Posts Tagged With: Mom

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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It’s been a pleasure working with you…

…said the voicemail from the lady at lawyer’s office.  The estate is closed.  It is all done. 

Wow – wow – wow.

You would think that after nearly a year that I wold be ready to draw a close to this – but the words hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was almost insulting to think that Mom and Dad had been reduced to those words… the “estate”.  Since the estate was closed, therefore, they were too?

I cannot understand why some things resonate with me in such a way.  It was a normal progression of which I was fully informed, not to mention the master behind.  It is like point A leads to point B and yes, of course, there you must follow.  Yet – there is an element of surprise that knocks the socks off you when you are least expecting.

To close an estate is a heck of a lot of blood, sweat, and mostly tears.  But it was a journey that I feel prepared me for the final destination more than had I not been able to take it.  It was a road that had never been travelled before.  Robert Frost sure did get it right in his poem, ‘Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening”. 

“Whose woods these are, I think I know.  His house is in the village, though.  I’m sure he won’t mind if I stop for a while to see his woods fill up with snow.”  (or something to that nature)  How ephemeral it must have all seemed then – as it does now.  What a temporal existence we live – to end with a phone message indicating it is all done. 

I look up from my computer screen to see an image of Mom and Dad smiling… those were happier times for them.  They were healthy – not a care about health issues or finances or death benefits.  They really had their eyes set on their own future.  I remember Mom often breaking into silent tears of her own to mourn the loss of her own mother – so, so many years before.  I thought how odd it was that one could feel such strong emotion nearly 50 years, then 55 years, then 60, and then some,  years after a loss.  I don’t look forward to that  – but what an honour it would be at the same time.  Bitter – sweet is the way I guess some would describe the feeling.

Several of my colleagues at work are going through the motions I once went through.  And although their pain is palpable, I am pleased to see the loyalty and dedication to their parents is as strong as mine was to my own parents.  It is heart-breaking and I feel the emotions all over again living through their own piece-by-piece loss.  A very wise friend of mine always said that, “the degree to which you grieve is a measure of the degree to which you have loved.”  I find comfort in that statement – knowing that the price I pay for the loss of my parents has great value measured in love … not money. 

Money, indeed, cannot buy happiness and I would exchange it all to have them back.  I know that if I actually could strike that deal I would feel horrible as I am confident they are in a better place now than when they were here.  It would be selfish of me to wish their return – – yet I dream. 

Tonight would be a good night to have them visit me in a dream.  I always take great comfort in their visits – although it has been a while since their last visit. 

Meanwhile, the dishes need doing, the floor needs vacuuming, and the family needs a Mom – in real time.  So, my friends at the lawyers office… I will bid you adieu and reply back, “It has been a pleasure working with you too.”



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From Carcass to Elixir

I still remember Mom’s turkey soup.  

She’d forbid anyone from throwing anything from the carcass out.  I looked at that hacked up pile of bones and wonder how the heck anyone would ever be able to ingest anything from that mess?  It was like magic – right from the moment she added water.  It was at the very time when the water boiled with the mystery ingredients that comfort arrived.  Those Glade candle commercials – you know the ones that show a room glowing from scent – hold nothing on her soup.  

And when it was finished – it HAD to be consumed.  Of course, there was never any question that we wouldn’t eat it – but sometimes a third bowl was required or it was considered that you, “didn’t like my cooking”, were Mom’s favorite words.  

I’ve been suffering with the flu over the past few days and find myself craving her soup.  I staggered to the kitchen and dropped a carcass into a vat of water – added the required elements – simmered and voila.  My soup was good – but it was not delivered to me by the hand of my Mom.  

And that makes all the difference.  It was never the turkey soup that smelled so good – it was the warmth from her soul that nurtured us and soothed us  back to health growing up.  There is no medicine you can buy that works as well as my Mom’s loving service to her family.  

I think Monday mornings need a little bit of Mom’s elixir to make them less like the carcass of the week-end and more like the soup that soothes the soul!     


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The “Frog” Test: Study Not Needed

It was called the frog test.

According to research collected and posted on Wikipedia, mice used to be injected with the urine of the person to be tested and the mouse was later killed and dissected.  Presence of ovulation indicated that the urine contained hCG – meaning the female was pregant.  Rabbits were also used – but needed to be killed to check the ovaries.  The frog tests, however, arrived in the 1950s… allowed the frog to remain alive and the frog could be used repeatedly.  “A female frog was injected with serum or urine of the patient; if the frog produced eggs within the next 24 hours, the test was positive.”  Who would have thought?

For more information about early pregnancy tests, check out this website address:

Why the sudden interest in pregnancy tests?  I’m not pregnant – nor considering the possibility.  Been there done it – and David was our little miracle.

