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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Walking the Path We Are Meant to Walk




In the last two weeks our lives have taken an amazing turn. We sold our Michigan house.

We had Thanksgiving and three of our four kids came with all their kids and the kid of the fourth child also came. It was a great day for all of us. We also had some of them for a couple extra days and we loved that. Then we went to Florida and bought a house! Yep, found our perfect house in one day. We came home and learned on the way home that both houses will close on the same day. It couldn’t be any better than this.

Now we are back in Michigan and everything seems to be falling into place. If the movers can work with our schedule, we are good to go. If not, we have a back-up plan so there is no panic expected.

I think a great deal about this past year of 2014. It started with our first trip to Florida to find which area we wanted to settle into and Ormond Beach felt like home from our first drive through. We looked at many other areas, but nothing compared. We came back to Michigan and over the next few months talked with Momma until I was convinced she was actually looking forward to being there, if not the actual move. We talked many times about which house we would select, what it had to have and where it needed to be located. She was interested in where her things would go, what we would do with all her “new” furniture and her antiques. Once I assured her that my furniture didn’t matter to me and we would take all of her’s, she seemed settled. 

In August the decision was made by her and I that it was time for her to move in with us. She was becoming afraid to be alone and I was very worried about her being alone. The house had not sold so it was important to make room for her things here. We had a big sale the next week-end and sold all of our stuff that simply didn’t fit anymore. We sold a lot of duplicate stuff, mostly mine, keeping mostly hers. It was the right thing to do and she was very happy living here with us. It worked even better than I thought it would. I did have a few times of stress when I had to just go out for an hour or so, call my sister and vent or just go outside and sit, but honestly for the most part, I so enjoyed having her here. She was great company and seeing her emotional improvement was medicine to me. She was eating everything I offered and laughing and talking so much more easily than when she was alone. Her depression disappeared. It was so good for all of us.

Roomy basically waited on her hand and foot. He enjoyed doing that. I am so blessed that this man chose to love me. And Momma. 

She was here exactly 5 weeks. She died and I fell apart.

This all happened at exactly the same time the house went off the market. We wanted to change realtors. It was off the market for a week or so. Why? Just the way things worked out and because that is how He meant for it to be. We needed grieving and adjusting time and though the new realtors did get things moving again, it still didn’t sell. We were planning to be here all winter. 

The grieving has been progressively less debilitating and two months later, we got a full price offer. A good solid offer. We accepted.

Since this day, every things else has simply fallen into place. This was the right buyer, the right time and He seems to be leading us now onto our new path. We are following and feeling like it is exactly what He wanted and as always, in His time, not ours. 

All the ducks had to be in a row and they are. That’s not luck, that’s Devine intervention.
That’s His way. Walking the path of His making is a safe and happy place.

I find myself thinking of where everything is going to be in the new house and I find myself feeling Momma smiling. She knew, I believe, that she wasn’t going with us, but she also knew that she will always be with me. She fills my heart in her absence in a new way, but still very strongly part of my every thought. I will never be without her and I will be beside her again one day. She will be waiting for me. As will Dad and many other people I love who have gone before me.

My goal now is to stay focused and every day get a little more done in preparation for moving day and not to get overwhelmed, but take one little job at a time until they are all finished. My mind is wandering today to the new life chapter Roomy, the furkids and I will begin on December 29, 2014.

My year of many lasts is nearly over. The last time I walk out the door here and the last time I call Michigan home are still on the list, but those open the door to our new life.

The year of firsts begins a few days before the actual 2015 change, but it’s all exciting and new and sad and unknown. I will miss knowing 6 of my grand babies are a short drive away, but I will know they are all at the other end of my phone and we will be free to travel home for hug fixes when the weather allows and when we get the house settled.

The siblings (ours) have mixed feelings. Most are happy for us and sad that they will miss us. Feeling the same way. A couple are just mad. No reason to break up the family by so many miles. Just think we should live in both places. Winter south and summer north. Unfortunately we can’t afford to support two homes and don’t want to live in a motor home or trailer. Moving is our desire and visiting here.

I think once we get things settled in the house, by spring, we’ll feel ready for company and ready for a return to see everyone. We will need a few months of just us to get that at home thing going on first. ~ Jo


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day for John 2014

Dear John,

(Not my first 'dear john' letter)

I am thinking today of the November 11, 1988 graduation day from basic. I am there in my mind for several reasons.
     1) I have seldom felt the pride and shock combined as I felt on that day.
     2) I was with your grandmother and today I can't be.
     3) It was one of the most wonderful days in my life.
     4) It was the day that I realized you were no longer the kid I struggled to understand and raise           without jail time on your resume.

Traveling with my mom to Florida to watch you graduate from basic training on Veteran's Day was exciting and I was missing you so much that poor Grandma was exhausted listening to me talk about how excited I was to see you. The letters you sent, the calls you made were great, but seeing you and giving you a mommy hug was all I could think about. I had felt the gigantic changes in your mindset all through basic as you wrote to educate me about the lingo and the routine. You shared so much of what you were experiencing and I felt your maturity with each letter growing and developing. It was a mixed bag for me. I certainly wanted you to grow up and be independent and learn how to take responsibility, but I didn't know if all that meant you wouldn't need a mom anymore. I just didn't know.

Funny isn't it? There I was traveling with my own mother, who was just as excited to see you as I was, wondering if YOU needed a mom! I surely still needed mine. Still do.

Today I remember clearly that tall, straight-standing man in uniform that walked into that cafeteria hat in hand and walking toward us. I didn't recognize you for a few seconds, nor did Momma. WOW.  The smile finally broke and the tears fell from my eyes unchecked. My heart was so full and I was so interested to sit and talk with you and feel whatever you were feeling.

What I learned that week-end was life changing for me. I learned that somehow in the midst of all the craziness that was life with our two teen-age kids, a really good human boy had developed something from it all. Something that the Navy pulled out to full exposure. The confidence was there. The pride in self, was there. The maturity I had been watching develop through calls and letters, was glaringly there. Very starkly different and yet at the heart, the same.

The man before us was the natural and militarized version of the defiant teen I sent them. I was, at first, very ashamed that I couldn't find this man in my own teen. Then as the week-end progressed, it became clear that I had instilled the basics, the Navy had fine-tuned and developed it all in two months. With that clarification, I stood tall and proud and I knew for all the days of my life, my son, the Sailor, would always need his mom. I also knew that for all the days of my life I would be bragging about what a wonderful son I have. How proud I am that he chose to serve his country in such an honorable way and that he would never look back and wish he had chosen another path. This was his destiny and this was part of my legacy. The world is a better and safer place because my little guy gave four years of his freedom for generations of freedom to America.

Thank you, first for being the brave and brilliant Sailor you will always be; second for being the most incredible son I could ever ask for; third for always needing your mom. It's mutual, btw, I need you, too.

Enjoy this day, walk with pride and be sure your kids know exactly who their daddy is. The Navy is a proud and honored branch and you are an exemplary member for life.

I love you and I honor your service and your growth today and every day.

Mom

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veteran's Day 2014

Once again we are looking at the terrorists and what they could do in our country and around the world.

Once again we turn to our military to protect us. Putting their lives on the line as young men and women have been volunteering to do for hundreds of years, they serve their country. They serve us.

In May we honor those who have given their lives in service to our country as well as those who served and died at a later date. We have made Memorial Day the day to honor all who served and passed and that is a very somber and special day to anyone who has ever known or lost a veteran whether active duty or retired from service.

In November, however, we honor all veterans. All men and women who have served their country and now live among those who haven't without calling attention to the sacrifices they made nor the pain or loss they suffered to protect and preserve their country's freedom. Keeping those who would harm us at bay or stand up to a bullying group or nation trying to harm our allies, these brave souls gave of themselves more than any of us who have not could imagine. They each deserve a handshake, a thank you and our respect.

