My birthday was nearly six months ago. At some point during my birthday week, I went to my mother’s. My sister handed me a large gift bag. I removed the tissue and found this, along with a poem she had written, and a very sweet card.
When he was working in her nursery, this is the hat that my dad wore the most. As I pulled it out of the bag, my sister told me that when she found it she knew that it was meant for me. I cried as I stuffed it all, the hat, the poem, and the card all back into the bag. It was just too much. It was too emotional for me. We went on about our day.
I texted her later and told her how much I appreciated the gift. I apologized for not acknowledging how special the gift was when I opened it. She said she understood. That she had held it to her face, inhaled my father’s scent, and cried when she found it. But she knew it was mine. That’s an example of the wonderful relationship my sister and I have.
In August, my father will be gone for 20 years. He was a wonderful father and a very proud grandfather. When you lose someone, yes your heart eventually heals and life goes on. But there is a big scar on your heart. Occasionally that wound is ripped open and your heart has to heal again.
I miss my dad so, so much. I miss his great big smile. I miss his laughter. I miss his hugs and kisses. I miss his early morning phone calls on my birthday. I miss his roar of “Katy, my darling!” as I walked into a room where he was sitting. I miss sharing all of the things that have happened over the last 20 years.
How proud he would be of his family. His buttons would fly off his shirt with pride when he saw the wonderful adults that all of his grandchildren had become. He would be wrapped around Henry’s little finger. He would be caring and thoughtful of my mother as she walks this path that she is on. He would be especially proud of my sister and the way that she cares for my mother.
He has missed so much. That’s the hard thing about losing a loved one.
My mother has always been my very bestest friend. I was the first child, but not the first pregnancy. So when I was born, I was joyfully and wonderfully welcomed. I was followed a short eleven months later by my sister. So the woman who wanted children intensely and fervently, suddenly had two small children within a year’s time.
Growing up, she was the best mother. She was generous, loving, protective, and sometimes pushy. She wanted the best for my sister and me. She wanted us to have the things that she did not have growing up.
My mother was the fourth child in a brood of thirteen. She was the eldest daughter. As the eldest daughter a lot of her mother’s burden fell on her shoulders too. She took her role seriously and devoutly. Thinking back to when I was a child, one of the biggest disputes that would arise between my parents was her sense of duty to her mother, father, and siblings.
She has always been there for not only my sister and me, but also for her siblings. When she retired, she served not only her family, but her friends at church. When someone was ill, she was there. When it was serious enough for the hospital she was there. When someone needed an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on, she was there. She shared in their sorrows and rejoiced with them in their triumphs. If someone needed a loan, she disregard her own needs and freely give what she sometimes didn’t have to give.
My mother has always been a giver. In the last few years my mother has become the receiver. My sister, my nieces, my nephews, and even my great nephew and I have become the givers. It continues to be an educational and rewarding experience.
But it’s an every changing experience. My mother has dementia. She is happy to be with us. She enjoys our company. She loves being with her grandchildren, She adores her great grandson, Henry. But her connection with us has changed. She is no longer the dominant force in our life. She is not the one we go to for advice and comfort.
My sister is her main caregiver. She works a full time job. So far she has been able to coordinate between her and her children to make sure that our mother is not left alone. My sister and I have tried to divide up the responsibility between us. My sister and I have become our mother to each other. Now my sister seeks me out for advice and comfort and I seek her out for the same.
Our hope is that our mother travels this path with grace and dignity and without fear. But what my sister and I have become is my mother’s protector and advocate. Where my mother use to be the mother bear ready to spring and protect her cubs, now my sister and I have taken on that role for her.
Occasionally drama and bickering find their way into my mother’s presence. Fortunately, this doesn’t come from her immediate family. The ones who have been there for her the last few years. What we’ve decided as a family is that we will no longer allow that to happen. She is our number one priority and that includes her happiness, safety, and peace of mind. My mother no longer does well on the phone. She does great face to face. But I think on the phone she loses track of who she is talking to.
Mom has always been busy. So we try to keep her busy. She likes to go. Whether it’s shopping, eating out, or checking out the thrift stores. She still likes being out in the world.
