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.
I should have shared a picture connected to my last post. This is Norman and Sue Koonce, age 84 and 80, respectively, my former CEO from the American Institute of Architects, and his wife. Lovely folks of the highest order. Also, nice to share a celebration of a different kind. My wonderful DiL, Nina, and I had a girl’s night out at Seasons 52 to celebrate the completion of her Master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University. It was a great evening! She’ll “walk” in May and we are all excited to attend! Now she is volunteering at an animal shelter locally and waiting to begin her substitute role in the school system between April and June.Looking forward, much travel ahead. A lot for work and a little for personal. Scott and I will enjoy time with Andy and Nina this weekend. I will spend the third anniversary of Mom’s passing (February 17) by doing something fun…I think she’d like that. Wayne and I agreed that her death is not what we want to remember. It is her life we want to remember. So of course, her birthday (August 2) is still cause for celebration in our book. And yet, I realized with this post, that I’ve been writing this blog now for longer after we lost Mom than I did before! What??? How did that happen? Its whole intent was to inform so many people who were interested in how she was doing day-by-day. Now, it is to keep those same folks, and some more (!), up to speed on all the things Mom WOULD be telling you about what is going on in the family. I suspect she is finding a way to read these blog updates herself.
Other spring travel for work includes a week in the U.K., a week plus in Nairobi, and a week in north Miami. North Miami sounds boring, doesn’t it? Ha ha! Scott will hold down the fort at home. I’m teaching on line in the midst of this craziness, but this REALLY is my last semester. Really! Work-wise, it has been an interesting couple of weeks heading up HR for a global development company with 3,000 employees, including U.S. permanent residents, U.S. visa holders, third country nationals and foreign nationals working in over 100 countries. And then there is where we do work. Some in Somalia. Some in Iraq. You get the picture. My NY based immigration lawyers are on speed dial and I am the POC with our staff on our global travel updates. Suspect the issue around the executive order and the stay will go the Supreme Court, but I have a lot of great people who are afraid to do their work right now. Doesn’t matter your politics. It also gets real when CBP separates kids from parents at Dulles airport, takes away phones and denies access to food and water for hours. True. My attorney friend’s daughter is also an attorney and camped out at Dulles to help. First hand reports – not from the media. Maybe I should have just posted puppy pictures here.
Thanks to each of you, subscribers and those who check in periodically, for being so supportive these past six years. More posts to come. Lots of love, Laura
This was a day of reflection. A former colleague of mine and I spent a bulk of the day with our former CEO and his wife, Sue. Norman Koonce, FAIA is a fellow of the AIA and was CEO of the American Institute of Architects from 1999-2005. I headed up HR for the Institute from 2000-2006. I learned that “DESIGN MATTERS” from Norman. He’d befriended Jonas Salk in the 1990s and came to understand how Dr. Salk had been frustrated with trying to figure out the polio vaccine. Salk retreated to a 13th century monastery in Assisi and was able to think intuitively in ways far beyond his prior abilities. He came back to his lab in La Jolla, validated his thinking and we now have the polio vaccine. According to Dr. Salk, this happened because of the special design of where he was in Assisi. Again….design matters. Norman taught me these and other interesting things. Also, I could always count on Norman as the “closer”; someone who could land that “hard to attract candidate” with that story about Jonas Salk along with Norman’s grace and charm. Norman also taught me how to properly use a stapler (long story), why and how design affects how we think, heal, learn and live, and how to be genuine and true to your (competitive) self.
I told him today about my distant cousin, Robert Pascal Burns, born in 1933, an FAIA, who was honored for his teaching at NC State for 40 years and all his professional successes, before his tragic death in 2005. Norman is now 84, and although close in age and profession, as well as being in the College of Fellows as well, he didn’t remember cousin, Bobby. But Norman gets a pass. As many as he needs. He struggles with growing influences of Alzheimer’s and dementia, but fortunately is still good enough to engage on some levels.
