Life and Death and the Whole Damn Thing.

A year ago today, I was watching my mother die. The contrast of spring bringing forth new life everywhere outside of our little room of death (I am eternally grateful for hospice) was almost cruel, but at the same time strangely soothing.

My mother had suffered the previous three years from a blood disorder, breast cancer, and the final frosting on the cake of decline,  Alzheimer’s Disease.

I can’t tell you how difficult this ending of my mother’s life was for her, myself and my family (she did not “go gently into that good night”) it is almost too painful to recall, yet my mind keeps recalling it, sometimes blind siding me out of nowhere, like when I’m standing in the check out line at the grocery store.

My mom was a strongly opinionated, stubborn, feisty, funny, loving woman and I miss her terribly. When my sis-in-law said goodbye to her for the last time (my mom was barely lucid towards the last) it was with a “See ya later alligator” not expecting a reply, my sis-in-law was a few steps down the hallway when she heard my mom respond with “After awhile crocodile.”

At my mom’s funeral, a fierce, swirling gust of wind arose out of nowhere (it had been a warm day without a breeze just moments before, and returned to such after) it blew the flowers over and surprised us all standing around her grave site. A message from Mom? I don’t know, but It would have been so like her to let us know that she wasn’t too happy about having to go before she was ready.

My mom loved roses and she was always growing and tending to them. She was in a constant battle with the deer in her neighborhood and her rose bushes had wire fencing wrapped around them to keep the critters out , they looked like little rose bush prisoners. When I returned for a visit a few months after mom’s funeral, the cold weather had arrived. The roses were all gone, except one brilliant beautiful flower that had escaped its confines and grown unusually tall. It is tempting to want to see this as a sign from my mom that all was well, a beautiful reminder of a life well lived, free now from the bondage of life’s wire cage….so that is how I choose to see it. So Mom, I love you and I miss you, and I’ll see you….
after awhile crocodile.2014-11-16 10.19.06

If you would like to donate to a worthy cause to help find solutions to Alzheimers: http://www.alz.org/join_the_cause_donate.asp

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Scary

Life can be scary sometimes, this summer has brought us fires, an earthquake, and a horrible mass shooting during a midnight movie. How do we trust that our loved ones will be safe in such a world? How do we sleep when we know that our kids might be in a midnight horror show of their own somewhere? How do we cope when someone we care about has wrapped their lovely tentacles around our hearts, only to be brutally yanked away?

I wish I knew. What I do know is that we must have faith that our loved ones will be safe and return to us each time they venture out into the unknown. Because they have to venture. We all have to, or we will curl up into a never ending fetal position and maybe we are safer that way, but that is not what life is about.

Life wants us to go out there and experience. Have adventures, meet people, converse, connect, enjoy, make mistakes, dream, love, cry, try. We need to celebrate everyday the joy that life brings us, because someday life will bring us down for the count. We all know that, and while that is scary, it makes us realize how very precious every second of every minute of every day is. We, who are still living on this planet, need to celebrate for those who no longer can.

Yoshi the Wonder Dog gives Lost In the River of Grass two paws up!

Speaking of adventure, I just finished reading a young adult novel  by  local author, Ginny Rorby. “Lost in the River of Grass” is a thrilling tale set in the Florida Everglades. Two teenagers get lost during a school field trip and have to make their way through miles of gator, snake, rat, and insect infested country. The dialogue is realistic, (having worked with teenagers for the past twelve years, my ears are acutely tuned to inauthentic teenage conversation.) The experience changes these two young people and you can sense  a new maturity as the characters evolve. This book has it all, thrills, chills, teenage rebellion, and  romance. It subtly tackles the tricky issues of class and racial prejudices that are deeply instilled in our culture. Spoiler alert: This book has no vampires or zombies, but still manages to deliver a seat of your pants experience!

I leave you with five words of advice for a happy, fulfilled life…

Learn, Love, Explore, Create, Read!