Posts Tagged ‘Celebration of Life’

Reimagining Mother’s Day

May 8, 2016

This is the second Mother’s Day since Mom died; in some ways it feels strange she is not here, in other ways it doesn’t feel strange at all.  Maybe because the last 3 or 4 years of her life were dominated by dementia and she wasn’t quite the Mom I have known my whole life.  I am glad I was there for her during the time she was alone after Dad died, he was her whole world and she missed him so much.  She didn’t really say much about how she felt about things, her generation didn’t talk about feelings or were as open as we seem to be today.

When we were kids, we wanted to give her breakfast in bed – that was considered very much a luxury. However, Mom was not a breakfast-in-bed kind of person – I think Dad convinced her to let us do it for her.  Sometimes I think it was hard for her to accept receiving from others, she was such a giver to everyone.  She enjoyed having people come over and she would feed them.  She liked the people we invited over, Mom was very comfortable in her own home rather than out somewhere.

I remember when the three of us girls and Dad went to buy her a black nightgown – what that sales lady thought one can only imagine.  I remember it as  fun and a little out of the ordinary.  It never occurred to us to think in terms of what Mom would like best, Madison Ave always told people what to do or give on any occasion.

Mom was rather dismissive of Mother’s Day, because the idea of honoring mothers and showing how much they are loved on just one particular day was phony.  To her it was an all year round activity and more important for those small things every day.  In some ways I have agreed with her, make up for all the unsaid things, not visiting, etc. on one particular day.

I was living away from Seattle for over 34 years, I was able to come and visit my parents at least 3 times a year, sometimes more.  It was joy to be back in Seattle and be with my parents, we had a lot of fun together.  It was even better when Eddie was with me, the four of us would go on adventures.  Sometimes Eddie came on business trip and I couldn’t go with him, so he had my parents all to himself.  I have often thought he is the son they never had, plus Eddie thought of them as his own parents as well.  Eddie really enjoyed the times he and Dad went out by themselves – a guy’s day.  Dad showed him a lot of back roads around Seattle and Eddie still uses them.

They would come to visit us maybe once a year – I was able to take them around to places I knew and when I was in Atlanta, we drove up to Nashville to visit Candy.  When we lived in LA, we met friends of theirs from when dad was growing up and when they were first married.  Dad showed me places in Rolling Hills and Palos Verdes that were special to him and where he spent his teenage and young adult years.

When we were growing up, Mom was a stay at home mom, she was there when we came home from school – if she wasn’t, we knew she would be back shortly.  Sometimes she would be king cookies or downstairs ironing with the smell of fresh, clean clothes.  It wasn’t until high school, when I went home with a friend, that I realized how blessed I was to have Mom home when I came home.  I took it for granted.  My friend’s father had died in WWII and her mother had to work to support them.  When we went into her house, it felt cold – not just temperature, there was no one there to welcome her with warmth.  That really hit home and I began to value having a stay at home Mom.

As I think about it, home was a place that was safe where I was loved and wanted.   No matter what was going on outside, I would find a retreat at home.  Mom and Dad made it feel that way, Mom was the major component for it.  As I got older, I found more things we had in common, such as the books we liked.  When I was married, I learned to appreciate her more and understand things better.  If I had had children, I would certainly have understood being a mom a lot more.

So now I have to re-imagine Mother’s Day since Mom is not with us any more.  I know she is now much happier because she no longer has dementia and is with Dad.  Maybe it will be a celebration of her life and what she gave to me and my sisters.  I don’t quite see a picture in my mind yet, it may have to simmer on the back burner for a while.  When I think Mother’s Day, I see the lunch we had with her sister Jean and her son and daughter-in-law or the last dinner with Jean before Mom died.  They are happy pictures in my mind and I want it continue that way.

I did another post a while ago with pictures and I want to put those in this one.

Mom and her sister Jean

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Mom as a little toddler

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This is the house she grew up in on Main Street in Glastonbury, Conn

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This is out at the farm in Waterford, Conn near Long Island Sound

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I think this was a camp somewhere

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Mom was a Traveler’s Aid volunteer for more than 34 years – she thoroughly enjoyed doing it.

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Every summer, Mom’s father would rent  house on Clinton Beach in Conn., the family would rent houses near it and spend the summer there.

Dad made an album of pictures of Mom’s life and I used to go through it with her on my visit.  She had Macular Degeneration, so she wasn’t able to see them.  I would describe them to her and she knew exactly what I was describing.  She would tell me stories about growing up – I never knew when she was in a talkative mood.  It would happen all through my childhood, so when I lived in Conn., I went to Glastonbury and saw where she lived and met the relatives that were still alive.  On one of Mom and Dad’s visits to us, I took them there and we also went to Clinton beach to see the rental houses – surprising it looked a lot the same.

