A Sign?

I have been absent for a couple of months. I think I’m taking this as a sign of healing — that I don’t feel the need to pound out my feelings on the keyboard as much.  Don’t get me wrong … I still grieve for mom. I still miss her every day and she is in my thoughts EVERY day. But I think I’m slowly learning how to live without her.

Since losing her, my family has gone through wonderful life cycle events – the marriages of my daughter and son, and now the pending births of their first child, my first grandchildren and mom’s great-grandchildren.

This past Monday my husband and I celebrated my birthday with friends, one of whom shares the same birthday. The restaurant chosen was the same one we celebrated mom’s 89th birthday. My heart sank a little. If I was given a choice I would have vetoed it. There are still places I can not go into because of mom. After arriving we were shown to our table. Of course it turned out to be the same one used for mom’s birthday. I was hesitant as we approached the table. As I settled into my seat and looked around, I took the restaurant choice and the table as a sign — a sign that it’s time to move forward.

The second anniversary of mom’s passing is a month away. I feel I have made great strides in the past six months, although peppered with some small setbacks, which I expect will re-occur from time to time. I am trying to do my best to remember mom, not with thoughts of sorrow, but with thoughts of all the wonderful things about her and the wonderful times spent together. I continue to be a work in progress.

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Omens

Tomorrow marks nine months since mom’s passing. I think I have slowly been receiving omens that it’s time for me to move on.

I have a tendency to latch on to things. I’m very sentimental and particularly so when these things belonged to mom.

First, the basket I used in the ladies room at the museum for D’s wedding went missing. No one can find it. It really wasn’t anything special except that it was mom’s.

Then I lost my keys a couple of weeks ago. I was using mom’s Eiffel Tower key chain since she moved here in 2007. I lost the keys/key chain because I had to separate it from my car key since I was turning in my leased car. I’m still looking for it.

I almost had the urge last week to go to mom’s favorite discount clothing store. This was the first time since last fall that the thought even crossed my mind but I still couldn’t do it.

I did indulge in a canister of one of mom’s favorite cookies that I’ve had for months since cleaning out her apartment. No, it wasn’t her beloved Pepperidge Farm Milanos but the brand’s Pirouttes rolled wafer cookies. I had eyed them for a while in the cabinet and I finally caved. And while eating one after another I could hear mom telling me to stop eating them.

As we come to mom’s unveiling the day after Thanksgiving, our first Thanksgiving without her,  I think I’ve been getting signals that I need to move on. And I know I must, and I know I have come a long, long way in my grieving process, but…

It’s just so hard. I miss her so.

Not quite ready yet

Since mom’s hospitalization in January and later move to Hospice until her passing, I have not shopped, outside of some mandatory wedding things.

For one, I haven’t been in the mood and two, I don’t need anything.

Mom loved to shop. It was her favorite pastime, and a majority of our weekends together were spent that way.

While I’ve casually considered going into the stores we frequented, I just can’t do it. At least not yet.

But I was in the vicinity of a DSW Shoes store yesterday. And while we didn’t go there often, it was still one of the places we went to and one that I have memories of. So I thought I’d give it a try.

It was weird.

Even weirder is that right from the start I came across not one, not two but three sandal-type shoes that mom would have loved. Last year we couldn’t find anything she liked. Yesterday, I found three immediately! I chuckled to myself.

If only…

Mother still knows best

I always said mom was like Ivory soap. Just like Ivory soap was 99.44% pure, so mom was 99.44% right a majority of the time.

It’s never comfortable to talk to a parent about burial options but about a year or so after mom moved here, she said she wanted to buried here. Of course I said, “Mom, you’re not going anywhere anytime soon.”

She pursued the discussion. My next reaction was, “You don’t want to buried next to daddy and nana?”

My father and grandmother are buried in Florida where there’s a three-person family plot. Mom’s is between the two.

Mom clearly told me she wanted to be buried here because she wants to be visited! If she was buried in Florida, how often would I or anyone else visit her, she asked.

And, she had a point.

