365 Grains of Sand…

As I fell asleep last night my hand opened to reveal 365 worn grains of sand – each like an empty package, with ribbon and bows strewn about… each grain of sand, like a day in the past year, tiny in comparison to the full scheme of things.

As my body relaxed and drifted into a much needed slumber, my fingers fell open, allowing the grains of sand to fall through my fingers – landing deep within my memory, where they will be stored.

Many will remain on the memory shelf untouched, never be seen again, and others will be pulled off of the memory shelf , to be examined and experienced again when needed…

This morning when I awoke my hand was filled with 365 new grains of sand, all neatly in place, still wrapped in shiny paper, adorned with ribbon and bows – each grain of sand representative of the days to come. Each to be opened one at a time, every 24 hours.

The contents within each is a hidden mystery only to be seen when the time is here.

Today I will put the yesterday’s to rest… and move in to the tomorrow’s.

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Published in: on January 1, 2010 at 6:58 am  Comments (7)  

Pink Sun…

The Sunday after the memorial (August 16th)I decided that I would take the next day to myself. Jamie was due to go back to work, and this would be the first real day I would have alone in the house, and I needed to write. Write about what I didn’t know – I just knew I needed to spend some time writing.

After sending Jamie off to work on Monday, I began to question if taking the day off to write was the right thing to do. Perhaps I just needed to bite the bullet and head back into the office. As I sat on the covered deck, alone and in silence the sun began to rise. Something inside of my head said “get the camera, this is going to be good” The voice was not wrong.

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I love the early mornings, and one of the reasons is watching the sun rise as the day comes to life. But never had I seen anything like this sunrise! I sat in amazement as the sun turned from a flaming red to pink. I knew that yes – today needed to be mine. I needed to take the day to write. The pink sun was my confirmation. How I knew that I don’t know, I just knew.

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I wrote, and wrote, but not a single line on paper nor on computer. I wrote in my head. I walked through each step, relived each moment, and recorded everything in the pages of my heart. What I wrote, you have read over the last little while. That Monday I put it all together — and then posted later in the days that followed.

I did question if I would put everything on my blog or not. I knew what was there was pure uncensored emotion, grief and heartbreak. I knew that some that read the words would back away in fear and others would relive their own moments — but in the end I decided it didn’t matter. I needed to put the words there. Perhaps one day they would help someone walking the same path…. But more than anything I was writing for myself.

So here we are blog readers, pretty much caught up with today, and from here we will move forward.

Published in: on September 13, 2009 at 7:25 am  Comments (8)  

Thanks for the Sign Mom…

One of the hardest things that I have had to deal with since my mom’s passing (and believe me when I say one, as there are many – of which over time I will write about) … is knowing how to help my dad through this. It is so hard to watch this tremendously gentle soul of a man so broken so lost. I just don’t have the words to help him through this. I do try, but in the end I know my words have not helped, I can only hope they have not made it worse…

But I am getting ahead of myself here, as I have not finished up where I left off with my last post, and I do need to finish.

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After the memorial service Jamie, Our children, grand children, my dad and my brother, my cousin and his very sensitive wife and I gathered at the graveyard and it is here I took out the extra piece of ribbon I had brought from home, as crumbled as the first, with shaking hands I asked Jamie to hold my purse. From there I went to the tree which was close to where mom was and tied the pink ribbon on the tree. It was something I needed to do, something that I… well just something.

As I stood there looking at the spot where my mom was, next to her twin sister – my heart cried a million tears as I looked over to the spot where one day my dad would be. In that second I just wanted to be alone – I wanted to run and never stop…

From the graveyard we came back to our house where the dinner that Jamie and I had spent the day before putting together was waiting to be put on the table. Thinking back on it now I have a hard time remembering what there was. I do know the table was full of food but beyond that I don’t remember to much. The house soon filled up with people and I busied myself making sure people had food, coffee, tea. I made the expected small talk, and managed to hold it all together. In my mind it was the last dinner I would do for my mom… it was a haunted, hollow echo in my mind. The words I had written for the memorial that Fred Massey had used for the service, the dinner, the family wearing pink – had I done it right? Was it something that my mom would have liked? Did those that were there understand what I was saying? Doing?

