Happy New Year

Happy New Year! I for one am glad to see this year come to an end. This was not a great year for me. We keep one of those jars where you are supposed to throw little slips of paper in with all the good things that happened, and then read them at the end of the year. We read them today… there were 4 slips of paper. Not cool. And one of them made me cry because it was about me turning 50 and my mom driving up from Florida to surprise me. That was the last time I ever saw her. Losing a parent will really ruin your whole year.

The rest of the year wasn’t exactly stellar. We had to make a number of repairs on our home starting right away in January. Our boiler went out and we had to replace it. I would have preferred to nurse it along to try to make it through since we are selling our house anyhow, but my husband didn’t want to chance it. He was waking up every night in the middle of the night to check on it. Many nights it was out and we were freezing. Waking up with it 65 degrees in the house isn’t great. It’s also nearly impossible to get a kid out of bed for school. Whoever buys our house is going to get a state-of-the art brand new boiler. Lucky them. We also had to replace our septic tank this summer. We knew that last fall, as it had to be ordered in advance. It didn’t make paying for it any more enjoyable knowing that we are moving. Two expensive repairs amongst a few other nuisances.

So, other than getting 2 new kittens (except that our 16 year old cat died) and taking a fantastic trip to Washington DC, I will not fondly remember 2018.

I recently read a book that asked the question “why do we suffer?” I would love to know the answer to that. Maybe we must suffer in order to realize how good we have it when life is going great. Maybe we need to pay more attention to the joyful times instead of taking them for granted so much and assuming that joy is just an ordinary day. I have suffered a lot in the last 3 months since my mom died. I don’t have many friends, so I don’t really have anyone to lean on except my husband. I cry a lot and I have also gotten sick 4 times since September. Either my immune system stinks or I am just worn down by sadness. But I also know that my mom suffered a lot in life. She had many medical issues, including a very severe sleep disorder. Although her death was very sudden, and she was much too young at 72, I have a sense that she was worn out. I know she is resting peacefully and she is with her parents. I also know there is joy in life and it’s not that I have been moping around. Lots of things make me laugh. I find many moments of joy, I just have to find my way back to complete joy again. I will get there. My mom wouldn’t want me to be sad.

Don’t take those joyful moments for granted. Enjoy your life. Enjoy your parents. Before you know it, they could be gone and life is never the same.

My great prayer for myself, my family, and all of you reading this, is that 2019 brings us all many blessings. Every time I say “this is my year”, it isn’t. I thought with turning 50, 2018 was going to be my year. It definitely was NOT. I do plan to pick myself up, dust myself off, and get started with a new year. I sincerely hope that my family’s jar has many more than 4 slips of paper next year. I hope yours does too. Happy New Year!

Christmas is Over

Well, Christmas is over… thank goodness. No bah humbug here, it was just a hard one for me. We ran downstairs on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought and my daughter was so excited, she couldn’t contain herself before tearing into them. My husband made some yummy cinnamon rolls for us to nibble on while she opened her presents. We had a fun morning watching her open every fun little gift.

My in-laws came over from 11-3 and we visited and had a late lunch. I won’t lie, I was happy when it was over. I didn’t want to celebrate this year. I miss my mom and it’s not fair that she’s not here this year. My facebook feed has been filled with memories of past Christmas’ with her. I also worried about her husband alone in Florida without her. I tried to call her 2 brothers to wish them a Merry Christmas and make sure they received the package I mailed them with pictures of the family as kids. Neither of them answered, or called me back. So much for my supportive uncles. The only blood relatives I have left.

Now I need to take down my decorations and forget about it and move on, hopeful that the new year will bring some healing for me. However, I’m sad to take down the decorations because this is our last year in our house. I love this house. I don’t really want to move, but we are driving a long distance to school and it’s too much. I know it’s for the best, but it doesn’t make it easier to leave a house I love. It sort of feels like a double loss to me.

Every year when I take down my decorations, I always wonder what life will be like next year at this time. I never imagined that life would be this way. It kind of worries me what life will be like next year. I don’t like to think that way, but I can’t help it. I pray that 2019 will bring better things for my family. I pray that 2019 will bring good things for everyone reading this.

Christmas Eve

Well, it has been a day. I haven’t been in the best mood today. My daughter was acting up a little bit and everything she did irritated me. I’m guessing most of it was just my mood. The “I-wish-I-could-skip-Christmas-and-I-wish-my-mom-was-here” mood. It’s not her fault. It’s mine.