Yes, they deserve that and they also deserve to never be in need again. In need of anything most people take for granted. Those things like a good meal daily, a roof over their head, a job and so may more simple and necessary things. Our Veterans should never be homeless unless they want to be. There should not be medical issues going untreated because they can't afford them. The idea of someone giving up their life for two years, four years or thirty years and then come home to live without adequate basics is just insane. What kind of government allows that to happen? What kind of citizenry looks the other way? Who are we?

It is very discerning to me that in 2014 we are still not honoring our Veterans every single day.

I hope that I live long enough to see this change. I hope organizations like Wounded Warriors and The Red, White and Blue Project have no reason to exist soon. I pray and beg for the day when Veterans have the same insurance and retirement package that we so freely give to our congressional members. I ask you, who deserves it more?

For today, let me just say, thank you to every Vet who reads or hears about this little rant. Let me say that as a woman who never served but is the daughter of a Vet and the mother of another Vet, your sacrifices do not go unnoticed and do not go unappreciated. The honor of knowing you is as much a gift as the honor you feel having served your country. Bless you, welcome home and by all means, pray with me and sign every petition you see that might give congress a clue as to what our Veterans have earned.

We are so overdue with this kind of thinking, but I know in the end, we, the United States of America, will do the right thing. I hope sooner rather than later.

I salute you, give you my respect and gratitude and keep you in my prayers, always. God bless you.

Jo Heroux


Ten Things That Make Me Happy~usually





This list is just falling out of my head at this moment and considering how fragile and unstable my head is this point, it could go anywhere. 

So as per Ariana’s Cafe prompt number 19, here is my 

“Ten things that make me happy”~usually

  1.   Sunshine
2)     Warm temps 
3)     Roomy aka Mike
4)     Making plans
5)     Grandkids…all or any of them
6)     My own babies…though all grown
7)     Furbabies…Sadie and Jake
8)     My sister
9)     Friends
10)   Alone Time


Now having listed them I see a list of things that allow me to smile without meaning to do so. I see that those blessings are all things I look forward to and relish when they are part of my “now”. These are things that will lighten my heart  and get me through some tough moments. I am not normal these days, of course. I am not walking around seeing the glass half full right now, but I’m not seeing it half empty either. I not even seeing the damned glass. I’m just working my way through each day. Sorting my feelings, sorting my thoughts and trying not to be too miserable to be around. I’m not seeing anything in my days to make me want to change much. I don't care if people don’t like me. I don’t care if I’m not behaving as some might like and I am okay with just being, right now. Getting out and socializing is not appealing to me. I tried that this week-end and I did have a great few hours with Roomy and saw a few old friends I haven’t seen in years, but I just wanted to leave the “party” part and go home and be alone. People are hard for me right now. Being nice is hard for me right now, sometimes. Crying on the spot is easy. Closing down and going inside my head is easy. Talking with those people on that list up there is easy. I want easy right now. I’ve had enough hard for a while.

I am sorry that I can’t empty my thoughts of all things painful, but you all know and tell me regularly that this is normal behavior when grieving. What I can’t handle is all the loss. There is too much loss in my life now. Too many changes which I can’t control. So many prayers asking for serenity, strength and wisdom. So many prayers ending or beginning by asking for strength to get through Thy will being done. I am so broken inside and so easily reduced to a heap of sorrow that even I can hardly stand to be with me. Even my alone time is less than  peaceful sometimes because my head can’t seem to just relax. Just calm itself and allow me to let things go. I so want to let things go. I’ve never had difficulty doing this. It’s always been a matter of asking and getting. Peace is mine for the asking. It is now, sometimes. Other times, it is beyond my capability to grasp it. Peace lives in me, it does, but it doesn’t always rule. ~ Jo






Friday, November 7, 2014

What's Faith Got to do With It?

My faith is holding me up at the moment.

I often think that if I didn't believe in God and all he can and does do in my life, I'd have thrown in the towel many years ago. I am quite skilled at allowing myself to get lost in depression and simply fall into a deep dark hole. I am also quite skilled at "acting" like everything is okay when it is anything but. That is how I managed through many years of debilitating SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, to keep a job and not run off all friends and family. Retirement meant I either had to find motivation to "act" okay somewhere else or simply change the way I react to the darkness that fills me when September begins.

I prayed with all I had this fall because with the loss of my mom, of course, in September and on my son's birthday, I easily could have and wanted to simply fall down the slide into the big dark hole and stay there. I didn't want to DO anything at all. Some things had to be done and I had to do them, so I did. I got things done. I then retreated into my head and tried to grieve without allowing the SAD to drag me in.

My prayers were mostly for strength and peace of heart. Life without Momma was not something I was ready for. She wasn't ill. She wasn't anything out of the ordinary. On Monday she was very tired, but she had days like that. On Tuesday she was gone. I had to learn who I was now without her. My life was so much about her and I so enjoyed having her here with me that I didn't let myself think about not having her. Why would I? She was 91 and in good health. Worn out, yes. Depressed about winter coming on, yes. But these were not new things and I was not ready. She was. She knew. I am sure of this because looking back, the signs were there. The words were vague when said, but in hindsight, crystal clear. She was going Home and she was ready to go.

My prayers were all about me. I knew she was happy and would not like that I was falling apart hourly and lost without her. I prayed that I would have her kind of strength to move forward. I even prayed for some kind of guidance as to what I am supposed to be now. It felt eternal. It felt like my heart would never laugh again; never feel filled again; never felt permanent.

It isn't - permanent. It is recurring. I have days now that I feel happy. I have days that I feel like I'm going to okay and will always miss her, but won't cry every day about that. I have days when I feel nothing but empty, but they are not often. They are the days I really feel lost. The feeling gets lighter when I remember that God has me. Really has me. I am never alone. I am always in His care and His plan is perfect. I just don't know what it is. I trust I will as it unfolds.

We have recently learned that our beloved Sadie is terminally ill with heart disease. She is 13 and cannot tolerate any medications which could slow the regression of her heart because her kidneys are also beginning to deteriorate. It's a matter of time and each day with her is precious. It always has been. She's had a great life with us and no one could have loved her more, but saying good-bye to her will be another heartbreak, this one expected. For right now, she is happy, eating and living pain free. Therefore, we are doing nothing, medically, just spoiling her even more than we always have. It brings a tear to my eye now and then just looking at her, but I cannot allow her to suffer and we will let her go, when it's time.

Again, prayer and faith is keeping me going because to be honest, I'd give in with this news coming right now. I could not handle this and function in the real world if I had to do it without His help.

A very good friend said to me a few weeks ago that she wondered how I was doing because she was afraid when I told her about Sadie that I wouldn't handle that without some kind of breakdown. It made me think harder about how easily I have come to hand things over to Him and honestly feel, physically feel, the relief.

Once I know that He has it, I am able to stop obsessing. I am able to feel my sadness and accept my losses as part of my blessings. I understand and accept that to avoid the pain I would had to have forgone the experience of love.  As Garth says, "I'd have had to miss the dance."

Love is worth the pain of loss. Without love my life would mean nothing. I would be no one.

Thinking about this I realized that people who live without real love, the ones who know people but don't have relationships, are very selfless. I used to think they were self-centered and couldn't give love and therefore, didn't have it. I now see that some may chose to separate from close loving relationships to save others from the pain when they are gone.

Death only breaks those who really love. Otherwise, it's an event to which you contribute in some way and then move on. So it is very selfless to live that way. Keeping everyone at an arm's length, so to speak. Having people you care about and who care about you, but not loving you closely. Not needing you in their life. Your death then is an event to which they pay tribute, say a  prayer for your soul and move on. I understand this now. I admire it.

