Friday, November 21, 2008

Hit the Road

I'm supposed to be packing for our trip, but it's time for a coffee break. Yeah, that's it. Laughing

This trip is going to be way different than usual, that's for sure. The most obvious reason is Mom won't be there. I know - she'll be there in spirit, right? She left us these annual trips as a legacy. We all plan to keep it up every year. So that's a really good thing. But it's going to be really hard. We used to cook together, and chat, and remind each other when it was time for Happy Hour.

It's going to be hard. I'm used to doing hard things. I know exactly how it works. You stew over how hard something will be, and worry. I know better than to worry, of course. One of my favorite Bible verses is this, from Matthew 6:

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? .... Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This was especially meaningful to me when I was expecting triplets. I realized pretty quick that worrying about what life would be like with THREE BABIES Shocked was likely to send me into premature I physically gave up my worry - gave it to God - and took one day at a time.

Another big thing I've learned about doing hard stuff is that just when I need it, I get the strength to do it. It has to be a God thing, because you don't have it one minute longer than you need it. To those who say they could never handle triplets, I say this - if you had them, you would! It's that simple. Any parent should know what I am talking about here - when you were doing midnight feedings, your body adjusted somewhat. But try to pull an all-nighter after they sleep through the night, it's a lot harder!! You don't need that strength anymore, so you don't have it.

I always say I couldn't have handled baby triplets without Mom. But the truth is I know that if I had to, I would have. So I know that God will give me what I need now, too. He knows what I need, even if I don't.

I have a lot of extra things to deal with, for this trip. I had to call the kennel for the dogs (turns out Mom had already called). The Big Kid and I are staying up in Arkansas to visit two campuses...Mom is the one who would have taken care of my other kids while I'm gone. So I have to arrange for them to get up and dressed (hubby can't miss work after vacation), get the other Kid a ride to school (Big Kid drives him, so he can't just hop on a bus without prior notice), and take care of the little ones after school (luckily there is now an aftercare, so I just have to arrange today for them to drop in for 2 days!). Projects are due, fees are due. I need to plan food for my Dad, who is on a very strict vegan diet because of his cancer - no sugar, no flour, and he believes soy is evil... LOL, you try cooking like that. Surprised This may come as a surprise to some of you (Razz) but I just not that organized. Somehow it's all coming together, though.

One thing we're doing next week is the burial. We're using a National cemetery in Arkansas, so we decided to do it when we're all there anyway. I will be glad to have that final step done, to get through the party my Arkansas brother is going to have afterwards ("no crying! It's all about fun!").

OK, now to lighten things is what I wrote last year at this time.

Holiday Ramblings

'Twas the night before vacation, when out in the van,
We were packed to the gills, tons of stuff for each man.

The suitcases crammed with essentials therein:
Stuffed duckies, Hot Wheels, toothbrushes, gin (hey, it rhymes. Rolling Eyes)...

The children were snuggled together on the couch,
lest we forget them in the morning when we moved out.

Daddy snoring softly, I lay awake
wondering what've we forgotten to pack up to take?

The inside of my brain worked overtime
mentally going over the list and checking off each line.

"I think we're all ready. Take a chill pill."
I said it would be ok, but I'm not sure it will.

See, when we go on vacation it always seems
We forget so much stuff and end up at Walgreens

Replacing and spending our vacation change
when we have it at home all neatly arranged!

Instead of a Duck Tour we spend money on
Shampoo, tennis balls, and bottles of calgon!

So I lay awake restless, thinking about stuff
I can cram into the spaces when it's time to get up.

Oh, toothpaste! Oh, Advil! Oh, big coffee cup!
Now, Xbox! Now, iPod! Now, Book of the Month!

To the suitcase, to the garage, to the driveway near the wall

Pack it up! Pack it up! Pack it up, all!

As dry heaves that on the curvy scenic route fly,
When you hand them the trashcan, and say close your eyes,

As the cry "Mom, he poked me!" floats through the air...
And the Leapster games inevitably get dropped off the chair...

Soft drinks spill in car seats,
Chips get ground into the rug,
Dad hits a bump and coffee gets spilled from the mug.

Still there are road games to play and maps to peruse.
New DVDs to watch and markers to use.

So on to the condo the big red van flew.
With a load of kids, parents, and all their stuff, too.

Over the hills far, we drove through the day
"Are we there yet?" always a moment away.
Suddenly almost before we knew
We were really there, at a quarter to two!

Grandad and Grandma came out of their door.
Cousins were playing happily on the floor.
Sweet smells coming from the condo down yonder
Hugs and photo ops and family news to ponder.

Thanksgiving again, time for vacation
To the condo we go, from all around the nation.
Family and friends, old and young
getting together and having fun!

Thankful for family, our love is strong.
Even when we don't always get along! Laughing

Count your blessings, big and small, and don't you forget it!
Contentment is yours, if only you'll let it. Smile

OK....Coffee is cold now...back to work!

