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Sunday, December 23, 2012

God Jul!

God Jul!  It means Merry Christmas in Swedish, which I am.. 

This year, I managed to get a big tree, a white pine and put it up. I integrated what ornaments I inherited with the ones I had from Denver for 15 years. Dodger helped put it up with his paws.

I continued the tradition of putting boughs on the family piano, and blue silver bell lights my Mom had bought at a Scandinavian Christmas store in Georgetown, Colorado in 1970 when we first moved there to Denver. I baked Swedish cardamon bread, spritz cookies, 95 proof fruitcake, Swedish tea rings, my Swedish grandmother's Swedish meatballs, and my German grandmother's date pinwheel cookies.

While making Swedish coffee bread, I couldn't remember how to braid it, and thought of calling my Mom for help. I realized I couldn't anymore and had forgotten. I did find her braiding it in an old home movie on video, which helped me. Good to see her again.

That made me miss the folks more. I was bummed a few weeks after putting out the outdoor lights, and thinking of how lonely Christmas would be this year again without them.

For the past two Christmases, I could not listen to the CD recordings of the folk's singing and past Christmases recorded I compiled on a CD with favorite carols included on it. But, I played it many times this week, and laughed at the sound of my folks at Christmases past, and the love that came out of hearing them talk and sing again, just as if they were alive still. My mother is heard on a scratchy 78 recording singing a solo "O Come Unto Me" with the very same piano I inherited.  She had a beautiful singing voice. Then there is a tape recording of the whole family at the piano singing "Silent Night" to our grandparents on the phone who couldn't come for Christmas in 1978 because of aging health.

I soon realized, I was fine. Grief is less and less. And, I am not sad this Christmas. I can go on! 

But the nicest thing this year was inheriting the family manger scene.

Mom and Dad bought it in downtown Minneapolis at Dayton’s department store in 1965. It has graced the bottom of all our Christmas trees and moved wherever we lived across the country. It has a music box in it that plays “Silent Night.” My favorite figurines in the manger were always the sheep, donkey, cow and the angel proclaiming “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!”

We’d play for hours with it, trying not to break anything, and re-creating the birth of Jesus, and all the people who came to see him under the star in Bethlehem, which would be a large, hot, C7 bulb on a branch above. Our manger became lost for several years when we moved to Green Bay, tucked in a box somewhere in the the midst of the others the movers had packed. My little brother, Jordan, decided to build a new one based on his memory.

He ended up building three larger sets so my siblings could all each have one like the original in their own homes. I helped him glue the straw to the roofs. One Christmas, while rummaging in the basement, Dad found the original manger scene at last. It then returned to its traditional spot under the tree. This year will be hard moving on without my folks at Christmas again but I am doing better than the last two.

But... I have the wonderful memory of their undying love and all the Christmases past with the manger scene under my own tree this year. —

Merry Christmas to you, and all! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Swedish Spritz Christmas Cookies!

Woke up feeling Swedish today. I am half Swedish, from my full blooded Swedish-American mother, but think and relate Swedish instead of German or Bohemian, which are the other half of me from Dad. Christmas is very important to us Swedes. We celebrate it for 30 days! Dec 13th-Jan 13th, which is my birthday.

I had a Swedish Lodge meeting tonight I had to go to, always fun to meet with the local folks. So, I thought I'd make something Swedish for that and Christmas. With the weight gain of 45 lbs from  caregiving and grief, I am not going to be eating these babies!

The easiest thing to make today was Swedish Spritz cookies. They are a Swedish tradition from the old country.

I bought a pound of butter from Qwik Trip gas station, where it is always $1.99. Picked up eggs too for $. 99.

Got out Mom's Mixmaster, a model I had gotten her a few years ago, it's heavy duty for mixing. Softened the butter for a while in the bowl.

Of course, I was using the best cookbook ever made, the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture edition. This is a reprint I purchased several years ago.

Here is the recipe, still the best, it uses almond extract. I always put in extra.

Next came the assembling the materials, the cooky dough press, the cooky sheets.

Then came the final mixing up. I wanted it pliable to press onto the sheets.

Pressing them out of the cooky press was easy, but sometimes I had a few that ended up in the bowl to get reused again. If the dough gets too warm, you can chill it in the fridge for a while.

After I pressed them out on the sheets, I decorated them with colored sugar, just simple green and a pinch of red.

