Monday, November 20, 2017

Dear Mom (Nov 20/17)

Mon, Nov 20/17

Dear Mom,

You came to me in a dream just before I woke this morning, my last morning in your home. Thank you ...

You were wandering around, looking for your things. Instinctively, I (thought I) knew you were looking for your address book, so I quietly put it back in its spot.

I thought you were looking for your notepads and I assured you I still had them. I could put them back. You waved me off in the way we grew accustomed this past long while. "It doesn't matter" is what your gesture and your look told me without saying a word.

A tooth had broken off your partial plate. It seems to me you did speak at that point. I think you asked me if a person could really tell. You did speak. Because I remember you could speak clearly with your teeth in but one missing tooth didn't affect your speech. You were missing the same tooth Shirley is lacking.

You indicated that "it doesn't matter" and you weren't going to get it fixed, in the same manner you decided not to renew your government ID card this spring.

You knew.

Even in my dream, you knew. It doesn't matter. This isn't going to last. You had let go of the small stuff but somehow I felt you found some comfort that I could put my hands on that which was important to you. Your books of notations, your list of family and friends and your pen.

Yes, I noticed you glancing over to where you always kept a pen. I had just cleared off that spot and tucked your pens into a cupboard. You always liked that counter clutter free and I wanted the next prospective home owner to appreciate the clean line of that long counter.

You didn't say much at all. You just looked around and noticed everything that was gone. Your body language told me you were accepting of this change. I still felt guilty but you gave me that scoff and that little wave of "it doesn't matter".

All the little things that mattered so much and more, as you grew weary from a body that was shutting down, didn't matter anymore.

I thought of the way I took in every little thing of yours, that Trev has found a place for, within his home and I could feel the spirit of you within me. I soaked up every little nuance as I wanted to remember it forever ...

It was the way I remember you last looking at us, as we sat together and you started to drift away from us and into a pain-free state. You were soaking us in and trying to remember us forever.

I don't want to go home, Mom. I know you are gone and you are okay with that. You don't have to put on a brave face any more. Your body, like your home, became a shell of what it was after you left us.

My head knows all of this. My heart is a little more fickle. Tears come out of nowhere at times and each time they flow, my heart heals a little more.

It's hard to let go, isn't it Mom?

I'm missing you this morning but thank you so much for coming to me in my dream. These little things mean a lot. I believe if you were sitting across the table from me, you'd recite some words from a song right about now.

All my love,
Colleen

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Jack?

I'm back at Mom's and this little rabbit crossed my path ...


Rabbit spotting. It is a little thing but it means a lot.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Dear Mom (Nov 18/17)

Sat, Nov 18/17

Dear Mom,

I'm sitting in your kitchen, enjoying the quiet of the morning. Without you. This will most likely be my last sleepover in your home. It's sad. But it is time.

I felt my heart clench with thoughts of simply wanting to stay home now that winter has set in. I love staying home. But when I'm here, I enjoy it just as much. Exactly how it has been this whole last year. I have been grateful to be here just as much as I have been just as happy to stay home. It is all of those "other places" in between that are still hard.

It was hard to leave home yesterday morning. Thanks to the gift of daylight savings time, I had an extra hour at my disposal. I used it and I think I used up another hour as well. It felt good not to rush the process.

My car has been sporadically emitting an antifreeze scent. I checked the level before I left home and as hard as it was to determine, I was 99% certain it was low. So I went to fill it.

I pulled the premixed 50/50 antifreeze out of the trunk of the car. It said it was good for all makes and models of cars. Do not add water. I was good with that.

Just to be certain, I retrieved the car owner's manual from the glove department. It said to add only specific brands of coolant. It had a few other words of advice.

Suddenly, I was frozen.

Was the level low or was I imagining it? Was it safe to add the premixed brand of antifreeze I had in one hand or did I need to consult someone who knew more than me before I did anything.

I was completely wrapped up in the moment and my thoughts, fears and frustrations when out of the blue, I heard your wind chimes chiming with great intention. I had heard absolutely nothing previous to that moment. Then your chimes sang out to me and ensured I heard them.

Dad?