Those are the memories and pictures I have of Mom in my mind.

Celebrating Mom’s Life

June 21, 2015

I didn’t think it would take me this long to write about last Sunday’s Celebration of Life for my Mom – now it is Father’s Day.  Maybe it is appropriate after all, I can’t picture one without the other.   The truth is, I was so exhausted I spent the week resting and sleeping.  Yesterday I seem to have spent most of the day dozing or sleeping – couldn’t keep awake.

Eddie and I had been working on getting things done for the Celebration of Life – meanwhile he was wearing himself at work as well.  I had first heard of a Celebration of Life in the 80’s when I was going to Northward Congregational Church in Conn.  When someone died, that was how they looked at it – not as a sad, mournful event but a celebration.  I really liked that and  idea and found it more comforting.  We did a Celebration of Life open house for Dad in 2000, inviting people from all the places Dad knew people – it was quite a group.  I was concerned it would be sad and I would start crying.  However, it was a delightful time and I knew Dad would have enjoyed it.

Things have certainly changed in 15 years – not many people left who knew Mom and I will admit to being late with the invitations.  We invited the Domino ladies, the neighbors, people from Breakfast Club, my Caretaker Support Group, Future of Flight, and Kathy.  I had a postcard made that I gave out and decided whoever was supposed to come would be here.  I arranged a cake with Robbi, our resident cake designer at Breakfast Club and had her deliver it Sunday morning.

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Robbie did such a wonderful job on the cake.  I was very pleased with it.

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She did lemon cake with lemon curd, plus I asked her to put some lemon flavoring in the frosting.

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She made such lovely flowers for the cake

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It was Flag Day, Eddie put up the flag for the day – Mom and Dad used to put it out  most every day.

I ordered a fruit tray and vegetable tray from Fred Meyer, each with a dip.  I had lemonade with a bit of orange flower water and Vickie lent me her spigot jug.  I used white tablecloths and put the two card tables on the porch for the food and lemonade and one of the outside tables with another white tablecloth for the cake.  I used lavender napkins, light green plates and forks, then purple napkins to put under the trays.

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The card tables worked very well.

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This is the table for the cake – I had to put napkins and plates to keep the purple napkins from flying away.

I planned to buy roses for Mom and put them on the mantel with the 50th anniversary picture of both of them.  Eddie picked them for me – he always chooses just the right thing.

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It worked out so well!  Mom always enjoyed her rose garden.  Candy sent roses but unfortunately there was aspire in the works and the florist didn’t send them for whatever reason.  I know Mom would have really appreciated the thought.

Ellen sent a lovely azalea, one of Mom’s favorite flowers.

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I wanted to do something  interesting with the dining table, so I brought out my newest tablecloth, used the spiky chrysanthemums Eddie bought for me and put some candles and candlesticks with them.  I was going to use the Swedish crystal candle holders, but Eddie liked the silver ones.

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As I looked at it after I finished, I think he was right.

My long time friend Charlotte came, The Dusslers from down the hill and Vickie and Rich Bergquist all came about the same time.

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Bonnie and Alona Dussler

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A much better picture of the two of them

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Charlotte was looking through the book Candy sent.  she wrote it about Mom and several people enjoyed looking through it – some saw pictures of themselves in it.

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No Celebration of Life would be complete without Kathy.  she started out as Mom caregiver, became a good friend and now she is our very good friend.  she helped so much with dealing with Mom, organizing, advice, answers and many, many other things.

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Marilyn Silworth who lives up the street.  Mom would go walking with her husband Ron most days.  Ron would call and ask if Mom was going for a walk and Mom was delighted to go with him.

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Charlotte and I both wore lavender.  In the background is Delores Allen with Ken and Maria Carter who live across the street.

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That’s Claire McGee in the foreground, she lives up near where the school bus used to stop.

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This is Peggy Johnson, she lives up near Claire.  She is 90 or more and we see her sitting on the ground weeding her yard all the time.

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The table worked out so well.  I kept it simple.

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Bob allen – he and Delores live next door and have been wonderful neighbors for Mom and Dad as well as for us.

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He’s Claire McGee again.

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This is Sheila Woodward – she lives on the other side of allen.  Next to her is Maria Carter.

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The Carters brought a lovely plant and it was on the table with the food.

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Sandy from the Future of Flight brought a lovely bouquet.

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We are enjoying the Carters’ plant in the dining room.

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This is Delores Allen – I’m sure she would appreciate  her front showing instead of her back.