Then, into the oven they went at 400 degrees on an ungreased cooky sheet until golden brown.

Out they came and on to the cooling racks.

And, they looked so good when cooled before being packed up.
I made a double batch.

Butter cookies are easy to make and you have to be careful not to overmix the dough, or it will be hard when it bakes. You want them light as a feather.

NO CALORIES at all in these!

Did you know that gold angel chime thingy is Swedish too?  True!

At the Swedish Lodge, these were eaten with strong coffee, and that is why I am writing this post, I AM WIRED ON SWEDISH COFFEE and some of these cookies.

Advent has started, and I have my advent wreath on my table for devotions too at night before bed. Many Swedes have the electric inverted V shape ones in their windows.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed seeing how Spritz are made.

God Jul!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Golden Inheritance

Dodger in a motel with me in September.

My Mom loved golden retrievers, and raised a few of them. She blogged about them and wished for a new dog, another golden she could have in her old age. After having my first golden in college,  I shared her love for them too. While living in Denver all those years afterwards, I would just melt every time I would see a golden puppy or people walking their goldens on the sidewalk. To have one to pet and talk to for a few moments would make a "golden day." They are great therapy dogs. My sister Julie's kid, my middle nephew Jordan, would crack me up when he was little when he would call our first golden named Shyre, "a golden treever."

Dodger had been abused in a group home by the residents and then brought back to the breeder where we found him.  How could anybody do that to a dog like Dodger?

Dodger came to us via rescue, and moved right in like he had been with us for a long time. He loved Mom and he loved Dad and enriched their lives until they both passed away.

He became my golden inheritance after that.

Dodger working the crowd on a boat in Door County this summer.
 Dodger has kept me going since both parents went to their reward. I don't know what I would do without my golden companion with the grief journey I have been on.  God had it planned that I would have this dog to aid in my recovery from losing my parents. I am certain of it.

Dodger loving up my dinner guests last week.  They just hate him, can you tell. :)
 He has been there when the waves of grief have hit, he is a great comforter, and loves the attention and love I give him. He gives me unconditional love.  He puts on a sad show when I leave for work, and he is there in the front window watching me go, and gives me that look.   I love when I come home from work, and he is there at the back door to greet me all excited.

Come'on Jimmy, hurry up and help me find my friend Mr. Woodchuck!
 We go for walks everyday in the woods, on the trails, or beach. I have to laugh when we run into other critters. We have already had a mother deer walk along side us a few times, thinking Dodger is one of her babies. I mean, THREE FEET away walking along side us!  People pointed and shouted "you have a deer walking with you!"  "What deer?" I'd reply with a grin.  Perhaps it is Dodger's fluffy tail in the air that resembles a deer tail that attracts deer? We have walked with a large black-grey woodchuck (groundhog) in front of us about 2 feet away on a trail that Dodger thought was a puppy. Mr. Woodchuck was very cute, and very tame with Dodger sniffing his face and wagging his tail out of curiosity.  He didn't mind us walking with him until he went back into the marsh.  Again, witnessed by people near us with their mouths gaping open. I consider it a blessing.

He plays ball, but then won't bring it back to you and plays keep away, living up to the name, Dodger. In the morning, I wake up with 85lbs of golden on my bed snuggling up to me to keep me warm when he has slept on the floor all night. When he has to go out, he dances for me in a circle, or nudges my hand with his snout. Vacuuming pet hair is not a problem when you collect old Hoover Convertible uprights.

He is funny,  loves people and attention. And, my friends notice if I leave a room, he watches his pet parent carefully. My five year old niece adores him. And, I cannot count how many tennis balls are around the house or missing. His favorite game is to put one under a bed, or chair or the couch and come get me to get it for him. Cute... huh?

Dodge and I go on car trips together, and I love when he is fast asleep in the backseat on his back with his 4 legs in the air in the car. It is funny when he sees milking cows or horses; he thinks they are BIG DOGS and starts barking like crazy.  He is getting a little grey on his snout now for only a fellow of 6 years old and has not been fixed yet. No need to worry, he never gets humpy on anyone.  

