Sorting Through 30 Years

I started slowly cleaning out my mother’s house about 2 months ago.  A closet here, a cabinet there and now I am at a point where I really need to hunker down and focus on the basement, garage and attic, which is where the majority of items are kept.  I decided long ago that my mother’s room would be last as I feel that will be the hardest room to do.  The room is still exactly the way that she left it, except for a few times that I have changed the sheets.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my mother and wish that she was here.  She would be hogging Max and reading books to Jack every day.  I cherish the times that she had with Jack and I know that he does too.  Jack asks for her almost every day and tells Chris, his teachers, his Aunts and others that he misses Mom.  My heart breaks for him, but we let him watch videos with her in them and I plan to create an album solely dedicated to photos of him with my mother.

Going through these closets and cabinets is such a walk down memory lane.  My Mom was a tucker and would save everything from newspaper clippings, photos, notes and more in address books and other little pads of paper.  I smile as I find her bridge tallies from games that she would have with her friends here at the house or cards that people sent while she was sick telling her that “bald is beautiful.”

There were always certain things that my mother saved that I appreciate and have been finding all over the house.  Two things were obituaries for friends and relatives and prayer cards from funerals and wakes that she had attended for many of these people.  I’m glad that she did so that my sisters and I can continue to remember those who have passed away that were close to us.  She also appreciated a beautifully written obituary and had often times told me how hers should read and look.  “Never include a photo of me from my teenage years.  We obviously have more recent photos of me and why wouldn’t we use one of those?”  Or being very specific about where she went to school, where she graduated and certain things that needed to be included in her obit and information that wasn’t necessary.  Her friend Maureen was the person in the end who wrote her beautiful obituary with some edits and inclusions from me the morning after she passed away.

In going through the 30 years of items in this house, I have also found little items from when my father passed away 20 years ago that my Mom kept.  I’m sure that she missed him up until she joined him in heaven, but little things that she held on to make me think twice about hanging onto something before throwing it away.  For my mother, it would be some bridge tallies and notes.  For my father, she saved things like cards and some slips of paper where he was doing measurements or calculations.

While going through all of these memories, I really wish that we had my mother recorded on a video telling my sisters and I how much she loved us and how much we meant to her.  Or a book recorded with her voice reading to her grandchildren.  All of the things that were too difficult to talk about when she was sick but would be nice if we had them now.

I am absolutely nowhere near being done with cleaning out the house but am approaching a point where I need to order a dumpster and ask my sisters to designate what they plan to take and everything else will be sold in an estate sale.  My heart breaks that we can’t keep everything, but we don’t have room to keep it all.

This process of cleaning out will continue and once we are at a good point, we will put the house on the market, also a very tough decision.

Although it is extremely difficult to go through this process, it is a nice walk down memory lane.

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Precious Voicemails

It has been a little over two months since my Mom has gone off to be with my father in heaven and although it seems that she is constantly on my mind, I have an irrational fear that I am forgetting so much of her.

Jack continues to ask for her just about every day, and now that Spring has decided to come a bit early, our time in the backyard is increasing.  When playing in the backyard, Jack loves to go into his little house and picks up the phone to tell me that Mom is on the phone.  He then tells her about his trucks, that he misses her, that he loves her and that he is going to draw her a picture with sidewalk chalk.  My heart melts and breaks all at the same time each time that he does this.

My mind and my hand still continue to reach for the phone to call my mother when I am on my way home from work or when Jack does something that she would love to know.

I have a secret though.  While on my way home from work, I listen to old voicemails from her asking me to pick up Twizzlers at Target, telling me that her friends are coming over to visit for a while or that she needs me to call her back when I get this message.  Listening to her say my name, talk about Jack and just talk to me like she used to seems to make me feel a bit better.  I am so glad that I haven’t deleted these voicemails so that I can always have a little moment where I can hear her talking to me for real.

The past two months have been rough without her, although I know she is always here, but the voicemails offer a bit of comfort that makes me feel better.

One Month Today

It has officially been a full month since my Mom has gone to be with God, her husband, her parents and many other friends and relatives who have been called to heaven.

