Monday, October 7, 2013

Objects in the Mirror are Closer Than They Appear

I visited my parent's grave today and took them some yellow roses. It has now been a year and a half since my mom died.
I miss her every day even though I don't miss the final year when I was dealing with an Alzheimer's mind rather than my mom's intelligent, kind, and loving mind. I wish that things could be the way they were before Alzheimer's, but they're not and they never will be again.

A lot of things have changed in my life since her death. I have dealt with my own mortality with a serious heart issue and surgery to correct it so that I might try to live a long life as she did. While my doctor doesn't know whether my heart problem was caused by stress, I feel it was.

I don't know about heaven or hell but I hope I will see my parents again someday and embrace them. Until then, I will try to live a life that would make them both proud.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year

I shared a quite Christmas with my two cats, Neko and Frankie.
I featured Neko on my Christmas cards because he is the elder of the two. They are both sweet and they love each other. I stayed at home and had a relaxed holiday. 2012 was one of the most stressful years of my life but I have high hopes for 2013. I visited my mom and dad's grave and left a Christmas wreath there. Several of their anniversaries were in December:
They married on December 15, 1942, my dad was killed in a single-car accident on December 20, 1985, and my mom would have celebrated her 92nd birthday on December 27th.

While some anniversaries are tragically sad and others are joyful, such is the nature of life. I was lucky I had my parents in my life for as long as I did and I'm now starting to enjoy the life that they helped to provide for me. I wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holidays are Tough

A couple of elderly acquaintances and friends are in the process of dying during this holiday season. I know what their loved ones are going through. It is one of the hardest things we will ever have to witness. I lost my dad to a traffic accident on December 20th in 1985. Christmas is never quite the same after such a loss. 

No one wishes to see a loved one suffer. It is difficult to realize that death is as natural as life and we will all face it someday. Some will face it alone while others will have family and friends who are terribly saddened and, because of their sadness wish they could stop the hurting. Christmas is a time we are supposed to celebrate the birth of Christ and not the death of a loved one.

Friday, November 23, 2012


This week I read a great post about Thanksgiving and I would like to share it.

It was written by Michael Chabon for bon appetit magazine.

Nothing lasts; everything changes. People die, and marriages dissolve, and friendships fade, and families fall apart, whether or not we appreciate them; whether or not we give thanks every waking moment or one night a year. For the act of returning to the same table, to the same people and the same dishes--to the same traditions--can blind you to life's transience. It can lull you into believing that some things, at least, stay the same. And if that's what you believe, then what have you got to be grateful for? None of our Thanksgivings are ever coming back; we've lost them. They're gone. And so this year, let's go somewhere with strange customs and unfamiliar recipes and the latest collection of ill-assorted chairs, and give thanks--not for everything we have, but for everything, instead, that we have lost. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I Miss My Mom

My brother sent me an article today about Darrell Royal, the beloved U.T. Longhorn coach who is now 88 years old and suffering with alzheimer's. In the article his wife, Edith, talks about how stressful it has been for her. She says that Darrell has kept a certain sense of humor and it still comes out at times. My mother was the same way. She had a killer sense of humor and it showed up even near the end or her life.

I miss her every day and I enjoy looking at pictures of the two of us enjoying ourselves even while dealing with the heartbreak of dementia. Her soul will continue to live on in all who knew and loved her.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jonthy Update

It has now been five months since my mom passed away. It has been painful to go through possessions that I've had to give away to charity or to hold onto to share with my four brothers. The clothing was especially hard for me to pack as I could remember each of the outfits and remembered which were my mom's favorites. There were dresses that I encouraged her to buy when we were shopping together. She always valued my opinion about fashion.

Just when I think the most painful part is over with, I will find a letter or an essay that my mom wrote and I am filled with many emotions; happiness, sadness, and grief, and it usually a mixture of those emotions. I have come to respect my mother more now that she's gone than I ever did when she was alive. I've had time to reflect on the closeness we shared as mother and daughter.