I worry about him sometimes, his ears get constantly irritated and I have to clean them with Q-tips and then put Tressaderm drops in from the Vet. He lays back and trusts me to do it gently. Same goes when he is brushed or given a bath. He is easy to feed, Purina Dog Chow, water, and an occasional Milk Bone, which he dances for.  In fact, in a vet's office, he lays back and relaxes. Mello Dog.
Dodger working the people on the boat again.
He watches me play the piano or cuss when I cannot get the notes right. And, he goes where ever I go, to church, running errands, visiting people at rest homes or people on the sidewalk during walks, or visiting other friends I have. They adore him, kids on the street love him too and he lays at their feet. His latest thing, is following me into the bathroom to lay down to keep me company on the commode. That is weird. I suppose he got that from the group home residents? He is not very co-dependant, but just does funny things to let me know he loves me.

Yes, God had it planned for us to have Dodger. I firmly believe it and give thanks each day for my golden inheritance. Thanks God, and Mom and Dad. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Survived the 1st Year Anniversary!

I didn't know how the day of my Mom's death anniversary would be. I wanted to avoid it, but instead, I celebrated it by celebrating my Mom. A Swedish Lutheran pastor friend of mine in Denver wrote a nice email to me to please take care of myself that day, and "grieve appropriately."  I did.

I placed a memorial in the paper to appear on the anniversary day in the local paper. I included the Swedish hymn "Children of the Heavenly Father" we sang at her funeral. A Lutheran chaplain at Mayo Clinic sang that to Mom when she went into ICU the morning before she passed the next day.

I picked up a gladiola (Mom's favorite flower), and a candle.  I went to my folks grave with Dodger, and I read the memorial, sang a few bars of the Student Prince Drinking song we played at her burial, then hummed the tune to "Children of the Heavenly Father."  Lit the candle, gave thanks to God for my parents and Mom, then toasted her with a glass (2 large ones actually at 9 am!) of wine. Dodger about burned his tail on the candle as I wiped my eyes from tears that needed to come out. He was in my lap comforting me.

I felt SO much better after all that!  It was healing from the grief of loss.

Sent a scanned copy of Mom's memorial to my siblings and posted it on Facebook. Nice feedback on Facebook including some from relatives across the land, and friends. One younger sibling disapproved of it and proceeded to email me how I should be not grieving and be a big boy, and stop doing what I did.

Told him to "go piss up a rope" like my Mom would tell someone when annoyed. No other response from the other two siblings in the family. But, I was emailed by older sibling to "get out of the tomb" several days beforehand. Not what one needs to hear when recovering.

I decided to get out of town, and went to Madison, Wis., to a La Quinta hotel because they allow dogs. I had a good time down there exploring the city and lakes. Felt like Denver a little. Good to get away. It was funny watching Dodger ride a hotel elevator for the first time. He got the hang of it, and loved sleeping on the hotel beds! Silly puppy!

Don't you love it when you are grieving and someone tells you how you shouldn't be acting or tells you how you should be? Like they are the grief experts in psychiatry? It annoys me. I realize I am better than I was, but my grief will take time I have learned from grief books, and pastoral care.

My grief is different from my siblings because I was in the caregiver role, and they don't understand that role because they were not here to help and live far away. They don't understand the bond one has when caregiving for someone, especially your parents you are looking after.

We caregivers experience another unique loss- that of purpose with our charge we are taking care of after they die. That's why so many caregivers go into depression after the loss of the family member they were caregiving for. To deal with this other loss, some caregivers even take jobs at caregiver places, or hospices, I am told. I might consider that.

Onward and upward. I am doing much better since the anniversary, and feeling better about a future.
I have learned much about myself and doing caregiving which I was not sure I could do. It is all a process.

No regrets!  I'd do it all over again.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

1st Anniversary of Mom's Death

Been a while since I wrote last. Summer was fun, green and beautiful. Managed to plant a garden, get to the lake and work some hours. Been holding together relatively well, Dodger has been keeping me together. I'm even trying to figure where I am going in life in the future to move on.

We got Mom and Dad's house sold, I found the buyer, and my sister did an excellent job as executor to settle the estate.

But, now the first year comes up for Mom being gone in a week or so. September 25th. That was the worst day of my life last year.

Found myself with the wave of grief hitting last Monday. I had been doing so well for a while, and then, boom, it hit like a tidal wave again.