It feels very good to know that I might never cause this kind of pain to another living soul.

This may seem like the usual ranting of a semi-mad woman, but it really is an explanation of one way to deal with loss and one way to understand that in faith comes possibility and belief that you do have purpose. I don't know that I'm settled on what that purpose is, what that plan is nor how exactly I am to proceed, but I am settled on the knowledge that my faith in my God will allow me to move forward and become...someone.

Jo

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Momma's First Birthday in Heaven

October 16, 1922 she was born. Her mother died when she was a baby and her stepmother and her father moved from Kentucky to the Ohio valley when she was small. Her older brothers and her younger half sister completed their family.


1943


To say she had a good life would be a lie. To say much of her life was difficult would be a true statement. One day I will try to write the story that tells of her struggles, her pain and her triumphs. I will write of her happiest days as she told me the stories and of some of the wonderful people she recalled as well as some of the people who caused her much suffering. It's a difficult story to even think of now that she's gone. But I am determined to attempt it one day.

We celebrated both Mom and Dad's birthdays with them every year. 
Today, though, I'd like to concentrate on the birthdays we've celebrated with her since Dad's passing 36 years ago, next week. He died one week after her 56th birthday. That year the birthday was celebrated in his hospital room. I took cake, a wrapped gift and we all laughed and ate and joked about the nightie I bought her. Dad said he'd be able to see through it when she changed the TV channel. She blushed, I believe, and told us all to stop! Since he never came home, I learned about 20 years ago, she never took that nightie out of the box. It had remained in the box with tissue until she gave it to me. She wanted me to give it to her granddaughter, my daughter, for her wedding night. Granddaughter never took it out of the box either. About 10 years ago she returned it to me. I have not taken it out of the box. 

When she turned 70, we talked her into going to a nice place and inviting all the grandkids to come celebrate with her. She reluctantly agreed. She never liked being made a fuss over like that, so it was really special that she allowed my sister, Pat, my brother, Mike and I to do this. All the grandkids came with spouses or dates. My son came with a beautiful blond that none of us had met. I teased that perhaps Grandma's 70th birthday party wasn't a great choice for a first date. My brother, however, totally thought it was a wonderful idea! Spent much of the evening congratulating him. UGH, boys!
The party was really fun and she had a wonderful time. Talked of it for months after, which she did only with good things.

She made a point each and every year after, however, that we were not to do that again. No more big ass parties, please. She preferred to just have her kids come to her house and have a meal either ordered in or cooked by us and cake. Chocolate cake, preferred, but all cake devoured!


Jo - Mike - Pat         2009 Mother's Day


The last birthday we were all together for her birthday ON her birthday was her 90th. Again, I asked if we could invite the grandkids. She said, "No, they're all busy and it's a week night. Don't make them come." She never understood they would like to come. So we all gathered at my house, also her choice, for a light mid-day meal and delicious ice cream cake! We learned later that week that she had Pneumonia. She was not hospitalized, but had medication to take three times a day so I arranged a pill box for each week so she'd not miss a dose. She did well with that. It was months before she was recovered and her strength never returned.

Her 91st was Pat and I and our husbands ON her birthday at her apartment and brother Mike and his wife came a different day so Pat and I also met them at her house for a second little birthday party.
Jo - Pat - Momma   91st birthday  2013

We had no idea those would be the last we were part of. Nor did she. It was nice and we will all remember it.

This year she will celebrate with Dad. I feel that's been going on for over a month now, the celebrating. 


Momma on my deck  2013


I have no idea how I am actually going to get through this one. I am going to visit the cemetery, which I don't like doing, but I want to take her flowers, so I will do that. Perhaps a blue silk rose or small bouquet. I don't want them to turn brown and decay before I get back to remove them. Silk can maybe stay through the snow and make it feel a little less cold and isolated.

I plan to make one of her favorite meals. Either roast beef or spaghetti. I find cooking to soothe me some days and I feel like that will be one of those days. Maybe. Or at least, I will be doing something similar to what I've done in other years. That may not be good. I don't know. It's going to be a day of tears and sadness for what we no longer have, but I hope I can pull some joy remembering all those wonderful birthdays we did share. All those happy days with her children and her children-in-law were kind of rare and each of them is so special to me because I loved those gatherings maybe even a little more than she did. Though having her three kids with her at once was always a good day for her.
Exhausting, but good. I used to laugh because I did the cooking, brother drove 4 or 5 hours each way, sister would bring cake...and she was exhausted.  :)

So Momma...I hope you are as happy as you deserve to be. I hope your heavenly reward is filled with birds to watch, dogs to pet and the man you married 71 years ago. I hope he has been holding your hand since you arrived and has not taken his eyes off of you. His wait and your wait were so long, I hope that reunion was everything you imagined. I know when you arrived God must have said, "Job well done, my child, welcome home. All is love and goodness here."

I love you with a heart that is still very tender, but the hole that once was filled by you, is slowly refilling with all that was you. Your desire to never be a burden was accomplished. You were never a burden and always my blessing. Stubborn blessing, yes, but blessing nonetheless. I miss you every moment and I survive only because I see you with Dad, Mom-Mom, Pop-Pop, Pop Reed and all the friends from way back, the family who left so long before you and I know you are happy. Maybe the happiest you've ever been. And that is eternity, you are young again, pain free again and in love again. That's how I get through each day.

Happy 92 Momma.     
Jo - Momma  Her house in Portland    2008 I think


Jo





Sunday, September 28, 2014

Jo MIA for Now

September 28, 2014

Trying very hard to get myself straightened out. Trying to figure out how I do this new normal. You know, my life after Momma’s passing. That is my life now and I don’t think it will change for some time. I have good moments every single day. Moments where I am ME and I am happy. I also have moments where I am MOMMA’S GIRL and missing her more than i can function around. I suppose those moments will lessen with time. I’m sure they will because I’ve lost other people I love and that’s how it worked. Problem here is, I’ve never lost Momma before. There is no one in my life who holds that piece of my heart. Oh, I have many loves. I am very blessed with people who care deeply about me and one or more of them reach out to me every day. So this isn’t a case of loneliness or self-pity at all. I am so very aware of how many people I can turn to for a laugh, a hug, a crying binge or whatever I need. This is about defining my new role as a human. This is about only having one Momma.

I am a wife. There are many wives out there who do a much better job at this than I, but I do love my husband and I will return to a somewhat functional wife shortly, I think. I am cooking a little now because I discovered that doing things I love does relax and soothe me, some. I have been keeping the house ready to show, it’s for sale and it must be ready, but not really quite as pristine as I prefer and I don’t seem to care much about that. Cleaning doesn’t make me calm, it just makes me tired. I try to return to the husband-wife life we had in a day to day way, but it’s not the life we had. It’s very different. It’s very quiet and I am so sad so often that I don’t want to have silly conversations with him. I don’t want to talk about moving. We can’t move until the house sells. I can’t make the house sell. I have to let go of all things I can’t change. He is stuck in daily comments about getting this house sold. I’m over that. It will sell, when it sells. PERIOD.

So much of what has happened since August 1 has been so clearly by Heavenly Design, that I am living a much more accepting role now. I am satisfied with the realtors we have, the marketing is excellent, the buyers just have to find it. I am okay with waiting because I see that the waiting has meaning. He can’t seem to grasp that. I can’t or don't have the energy to get him over to my side of this. It’s okay, he’ll get here, he always does. I am content to know I have done what I can do and I am trudging along daily because I know He has this. He will give me strength when I need it and wisdom to move forward or not. He will lead me and I will follow. I am reveling in the gift of Momma’s last days. It is my source of strength to remember how happy she was. To imagine how happy she is now. To understand that I gave what she needed and she gave what I needed. To accept that I am to continue now without her. His will has been done. I get it. I feel it. I do accept it. But the pain of life without her is still very raw and very strong. I am trying to push through it. I am trying to reinvent myself into a productive human. The mom I should be will return. Hang in there kids! The grandma I love being, she’ll be back, too. I just am not real sure when. But soon, I think.


