Loss and Remembrance

I just read a beautiful post about the late columnist and book author Jeff Zaslow by one of his daughters.

Jeff, who had gone on to become a New York Times best-selling author, had become one of my favorite columnists since I began reading his work in the Wall Street Journal.

He and I became “virtual” friends through our email exchanges, since I first contacted him about his story on Randy Pausch that ran in the WSJ. He graciously responded to me because that’s what he did. That article went on to become the best-selling book, “The Last Lecture.” He even contacted me asking if I’d be willing to speak with a TV producer who was doing a piece on how “The Last Lecture” touched them.

My daughter L., knew how much I loved Jeff’s writing and him as a person, which is why she didn’t tell me about his untimely death — the same day as my mother’s — until the following day.

I was shocked. I just kept repeating to her, “Oh  my G-d, oh my G-d,” several times.

It’s now been almost two months since my mom’s and Jeff’s passing. Every now and then I will check his Facebook page to read any new posts. The most touching are those by his three daughters. Because my pain and loss in losing  my mother is just so great,  I just can’t help but imagine the pain and loss they must feel. They write such beautiful and touching posts that it’s hard not to see the intense love they had for one another, and their loss.

And then I think back to what T., wrote to me: “Nothing dies that is remembered.” Truer words were never spoken.

 

One hot mama!

One my very first posts was on senior love where I described the beautiful love between mom and T. (who turns 97 in nine days!) and how it’s not just for the young.

Mom told me about a phone call she got last night. Not from T. but from H., her next door neighbor in Florida and whose wife mom was very close friends with. She unfortunately died many, many years ago from cancer.

H. moved to New Jersey to be near family around the same time mom moved to Texas. We all think H. had a thing for mom. T. included,  but mom’s heart was with T. In fact, I remember visiting one time. Mom, T. and I were at the clubhouse having brunch and H. came over to say hi. After he left, T. proclaimed, “He’s just waiting for me to kick off! That was maybe about eight or nine years ago, when T. was a spritely 88 or 89. Mom and I still laugh about it.

When mom told me of H.’s phone call, my first reaction was, “I’m glad to see he’s still around!” That was her feeling too. Through the wonders of technology and the internet, H. was able to find mom’s phone number. They caught up on each other’s family and had a nice visit.

Guess who called shortly after. You guessed it — T! When mom told him of the call, he once again, replied, “He’s still waiting for me to kick off!”

We both had a good laugh.

Giving Thanks

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving and my first to cook in three years since we usually go to a friend’s who was out-of-town this year. I forgot how much work it is and cooked from 7 a.m. until about 3! But it was well worth it. Everything was delish! I made homemade stuffing with challah bread (thank you J. for the recipe), green beans with toasted almond and shallots (thank you Williams-Sonoma), the usual sweet potato pie, yummy apple pies (Williams-Sonoma again), and of course, turkey.

Mom did great and used the walker with finesse. I think I’m going to have her discharged next weekend. My brother loved her new place.

It was the first time in 16 years my nephew and niece didn’t come down with my brother from NY. And as wild as it can sometimes get, we all missed them. But, we saw them when we were up for the NYC Marathon, so it wasn’t that bad, and they’ll be back next year.

We did have two extra house guests this year – D.’s boyfriend and “their” dog (a doxie, of course!), Rue aka Rutherford the Brave.

He and Charlie have been together a couple of times and they continue to get along fine. Had only one high-jinx episode when we left them one evening – with the garbage can out. Did I mention that Rue is a curious and spritely young fellow for his 11 years? Sorry, forgot to get photos of this. D.’s boyfriend is also not only a master builder of beautiful homes but also a master turkey carver! (see photo below for proof).

We also had extra guests at the girls’ annual birthday dinner that we celebrate over Thanksgiving since all the family is in and their actual birthday is the following week. J.’s girlfriend’s parents and sister were in from San Diego and joined us for a wonderful sushi dinner downtown.

And, BFF C., became a grandmother the day after Thanksgiving – second time in three months!. So, welcome to the world, Miss BSG!

At the end of the busy holiday weekend, I think we all felt like Charlie (see below).

Hope you enjoy the sights and can imagine the smells of Thanksgiving 2011!

Until next year…

The dark side of Thanksgiving

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10!

When angered, frustrated, flustered and the like, we’ve always been told count to 10 before saying or doing anything. I found myself counting several times today as I, like others I’m sure, scurried to finish up any last-minute Thanksgiving shopping.