I talked to my mom’s husband this morning to see how he was doing and to make sure he has somewhere to be tomorrow for Christmas. Thankfully some friends have invited him over. I also asked if he received the package I sent him. He hasn’t. I got on the post office website to track it and it was delivered a week ago. Some porch pirates much have taken it. Evil bastards! Well, the sons-a-bitches didn’t get anything valuable to anyone but us. The package contained a calendar with pictures of my family and pictures of my mom when she was young that I thought John might like to have. Luckily, I had made copies and didn’t send any irreplaceable originals. I really hope those assholes read the card I sent and realized that they stole memories from someone whose wife just died. Jerks! I can reorder the calendar and have already copied the pictures again, but that’s not the point. It just adds to the grief when someone steals. It didn’t help my sour mood this morning.

Tonight we went to the candlelight service at church. It was so nice. They had so much music. We have a wonderful organ with powerful pipes. The choir is fantastic! The bell choir also played and a clarinet quartet played as well. As the service began, a soloist got up and sang “O Holy Night”. Her voice was stunning. I lost it and bawled my head off. As she was singing, the entire choir came up the aisles with candles and the lights were all off and they sang with her. Yep, I was done. My husband even got choked up. The service was very moving and lots of singing. Toward the end, we sang “Angels We Have Heard on High”. It has a lot of organ music, and my grandma played the organ professionally. She loved that song. There was a point in the song about the second chorus where I suddenly heard these tinkling bells in the music. I happened to look at my grandma’s ring on my hand, and I felt like she and my mom were in that church somewhere. The bells weren’t in the first chorus. It’s like they just appeared in the music. It made me feel like my mom got her wings. Somehow it just made me feel a little bit better.

We took some family pictures when we got home. Let the kiddo open 1 present, read “The Night Before Christmas”, and now we are waiting for her to go to bed. We told her Santa won’t show up if she doesn’t go to sleep. I’m pretty sure Santa is getting tired.

Family Christmas

We had our family Christmas celebration with my husband’s side of the family last night. I had no desire to go because I’m just not in the holiday spirit this year. Yesterday morning a memory popped up on Facebook of my mom from Christmas 2016 when we all met on Captiva Island. This was the last time I saw her for Christmas. I was already having a bad morning because I had slept weird and woke up with a sore neck. When I saw that picture, I burst into tears. I told my husband to go without me. Eventually, I just pulled myself together, put my make up on and went. Although I dreaded it all the way there.

I don’t always feel entirely comfortable around that side of the family. Sometimes I feel like they don’t like me. In the past few years, we haven’t attended the party because we have been on vacation. I know for a fact my in-laws get ticked off at us for traveling. I don’t know how the others feel about it. I feel like they think we are snooty. We travel during the holiday simply because we are only able to travel during school holidays, which are Christmas or spring break, and it’s nice to get away when it’s freezing cold in the winter. With my mom in Florida, we went down there when our daughter was four and we had the BEST time. It was so fun to sit outside and open presents and go to the beach. We had no idea what we were missing! We went again the following year, then we decided to meet one year in Key Largo and once in Captiva Island. Last year we went to Maui because we renewed our wedding vows. That trip had been planned for many years. This year we planned to stay home because it’s our last year in this house, although I’d rather be anywhere but here this year.

Anyhow, I always feel weird walking in the door. Like they are all thinking, “oh, they showed up this year”. I guess I shouldn’t be so self-conscious. I don’t give a shit what they think of me. As we walked in, a couple people hugged us, a few were too busy putting out the food. No one mentioned my mom, which was a relief, so I didn’t have to cry.

About an hour later, one of Jeff’s aunt’s arrived. She came right up to me and said how sorry she was about my mom and she started crying. She’s very sensitive and she has also lost her mom. We talked for several minutes and I teared up, but I didn’t all out cry. Thank goodness. It turns out that I actually did appreciate her saying something to me about my mom. I thought I was going to dread everyone bringing it up and making me cry, but Debbie was the only one who acknowledged her. She told me how she thought my mom was always so fun and so nice. I thought it was very kind of her to talk to me about it.

