Posts Tagged With: memories

mylinke skadooshnik – or something to that effect

I was shopping at Food Basics the other day and much to my delight I discovered three shopping carts full of ripened bananas.  Food Basics discounts their produce that is older, but still good, instead of throwing it out – bravo!  So – I took a cart full myself thinking I would skin then and freeze them for future muffins and breads.  An older European looking gentleman stopped me and commented, ” You must have a lot of monkeys at your house to feed!.” 

“I certainly do, ” I replied, grinning that my family really are little monkeys at times.

He commented, “my wife would be so pleased for these bananas as she will skin them and freeze them for breads and muffins.”

I said, “Well, that’s what I’m going to do with them. And good for you for looking out for your wife!”

We parted and met again later on in another isle.  He asked, “What is your ethnic origin?”

“Russian.  Why?”

He explained, “You are so friendly to speak to a stranger in a grocery store.  Do you speak Russian?” he asked in Russian. 

Since I had forgotten the word for little in Russian (and know even less) I said, “no Bolshoi – not a lot.”

He offered the word for little (pardon the spelling), “mylinke”. 

I was hit by a most overwhelming memory of my Mom who used to say to me… again… I do not spell Russian.. “mylinke skadushnik!”  I teared up – I had not heard that expression in such a long time… I explained to the gentleman that this was such a wonderful word to me and I explained why. 

We parted – I cashed out while holding back my tears until I was able to reach the silence and privacy of my van where I burst into tears.  Joy?  Likely – what a wonderful memory in such an unlikely place.

So – here’s to Food Basics – the second time that I have connected with my beloved parents in the grocery isles.  Maybe they should consider changing their name to Spiritual Basics? 

Anyhow – that day I brought home much more than groceries! 

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Is it time to move on to the next stage?

IMG_2601It has been a long time that Mom and Dads condominium has been on the market.  I did not know for the longest time whether to rent or to sell.  So, recently I did both – hoping Mom and Dad would guide the direction of the sale.

IMG_2606I am now realizing that if it is to be  – it is truely up to me.  I think this means I have reached another benchmark in my grief.  I asked, I waited, I anticipated a sign from my parents – hoping they would make yet another decision on my behalf.  Growing up, I never had to really take a lot of responsibility as Mom and Dad bailed me out.  If I was too tired to bake the loaf of bread for 4 – H club (as if any of you readers know what that is….) Mom would bake it for me.  Any dress that I did not finish (which was often as I had no patience for sewing) Mom would finish for me.  This could go on and on – but I think the pattern is quite obvious.  The condo is not selling and I was waiting for Mom and Dad to come to my rescue once again.

Tonight – I took the bull by the horns and called a stager.  I had no idea what that was until my real estate agent explained it – someone who can help make the place look more modern…. and I guess more sellable.  Anyhow, I feel like I have taken a big, bold step forward – on my own.  Imagine.  Maybe I am finally growing up?

Mom was always very proud of her home and I thought it looked very beautiful.  She had originally enrolled in University to become an interior decorator.  The war, however, broke out and her program was cancelled.  She took nursing instead.  Good thing because she turned out to be a wonderful nurse and put her talents to use her entire life.  Nontheless, here I am hiring someone to redesign what she had taken such time and loving care to design herself.  IMG_2593

What will be changed?  Will I remove Dads montage?  Will the stereo cabinet go?  Will the sheer curtains come down?  What about that chandelier?  It is all these things that I so heavily associated with Mom – yet it could very well be these things that need to be removed.  I think I am okay to let go now.  I did not think that I would ever be at this stage of the game.. but I believe now that it is time to move on.   I hope.

 

Categories: Life After Dad, Mom | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

Home is Where the Family is …

For the second year in a row – Ben, our oldest boy/ man will not be coming with us to Myrtle Beach.  It is not that he does not love us anymore.. I hope.  He is now in college – and the colleges have already had their break.  This leaves him home – alone – for a week – with a car.  Hmmm.  Am I too naïve to be worried  – nay.  Trusting.  Life is changing.

