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.
Interesting blog statistics. 16,200 hits in 2011. 13,193 hits in 2012. Both VERY difficult years in terms of Mom’s health. 2013 was a stable year until September; 3,834 hits in 2013. And in 2014, about the same – 3,872 hits. Yes, there were 260 hits on the day after she died in 2014, but the continued blog following is not lost on me. Thank you. Very. Much. Sharing some photo memories throughout this post and at the end.
That said… my distraction plan is not working. I scheduled my middle East trip on February 17…to be a distraction. The upcoming first anniversary of Mom’s passing is about all I am thinking of right now. Scott reminded me last night of what I told him on February 15, 2014 after that Saturday morning visit – the last visit where Mom and I were able to communicate. I told him that I didn’t think she’d make it to the end of February. I must have known that the miracles were behind us and my prayer had been answered with three years of her recovery enough to reconnect with those she loved and who loved her. It was time. But you know, when people say, “she had a good life” or “83 years is a long time”, I just shake my head. 183 years wouldn’t have been enough. In the nine days before she died, I had seen her on February 8, 11, 14 and 15, as well as an hour on February 17 before she passed at 9:45 a.m. My visits were definitely more frequent when mom was “in trouble” but that never seemed like it was enough either. The booklet on “Rebuilding and Remembering” (Dr. Kenneth Haugk) was somewhat helpful. Now it’s time for me to mail it to someone who lost her husband in early April of 2014. It is to be read at “11 months”.
Scott and I were going to visit Wayne today and take him to lunch, but subzero temperatures and snow caused Wayne to ask for a postponement. Although we have 4 wheel drive vehicles, he didn’t want to get out and risk a fall on the ice. A fake hip will do that to you, I suspect. We rescheduled for March 8. Tomorrow, I will lunch with Mary Hackman and we’ll toast Mom, I’m sure. She is one of few who knew Mom longer than me, outside of her cousins! As for me, I’d like Presidents’ Day to “go away”. But it hasn’t.
These are photos from the memory boards I made for Mom’s memorial service. Enjoy! Love, Laura
Well, it’s February. When I turned the calendar on this month, I gasped. This is the month. The first anniversary of Mom’s passing. Sure, I “kept walking” through the year and there were all the “firsts”, but February 17, 2015, is almost here. Wow. I’m not the first daughter to lose her mother, but as the book asks, “what is the worst kind of grief”? The answer is, “your own”. I have Mom’s picture and mine in a side by side frame, and I see it every morning on the end table as I walk down the stairs. It grounds me as I start my day. I often blow her a kiss.
I think of her three years at Lorien (the sick period…) when I visit with Dawn, talk to Tyrone or go to yoga (Beth – respiratory therapist – is my teacher). Three important people in Mom’s last 3 years. I remember Beth telling me that Mom was so worried about her will in her last week alive; so afraid that things wouldn’t be as she wanted them. I tried to calm her and tell her it would all be alright. She was also so afraid to be alone in the last week; wanted a nurse or aide with her all the time. The administration told me they couldn’t do that, but so many of the staff loved her that they spent every moment they could in the room with her. I told Mom that even if no one was with her, that the Lord was there with her and she nodded that it was true. Honestly, I just didn’t want her to worry about anything at that point. I still held out hope that she’d have another one of those miraculous recoveries that she was so famous for; however, the caregivers were so uniform in their guidance that we were at the end. The dark room, unopened blinds and drawn curtains were new. So was the never getting out of bed.
More of the pre-sick period memories have seeped in lately. Mom’s 79th birthday. Sitting out on the deck at my house. Our lovely lunches at Old Angler’s Inn. Mom’s visits to Florida when I lived there. Our trip to St. Croix as a family in 1981. Good stuff.
Still, I am going to escape on February 17. Because I can. I’ve booked a work trip to the Middle East to visit DAI projects in Lebanon (Beirut) and Jordan (Amman). Security team gave me a green light. I’ll post pictures on FB in real time and the blog after I get back on March 5. It might be a bit of “ostrich behavior”, a la sticking my head in the sand, and yet I am o.k. with that. I will be distracted with what I need to get done that day before arriving at Dulles @ 7 p.m. for an overnight flight. On President’s Day, (the day before) Mary Hackman and I will have lunch at Seasons 52 in Columbia. And the weekend before Scott and I will do an overnight in St. Michael’s for Valentine’s day. So there. Take that – you calendar, you!