She would love to hear from you. While a phone call may no longer be the best way to connect with her, she loves to visit. So call my sister or me and set up a time. I know she would love to open her door and see your face. Send her cards and pictures of your family and yourself.
Have my sister and I made mistakes? Certainly. But the one thing that we do acknowledge is that dementia doesn’t get better. We don’t know what tomorrow holds. We only know that when Mom wakes up with a smile on her face, everything is going to be okay for today.
What we have found in navigating this life changing illness is that people suddenly disappeared from her life. At first this made me angry. Just knowing how she has always been there for others. But fortunately her world revolves around whoever she is spending time with that day. So she is happy. And that’s what matters most.
Life is short. Each day that rolls by rolls by faster than the day before. I’ve learned to not dwell on the negative. I would much rather be happy than anything else. People will always disappoint you at some point, the lesson is not to take it personally. Life is full of good things, very good things. They don’t have to be big things. They only have to be things that make you smile.
30 Things That Make Me Happy
- A text from my husband
- My mother’s smile
- Hearing someone say “Hello Aunt Kathy!”
- A hug (from most anyone)
- Making eye contact
- Listening to someone’s life story
- A telephone call for no particular reason
- Snail mail
- My donkeys braying (this makes me laugh out loud)
- Sitting on the floor with a toddler
- My dog running to the gate to greet me
- An afternoon spin with my husband in our Bad Boy along the trails he’s made.
- Sharing Arbonne
- Meeting new people
- Seeing someone using a crochet project that I made for them
- Mailing a gift
- Movies with talking animals
- Discussing family with my sister
- Thank you cards
- A big Sunday Breakfast
- Family get togethers
- A new recipe
- Learning that a baby is coming
- A manicure
- New shoes
- Healthy eating
- Loud music
- Licking my fingers
I like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent person. Growing up, I was never much of a people person. I was very shy. Painfully shy. Even after divorcing my first husband at the tender age of 25, I was still very shy. I moved into a gated apartment complex and I really hated leaving with someone in their car. Why? Because it would require me to stop at the entrance and tell the guard who I was.
This was just with strangers. You can ask anyone who really knew me back then and they will tell you that I was talkative, engaging, and fun. But with people I didn’t know I kept my head down, didn’t make eye contact, and would probably faint dead away if spoken too.
Something happened along the way. I’m not sure where. But somewhere in the last 25 years, I began to lift my head and see what was going on around me. I looked people, strangers, straight in the eye and smiled. They smiled back, most of the time. I asked questions. I found my voice.
Now I find that I will insert myself into other people’s conversations. Complete strangers. Recently I was having breakfast with my mom at Cracker Barrel and I overheard a couple talking about their plans for the day. They were visiting Fort Worth and trying to decide what they should do next. They asked the waiter. He seemed to be caught off guard and didn’t offer any real suggestions. I thought about it for a couple of seconds and then got up and walked over to their table. I said “Excuse me. I couldn’t help but hear you asking about what there is to do in Fort Worth.” Then we proceeded to have a very nice conversation about the Stockyards. You can’t come to Fort Worth and not visit the Stockyards. There is major road construction going on I-35. They weren’t too hip on traversing that route again. So I told them how to get there the back way from where we were.
Now see, 30 years ago I would have loved to offer my advice. But I wouldn’t have. I would have convinced myself that they didn’t need to hear from me. That they didn’t want to hear from me.
I hear conversations going on around me all the time. I find it very very hard to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes, even at work, I keep my door shut. This is to not only cut out the outer room noise so that I can focus on what I’m doing, but it is also to keep me out of things going on.
When I stop and think about it, who I am now amazes me. What I’ve realized is, I’m a problem solver. I’m not saying that to toot my own horn. But I think that’s my gift, problem solver.