The wind chimes forced me outside of my own head and into the moment. To do "nothing" was not a choice.

I added the antifreeze. Then to be absolutely certain I did the right thing, I stopped off at the garage at the end of our block and begged them to check my antifreeze and let me know if I was safe to drive to Edmonton. I was assured and reassured. I did the right thing.

I was stuck in a moment and your wind chimes called out to me and "unstuck" me.

I am not loving winter this year and I am disapproving with Alberta's decision to stick to this daylight savings time for another year. To live in a world where it is dark at 5:00 in the afternoon is depressing. Winter is bad enough as it is. Lack of sunlight is a force of nature and cannot be helped. But for darkness to set in before the workday ends? Crazy.

It is reassuring to know you don't have to deal with any of the above. The timing of events and weather conditions this past year have been nothing short of miraculous, when I look back.

This time last year, you were just getting out of the hospital and we were waiting for a few stable days at my home to have behind us before we drove back to your home. Your future felt so very uncertain during those days.

The last thing on our minds was the weather. It was summer driving conditions. Winter had not settled in. The only thing you had to contend with upon your return home was the aftermath of your hospital stay.

Coming home was the last dose of medicine you required. If I hadn't seen the transformation with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it. "Home" was where you most needed to be.

And so it was ...

Home is where you stayed, despite all odds. Yes, you appreciated the times you weren't alone. But you didn't ask us to come. We offered.

We did our best. You did more. You did what it took to remain independent throughout your lifetime. The last year or so was simply an extension of that.

It feels good to be in your home. But it is time to let go. I have opened up all of your blinds and curtains this morning so if a potential buyer walks into your home today, they will see what we see. A home that has welcomed many and been a haven to all.

I wish you were here but since you aren't ... it is time to let someone else take the reins and turn this house back into a home.


 We love you,
Colleen and "all"

Monday, November 13, 2017

Dear Mom (Nov 13/17)

Mon, Nov 13/17

Dear Mom,

It is Monday morning and I'm back with my cup of coffee and a blank page in front of me. Let's see where this goes...

My mind feels more restful as this new week begins. I've purged my thoughts, spent time enjoying my own company and revelled in a long weekend at home. It has been just what I needed.

I spent one day reading about cats while I simply sat in the living room and enjoyed our little cat family. I opened the blinds, let the day shine through and simply soaked up the sun (I honestly have no idea what the weather or sky was like that day - I just know that I basked in it).

It felt very good to be still.

I spent another day in "your room". I cannot honestly remember what I may or may not have accomplished that day. It was a day sprinkled with a small dose of family and friends. Dale took me out for breakfast and a smattering of email and text messages were generously sprinkled throughout the day.

It was my birthday.

I'm grateful birthdays aren't a big thing in our little world. They are just another day with perhaps a few more messages from the outside world, while everything else remains the same.

It was my first birthday without you. Ever.

I thought this new reality may hit me in some way. But it didn't. Yes, you always ensured you called each of us on our birthday. That was your way. Yes, you always sent a birthday card with a "gift" enclosed. I thought I may notice your absence more. But I didn't.

I am grateful for the way we spent your last gift to us. You gave our family a Christmas cheque, to do with as we pleased. I asked Kurt for a suggestion and it was his idea to spend it as a family and go out for supper together.

Our little family does not come together as a unit very often, so your gift was interspersed throughout the year. Various groupings gathered and your gift united and fed us on numerous occasions. I believe the last occasion was for Wes' birthday in August.

We stretched out your gift from December to August.

Each time we used your gift, you were brought into the gathering with us. Each time we dined, courtesy of you, was a gift unto itself.

We don't "do" birthdays up in a grand way within our little family. I am more grateful for that this year than any other.

A supposedly special day without you was just like any other day and all the days that preceded it. You were the reason for my being. You have shown up in some capacity every birthday since then. But more importantly, you showed up just like any other day of the year.

No, you didn't phone me on my birthday this year. But do you know what? That isn't the phone call I miss.

Your calls had been on a gradual decline this past year. I haven't had a chance to miss your calls because I had already been weaned away from expecting to hear from you.

