About Barbara Anne Hough

This began on March 8, 2011.

It chronicles Mom’s journey of almost three years.  Thank you SO MUCH for all your thoughts, prayers, cards, flowers and visits, beginning with her February 22, 2011, admission to Howard County General through her years at Lorien until she left this earth for heaven on February 17, 2014.  She is now with the good Lord, and reunited with many family and friends who went before her. Regular blog entries ended on March 8, 2014, but periodic updates on news about the family will continue.

Mom would like that.

Laura

Some days you just get to spend time with Mother Earth.  This was another labor of love project.  Andy has been on assignment and/or on shifts that take him away from his wonderful townhome a lot this year.  It’s tough to be a homeowner in that type of situation.  I volunteered (and pretty much voluntold my wonderful husband) that we’d take on a yard project to transform Andy’s weed infested area beside his driveway.  This is like a project we’ve done at our townhome and Scott helped me do at my old townhome in Germantown.

So, today was the day we worked at Andy’s townhome.  Six hours of sweat equity and not all that much in $$.  We’d killed the grass with Roundup in June so the digging could begin.  Today was weeding, tilling, rock removal, top soil, paver laying, mulching, etc.  I’ve decided to order coral bells (sun loving perennials) for the front of the bed.   Andy came back to town this afternoon, so I met Andy and Nina for sushi (after showering) while Scott took the tiller back to the rental place.  Andy was impressed and grateful.  Nice to do something for your son.   Enjoy the four pictures below.  Thanks to Scott for his amazing expertise.  He’s a rock star husband.  We are both so exhausted that we are trying to stay up until it gets dark before we go to sleep!  :-)

Yard project 1Yard project 4Yard project 2Yard project 3

Well, Scott and I got home today from our two week, multi-episode vacation.  I have a story to tell Mom about the last 36 hours of it.   Wow.  I can see her eyes and facial expressions now.  Filled with horror, sadness, hurt and embarrassment for me.  Nothing that will end the world or anything like that.   But for Mom, who’s known me for 58 years and is well aware of what I put into my culinary talents for them to be special, I am confident that she’s horrified in heaven and wishes nothing more than to be able to put her arms around me right now and give me a great, big hug.   I certainly do FEEL that hug.  Suffice it to say that some people just don’t think or “whatever”.    I’m sure in 5 or 50 years, I’ll get over it, but it will take some divine healing, believe me.   For those of you who want to know more, send me a private message.   Some of you are in my FB community, too and strangely enough, I want to be sensitive to the feelings of others about what happened…

OTHER THAN THAT, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Ok – no more drama.  We enjoyed a lovely visit with Kori, Eleanor and Eden these past 48 hours.   If you are a FB friend, you’ve already seen this one.  Unmitigated happiness on both faces.  Eleanor at 4 1/2 y.o. was an absolute delight.   She drew pictures, played “Fish”, went exploring with us, and even brought her “cheers cup” to “cheers” with “her LaLa”, as I’m now known.   Pretty awesome.   As we re-enter the world of meetings and e-mails and endless commitments tomorrow, I plan to work on remembering all the good parts of our two week vacation…some of which I’ve already shared with you.Scott and Eleanor 2014While we were gone, Samantha turned 23 y.o. (July 11), and Hope is cavorting around Florida burning up the social schedule in an incredible way.  Wayne is getting ready for his upcoming trip at the end of the month and Andy begins a new assignment tomorrow, somewhat locally.   I hope the summer is treating you well so far.   This coming Thursday will be five months.  Ridiculous.

We are on vacation.  I am sick.  It happens to us a lot.  Me.  Scott.  Both of us.  When we get away from our crazy jobs, our bodies say…I’ve had enough.  I’m sick.  My sore throat started in Nantucket on Tuesday.  Cough and nasal congestion ever since.  LONG naps each day are keeping me going.  Today, I thought of our pictures and FB postings.  Last year, when we went to the Cape and up to Maine…I was thrilled to come home and share it all with Mom.  It feels weird this year, knowing that I won’t be able to do that.  In the middle of the night last night when I was up at 4 a.m. I happened upon a blog of a long time (sadly former) friend (Terry).  She was writing about the loss of her mom just about a year after her passing.   She described it as a big, black hole.  I get that.  It makes sense.  She said she saw her Mom in a boat padding away from her.  Uh huh.  That makes sense, too.  She concluded she no longer needed her mother, but that her mother was still with her.  That..I don’t get.  I still need my mom…although she’s not here.  I get to “have” her because of my faith and hers.  Thankfully.  But it sure isn’t the same.

