I live and work in one of the largest cities in the world, have a lot of wonderful friends, but what would I do without my sweet kitties? Continue Reading
Did you know the last Sunday in September is Mother’s Day? While it’s not the traditional mother’s day most of us think of, Gold Star Mother’s Day is reserved for mothers who’ve lost a son or daughter in the active service of our country. Gold Star Mothers is a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization dedicated to continuing the service their fallen sons and daughters cannot finish. It’s been almost 100 years since Gold Star Mothers first came into existence.
During World War I, Grace Darling Seibold stopped receiving letters from her son, George. Every day she went to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., hoping to find him among the wounded.
Last night I slept 14 hours. It’s now late afternoon, and I just awoke from a three-hour nap. I still feel like I could crawl into bed and crank out another eight or nine hours of deep REM before facing another day. No, I don’t have the flu, or narcolepsy, or a colossal hangover, but I have been serving as mother/hostess to a bevy of late teens and 20-somethings over a V-E-R-Y L-O-N-G holiday weekend. Continue Reading
Booker’s toupee was an exaggerated version of Frankie Avalon’s pompadour in the 60’s film, Beach Blanket Bingo. It was an odd-looking hairpiece that perched on Booker’s head like a renegade dust bunny, curled up for an afternoon nap. Booker liked to rattle-off names of Texas vegetation: “Bluestem, switchgrass, purpletop and drop seed.” Just when you thought he was finished, he’d let out a long sigh and continue with “scurf peas, prairie clover and Englemann daisies.”
When he was younger, Booker wanted to be a barber, but the only job he could get was barbering in a nearby asylum where manic depressives, old folks and autistic children were warehoused like rolls of cheap carpet.
How do I begin to describe the best things about my recent trip to France? Let’s start with my newfound love affair with Air France; new friends; Maison Laudrée’s legendary macarons; the Eiffel Tower at night; the gilt and grandeur of Versailles; the d’Orsay and Rodin Museums; decorative French Ironwork; tall walnut doors and old parquet floors; La Réserve B&B in Giverny; the beauty that is 1010 Park Place’s own Esther Zimmer, inside and out–Essie came from London and met me in Paris!–or that water is served in wine bottles.
I learned several things about self-care, although to my surprise, not where I expected to find it: in the Extreme Self-Care Retreat.
One look at Paul Kiger’s blog, Big Green Pen or any of her social media pages, and you realize Paula supports everyone from our men and women in the military to children and caregivers around the world. Paula Kiger gives back to the community at large more than anyone I know, and she does it with enthusiasm and a genuine heart. Paula’s always posting blogs about people and everyday heroes she meets; other people’s acts of kindness; children in need of healthcare and ways her readers can help.
The real hero in my book is Paula Kiger.
Mother weighs less than 90 pounds. She hasn’t walked in over a year, and her leg muscles are drawn into a near-fetal position. The skin on her haunches is so thin it breaks open, and her care providers and I fear an infection.
It’s been heartbreaking to walk with her through the valley of the shadow of her death. To be honest, I’m amazed she’s still here. Did I tell you, mother has dementia?
Today I sit with mother in the beauty shop at her dementia facility. It’s become more difficult to make out her words, but her eyes say everything. “I think I need a psychiatrist, she says.” Her voice is soft and raspy. “I can’t remember things.”
Mother’s lived in this facility for six years. When I tell her she has dementia, she nods like she understands, and then starts fretting all over again. Nothing I say or do breaks her cycle of fear or her obsessive picking at the bump on the top of her nose. A bump of her creation.
My thoughts shift to another beauty parlor. Mother’s hairdresser stands next to me, a pair of scissors in his hand, waiting for her instructions.
Eleven years ago this month I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Being told you have cancer is one of the most frightening things that can happen to you. I survived 10 breast cancer surgeries and eight rounds of chemo, but I didn’t do it alone. I did it with the grace of God; great medical treatment; a loving husband who went to every doctor visit, lab test and hospital stay and friends who were there in every way imaginable.
I know of a woman who wasn’t as fortunate. Her story will make you question everything you think you know about people.
Every Mother’s Day I think about how my own mother and I role reversed when I was 12. After my father died, I became the mother, and she became the daughter, roles we still play to this day. Mother would be surprised to learn she’s been a role model for me in ways she couldn’t have imagined, or wanted. By example, she showed me I wanted to be the polar opposite of her: strong, independent and determined. While I’ve never had children, our unconventional relationship taught me much about nurturing and mothering. I just didn’t know I would be my mother’s caretaker for the rest of her life.
I KNEW IT WOULD BE A SHORT-LIVED MARRIAGE, BUT IT WAS THE ONLY WAY I KNEW TO DISTANCE MYSELF FROM HER.