It’s actually the first time in three years that I’m actually cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner since we’ve been going to friends (who are out of town this year), so my organization skills might be a little rusty.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Thanksgiving. It’s probably my favorite holiday because it’s so family-centric. I love having the family all together –  my brother, niece and nephew from New York (althought the latter two will be absent this year – first time in 16 years!)  my kids and their significant others and of course, mom, and my husband. I have wonderful memories of Thanksgivings past while growing up.

But I digress. I really have only myself to blame for bringing on this pre-holiday angst. I went to no less than five stores to get all my shopping done. Yes, I knew it was a suicidal mission to go to Central Market just to get my Pumpkin Tree and to hassle the traffic – everywhere!  But look at how pretty it is!

It would be so helpful if cars would just drive the speed limit so I wouldn’t miss the light, not to mention people strolling with their shopping carts in the stores. To see me in action there was no mistaking I was on a mission — to get in and out as quickly as possible.

And when I got home I sprung into action.

I made my mandel brodt cookies and my fail-safe Williams-Sonoma apple recipe. But my multi-tasking resulted in using Gala instead of Granny Smith apples. I hope it still tastes as good as it looks.

And new to my menu this year is homemade stuffing made with challah bread. It’s actually turned into a hybrid recipe combining our friend J.’s mother’s and some others I scoured on the internet. I’ve been waiting for my cut-up cubes of challah to get stale since Sunday! It’s my son’s favorite so I hope I do it justice.

Bon Appetit!

Having a Barbara Walters moment

Thank you, C., for encouraging me to seek Dr. R.’s counseling. She does help.

Matching thank you notes for the Robot Spacema...

Image by Dot D via Flickr

Her counseling makes me look at certain things with a different perspective. I know C. thinks I should see her regularly and I so appreciate her love and concern but for now, I’m fine with seeing Dr. R. on an “as-needed” basis.

But, she made me cry! She made me have a Barbara Walters moment and I don’t think I’ve cried in about two weeks! It wasn’t a bad cry but an emotional release cry, something I guess I needed and was harboring inside. I mean, how else would it have come out so easily.

Dr. R. gives me perspective and offers me a more introspective look into how I relate/react to mom’s dementia. I know I do what I do because her condition makes her vulnerable and I just want to protect her and make sure she’s safe.

Mom complained again about the alarm sensors I have on her bed and wheelchair but I told her I have them there not only for her safety but for my piece of mind – an encore conversation.

Overall, it was another good day for her, which means it was a good day for me. She had a manicure, C., her speech therapist, stopped by for a visit, and she enjoys the company of the ladies she eats her meals with. And, dinner was good tonight.

Life is good; it’s all relative.

I flaked, continued…

Yes, I did flake this morning but by afternoon things were better.

After speaking to mom after lunch I now understand why she was upset and confused this morning — she didn’t know about the meeting or understand why she was there. And that is because I never mentioned it to her because I forgot myself.

She was better when I explained it was just a progress report and it was for my benefit to hear how she’s progressing and to give me the opportunity to ask questions.

Tonight was even better. She was definitely more upbeat than last night. I brought Charlie up to see her and she spoke with T. on the phone. They appeared to have a pretty fluid conversation and said their “I love you’s.”

Mom was trying to tell me something about this afternoon but got frustrated trying to get the words out. I got the gist of it but it’s a struggle and it tires her out. I just tell her to take her time. The words will come. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

How I long to go back just four or five years ago and beyond, so I can have mom the way she was before dementia kicked in. But really, aside from the memory and speech issues, mom is still the same. She’s still the same sweet person she’s always been.

I am so grateful for the continued support of my friends, some of whom have had their own losses this year, for their caring and for their words of encouragement.

In the end, this is what it’s all about — family and friends.

Something called expectations

I am definitely not myself since mom’s fall. And yes, you can tell me a thousand times it wasn’t my fault, but I can’t help but feel it is. All I had to do was bring the car around to get her. It was that simple.

I’ve learned to basically rely on myself to get things done. This way I know they will happen and if they don’t, I only have myself to blame. Yes, that puts more on my plate but I guess that’s just way it is.

But when it comes to relying on people for [emotional] support, I must certainly have higher expectations.

I am quite baffled by the absence of a particular person. No texts, no calls, no emails. It not only baffles me, I’m hurt by it, and frankly, pissed.

Sure, I’m definitely feeling sorry for myself these days, but I’m not ready to let go of that feeling. I’ll  work through it. And despite this one person’s absence I do have a wonderful group of friends who give me support, who call, who text, who show they care.