A new year, a (re)newed pledge to start writing again. Not like last year, when I felt a sense of foreboding after Christmas Day 2012. That’s when I decided to start a new blog about living life to its fullest after sitting by my father’s side in the hospital, a team of nurses and doctors fighting to keep his blood pressure from plummeting as he battled the flu and then pneumonia. How he hung on through that we don’t know, but he did. He then experienced about 6 months of a health rollercoaster, getting better and then suddenly crashing down again. He somehow made it through last year.
Unfortunately my Mom did not.
Although her health had been frail for several years, things seemed pretty stable last year. It was hard for her to go up and down the stairs, and her dementia was making her evermore confused about everyday things. But she always was so happy to see her children and grandchildren, and always asked me “And how’s Fritz?” So it was quite a shock when my brother went to help her up one morning last July and found that she was having a stroke. My next three days were spent shuttling my Dad to be with her as she went first to one hospital then to another where the doctors thought there was a slight chance that she could be treated. But the damage was too extensive and she very peacefully passed away on July 9 with my Dad and me at her side.
Many of my friends lost parents this year. Mom was 2 months shy of her 92 birthday, and with her failing health I have tried to gird myself for this inevitable time. But when I arrived at her hospital room and the nurse handed me my mother’s wedding and engagement rings in a little plastic baggy, well, it was all I could do not to fall to my knees. But of course Dad was standing right behind me and I had to be there for him. So I did what you do in that moment, and tucked my emotions along with the baggy into a pocket to be dealt with later, and escorted Dad into the room.
There are moments and emotions from the past year that I want to write about, and I will in the coming months. Twelve months ago I guess I knew it was going to be a tough year, and I abandoned this trusty old blog for a new one that would focus on living life to its fullest. But maybe there is a personal marker that makes you someone who writes about that stuff, and I don’t have it. It’s not that I don’t believe in it — I absolutely do. But there is something different about saying “I am going to live life in the moment,” compared with actually just doing it. There are two phrases my Mom always said: “Don’t borrow trouble,” and “We’re chugging along.” These are my new mottos.
2014 holds many challenges ahead for me, including sorting through the grief for my mother as well as sorting through her belongings. But of course this is a condition of life, and comes with the bargain of parents and children. She pops up now in the most unexpected places, like when I’m standing in line at the grocery store, or when I see some nice pajamas in the store and catch myself thinking “I’ll bet Mom would like those.”
I like to think that one of the things I got from Mom, besides the thick hair and the dislike for math, is an enjoyment of writing. She wrote all her life, and actively sold her work and found ways to get it published (pre blogs, mind you). Short stories, poems, news articles, and a collection of her mother’s letters from China. She found a way to do all that while raising 3 kids that, ahem, kept her busy, shall we say. I have an idea for a story. I have started writing it. That’s my big goal for the year. My little goal is to check in here regularly.
As in the early days, everything’s fair game at Nalling Jello to the Wall: politics, movies, music, poetry, snark and more. You don’t have to agree with me or anyone else here, but you can’t call names and you can’t be a jerk. Mom’s rules.