For the first year in a long time I have not had to plan, plan, and plan care for Dad.  I was always so worried that one of Dads caregivers would not make a shift and then Dad would be left alone on a week-end.  So – I over-scheduled and had back up after back-up.  The food was all prepared, packaged, and frozen for the week.  The bills were all paid in advance.  Phone numbers and contact information was thoroughly communicated… you get the drill.  Dad would also be a bit worried I would imagine – although he was in such good hands – none of us really needed to be concerned.  This year I am so under-planned it is ridiculous.  Yet – here we are – without Dad… I would rather have the plan, plan, planning to do!  Two very special men are out of the Myrtle Beach plans this year.  Weird as it is – there is a giant hole that is left behind.  Not sure what to do with it yet – can it be filled with books, rest, wine (grin) or good conversations with friends..

This is the first year that a dear friend of mine will not be joining us and our families reuniting.  She has a new life with a new partner and there is no Myrtle Beach in her blood it seems anymore.  She deserves this happiness as her life has not been easy as a single parent.  Again, there is a hole – a divide. 

And this is the third year that Mom is not around.  There will be no one asking me for contact information – to watch for sharks – to be careful on the roads and to watch those crazy drivers!  No one will be buying me a bathing suit as Mom always knew what would look relatively civil on me and I hated buying it myself.  No Mom to take me out to spoil me with a meal from Red Lobster – just because – and fight me for the bill.  No Mom to call and explain that we have arrived safely  – not to worry.  No Mom who will wish my family a great trip – and to not worry about a thing!  To have fun.  To get some rest (you look so tired, Stacey, you do too much!) But each time I pass a white rose … I will think of her.

Life happens.  It happened to my Mom and Dad and now it is happening to me.  I remember so well when my parents spoke about the changes their lives had endured.  Some of their friends passed away – others divorced – others grew apart… I thought nothing about it at the time as their lives were so far apart from mine. 

It seems that distance has almost been bridged.  I am so glad I remember them talking about life changes – talking about firsts.. growing older… it makes my divide seem like it is a part of life.  They survived it – I guess so too can I.

Mom and Dad were always there for my brother and I. In fact, I remember thinking that wherever they were – that was my home.  Now that they are no longer here there are times, I must admit, that I feel a little homeless.  But – other times I feel that life is happening to me the way it happened to my parents – and that it will all be okay.  I wish they were here to talk to – to listen to my epiphanies as I age.  Aha – I get it – moments.  I wonder if they felt the same way? 

As time passes, it seems I become more distant – yet closer to my family on so many dimensions.  Life has a way of bridging gaps.  Ben, Dad, my friend… my Mom.  Through it all – I still know that I am home – home is where the family is – forever in my heart. 

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That was then and this is now…

I am still intrigued with the notion of forwards and backwards.

I know this theme is repetitive from yesterday’s post – but I would like to take a moment to reflect on the concept once again. ( You knew it was coming!)

What if I were to construct my posts according to then and now?  How would that look?  Here’s a sample of what “could be”.

Looking Back:  It seems that a lot of my childhood time was spend outdoors.  My parents were very strong environmentalists – before their time.   Dad was a farmer at heart and during the summer would pride himself in stirring the compost pile that sat beside his 1/2 acre garden.  At the time I thought it was disgusting and avoided at all costs the trip to the compost pile to empty the organic kitchen scraps.  Oh, the stench!  But Dad knew that a good pitch fork to add oxygen to the pile would keep the smell in check.  I often now think about Robert Service’s poem:  Ode to a wee mouse and wonder how many plans of the mice Dad had interrupted by stirring their inevitable home?

Now:  My husband and I keep five composters in our back yard.  They are the ones that can be turned to aerate.  We faithfully collect kitchen scraps and still reluctantly take the trip to dump the scraps into the composter.  No matter how many turns they get, however, they still smell.  But each spring, they get emptied into my garden.  And with pride, I mix the soil and wonder how the heck Dad was able to keep 1/2 acre free from weeds as my little backyard garden is plagued by weeds!  I love to garden and burst with pride when I carry in tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini to the kitchen.