Here’s the guy who Mom said she’s glad I’ll still have with me to take care of me after she’s gone.  Smart lady.

Scott 2014

 

I decided not to post on Tuesday which was four months.  I’m still keeping track of time in terms of how long since Mom died, but I feel like I’ve turned a bit of a corner.   I realize that Mom isn’t coming back, and yet I realize that she’s never really left me because I carry her with me every day.  Blood of my blood.  Flesh of my flesh.  I can still “talk” to her.   Obviously, not quite the same, but…  steps toward finding healing are visible.   My sympathy cards have moved from the kitchen to our bedroom… They are in a delightfully colored bag on the shelf to the right of the T.V…

I’ve realized that my memories of Mom as a sick woman in her early 80s have dominated my life.  It’s what I knew for three years.  I was consumed with her care, the quality of her life at Lorien, my visits to see her, and how to carry out my daughter duties to best of my ability.   And as she said to me a week before she died, “I’m so glad we’ve had these three years”.   Me too.  It was answered prayer after her respiratory failure and ICU admission.  That she’d recover enough that those who loved her and whom she loved would have the chance to reconnect.  Prayers answered.  Now, I’m finding my memories shifting back to when Mom was not ill…or at least not visibly so.  To her first visit to my house (2006), to Scott’s and my wedding (2007), to our Thanksgiving together in the Outer Banks (2009), to taking her to Old Anglers for Mother’s Day (2010).   That’s feeling pretty good.   In this moment.

On to some family news:

Andy (Ed):  As many know, Andy is going by Ed these days.  His given name is Edward Andrew.  Edward – was after my dad and grandfather - and the former went by Ed and the latter by Eddie.  So, there you have it.  He and his girlfriend, Nina left yesterday for a two week trip to Key West (scuba diving and relaxing), and then on to Houston (visiting Jim Vaughn and family).  I’m excited for them.  They joined us for dinner on Saturday night in Baltimore when we celebrated Scott’s birthday.  They are such a joy to be with!

Samantha:  IS ENGAGED to boyfriend, Justin!  Their relocation from from N.J. to Baltimore went well.  I mentioned before that Justin got a teaching job (math/middle school) in the area and Samantha has just started an intern role.  They have a cute apartment in Charles Village.  They VERY smartly are not doing the wedding “thing”, but are opting for a justice of the peace arrangement.  Justin’s parents will host an event at their home in N.J. sometime afterwards.  I told Samantha that I’ve NEVER been involved in any wedding of any kind that didn’t have some sort of drama so avoid such things is wise.  Besides, it’s about the marriage, not the wedding.  The wedding timing isn’t set, but will occur before the summer is out this year.

Whitney:  is home in West Palm Beach visiting Hope and Arielle.  She timed it for her birthday week…hard to believe she will be 24 y.o. on June 25.

Arielle: continues to well in school at at Pei Wei; and will graduate this coming December.

Wayne: I spoke to him on Father’s day and he said he was feeling better than he had in a long time.  He’s had some challenges with Rx complications for various medical issues and it seems the doctors are finally getting things figured out so there are no undesired effects (read they changed his meds).  He was pretty upbeat talking about taking trees down that were shading his garden, how the Orioles were doing, etc.  His birthday is June 23 in case you want to drop him a card!   17740 Hardy Road, Mt. Airy, MD  21771

As for me, I just got back from working in the U.K. last week, and have some crazy weeks ahead before Scott and I go on vacation for 2 weeks.  I am paying it forward for sure… Plus I’m preparing to teach an on-line graduate course shortly for Catholic University as well.   Scott’s son Andy arrives tonight (late) from Detroit for the weekend.  I got tickets to the Nats/Braves game on Sunday and Andy is a BIG Braves fan so that was enough to entice him for a visit (ha!).   It should be a nice visit as we haven’t seen him since Mom’s memorial.