A letter came from Mayo Clinic with a questionnaire in it about Mom's care there where she died, since I was listed as my Mom's caregiver. I didn't want to deal with it, it just opened up the wound again. I filled it out, and then wrote a letter to supplement it because I was there for the whole week with her. After that I started to cry like a dopey kid. I realized I had just relived my mother's death all over again. Oh God, not again!  I thought I was through with all this instant replay and can go on?

So, I got an idea.  So, I did what my Mom would want me to do. I tore all the paper up, burned it in the backyard in the grill, and the deleted the letter on the computer. Then I drove to a nearby town and went to an outdoor restaurant and ordered a wine, and a LARGE Shrimp Cocktail like she liked.  I toasted the skyward heavens to my Mom and Dad. It helped.

That night I also opened the other mail I had missed. It was the fourth booklet from the church- the Stephen Ministers grief books they have sent throughout the year. I found my reaction that day is normal and they will hit like tidal waves off and on in the future. My crying is my healing, letting it all out.

I saw an old interview of Mae West talking to Dick Cavett about the death of her parents in one year in 1930. She said it took her three years to recover and get her life back from the grief. Wow, a tough broad like Mae West saying that, it helped me realize it just takes time and everyone is different on grief. Mae West recovered, and I will too.

This week they placed the Army plague at my parent's grave for my Dad. My little brother and I got that from the Dept of Veterans Affairs.  In my weekly ritual of watering the flowers at the grave, I took a picture. I saluted his plague, as he served in World War 2. 

It will just take time, and I am better than I was a year ago. I miss them terribly, but know, they are with me, and I have to go on.

onward and upward...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Dodger!

Dodger and I at the beach
 Dodger, a male golden retriever, came to us from a lady whose husband was at the rest home with Dad. She found an ad in the paper listing him with other dogs for sale to good homes. She herself had a golden puppy, her son's dog, who Mom adored, and Dad responded to with his Alzhiemer's.

At first, my mother was leery of a male golden, she had her heart set on a female, full grown and wished for one like that. That night, she gave in, she said, "call the number and find out about the dog."  I did, and then Mom decided we should go out and look at him. It was June 2010.

When we arrived, I sat on the ground and Dodger walked right into my lap like he had known me forever. He bonded with Mom who decided she wanted him right there. Deb, the breeder, told us that Dodger had been in a group home and was abused there and brought back to her where his Dad and brother lived with other dogs and animals who she had taken in that were abused.

We went out to Fleet Farm and bought a cage and dog food etc. That night, I worried about if I could take care of a dog in addition to Mom and looking after Dad. I couldn't sleep as it was added responsibility, and I almost told Mom  forget it. But I am so glad I didn't now.

Mom holding Dodger two years ago in June 2010
 We got Dodger in the car, and he jumped in the back seat like he knew us for the ride to his new home. He fit right in, and Mom was so happy having Dodger. He was her fourth golden. There had been two females, a male puppy they gave up, and now Dodger. 
Dad and Dodger before Dad died a few weeks later

At the rest home, he worked, he knew how to say hello to the inmates there in wheelchairs and those confined to bed. He drew a lot a smiles. One lady who had not talked in years started talking to him and petted him. The staff was amazed. Dad responded to Dodger very well, and talked and smiled and petted him. I would give Dad his leash to hold and it would make Dad feel normal again. Mom's nickname for all her Goldens is "putzie." That is what I call Dodger too sometimes.

Mom and Dodger at Christmas 2010
 My little niece still loves to pull his tail, play fetch with him with her stuffed animals, and crawl, poke his eyes, and kick all over him. He adores her even with that going on at her young age.

At first, Dodge would fetch a ball and bring it back to you, but got lazy after that. Dodger came with some bad habits we had to break him of, drinking out of the toilet, and jumping up on the kitchen counter. He stopped when scolded. Smart dog. Mom loved him, and she had us put him in a dog kennel cage at night, something I was not happy with. He didn't need it. She wanted him to have his own space when he needed it.  In time, when we got to know him and trust him, he slept in my room at night, sometimes on my bed, which would make Mom yell if she walked in and caught him. Dodge went exploring a few times when Mom would let him out and forget him, and I would freak trying to find him, but he would be okay.