So…today…I honor the legacies built by the “traditionals” – those of my parents’ generation….like Norman and Sue. And I look forward, despite our current challenges, to a future built on intellect, hard work and a good heart!
With love, Laura
Happy New Year’s Eve Eve. Here are some pictures to share of the family and festivities. First one: Andy, Nina, Laika and Cosmo. Second one: Natalie (cousin), Doris (Nina’s mom), Bijan (Nina’s brother), Hossein (Nina’s dad), Scott, Darius (Nina’s brother), Nina, Haven (Nina’s niece), Jessica (Haven’s mom and Nina’s cousin). Third one: our tree. Fourth one: Wayne out with us for pre-Christmas lunch. I hope you are making great memories this Christmas! Love, Laura
I promise to post happy pictures in the next week of time with Wayne on the 23rd, Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day brunch. Really, I will.
And yet….yesterday, someone posted a video on FB entitled “A Christmas Message from Heaven”, written and narrated by a Brit named Steve Wentworth. I can’t seem to post the video here, but if you are interested, I’m sure you could google it. I watched and listened and cried. Here are the words.
As I look down from heaven
On this special Christmas Day
I’ll try to send you little signs
That I never went away.
I see you when you’re crying
I feel your loss and pain
So hold onto the knowledge,
That we’ll be reunited once again.
So even though you miss me
At this special time of year.
The greatest gift you give me
Is your smile instead of tears.
So when Christmas starts without me.
Know we are not far apart.
For whenever you think of me
I’m with you in your heart.
The third Christmas without Mom. I don’t want her back to be in pain or to endure the life at Lorien. People were great to her there, but I’ll never forget her saying to me once, “My world is this room”. She had more visitors and more oversight of her care than likely most who will ever stay at Lorien. And yet, that was not the life Mom enjoyed for 80 years. I want her back to be happy and healthy. I want her back to give up cigarettes when she was a young woman. I want her back to be present in all that goes on – the ups, the downs, the whole package.
I’ve settled into another holiday season without her, but I just plain don’t like it. Still seems surreal. The distance (in time and presence) between me and Mom is palpable. Pastor Mark did a good job this morning with his sermon in which he talked about anticipation and preparation for a “December to Remember”…that has nothing to do with any new car, by the way. I felt like if I can get closer to the Lord, maybe I can get closer to Mom. I have my faith and comfort in where I will be for eternity, and yet I’d just like some more of what that video talked about. Some little signs from Mom. I know many of you who will read this will be relate as you’ve lost someone very close to you. I pray that you will have some little signs, too. Love, Laura
Hi Everyone – this is an update from yesterday’s post about Tyrone Snowden’s first album, A Glorious Day. I wanted to understand how people can BUY the CD, as well as download songs. Here is his reply. See the CDbaby link if you want to buy his CD. P.S. I guess this is shameless promotion; however, I can hear my Mom applauding as I type….
Hi Laura, thanks for helping me get an education. I have an answer for you. CD Baby is the only one that you can get a regular CD from. The rest of the partners (Amazon, iTunes, You Tube) only do downloading. So when you go on to the CD Baby website, you’ll see two tabs. You’ll see download and you’ll see cd-rp. Click on the cd-rp and it will take you to an address place where you can put in an address where you would like for the CD to come to. I hope this helps. Thank you for the question as always. Thanks for your support and helping me get through this stuff. Love you, Tyrone. Use www.cdbaby.com/cd/tysnowden2
After the most divisive Presidential campaign in history, or what seems so, cute pictures of puppies are the order of the day. Regardless of what side of the vote you were on, let’s pray for our country and for its future on the world stage and at home.
Updates on the family.