I hope this summer is starting off well for you!

Another month.   Today involved an 8 mile walk along the C&O canal.  It’s beautiful.  Stunning scenery.   Family news below the pictures….C&O Covered BridgeScott and I enjoyed this walk immensely.  This weekend began with a delightful dinner with Andy’s girlfriend, Nina.  A girls’ excursion, she treated me to a wonderful farm to table restaurant in Baltimore called Woodberry Kitchen.   We had a great time.  Nina just signed a contract to teach for another year at the Montessori School in Silver Spring, which is a short commute for her.  She and Andy (Ed)! will begin a two week vacation June 18-July 2 when he comes home from assignment.  They’ll head to Key West for scuba diving and then onto Houston to visit Jim Vaughn and family.

Randy has made the move to Tampa!  He had bought a home (along with his wife, Janet) in Tampa at the end of last year.  Mom had a chance to “see” it via a “go to meeting” set up that Randy and I put together in mid-January.  I’m so glad we were able to make that happen and Mom knew his news…   It’s a 1930s Craftsman home and looks just delightful.  With  stepdaughter (Veronica) graduating last month from high school in Boca, they decided it was time to make the move to the west coast of Florida.  Both Randy and Janet’s separate houses had been sold and they were living in a rental so it was easy as those sorts of things go!  Randy will maintain his business in the West Palm/Boca area and as we know…technology does a lot, so he intends to maintain his client base, work remotely when possible from Tampa, and take the train over to the east coast when needed.

Wayne seems to improve with each day.  He is practicing bowling on Sundays for his Tuesday league activity.  He just had some trees taken down on the property that were shading his garden, which has this year’s crop of incredible tomatoes.  He and Randy have planned to get together later in the summer.  Wayne will go to Tampa to see Randy’s new place and then they’ll make another one of their infamous trips out west to national parks for photography.  Not sure which one(s) this time.  I think this is their fourth trip to do this.

Samantha has bid farewell to N.J. after five years and has relocated to Baltimore, with boyfriend, Justin.  He landed a gig as a 7th grade math teacher at a school fairly close to the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus.  They’ve just recently settled into an apartment nearby and Samantha is beginning her job search.

Hope continues to do well with her CPA practice in Wellington, FL and I believe just celebrated 25 years (or close to it) in her house on White Coral Drive.  Whitney is out in California seeking her fame and fortune and Arielle is working full time (and doing VERY well) with Pei Wei restaurants as she finishes her final semester of college this fall.

As for me, work is great.  It’s nice to have a break from teaching.  I start again with an 8 week graduate course at the end of June, and then teach two graduate classes in the fall.  I head to London for business the week of June 8 and back on June 13 to be home for Scott’s birthday weekend.  Andy (Ed) and Nina will join us in Harbor East Baltimore for dinner Saturday.  We are staying over at the harbor, and taking in an Orioles game on the 15th, which also happens to be father’s day.

I think of Mom every day.  I miss her.  I think of things to tell her, so I often talk to her.   As Mary Hackman said, “Lace isn’t getting back to me as quickly these days.”  Ha.  I guess not…   I resent the distance that is building between the present and when I last saw her.  Seems unfair.  I suspect that is normal.  Sigh.   And I also suspect (know) she is watching closely…and encouraging me, and others to be happy.

Three months.  Seems surreal.  I attended Catholic University of America’s 125th commencement today and watched about a dozen of my students receive their master’s degrees.  It was great fun and I thought of how proud Mom would be to see me there as a faculty member.  It’s not my first time attending as faculty, since I’m in my 8th year of teaching in the graduate school, but somehow today was more special.  I could feel Mom there applauding amidst the blue skies and warm sunshine.