Much later in the evening, I was eating dinner with my father-in-law’s wife and a cousin. The cousin was talking about someone who has dementia, which has clearly gotten to a very bad state. I had missed part of the conversation and asked who it was and she said “Barb”. I said “oh, your mom?” She replied “yes, on paper”. She is adopted, but apparently feels she has been mistreated by her mom. I’ve known April for about 11 years and have never known her to dislike her mom. I know that her mom has irritated her a little, but not to the point of the way she was talking about her last night. She was spitting venom about her mother last night – saying she was the most awful person she has ever known and not even acknowledging her as her mother. I was thoroughly disgusted. I wonder where she would be if her parents hadn’t adopted her. She had a charmed childhood. Her parents are very wealthy. Her dad passed away a number of years ago, but left the family more than enough. Her mother bought them a condo when they first got married. She may have even bought them the house they currently live in, which is quite big. As she was talking, my wheels were spinning and my eyes were watering because I can never imagine myself saying those kinds of things about my mom. THEN, my father-in-laws wife tells April how she didn’t speak to her mom for 17 years. She said “not one phone call, visit, letter, etc”. Ugh! She said how everyone else thought she was the nicest person around, but “nope, she’s not”. She did ultimately reconcile with her mother and I’m sure she’s glad she did. I won’t say I never argued with my mom, or that I didn’t even go without talking to her for a month. But never longer than a month. We ALWAYS made up immediately.

Finally, I couldn’t listen to it anymore. I told April she needs to know that her mom doesn’t know what she’s saying if she has dementia. I told her she needs to forgive her because at some point she is just going to be gone before she knows it. I was crying and I walked away. I went and buried my face in my husband’s shoulder and told him I didn’t want to be there anymore. On the way home, we talked about this and he told me that in another room that night, someone else had asked April how her mom was doing. Her response was “I hope she dies tonight”. OMG! I have lost so much respect for someone I have always really liked. That girl is going to be so sorry when that sad day comes and her mom is gone. I already feel for her about the regret she is going to live with for the rest of her life.

I did manage to have some pleasant conversation with other family members. Although, I would have been just as happy to stay home and read my book. I woke up this morning and said thank you to God for helping me make it through. I don’t have to do it again until next year. Amen!

What Happened to Christmas Spirit?

What has happened to Christmas spirit? Or should I say holiday spirit, need I unnecessarily offend anyone? Geez, that’s the whole problem with this world. Everyone is so easily offended these days. It’s like walking on eggshells everywhere. Now someone got offended by some Christmas song from 80 years ago. I don’t even remember which one it was, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” or something. I’m not offended, so I don’t remember. No one is offended by “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” or “I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus”. Those will be next, just wait.

Here’s what I am offended by… I’m tired of sending out 80 Christmas cards every year and not getting back jack shit. It’s Dec. 14 and I’ve gotten about 10 cards. Give me a break! I know people are busy, but there are only 10 mailing days left before the big day, so if they haven’t mailed them yet, they better get on the ball. Last year, we received about half of what we normally receive and I was disappointed. This year, with the passing of my mom, I truly thought we would get a few more. I guess my mailing list will be a lot shorter next year.

I’m also offended by the people who seem so supportive (on Facebook) when my mom passed away as though they would do anything for me. Where exactly are those people? Not one single person has come by, called, or done anything more than send a card. The hurt doesn’t go away after a month, or two, probably not even after six I suspect. Especially not at this time of year. One friend asked me out to lunch, then cancelled and I haven’t heard a word from her since. I had to cancel lunch with another friend because my daughter was home sick from school that day, but I truly hope we can reschedule after the holidays.

I’m also ticked off at a friend who I asked to make a gift for me to give to a friend who has cancer. I asked her a month ago to make this for me. I’ve been wanting to get it in the mail. She keeps putting me off and says she’ll get it done tomorrow, then the next day, then the next day. It never got done. Last night I finally said forget it. At this point, the recipient won’t get it by Christmas. I asked on Nov. 13 and it took a MONTH to get around to it! It’s an hour worth of work. I wasn’t asking her to build me the Taj Mahal. Now I don’t have a gift for my friend. Grrrr.

I am really trying to stay in the holiday spirit for my daughter. I’m hiding the elf. We are baking cookies this weekend. I bought the presents. We did St. Nick. All the pieces are there, except my heart’s not in it. My husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I said “my mom”. I keep willing her into my dreams. I keep wishing she will come back. I keep making deals with God to bring her back to me. I’ll be a better daughter. I’ll go visit her more. The closer we get to Christmas, the harder it gets.