My heart is still hurting and I still feel a very deep void in my soul.  I still reach for my cell phone right after work to call her and tell her about my day and see how she is doing.  Jack is still asking where she is and telling me, “I miss Mom.”  He also tells his teachers each time that he steps up to the easel that he is going to “make a picture for Mom.”

We still haven’t begun cleaning out the house, going through her things or working on moving on.  Everything is still as she left it in her room down to her perfume collection, perfectly ironed shirts, pants and skirts in the closet and the shoes that take up the entire floor of her closet.

Mornings are still the hardest part of the day, aside from getting in my car and getting ready to leave work.  The phone calls are not as frequent, other than companies trying to get my mother to lower her interest rate on her credit card.  Cards and mass cards are slowly filtering out of the mail, and I am thisclose to finishing the rest of the thank you cards.

Shopping doesn’t make me as happy as it used to as the majority of people that I see shopping are daughters with their mothers, which just breaks my heart.  I would give anything to be able to go shopping with my Mom for new items for the baby or even to just have a day of shopping and lunch like we used to before she got sick.

Looking toward the future, I realize that I don’t know what it is like to truly have a maternity leave.  My last maternity leave after Jack was born was spent taking my Mom to Fox Chase just about every day for clinical trials, bloodwork, chemo, CAT scans and other appointments.  This maternity leave, I will be able to truly have that bonding time with the new baby and part time with Jack as he will only be going to school 2-3 times a week as opposed to full time.

I can still feel my Mom in this house, with my family and I as we grieve, laugh, cry and try and move on with our lives.  I know that she will always be with us, but I would give anything to have her with us again.

One month has passed and it has not gotten easier.  One month has passed and the pain is just as great.  One month has passed and I miss my mother more and more each day.

Here is one of my favorite recent photos of my mother and I.  (It was also the day that we told her that she was going to be a Grandmother of two!)

My mother and I on Thanksgiving morning

64 Years is Not Long Enough

As many of you know, my mother lost her battle with Cervical Cancer on Saturday, January 28.  She went very peacefully surrounded by her three loving daughters, son-in-law and future son-in-law.  Knowing that her time was close, we sent Jack to be with friends for the day so that we can put our full attention to my mother.

She was not in any pain, thanks to the wonderful Hospice nurses, who are absolute Earth Angels, and for an array of pain medications.

As I held her hand and talked to her, often times alone throughout the day, I told her that it was okay to go.  My sisters and I would all be alright and we knew that she would always be with us.  I also told her that she fought a good fight and she can finally be at peace with herself and God.  “Daddy and your parents are waiting for you.  I’m sure there will be a wonderful party held in your honor once you are there,” I said.  I watched and counted and prayed as her breathing kept changing and her apnia episodes getting a bit longer.  She had a very peaceful essence about her as she finally went to be with God.

“She isn’t breathing anymore,” I told my sisters.  The nurse came over and confirmed that the time had come and that she was on her way to heaven.  We all cried and sobbed and told her how much she meant to us and how much we will miss her.  I never once let go of her hand so that she never felt alone.

Almost immediately following her passing, the wind kicked up outside and we heard the wind chimes that she loved so much clanging together as if she was saying that she was still here and will always be with us.

Telling my family members that she was finally at peace was extremely difficult and a bit of a relief at the same time.

The next few days were a blur of people coming over with food, drinks, memories, cards and phone calls.  Making the arrangements as surprisingly easier than I thought it would be.

As it has only been a week since she has gone to be with God and my father, the reality is finally setting in.  When Jack says or does something funny, I immediately want to pick up the phone to call her and tell her about it, and then it hits me that she is no longer here to answer a phone.

My heart is absolutely broken, but I try to remain strong for my sisters and my family.

Jack is still highly unaware of what has happened, which is somewhat of a blessing.  My mother had told me before she passed away that she wanted Jack at the wake and the funeral when the time came, so dressed in chinos, a button down and a sweater, he came into the wake, crawled up on the kneeler and said “Hi Mom.”  I explained to him that Mom was sleeping.  He would constantly get up on the kneeler saying “Wake up Mom.  Look at my truck.”  Or he would get up and say “Mom is sleeping.  Tickle tickle, Mom.  I love you Mom.”  My heart broke into a million pieces each time he did this.  I know that he would never remember doing it, but those memories are engrained into my mind forever.