”I need to sleep” I said to Jamie many hours later, as we sat out on the big open deck watching for the meteorites. “I don’t think we are going to see any” I said to Jamie as I headed towards the house — and just as I said that, one flashed brightly over head.

When I walked into our room … (there is something you need to understand about Jamie and Mines room. It is painted royal purple, walls and ceiling, it has blackout blinds and heavy royal purple curtains on the windows – It can be the brightest of days outside but our room it so dark you cannot even see your hand in front of your face. Due to migraines – I designed the room specifically for this purpose) … but that night when I walked into our room and closed the door behind me, saying again to myself — I hope it was ok… I looked up and the room was full of the brightest white (a white I cannot even describe as it was beyond white) twinkling lights. These lights were about the size of a golf ball with no defined edges — they just, well the closest I can come to describing them is they twinkled. My writing cannot do justice to the sight so you will just have to take my word for it. As I stood there looking into the room – I thought nothing, just felt a huge relief of peace. As I walked through the lights to the bed I remember only thinking to myself… Thanks for the sign mom, and for the first time since my mom had passed I slept through the night with no disturbing dreams and no middle of the night waking.

Published in: on September 7, 2009 at 8:25 am  Comments (6)  

Color Your World Pink…

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Wednesday – August 12th… and then it was time…

“Can we stop at the gate?” I asked Jamie as we prepared to leave the house.

At the gate I opened my hand to reveal the wrinkled ribbon that I held tightly clutched in my hand. A pink ribbon —- with care and deep thought I carefully tied the ribbon on the gate.

“This is the family room”, the lady said – “you can sit in here and I will come and get you when it is time.”

Looking around the room my heart broke as I looked into the faces of my children. I had walked this road they were on, and as I looked into their eyes I knew they would never be the same again. Losing a grandmother – someone who had always been there for them – they didn’t know any other way….I knew in years to come they would look back on this day and their hearts would break all over again – I knew they would miss her in ways they could at this moment not comprehend, I knew I was helpless in this moment and could not protect them from the hurt – I prayed silently for Got to hold the hearts of my children gently – I prayed that the words I had written, that Fred Massy would use, would help to take the sting out, even just a little bit…. I whispered to myself… I am ok, I am ok, I am ok…

“It is time” the lady said softly – “If you line up, I will lead you in”.

The world started to close in on me — I am ok, I am ok, I am ok —-

I looked up – and right before me was the memorial table that the day before Jamie and I had set up. My mom’s picture in the center, her little pink teddy bear that had sat so proudly on her china cabinet, the main flower bouquet – pink and white carnations. The red rose from my dad standing tall next to her picture. The two pink roses to the side which represented my brother and I. 5 single pink carnations, representing her 5 grand children, 5 white carnations representing her great grand children. I took a deep breath, and felt my dad shaking beside me, I took his hand, hoping he could gain some strength, my brother moved closer and I felt his arm go around me and my dad… Silently I whispered … I am ok, I am ok, I am ok…

The words that Fred Massy spoke were mostly words that I had written over the past weeks – mixed in with his own words, prayers and songs… Opening the service…

Joan often told the story of how when she was very young she received a box of crayons, and in this box of crayons was the most beautiful pink crayon she had ever seen. Something she had never seen before. Joan treasured this crayon and used it sparingly to make it last as long as she could. It was from this moment that pink became Joan’s favorite color. Today the family is wearing pink in honor of Joan and her favorite color.

From there I went blank, words spoken were only an echo… The tears that I had been holding back flowed freely down my face. I walked a walk alone – alone with my memories- the flash movie clips moved through my brain at rapid speed as I sat there. I moved so deeply into myself I find it amazing now to look back at it – I went into a place I had never been before, and at the time I never wanted to leave. I felt my dad move the ring I wore on my little finger, next to my wedding rings, that my mom had labeled with my name, and I knew I had to stay strong for him.

Fred Massy continued…

Joan was an avid gardener spending many hours in her flower gardens. Through her art and knowledge of gardening, by gently tending the seedlings of her plants she taught us patience.