I recently adopted a new kitten. He's a Siamese seal point that I fell in love with the instant I saw him at the animal shelter. He looked so afraid but adorable. I named him Frankie after Frank Sinatra (old blue eyes).
I worried about bringing him in my home with the other love of my life, my cat, Neko. I didn't need to worry because the two have become close companions and my 9 month old Neko has taken Frankie under his wing. This adoption has been very therapeutic for me. Life goes on and I try to enjoy every day one moment at a time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dorothy's Memory Book

I made my mom a memory book two years ago when she had more and more memory problems. I concentrated on older pictures. When she was a young girl with her mother and brother, with her grandmother, her husband, and later, her five children. The book gave her solace for some time and I spent many evenings looking at the pictures with her.

Shutterfly allows you to customize your photo book just the way you want.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mom's 1943 letter to Dad

I was searching through filing cabinets and closets trying to figure out where everything was in my mom's room to complete an inventory for probating her will when I found a letter stuck way in the back of a filing cabinet, written by my mom to my dad on a Monday evening, February 8th, 1943.

The letter opened with "Johnny Darling." What followed was an eleven page letter from a 22-year old woman who was just like any 22 year old woman who has recently found the love of her life. Since my dad was stationed abroad in the Navy, she was interested in keeping him updated on local news and events here in Austin. She tells him about the rationing that is going on because of the war and that items like butter, coffee, and sugar were hard to come by. She bemoans the fact that her family can't get "salt pork" anymore (a staple of home cooking in the south). Also, individuals were limited to buying three pairs of shoes in a year, but she assures him that will not hurt her because she never buys more than two or three pairs a year.

My parents had married before she wrote this letter and she remembers the good times they had together in New York and alludes to their first tiff. She promises him it will be their last. She said she knew she belonged to someone because of his love for her. She worries about his time in the Navy and says she doesn't mind Uncle Sam borrowing him from her for a while but that she hopes that it won't be for long and that he will return safely to her. Her letter ends, "I love you more than anything on earth. I have never wanted anything as much as I will want you the next few months. I pray that God will make them short. Love, Dot" I was much the same at 22. I didn't fall in love until I was 25, but I shared similar feelings about the man I gave my heart to. I cherished getting to know the young woman my mom was through reading her letter.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

You Can't Put a Price on Love

It's now been over 3 months since my mom's death. I am now starting to deal with the realities of my own life. As bills roll in for my heart problems in April, I realize that being a caregiver is a risky and expensive proposition. How does one put a price on love? You can't of course. Fortunately, I have major medical insurance which will leave me owing around $5,000 out of my own pocket. But what if I didn't? I try to look at all of this in the most positive way I can. Luckily, I have always been healthy and may not ever have to face such a hefty price to stay that way but life is fragile.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sweet Memories of Dorothy

It's going on three months since my mom died. I have been busy sorting through her clothes to give to Goodwill. It's very tough. To remember what she wore on certain occasions - happy occasions - it breaks my heart.

Every time I think I have truly embraced her loss in my life, I realize that she is still very much with me in my heart. I concentrate on the happiness we shared before dementia took her away from the relationship I was used to. I think of all the wonderful times we shared together as mother and daughter. I read through the hundreds of letters that she wrote me over the years when I didn't live here in Austin. She wanted me to keep up with the home-town news. She wrote interesting letters about her life and was always interested in what was going on in mine and my husband's lives.

Just last week I went to have lunch with one of her old friends, Eve. My mom and Eve used to travel on many trips together. They went to Hawaii for a week and Venezuela on another trip. She and her husband and two sons used to be our neighbors when my brothers were kids. During lunch, Eve told me many stories about when her boys and my brothers played together some fifty years ago. She told me how much fun she had with my mom as they navigated motherhood together. I take great solace in other people's memories of my mom. I realize that memories will have to sustain me.