Looking Back:  The winter was a time of magic and wonder when I was a child.  Mom would always talk about the beauty of a snow-filled forest.  And it really was spectacular when the snow stuck to the branches and created a delicate veil.  Day in and day out, Mom and I would click into our cross-country skis and “do the loop” out the back door, through the woods, through the field and back to the house.  Our cheeks would be rosy and our spirits lifted by the beauty of nature.

Today:  My family and I just created our own little loop – out the back door, around the pond, over the bridge, and home.  We returned with rosy cheeks and lifted spirits.  The woods were so beautiful and the snow so crisp!  What a joy it was to take “my” family and friends out to enjoy something I remembered so fondly from my own childhood.

Maybe the joy we experienced in the woods today and in the garden in the summer were shared by those who live on in our hearts and memories?  Maybe they come alive when we remember the joys of childhood?  Whatever it is – there is definitely something to be said about living for today with the spirits and joys of “then”.

Mom and Marion out to do the loop

Mom and Marion out to do the loop

 

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

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

They are everywhere… they are everything…

He sat.

In his chair.

He smiled.

For there – beside him was his grandson who placed the graduation cap on his Poppa’s head.  The sun’s rays warmed their exchange.

He sat.

In the pilot’s seat.

He smiled.

For there – beside him was his son who took him for “one last flight”.  The sun’s rays warmed their exchange.

She sat.

In the restaurant’s seat.

She smiled.

For there – beside her was her son-in-law who shared one last meal with her.  The moon’s glow warmed their exchange.

They sat.

On their front porch.

They smiled and sighed.

For there – in front of them were the fall leaves.  The glow of autumn warmed their exchange.

He sits.

In his walker.

He shivers and smiles.

For there – in front of him is the approaching winter.  The wind off the bay warmed their exchange.

It sits.

On the corner.

It is.

It provides shelter for the many who gather to collect mail, to buy supplies, to now buy pizza.  The door swings open and permits others to exchange a warm welcome.

They sit.

Sisters, mothers and daughters, cheering, flying, soaring, poppas and grandchildren, sons, fathers, care-givers and care-needers, chefs, and hosts.

In the frame.

It offers snapshots of history, roots, smiles, tears, colour, family, cousins, anticipation, scenery.  The images offer warmth to the heart.

 

Categories: Family and Friends, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , | 2 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

49 Reasons to Be Thankful

Dear Mom and Dad:

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  This is the first time – ever?- that you and I won’t be sharing dinner.  I must confess it didn’t hit me until this morning when a friend of mine was talking about her parents coming to her home for Thanksgiving.  She had a coffee with her Dad this morning, she said, and talked about how much she enjoys talking with her Dad.

I don’t feel envious.  I feel like I am in unfamiliar waters.  Thanksgiving will be different without either of you.

Mom, who will Kevin tease when it comes to your stuffing wars?  I still think yours was better – wish I had payed more attention while you were making it.  Maybe I’ll have to make some cranberry sauce like you taught me the last Thanksgiving we shared together.

The image of you looking at Dad, with your head resting on your hand, is forever ingrained into my mind.  The scarf you wore – I gave to Auntie Helen and she brought it here this summer to wear during the Malloff reunion.

Dad, you were always so gracious at these dinners.  You never said much, but, as you would say, “Wisdom is knowing what to say and not saying it anyway.”.  The grace, “Some ha’ meat and canne’ eat – and some can eat but want it – but we ha’ meat and we can eat so let the Lord be thanked” will INDEED be recited tomorrow.