When Mom found out that Dad was in the last stages of Alzheimer's, she started wailing with tears, and Dodger lept up and put his paws around her neck and licked her face to comfort her. During the week Dad died, Dodger knew, and came and licked his hand while he lay dying. After Dad died, he kept Mom and I going for the next year with the grief, then Mom died in September 2011 unexpectedly at Mayo.  He was very close to my Mom, Bernice.
The neighbors had Dodger for the week we were at Mayo Clinic. When I arrived home without Mom,  Mrs.Nicholson said Dodger had been acting so strange since Sunday afternoon. He knew Mom died from 350 miles away. I took him to see her body at the church and he led me to her. He whimpered when he jumped up on the side of the coffin to see her. My heart broke.

Since Mom died and we sold her house and divided everything up, I became Dodger's master. He has kept me going during the times when the waves of grief hit. Just the other night, something hit me and I lost it, and Dodger was right there comforting me with his kisses and hug.

"I am still on your bed, Jimmy!"
 If there was any reward after caregiving, Dodger is my reward. He keeps me going and is my constant companion. We take walks everyday in a wooded park nearby the place I am renting. He watches me while I tend the yard and garden. He loves to say hello to people and loves kids and elderly people in rest homes. In the Frisbee golf park in Appleton, he loves to chase Frisbees and not give them back to the owners. On trails, he will wag his tail and gives that puppy wag tail greeting that melts most people.  The other day at Lake Michigan he became a sand puppy after rolling wet in the sand. Our tub became a sandbox after washing him. He is getting a little grey on the face, but still is a big puppy and loves his Jimmy.

Jimmy, I rolled with sand on your towel and shoes, being a sand PUPPY!
 Yes, he is a great dog and thanks to Mom, is the last thing I have of her to remember her by.

Anybody thinking of getting a dog while caregiving should consider a golden. It will help you with the stress and grief thereafter.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sentimental Journey

I went to upper Michigan for two things. The first involved being rejected in 32 minutes by the local Northeast Wisconsin small-minded, myopic, hypocrite ELCA Lutheran candidacy committee for going to seminary to serve as an Associate in Ministry. They didn't know what to do with me, and were intimidated by my hymnal and newspaper publishing and what I can do to serve. After telling me all the personal things they thought were wrong with me, which was like my crucifixion,  I left very troubled. I tried to understand how four clergy and two lay people could be so horrid and cruel. One pastor grilled me with passive aggressive questions for  my job history and then went after my grief, trying to make it look like I had a mental problem  losing two parents in one year.

I had to endure what no Christian should have to put up with by fellow Christians, or pastors serving the church!

They missed the boat with someone who's grandfather served as a pastor for 52 years, and our cousin, Rev. J.A. Eklund, was the Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Sweden. We are supposed to be related to Martin Luther too on my German side. Boy, did they miss the boat! I am  afraid they would have rejected Jesus if  he had walked into their midst. If Luther were alive, he would have told them  a few choice words. My Dad would have told them  off on the spot, and called them  "protoplasm" as he referred to people who were dead and worthless in charge.

They would not be a good fit for me either, I decided, and I am  free to go to a seminary on my own without a gatekeeper.

If my late Mother was there, she would have told them  (in true pastor's kid rebellion) "OH GO PISS UP A ROPE!"

I left the Lutheran camp where it took place and I hope they all saw my middle finger extended in the rear view mirror!

The second part of my trip turned into a sentimental journey.

My journey then took me to the Swedish Mission Covenant Bible camp (Covenant Point)  where my mother and grandparents had been.  Pastor Bob Bird gave me a tour and showed me where my Mom  had gone to camp. He prayed over me to heal from  my grief and horrible experience with the Lutherans.  I saw the island Mom  was stranded on, which she wrote about on her blog...

It is in the same spot where the cross is that the original dock was where Mom  was brought back in the sherif'f's boat  after being stranded on the island.

Grandma Eklund at Covenant Point 1940

Same spot today 2012

It was really neat seeing where all her stories had happened.

Then I drove across Hwy 2 to Mom's second hometown of Ironwood, Michigan. I had never been there.

Rev. Axel G. & Frida Eklund
I found my Swedish grandparent's graves, and the church my grandpa served in, and got a tour of the parsonage. Everyone in town was nice to me, including the people I met who knew my Mom  and grandparents there.  I put Swedish flags, and  flowers on my grandparents graves, and then soaked up the local color.  I devoured two pastys at Joe's Pasty shop, and saw Hurley, WI, across the stream  where the bars were. Grandpa and other pastors had a mission there to try to save the drunks and prostitutes back in the 1930's-1940's.  Mom  played the piano in the mission for Grandpa while he led services to the drunks.

