Happy Birthday, Grammy

Today is my Mom’s birthday; she would have been 78 years old today.

She passed away quite unexpectedly almost seven years ago. I think about and miss her every single day of my life.

BBBday

Here are a few pics of Grammy (as she came to be called after her grandchildren arrived) and my big mug, too. I wish I had better pictures of my Mom. She hated having her picture taken – she was never happy with how she looked. I wish she could have known just how beautiful a woman she was…

My Mom had a not-so-great early life. The details are unimportant now, but she battled (I think) with moderate depression for much of her life. The one thing that DID bring her great joy? Her children, and her grandchildren. She loved us all unconditionally and – speaking only for myself – I am not sure that love was always deserved, yet she lavished it on all of us. She also loved my Dad like crazy, was a devoted friend and a crazy cool Mom. I loved her all my life – still do. She taught me to be loving and forgiving, accepting and tolerant, caring and embracing. She encouraged my creative side and was herself a talented artist – maybe not in a “museum” sense, but she was a killer doodler and quite honestly had the most beautiful, expressive handwriting of anyone I have ever known. Grammy was funny and sensitive. She could cuss like a sailor and cry when she saw some random cat that had been hit by a car.

My Mom stayed home with us till my little sister started school, then returned to work. She worked in a large department store for more than twenty years, went on to work at IBM (clerical position) and eventually worked part-time at our hometown drugstore/gift shop. She maintained a close circle of girlfriends that treated us like their own children – it was kinda’ great growing up, thinking my “Mom was cool and had cool friends, too.” My Mom ALWAYS supported every choice I made – even when they were bad ones. People might think that makes her a bad parent but – to the contrary – she let me find my own path, most times cheering me along from the sidelines but more than a handful of times, picking my broke-down self up and making me feel good again.

Grammy kicked ass. She is my Angel and, although I HATE her not being her with me, I know she watches over me. And that makes me feel loved and safe. Grammy ALWAYS made me feel loved and safe. And isn’t that what being a GREAT parent really is all about?

So, yeah, I am a little sad today, thinking about my Mom/Grammy and missing her a bit more than usual. But I am happy that she was/is my Mom, and feel blessed by that fact.

I try not to dwell in sadness too much so today my siblings and I, and Grammy’s grandchilden, all celebrated her memory in a special way. My Mom LOVED McDonald’s ice cream. L-O-V-E-D. (“Best 50 cents you can spend!” she used to say). So in Grammy’s honor, we all took time to enjoy a vanilla soft serve cone from Mickey D’s today.

Besides that fact that Grammy loved these cones, they are a lot like Grammy herself:

So sweet, so enjoyable, so perfect and – sadly – gone all too soon…

Happy Birthday, Mom! I hope today has been great for you. I love and miss you. A lot. Your loving son, Tim

Monday Memes 26

So many things are happening at this moment in my life – most good, some challenging, some yet to be “defined.” With all that said, I still believe my life is exactly as it is supposed to be at this moment, which leads me to this week’s “Monday Meme” offering  – a quote from one of my personal heroes, Oscar Wilde. I hope this resonates with you as much as it did with me. Enjoy, and today? Celebrate you, and your life…

Oscar Wilde

Monday Memes 25

Love. Funny how love “changes course” and gets redefined as relationships flourish – then sometimes flounder. I am lucky – I kissed a LOT of frogs before I found my Prince (he found me, actually!) but it was worth it. I love you, MSW.

In the beginning, it’s like:

love fearlessly

However, sometimes we “make a mistake,” or the dreaded “It’s-not-you-it’s-me” moment arrives and then this happens:

lovers to nothing

However, if stars align (as mine have), you find your true love – “The One” – and life is more like this:

define loveI wish each of you reading this the good fortune I have found…

Monday Memes 24

I apologize for my absence lately from the “blogosphere.” Life just gets in the way of letting me do what I want sometimes (a LOT of times, actually!)

Here is a great meme I came across recently; it is sort of a brief “Life Manifesto:”

take chances

I have done many (all?) of these things and, I have to say (in a non-gloating way), I think I have had/still live a pretty great life. Read thru the list – where can YOU put a check mark?

Monday Memes 23

Sorry – I have been “away” for a while… I often joke that all that stands in the way of me living a fabulous existence is life itself. Sigh. Being a grown-up can be very tedious.