Joan loved to crochet, knit and sew – and created many keepsakes for her family and friends. She was famous for her crocheted angels who she shared with people from around the world. Through her art of needlework she taught us that even the most crinkled bit of thread could be turned into something beautiful.

Joan was a painter, and enjoyed creating new items. Through the strokes of her paintbrush she taught us that dreams can be realized and that imagination can come to life.

Joan loved to recount tales of her own childhood and early married life, and through her tales she taught us the importance of memories.

Joan was never too busy to talk on the phone. Often saying”just a minute while I turn down the spuds”, just so she could talk a bit longer. Joan never tired of hearing stories of her grandchildren and how their day at school was going. In her later years the same held true with her great grandchildren. Through all of this Joan taught us the importance of family.

Joan loved the springtime, and the return of the little birds, the plants and the nice weather. Through this she taught us how even in the darkest of days, there is always something to look forward to.

Joan loved to get together with her family – with one of her favorites being pot luck dinners, where she would scour recipe books finding just the right recipe for each member of her family. At the potlucks Joan would taste each dish of others, praising the maker for their culinary talents.

Joan loved sparkly things – the snow and how it sparkled on a clear winter’s day, the glitter on a card, the sparkle on a Christmas tree, the sparkle of the ocean, lakes and rivers, the sparkle of the stars on a dark night – if it sparkled, it caught Joan’s attention. Joan put the sparkle in all of our days – and we were the sparkle in hers!

Joan loved to laugh – never at a person, but with the person as the tale was recounted:

The humming bird landing on a little red head, putting on a wet suit, the gypsy lady pounding her stick upon the stage floor, the outlandish accent picked up on a holiday, the word blunder of Buckerfields, camping trips, the “look at me” as the car sped by, the slivers in the other end, the dance with the air hose, the question of “what is a sister”, the V surgery, bathroom renovations, cats and fly tapes, capturing bats, charades, jokes about Fluffy… Remember Joan, and keep on laughing!

Joan volunteered for the Cowichan district hospital a member of the junior auxiliary – she was known as the baby picture lady. Joan used to love to recount tails of the cute baby she had just seen… but nothing could beat the pride that showed on her face as when she took the baby pictures of her grandchildren.

During the school years of her children, Beverly and Rodney, Joan often told them “it does not matter what your grade is, as long as you do your best”. This was a message that Joan also passed on to her grandchildren throughout their school years.

When Joan found out bullies stole her son’s cookies from his lunch she packed an extra batch, instead of pointing fingers she just made more cookies.

Joan’s grandchildren like to recount tales of their childhood, when they would spend time at Grandma’s house. With custom breakfast’s of a selection of porridge, honey toast, peach jam toast – Joan went out of her way to make sure that each child received a special treat. Trips to the grocery store are fondly remembered as are the day to day tasks of ‘tidying up’. From the first tentative steps of each baby Joan cheered each milestone as her grandchildren grew from infants to adults.

Joan welcomed each new member of the family with open arms, making each feel like they have belonged forever.

Joan was always interested in the things her family and friends were doing. Horse shows, dirt bikes, the newest batch of kittens, school concerts, school plays, music recitals, dance recitals, art shows, the newest painting, the newest photograph, a walk in the woods, the newest wood cutouts, foot ball, firefighting, the newest row of vegetables planted in the garden, the newly learned bike skills, the crochet project, the painted project, the sewing project, the latest racecar, the family barbeque, the birth of a baby, the jigsaw puzzle, the card game, the newly painted home, the newest pet. Joan celebrated each activity no matter how big or small. If you loved something she loved it along with you. Joan loved – and is loved.

Joan was someone special to each of us here today. Each of us hold memories of Joan, quiet memories shared between just the two of you. Flashes that will come as if movie clips as the days move forward. You will remember words spoken, gestures given. Nothing can take these memories away from you, they are a gift meant to last you a lifetime, and if you so wish can help these memories live on by whispering them to another.

There is a saying somewhere that says, go out there and make the world a little bit better than you found it. Joan spent her life making this world a little bit better for all of us. Through her many talents she brought beauty not only to this world but to each and every one of us.