Mom and Grandma Frida in parsonage kitchen 1941

Same kitchen 2012

Grandson in same spot 2012

Grandpa Eklund in front of his church 1940

I found the schools where Mom  went, and sites she told stories about. Ironwood sits in a beautiful area of trees and hills and was a town noted for iron ore. My grandparents were adored by the townspeople there and ended up being buried there.

Downtown Ironwood where Mom plied the streets growing up
At a Lutheran church there, I found several elderly people who had known my grandparents and grew up with Mom.. It was comforting to hear stories about her.  One lady named Bonnie told me Mom  was always late to school. I smiled and said she was late to everything!

I drove back feeling like I had finally felt complete with my Mom, now I can move on from her death.

I found the people of Ironwood very nice and friendly.  Today they are running a story in the Daily Globe newspaper there about my visit and my Mom!

It was a bittersweet journey, the first part was terrible, and the second was wonderful. Funny how God has that for us, just like Good Friday and Easter.

p.s. I did let the committee that rejected me know what I felt about their horsemanure... I hope they slip in it. :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Cleaning Out

Spring has sprung early this year. Hard to believe two weeks ago there was snow on the ground still.

The daffodils and tulips are coming up fast with our heat wave in March.  A set of daffodils popped out and bloomed today, but look dwarfed from not growing up normally.

Mr. Willow, my mom's favorite tree in the yard is budding out already on March 21st.  I keep going out to the yard and telling him to "cool it" as we are going to get hit with a big snow yet. Mom's lilac bushes are budding too.

I have never seen Spring so early here in Wisconsin; it is a real treat after last year with the long winter that reached into May. This is the kind of weather I am accustomed to in Denver, Colorado, where I used to live.

Cleaning out Mom and Dad's house of things already I am taking, and it's quite traumatic here seeing where a sofa, table, piano or chair used to be that were here for almost 33 years. I found putting the patio furniture in the empty spots helped ease the pain. Makes me feel like the folks have died again. And, I can smell my folk's smell in the house vividly this week. It is like they don't want us to go or clean out their things.  Little breezes brush by me in the house with no windows open. The other day I whistled for Dodger from upstairs, and I heard someone else whistle - my Dad. They are here still.

My little brother came last week and we loaded up a U-Haul for both of us. He took the 1965 formal dining room set, and before he left, he looked like was ready to cry. He gave me a big hug. Welcome to my world.

Instead of an apartment for the Dodger and I, I found a place for the same price, and loads of room for us! I rented a duplex to live in across town, and it needed a lot of work to live in first. It was filthy, but a diamond in the rough as I started moving into it right on my birthday in January. (pic from January)

I hired a duct cleaner who found Jimmy Hoffa in the furnace system which had not had a air filter installed properly by the last tenants. The furnace was full of dust, toys, and things.  It was gross, and landlord knocked it off my rent. Cleaned the carpets myself, and windows. Painted the living room over again at the new place as it was egg shell with a hint of purple in it. What started as antique white was too grey looking, so I had them add a "bit of lemon" to it. Now the walls are "POSIT NOTE YELLOW."  I can live with it and it makes the room look warm.

Living room before painting yellow

green room
 Can't decide what to do about the kitchen or bathroom, or one bedroom. The other bedroom has light green on the walls, I can live with. And, there is no dishwasher, so I am now the dishwasher with the limited counter space.

The 1959 piano arrived yesterday after I hired some movers. It is asking Mom's 1973 gold sofa and the 1965 end tables "where are we now?"  Managed to find a nice entertainment center at a thrift store and a friend helped me move it, but my TV won't fit in it, as it is too small. The living room looks nice, but I went from contemporary 1980's furniture, which I left behind in Denver, to 1970's gold retro. I found gold is back in! I am happy with it, and as late painter Bob Ross says, I have "happy clouds."

My siblings and their spouses come home next week to go over the folk's house, and they will have emotions flowing like I have. It is hard to break up a home after 60 years of marriage. Hopefully there will no bickering or fighting because I am not putting up with it after all I have been through being the caregiver here for the parents and caretaker of the house for them. 

Hopefully I found a buyer for my Mom's house, a friend from college who is the loan process.