Thanks for “listening”, for caring and just for being there! Love, Laura
Yesterday was ELEVEN months! Sigh. I am beginning to read Dr. Kenneth Haugk’s fourth book (of four) in the grief series…when you are approaching one year since the loss. He is right. I’m thinking about the “anniversary” and it’s a month away. President’s Day is looming large…it is the 16th this year, and not the 17th, but President’s Day is associated with Mom’s illness and death to me. She went to HCGC on the morning just after President’s Day in 2011, and died on President’s Day in 2014. The book says to do something on the death anniversary as a tradition to remember. I plan to take out all the photos I used to make up the four photo boards for the memorial and look through them. I still have them in one LARGE envelope. I might try to grab lunch with Mary Hackman if she is available that day as I am off work. Maybe I’ll think of other things, too.
As for me, I’ve just returned from a week in Iceland. Five days of work (with some fun!) and then two days of play with a dear friend/colleague and direct report (Beth). If you’ve never been, you should put it on your bucket list. I bought the right clothes for the cold and it was interesting for the sun to only be up between 1030 a.m. and 430 p.m., but I would suggest going in the winter. Stunningly beautiful, and frankly not that much colder than the east coast of the U.S. We were based in Reykjavik; however, ventured out to the second largest glacier, chased northern lights (although we only saw one green streak), went to the national park, saw the geysir (Icelandic spelling), did a city bus tour, and relaxed in the hot springs at the blue lagoon. The food everywhere rivaled the best of Italy in quality and presentation. Lamb. Cod. Perch. Foie gras crème brulee. Rhubarb puree. Even reindeer. I could go on and on. An island with 320,000 people – outstanding customer service. No queues (lines!). Clean, green and incredibly special. I’m posting this for each of you, although I know my Mom can already see the pictures! :-)
Merry belated Christmas! Well, the “first” Christmas is over and the plans to do it differently this year were partially successful. Andy, Nina and I went to the Hardy Road house on Christmas Eve for a gift exchange. Wayne wasn’t going to give gifts this year; however, he had a beautiful floral arrangement for me…and a hand made cradle and case for Andy and Nina. He told them that Mom had been coming to him in a dream saying “she wanted a great-grandchild and her DNA needed to go on”! Ha! Frankly, I believe it. Wayne doesn’t do woodworking anymore because of his failing sight and he made these cradles a number of years ago for all the grandchildren. It was time for him to give Andy’s to him…and Nina! :-) They were very touched. I’d been doing a homemade basket of special foods, snacks and goodies for Wayne these past few Christmases so I stayed with that plan, which I know he enjoys. Then the four of us went to the Mt. Airy Tavern for lunch…the crab cake and a Tavern burger were ordered…just as Mom would like.
Then, back to my house where Scott, his Andy (33), Kori (36), Chad (38), Carter (9), Reid (7), Eleanor (4) and Eden (1) awaited. I made 2 soups and salads for dinner…and of course there were pies, cake, cookies and cobbler for dessert. Christmas day was chaotic…yet still somehow orderly (?) Gifts were separated into piles by person; however, I didn’t number them as Mom often did!
Later around noon, Andy and Nina joined me for a trip to Lorien. Although Mom isn’t there, her dream team of caregivers (Sheila Hanley, Beth Beard and Dawn Merrill) were working on Christmas so I took gifts and desserts. Wayne came about 1:30 p. with ham and fixins so we left them all with smiles.
It was hard seeing Mom’s room this time. No decorations. No visitors for the woman now in the room. The last place I saw my mom alive. Sigh. But I know in my heart that she is looking down and smiling.
I did something this year that Mom would have done. Nina has a dear cousin, Jessica, who she is very close to – like a sister. Jessica had a baby (Haven) this year who is adorable; however, sadly Jessica’s marriage ended due to an unfaithful spouse so she now lives nearby in Central Maryland. I decided to send a Christmas gift to Haven although I haven’t met her or Jessica. Just because they are important to Nina. Mom would have done that. She would have thought to do so. I probably wouldn’t have thought to do so on my own, so I am convinced I got a little divine inspiration for that one this year. Thanks, Mom!
I hope you’ve enjoyed a very Merry Christmas with family and friends and I hope you’ve had quiet moments to reflect on the birth of a baby boy who changed the world! Love, Laura
It is Christmas week. I’ve told you of the plans ahead, which I’m entering into with a strange feeling. The stress is high at a time when I (frankly) want to be alone…and remember that a little baby was born…and came to save this world. It truly is amazing. At some point, I know I’ll understand the trinity; how God could send his Son to be born, left us with the Holy Spirit. It’ll all make complete sense someday! I understand His death; the separation of man from God had to be spanned and only the perfect sacrifice would do. But that’s Easter (ha!) and for now we celebrate His birth.