The last leg of your journey home may have unofficially began a year ago. Maybe longer than that. We'll never know.

As I gravitated towards "your room" as the weekend progressed, I thought less of "a year ago" and more about the years that preceded the last one.

I have integrated your belongings into our home and there isn't an excess. In fact, I just realized what has happened ...

When I started culling through the excess within our home last year, I commented that I felt like I was making room for change. I wrote this just over a year ago:

"I just keep looking within these walls of ours and hear "Purge and release" and "Make room for change". If I empty it, they will come ...

I'm living in "The Field House of Dreams". I don't know where I'm going but I know what I must do next. That is enough for now."

Mom, I have just realized that I was making room for "you". You didn't move in with me in a physical sense when I made the offer. But I had made room for you to move in with me now.

Our home was empty and generic. It didn't have any special flair or sense of individuality. As I walked down our halls and looked for a spot for something that had belonged to you, I had an empty canvas to fill with what was once yours.

Last year, I had made room for "you".

Your presence is all around me and it is a comfort. I have found myself gazing out our living room window looking for a rabbit. Rabbits don't come to call around here, the way they do at your place. But I look anyway.

This morning I looked out and I found tracks in the snow:



Could it be?


  
Did a rabbit hop into our yard, circle the tree and keep right on hopping?

Did you send me a rabbit, Mom? Do you wield such a power?

Rabbits, you and me. We have that connection. No matter how a rabbit may find its way into my world, I will always think of my summer with you and the rabbits who adopted you and your yard.

Your rabbits. Such a quiet presence, easily frightened off yet they brought such calm, understated joy.

I feel a tranquility within our home now that your belongings are finding a new home here. It is quiet. It is understated. It is you.

Thanks for moving in with me, Mom. This feels right ...

All my love,
Colleen 

P.S. Just as I went to post this, your wind chimes started to chime. This is the first time I have heard them since they were hung yesterday. 

I stood and watched as they went from moving with great force and intention, until they stilled. 

I looked up at the trees and the leaves are moving so it isn't a windless day. But the chimes became still, then tinkled quietly, then started moving with intention again. 

It feels so good to hear your chimes in the background of my morning. It's probably just the wind ... but I felt you with me again. And it was good.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Dear Mom (Nov 7-10/17)

 (started) Tues, Nov 7/17
(finished) Fri, Nov 10/17

Dear Mom,

I'm late with your letter this week. I made another trip out to your place last weekend and writing just wasn't in the cards. It was a good "visit". I wish you had been there ...

I am feeling weary. Weary with the thoughts of how you wanted things to be done and emptying my conscience of our conversations, so I am not alone with those wishes.

Your thoughts sound wrong in my head. I was so close, so present and aware of everything you were going through, it is as if you have taken up residence in my mind and I'm struggling.

You have and always will be a strong influence in my life, my thinking and the way I live my life. But I have tempered your thoughts by adding my own perspective, insight and actions which has created a balanced "status quo" for me.

I feel as though I am losing part of myself right now. I hear your voice and your words within my thoughts. I see the look in your eyes and the expression on your face when I would misinterpret your signals. I am still wincing and flinching when I know I've overstepped, misspoke or not said what you would have wanted me to say. I'm struggling.

I want to do "this" right, Mom. I'm doing my best.

I know I am holding on tightly to those conversations we have had and every nuance of the way you looked, spoke and said so much through those "looks" of yours. I don't want to forget anything, but in the process of holding onto every little thing, I am holding onto that which is not serving me well.

I have felt rather sad lately and it has been because I have been thinking of your last days. You were ready to let go of this life. "This isn't living" were a few of the last words you spoke...

You made this as easy as one could make it for us. You were strong, brave and asked for little. You simply wished for our presence. You didn't want to be alone at the end. And you weren't. And because we were all there for you, we were all there for each other.

I'm holding on tight to the knowledge that I can still go back to your home. It has been disassembled and it is simply a shell now. It has been a gradual process and my head is okay with all of the change which has been inevitable to come. My heart is actually pretty good with all of the changes too. Your belongings have found new homes. I can't wait to visit everyone to see how they have blended a little piece of you into their homes.

