Every day might not be good, but there is something good in every day. ~Unknown
I have been in a funk lately. The last six weeks have been a challenge. My mom passed at age 90; I turned 60, and Daylight Saving time began. It’s not enough that I am already sad and melancholy, but now I am plunged into darkness by 5:30 each evening. I haven’t been able to write, and my usual inspirational music is making me teary. I think I need to have a Moonstruck moment, smack myself, and get over it!
I don’t mean get over my mother’s death or turning 60 that quickly because I really do need time to process and come to terms with each of those things, but they can’t be all consuming. My daughter gave my mom a kitchen magnet with the above quote on it. My mom used to quote it to me often back in the days when we could still have phone conversations. Angela also gave my mom a small charm on a present one time that said “celebrate life.” Boy did my mom do that! She celebrated life until almost the very end. She died on a Thursday. On the Friday before my sister-in-law and I went to visit her. Mom had fallen out of bed twice that week, and when we got to her room she was taking an afternoon nap which was unusual. Even though she was weak and tired, when an aide came and asked her if she wanted to go to the salon and get her nails done she said, “Sure.” That would be her something good for the day.
So I decided that it was time for me to stop sliding down the rabbit hole and start embracing life again – find the something good in every day. What better time than in the month of November, the month of Thanksgiving? While it is OK for me to feel sad, or lonely, or melancholy, it isn’t alright to stay there too long.
Today my “something” is the fact that I am caught up with all my grading! Now I know it will only last for a hot second, but I am going to enjoy tonight with a cup of tea, my new Autumn throw (one of my birthday presents from my kids) and a new book to read.
I haven’t posted in awhile. Back to school had me tied up the first two weeks of September, but I never dreamed of what would keep me from writing the rest of the month. My mom passed away on September 20th. Although she was 90 and had been suffering with dementia the past few years, I did not expect it.
I visited her on Labor day with my daughter and two grandsons. She played catch with Parker using her hip pillow, and called out my name when Nolan started crawling out of her room. She hadn’t said my name in a long time, yet she told me to “watch him!” She was laughing and clapping. Seventeen days later she was dead. Though I was not ready, it was her time, and I take solace in the fact that she did not linger and suffer too long. It was a very quick two week decline.
This is really the second time I have lost my mom. The first was when dementia took away her ability to carry on a phone conversation, or give me advice. That took some getting use to, but I still always enjoyed our visits and so did she.
Below are the Words of Remembrance spoken at her funeral. I wrote them with some input from my brothers and sister and my nephew did a wonderful job delivering them. It is the best writing I have done in over a month because she was the best mom a girl could hope for, and was easy to write about. I would have written more, but we were limited on time allowed. Mom memories just might be creeping into my blog posts as I work through this “new normal.”
“Lucy was not the typical mom of her time who would bake cookies or crochet scarves. Lucy worked outside of the home as long as we can remember. Whether it was at Klein’s or Wanamaker’s or selling advertising with Al, Lucy spent most of her working years in the sales industry, and she was very successful. Her grandchildren knew how to recognize a John Wanamaker’s box before they could read. They knew it held something special she had purchased with her employee discount just for them.
But like Mary, in the story of Martha and Mary at the time of Jesus’ visit, no matter how much time work took up in Lucy’s life, she was never too busy to take one of her four children to whatever activity was on the calendar. From sports practices, to scouts, music lessons and more, Lucy was our chauffeur letting us listen to whatever radio station we wanted until we were old enough to drive ourselves and coax her into letting us borrow her car. Some of the greatest conversations were had sitting with Mom in the car in the driveway right outside of our house. It was in those times you knew you had Mom’s undivided attention. You could tell her anything, and she would offer gentle advice and make you feel like you were doing a great job and could accomplish anything.
Lucy was the epitome of optimism. She never complained or had a bad word for anyone. The words that most often come to mind when thinking or speaking of her are: kindness, joy, laughter, sincerity, smiles, and Sinatra.
Lucy was devoted to her faith and the Blessed Mother. She was a regular church goer until her health prevented her from attending. However, that did not deter her faith life. She continued to say her 54 day rosary novenas until just a couple of years ago. When any of us were in need of extra prayers for a special intention, we would make sure to get on Lucy’s prayer list because we believe she had a hotline to heaven.
For as “saintly” as Lucy appeared, she also had a little bit of a mischievous side, like when she would wait for the trolley car to go by so she could sneak into her house without being heard because she was coming home late from a date, or when she let Matthew drive the car before he was 16, or when she would pose for pictures with her grandsons pretending to be smoking a cigar, or when she came out with one of her infamous one-liners – you know what we mean. She certainly lived up to her motto of “celebrating life every day.”