If Joan were here she would probably tell each and every one of us to go out there and make the world ‘Pink’. Take the time to color with that pink crayon, plant that pink flower, buy that pink dress, paint the wall pink, go ahead and snuggle that pink teddy bear, add food coloring to make the cookies pink. Oh and while you are out their painting your world pink… don’t forget to add a little bit of sparkle.

Joan’s pink does not have to be the same as your pink — it can be any color you like — the point being is to get out there – love and be loved. Put your passion in everything you do, and don’t be afraid to do things. Make this world just a little bit better for those around you and for those yet to come. In other words paint your world ‘Pink’.

I also know Joan would want me to tell you – “Go ahead and eat an extra plate of food” – eat it for her. I know this for a fact as she told Beverly to tell you this the last time she talked to her!

Pink is a quiet color and pink is the color of universal love – it cannot get any better than that!

Do not live the remainder of your days with regrets for things you may have said or did not say, things you did or may not have done. Move forward and live your days. Live them ‘In the Pink’ as Joan would have wanted.

… and then it was over.

Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 8:31 am  Comments (11)  

Send me a Sign…

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The events and happenings leading up the memorial service are all a blur, each molding into the other – each becoming a part of the other. Throughout this time I phoned or visited my dad everyday – all except one day. I don’t remember what day that was or what I was doing on that day – I just know there was one day I didn’t have contact with him. I have not missed a day since.

I had a list of people that needed to be called, relatives that I had not talked to in years. I made the calls and chatted with them all for a short time. I don’t remember the conversations, or even who I talked to. I just worked my way down the list.

“A pink flower” Jamie said, as his eyes gazed upon a tiny pink flower that had floated down in the breeze to land in front of me as we sat outside a local restaurant. “Pretty I replied to him”. He looked around where we were sitting, there were no pink flowered plants anywhere. I touched the flower, then gently picked it up and put it in my purse. As Jamie and I chit chatted my mind Continued on with the flash movies that had started to play in my mind. Movie clips from my childhood, just brief moments of happenings over the years. My heart cried out for a sign that mom was ok.

“It is starting to rain mom” my eldest daughter said to me as we sat outside on the big deck. After 40 degree Celsius weather we had been having the rain felt nice. I don’t know how long we sat out there, but the rain became heavier, water was collecting on the deck floor. I wanted to sit there in silence forever… A rainbow formed, then another on top of it, so it became a double rainbow. “You should take a picture of it mom” my eldest daughter said to me. “I should but I just don’t have the energy” I replied back. We continued to watch the sky. “It is really raining my eldest said” Fighting my way out of the fog long enough to look at my daughter I noticed how wet she was becoming – “yes let’s go to the covered deck” I told her. The clouds rumbled, lightening started to flash, and the sky went from a green color to a bright pink. My heart cried out for a sign that mom was ok.

“Let me know if there is anything I can do to help – I can clean, and cook for the memorial” This line was repeated over and over to me by several people. “I’m ok” I would respond. “Promise me you will let me know” – “I will, I’m ok” I would respond back. I did not have the energy to accept their help. I did not have the energy to tell them what I needed. In fact I did not know what I needed, and my brain would not function well enough to organize their help. It was easier just to tell them I’m ok. They accepted my answer, I think wanting to believe me.

“This rose bush has gone crazy” I stated simply to Jamie. The rose bush I was talking about was the peach colored flowers rose bush that my youngest daughter had given me for mother’s day. I had it in a pot on the big open deck, waiting for fall to plant it. It was on its second blooming for the season. But instead of peach flower as it had during its first bloom, the rose bush was covered with pink roses. By covered I mean there were so many flowers you couldn’t hardly see the leaves. “Yes it has” replied Jamie to my statement. My heart cried out for a sign that mom was ok.

The memorial needs to be pink I thought to myself. “I have made a list of flowers for the memorial, can you order them” I said to Jamie as I handed him the list. He did. “We need to clean and organize the house for the people that will be here for the memorial luncheon” Thoughts spoken out loud. Somehow the house got organized, rearranged and cleaned. Jamie was my rock at this time, if I mentioned we should do something he dug in silently and got it done – he moved books and book shelves, computers and computer tables – he cleaned and organized, he was only a footstep away from me at any given time – He was and continues to be my strength. I kept busy – there was a lot to do. The library got converted from library to craft room; the empty room upstairs got converted to a library sitting room. My office was rid of the extra computer and became my office again, with the other computer located to the library sitting room upstairs. Every ornament was taken down and washed – each picture dusted and replaced. Plants were watered and dead leaves removed. Floors were swept, vacuumed, and washed. Memories were revisited, relived. The flash movies kept playing in my head.