My life is feeling a little bit empty as I go back to a life which revolved around you a lot this past year. I enjoyed "filling the cracks of my life" with my trips to Edmonton. I'm going to miss those regular getaways.

Life is moving on. It is good but it is a little bit sad. I will miss the life I had but I must work on that "10 year plan" you asked me about. Ten years is a little too far for me to see right now. I'll work on the present and trust the future will take care of itself.

One day at a time. It will all work out in the end, if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and move in a forward direction.

This has taken forever for me to write. I'm sorry. This is the kind thinking that used to get me into trouble with you. "What was I supposed to think?" you would respond when I wrote something that shouldn't have been written. Thus, I have deleted, reworded, shed a few tears, deleted some more and clarified this until it is not a free flow of words but a carefully edited version of the thoughts in my head.

It is time to look ahead. It is the only direction one can move. It's harder than it appears. But it is the only way. One forward step at a time.

I'm staying home this weekend and I admit that I am overjoyed with the thought of sequestering myself within the confines of these four walls. I look forward to sitting down with one of your many books and lose myself to words on a page.

I still have much sifting, organizing and culling to do. Your room is a bit chaotic and it seems to be reflecting my state of mind. I will stay home this weekend and tend to the chaos...

I feel myself smile as I think of the spelling of the word "chaos" within your book(s) of notations. It reminds me of the time the spelling eluded you, Wendy & Terry during one of their annual visits. There are so many little memories that make my heart happy.

I'll sift and sit among the "happy" this weekend and write you at the end. It's going to be okay. Life has a way of working out in the end, if you simply trust the process.

I'm trusting the process, Mom. It isn't as hard as I thought it would be on one hand but on the other, it's the little things that are wearing me down. A weekend at home filled with good thoughts and memories will sustain me. If you could send a rabbit my way, I would be overjoyed.

I didn't see a rabbit the whole time I was in Edmonton last weekend. I saw their tracks in the snow but when a new dusting of snow covered them while I was there, the tracks didn't return. My only consolation was in the knowing that I hadn't missed a rabbit-spotting. The rabbit(s) simply didn't come. I think they miss you too.

'Nough said. I'll be back again soon.

With love,
Colleen

Thursday, November 2, 2017

What Have I Done?!!

I have found a sure fire cure to the dissatisfaction I feel after getting my hair cut. I cut it myself.

I have no one to blame but myself if and when things go terribly bad. Trust me. When you take a pair of scissors into your own hands, bad things can and will happen.

I was bemoaning that very fact as I was getting ready for the day. I actually said it out loud. "What have you done??!"

I had just, minutes prior, tried filling myself up with positive, goal oriented, positive thinking videos. They obviously weren't working ...

Until I heard myself ask the next question. Again, it was out loud (talking to myself out loud must be tempered), "What do you do NOW?"

Words of wisdom came to me from the reflection of my bathroom mirror (it is no wonder I have an aversion to mirrors, when I seem to find myself talking to them!).

I parted my hair on the opposite side, clipped it into place and I came up with a solution to get me through the ordeal of growing out my badly trimmed hair.

Mistakes happen. The important thing is to learn from them. More importantly, is the ability to stop focusing on "What have I done?!" and refocus on the next question, "What do I do now?"

Even a good hair cut grows out and is it is hard to replicate what worked in the past. A bad haircut? It grows too.

Now, I just must remember this the next time I trust a hair stylist with my hair.

Enough about my hair already!! Right, Mom?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Dear Mom (Oct 30/17)

Mon, Oct 30/17

Dear Mom,

Well, it is happening. A sense of normalcy is returning to life as I know it. It's hard to explain, but it is good in a sad kind of way.

I remember when my heart stopped missing Andre (will you ever forgive me for continually comparing you to our brave little kitty?). I missed the quiet little ache in my heart when life started filling up and moving on without him. I am feeling a little bit like that with you.

I still talk of you a lot and think of you even more. But (thankfully) "life" won't let me sit still in this limbo. There is much to do. And (finally) I am starting to do that which has been neglected for a very long time.