Right now, in this moment, I believe I will just be. I will just allow myself to cry. I will allow myself to mourn. I will allow myself to remember the good days and the bad. I am going to be kind to me and maybe stop looking so hard for my new normal and just let it creep in. Patience please my family and friends. I’ll not stay here in this gloom very long. I will emerge with some dignity and some hope. I will become the person I am meant to be and I will be stronger, love more and have even deeper faith because I am the sum of all 64 years 8 months 19 days of being Momma’s girl and your wife, your mother, your grandmother, your sister or your friend. And I am in here.

Jo

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Momma Has Gone Home

In this life you have parents, if you're lucky, who guide you, set examples for you and knock you into last week, when needed. I had that. I had a sister and brother who were older than me to learn from and I did that. I learned how to maneuver through my teens without getting grounded. I did that mostly by staying out of trouble. I may have been grounded a time or two, but I don't remember.
What I do remember is mostly good or funny things and I think that's just right.

My dad passed in 1978 at the age of 56 leaving Momma alone in a world where she had never been alone. She lived 45 minutes from her closest kids. She had never paid a bill. Never used a checkbook. Didn't know whom they owed what nor whether or not she had enough money to pay them. With a little guidance from her children she took it all on head first. The once completely dependent woman became Miss Independence and she remained that until just a few years ago. Five years ago she gave up driving and became dependent on Jo's Taxi. It was nice to spend time with her and help her meet her needs at the same time. It was rarely an inconvenience. Our lives have been closely intertwined for the last 5 years.  More closely than ever before.

On August 5, she left her beautiful and beloved apartment to take up residence with Roomy and I and her two grandpups. She did this willingly and was welcomed lovingly. Life was much better for us with her under our roof. She was eating better, drinking more water and being treated pretty much like a queen. For the most part, it was our pleasure to care for her. Stress happened, but it was never more important than her safety and happiness. She was happy. We were happy.

On September 9 at 2 am I was awakened by her calling my name. I reached her in seconds and saw her collapse on the hall floor just short of my bedroom doorway.  I bent to help her up. She did not assist me at all. She always helped get herself up. I sat on the floor holding her head and shoulders in my lap while Roomy called Life Alert. Before he finished giving them details, she took her last breath and I continued to hold, kiss and cry.  Momma had left for her reward knowing she was loved. Hearing my voice tell her so. Feeling wanted and part of this household, not a visitor. I am grateful for those moments. Momma began her journey to Dad from the loving arms of her baby.

I miss her already. But I carry no regrets. I loved her fully and for the most part, gave her the best I had. I am so filled with awe. The house didn't sell because she wasn't meant to go south. The house is off the market this week because we need to mourn. She was here with us because God sent her here to pass in love, not alone.

God bless her soul and Momma, thanks for being Momma.  Give Dad a big hug and lots of love from us. I know he's been waiting a long time for your arrival.

Jo


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Thoughts for a Saturday

Yesterday we dropped our realtor at the end of the 90 day contract. The home we have loved and improved for our own comfort and happiness has been viewed by 14 prospective buyers. Some couples, some singles and a couple of extended families. The failure to provide the much coveted open floor plan and the apparently much coveted bathtub, has produced zero offers.

Strange because we have often complained about how noisy this kitchen is. Everyone who is in the living room can clearly hear (actually magnified) every sound made during food prep. Dishes seem to be slammed onto the solid surface cupboard or banged into the dishwasher, when in fact, they are simply being placed. Opening up the stairway wall would achieve that open concept, but it would also increase that annoying racket. It's my belief that people who want that, haven't ever lived with cooking and clean-up IN the living room. Maybe that's just me.

And the bathtub issue has blown me away! We spent $7000 removing the tub and installing an oversized stepin shower. It's awesome and very easy to clean. We have three full bathrooms and all have walkin showers. Why? Because in the last twenty years no one has taken a bath and every week I still cleaned a bathtub. On the floor, on my hands and knees, I cleaned a tub that no one living here wanted or used. Asking around, I found very few people who take baths and fewer who liked cleaning their tub. We thought we we're increasing the "want" factor, but apparently we did not.

We added an in-law suite in the basement. Finished the entire floor into a kitchen, full bath, laundry room, bedroom, tanning room and family room. Essentially doubling the living space of our home. Has that been a benefit? No one has said so.

We have a whole house generator which automatically runs everything 10 seconds after a power outage. Cost? $6000 and it's one year old.  Benefit? Nope.

The pool and landscaped backyard is appreciated, but not worth our asking price apparently.  I suppose the cost of all of that seems minimal, unless you're the one paying for it. Yes, everyone likes it, but still no offers.

I am so disappointed. I am so deflated. I am so ready to move to Florida. I need to be re-energized.
I need an offer. I need a serious buyer who will love living here.

It's so hard for me to understand why everyone doesn't just feel at home here. The first time I walked in the front door, not this one cuz we just replaced that 2 years ago, I looked around and knew it was our home. I have never regretted the purchase for a single moment. I have honestly loved this house from that moment.

I need THAT to happen. Soon. THAT buyer needs to find us and their new, nearly maintenance free home.

Tomorrow we begin round two. Realtors who know how important online listings are. Realtors who will council us with their expertise and listen to our needs.  I only regret that we didn't go this way first. But everything happens as it's supposed to happen and tomorrow is a new beginning in this process.

I promise the new buyer that this house will become their home the moment they hold that closing paper and they will relish every summer day they spend in that pool, on that deck or poolside with a cool drink.

It's coming soon. I know it is.

Jo

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I PROMISE...

I promise list...yes, it's a list because I believe once written, things become real to me. So, it is written.

I promise:

1)  to be the person I want as a friend.

2) to answer when called upon.

3) to tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear that.

4) to love without condition or not love at all.

5) to put forth my best me 90% of the time.

6) to be there for my family, always.

7) to LISTEN better.

8) to speak mostly after thinking, it's a process.

9) to try to be the wife my husband deserves; the mom my kids deserve, the grandmother my grandbabies deserve and the daughter Momma deserves.

10) to be the friend you deserve.

I want to promise to age gracefully and never be a burden to anyone, but aging isn't always like that so instead, I'll try very hard to stay healthy and active until the end. Failing that, I'm sorry to the care givers and it's okay to ship me off somewhere. Really. But if you take me in, feel free to tell me what you need from me and I do promise to give that a try.  With luck, I'll be gone before any of that matters. I want to live until it's over, really live.

I also promise to answer any of your comments as soon as I see them!  ❤️  Cuz both of my readers are very special to me!  😄

Jo


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Losing Your Rights in Senior Years

I just finished reading Mickey Rooney's speech to Congress about how he was abused by family and how he lost his human rights in his later years.

It's a moving speech.

He was an actor.

As a senior citizen here in these United States, let me just say that as of today, I maintain all of my rights. I can eat what I want. I can sleep where and when I want. I can live where and how I want. I have a reasonably sound mind and the ability to meet my own needs. This may not always be true. When it is no longer the case, I hope someone loves me enough to intervene and make decisions "with" me to assure my safety and reasonable health as well as my happiness. In the Golden Years it really should be about happiness. I may not always see where my happiness lies and I pray that my kids or my grandkids will see it and help me focus there.