Today – I had enough mental energy to tackle some of Mom and Dad’s things I brought home from the condo.  There was a beautiful wooden box I discovered in Mom’s dresser drawer.  It was full of all kinds of sentimental reminders that Mom had collected in silence.  There were letters from Dad, naturalization papers for my Grandfather from Russia, pins, an anklet from Dad to Mom, buttons, receipts for some of Mom’s designer clothing… and a copy of a frog test.

At first, I thought it had to be a joke.  What the heck?  I mean seriously, who gets a frog test?  Furthermore, the technician was listed as PMS.  Seriously? North Bay Civic Hospital issued the test and test results:  positive.  Mom was pregnant in 1957.  Jamie would have had another little sibling…

I knew that Mom had lost a baby boy a week before he was born.  “Baby Duff” was his name – I think Dad was supposed to have named him – not sure what happened, but I do know that was something we didn’t often talk about.  Crazy, though, if this was the only “evidence” of Baby Duff – a frog test from 1957.

All in all, it does bring a joke to mind that Dad used to tell and we all groaned when he told it.  It goes like this – and forgive me – remember it’s Dad’s joke.

“Did you hear about the guy who stayed up all night long studying for a urine test?”

That’s it.  You are welcome.  Brought to you by Mom’s frog test.

How many frogs does it take...?

Mom knew she was pregnant because of a frog?

Ribbit or read-it…  your call!

Categories: Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 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.



Everything about Mom was gentle.

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All in the name of Mom’s dishes…

In all honesty, I think sometimes I must be going crazy.

This past week I was obsessed with Mom and Dad’s deaths.

What a pleasant topic.

If I woke up in the middle of the night – I couldn’t get back to sleep as I obsessed over what I could have done to make their “journey” more peaceful. (Really?)

If I woke up in the morning, I had to get out of bed as I couldn’t shut off my thoughts about their final moments and how I could have made those moments better.

Seriously – what the heck?

My last trip to see my therapist – I was Hell – bent on finding out answers.

Who would have thought that the answer would come in the form of “dishes”.  Remember those dishes that I spoke of last week?  Well, it’s all about the dishes… Mom’s dishes.  They are the last things to go from the condo.  I just cannot bring myself to remove them.  Why?  I came to understand that their removal represents that Mom is no longer there to use them.  I never did grieve Mom as I was thrown into taking care of Dad.  I am able to remove all other things from the condo – but not Mom’s things.  The last Mom icons:  her pantry, her kitchen, her dishes… are like mountains.  When they are gone – it’s over.  She has really gone.  I am pretty good at denying that.  I used to think I didn’t remove them because I didn’t want Dad to suffer.  I now realize that in my own mind I could pretend that Mom wasn’t really gone as her dishes were still there waiting for her to cook her turkey, her roast beef, her chicken…

Tomorrow is the day.  The dishes will be packed.  I am sooooo not looking forward to it.  No matter how I candy – coat it (I’ll just bring them home and then decide what to do with them…) they are leaving “Mom’s” domain.  That means that Mom no longer needs them.  Why?  She is no longer there.  STOP!  Really???? But what if she is?  What if she is there and I’m taking her things? SILLY.  What if she disappears after all of her cooking things are gone?   STOP!  What if she thinks I’m taking her world apart?  REALLY?  What if she is screaming, please, Stacey, stop … and I don’t hear her?  EGAD.  Can I hear her screams?  I didn’t hear her when she died.  How do I know?

But, still, in spite of all this … tomorrow is the day.  The dishes will be packed.  Life – time – progress?  How does it all work?  Where are they and what will they think that I am invading their privacy?

Tomorrow is the day.


It’s almost like preparing for another funeral – tomorrow.

Honestly – all in the name of Mom’s dishes.

Categories: Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Tic-tic-tic. Ssssslide




“This is so cool.”

“Katya you are so lucky you have a type-writer!”


For the very wise blogger (Chatter Master, RoSy? Notsofancynancy?) who advised me to use the type-writer as a conversation piece, I say to you… “Thanks!”.

How very weird is it that the same instrument I used to write my high school biology reports is now this object of wonder.

“It’s weird because you have to press the keys down so far.”, said Ben (my oldest son)

“Does it ding?”, asked my daughter, Katya.

“What is it?”, asked my youngest son, David.

How very weird is it that the same instrument I used to write my English essays is now a finger magnet?

“Can we get new tape for it?”

“Does it work?”

What is it about this type-writer that attracts so many young people?  Funny how seeing the direct results of your digital motions striking a key can produce some kind of mark that seems to be so much more concrete than a computer screen can delight.  Maybe it is the tactile nature of the keyboard?  Maybe seeing how the tiny letter blocks that strike the ribbon and leave an imprint on the page is something that actually makes sense!

