Tag Archives: love

10 Days

Not sure what Mom would have made of these colours together, but I love them.

I’m home, but feeling so adrift; Mom died last week only ten days after we received the stage four diagnosis.  I know I’m supposed to be eased that she didn’t suffer, but that barely scratches the surface.

I’m slightly calmed by a gorgeous quilt proffered by a guild that makes comforters for each of the patients at the hospice where Mom spent her last days.  My siblings kindly allowed me that keepsake, and I’ve already told The Burrito he can use it when he sleeps over at our house.

I’m especially keen on the quilting; makes for a great rippled effect after having been washed.

Yet….  My heart is ripped apart, scattered along the roads between Silicon Valley and where Mom took her final breaths.  And while I know those ragged pieces will again one day beat steadily within my chest, it’s damn difficult to fathom how, when, wtf???  My mother was fine three months ago, just fine!  Well her knees were a little achy, but she was taking turmeric and feeling better and….

And now I’m beyond stymied how stupidly fast this occurred, how insanely unreal it seems, how mother-effing this day appears.  It looks like any typical late June day, but for the love of God what the hell happened in the last few weeks?  I was merely going to help my littlest sister, Mom suffering from a bad back.  Now Mom’s dead, really?  REALLY?

Usually I’m not fond of gingham, but here it works, as does the black and white; sometimes life is just that way.

Shite; I’ve used a lot of blue language recently, because despite how pain-free Mom was at the end, the friggin’ speed of this has hit all who love her like a freakin’ bullet train.  This is nothing like how Dad died, this is some alternate reality.  I know people die of cancer with barely any warning, and I also know people die in accidents and there is no loving goodbye shared.  But I’ve never been on the effed-up end of it.  This is new, it hurts, and I’m groping around, looking for pieces of my heart.  And my head; oh my goodness, barely enough brain cells to make the morning coffee.  I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee, but never again will I get Mom a gift card for her favourite java corporation.  So many never again’s makes me wanna puke.

Not sure when I might post next, maybe tomorrow, maybe September.  Last week I told the hospice social worker I’ve had one foot in the corporeal, the other in the ethereal, and never had I felt so stretched.  Finally I’ve fallen on my arse and Lord Almighty it’s a killer getting back up.  Currently I’m on my knees, nowhere near standing on two feet.  But on those knees, prayer seems easier, about the only task I can manage.  Mom’s final ten days have been swept away on a hot summer wind, bitter against my face, strangely cold at my back; I never dreamed she’d leave us this soon.  May the peace she now possesses find her beloveds; we are aching tremendously.

The sunset after Mom was gone; she’s with Dad, both interceding on behalf of those left behind….

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Stage 4

When I left last week to give my youngest sister a hand at Mom’s house, I never imagined what has unfolded since Monday; my mother has terminal cancer, metastasized all down her spine.  Severe back pain that started in mid-April has suddenly become more than I can fathom, my siblings and Mom’s four sisters feeling the same.  It’s as if I’m now living in an alternate universe where the sun still shines yellow in a blue sky, leafy-green trees blowing in a stiff breeze, yet my mom will never see another summer.

I’ll not share another Easter with her, or Thanksgiving.  Not Christmas or her birthday or Mother’s Day….  That was the last time I saw her before last week.  She looked tired and thin, but back pain will sap the energy right out of a person.  Cancer does that too.  Most likely she’s had it for months, but only in the past two was it noticeable.  And, and, and….  The writer in me sits in stupefied silence attempting to fathom this awful truth.  Dad’s only been gone for three years and now Mom’s right behind him.

I’m grateful for my faith, but this remains difficult because my eyes view that which is corporeal.  Yellow sun.  Blue sky.  Green trees rushing about in the wind….  When I headed home yesterday, all I saw seemed like new vistas.  My whole family is gearing up for a huge adjustment day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment.  I’ve been mulling over the moments since last Sunday night when my sister and I realized there was more to Mom’s poor health than a wrenched back and achy hips.

Driving away from Mom’s house last Sunday night, her final evening spent at home.