I'm not denying that elder abuse happens. I'm saying that sometimes what feels like manipulation is really caring and helping. As we age we do lose the ability to be flexible and some of us lose the ability to accept this aging thing with all it's limitations. Often the manipulator is actually trying to secure a better and safer lifestyle. Let's allow for those cases to be seen from the caregivers viewpoint.  Do you just leave your loved senior in an unsafe and unhealthy environment because they want to stay there? They say it's home and they're happy. They are actually depressed and frightened being alone. They don't see that. What then? Butt out? Go on about your own business? Or do you talk and plan and try to convince them that there is a better way? Ultimately, you hope they feel it's their choice, but in fact, it has to happen either way. Emotional blackmail? Mr. Rooney says it is. I say it's loving and protecting and avoiding life in a communal care facility that will not be home, ever.

I pray constantly that I will have the wisdom required to help my mom through her Golden Years. I pray that the love we share will not be tattered and blemished because I insist on her safety. As we are preparing to move south where she will live with us, I pray her happiness will return and my sanity will also. I pray that this move can happen soon for I hear her telling people she has to move. I was so hoping by now she would be be saying she is going to move, rather than has to move.  I know that she feels I am making decisions for her without her input. I am making decisions for her because she has told me that she fears being alone sometimes and yet wants to stay in her own home. She has told me that it's nearing the time that she must move in with us. Yet, left entirely to her, she would remain where she is. She'd love for me to move in with her. I can't. We have dogs and her apartment complex doesn't allow dogs. I have a husband with whom I've planned to move south for many years. I have made every decision along this path considering her needs and her passions. We will be certain to have a walk-in shower for her. We will have a screened in porch. We will have a place that is just hers for her privacy. We will figure a fair financial arrangement so she isn't feeling like a freeloader, but will have a better life. That can be her decision alone, the money thing will matter to her, doesn't matter to us. All of her furniture will be in our new home because it matters to her and I want it to feel like her home. I feel we have made some decisions together, but she feels like I have made them all. Perspective. I get it. Giving up independence. I get that, too. But having a better quality of whatever time we have left together trumps all for me.

Hope she gets that.

Jo


Friday, July 18, 2014

When the Mom is Still the Mom

Today we crossed another milestone of sorts. I bought Momma a beautiful and very functional walker. It's purple and has a cool seat with a padded back rest. Yep, it's as cool as a walker can be. But it's a walker. Now, some would be happy to be able to walk safely just by pushing this little cutie around and some would even be excited to be able to venture outside alone because of it. Some would simply say it'll be nice to use for the night time potty trips and tell you it should be stored in the bedroom next to the bed for just such a case. Oh, that is my Momma...the last one.

I have been watching her stagger and catch herself for months. I have worried constantly about her falling while home alone. I have been reminding her constantly of the "Help I've Fallen" necklace function. That it must be worn at all times. Sometimes it's on the table beside her when I stop in. She takes it off if we are leaving the apartment. She doesn't sleep with it, but keeps it right beside her bed and tells me she carries it with her if she gets up. I hope that is true. I truly believe this walker could restore her independence somewhat. It could make her feel safe venturing outside or even just going around the apartment. She walked so smoothly and so quickly when she tried it out. I was amazed how well she did with it and she seemed unimpressed. It was as if she thinks she always walks like that. I made it very clear that she does not. I hope she listened.

For those of you who have not been in this position, may I just say it's very hard some days to be the kid. I want so much for her that she is unwilling to do. She is still my mom. She is still in charge of her own life. I have limits and I am fighting to keep myself in them. It is my nature to nag her into being more active and eating better and doing what she could do before she is not able. Every week there is something else she is no longer able to do. Her strength is failing rapidly. It's very hard to allow this to happen when you are so aware of how little she would need to do to regain that strength. I am not good at this. I am learning how to keep my big mouth shut, but I'm not exactly there, yet. I'm sure she hopes I get there soon. I hope so, too. Nagging is not working and only upsets us both. Yes, I know this. Yes, I want to be the loving daughter who allows her to be whatever makes her happy. I'm working on this...

The walker was parked in the kitchen when I left because she doesn't like it in the middle of her living room floor. UGH. She does not have company often, but it bothers her just sitting there next to where she sits, though it would only be helpful from that spot. I give up. I hope she figures out how much simpler her mobility would be using it and having it close by. I also hope that I learn to let it be.

I am so blessed to have such a fiesty momma and such a fun person to hang out with and to care for. I am so blessed that she is healthy and for the most part independent in nature and spirit. But mostly I am blessed that at 91 she still wants to be with me even if I am a nag. She knows I only want what's best for her, but I need to learn that what is best for her now is whatever she wants. Period.

If you have this in your future...take my advice and start now learning to butt out. Provide what is needed and offer whatever help is needed and otherwise, shut-up. Just love and enjoy and provide. That's where I'm trying to get.

Jo

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Thinking...

Following three showings of our home over the week-end, I am both excited and concerned. The realtor is confused because only one person has suggested the price could come down, so she'll wait for a while. The other "buyers" feel it's priced to sell. I know it's priced where we need it to be in order to move with Momma and find suitable houses in our new destination, Ormond Beach, FL.

ABSOLUTELY determined to stay another winter if our price can't be met. Momma can move in here at the end of our contract to sell and we'll just settle in. That isn't a horrible thing, but just means probably two moves for her and her furniture will have to go to storage, I think.

We had a house full of kids and grandkids last week and hosted a Fourth Party for around 50 or more of our Heroux family. Now that they've all gone back to their own homes and lives, it's very quiet here and as always, a little depressing. Having our quiet, routine life back is a bit comfortable and still a bit too quiet for the first week or so that they aren't here. I really miss them.

Keeping the house ready to show isn't an issue at all, but keeping us out of here for an hour or two with the dogs in the very hot summer has been annoying. We are spending more money in gas to keep the car running to keep puppies cool than we usually spend in a month!  All part of wanting to sell during what we feel is the best time to showcase this resort type backyard.  Maybe we should showcase the extra lot to the east as a winter wonderland for snowmobiling instead.

Mentally making a list of things to improve if we reach the end of this contract without a sale. All the time hoping we don't need to do that.

Noticing a lot of self-improvement posts the last couple of weeks on my news feed. You know, losing weight, exercising, eating healthier, new hair styles and clothing lines all directed at "looking"
better or different. I am always amused by these. I am looking at 65 in my very near future and I simply don't care if I'm "all that" anymore. I honestly don't. I care that I'm healthy. I care that I stay active enough to take care of the things I need to do, but the whole size zero jeans, cut to my navel tops or flappy upper arms...don't care. I have lots of old lady skin. Lots! I don't like it, but it's mine so I don't look at it. I cover it up a lot because I don't want to see it. I don't do make-up hardly ever because I don't want to. I wear my hair as simply as I can and still not cringe when I pass a mirror, but it's far from stylish or current. It's just me. I have been wondering at what point in my life did I actually get this way? I can't remember now, but I know it was gradual. I didn't wake up one day and just start buying clothes that are comfortable over clothes that are cool. For the record, Momma isn't there yet. She still cares a LOT about how she looks. Hair must be done. Clothes must be matched and by her standards, in style.

Done thinking for now...happy Monday people!  If you want to be loved...you gotta love. ❤️

Jo

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

RELOCATION

Back in the fall of 2013 Roomy and I decided to travel to the south and seek an area for retirement. We hoped to be ready for a move in another year. So the plan was to look around the Georgia and Florida border area and maybe some warmer parts of Florida and then up through Atlanta on the way home. We were just looking for a town or county or general location. Since my mom is 91 now and still living in her own apartment, we were thinking a duplex or in-law suite would be perfect. We were planning for her comfort and safety. She seemed okay with the move, in theory.  Though reminding me that she might not be a part of the move because who knows how many days she has left, she never indicated that it would not be a good thing. So we proceeded.