Jack’s last words to my mother as we were getting ready to leave for the funeral mass were, “I love you Mom. Night night.  I’ll see you later.”  Yes my sweet baby, many many years from now, you will see Mom again in Heaven.

I’m sure that many more posts related to my Mom’s passing are coming, and although I find that I typically write a very happy and upbeat blog, it is therapeutic to type out the events and how I feel.

Please say a prayer tonight for my mother and my family as we go through this unbelievably difficult time.

Praying for Peace

This past week, my mother’s condition has gone significantly downhill, and according to her oncologist, we don’t have a lot of time left.  She sleeps most of the time, has no appetite, is too weak to stand or walk and doesn’t always make sense when she talks to us, and is just in overall poor health.

The time has come to say goodbye to my mother, which is breaking my heart into a million pieces.  We have been preparing for this for about 3 years, but now that the time has come, I don’t want to let her go.  As my father has passed away almost 20 years ago, losing my mother will be an enormously felt loss in our family.  My mother has been the backbone for our family.  She has acted as both parents, walked me down the aisle when I got married, was the first family member, other than Chris, to hold Jack when he was born.  She has been there for everything and losing her can only be compared to losing an arm.  You will always know and remember that your arm is no longer there, but you will eventually learn to live without it.  There is no replacement, just the fond memories that you had with it.

As my mother has fought for many years against this terrible disease, it is now time for her to stop fighting and be at peace with herself, her family and God.

She is not in pain and occasionally opens her eyes long enough for Jack to give her a kiss and show her a truck before she goes back to sleep.  I spent last evening and the evening before just holding her hand and talking to her and enjoying the moments that she is still with us.

Between bouts of tears and crying, I just pray for peace.  It’s okay my brave Mommy, you have fought a long and courageous battle and it is alright to let go.  You will always be with us.  I love you, now and forever.

Please pray for my family during this difficult time.

Disney on Ice- Treasure Trove

My office was offering discounted tickets to this show, and initially I thought that it was going to be a bunch of princesses on skates, so I declined the offer for tickets.  I’m glad that a coworker told me that it wasn’t.

We took Jack today and he absolutely loved the show!  He couldn’t stop watching it and sat for the entire performance!  I’m also glad that we are spending some good quality time with Jack before the new baby arrives as everything that he has known will change this summer.

He loved The Lion King performance, the Tangled performance and Aladdin.  Sounds like we need to get our hands on a copy of Aladdin!  The Genie had him laughing out loud!

The plan is to try and enjoy as many “Family of Three” things that we can before the new baby arrives.  Any suggestions or ideas are always welcome!  🙂

Enamored by the show

 

Skaters

 

Just a wonderful day with my little family.

However, going to shows like this and seeing the grandmothers with their grandchildren tugs at my heartstrings a bit.  It really breaks my heart that my mother won’t ever be able to take Jack to one of these shows, or do something just the two of them, and truthfully, he will never be able to do this with his other grandparents either as they live in California.  Things that I loved about my childhood like having sleepovers at my grandmother’s house and being able to go out for breakfast to Burger King on Saturday mornings with my Aunt Lena were things that I adored.  I just hope that Jack can have the same thing as he gets older.

Unfortunately, it seems that my Mom has taken a turn for the worst and does not really have the strength to stand, let alone taking Jack to see a show or to come shopping with us.  We just enjoy the time that we have with her.  And if anything, she would always be with Jack in spirit when he goes to a show or when we are buying the next season’s wardrobe.

Mother’s Day 2011

This year I am lucky.  I count my blessings for my sweet little guy who is my reason for everything.  Without him, I would not be a mother.

However, this year, my family was blessed that my own mother is here to spend another Mother’s Day and another year with us.  Many more memories and hugs to be had.  She was able to see another year of milestones, holidays, birthdays and smiles.

Although we don’t know how much longer she will be here with us, we are cherishing each and every moment that we have with her.  So today, we went to mass, had brunch and will spend the rest of the day in the sunlight and telling stories.

My greatest gifts this year were another wonderful year with my mother and of course, another year as a mother to little Jack.