When Dad died, I consoled myself that Mom was in fairly good health, also six years his junior.  Time seemed a plentiful notion, but time is as slight as the fleeting breeze, as brief as the sunset, as ethereal as the last five days since we took Mom to the emergency room where the ER doc gave us the news, then confirmed by another physician who used those words: stage four.  Now that term seems almost quaint after how many MRIs and CT scans and biopsies.  We wanted to know why she hurt, and yes, information is better than ignorance, but this cuts so deeply.  How she can be so peaceful is a mystery; I told my brother either we’ve been graced by an angel or she’s the best con artist alive.

While I know it’s the former, my heart throbs pondering memories and times that won’t come to pass.  Again I turn to my faith, for which I am so grateful, a belief Mom shares.  Usually I’m a calm sort, my hopes set upon an unseen future.  Yet currently my feet are mired in clay that clings as if another day shall never dawn.  With much effort I pry one foot loose, setting it on dry ground, straddling two worlds.  Mom seems to be doing that with ease.  I, however, am struggling.

In the interim, I’ll be making road trips, spending as much time with Mom as possible.  Maybe I’ll sew hexies with her, I know we’ll enjoy some lovely chats.  But mostly I will cherish these upcoming days and weeks, tucking them away in my heart.  When our hearts are breaking, I like to think they are growing, and once healed, more love can enter.  I pray that happens again, and when Mom is gone, ample space will be waiting inside my chest muscle.  We are here to love and laugh, and to move forward.   I don’t know how it might happen, but by grace I’m sure it will.

A Duvet Cover Done and Dusted

Last week I finished Little Miss’ duvet cover, but proper photos never came about.  Her mum loved fabric from Heather Givans’ Literary collection, of which I have several fat quarters stashed just for my eldest.  In the meantime, both sides of the cover are edged in Classics, providing a little break from the superhero theme.

Draped in Marvel comics with a hint of library cards; Little Miss is quite pleased for her new bed cover.

I wasn’t certain what to start next sewing-wise, and as for the writing, I’m currently rereading what was recently published, checking for stray typos.  However, I’ll be leaving to help care for my mom, who hasn’t been well since April.  I might take some hexies with me, as they are portable, but more on my mind is family requiring love and assistance.

Of course my thoughts go back to when The Burrito was new and my dad was ailing.  This with Mom is different, yet parallels remain, the biggest being no longer am I of the younger generation.  A grandma now for three years, my role is that of a matriarch within my immediate family.  As an eldest daughter, I work in conjunction with siblings to facilitate the best care and treatment for our mum, but it’s not like when Dad was sick, because Mom was in charge then, and we were following her example.  While that experience prepped me for the future, often the future emerges with different rules.

Making a duvet cover was challenging, and while I wasn’t always enthralled with the task (and am not certain I would ever sew another), new processes were learned, increasing my sewing skills.  Mom will appreciate that metaphor, as she’s a seamstress from way back.  We can discuss fabrics and patterns in the coming days, or whatever she feels like chatting about; I recall my dad dictating our conversations, he loved to talk.  But I don’t feel like somebody’s little girl anymore, maybe the death of a parent ends that notion.  Now I’m someone else, an abuela yes, also….  Taking a deep breath, I await what comes next.  The best way to meet these changes is with open arms, a willing heart, and the awareness of grace at my back.  Of those three, the latter is most important, and upon that I will gratefully rely.

It’s a wonderful life….

I had a lovely week with my youngest and her boy, and a dog named Zelda.  Between The Burrito and a hound, I had no trouble earning my steps and sleeping well.  Now back at home I’m wrapping up the basics; laundry, a quilt binding, a novel to finish….  Well, a chapter of The Hawk was completed yesterday afternoon, and next week I plan to hit that book hard.  Another idea is brewing and I’m feeling motivated.  Spring is truly in the air.

My grandson hangs out with Zelda on a nice day.

It’s Easter week, which prompts reflection; rebirth and gratitude come together, providing me a poignantly upbeat outlook.  Recent heavy rains seem a precursor to what occurs starting today, Maundy Thursday.  I’m hoping to get to a Good Friday service tomorrow, and we’ll spend the weekend with family up north.  Easter adopts a different tenor around youngsters, and in my heart emotions are mixed, our world in such turmoil, yet balanced by Love unfathomable. That Love is also wholly accessible, part of the mystery.  How to live out that compassion is yet another project within my sphere.