My world stopped in its tracks when you were hospitalized last November. The ambition that was driving me to clear out the clutter in our home and make room for a new life stopped cold. The box of items I had ready for my "next week's auction" sat untouched. For almost a year. Until last week.

I hauled out every little thing I was ready to sell last year and added all of my daycare supplies to the mix. The daycare toys that held value and could have been available if I felt the need to restart my daycare; the daycare toys that would have been great to have around if I ever became a grandma; the daycare toys which would have provided entertainment for any more daycare reunions ... they are all gone.

It was like ripping off a bandage. I did it without thinking (if you can call procrastinating a year not over-thinking). I put it all up for sale. It is gone. My old life has found new homes and will provide endless hours of joy for children I will never know. It is the end of an era.

I'm letting go ...

I should have done this months ago but I didn't have the time, energy or focus to see the job through. I needed a push. The push was the arrival of your belongings. You were instrumental in nudging me back into moving in a forward direction. There was not room for my past life, with "you" moving in with me.

Sigh ...

I would have done this for you. I was ready, willing and able to clear out the top floor of our home so you could move into our upstairs. But you wouldn't have it. It is good that you stood your ground and found your own strength and determination to stay within the comfort of your own home. It was the only right answer for you.

Instead, I have "a piece of you" with me which has been shared equally by all of us. A piece of you has moved in, creating the need for me to rid myself of some of the old and look towards the future. A future without you in a physical sense but a future with you woven so deeply into my heart, mind and soul that I will never feel like you are entirely gone.

As it was with Andre, it will be with you.

Life moves on, voids are filled and your essence will be forever entwined in my being.

A short little cat story for you:

When Andre died, we knew "there would never be another Andre", so we went to the S.P.C.A. with the idea of adopting a dog. The dogs didn't speak to us. But this little black cat reached out and literally climbed into our arms, our lives and our hearts. We adopted Jet and his spirit was that of a young, healthy Andre. Jet has an identity unto himself but he still carries the essence of Andre. It warms my heart.

This weekend, as I readied the daycare belongings for their final trip out of our door, I sat the umbrella stroller out as its new owner was soon to be on their way. I heard a little rustling in the living room and what should I find? Jet had found his way into the seat of the stroller and was nestling in. I smiled as I thought of Andre...

Jet (this weekend)

Andre (in his kitten days)

Andre (his second last visit to to the vet)



As I was in the process of letting go of the past, Jet hopped into that stroller and reminded me that even in the letting go, the spirit lives on and we can be transported back to the joy of when times were good, hearts were happy and it is the good stuff that sifts to the top when we relax, let go and move on.

I bought a treadmill this weekend, Mom. I need to start focusing on becoming a healthier me and this is a beginning. I needed to find an excuse to "move" and a bet with Dale (he thinks the treadmill is going to become a clothes hanger and fodder for next year's purging due to disuse, and I plan to prove him wrong) is going to inspire me to follow through on my goal. I am starting a new habit of waking up and moving every morning.

I put in my time this morning, came upstairs and had a drink of water and looked up. This is what I saw:


Hope. One word. And it encapsulated the spirit of the weekend past.

I'm looking up and past the year gone by.
I'll never forget it, but I'm purging now.
I'm keeping the good stuff and letting go of that which no longer serves a purpose.
I'm feeling braver than I have for a while.
I'm looking up again.
And when I do, I see "Hope"

Thanks, Mom. I like to think you may be nudging me along the way as I walk through this new life. I know I'm strong enough to do it alone but I'd really rather share the credit with you. 

You are a good role model for the style of life I want to create in this leg of my journey. I want to be determined, self sufficient, strong and healthy. I want to be a brave little warrior like you and Andre. 

I remember you saying with disbelief, "Are you sure he's sick? He doesn't look sick" ... followed with, "If I'm ever sick, I want to be sick like Andre". You were, Mom. You were just as brave and just as feisty as our little black cat. And that is a compliment of the highest regard.

I hope I have a little of you and Andre within me. It would be nice to think the two of you together. Kindred spirits seem to find each other. You will never be alone ...

With love,
Colleen