So – it brings me to consider the things for which I am thankful – one for each year of my life would allow me to offer thanks for 49 things.  Here they are:

  1. health – and the ability to look forward to good health
  2. family who gathers around our dinner table
  3. faith – when the going gets tough
  4. hope – what would we do without it?
  5. freedom
  6. friends who still reach out – even though time separates us
  7. fall – well, actually, spring
  8. history – and being a part of it
  9. future – knowing that great things are still yet to come
  10. my talents
  11. my humility
  12. roots
  13. a home filled with love and laughter – and sometimes tears
  14. education
  15. colour – especially in the fall
  16. good food
  17. the ability to cook
  18. my kitchen
  19. laughter – sometimes remembering how a joke goes
  20. wine – mainly white
  21. music – especially Nat King Cole!
  22. the ability to play the piano and sing
  23. harmony
  24. pianos
  25. the ability to teach
  26. students who love to learn – or learn to love learning
  27. learning how to teach better
  28. being open minded
  29. being a wife
  30. to Kevin – my partner, my friend, my inspiration
  31. love
  32. being a mom to Ben, Katya, and David
  33. compassion
  34. adulthood
  35. photos
  36. blogs
  37. the ability to write
  38. to tell stories
  39. to have people who tolerate my stories
  40. maple syrup
  41. maple trees
  42. colourful leaves
  43. memories of the farm
  44. memories our first home in Collingwood
  45. learning to mud and tape from Dad
  46. learning to sew – and being able to give up sewing as it is way too frustrating – from Mom
  47. midnight talks with Mom
  48. midnight talks with Dad
  49. holding hands

Happy Thanksgiving to you, Mom and Dad.  We will definitely raise a glass of wine to you and be grateful for all that you have meant to so many!  And I’ll count my blessings.

Here is the “master blessing counter”, Bing!

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qmMaPTuTEE

Categories: Life After Dad, Life's Lessons, Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Photo Frame in the Front Room

My first greeting in the morning flashes as a random light from the front room.

The source of the light is clear and I welcome it as equally as it welcomes me.

“Good morning, Mom.”, I say to the photo of Mom that flashes up on the digital photo frame.  “Good  morning, Dad.”, I say to the next image of Dad that appears on the screen.  The light from the photo frame seems to be getting brighter as the morning light begins to appear even later.

The images light up the room as much as they light my heart.

I move closer and stand by the frame for a while, just watching as my childhood flashes before me.

  • There’s lady – our first dog, anticipating a treat that Dad is holding to reward her for “sitting pretty”.
  • dad and I sitting on the balcony of his condominium
  • Mom – making her first attempt at using her new computer
  • Mom – wearing the neck brace that she had crafted to support her neck
  • Norman Kee at the farm
  • Mom, Dad, and I on the beach in Cuba.  Dad was standing without his walker then
  • Dad walking me down the aisle to marry Kevin.

And then reality hits – its time to go to school.  I turn away and think, “oh, just a few more.”  And I’m trapped by history again.

I love the frame – I hate the frame.

The memories are comforting and disturbing at the same time.

I visited Mom and Dad yesterday – prompted by seeing a little old lady at the grocery store who reminded me so intensely of Mom.  I had to leave the store quickly so that I would not draw attention to myself as I began to cry.  Funny how the emotions can be so suddenly intense.

  • There’s Tessie and her family at Dad’s condo – all of us enjoying each others’ company for Wednesday night dinner.
  • Mary and Dad toasting with a glass of wine on our front walkway just after Mary lost her own Mom.  Dad was a source of strength for her during that time too.

It’s time to go.  It’s time to say good-bye.. or at least TTFN.

My first greeting in the morning continues to flash as a random light from the front room as I walk away and move on with life.

“TTFN, Mom and Dad.”, I say to the photo of Mom giving Dad a peck on the cheek on the occasion of their 61st wedding anniversary.  TTFN

Bill and Paula Duff

Summer Smiles

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Life After Dad, Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Beautiful Dreamer…

Do you remember it?

I do.

This is the song Mom sang to me when she tucked me into bed.

How lucky was I?

And her voice far surpassed Bing’s.   And the best part was that she didn’t remember all the words so she made them up.  And that makes all the difference to me now.   That was  “her” song.

Check it out.. Beautiful Dreamer  at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtgklHQ52WE

Enjoy!

Categories: Family and Friends, Mom | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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