Whatever the reason, Mom’s computer – that she got from her father – is a hit.

So, it will stay in the living-room for a while longer.  The paper will remain as an invitation to, “go ahead – hit me!” with a key strike.

And I will look for new ribbon.

What a hoot.  Strike that- what a hit! 

Categories: Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Just a Poor Dirt Farmer’s Sweater…

Dad’s “poor dirt farmer” sweater began like this one, I’m sure.

It is a warm and cozy cardigan that goes with just about everything.

When I wear it I feel comfortable and secure.

Dad’s “poor dirt farmer” sweater felt like that to him too, I’m sure.

The original was warm and comfortable and, much to Mom’s chagrin, went with everything.

When he wore it, he felt comfortable and secure … I’m sure.

Dad’s sweater was probably 20 years old – or more, and the elbows had worn through on it.  Mom wanted to patch it – but Dad would have nothing of it – it was comfortable the way it was.

Most of Dad’s clothes were old – he was of the age when things would be worn for practical purposes – not fashion.   Again, this was much to Mom’s chagrin.  Mom was very fashionable – a bit of a diva in her time – without the attitude.

Cleaning out Dad’s closet today revealed an array of clothes that lay in testimony to this “practical” side.  I found his farmer’s hat, complete with sweat stains that were well established through his toils in the raspberry patch.  What to do with it?  Well, it went into a separate pile that just can’t be negotiated at this point.   I found golf shirts that dated back to the farm when he wore them for guests.  Yes, they may have been a little thinner and faded through use and time, but they were still functional.  “Don’t throw them out, Stacey.” , echoed in my mind.  “I don’t need any new clothes. The clothes I have are fine.”  But I HAD purchased multiple pairs of pants for him in the latter years that had an elastic waist – much easier to slip on and off in emergencies.  The Bay was not going to carry them anymore I found out last Christmas and, anticipating that Dad would never die, I bought 6 new pairs.  There they were – neatly folded waiting to be used.  sigh.   I can only hope some lucky person finds them as useful as Dad did.

Two of Dad’s sweaters came home with me.  I am wearing one now during this very rainy day.  I think I will wear them for 20 years or more.  The only issue is that I am not a farmer and so can only imagine what “my” title will be?  The Poor Dirt Farmer’s Daughter?  Ah.  I could only be so lucky.

Dad’s “poor dirt farmer” sweater began like this one, I’m sure.

It was a warm and cozy cardigan that went with just about everything.

When I wear it I feel comfortable and secure.

I feel like Dad is with me.

One day, my sweater may be a “Sunday” kind of sweater too – no holes barred!



Categories: Duff History, Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Mom’s Morning Prayer

Wow.  I found it.  For such a long time I have wondered where the poem went.

I bought a framed poem for my Mom probably 15 years ago in Ottawa.  It spoke to me and said, “HEY, Stacey!  This is all about your Mom!  Buy me!”.

And needless to say, I bought it.

The poem, by J. Lemming so reminded me of how Mom used to love the sunrise.  As a child I would lay in bed (okay, as a teen) and listen to her clanging pots and pans in the kitchen ..bright and early.  She was up before anyone else – to enjoy the peace and quiet.  I think there were times when she was up even before the birds.  Soon, I’d smell the bacon or morning treat cooking.  Wow.  If that smell doesn’t get you up – nothing will.  And so, without saying a word to us, my brother, Dad and I were up and sitting at the breakfast table with Mom.  Her companion had been the rising sun all morning.  She’d say to us, “Good morning, what a beautiful day!”  And this would be whether it was raining, snowing, blowing, or some other form of nasty weather.  And then she’d quote one of her favorite stories, “It was a lovely day and Dinky Duck was happy.”.  Now, I had never read Dinky Duck, but I think this was a main staple for my brother.  Mom loved the morning.  Mom loved the morning.

Now, every morning when I get up I look to the sunrise and wish Mom a “good-morning”.  It gives me comfort and reassures me that Mom is with me… especially when my family and I are on vacation in Myrtle Beach where  the sun rises over the ocean.  The sunrise, it seems, is sole possession of my Mom.  I hung the poem I bought her right beside my bed so that when I wake up in the morning, I am reminded of the beauty of a sunrise.  And I am reminded that I can soon expect to see Mom in the day’s rising sun.

For your reading pleasure, here is …

“Mom’s Morning Prayer”.

“Early in the morning

When the sun begins to rise,

I thank God for His


As I pray for sunny skies.

So sacred is the morning

As I kneel to say a Prayer

I am thankful for

God’s Presence

In my life, His love to share”

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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