On a low note – Sadly, I will be attending another funeral on Tuesday before we get to that birthday. A former colleague from the American Institute of Architects (Pam delCanto) succumbed to cancer on Friday. She was in her mid-50s and this was the third time battling breast cancer…but when it came back this time, it moved quickly to her bones and liver. We weren’t particularly close, but I’m fairly sure the current head of HR at the AIA won’t attend since they laid Pam off, along with a lot of other “older” women after I left. (Don’t get me started). I’m sure I’ll see a bevy of former colleagues…I want to go and pay respects. Pam has two sons (Andy and Gabe) and I want to convey my sympathies to them and to her husband Hugo…
This weekend was lovely, though, with my friend Clare and her beau, Bill. Scott and I went with them to Longwood Gardens up in Kennett, PA.
It is absolutely beautiful there. We did the 2 hour drive up and back in the same day, stopping at The Narrows for dinner on the way back (in Kent Narrows) before returning to Clare’s in Annapolis where we all stayed together last night. I couldn’t help but think this is another photo that Mom won’t see. I used to take so many pictures of my travels and look forward to showing them all to Mom when I got home…whether from Africa, the middle East, Europe, or the good old U.S. of A.
I will post more before the year is over; however, I want to thank you again for following the blog and wish you a most Merry Christmas in the meantime. With love, Laura
I thought about posting yesterday on 12/13/14, but alas it was not to be…because it was a busy day. This lovely couple (Andy and Nina) joined Scott and I for dinner in D.C. and the 7 p.m. show of The Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre. Last year, the four of us went to the National Harbor, so I like it that we are doing different things as a four-some to celebrate Christmas. Before our evening, the always lovely Mary Hackman (Mom’s friend of 70+ years) joined Scott and I for her first visit to our home and a mid-day repast. It was great to have her here, and she brought a lovely orchid…Mom’s favorite after violets. It was a perfect day.As Christmas approaches, I am reminded that Mom hasn’t been to my home for four years now…at this holiday time…three years because she was at Lorien, and now this year, because…well she is looking down from heaven. Strangely, it’s made it easier somehow. She hasn’t seen my house decorated for the holidays for 4 years now. Still feels surreal and frankly…ODD. We will see how the actual days go for me when Christmas Eve and Christmas day get here. As a kid, Christmas Eve was always the day. As things evolved, so did that pattern and I never really got over it. Suspect I’m not so good with change – ha! Anyway, here is Mom with her Santa hat and her two incredible nurses (Dawn Merrill and Sheila Hanley).
On Christmas Eve, Andy, Nina and I will go to the Hardy Road house for some late morning cheer…and then head to the Mt. Airy Tavern to take Wayne to lunch at Mom’s favorite local haunt. I’ll order the crab cake, because Mom would do so.
Although Mom isn’t in her room at Lorien this year, Wayne is going to go to Lorien on Christmas afternoon and take a honey baked ham to the dream team (who is working that day) for their supper. I plan to show up a bit later with gifts and a homemade pumpkin cake. Dawn, Sheila and Beth will all be working that day. I’ve told myself that things will change; the beloved dream team won’t work forever at Lorien, but for this year, it is worth it to take the time away from those in town to make the trip up. Mom would be pleased and these folks did SO much for her.
After I cook for ELEVEN for Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas brunch and Christmas dinner, Andy, Nina and I will make that trek back to Mt. Airy to Lorien around 5 p.m. on the 25th…as it should be. Scott would come but his two kids and four grandkids will be here and since we haven’t figured out cloning, I’ll be on the road myself. More to come as this holiday unfolds. Merry Christmas Season!
This next week marks ten months on Wednesday. How does this happen?
Tonight, Wayne and Randy came over for dinner. Randy is in town for a quick visit to see his dad and to take him to the eastern shore for an overnight get away. We had them over…Wayne’s first time at my house in 4 years…because of his local focus on Mom at Lorien and our division of labor in taking care of her. Scott, Wayne, Randy and I had a great time and it was nice to be together as a family. And I cooked like crazy! Arugula, pear, pomegranate and persimmon salad. Four homemade soups. Marinated grilled filet with mushrooms and roasted broccoli followed by banana ricotta log and pumpkin cake for dessert!
I have to add a WOW…it’s pretty incredible how everyone has continued to check in on the blog since Mom passed away on February 17, 2014. Of course that month got the most hits…at 1,429, and yet folks still tuned in to see what was up with Mom’s family and how everyone was doing. I am humbled. I promise to keep everyone informed on family doin’s… and I hope your preparation for this wonderful season is going well. With love, Laura