Monday, May 30, 2011


I cannot believe this is happening but it is
our landlord came over today
he is such a great guy
I could tell something was up as soon as I saw him
but it took a few minutes to focus

a long story short
his son's family needs to move back to Missouri from Nevada
where a business venture did not go well...
this was their home before they left

we had exactly one year to the day left on our lease
it did not take me more than a few minutes past my restrained tears
to know what was the right and only thing to do

and so we move and it has to happen quickly
since they will be returning on August 1st

he was so aplologetic and I know he feels very bad about
asking us
and he told us we have the right to say we do not want to move yet, etc...
I lost it after he left and realized that what my initial
feeling in myself was: a sense of a lack of success
a failure to own our own home
that puts us at the mercy of circumstances

I went outside and opened a can of paint and started painting things
I have been thinking about painting
so I would just stop thinking and just do it
turquoise birdhouse
turquoise basket turquoise other basket and little box thingie
I threw some turquoise paint on a swing and on a table
and stopped when I was turquoised out of my mind

Bryan came out on the deck to take care of Mom

Gary was already looking for places online
and so we made an evening of it, driving around, round one

I called the landlord and he was very moved and will help us
he wanted me to take a few days to really think it over
but I don't need that much time
a few minutes sufficed earlier
there will be some kind of financial compensation I guess that's how these things are handled
and he will get a very good realtor who works with rentals
to help us starting tomorow

what can I say after Joplin?

I haven't really pulled myself together here since we moved in
and now it is time to move out
I will look for the upside and live there
Bryan will be my point man always all ways

funny, yesterday I went all out washing even the front door
and the whole entryway
I spent a lot of cleaning time
more than I am usually able to pull off consecutively
guess I am preparing for the marathon ahead
we will get help because Gary simply cannot do the level
of physical moving he did last time
I think we will form a temporary "company" and hire
friends of the boys...

I wish I had handled my initial response better
I was good while the landlord was here
then fell apart
it was like I could see who I wanted to be
this strong woman who could carry this for all of us
smile and do the right thing with energy and faith-forward
well, going outside to turquoise half the planet
was better than burying my head under pillows
I'll give myself that much

it made me appreciate Bryan and Gary even more
they are worried about my health through a big move
being on a chemo break now puts me in a much better position than last time
for sure, no question
Bryan is completely confident that I can make a home anywhere
so I will go along with him and do just that

Saturday, May 28, 2011

through the door @ home

yes, he walked in and had good stories
from an overnight camping trip
the big spider on the sitting log
was creepy and bug stories always get creepier in the telling
all I wanted was to see his smiling face
and the overwhelming comfort will be my story for another time
Bryan and his friend ended up sleeping in his truck
trying to get a little warmer, less bugged, and more able
to talk together
about philosophy, "like Brandon and I did in the kitchen that time..."
they discussed ideas until three in the morning
the sunrise wakes you up
when there are no blinds and curtains blocking the light!
good morning
yes, good morning


when I came to this computer
songs were on a playlist and Enya came into listening view
of course she had done the theme from Gladiator
that music opens your soul up
rips it into surreal space with a beauty that haunts
then the theme from Braveheart
and I let the music float over me
and these faces and stories from the past horrific week
came one by one in front of my own face and story

it has torn me up
the faces of three children telling their story of looking for their Mom
she had gone out to get pizza for them
and that would end up being the last time they would ever see her
how could that happen
she just happened to miss the news
of the severity of the storm?
why did I find myself caught on Wednesday when the siren went off
when I should have been at home instead of running around
buying the seniors on the tennis team gifts?
so I ended up in the inner room of one of my thrift stores
because I was in a quandary as to whether I should go all
the way home
or stay in closer proximity to the high school for Bryan...