The trip was concluded when we found Ormond Beach, Florida. It felt like our home from the beginning of our tour. We drove around and checked parks, the inter-coastal waterway and current homes for sale. We walked. We drove. We ate. Then we headed up the Atlantic coast to St. Augustine for a visit with friends. We had found our future hometown.

Jacksonville was nice, Savannah was incredible and Atlanta was miserable. None of that mattered. We headed home.

While we were off dreaming and planning, Momma had a medical issue and my sister handled it and took care of her until we got back home. Although we cut our trip short by a week, we had found our spot and were comfortable with the choice. Momma had forgotten that she was part of the plan and declared she had no plan to move and this was all new to her. She said she would not be moving again.

Once we got home and I was able to have a good talk with her, she understood that she simply couldn't stay in the apartment alone much longer. She accepts, though isn't thrilled with, moving with us and into our home. There will not be a need for an in-law suite, just a private bedroom and bath. We're all on the same page again. We moved our plan up a year because I don't want her to have to move twice. If our house sells soon, we won't be in Michigan another winter.

The house is now on the market and showing well. The search for a home in Ormond Beach is on going. I keep a list of what's available.  I will go down once this one is set to close and hopefully, we will be able to move smoothly from here to there. All three of us and two furbabies.

It's a process, but I know it's the right thing for us. I know she will be happier and healthier living in our home.

Relocation is underway and so far, things look good. I believe everything happens as it's supposed to happen and I am going along for the ride.

Jo

Thursday, May 22, 2014

SALUTE TO FAMILIES OF LOST VETERANS 2013

SALUTE TO THE FAMILIES OF VETERANS

As a country we teach our children to honor and respect our veterans and service men and women, now. It is fairly common to see someone shake a hand and say their thank you to a total stranger who is or has served. This was not true back in the Vietnam days. Their return was not met with cheers, thank you or any celebration. The nation thanked those vets by spitting on them or protesting the war as the troops arrived at any airport or train station. It was a horrid and embarrassing time in our history. Most of us have apologized and agonized over that era for many years. Some of us still do. Many of our friends and family were involved in that conflict and many didn't come home. We were not good citizens upon their return and we were not good people. For the thousandth time I would offer my own personal apology. I am so ashamed and so sorry any service person was ever treated with anything short of the highest respect and level of gratitude imaginable and I know that I was not among those who behaved in that way, but I am still human, still a citizen and therefore, share in the embarrassment and the humility for a country turning its back on you who served with honor and returned with scars. I am sorry. I am glad you returned to your families.

To the families of the Vietnam vets who have died much too early because of exposure to so many chemicals or other war injuries, my condolences and my gratitude; my condolences because though you had many years of good life after that conflict, in the end, it took your loved one. I am grateful for the freedom we enjoy because that conflict existed yet saddened by your loss. Every day.

As I look around my world today, I see families who visit the cemetery and lay wreaths, bouquets or mementos on the grave of their loved one. The loved one who gave all for their country. Those families are without a vital part of their daily lives because our country called upon them to hand over a child, husband, brother, sister, mother, father, wife or friend. The graves are a stark reminder of the price of freedom. Not one of those graves is holding a soul that expected to go to war and never return. Not one of them said good-bye to their family expecting never to see or touch them again. Yet, here they lie. Here is where the family will visit and pray for and talk to them until they join them again. Freedom is so much envied around the world and we have it. We have it because these men and women died. They left everything behind and left broken hearts all around this country so that we could continue to enjoy freedom. We don't have a dictator. We don't live in fear of speaking out against our government. We walk where and when we choose and we wave our flags with pride. These people gave their lives, they died for this.

Families are often left wondering where to use the grief. How to make a difference through their grief. How to go on without this person and not give in to despair. Why would freedom be a cause for death? How does a family, a mother, a father, a brother or sister, a child move forward after burying their serviceman/woman?
I simply don't know. I have not experienced this and refuse to judge anyone who has. Whatever helps them accept and move forward in their lives is good enough. Whatever that is because the ultimate sacrifice is not just the soldier who was buried, it's the family that wasn't.

As a mother of a Navy Vet, I can honestly tell you that I cannot imagine how all of these families get through this. I am hoping that the pride in their soldier helps. I am hoping that knowing that the lost love was doing what he/she believed in and loved, is enough. I am also hoping that everyone around them supports and strengthens them when they cannot go it alone.

I offer my deepest and most sincere condolences to every person who has buried a member of the armed forces. My heart aches for your loss and bursts with pride at the willingness and in fact, eagerness with which these young people give of themselves to protect us all and cloak us in freedom. It is nearly unfathomable to me to be in your shoes and I will not pretend to understand. I will only promise you that you and yours will be in my prayers always.

The ultimate sacrifice: giving your loved one back to God.

Dear Lord, I pray for strength, understanding and peace of heart for all who have given a loved one in battle or as an after effect of serving our nation. I pray for love to always be enough for the survivors of those who have been laid to rest in your tender care. Amen

Jo

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Dear Momma,

Happy Mother's Day.

Today is your 69th Mother's Day and I hope it is one of your best. I know nothing compares to the very first one and I also know that when we were small we didn't show you the love we felt because most kids just don't really get it. Now, I get it.

Today is all about whatever makes you happy. The meal I cooked, some of your favorites. The family gathered because we don't do that often. Your three kids and their spouses for lunch and gifts and laughs.
We can always count on the laughs.

Thank you, Momma, for teaching us that life is to be lived and that there is humor all around. Thanks for showing us how to be independent thinkers and how to live a life as it comes rather than by design. Sometimes God doesn't follow the plan we made and His is the one we live. Thank you for teaching us to go with that. It makes for happier and healthier choices because somehow we know that life is never to be taken for granted. Just enjoyed and shared.

I love you as only your kid can and every day I remember how blessed I am that I was given to parents who didn't exactly plan to have three babies. This number three baby is very happy to have happened!

Jo
May 11, 2014


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Never Again


There are so many things I could say I would never do again, but there are even more thoughts I've allowed to run through my mind that I'd like to never again entertain. There are a few places I will never go again. The one thing I have to accept is that all the things I think I'd never experience again gave me something I am using in my life. I learned something from each. Or I should have.
So though I'd likely never again...I'm glad I did, sorta.
I went shopping one day and tried on a beautiful dress I thought I'd love to wear to one of our nieces wedding. It was royal blue and had a comfortable sleeve just above my elbow. The bodice was snug and the skirt flared from the waist to just below my knee. Lovely. Except when I looked in the mirror I saw something I apparently had been ignoring OR it just appeared at this moment. Old Lady Cleavage. You know. The wrinkles that flow from the turkey neck right on down to the cleavage without any smooth or sexy look at all. I had passed the sexy cleavage stage of my life and I had no idea. I will NEVER AGAIN buy a low cut anything, not because I am that vain, but because making other people gag is not my idea of fun.  *sigh* 

Not sure what I learned, but I am sure I accepted my aging as 
just another beautiful thing about being given a few more years
on this earth.

Jo

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SUMMER WITH OHIO FAMILY

The current prompt by Ariana Browning for The Blogging Lounge.
My mother and father moved to Michigan from Ohio in 1954. I was four years old and all the rest of our family was in Ohio.

Steubenville area, mostly, but great aunts and uncles were scattered around the state. After our move, seeing them became a big chore although some did come here to visit from time to time.

This story is about something that happened several times during our growing up years and I am sure my sister and brother, as well as my mom, have different memories of these visits, but I can only relate my own.

Sometimes someone would come to Michigan and pick us up or sometimes...

We would all five load into the car and head south to some predetermined point to meet someone from the left behind family for a big ole picnic and fun in some roadside park. Sometimes one or two of us would return to Ohio from these meet-ups for the remainder of the summer. The family we met would either be my Aunt Joan and Uncle Jim and their two daughters, Cindy and Joey or our grandparents, Dad's parents, and sometimes our Aunt Mimi who lived with them until their passing.