I think I have great ideas. The problem is, people rarely listen to me when they should. Ha! Ha! You know the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
Example #1 – I had a friend who lived in a small town. She wanted to open up a catering business and maybe a bakery. She’s a great cook! But, in my opinion, she was thinking too big. She talked about renting a building, buying equipment, etc. My suggestion was to start small. Start from her kitchen. Each day come up with a menu of a couple of sandwiches or box lunches. Call local business and find out if they would like to have the menu faxed or emailed to them each day. She could send it either the day before or early the morning of. If people were interested, they would fax their order to her. Since it was a small town, she could offer free delivery. This would enable her to build a clientele before actually making a big up front investment. She didn’t see what I saw.
Example #2 – I had a friend who loved to bake cookies and cup cakes. She was really good at it too. She used only the best ingredients. The first mistake she made was calling the city to find out what she needed to do to open a bakery. Of course they gave her a long list of permits and requirements. She was crushed. We had a long conversation, in which I basically presented the same ideas as Example #1. But she didn’t see what I saw.
Example #3 – I have a young friend who has tried unsuccessfully to launch a homemade soap business. She has made soaps for me and they were lovely. She was a single mom and I knew that there were durable supplies that she needed in order to make and promote her soaps on a larger scale. She seemed to want to go from hobby soap maker to side income soap maker. We talked about farmers markets and different craft fairs. But in order to do those things, you have to have product. So I invested in her dream. I gave her some money hoping that she would buy the molds and things that she needed. She continued to make small batches of custom soaps. So, she didn’t see what I saw.
But those were their dreams. So they didn’t need to see what I saw. They only needed to see what they see. They shared their dreams with me and I had a visualization of their dream. But apparently what I visualized was not what they visualized. And that’s ok. Sometimes, people just like to talk out loud and that’s fine too. I’m happy that they were comfortable enough to share their dreams with me.
Now, I am chasing my own dream. Four months ago I didn’t even know it was my dream. I’ll share my dream with you tomorrow.
Today I’m spending the day with mom. We spent some time at the Texas Department of Public Safety getting her a state issued identification card and she surrendered her drivers license. She quit driving years ago so that was really no big deal.
Then we decided to go shopping. She says to me “I need makeup.” So I text my sister and say “Mom says she needs makeup.” I ask because she sometimes forgets what she might have bought yesterday. My sister texts me back and says “She does! LOL.”
So off to shop with a purpose we go. Two people who use to be great shopping partners, but who now don’t do malls. First stop Ridgmar Mall. We didn’t even bother to get out of the car. It looks run down and slightly abandoned. We just made a big circle in my car around the mall and decided to head to Hulen Mall. On the way to Hulen Mall I remember the new Shops at Clearfork development. So once we get to Hulen Mall and park at Dillards I tell my Mom that we will definitely have to check out the new place before we head home.
We browse through Dillards and then head out into the mall. Just me and the women who taught me all I needed to know about skincare. The woman who took me to the Estee Lauder counters and the Clinque counters. As we head out into the mall, I know that she has already forgotten about the makeup. But I have not.
So we head to Macy’s Estee Lauder counter. We are browsing the different types of makeup when a young lady shows up to helps us. As she is asking my mother the usual questions about what she expects from a makeup I suddenly ask myself “What in the world am I doing?”
Arbonne! I have been an independent consultant for about a month. I have been spreading the word to friends and family. I have sent samples. I have handed out samples. I have shipped multiple samples. I am almost out of samples. I need to reorder samples!
Fortunately the sales rep color matched my mom and in a very surprising move, she offered a sample to take home and try before she buys. Just to be sure that the color matches and she’s happy with it in every way. REALLY!! I guess she was just really too busy to try and sell us product. My mother was excited and really ready to buy. But I have to say “Thank you!!” I said “Yes! Let’s take the sample and try it.”
On the way to the Shops at Clearfork I told my mother about Arbonne and told her we could her everything she needed and she would love it. I know she will. So I can’t really blame the young girl at the cosmetic counter. I also had overlooked my mother as someone who would appreciate the quality of the Arbonne skincare and makeup.
Then we went on to the Shops at Clearfork. Right now the only store there is Neiman Marcus. But it is going to be a very lovely retail development when it’s done. As we walked into Neimans I thought, “This is what a department store is suppose to be like. I bet if we had stopped at the Estee Lauder counter in Neimans we would have left with a bag of makeup.