the beautiful face of the high school boy in Joplin
he was in a massive vehicle a Hummer
and was so close to home
after his graduation
the tornado literally sucked him out through the glass of the
sun roof
his family looked for him believing he was in a hospital
his body was finally found

going about daily life seems so detached
it was last night that I realized how afraid I have become
one of Bryan's friends joked with me that he was kidnapping Bryan
and I love this kid
the guys were going camping overnight
with his brother and a few friends

they left with his sleeping bag and a pillow
and the plan to be back in the morning
we joked around
did check the weather of course
and off they went

then a panic attack started to brew in me
I started to shake and cry and could barely put words
together in a sensible rational fashion
tried to reach Bryan by cell phone
no answer
left a panicky message
as much as I tried not to
Gary stepped in
got him on the phone
and Bryan, wise kind loving old soul patient man
assures me that they have tents
they are in a safe place with families camping nearby
and so I apologize
which he brushes away
and I was able to sleep
and sit here writing
wanting him to come through the damn door right now

I do not want to live in fear and project that on to my children
it has been a very painful week of sad stories
I feel such deep compassion observing their bravehearts
yet I do not feel very brave in this moment...

Monday, May 23, 2011


I have never been to Joplin
the boys' tennis team from Joplin came earlier in the tennis season
their high school exists no longer
Brandon called from Bosnia earlier today to make sure we were ok
since Missouri is on the world map of sad events

a tree across the street from us lost a major limb and will
be taken down
we braced for storm winds covered a car with blankets and a rug
trying to protect from hail that was crashing across the state
there were hail descriptions and a chart showed variances
from pea size to golf ball to baseball and a weird egg size in the corner
of one meteorologist's graphs

I prepared the little bathroom downstairs in case we needed to crowd in there
if it got especially bad
the couch in my art room was made comfy and if we needed pillows
and a mattress to cover our heads, we were ready

Bryan shared with us that his best friend has connections
in Joplin, family and friends
they all happened to be out of town
and when they return
they will not have homes to go to
completely demolished

the map shows that more storms are coming
this is the season
glued to CNN, they are doing the best coverage
I was so heartbroken
by the scope of the damage and loss
thank god the high school graduation was held in a different location

one of the first reporters on the scene was a pro from The Weather Channel
he was so overwhelmed even after years of chasing these storms
that he was in tears that matched the rain

listening to the people talk
always the emphasis
is the value of all values - precious life
you can always buy another car
but a loved one is a priceless treasure

Sunday, May 22, 2011

her time

on April 27th, 2011
the earth changed mightily yet quietly
as softly as going to sleep
and so she did

my little lady Dorothy knew it was her time and it was

I was not her CareGiver that day
her daughter was
and how perfect

having lunch with her Mom that day
they had a wonderful lucid time, it was a totally with-it kind of time
Dorothy's brother and his wife came as well
and they all received instructions and directions as to how
things were to be handled upon her death
and it was all clear and open
and she was in charge, as usual,
over lunch

it was not as if a great external change had come about
that signaled to all that "this is it, folks"
but she knew and called this meeting
this happy gathering of clarity and happy goodbyes

one of her "clarities" was that she wanted to be changed
into yellow clothes
and so they did
because she wanted to die in yellow clothes
ok, then
her yellow clothes were put on

company stayed until early afternoon
and so sometime between 2 - 5:00 she left this world behind
wearing light yellow
and a peaceful face

she did it her way

her Memorial Service happened on Mother's Day
and that was not an easy day for many people to manage
but that is the way it could work for the family

I had been asked by her daughter to be the one to design
the memorial boards for use at the service
she brought in packets of photos a big smile and also
the basket of silk flowers Dorothy and I had designed
and put together for her room at the nursing home
those were for us at Home Instead

for two days at work my "job" was to design/create these boards
I decided two would be perfect
24" x 36"
they would be framed by the funeral home when I finished