“What day is it?” I would often ask Jamie, and he would reply with patience the day of the week. “Everyone should wear pink” a statement that I am sure came out of the blue – but Jamie did not question it, nor did he question the several pink shirts I bought over the course of several trips to town, each a bit different pink that the one before. He helped me find pink ties – one for him, Benjamin, my brother and my dad. In my fog my brain had found a mission, a reason to keep on keeping on.

During all this time I would take moments out of the day to write – snippets of information about my mom to give to Fred Massey for the memorial. “I need you to write something about grandma” I told my kids “memories of things – I need them for the memorial” They all had a hard time with this, but I knew in my heart they needed to try. They needed to remember. Even If what they wrote was never used, they needed to think about it. Each walked down the memory road in their own way – some verbally, some with written text. This I think was a way for me to be there for them, when I couldn’t be.

“Mom” I would often whisper silently – “please send me a sign that you are ok, and please help me put together the memorial in the right way – in a way that they will understand”.

Published in: on August 22, 2009 at 6:48 am  Comments (1)  

When the fog settles…

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I woke up the morning of Friday July 24th with the feeling that something was dreadfully wrong, and then in a split instance I realized what it was — and then the fog set in. That glorious heavy fog that completely covers you in a thick comforting mass – allowing you to move forward.

One of the first things I did after logging onto the computer was to dash of a blanket note to my online friends.

“First and foremost thank you everyone for your kind words — you have no idea how much they are appreciated.

I am ok — just very numb right now and working via auto pilot. You know that bzzz you get in your head that allows you to push things aside, for long enough to do the things you need to do – remembering to do everything that has to be done — I am so very, very sad — perhaps the saddest I have ever been in my life — and a single tear streams down my face as I type — but right now I need to be there for my dad, my brother, my kids, and my grandkids — my time I will take do not worry that I won’t but I need to do it in my own time, when I can do it alone — I don’t know what space I will be in, seconds/minutes/hours/days from now but for now I move forward as needed one tiny step at a time, learning to walk again I guess, while standing as a leaning post for those who need my strength now. I keep repeating to myself – I am ok, I am ok, I am ok, I am ok

Please forgive me for the next little while if I forget to do something that is needed, respond to one of your notes or emails — or if I seem to disappear — I guess right now I just feel a little lost… I will be ok, and I will be back, but for the next few days maybe a week I need to go to a place deep within myself — I need to get through this – I will get through this – and really I am ok.”

I knew that I had to let everyone know that I was ok, but just did not have the energy to talk to anyone. I needed to get through this, I needed to go deep . As much as I wanted to dig a hole and climb in, I knew I had to stay strong, I knew I had to hang on… and so I did.

Jamie and I went up to my dad’s early in the afternoon. It was hard pulling up to the house, and walking into the house as my eyes took in all that my mom had left behind. The butterfly’s hanging over the garage door that my dad had made and my mom had painted so lovingly, the rose bushes, the bird baths, the pink wall, the crocheted pillow cover…

I don’t remember much of that visit, or how long it lasted. We just were –

Somewhere in there my dad told me that the memorial was set for the 12th of August – all of it coming to my ears as if from down a long tunnel – a broken voice, a broken man, my dad, tears running down his face – married 53 years – suddenly alone. My strength kicked in.

We will get through this I whispered to him. We can do the after memorial lunch at my place. I will order the flowers for the memorial; yes I will talk to Fred Massy about the service. I can do this I told myself in a silent voice. I am ok, I am ok, I am ok…

Later while back at home I sat for a time, alone outside the big deck outside my office. “Send me a sign mom, I just need to know you are ok” … a simple sentence that I repeated over and over in that moment, and in the days that followed.

I don’t know how long I sat there – the fog was thick – time was becoming irrelevant…

Published in: on August 21, 2009 at 8:01 am  Comments (1)