 My brother usually went at the same time that I went and usually for a couple or three weeks. This time I was going alone for a month. I remember it because Momma had talked with me several times about how I couldn't get homesick and whine to come home because no one could bring me or come and get me until my time was up. At the end of the month the aunt and grandmother would be bringing me home. She needn't have worried because I didn't get homesick and I didn't ask to go home because I was everyone's center of attention and I loved it there.

The picnic was fun, as always, and I remember there being a stream that we waded in to keep cool while the adults sat at a picnic table and talked and laughed. I loved a picnic back then and honestly still do. It was an experience I think all kids should have. Nothing there to entertain us, just nature and family and good homemade picnic food.

My grandmother, Mom-Mom, was a short and round woman ever since I can remember. I have pictures of her in her youth and she wasn't always round, but in my lifetime, she was. She was also always very beautiful. Her hair was usually done and neat and didn't show gray until very late in her life. It was very dark brown and I don't think it was colored. I think it was perfect. She smiled a lot. I adored her laugh because it was genuine and used her whole body. She literally shook with laughter and I loved that.

The visits with them were unique because we didn't always do things or go places, though visiting those aunts and uncles were sometimes on our agenda, we just spent time together doing family stuff. Weeding the garden, or picking the vegetable. Cooking was a daily thing and she let me help and showed me how to do things her way. She talked with me if I was with her and left me to myself when I chose to be alone. She understood me and loved me. I thought all grandmothers were like her. They aren't. My mother's mother wasn't like her. She was distant and cool. She tolerated my brief visits and never invited me to spend the night. I was secretly glad of that.

Living in Mom-Mom's house along with Pop-Pop, were our two aunts. Mimi and Ede were both single and neither ever married. Mimi spent my entire visit planning things with me after work or on week-ends. Sometimes it was really fun stuff and sometimes she just took me with her to whatever she had to do, either way I liked it. The pottery stores were among my favorite memories. I loved walking through those and always buying something. Ede wasn't so much into having me around, but she did pay me to do her ironing! I liked earning money and knew I'd get to get inside the freezer to clean it out once it had defrosted during my visit and that paid well!  I liked shopping with my own money even back then.

My Aunt Joan always invited me to spend a few days with her. I know now that it was to give my grandmother a break, but as a kid, I believed she enjoyed having me.  Maybe both are true. I loved going there and being the older girl in the house. I loved my cousins because they were fun and very nice to me. I had other cousins on my mom's side that I also loved and spent time with and Aunt Jean and Uncle Roy were very kind to me and always made me feel very special. Uncle Roy is my mom's brother and the only member of her family that really seemed to love me. I remember these aunts and uncles as particularly loving people who welcomed this northern girl with open arms.

These trips got longer as I got older and eventually began Memorial Week-end and lasted until Labor Day week-end. They are very vivid in my mind and time I cherish with all my heart. Without these, I would not have known any of my cousins very well nor would I have had all those hours of one-on-one time with my extended family and that is a treasure I have because my family understood the value. I understand the value of family time to this day and I am quite sure it is because I had these summers in Ohio.

Jo

Friday, April 4, 2014

Turmoil ~ Blogging Lounge

A trip to the southern east side of the U.S. was  our vacation destination this year. Roomy and I have talked about moving south when we retired since we first married 32 years ago. We visited South Padre Island for 4 winters and loved the Texas island life. We toyed with living there. We visited Arizona a few times and talked longingly of living there. Weather in both locations would suit us just fine year 'round, but the draw back was and remains, it is too far from where our families are. As we age our priorities have shifted to being able to return "home" in a day if an emergency were to come up. The flight would need to be affordable and reasonably convenient. Neither of those locations offer that.

That is how we came to look at and discuss Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.  The trip was intended to take us through the areas of those states where we were attracted either by computer searches or recommendations by friends.

We planned nearly 3 weeks of searching. At the end of week one, a phone call notified us that Momma was going to the emergency room. She was released a few hours later and my sister had it totally under control. I talked with Momma and felt okay about staying. She seemed tired but not afraid or upset. We continued to travel, check areas of interest and visit my brother and SIL briefly. It was fun. It was relaxing. We were eager to feel "at home" somewhere as we drove and gawked. That happened almost immediately as we drove slowly through an area on the northeastern coast of Florida. (Ormond Beach, Holly Hill area.) This was our destination. We both knew it wasn't going to be better than this anywhere.

After visiting friends in St. Augustine, we continued to look around that area and around Savannah, GA. We loved our time in Savannah, but quickly determined it wasn't a place we would want to live. The towns around the city were very disappointing and to be honest, I was still thinking about what Momma was doing much more than I should have been. I can't say it detracted from our search because I felt the search was over, but we agreed to head home by way of Nashville. One day and the night with my daughter's family and then get home. It felt like time.

Turmoil. A three week vacation to scout future home sites ends in less than two full weeks because the search was over and I needed to put eyes on Momma. I knew she was physically all right, but I heard something in her conversations that was unsettling to me. Confusion, maybe depression, irritability all ringing inside my head while I tried to be excited about our future. A future which always included Momma.

The plan is to buy a house with an in-law apartment or a duplex. It was never a consideration that she wouldn't come. She had been quite happy discussing this with me just a few days before we left. Now she had no idea why I thought she would move. She wasn't moving anywhere. Totally unaware of the previous conversations. That locked in stubbornness has taken over and I'm once again in turmoil over my own life and plans.

How do you justify giving up your life plans with your husband because your mom doesn't want to leave a state where the winter makes her miserable for a year round weather in which she can sit or walk outside nearly every day? Turmoil. Going back and forth with plans inside my head. We could move and come back once a month for a couple days. Very difficult January through March, but otherwise, doable. I can just keep talking and hope she will get on board at some point again. I can just stay here until she's gone or I don't feel compelled to stay. Turmoil inside of my head and my heart. The biggest turmoil, do I just give up our wants for her wants?

We will go to our Florida home, if we live long enough, or if she softens up.

Yep, turmoil which I'm praying about.

Jo

Sunday, February 23, 2014

DEAR YOUNGER SELF

DEAR YOUNGER SELF
#theblogginglounge
February 23, 2014


I have done a couple of these posts in the past and I always enjoy doing it, but today, it feels more difficult to look back and give myself advice or even to sit in judgment of that girl or woman of my past. She did okay with what she had to work around and the choices she made seem to have worked okay in the long run. Though she put herself through some unimaginable pain and strife, she learned and grew from those, so they were necessary to arrive here. She did okay.

I do wish I could whisper to the little girl I once was and tell HER that being the baby is not a bad thing and that her family really does love her. I wish she knew how vital those summers in Ohio with the grandparents would be for all the days of her life. She thought she was just having fun. Truth is, she was learning what kind of person she wanted to become. She was learning the value of the kitchen. The heart of many homes is there and at her grandmother's table she was learning how to love nurturing your family. It wasn't about cooking a meal, it was about providing what you had to nourish your family and doing that because that was your job in the grand scheme of things. You were to provide the warmth, the fuel and the gathering spot which ties the family together. That is what dinner is or was back in the day. For me, today, feeding my family is still something I feel compelled to do and love doing. That little girl thought she was just chatting with her grandmother and learning a few of her favorite recipes, and I use that term loosely because it was a little of this and just enough of that and stir and simmer until it's done...no measurements and no times or temps were needed. She did learn, but she had no idea she was learning.