Happy Mother’s Day, Friends.

Chris, Mudders and I at Chris' Induction

Revlon Womentum 5K in NYC

After speaking with my girlfriend, Lindsay, she mentioned that we may want to join them for the Revlon 5K in Manhattan because it was coincidentally the same weekend that we were planning on going into the city to visit my sister, Colleen.  The race is a run/walk, however, participants who will be pushing strollers are asked to walk the race as not to run into other people at 5 MPH.  Ouch.

We all got our little bums out of bed at the crack of 6:45 to get out the door and on the train in time for the start of the race.  Jack was anything but happy about the early wakeup, but I assured him that it was to end women’s cancers and he was all “Oh then that’s cool.”  Such an easy-going toddler.

For anyone who has ever stood smack dab in the middle of Times Square, you know that it is chaotic, busy, packed with people and noisy.  Well, add almost 25,000 runners and walkers for a race, celebrity onlookers (Jimmy Fallon, Jessica Alba, Dr. Oz, and Nate Berkus anyone?) and it is a freaking mess.  We stood up against one the two TGIFridays windows as we were being smushed by people walking by and group teams who decided to park it and wait for their teams on the sidewalk.  Umm…no dice.

Getting ready to race

Jack is ready to go!

We met up with two of our other friends who were running in the race, but unfortunately, we could not meet with our friends Lindsay, Mark and baby Greg who we planned on walking with before the race began.  Thanks to cell phones and creative barrier hopping with a stroller, we met them at the start and were on our way!  Granted, we started the race late, so we didn’t hit the 1 mile marker until around 35 minutes, but we were also trying to keep up with the crowd and the thousands of walkers around us.

Kevin, Chris and Beth before the start

The Start

The 5K this year was a bit shorter than previous years due to construction in the park and other chaos.  Which is just as well because Jack was finished with riding in the stroller.

We totally took our time

After a few pit stops for diaper changes in central park, photos of the group and helping Lindsay get situated to nurse baby Greg in the Ergo while doing a 5K while giving directions and while talking on the phone (multitasking at its best!), we were thrilled to cross the finish line with a sense of accomplishment.

Our Family in Central Park

We as a family participated in support of my Mom who is still battling Stage 4 Cervical Cancer, and even Jack’s stroller got its own special sign.

Jack's sign for the race

It was a beautiful day of camaraderie and people coming together to end such a horrible disease.  Hopefully the money raised will help to eradicate all women’s cancers so that no other women will have to endure awful chemotherapy, radiation, mastectomies, and deaths from any of these diseases.  No other families will ever be changed for the worst with having to grow up without a mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, cousin or friend.

Jared, Colleen, Chris, Jack and I at the finish line

The Family at the Finish Line

We just did our part to say that we won’t stand for this and that we have the Womentum to fight until all women’s cancers are no more.

Jack and his medal

Additionally…can I just say that it was awesome to turn around in Central Park steps away from the Finish line and see Jimmy Fallon walking with us?!

Jimmy Fallon!!

Green Light

After having some medical issues while pregnant with Jack that seemed to snowball after the birth, the last few months have been a bit crazy.  When we were getting ready to leave Philadelphia, I had my routine PAP test, and the results were positive.  A few weeks later, I had a colposcopy to rule out cervical cancer, and thank God, the results were negative.

Since then, the doctors have been monitoring my fibroid that is growing on my uterus (about the size of a golf ball) and the cervical hernias, abnormally large cysts on my ovaries and other issues.  Put all of that together, and you will be at the OBGYN for sonograms, checkups and PAP tests just about every month.

After my last appointment last month, I had some very large cysts on my ovaries and was told that if I had abnormal bleeding or issues, to give them a call.  Wouldn’t you know, I had issues TWICE this month within 23 days.  Not good.

Well, thankfully after my umpteenth sonogram and after being checked out by the doctor, they finally gave me the green light that Chris and I can start trying for another baby!!!

It has been a long wait for us considering that they were still toweling Jack off and I was asking when I could have my next baby as the doctor damn near fell off his chair.  I was completely serious, and I am thrilled that we finally have the green light that we were waiting for.

Now we can just hope that God blesses us with another miracle for our family.