I’m just looking forward to this year being over. Hoping for a refresh with a new year.

Surviving the Holidays

Are you surviving the holidays? I feel like I am barely holding on. I am so ready for 2018 to be done. I’m over it. This has been the worst year ever. I started out very optimistic. Turning 50, it was going to be my year. January started out good, but by the end of the month when our boiler went out and we had to replace it, it went downhill from there. 2018… you can suck it!

I’m trying to pretend things don’t bother me for my daughter’s sake, but it just doesn’t work. I don’t know if she can tell or not. I’m sure she can, she’s a smart girl. I try really hard not to cry in front of her, but she catches me once in awhile. Last night I just couldn’t bring myself to make any dinner because I was upset about my mom, so scrambled eggs it was. Of course, that’s her favorite, so she was happy. My husband, not so much. Then the Garth Brooks concert from Notre Dame came on. That cheered me up, except the memories came flooding back how I first came to hear his music when I moved back home with my mom in 1992 after a bad break up. I was working in a bar in the small town where she lived and most people were country music fans. I wasn’t, until I hear Garth. I played “Friends in Low Places” over and over. Likely until most of my patrons got sick of it. If you didn’t watch the special last night, the last song he played was “The Dance”. That song gets me every time, no matter what. Well, I had tears streaming down my face thinking of my mom.

If you are a normal person, you probably had lots and lots of arguments with your mom throughout your life. I did too. Many as a teenager, as we all do, but probably more as an adult. We didn’t see eye to eye for a few years. We were thick as thieves when I was a kid, but at times when I was an adult, she still treated me like a child. I think she just thought I didn’t know anything at times and it really bugged me. I grew up very poor. We never had enough of anything. Not enough money, enough clothes. We constantly moved because the rent was too high. We were on food stamps at times. I remember a day in junior high when a girl asked me why I always wear the same clothes. It was because I hardly had any and I had to alternate them. I’ll never forget that day as long as I live. So many times in my life I wished I had been born to someone else. They say that we choose our parents, but I never believed it. I was always mad that my dad left my mom and left us with nothing. How would I ever choose those parents? I will tell you that I would choose my mom a million times over. I may have grown up with nothing, but I grew up with more love than any parent could ever give a child. I miss her so much.

I know I’m 50 years old and maybe I should be able to cope better at my age. Maybe it’s just because her death was so unexpected. I never got to say goodbye. I hadn’t even seen her since January. She talked about coming to visit over the summer, but she didn’t. I guess the hardest thing is because I am an only child, so I don’t have any siblings to share the grief with. Her brothers don’t have any kids, so I don’t have any cousins. Our family is very small. I see these huge families on Facebook, and I am so jealous. I always wanted to be part of a be family. I don’t really have many friends. Since I quit working when my daughter was a baby, everyone pretty much forgot I exist. I feel very alone.

Once the holidays are over, I hope things improve. I’ve been getting back to the gym on a regular basis, so that has helped. In January, I need to focus on cleaning closets and getting ready to sell our house, so that will keep me very busy. Then once it sells, we will be moving into a temporary place while we build and we will be ultra busy picking out new house stuff. I need to keep my mind occupied 100% of the time these days and I am much better off.

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Today is a difficult day for me. I don’t really feel much like celebrating. Although I have much to be thankful for. Believe me, I really do. I’m just so sad. This year I decided to just have Thanksgiving with my husband and daughter. I didn’t want to invite anyone over. I’m sure my father-in-law and his wife are totally pissed off, but I don’t care. I’m just not in the mood for all of it. The wife was not very sensitive when my mom passed away, and last time they were here to watch my daughter when we were out, and my daughter was sad, she was not at all comforting to her. I just want a quiet day alone. I’m not setting an extra place for my mom like many people say to do. It’s obvious enough she isn’t here.

Last night we went to a nice Thanksgiving Eve church service and there was pie fest after. Everyone brings a pie and there is always way too much pie, and we stuff ourselves silly. It was pie making day for us yesterday. We made 3 pies – one for church, one for us, and one for a sick friend. We delivered one to a friend who has cancer and spent an hour visiting with them. When I count my blessings, I am thankful for my health and the health of my family, and I pray deeply for our friend.

Today we will read the giant newspaper full of ads, watch the Macy’s parade, make a nice meal, talk about what we are thankful for, and share memories of my mom. I hope everyone reading this has a happy Thanksgiving. Don’t eat too much!