The Holidays are coming upon us and like many I am sitting her reflecting on this past year and what will the holidays be like this year.
My parents both had the same type of lung cancer and passed within months of each other this year. My Mom died on March 12th, 2021 and later my Dad on August 25th, 2021. I was blessed to hold both of their hands when they took their last breath.
I had to keep as healthy as I could, (in a pandemic). This included mind, body and spirit to deal with all of this on my own. Sadly my Brother passed 15 years ago so I had to weather this storm with the help of friends and family. Illness, and tragedies bring out the best and worst of people. I have found out who could stand by me this year and who I had to leave behind. This was a whole other lesson which presented itself this year.
As expected my life has been a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute it seems I am laughing at something only I find funny, the next I am teary over something silly, or angry at the weatherman on TV.
My kids and I moved into my parents house full time after my Mother died in March. We had many wonderful days with my Dad and through all of our sadness we still managed to create a multitude of memories together and grew very close. My Dad, kids and I watched many of his favorite gold tv series, business and survival shows along with our daily dose of nightly news.
He loved the simple things in life, a bowl of hot oatmeal, coffee in the morning and talk of what was on the menu for lunch and dinner. He would always joke “lets see what the talking heads are saying today!”
My Mom and I always marveled at how smart he and my Brother were. We always said, “if we had a question about world events, your Dad or Brother would know the answer!” My Mom was the entertainment queen, she had a knack about knowing about useless random entertainment information. I really wished I could hear her talk to my Dad about some silly fact now.
She also knew the history of our family connections, better than my Dad and I. We always joked, “what would we do without her, we will not know how extended family members are related to us or their names now.” I now find myself asking, “how am I related to them?”
People have asked me how I found the strength to get through this past year? When I look back I think often I was on autopilot going through the motions of sickness, doctors appointments, administering medications, cooking, and all of the caretaking duties.
Each of their deaths was a very different experience, planning their funerals, selling my parents house, (they lived in the same house for 57 years), handling their estate matters whilst being a Mother to two young children.
It is funny how life can change in a heartbeat. During the Covid-19 Pandemic I lost both part time jobs, however this gave me the gift of time. Precious beautiful time to be with both my parents at the end of their lives.
I reminisce one year ago today and I still had them both. We were planning a special Christmas celebration as we knew their days were limited. I remember decorating the fireplace mantel with decorations galore and beautiful twinkling lights for my Mom. She sat on the chair directing me to place each light, decoration just so. One of our favorite things about Christmas was filling the outdoor urns with greenery and the soft glow of white lights twinkling in the night. She loved opening gifts too, my Daughter and I made special advent bags for each of my parent to open, they loved it.
Keeping with tradition I baked dozens of her Christmas squares, the ones with the green and pink icing, the peanut butter balls, Laura’s brownies and the butter tart squares. I learned her famous pie crust recipe and couldn’t stop baking pies, tarts and Mom’s secret crust leftover recipe.
Grateful for the time I had with my Mom, I learned many of her favorite recipes. The one thing she told me was before she passed was, “feed your Dad well and he will be happy!” She was so worried and rightfully so about what would happen to my Dad after she was gone. I can still hear her saying, “What about Paul, what will he do?” It was heartbreaking to witness the fragility of the human soul and to watch both my parents be robbed of their dignity with how cancer stole their health.
My Dad was a real trooper after Mom passed, he was so happy with all of her recipes I made him when she was gone. Near the end, it was difficult for him to swallow and eat certain things but I fed him till the very end his favorites, keeping my promise to my Mom!
I am ever so grateful I had started a family recipe book with many of my Mom’s recipes handwritten by her. She would sit on the couch and watch me cook, and tell me a to add a little of this or a little of that. She told me special things she did with her recipes, where to buy the best beef for ribs, how to thicken the gravy and more.
Funny since they both passed, I haven’t made any of her recipes or done any baking. I am sure once I feel like it again, it will bring back fond memories.
I created beautiful outdoor big winter greenery pots on her deck, she loved them. She always made her own bows out of beautiful materials. I used to laugh at them when I was younger, but now I cried when I put the on my greenery display and wreaths this year.
I remember like it was yesterday standing outside on the deck in the cold asking her if this is here she wanted the pinecones, dogwood, holly or move it to the left a little. I remember her appreciative beaming smile and her thumbs up!
My Mom loved Christmas, like her Mother. Her Mother lived all year for Christmas, last year sadly was the last year we put up my Grandmothers Christmas tree at my parents house. It had broke when I took it down last year, I never told my Mom. I knew in my heart that would be the last Christmas we would be having at their house.
Their beautiful house of 57 years sold this past November, I wonder if the new family will be decorating the fireplace mantel or putting any outdoor lights up. So many memories of Christmas’s gone by.
This year my family and I are going to be spending a different kind of Christmas. We will be flying to the Caribbean in one week. I thought it would be good to go somewhere completely different this year, the kids are excited.
It has been one year since I have made a blog post, if you have read this far I thank you. I know my heart is filled with more thoughts, memories and stories to come, they say writing is therapeutic.
Love you Mom & Dad I know you are with me every step of the way, miss you everyday…..Merry Christmas in Heaven!