Afterwards, I had lunch with a dear young man (41 y.o.) who lost his dad (my mentor of 35 years) last month.  We kept using the word surreal.   He is “six weeks in”.   We talked about measuring time differently…since my mom died…since his dad died.    I was unable to speak at the services for his dad although I’d been asked to do so.  My trip to Jakarta and Manila couldn’t be rescheduled, so I used the joys of technology to video my 6-7 minute tribute and posted it on You Tube!  Apparently it went over very well.  It’s posted for public view and is entitled “DVK tribute” in case any of you would like to take a look.   At work, my new assistant, Mary, lost her father to colon cancer this past Thursday.   She knew he was dying.  This last month, we spent 10-15 minutes each morning talking about her dad and what he was facing, what she was facing, how to deal with the medical community (!), etc.   When he died on Thursday afternoon, I was sitting in a board meeting.  She texted me to tell me the news and to say “thank you for everything you’ve done for me”.  Wow.  I realized in that moment that being there for others is actually helping me deal with my own grief.

Still…

I remain surprised at some people.  Both ways, actually.  There are those who I would have bet would have been there for me in these difficult days…who have not done so.  It’s given me a lens into a couple of relationships which I now see in a different light.  And yet, there are far more who have surprised me with continued visits, calls, e-mails and texts to check in, see how I’m doing, etc.  Some in this category include people I haven’t seen in almost ten years who went out of their way to meet for coffee.  Others who call me on a regular scheduled basis to check in from various parts of the country, or who live internationally, but find a way to mail words of encouragement, or… or…   It reminds me of a pearl of wisdom shared by one of these precious people in my life.  Over an omelette, my friend says, “you know that nothing really matters except people and your relationships with them”.   It reminded me of the ultimate sacrifice by our wonderful God to restore HIS relationship with humanity.  He gave it all.   Ok, so I’ll be a bit provocative and ask you…what are you giving to the people in your life?  Are you spending your time with those who matter most to you?  If it has been a while, give a call – send an e-mail or text – drop by for a visit.   I know these things professionally, but I’m thinking about it more personally these days.  We don’t know the burdens that others carry at times…and a kind word, gesture, compliment or caring act can make a huge difference to someone.

I hope you are enjoying this lovely Spring…and I hope this finds you doing well and smiling.  Love, Laura

Happy Mother’s Day !

This is a bittersweet Mother’s Day.  My first Mother’s day without Mom.  SO many of you have called, texted, written, e-mailed, visited and reached out to me with love and understanding…I so appreciate it, and YOU!
I’ve “talked” to Mom a lot this week while sitting and holding her picture.  It has been good.  I’ve felt close to her.   I had a wonderful day yesterday…beautiful flowers came to the house from Andy and then he and I spent a lovely dinner together for 2.5 hours.  Just the two of us.  Absolutely priceless.  As I was driving over, I started to “talk” to Mom.  I told her that I wasn’t going to get emotional as I didn’t want to mess up my make-up, but that I was so pleased and happy to be going to meet Andy.  I rounded the bend in the road and looked up at the most beautiful rainbow and just chuckled…and said, “thanks, Mom”.  Figured you’d figure out some way to let me know you are there…   :-)
Today, we attended an early service at our new church (new, since about 3 months ago).   The music was incredible and Pastor Mark’s sermon about the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit was right on point.  I couldn’t help but remember the three men in the ICU hallway who prayed with me on March 21, 2011.  Doctors telling me to get Mom’s affairs in order.  Dark days.  And yet the prayer that Mom would recover enough for those who love her and whom she loved to reconnect was ANSWERED!  The next day.  By the following Monday, she was out of ICU!  Then, we had almost three years!  What a blessing.
Today…  I’m watching the sun come through Mom’s suncatcher.  After church, we went to the garden center and I am on a break from planting our annuals for the deck and the front porch.  It’s looking beautiful.  A new tradition.  I usually do this earlier, but I like the idea of helping to make this a beautiful day by planting.
Wayne had an “interesting” week with low blood pressure and an overnight hospital stay.  Brother Dick helped coordinate and took care of the puppy.  Randy and I both talked to him on Friday when he got home and he was feeling  much better.  Meds out of balance, basically.  Plus passing a kidney stone.  Ugh.   We will be staring down the three month anniversary of Mom’s passing this coming Friday.  I decided earlier today to pack up my sympathy cards and notes and put them away.  They are in a delightfully colored gift bag sitting on the stairs as I contemplate their “new home”.  Maybe on a shelf in the bedroom for a time.
Anyway…hope this finds you well and enjoying our long awaited Spring!
With love, Laura
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