Big blue quilt bound and patched. I’ll give it back to my eldest this weekend.

I pondered that yesterday, driving along a road well known for causing strife; folks cut into my lane constantly, but as I made my way down the street, mercy pounded my brain and heart.  Amid beloveds, books, and fabrics, that’s why I am here, to show compassion and to love, even to those whose skills behind a steering wheel drive me nuts, ahem.  Mulling that over made me feel small, also blessed, as well as forgiven.  And determined to share that notion with my grandchildren in all aspects.

Sisters help their mum measure a duvet for which this abuela will make a cover.

This is truly the purpose for our existences, regardless of what social media, Madison Avenue or political pundits say.  Unfettered mercy is Easter’s message, and the only judgment is what we cast upon ourselves.  How beautiful is Love given without expectation, merely hoping that such Love will be passed along to another like a quilt, a novel, a hug.  I received copious snuggles from my nieto and hija, we’re a pretty tight bunch.  This Sunday, as eggs are hunted and sweets enjoyed, I’ll embrace more of my family, especially my mom, for it was this season three years ago when Dad died.  Corporeal life is so short; Love is essential, for not only does it conquer hate, but it is the underlying reason of our beings.  We’re a forgetful species, yet Love manifests in us hope, which leads to awesome characteristics.  May your Easter week be filled with Love’s peace and Grace’s liberty, and hugs from all you hold dear.

Of what are we so afraid?

This isn’t an entry about gun control or our country’s leadership.  This is a post about us.

For it is to us human beings that this tragedy has befallen, all of us.  It directly affects those injured and the families of those slain, yet we are interconnected regardless of how distant some wish us to be.  Spirits who long for discord and chaos revel in the catastrophe in Parkland, Florida, also delighting in the sorrow of every other mass killing, be it with weapons or war or any other form of violence.  The threat of bodily harm stirs urges toward self-defense, the sensation of fear increases the adrenaline.  Yet, of whom (or who) are we terrified?

Adolf Hitler blamed the Jews, the Hutu government slaughtered upwards of one million fellow Tutsi Rwandans, Jim Jones led nearly a thousand followers to take their lives in the Guyana jungle.  Fear and hatred brought together form a powerful sword and we wave that blade even at the most innocuous moments; on the freeway when a driver cuts us off, at the suspicious looking stranger pushing an overfilled shopping cart, within our hearts due to this wrong perpetrated or that perceived slight.  Spirits who stir our animosity become they, and we wish to further ourselves from them.  The further we step away, the poorer become our souls, because they are us.

We are not a planet populated with alternate beings, we are all humans, imperfect and aching.  Love is what binds our wounds, but love, compassion, kindness, and understanding are being squeezed out of the equation, for it is so much easier to condemn, then turn away from, what seems loveless.  When we look upon our neighbor with fear, how simple is it to ratchet that to loathing, then reach for our sword, striking down that enemy.  This is exactly the position we must resist, gathering all our courage to instead embrace what is frightening, what seems insurmountable.  We must step toward another, leaving our weapons of destruction behind us.

From last Easter; The Burrito helps Little Miss navigate the shrubbery.

Those weapons aren’t merely guns; they are thoughts and words steeped in fear, heightened by callousness.  Our hearts turn cold, our tolerance wanes.  Apathy becomes hostility, and they turn into a group less than human, deserving no pity.  Today I pray for those in Parkland, but I also pray for myself to love more, be less afraid, and to embrace despite differences.  Only in these manners can peace and healing truly be achieved.

200,000 plus….

Returning home from a week with my grandson, 200K popped up on my car’s odometer, sort of a parallel to my current life.  I certainly felt like I had over two hundred thousand miles on me, considering all that had happened in the previous six days.  My nieto is an active chap from as soon as he says good morning right up until it’s time for bed.  This abuela needs not only some physical down time, but mental recharging.  I’m just not as young as I used to be.