Many a time I visited mom in Florida, we didn’t always go to the cemetery because frankly, it was a trek and a pain to get to with all the traffic. I often felt badly that I didn’t go, but that still didn’t diminish how much I missed my dad and grandmother or my love for them.

About a year and a half later, T. called me after one of mom’s visits. He mentioned that mom is very adamant about wanting to be buried where she now lives. I told T. that I would talk to her about it.

And I did. And I made all the arrangements last year. And I am so glad I did.

I’ve wanted to visit her grave since the end Shloshim, the official one-month Jewish mourning period. Yesterday would have been the perfect day – the two-month anniversary of her death. I didn’t. But I will soon.

I am so thankful to have the option to visit her anytime I want.

Once again, mom knew best. Once again, thanks mom!

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!

Seniors are not dead!

Over the weekend, after mom’s day of beauty at the hair salon, I mentioned that we went to the mall in search of a new lip color since Estee Lauder discontinued her Hot Chili lipstick.

While the young woman who assisted us was very nice and very helpful, and did find a near match but in a glossy/shine finish, she said something that really bothered me and taken aback by.  I know she didn’t mean anything by it and it was innocently intended but it’s been festering in me for days.

She said, “It’s great that you’re still interested in make-up.”

Hello? Why wouldn’t she be? Does age dictate whether you should have an interest in your appearance? C’mon!

I might be a bit more sensitive not only because it was my mother but because I spend spent a lot of time now around seniors, particularly while my mom is in the last days of her rehab.

There are a number of people recuperating from worse things than my mom. And their appearance may not be their best, but they are people. Heck, my mom hasn’t always looked her best in rehab, but they are all living and breathing human beings with feelings. We aren’t always able to choose our own destiny.

Anyway, not sure if we’re going to keep the lip gloss. Mom is trying to salvage the last bit of her beloved Hot Chili.

When I found out earlier year that Estee was discontinuing it and it was no longer available in our local stores, I immediately sought action on the internet. Estee has a great department for discontinued items appropriately called, “Gone But Not Forgotten,” where they will scour sources for you. I already used this service and got three new lipsticks. I now need more.

For the hardcore, of which I can sometimes be but not this time, two sites on eBay are offering it as a “Buy Now” for a crazy $31 and $47.89! I’m also watching two bids, which are at a more reasonable $10.31 and $17.75; the bidding ends tomorrow at which time I will try to go in for the kill.

As a past eBay bidder, I’ve learned there’s an art to online bidding.

This and That

I must be handling things better lately since I don’t always feel compelled to take it out on my keyboard. As I previously posted, when mom has a good day I have a good day. And I must say, mom is having good days (“knock on wood”).

I admire her upbeat, positive attitude. I just love the  excitement she shows when she’s had a great day of PT (which is lately). Like a little kid who has brought home a school paper with gold stars on it, mom is equally proud of her accomplishments.

To mark her progress, she is no longer in the big wheelchair but the one where you self-propel it with your feet. We both look forward to the day — hopefully really soon — when her primary mode of transportation is the walker.

Mom is now entering her fourth week of therapy and I’m praying that she will be able to get discharged next week. But, I know, safety is the #1 priority and I constantly remind her about that.

I guess on one level, she is marking her readiness by the discharges of several patients with whom she has become friends with. Today the latest one, who was her neighbor in Independent Living (IL), got discharged so now she needs to find new dining partners. Therapy and dining are the two big social times of the day when you’re with other people and not just sitting in your room, so it’s important that you’re matched with people similar to you at dinner. I’ll find that out tonight when I visit her after work.

M. and I will be out-of-town this weekend for a big event. When I see mom tonight I plan on bringing some cookies or a fruit tray for the nurses station. Yeah, maybe it’s a soft bribe to make sure mom is adequately looked after, but they are a nice bunch and I really do appreciate them and their attentiveness toward her. Sure, that’s their job, but…

Oh, the big event? One of my daughters, L., is running the NYC Marathon on Sunday! Her twin sister, D. (they’re fraternal), ran it in 2007, and the family will be there en force to cheer her on.

Can’t wait! Below is D. after her Marathon finish.