Edit: Omigosh!!! I almost forgot the Cajun Eggnog! That was a close one Shocked

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mother's Day Story 2008

My Mom loved reading my blog. I have a few - my first one that got me started is on a fansite where no one can see it that isn't a member, so then I started another one so family and friends could see it, then started this one too because I love the idea of a public blog but didn't want the family one with all its names and places etc. available to the entire world. Most times I write one piece and post it to all 3, LOL. Every once in awhile I do different ones, depending on the subject. Anyway, I've decided to go ahead and post my Mother's Day piece on here. I'll put Dad's up later.

I added the part just below when I posted this on the fansite blog.

This is the Reader's Digest (condensed) version of my Mom's Mother's Day gift. I've been meaning to write one of these for years. I got the idea from Dear Abby, who suggested it as a gift for the person who has everything, and that it would be very meaningful to the recipient. That was sure true! Mom was moved to tears, then asked me to print it out for her. Smile

Not sure why I just never got around to doing this before. My Dad's cancer has reminded me that life is short and uncertain, so rather than have to look back with regret, I went ahead with it now! I'm working on one for my Dad too but will not wait for Father's Day (even though he is doing well. Just why wait?). I did Mom's first since it was Mother's Day. Anyway, enough rambling! I removed some personal info and pics but other than that, here it is. Cool

I never in a million years would have dreamed Mom would be gone by the end of the year. We've been so worried about Dad. Anyway I am SO SO glad I wrote this. I highly recommend doing this!


I am blessed to have the bestest Mom in the entire Universe, and for Mother's Day I would like to share a little about her.

Mom grew up in North Dakota. She really DID have to walk to school in a blizzard! Laughing

Here is Mom as a girl with her sister on the left. Grampa made that dollhouse. I have it now, and Mary will get it on her next birthday.

My Mom is the prettiest Mom in the world. She has blue eyes and red hair. Look at that hair. That comes from God, not a bottle!

Mom couldn't wait to have babies. I am her second baby, but her first and only girl. Yep, that's Baby Me in the picture, and my Grandad.

I must have been fun to raise! Mom tells me now that if I had been her first child I would have been her last! Laughing But I never knew that then. She loved me so much she had two other babies. Luckily, they were normal. Razz Here I am in the front with my cast. I had to wear it for a long time, way past time for me to be walking. Oh, what fun that must have been! Confused

Mom stayed home with her children. She always did fun things with us. She gave up a lot to be with us and to provide for us. She used to work for Time Magazine! She made pretty dresses for me and always made sure I looked cute and my hair was combed. She was my Brownie leader and made sure I could go to Horse Camp even though they really didn't have the money to send me. She planned fun vacations for us to take. We got to go to Yellowstone and Maine, and lots of summers at the Lake in Minnesota. We never got a new dining room set, because she wanted to make sure we got to travel instead. Like I would be writing about a dining room set all these years later! Smart Mom! Idea

Mom always liked my friends, or if she didn't, she didn't tell me at the time. Once I was grown up she told me some of the friends and boyfriends she hadn't really liked. Most of them, I was really surprised to hear that. But she always supported me and trusted me, at least that was her story, even if she didn't trust anyone else. Razz She took me and my friends places, and let me have them over, even if I DID have to keep my door open when a boy was there to practice for band. Wink

Mom taught me skills to survive when I went out into the world. Balancing a checkbook, doing laundry, cooking, and such. I thought she was just trying to make me do more work, but she was really teaching me important life lessons! Mom didn't nag me (too much) about my choice for college. She got me ready and bought me a big basket of supplies to take with me. She didn't cry until after I left. She talked to me on the phone from school when I was scared because a tornado was coming and I didn't know what to do. She held my hand when I broke up with boyfriends or got a bad grade or just was being a whiny, ultra-dramatic girly-girl (although I'm positive I don't remember that ever happening! Embarassed )

Some of my friends' Moms were not strict enough, and some of them were TOO strict. Mine was just right! She was always fair, even if I didn't always agree with her back then. I was a pushy one, but she always knew how to handle me.

My Mom always talked to me, but more than that she always listened to me. Now that I'm a Mom I know how busy she was, and how easy it would be to not listen, but she always did. And sometimes, after listening to my side, she would change her mind on stuff! Like I said, she was always fair!

My Mom was always there, for me and my brothers. I think she went to every ball game, every band concert, every recital. And now she is there for my kids, too. We are so blessed to live 5 miles away so she can do that. I think she goes to more stuff than I do sometimes.

My Mom was there when I had all my babies, and she was there when I was having triplets, taking care of my kids and my house and making sure we were OK.

My kids have the best Grandma in the world! She takes them on trips and to dinner and to the pool and to plays and movies. She has them sleep over whether one or several at a time. She pays attention to what they like and treats them as individuals.