Wayne is doing well and seems to be getting a handle on the correct mix of Rx that he should be taking. He is working closely with his doctor on this and reports he feels better than he has in years. Not bad when you are 80 y.o. Randy is planning a trip to MD in December and I am hopeful, we can plan a large family gathering with him, Wayne, Andy, Nina and us. Andy and Nina continue to work on decorating their beautiful townhome and got a theater set up just in time for football season. Nice timing. Andy’s work continues to go well and offer exciting challenges which he enjoys. Nina is finishing her internship this semester and will earn her Master’s degree in School Counseling from Johns Hopkins University next month. She already has a two month assignment in the spring to cover for her mentor, who will be going out on leave. Scott’s son, Andy, is in his final year of his PhD studies at the University of Michigan and is heavy into his job search process. He just spent a few days with us last week and it was delightful to have him home. We have fingers crossed that he ends up in the mid-Atlantic region. I am finishing my final semester teaching graduate school at the Catholic University of America. After ten years, I am happy – and relieved – to give it up. My disappointment in the nasty attitudes and lack of commitment of my current cohort of graduate students is overwhelming, and my patience is being fully tested. Time to bow out. Things at DAI continue to be interesting and challenging. All good. Scott continues to love retirement and continues to sharpen his golf and tennis game.
We are all looking ahead to the holiday season that is fast approaching. Thanksgiving will be a two-parter. Wednesday night at Nina’s parents’ house, and Thursday afternoon at our house. I suspect food comas will abound shortly thereafter. Plans for Christmas aren’t solidified, and yet I’m sure they shortly will come together.
I am excited to report that Mom’s respiratory therapist, Tyrone Snowden, has released his first album – A Glorious Day. If you attended Mom’s memorial, or watched the video on You Tube later, you know the story. Tyrone was also Mom’s singer. She’d ask him to sing whenever he would come in to do her respiratory care. His rendition of Amazing Grace was one he sang to her often and he sang it one more time for her at her memorial. I was so pleased that he came to do that when I asked him. Tyrone sang to Mom all the time, and often entertained her guests.
After Mom passed, Tyrone asked me to be his coach. I have no idea why, and I told him that I didn’t recommend it as I have a reputation for being pretty tough. He said that is what he wanted. So, for the past 2.5 years, we’ve met, we’ve talked and more. He has done a great job of getting his health better managed by dropping a good deal of weight. He’s managed his personal life much better and has really leaned in to using his voice for good. Along the way, I helped a bit with funding some studio time, and he pursued getting his LLC and named his company, Pure Snow Records. And now, his music is available on iTunes, Amazon, CD baby and more. PLEASE google “Ty Snowden A Glorious Day” – listen, and buy his music. You won’t be sorry! http://redmp3.su/album/3914921/a-glorious-day.html
I hope this update finds you well and looking forward to this joyous time of year. Much love, Laura
I just love this time of year. The crisp air. The changing leaves. The anticipation of the holidays to come. Our fall vacation was an epic fail, though. Thanks to Hurricane Matthew. Our coastal SC and GA get away didn’t happen at all. Instead, spent time with family last weekend (lunch with Wayne on Saturday and puppy sitting and time with Andy and Nina on Sunday). Then a relaxing Columbus day and three days in Ocean City. Back to work Friday afternoon, unfortunately for a colleague’s funeral, dinner with friends last night and church/movie/football today. We made the most of Plan B! And I’m over half way done with my Christmas shopping! Yay!
The funniest thing happened on Monday before we left for the beach. I’ve been wanting a new black leather blazer as the one I bought about 15 years ago wasn’t particularly high quality and was so worn that I gave it away in a recent donation. I’d been pricing them and shaking my head over how much they cost! $450-$500! Yikes. Later the SAME DAY, I was putting some things away in the coat closet and ran across Mom’s London Fog raincoat. I’d forgotten that I had it. Then, I felt something soft and supple next to it. What did I pull out? Yep. Mom’s black leather blazer. I’d CERTAINLY forgotten that I had that, as well. I put it on and presto – it fit beautifully. Who says that our loved ones who have passed don’t connect with us? Ha. THANKS, MOM! I smiled to myself when I wore it to church this morning.
Hope you have a great week ahead! Lots of love, Laura