In her last years, dementia stole some of those cherished memories from her, but it could never shake her happy and loving spirit. She continued to light up a room with her smile. She continued to sing her signature song – “If I knew you were coming I’da baked a cake,” and she continued to dance on her walker, which her caregivers fondly dubbed the “Lucy Shuffle,”
We would like to thank her wonderful caregivers at Rose Garden at Ann’s Choice. We could not have asked for a more loving group of women who treated Lucy with such dignity and respect. This really put our hearts and minds at ease especially during Lucy’s last days.
We would also in a very special way like to thank, Nancy, who Lucy called her Guardian Angel. Nancy has been Lucy’s personal valet for at least the last 15 years, taking her to doctor’s appointments, the hair salon, or to meet friends for lunch. She has been the coordinator of Lucy’s care at Rose Garden. The staff there was surprised to learn she wasn’t Lucy’s daughter. They remarked about how well our family got along and agreed on all things pertaining to Lucy – noting that this was not always the way things happened between family members.
This is Lucy’s legacy. She raised her children to be caring. She welcomed their partners as if they were her own children. She idolized her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She taught us what it meant to be an incredible parent, a supportive partner, a loyal friend, and she showed us how to be happy in life and always look on the bright side.
So while we may be very sad, we need to remember the words from “City of God” – “Let our tears be turned into dancing” because that is what Lucy would want us to do.”
The great aim of education is not knowledge, but action. ~Herbert Spencer
Best. Day. Ever.
Everyday in the month of April my ELA class begins with a mentor poem. We read the poem. We notice things about the poem. We imitate the poem. We share our results. Eventually, the students will create their own poetry anthologies and choose a poem to read or recite to the class.
I have been doing this unit for several years now with a few changes to the poems I present to the class. I usually get some of my best writing during this month. I am not sure if by April, my students are just better writers or the poetry form is less threatening, but I don’t get too much resistance.
Today, our mentor poem was “Foul Shot” by Edwin A. Hoey. It is filled with action and suspense. The classroom protocol is that I put a mystery amount of minutes on the timer, and the students are free to remain at their desks or move around the room to work. When the timer when off today after about 10 minutes there was a rousing sigh followed immediately by voices begging for more time. Who am I to stand in the way of creativity? I gave them more time to write.
As if that wasn’t enough joy for one day, our next activity was reading a text set about Wild Horses. The students worked with partners to read the articles, create a claim, and list evidence they could use in an argument essay. They only had to develop an outline, not write the essay.
As I meandered around the room, I heard lots of good conversations about what should be done with the wild horses that can no longer sustain themselves on the lands where they roam. So what’s the big deal?
When the class was dismissed and was walking to their next class they were arguing their claims!
Surprises are the greatest gift life can grant us. ~ Boris Pasternak
Surprises are always nice. This morning my daughter called and said she would come and make dinner for us. Great! What you need to know is I very rarely cook. My husband is a chef, and he not only cooks every night, but he grocery shops each week as well.
Recently my husband started a new job. He is now cooking at a new Italian Market that just opened this past week. Needless to say, he is working some long hours because the store is brand new. With me still being on the walker, I am not doing much cooking myself, so when Angela said she would cook, I jumped right on it.
It turned out to be a cooking co-op. Angela made a delicious chicken dish – enough for tonight and some for the freezer. I made broccoli with bread crumb topping and sauteed mushrooms the way my father-in-law use to make. My husband brought home some rolls and chocolate chip cookies.
We had a delicious dinner with Angela, her husband Ryan, and my grandson, Parker. If she didn’t come over, we may have gone out to eat or made some omelets. Not only that, Parker and I got some snuggle time. Surprises are always nice.
I just joined a new writing group called Five Minute Friday. Every week I will get a new word delivered to my inbox and have to write about that word for five minutes and then post. I am looking forward to a new challenge.
Embrace the glorious mess that you are. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
I am having some difficulty embracing the ways my body seems to be deserting me. First it was arthritis and creaky knees that need to be replaced eventually that some days made it hard for me to walk long distances.
Next it was the achy joints and intense fatigue which led to a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Just when I was getting use to the changes that brought with it –
BOOM! A pelvic fracture. My body is beginning to spontaneously combust.
This latest diagnosis of osteoporosis has me longing for a do-over. Could I have prevented some of these things from happening? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that I need to embrace the changes or I won’t be able to move forward. I will be stuck in a place of what ifs.