Some pics of Grandma with her grandkids:

When I was growing up, my Mom was never my friend. She was always my Mom, and for that I am grateful, because now we are free to be real friends, and my Mom is my BEST friend. While I don't think it's possible, I hope I am half as good a Mom as my Mom is.

I love you, Mom!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Missing Grandma


It's been a long month.

The day I wrote that last entry, my Mom was not feeling well. The next day, she was in so much pain that I talked her into calling the doctor - who sent her to the hospital ER. One month ago today, my Mom walked out of her house for the last time, pulling the door shut behind her, and drove with Dad to the hospital.

Dad was the sick one, really. We have been taking care of his cancer, using alternative methods, since last Easter. Mom was still having some issues with her arm which she'd broken in 2007 - she was still having to take pain meds for that - but as much as I rack my brain I can't remember her complaining about anything else.

I wonder how bad the pain had gotten before she complained. I wonder if the meds for her arm were just masking it. What if? What if? What if....???

Once in the hospital, she complained they weren't DOING anything. I actually felt bad at first for talking her into it. They did run some tests, and on Wednesday did a laparoscopy. Everything pointed to nothing major, so I went on to my annual retreat that weekend.

But Monday morning I went up early to catch the doctor and try to find out why we hadn't found anything out yet. That morning is still a blur, I guess it will always be a blur, as I stood at the nurses' station and heard the words "cancer...nothing we can Hospice". In a fog of shock I did what minimally had to be done, calling my brothers. If I recall correctly, which I probably don't, I couldn't do much else but cry.

I was swept back to the ay my Dad was diagnosed in March. Mom and I stood in the hall and wept like children. We vowed to each other that we would do our best to be strong in front of Dad, but that we would make no such effort when together. That was a huge help, really, to be allowed to break down! But this day I was lost. She had always been there to hold me up when I broke down.

The thought crossed my mind that maybe she would get better, like Dad had. But I didn't really think so. For one, the word HOSPICE slapped me in the face. For another, I had only to look at her and how far she had deteriorated in a few days time, even since the day before.

Why she didn't come home till Friday I don't really know. All my brothers came in, her sister came in. What goes through someone's mind when they're in a hospital bed with all the family gathered round? You must just think to yourself "It's the end". I sat with her during the days when the kids were in school. At one point I broke down at her side. She squeezed my hand and said "Oh Kari, it will be all right".

On Friday she was brought to my house. Hospice brought in equipment, a bed, all that stuff. We set up the music room for her. That day she was alert and awake. It was Halloween. She laughed at the kids in their costumes, feigned fright as they jumped from behind the door with fake vampire smiles. It really seemed like she was better.

But she wasn't better. For a week she deteriorated, rallying a bit on Tuesday, A's 15th birthday. She was trying to talk, but couldn't seem to move her tongue. Had she had a stroke? Maybe...probably. She tried so hard, even trying to sing when we sang Happy Birthday in the room. After that day, it was all downhill, with us just trying to control her pain.

She died on Saturday, November 8. Ten days ago.

Mom was my best friend. We spoke to each other almost every day...saw each other often. They had dinner at our house every Sunday, unless they were out of town. This didn't bother my hubby - in fact, it was his idea! Family is important to him, too, and his Mom lives far away. Mom and I had a running joke - every once in awhile she would suggest she was being too in-our-faces and they should hang back for awhile, in order to be a good mother-in-law...I would remind her it was HIS idea, and she would accuse me of not wanting her around. Then we would laugh and go out for coffee.

After Dad got sick I decided there was no time like the present to tell them how I felt about them. So for Mother's Day I wrote a long entry, with pics, in my family blog. I did the same for Dad on Father's Day. Well, Mom was so proud. She printed the whole thing out - I guess it was five pages or so - and carried it around to show people. It is still in her purse right now. I was so glad I had done it - more so now, of course. Anyone reading this - please tell the ones you love how you feel! You never know when it may be too late.....

It's only been 10 days. Only 3 since all the rest of the family and guests have gone away. I don't expect it to be easy right now. But I wonder if there will ever come a day when I don't have sudden tears? Will there ever be a time I can JUST smile at a memory? WIll there be a time when I can wrote something like this and not be blinded by tears as I am right now?

I am a Christian, so I believe I will see her again one day. My grief is for ME, not her...she was almost 82 years old. She and Dad were married almost 49 years. She has 12 grandchildren, 6 of which are mine, and those 6 she saw all the time and was a treasured part of their lives. I miss her, we all miss her, so we grieve - not for her, but for us. We were going to have a shopping day soon. We were going to get pedicures. We were going to take Mary out for ice cream on a "Girls' Day". I know we have to move on. I'm not ready to move on, not ready to write this, yet I felt I had to. She was the best Mom, and the best Grandma.