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This photo is driving me nuts!  I lightened in iPhoto and it was great – now it only comes out dark.  That means you can’t really see rich and Vickie very well.  I am going to wait for a day or two and see if iPhoto and WordPress will work together finally.

We had a great time and enjoyed all the people who came.  I was very surprised and delighted to see June Hawkins, she is one of the domino ladies and has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  She was given 6 weeks, but that has passed and although she was walking very slowly and with difficulty, her grand daughter brought her here for a short while.   Not sure about the other ladies, butI know Mom would be pleased June came.

Unfortunately I didn’t have pictures of everything thing and everyone – we had people on the porch, at the dining table and in the living room – it went very well.  I am very happy people came and had wonderful things to say about Mom; I think she would surprised  how much people liked her and enjoyed being with her.  It was a perfect sunny day, about 75 with a cool breeze – I couldn’t have asked for better weather.

it has taken me some days to begin to sleep comfortably, I was overtired, stiff and sore Sunday night.  The shoulders and neck have been stiff all week – not sure what that is about but I will work through it.  It was a special day for Mom and the last thing I can do for her.  Now it is my time and I am looking forward to what shows up next.

I Hear An Echo Here

March 22, 2015

After a long down, it is feels so good to have  some interest and energy for a change.  This last week has been  unusual, but a lot has been accomplished.  We can see a difference as well.   I have been able to start things moving to clear some things out of the house.  Brigh came by Thursday afternoon to take furniture on consignment – we’ll see how it works.  He as a friend who is interested in some things as well, so that should help empty things out a bit.  As a matter of fact, we now have a big empty space in the living room so we can have our new dining set delivered – it will seem odd to have 2 tables and chairs but that won’t last too long.

We have been finding homes for things – I feel as if I am adopting out kittens.  Eddie is definitely happy to see the empty space.  He dropped off several bags of books to open up some space as well.   There is still a long way to go, but there is definitely progress.  I am finding I have no problem saying goodbye to things, I am not emotionally attached to them as much.  Maybe because I know the things have homes to go to and will be appreciated.  If we had an estate sale, we would lose money on it for all the effort and work it would take.

After 2 or 3 days of being tired physically, I was mentally tired on Friday.  I went in for my One to One to work on my podcasts.  We at least have it showing up on its but not playing – I was there with Rhys for 2 hours and at the moment we are at a standstill.  I need to finish putting the podcasts on the blog so they can at least be heard there – until I can find a platform to store the mp3s, it won’t be on iTunes for a while.  If you check out findingthegifts.wordpress.com you can hear the ones I have  finished.  They are not in order, so they skip around on dates.  I plan to have them in order, 1st show to last.  I also need to do a little work on the site itself, not all that pleased with the theme for it.

Wednesday I went to Breakfast Club and then met Char for an outing at U Village.  We have been talking about it, I am the one who couldn’t get her act together.  Then I didn’t sleep well the night before, so I was draggy and not the best company.  Char and I are such good and long time friends that we are glad to spend time together no matter what is happening.  We both understand each other and our situations – sometimes it me, sometimes it’s her and sometimes both of us.  Usually we are both doing well and it works out really well.  Char is so good for me and I am so glad we had our outing.

I decided it was time to set a date for Mom’s Celebration of Life open house – it is going to be on June 14th from 1 – 4 p.m.  It’s a Sunday and I hope we will be able to paint in time for it.  There will be a cake from Robbie and mostly finger foods to make it easier for people.  I am hoping for a sunny day so we can use the yard and the back porch.  Other than that, I haven’t planned anything else.  I will invite the neighbors, the domino ladies,  my Breakfast Group who knew Mom  – not sure who else is left.

The oddest thing is happening, I have hot flashes again.  Why is a mystery.  I can deal with them during the day, but the ones at night make it hard for me to sleep well.  Last night I woke up several times with them, not conducive to a good night’s rest.  I’m 68 for Heaven’s sake – will this happen every few years?  Give me a break!

I’m not the only feeling a little screwy – the plants and flowers seem to be confused.  The early bloomers are later and the later ones flowered early.  The camellias are fully in bloom and dropping flowers all over.  Jorge and his crew came on Friday and did the yard – next thing you know, the camellias dropped more on the lawn.  The blueberries are beginning to bloom and so it the red pear tree – the other pear and the apple tree are just showing buds.   It is beautiful to see all the flowers blooming – we have had rain and wind, so I hope we don’t lose blossoms that will produce fruit.

As long I work on keeping calm, relaxed and at peace with things feel so mixed up, I will be fine.  This may be the new normal, whatever normal is – just roll with the punches and be flexible.


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