Today’s Monday Memes offering focuses on the past, the present and the future – their importance relative to one another and how we can help choose the path and shape of our future through a little self examination, some honest consideration and planning and a lot of self love. Enjoy!

bad things best

Just a story

future self

life you want

Destined Emerson

 

Monday Memes 22

So, it has almost been a MONTH since my last Monday Memes post; sorry, I have had a “lot” going on lately. Anyway, as I was researching memes for today’s post, I came across this image:

dream

Given all that has happened for me this year – closing a business, burying a parent, all in addition to the other daily BS we all endure – I kinda’ lost myself, and my “dream” for a bit. Good news? I have taken SEVERAL deep breaths and am, as they say, BACK in the game. Thanks to my friends and family for all your love and support, not only recently but over the course of this whole year. Thanks to my beloved Martin, and his unconditional love and support. He IS my dream… And thanks to my parents for allowing me the opportunity TO dream while I was growing up.

For me, now? The dream continues… 

A Few More Chats

My father’s health continues to deteriorate; today, hospice started Pop-pop on morphine.

He is a “rally-er,” my Pops, but I fear this may be the final leg in a long and arduous journey for him. I want my Dad to be pain-free. I want my Dad to not suffer. Most of all, I want Pop-pop to be free of it all.

Don’t get me wrong – the fact that this is happening tears me up inside. But – in an over-simplified analogy – it is sort of like when you are in fourth grade and it is the last day of your summer vacation. You know what is coming. You hate that it is, but it is inevitable. And so, you savor every single minute until that first class comes.

For me, I will savor every minute till that last breath comes…

When my Pop-pop crosses over, I imagine it will be in a place/setting that looks something like this:benchPop-pop has always loved the outdoors. He will open the door to a place green and beautiful, and my Mom will be there, waiting for him. I imagine my Mom seated on this bench, my Pop-pop walking up behind her, surprising her with a sweet kiss on the neck, and then they will embrace, look back for just a minute and walk off hand-in-hand down the path.

I will be happy and sad; happy that they are reunited and sad that they are both away from me. Selfish, I know, but honest.

And so we wait – my siblings and I here with Pop-pop now, and my Mom, waiting for him on the other side. Like I said, I will be sad when he makes the trip but happy for him, too. Till that time comes, I plan on talking a lot with my Dad (although it is hard for him to answer back), and telling him how much I love him/what a great Dad he always has been, how I will miss him and what to tell Mom for me (I actually “talk” with my Mom all the time but Daddy likes to always have something to do, so carrying my message to Mom will maybe make his journey easier).

I hope the grass is even greener than in this picture. I hope the air is sweet and there are birds singing (Pop-pop loves songbirds). I hope it is beautiful beyond my imagination. And I hope I can take comfort in knowing that Martin and I will have one more angel watching over us…

Tired

Every time I hear my phone – be it a text message beep or an actual ringtone – my heart stops for a minute. I always wonder if this will be “the” call.

Pop-pop is fading rapidly now, and whatever residual, foolish hope I and my siblings may have held for a miracle now seems unattainable. My Dad is getting ready to go on to Heaven, or a higher plane, or whatever terminology you prefer. I do not want him to go but I cannot bear to see him suffer.

Well-intentioned friends and family members have suggested we say to Pop-pop that it’s OK. You can go. The really sad thing is, I think they are right. And, I have come to realize that maybe it is not Pop-pop that doesn’t want to let go, it’s me…

You are tiredIt’s a strange feeling, you know, getting ready to essentially become an orphan. No matter how good or bad one’s parents are/were – and mine are/were pretty great – once they leave, once that anchor falls away, we are left alone. I mean, I am lucky – I have an amazing spouse (I love you MSW!), a small but frickin’ outstanding circle of true and loving friends and a pretty great therapist, LOL! I will be fine. But there is definitely an uneasiness hovering nearby me, waiting. Waiting till I am “alone” with my life, with no one really to answer to about it. It is a pretty overwhelming feeling at times.