If you are currently going to the department stores to buy you skincare, makeup, bath products, or even the healthfood store to buy nutritional supplements, I would like for you to at least check out what Arbonne has to offer. It truly is a great line of products. To visit my website click here.
If you’d like to see some other roads I’ve been down concerning skin care just click here
It’s that time of year again! It’s that time when we try to convince ourselves that we just might complete all those things we never seem to get done. Lose weight, get in shape, get organized, eat better, act better, be a better human being.
The last few years my goal has simply been to be organized, be more productive. It just never seems to happen. I wake up every morning and just fly by the seat of my pants. Before I know it the week has already come and gone, the seasons have changed and I have accomplished not one thing.
Someone suggested a book on organization. That’s no good! I don’t need to read a book, I just need a realistic plan.I have tried breaking it down into small chores. Small Chores with rewards. That didn’t work. I think what I really need to do is get a box, shove everything in it that I haven’t used in the last year or 10 years and get rid of it. No sorting and no regrets.
I want to blog more.At times the ideas spill our of my brain and make quite the mess on the passenger seat of my car. For instance, I have a fictional group of animals that live in a lovely meadow on the edge of a large forest, far from people.Their antics would be based on funny or interesting stories. Some stories would be things that happen at the senior adult community where I work. Others just simply things that I’ve heard or stories I’ve been told. Just mainly quirky, silly every day human interaction stories.
I’ve discussed my idea of a community of forest animals with a friend. It was suggested that my character would be the honey badge. I think it was meant as a compliment. Another series of blogs would be Lyrics of Life. It would be about how a song relates or reminds me of someone or maybe a situation. And of course I would also toss in my usual point of view on every day life or current events at times.
Sound great! Doesn’t it? Even though I now have my new handy dandy iPen (I wrote this entire blog with it on my iPad) Don’t hold your breath. My intentions are good, but normally I’m really just too tired.
Don’t forget that I also like to crochet in my “spare” time. I also like to cook, bake, preserve, visit, entertain and run my mouth.If it wasn’t for the 40 hour work week, the 90 minute commute each way I would have plenty of time and energy. But as it is, especially as I sit here at the beginning of another New Year all I know for sure is, I am so very tired.
I’d really love to draw my animals that live in the meadow. Maybe I can do that with this new pencil?
Yes, this year is nearly over. But I woke up this morning, looked at the old woman in the mirror and whispered “Happy birthday lady.” Somehow I have managed to make it to the age of 55. It seems like just yesterday I was 17. Apparently a lot of life happened between 17 and 55. I see it in the mirror, in the lines on my face. I feel it in my attitude. My personality is sort of like a roller coaster.
I wish I was more even tempered, but sadly I am not. I wish I could keep my opinion to myself, but sadly I can not. I wish I liked people in general, but sadly I do not. Even though I don’t like people in general, I find that I am a people pleaser. I guess I just don’t like confrontation. I’m sensitive to a change in tone when someone speaks to me.
But that’s not why I’m here today. I’m here today with the obligatory list of things I’ve learned in the last 55 years. I’ve reflected on these basic tenets and tweaked them into sort of list of New Year’s Resolutions. But mainly, things I need to remember or things I need to strive to be more aware of on my next trip around the sun.
Be kind and thoughtful, but don’t be a doormat.
Don’t be a gossip. If it isn’t kind or encouraging, zip your lip!
Don’t put someone on the top of your list, when you aren’t even on theirs
Return negativity with positivity
When #4 doesn’t work, remove the cause of the negativity permanently.
Rest your mind and body as needed. Your aren’t 20!
Don’t be idle. Time is short and valuable. I’m 55, I have far less time than I thought
Early to bed and early to rise is a good motto to live by
Don’t be silent! Speak for others when they can’t speak for themselves
I’m too old to be in a clique. I can only be myself.
I may need to come back to this list from time to time in the next year. After looking back over the list, some of them seem contradictory. Cutting someone out of your circle may not seem “kind”. But time is too short to allow others to bring you down.