I may perhaps move back to Denver after all is settled. Who knows.

Mom and Dad in 2007 -
 Mom wiped out from taking
care of Dad with Alzhiemers.
Contrary to what some of my fun family members think with their disparaging remarks about me being here to help, (there are always one or two in families!) I did a wonderful thing for my parents, and was able to keep my Mom in her own home until she died. She otherwise would have gone to assisted living and her money wiped out in a few months. She could not live by herself anymore after Dad died with her health problems and sickness every other day for two years here.

She was exhausted after from taking care of Dad for many years before he went into the rest home to die, and it took a toll on her health and shortened her life I believe.

I have no regrets coming home to help my parents in their final few years. No regrets.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I'm Okay!

I was in the formal living room  playing the piano with hymns and liturgy the other night. I would play sometimes at night while Mom was in the family room watching t.v. She would sometimes turn off her programs to listen to me playing a favorite or prodding my way through a new one. Sometimes she would come in to sit down and tell me about her favorite hymns.  After playing the piano the other night, and getting the dog back in after going "potty," we went upstairs to go to bed.

To my surprise, through the cracked door, I saw light pouring out of my parent's bedroom. It startled and scared the hell out of me at first, but as I walked to the door to open it with my heart beating fast, I cautiously walked in and said "Mom?"  Then, I smiled and laughed. It was the sign I was waiting for.

Mom's light mysteriously "ON"

Mom's light by her bed was "on."  It was a sign that she was telling me "I'm Okay!"

She told me on occasion that she would give me a signal or sign after she died to let me know she was okay. This was it.

Nobody has used the room since her funeral, and I vacuum and dust it once in a while. And, I keep the door cracked, so I don't have to look in there because it is too painful to go in my parent's bedroom  or see their beds, still made up like they are coming home to sleep there again. I notice that the air inside the room is a breezy cold, and I don't go in there much. It used to be warm in her room when she was alive, but now the temperature is cold in there. Bright sunlight beams from  the room  during the day.

But what a nice surprise.  I felt comforted with that light on, and quickly grabbed the camera to record it.

It has been five months since Mom died unexpectedly at Mayo Clinic and I will be moving on soon. In her will, I was granted six months to stay here in the house where I grew up and then was caregiver for her in her final years.  My sister in Texas has the hard task of being executor, and has decided to clear the house out and sell it empty. I am livid with her decision and agenda, as it seems so cold and callous. Perhaps it is her way of dealing with the grief?  It would be better to have me here until it sells with the dog and furniture around, so people looking at the house can see how it is here. The Realtors have told her to sell it with me here to watch the house so it sells; but she chooses to have it her way. Some people's kids! I get so angry with her ideas and plans because they make me nervous, and are such an intrusion and self-centered sometimes.  (Pastor friends tell me they hear stories of  family issues like this all the time.)

However since living here alone with the dog, I have noticed noises and things around the house since Dad and Mom died in one year. Dodger and I hear downstairs what sounds like someone walking in the master bedroom space upstairs. And, the dog and I have woken up from a sleep to hear my Mom's coughing, and I've heard Dad blow his nose with his distinctive trumpet sound in the bathroom .  I smile. I was in my Mom's room getting a book from her bookcase, and I felt a tug on my shirttail one afternoon. Doors to their bedroom  are closed at night, but are wide open by morning or open in minutes by themselves when you don't look.  And, the other night, I woke up with Mom's banging sound when she used to turn on the light switch in her room, or come up the stairs at night. Last night while tying my shoes sitting on the staircase, a flash of light in an orb whizzed right by me in the entryway. I didn't get scared, but felt comforted. Mom's hanging plants are in her room  for the winter, and blooming in March! Impatients.

Perhaps their spirits are here, waiting for the family to break up the household in order for them to move on?  Perhaps they are here to tell us they are okay and love us dearly?  I yearn for them, and miss them  very much. Somtimes I cry from the grief and sob like an idiot; I have been through a lot in two years.  Dodger comes and puts his head on my lap when that happens. He misses Mom  too.  Normal grief, and good to let it out to heal inside.

But in the meantime, I got the message I was hoping for, Mom let me know she is okay.

When the siblings come to disband the household, I hope they catch a glimpse of messages, or a sign like I have been given.  Perhaps they too might be comforted by their late parents giving them a sign or message of love from beyond.