I am thankful for the loving parents I got. Folks that know me well know I believe we all “pick” our parents – I got a flipping amazing pair. Perfect in their imperfections, my Mom and Dad were a great gift to me. I love them both very much. I miss my Mom every day, and worry now that – regrettably and unavoidably – I will soon miss my Pop-pop every day, too…

I know Mom is waiting for him, and I know he is waiting to see her again. My parents loved one another for fifty-one years, a record I hope to match in my own life with Martin (I have to live to be 100, but I accept the challenge!) My Dad has always been a little lost without Mom and, while I know my Mom has had good company these almost seven years since her crossing over, I know she will be happy to see my Dad again.

My cousin Vickie recently said to me that every one is 33 years old in Heaven. I’m not sure where she got that intel but I like the idea – my Mom and Dad young, beautiful/handsome and very much in love again. I hope Vickie is correct…

 

Pop-pop’s Fridge

I have been absent from blogging for a few days.

empty-deskThose of you who follow my little blog know that my father, Pop-pop, is terminally ill. Hospice has been called in and, as they say, “Now we wait.” It is a heart-breaking time and, frankly, it sucks. A lot. My siblings and I are taking turns staying with Dad now – he cannot be alone.

My father, once a robust, contrary guy with an opinion about anything and everything, now spends his waking hours – which are getting fewer and fewer – in an adjustable bed in the living room, watching TV for a few minutes at a time, sometimes with the sound blasting and other times with the sound muted, the closed captioning scrolling across the bottom of the screen. And all the while, my sister, brother or myself sit across the room in a recliner, or even closer on the nearby sofa, talking with Pop-pop when he feels like talking, making sure he has a drink or the daily paper (which he never reads, he just likes to “have it”), adjusting pillows and blankets and helping him with the TV remote. Increasingly, he just surrenders the remote and tells us to “Watch what we want.”

Did I mention that this really sucks?

I love my Pop-pop, and am angry that he is so sick. I am angry that doctors took so long to finally “figure out” WTF was wrong with him (why do we have to rule out everything before we arrive at diagnosis?). I am angry a bit with my Dad; seems he may have suspected he was sick over a year ago but, like all men I guess, we think he avoided seeking treatment or even a diagnosis, maybe because he was afraid of what he would find out. I get it, I do, but I am mad. And selfish, in a childish way – I don’t want Pop-pop “going anywhere…”

But now we are faced with the reality that is, well, reality. This past weekend, I went to my Dad’s house and spent the night, Sunday through late Monday evening. Pop-pop lives an existence without wi-fi, computers or internet anything – I mean, he really does still have a rotary phone at his house. So, no blog posts. Plus, I had more important things to do.

Rotary-Dial-Phone

We had a nice overnight, my Dad and me. We just kinda’ hung out, had a bite together and then he mostly slept. I slept on the couch right beside his bed. It was a beautiful time for me, sad as the situation is, but I am thankful Pop-pop and I had that time alone together. It was a bit surreal, though – I mean, I have always heard all the expressions, you know the ones: “Life is one giant circle. Parents become your children. In the beginning, parents give you life and, at the end, you help them exit theirs.” They are all true.

As the evening progressed, I helped my Dad eat – he wanted a Bacon Junior Cheeseburger, a few fries and a Frosty from Wendy’s. At this point, we are all worried less with nutrition and more with making Dad happy. He ate half the burger, about a half dozen fries and maybe half his small Frosty. As I pulled his bed tray away, I looked at him and told him how “good” he had done, much as he had done to me as a child when I ate my dinner. I wrapped the burger and fries (I ate the Frosty!) and put them in the fridge. Inside the fridge, I saw other recent left-overs – three McNuggets here, one KFC chicken strip and a barely-touched mashed potatoes on the top shelf, two-thirds of a Burger King something and a few onion rings on another shelf. As I nestled the most recent left-overs into the fridge, I stood crying silently in the kitchen, out of my father’s sight.

McNuggets

The fridge that had burst with food when my Mom was alive was now all but empty, save for half-eaten fast food meals. a bottle of apple juice and goat cheese.

Yes, goat cheese. Pop-pop recently mentioned that he had always wondered what the heck goat cheese tasted like. So, on my visit, I brought him some to try. I spread goat cheese on three crackers and brought them to him on a small plate. He ate one, said it tasted “all right” and now he would be able to say he had tasted goat cheese…

goat cheese

My sister is staying with Pop-pop the next few days. I wonder what she will think, looking past packets of honey mustard dipping sauces and shriveling French fries, when she sees the goat cheese. I hope maybe she gets the chance to share some with Pop-pop, too…