But beautiful memories lessen the distance that helped to accrue those 200K miles on my vehicle; The Burrito and I traveled into space, courtesy of his imagination and my (limited) knowledge of the solar system.  We fought fires, had puppet shows, drew snowmen, and battled the Fan Monster, which consisted of a box fan behind my bedroom door.  We called for Superman’s help, colored various Christmas-themed pictures, put away decorations, and read mountains of books.  Puddles were conquered, stained glass art created, mac and cheese cooked, and the sting was taken from nap and bed times, instead becoming an opportunity for him to ‘grow’.  When he woke, I asked if he’d grown, and he happily said oh yes, showing off his strong muscles.

Exploring puddles in the neighborhood, which includes a handy stick.

Of course, his nap on my last day was preceded by tears; saying goodbye isn’t easy.  Driving home, I considered our visit, also watching the miles tick away on the odometer.  Suddenly  200,000 appeared, my goodness!  I’ve had this car since we moved back, nearly eleven years, jeez….  It had just a little over 18K when we purchased it, and other than a failed cruise control, still runs very well.  It’s taken me on countless road trips, and God willing has another 100K left in the engine.  Goodness knows I hope many miles remain for me to traverse.

Many configurations of train tracks were laid, sparking more adventures…..

Coming home, I also pondered how much I like driving, the California girl in me, I suppose.  It’s strange to think we’ve been back in my home state nearly as long as we lived in England, good grief!  I’ll turn around one day and my eldest grandkids will be preteens, lol.  Time shifts so swiftly now, it’s as if eleven years is maybe one, 200,000 miles like a trek to visit my grandson.  It’s the middle of January already, Miss Em a month old!  The Burrito will be three in February, another consideration as I sped along freeways.  I traveled the same roads in 2015, right before his arrival, when my father was still living.  Dad’s been gone now going on those three years, but those of us remaining keep right on trucking.

Suffice to say, last week was full of deep truths as well as jovial play times.  Upon my return home, I was definitely knackered, also exceedingly grateful to have been a part of The Burrito’s life for several days.  Now at home, I can mull over those life lessons, made sweeter by memories that aren’t merely mine, but my grandson’s too.  What he’ll recall of these days is unknown, but maybe he’ll remember the feeling of love shared.  To me, that’s the best recollection of all….

Another Wedding Quilt

Wrapping up one last project before I go, and it’s a beauty.  This quilt was originally meant for those who had lost their homes in the North Bay fires last autumn, but I sent two other quilts instead.  Then I learned a member of our church is getting married, so….  The low volume prints hearken to a wedding, and the plus signs signify all the positive vibes that matrimony brings to a relationship.  The biggest question with this project was whether or not I could get it done before I left to watch my grandson, painful hands in the fray.

My last post ended with me wondering how I would fill the rest of that day; turns out I spent much of it hand-quilting this comforter.  As I sewed, I listened to Kate Bush’s Aerial, which we have on LP; it was good to get up every few songs to flip the record, shaking out my hands as well.

I kept telling myself, “Next week you will do no other sewing.”  Not that keeping an eye on The Burrito is simple, ha ha, but it won’t involve anything remotely related to fabrics.  With each section finished, my giddiness rose, the sense of completion rising within me.  Kind of like how I feel when a novel is nearly done, a long-held breath aching to be released.

And then suddenly it’s over, the last square stitched through.  Well, it’s practically done, as there remains sewing around the perimeter, attaching the binding, then hand-sewing it to the back.  But those steps are brief in comparison to hand-quilting, although just when you think you are done….

Why double-checking is so important; how I forgot to complete that beige square escapes me, but I’m sure glad I inspected it thoroughly.

You’re not quite there.

Fully stitched and ready to go…..

But a few stitches and voila, it really was ready for the final touches.  And now it’s in my washing machine, truly one of the last steps.  Tomorrow I’ll give it to a young woman who will soon become a married lady, then I’ll drive north for a week of fun with my nearly three-year-old grandson.   My hands will covet the break, and while I’ll miss my better half, this is part of being a mother and grandmother.  And without my hubby, I wouldn’t be either of those, lol.

Three-week-old Miss Em from last night, photo courtesy of my husband….

Maybe that’s another reason making a wedding quilt is so awesome; regardless of any progeny resulting from a marriage, the sense of togetherness is reinforced day after day.  Families are made in all kinds of manners, from the largest to the smallest.  Inaugurating a life-long commitment to love and fidelity deserves a special quilt; thanks be to God for such blessings.