s condo for sentimental sake
  • I’ll shop for groceries in my 50th year
  • I’ve weighed so much in my life.. other than being pregnant – too much celebrating so far this summer
  • My parents have not called my child on the occasion of his birthday
  • I’ve spelled occasion correctly for the first time
  • I’ve seriously considered my ability to retire from teaching in five years
  • I’ve rooted for a country to win a beach volleyball game (I’ve not really ever been a fan  – just no exposure till now)

But, should I be granted the gift of tomorrow and tomorrow, it will not be the first time..

  • I will enjoy the company of my husband and children
  • I will be served a morning coffee by my husband
  • I will sip my coffee under the gazebo with my husband
  • I will cry over coffee about my parents
  • I will smile over coffee about my parents
  • I will rejoice in my family
  • I will wish my oldest son a wonderful birthday!
  • I will prepared something “odd” for my son to eat as per his birthday request.
  • I wish all of you some very happy firsts – may these bear repeating.

And once again, “TTFN”

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An Alternate Ending

This morning, from “The Daily Post at WordPress.com,”  I read that, “When you write, the opening sentence and the closing line can feel like deal breakers. Ending your post shouldn’t feel like a trailing off, but a succinct closing that neatly ties together all that you’ve written. And as Hemingway’s 39 alternate endings suggest, sometimes it can take a few rewrites to really find what you’re looking for.”

For some reason, these words of advice resonated with me.  I guess I am a bit obsessed these days with openings and closings.

Dad’s beginning was certainly impressive:  he was so small that he was put in a shoe box and placed in the oven to keep warm.  I guess he was “cooking” from the day he was born.

Dad’s ending, though… did he manage to tie things up?  I can’t help but think the ending was too soon as I miss him so much.  But on the other hand, I know he felt that he stayed about a year and a half too long – his life after “Paula”.  He struggled to find meaning.  I bought him a Chicken Soup for the Soul book for the “golden years” so that maybe he’d find inspiration in those pages.  Dad read it – and enjoyed some of the stories – but still asked me the question, “Why am I still here?”.  In the end – a week before he passed away, he saw Ben – my oldest son graduate from high school, he heard about Katya’s athletic prowess with her many ribbons for sports including athlete of the year, he got big hugs from my youngest, David, who continued to want sleep-overs at Poppa’s house… he went flying with his son, Jamie – and he flew the plane.  He even watched Ben and David create and launch pop-bottle rockets in the back yard.

The photo pasted in this post was taken a week before Dad passed away.  How I wish there could be an alternate ending to his story.  But there is not.  Did he find meaning?  I don’t know.  Did he find closure?  I don’t know.  I am so grateful to have had my Dad for nearly 49 years.  For me, I’m not sure his death is the end.  There are photos to scan, memories to process, and still stories to tell.

Stacey:  Dad, did you know on this past Father’s Day that this one would be your last?

Bill:  I lived my life, Stacey, like every day was my last.

Stacey:  How did you find the strength to turn the page to the next day?

Bill:  I didn’t turn the page, Stacey, it was the Good Lord.  He turned the page and gave me the opportunity to write on it.

Stacey:  And how did your book end, Dad?

Bill:  Just like it began… one word at a time.  Live your life one word at a time… make your pages full.  For now… TTFN

Stacey:  TTFN, Dad.  I love you.

Categories: Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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