I might tell her to pay more attention to the lessons of summer in Ohio. I might remind her that her home in Michigan is a good place filled with people who do love her and a mom who will eventually allow her freedom in the kitchen so she can also learn to love meal preparation. That mom will give over the kitchen for some not real good meals while she learns her way around and will offer much advice about how to make it better next time. A dad who will eat anything she hands him, including the forty-hundredth omelet she is trying so hard to perfect. Never suggesting that she try something new because until that omelet looked like the picture and tasted delicious, she wasn't satisfied enough to move on. Bless his heart. She wasn't aware of all the wonderful things in her simple life that not everyone had. She assumed the whole world lived as she did. I would tell her to step back and look more closely at her friends' homes; they were not all as easy to live in as her's. They didn't all have a mom and a dad living there and they weren't all as loved as she. She had no idea.

I might even tell her to just continue to live the carefree life as long as she could because eventually we all have to grow up and be responsible and while she could, just enjoy her closet rooms or her row of doll heads that she couldn't bear to throw away long after the body of said doll was in tatters and had been discarded. It seemed wrong to her to throw away a head. While I now think that is really weird, it was the beginning of the woman who thinks all faces are worth seeing and saving. Good for you little girl who had no idea why, but could not throw away a face. Good for you.

Yes, I would for sure tell her to carry on and smile and laugh and remember just this one thing...you are loved little one and valued by some very remarkable people.

Jo

Thursday, February 13, 2014

BEGINS WITH...#Thebloggerslounge

My generation is often referred to as "the sandwich generation" because many of us have children in our homes and parents also needing care in our homes or a facility. I am not technically in either of those situations so I don't qualify. However, is there a parent anywhere with grown children who doesn't feel the need to parent forever? Is there a child who doesn't feel the need to "parent" an aging parent who can't quite make it alone?

My kids are grown and self-sufficient.  They don't need me. They are totally capable of living their lives without my input. I think. I mean, I'm not about to give them that opportunity. I keep my nose in their business by asking questions and I am always here for the long talks moms and kids have to shake things out or to make decisions. I don't make decisions for them, not that they would ask, but I listen and give my opinions and then support their decisions, even when that's hard. It's what I do. I believe in them and their ability to handle consequences of their actions because they have proven over the years that they can do this and I have learned over those same years to be compassionate, but butt out at some point.

My mom, now that's a different story all together. She has always been very capable and since Dad died 35 years ago, very independent. She has always appreciated any help or assistance I've given her and I have done so willingly and lovingly. For the past 4 years she has lived here in the same area where I live and not wanting to drive. She could, but not safely, so good choice. I am the taxi, the checkbook balancer, the call those people and ask questions guy, the take care of business guy. I am her baby girl and she often thanks me for doing those things. It is my pleasure, most of the time; sometimes it's just my job and I just do what needs to be done. Sometimes she doesn't appreciate me at all. Sometimes she resents me. That's hard.

Aging is a mean thing. I have concluded from my experience with people who are 90 and older that being entitled is part of life. "I don't have to" is an answer to things she should be doing, but doesn't want to do. She is right. She only has to eat right if she wants to feel better. She only has to move around more if she wants to be able to move around more. Those are the two areas we discuss most often. With very little progress, I might add, because she doesn't have to. What I see happening with her is decline. Mental and physical and in the last year, much more rapidly than previous years. I want to help her live a more comfortable and healthier life, but I cannot make her do anything. I can't make her be nice about that, either. I can continue to be straight-forward in a kind way, but I can't change who she is or what she says. She can be very mean in her effort to assert herself. It's hard.

I am learning from this experience. I am aware that at some time as I age, my mind will not function as I need it to do. I know that I will continue to lose memory. I will  need assistance with physical things more than I do today. I will not be completely self-sufficient and I will need help. I have learned that when that time comes I will have to be very conscious of the words I choose. I will need to remember to be kind and appreciative. I will also need to maintain as much independence as I possibly can for as long as I can. I have also learned that my future really does depend on my today. Mentally I must begin with today. I have to prepare myself to age gracefully and with as much mental awareness as is possible to maintain by eating healthy food and exercising physically to maintain some strength and balance.

Avoiding what I am dealing with today with my own beloved mother for my children. Or perhaps for the people they hire to take care of their old decrepit mom. I don't know, I only know it
BEGINS WITH the choices I make today.

Jo

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Flower Cart #theblogginglounge

Standing at the back door looking out to the greenest of green grass while my coffee brews
 makes the morning feel fresh and new. Maybe makes life feel fresh and new.
Yes, a new start. A new chance.
Not that life has been bad to this point, not at all.
Yet, since the goal is to be a better person each day, the green-ness is a reminder.



Ariana Browning's photo.




The little cart with ivy growing and blooms just about to open is alone in the center of the yard.
It sits with no distractions.
Seeing it feels warm. Seeing it feels as if nature is tapping on my shoulder. Come play!
And play, I shall.
I am not able to refuse the call of sun and warm air and green things growing.
I will tend to the flowers and the pristine water in the pool.
I will sit near the bird bath and hummingbird feeders and enjoy their chirps.
I will sip my coffee in silence just soaking in all that makes me happy about my own 
little piece of the earth.
Just the sight of the little cart I filled with growing plants will be enough to step into this day 
with a smile of summer's promises.

Jo

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Busy Blog Pages

I write this piece as a blogging service announcement. You may agree or disagree or just think I'm nuts in the head. All fine with me. I'm going to write it anyway, cuz I feel like it needs to be said.

My expertise comes from being a professional (albeit unpaid) blog reader and commenter. I read and comment a great deal more than I write. I love a well laid out blog page that makes reading easy and commenting easy breezy.

Some of the biggest problems I, as your reader, have encountered involve the junk on your page other than your blog. The ads that pop up and have to be removed so that I can read on. The left side list of places you want me to share your blog that interfere with your words. The badges that take up a quarter of your page that I have to scroll through to get to the comments. Typing my name, email and website addy every time I want to comment. Captchas! Music that plays automatically when I open your blog. I like quiet. A blog written around pictures which don't show on a mobile FB platform. Subscribe to me pop-ups while I'm reading in the middle of the page.

One or two of those don't really bug me that much, but dang, if you want readers you really have to think about someone who is trying to read your words being able to actually read them without a bunch of stuff to work around. Your readers are lazy and they came for your words. Not for your extra add-ons.

Just suggesting here that I'm probably not the only reader who doesn't come back often if it's too distracting to read. And I don't comment where there is a captcha and often don't comment if the site can't remember my email or web page addy after I type in my name.  Ain't nobody got time for that!

Just sayin' make it easy for the people you are trying to attract! Doesn't that make sense?

Or no? It's your blog and your readers. It's just my opinion.

Jo

Friday, January 17, 2014

SAD Update

January 17, 2014

We are in the midst of a horrible winter, weather wise. We've had a record snow fall and an epic ice storm and we have seriously just begun the season. It's tough to even watch the forecasts because, honestly, I don't want to know what's next. What I smile about is that over 100 days have passed since the SAD season has launched and this sufferer is not suffering. I am looking at each day as it comes and I am facing each one as happily as I can manage because, after all, it's only one day. I can do anything for one day. And the tomorrow? I'll do it again.

Each morning starts with a smile to me. Just because I like who I am. Then a quick look at the days motivational phrase. Today it was, "There is comfort in familiar places and good friends."  That's a nice thought for any day. From there I give myself a quick list of blessings in my life and finish my first cup of coffee with hazelnut coffee mate.

All of this is done inside my head, privately to me. Except the coffee, that's a nice warm and fresh cup in my hands and warming my chilly body while settling and setting my mind for this day.

I cannot recall another Michigan winter that has been so calm. I can't think of any other cold, dreary or stormy season that I could easily laugh everyday. Nor another fall/winter that I could curl up with a book because I wanted to get lost in the story and not because I couldn't face reality, just because I wanted to enjoy fantasy.

2014. Welcome and bring it! I'm good. I'm grateful. I'm strong and I'm winning!

Jo