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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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.

17 Weeks

My 16th week came and went in a flash.  Now starting my 5th month of pregnancy.  Five Months.  Only 4 short months to go.  Wow!

Back to work, which was CRAZY!  We should be hearing the big decisions of who keeps their job and who doesn’t in the next two weeks.  A very nervewracking and busy time, but I just keep praying that I am one of the lucky few.

Jack was thrilled to be back at school and spending time with his friends.  Chris was right back in the grind as well, so there wasn’t as much of a transition as I had originally thought.

I spent a good part of the afternoon with my mother on Saturday and we talked about everything under the sun.  It was so nice to have her to myself to talk about anything and everything without someone always coming in to visit.  We talked about the baby, about how she has been feeling, and possible baby names.  It was just nice to have that time without constant people coming in the door for one day.  However, I see how weak and frail she is.  She is not in pain thankfully, but needs help walking and has blood clots in her left leg, which makes things very difficult.  She still has so much to live for and hasn’t completely given up, but you can see that it is close.  She is sick and tired of being sick and tired.  We will all just continue to enjoy the time that we have with her.

She was shocked with the size of my belly this week vs. last week and my weight loss.

Speaking of weight loss, I had bloodwork for the Sequential Screen this week and a prenatal checkup.  Bloodwork was done as the second portion of the screen, and the results came back that it is highly unlikely that the baby has any developmental disorders, which we are thankful to hear.  My prenatal appointment however, did not go over so well.  I was sat down and told that I should have gained 5-10lbs already and have lost additional weight since my last appointment. I’m down 19lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight.  This wasn’t even the part of the appointment that upset me.  The OBGYN has a hunch that I may not be able to deliver naturally again and may need a C-section.  I am fighting this with him tooth and nail.  My OBGYN that delivered Jack never once said to me that I could never deliver vaginally ever again.  We will see that happens with this, but I am not complying quietly.  This makes me want to make the drive down to Philly and deliver there again instead.

I’m seeing a specialist for a second opinion, but I absolutely don’t want to succumb to major surgery because my OB has a hunch.  Maybe I am just being a little sensitive and hormonal, but I feel like I should have a say in my baby’s birth.

17 Week Questions:

How far along? 17 weeks
Estimated size of you: This week, you are the size of an onion
Maternity clothes? Absolutely
Stretch marks? Nada
Sleep: Could be better, but I can live with it.  😉
Best moment this week: You are starting to move more, but it can’t be felt yet from the outside.
Miss Anything? Sleeping on my belly.  Still my favorite position!
Movement: Yes, randomly.
Food cravings: Coca Cola, chocolate, peanut butter
Anything making you queasy or sick: Yes- it varies.
Have you started to show yet: Absolutely.
Gender: The appointment has been changed to January 27, so we will find out then!
Labor Signs: None
Belly Button in or out? In.
Wedding rings on or off? On and loose.
Happy or Moody most of the time: Still moody, unfortunately.
Looking forward to: Finding out if we are having a boy or a girl in a few short weeks so I can start shopping!

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!!

Spring Days

For the past two weeks, we have been in hyper speed mode and things are finally starting to slow down a bit.  My Great Aunt has her hip replaced a little over a week ago and was moved to a rehabilitation home to begin the long process of getting back on her feet.  The doctor assured me that she is absolutely not out of the woods yet and that infection would be the biggest worry, but she seems to be getting back to her 98 year old self.

Jack and I visited her several times at her new rehabilitation center and she reminded me that Jack is tall and that no 16 month old should weigh 26 pounds.  Her suggestion?  Stop feeding him so much.  Her wry sense of humor and the candid way that she can put things gave me a sense of relief when she told me that the food there was not as bad as my cooking.  Yep, I would say that she is on the road to recovery.  She loved the hybrid Stargazer lillies that we brought her and told me that she would love some cake.  Done and done.

The next several days will be nothing short of craziness.  Jack and I will be trying a new Mommy and Me class in town this Thursday, and the Irem Shrine Circus is in town, so we will be taking Jack tomorrow night to see the animals and acrobatics.

Last Thursday, I took my Mom to the Oncologist and we had a good report.  Her counts are good, but unfortunately, there are still no new treatments available for her.  The doctor said to enjoy the time and the good days that we have, so we are!  She leaves tomorrow for a week getaway to Naples, Florida to visit with her girlfriends.  I am thrilled!

Oh yeah, back to Spring!  We spent much of Holy Thursday and Good Friday running errands, getting the things for our Easter dinner and hanging clothes outside.  Jack ran through the lines and played with the dogs as we laughed and played with bubbles.

Running through the sheets

Chasing Bailey

Spring is truly here

An after-dinner walk was in order to get a child’s sundae from Dairy Queen.

It has been great to see some warm weather, take some walks in the sun and just enjoy the fresh air and the beautiful weather!

Going for a ride

Lullabies for Getty

While reading several other blogs and seeing things posted on Twitter, I came to read the story of a little girl, Getty, who is only a few months younger than Jack and who has been fighting the good fight over SMA1.

Tears filled my eyes as I read through blog posts about her trials and triumphs and I wept as I watched the video of her fishing with her Mom.  Such a strong and brave little girl who has already touched the lives of many.

Immediately I felt a longing inside of me to do something to help her.  I noticed that there is a button on the site to purchase Lullabies for Getty on iTunes where the proceeds would go to The Getty Owl Foundation, which helps to find a cure for SMA.

Since buying the album last week, Jack and I have been listening to these songs in the car, during breakfast, as we play, and I truly have to say that they are beautifully written and are becoming favorite songs of ours.

Do yourself a favor and help a little girl who is battling an awful disease and in the meantime, purchase the Lullabies album and listen to the songs with your children.

Click here to purchase Lullabies for Getty