Friday, January 23, 2009


Just when I think I have become accustomed to my mother's new life in the Nursing Home it hits me again, this overwhelming alteration in her life, alteration in our lives. Tonight my husband and I spent our evening packing for our vacation. A relatively simple task, exciting certainly, but simple nonetheless. In the midst of my choices of which shirt to pack, which pair of shoes, which necklace I was struck by the knowledge that as much as my mother loved to travel she will never again know the pleasure of this anticipation of a trip.

I took this knowledge and attempted to mold it so it would give me permission to enjoy my packing, heighten my anticipation of the week ahead. It didn't work. I still packed and I am still anticipating our time away but it is with an overlay of sadness. A sadness that I'm sure will lift once we are on our way, once the sun of San Juan rests on my shoulders, once my feet dip into Caribbean water. So now I leave for the week thankful that my husband and I have the opportunity to take this trip but saddened by the fact that when I return my mother will not remember that I was gone.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Welcome to the World

It would be difficult to post anything today without mention of the history we witnessed. History not based in the media hype of this charismatic man who now leads our country but history based in the peaceful transition of power, the passing of the torch of leadership with cooperation and participation. The transition that brought millions of people to Washington, millions more around the world and hundreds at my hospital to crowd together and watch and listen. Hundreds who stood when the Chief Justice asked us to, hundreds who applauded when the President's words evoked our enthusiasm and hundreds who, when the ceremony was over and the speech concluded willingly returned to their work, their work of caring, their work of being certain those in need of care have it, their work of healthcare.

In another hospital in my state work of a different nature was underway. The work of life, a new life, a new life for our family. As our country and the world awaited the birth of a new presidency my family awaited the birth of a child, the seventh of his generation. My sister's second grandchild, my mother's newest great-grandson, arrived just prior to the 44th presidency (a fact of his birth that will certainly bring jokes throughout his life for his Republican grandfather) and I found myself drawn to the thought of what promise and hope a new life brings. How, regardless of the struggles we face we have faith that life is good. That life brings joy. That life is worth living and we as a family will continue to grow. That we as a family will continue to love. That we as a family will continue.

My husband and I told my mother of this birth tonight. Told her the details, his weight (7lbs, 9ozs), his length (20 inches) and the fact that he has a full head of dark curls. Her smile was rich with happiness at the news that her granddaughter was recovering and the baby was healthy, her eyes bright with understanding as she asked his name again. I was prepared to repeat the news for her, to tell her again of this new life but there was no need. She remembered. She remembered not once, not twice, but several times. There seemed no end to the gifts of this day.

Today in the midst of the celebration of a transition my family quietly moved through our transition and grew. We grew by one. One life. One life who by his mere presence reminds us that our family is here and today we are stronger.

Welcome to the world little Isaac.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pink Bricks

My mother's house has life again. I drove past it last night and in place of the darkened windows and emptiness what I saw was light and warmth and family. Through the windows the most familiar of scenes greeted me. A family at the table in the dining room sharing their meal and time together. A family living their life and building their memories, new memories in this house, in this home. New laughter for the walls to hold, new tears for the foundation to lend strength to and new love to fill each room.

As we moved through this transition my family struggled with the changes in our mother's home. We cried as wallpaper came off, carpet came up and paint went on. But when it was finished, when it was more theirs than hers, more theirs than ours, the tears dried and the smiles grew and we understood the choice was right.

The memories we have of time in that house, of family celebrations, holidays and everyday life remain. They are smarter than us. They do not constrain themselves to individual rooms or a mailing address. They live in us and remain with us no matter where we are. I do not have to see the white wallpaper in the living room or the pink bricks (yes....she had painted them pink!) around the fireplace to remember them. I can see them anytime I please, I simply close my eyes and there they are right beside the blueberries in the kitchen and butterflies in the dining room. All encapsulated with the days of my family's life.

And if those memories are lost, if my path duplicates my mother's then they will be gone from me. But for now, they remain. They remain and new ones grow, new ones like the one from yesterday when I saw joy in my sister's face as her granddaughter took her first steps. This granddaughter, this precious child walked between my sister and her mother, arms out straight, knees locked tight, eyes focused on her Grammy and walked. Walked in her new home, walked right in front of the pink bricks.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I am a guest blogger (who'd have thunk?!) this week on the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance website. Check it out at:

I will try to post on both blogs, but can't promise I'll make it. It's only for a week.....


Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Little Chocolate

My mother's face lit up when I walked into her room this evening. I mean really lit up, not just some cliche term that finds its way in dime-a-dozen novels, this was real. Her smile reached her eyes and for a brief moment there was joy, pure joy radiating from her. "I've never been happier to see someone!" Neither have I. For the shortest time I had her with me. In full. My mother. She was there and I was lucky enough to see it.

It didn't last. I think she was still happy I was there and my sister came in just after me and Mom was glad to see her, too (so was I....I always am!). But even though it didn't last nearly long enough it lasted long enough for me to be reminded that even though she's lost so much she still has emotions, still has happiness, still has moments of joy. When I asked her if she had been lonely and that's why she was so glad to see me she told me no, she wasn't lonely. She doesn't look lonely. She doesn't look afraid. She doesn't look sad. What I see when I look at her is a settling, a degree of contentment, a level of comfort. Whew!

There are still people who work at the Nursing Home who worked there when I did. Nurses and Nurse's Aids who continue to provide care, continue to provide excellent care, continue to care. As I carried cookies to my mother one of them stopped me to ask if we could bring more pajamas in. I told her Mom had several pairs and a few nightgowns in her room. The Nurse smiled and quietly told me that Mom can only wear them for one night because invariably she sneaks some chocolate at bedtime....

I am not as sad as I was this summer, or even this fall. My mother is safe. My mother is still with us, some times she's more with us than others, but she's still here. She is cared for, not just by people who perform the tasks but by people who care, people who care about her. Tonight I know she will sleep soundly and while she sleeps caring eyes will watch over her, caring hands will help her if she needs them and the clean pajamas she put on will have have a little chocolate on them by morning.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Few More Days....

My husband and I are counting down the days until our vacation. We call each other during the day to remind ourselves that warm breezes await us and breakfast on the balcony will be served every morning. Long days of walking on the beach, echoes of Spanish drifting in the sunshine and an after dinner stroll around the ship will join the memories we have of other vacations, other times together, away, relaxed.
When I was a little girl my parents took a few vacations without my sister and I. These were working vacations for my father, conventions held at resorts in Puerto Rico, Arizona, the Bahamas. I remember their anticipation, their preparation with my father's suits fresh from the cleaners, my mother's outfits lightweight and coordinated, the suitcases waiting by the door. Mostly I remember when they came home. The smell of smoke on their clothes from the plane (this was a long time ago!), the smiles they had for each other, our time together as the routine of our family returned.
I mentioned these trips to my mother the other day. It took her a minute but she appeared to recall the memories. Appeared to remember. As I continue to build my memories, create times and save events it occurs to me that I not only carry my memories but now carry my mother's for her. How fortunate I am to have them.