I think from time to time we need to hear a story of a real hero. Not necessarily someone who risked life and limb to save a child from a burning building, but just your regular day to day hero. The kind of person who just goes about doing their thing each day. They just keep putting one foot in front on another, hoping for a better day.
Hero may be a word that is used loosely, but according to dictionary.com one of the definitions of hero is a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal.
One of my day to day heroes is my sister. When she was about 24 or 25 she was married and had three small children. At that time they were 4, 3, and 1. She was a stay at home mom and homemaker. Other than being an excellent waitress, she really had no job experience. All of her immediate family lived about 3 hours away. It was during this time that she realized that her husband was not who or what she thought he was and that her children, their children were in physical danger.
She did not make excuses. She did not immediately run three hours back to her parents. But she did get her children to safety. Did she cry? Yes. Did she scream to god in her desolation? Probably. Did she give up? No she did not. Was she perfect? No she was not. Did she feel sorry for herself? Not that I’m aware of. Did she think anyone “owed” her anything? No she did not.
Her main concern at that time in her life was the safety and well-being of three small children. She worked the lowliest jobs, simply to put a roof over the heads of her children and put food on the table. She was not alone. She did have the support of her family and of her friends. But the basic day to day stuff she did 100% on her own.
Eventually she moved back to her birthplace, remarried and had another child. Last year her second marriage ended. Once again she is on her own. This time her children are grown. Her work skills are better. She still doesn’t whine and complain. She simply lives her life and is actually following her dreams. Unfettered by the bonds of marriage and child rearing, she is finally doing what she enjoys. She does it to suit herself.
Yet she still serves. She serves her mother. She is our mother’s main caretaker. She sees that she has her medicine, food, gets to the doctor, and is happy. She gets frustrated, I’m sure. We’ve had talks about the future and we both know that at some point our mother may need more then my sister’s care taking. She has told me that she sees taking care of our mother as a beautiful gift. She has told me that she feels honored to be able to do the things that she does for our mom.
That may not sound like much, condensed as it is to the preceding paragraphs. But if you knew the details and all the crap she has put up with over the last thirty years you would understand. She isn’t alone. I know the world is filled with women like her. Women that have had to put their wants and desires aside while providing the very basic necessities for their families.
The next time you hear an adult whining about the hand that life has dealt them, you might tell them to look around for their own “day to day” hero. We all have to take ownership of our choices and our decisions in life.
I’m sure there were lots of times she would have loved to just get in her car and run away, far, far away. But she knew what her responsibilities were. What makes her a hero to me is not the fact that she did what was right for her children, but the fact that she did it without complaining.
We live in a world filled with people that think the world owes them something. We live in a world where some people think that the problems that they create for themselves are everyone else’s fault. We live in a world where some people leave a trail of disaster and wonder why.
I’m glad that my nephews and nieces had my sister as a mother. She may not have been perfect. But she did try and she didn’t make excuses. She didn’t blame anyone. She simply got up each morning, put both feet on the floor, and kept trying.
I hope all of her dreams come true.
- Cast aside
I’m beginning to feel –
At my age I’ve learned some of life’s hard lessons. But I’m still learning and I’ve got the scars currently healing on my heart to prove it. Life would be a lot easier if I could just turn off the rest of the world and lock myself away here on this hill in the middle of nowhere. If it was just me and Doug forever and ever, I think I could be content with that.
But alas, there are other relationships in my life. Sometimes they are difficult to navigate no matter how long you have been doing it. I cry over relationships that seem to be fizzling out. I wish I could fix them. But I can reach out only so many times. Silence and indifference speaks volumes. I won’t beg. I won’t force my way in.
I’m not perfect. I know that. There are things I wish I could change. But you can’t turn back time. Although imperfect, I think I do make an effort. I do tend to sometimes read to much into things. One thing that I have found is that usually these things tend to work themselves out.
Our intimacy ebbs and flows over the years. I sometimes think of relationship like rivers running across the country. Raging rapids followed by calm streams. Intense busyness followed by quiet stillness. Or the ocean. Raging, dark waves followed by calm, glassy seas.
We are each occupied with our day to day life. So I try to chalk it up to that. But it still makes me sad.