I wanted light yellow fabric for the background
my boss's Mom went into her stash and gave me a pile to work with
there was one piece that was perfect
and could not have been cut closer to fit
I ironed it
and glued it down
placing photos to represent a life, long and filled with accomplishments
I did background papers and we went shopping for what I wanted to use
it was all my design
I knew her home
I knew what she loved to have around her
and her daughter's choices of photos and emphasis
showed me the way with this last gift I could offer
as homage

we brought the boards over to the funeral home
we went shopping for flowers from our business
and added the cutest little frog that my boss found in our
shopping adventure to place in the base of the lovely
yellow potted plant
there had to be a frog! her collection made me laugh
every time I went to her home
the yellow ribbon had to go - it was awful - and so I found
a lovely yellow ribbon that I could use to fashion a
bow that was deserving

doing the boards was like scrapbooking pages
very large pages
of a person's life
I was able to see her from a new perspective and as I read
articles that were placed on these life-pages
my respect and sense of honor soared
and the hilarious section of her in costumes was my favorite part!
after all, we wore witches' hats together for Halloween
and they were very haute couture
Coco Chanel of withches' hats
her wildly varied costumes had a designer flare
authentic on one hand
with a twist of the crazy on the other
if that makes sense and if not, it's ok

it was such a perfect ceremony
family centered
with dignity and humor
a sense of history from a long life
a sense of love from a content life

I miss her
her name is still on my May work schedule
I have had to cross it off
that happens in my work life
this has permeated every day since
and so I had to go back this morning and see if I had written
about it or not

I do not think I did
it was too hard until today perhaps

to learn from her in her final year and four months was a privilege
oh wow she was tough at first
and I teased her from time to time
with reminders of how another CareGiver and I would have
contests to see which of us would last longer before
being kicked out!
"You can go now. I don't need any more help."

it fell upon me to win her heart and trust
and we worked it out together
the first time she said after three hours:
"Oh, is it time for you to leave already?"
I got all choked up.
we had become friends

so Dorothy, is it time for you to leave already?
it was time
her time

Saturday, May 21, 2011

material spiritual world, material spiritual girl...

in our support groups, different topics would emerge
sometimes going in hard and deep
other times skimming the surface of a thought
especially in our advanced cancer
expressive art therapy group
where we all have issues to deal with that most people our age
do not

the phrase "putting our affairs in order"
has a certain depressing tone to it when I hear or say it
so I put another spin on the same reality
I want to "put things in motion"
and when one aspect of that means selling things and making money
I am creating a "fun-fund" so that we can use money for
having fun together, perhaps a trip that would make memories
and make me feel so rich from the experiences!

I work with the elderly and they talk about "materialworldliness"
in ways that make me laugh, reflect, and consider issues in my own life
what "things" have meaning to me personally
what has meaning to my family and friends
what do I keep to pass on
what do I donate now or designate for future gifts
not that I have so much of "value" monetarily
but that is not the main point...
there is deeply valuable essential meaning in simple things
that are connected to me
that my children would understand more than anyone else

I let some things go and feel happy about it
things that will also go on to have another life and that makes me feel happy
this coming Tuesday my friend Mike will come and pick up
probably my most wonderfully outrageous possessions: a Pagoda Swing
that I traded for a while back and did not think it
all the way through...
oh well, it has been fun to own it
but I could not find the right place to put it
and in the garage for months makes no sense
when the vehicle needs to be inside
hopefully it will be sold to someone who will love it
at least as much as I do!
I can let it go now, it needs a home in a beautiful setting
not a garage...

I need help with my art room life
I am going to ask for help
it is a block in my life that needs to be unblocked
once again, the material world
the material world girl that I am and enjoy being
but not to the degree of being overwhelmed with stuffness
that induces confusion rather than creativity
that is not healthy or healing for me at all
and putting some of these things in the hands of
other creative people will be satisfying and enjoyable
for all of us...

I am rambling around, trying to figure out my attitude
about a lot of things
such as wills and living wills and living in the moment
and the will to live, livingstrong
living joyfully givingstrong
and not waiting until it is too late
to find the answers
to some of the simplest earthiest loveliest questions

who am I
what am I creating with my life
what can I give
who can I help
how can I make value out of cancer entering our lives

I am reading a book titled:
Too Soon Old
Too Late Smart

a friend bought it and suggested it for our book club
I liked it right away because the title made me laugh
good points for discussion
good food for thought

so happy

isn't it amazing that we can watch plane travel in real time
seeing a little tiny airplane move across the screen
seeing in numbers the speed and altitude
going over Washington, Connecticut, New York, Maine then Canada
now of course there were a lot of in-betweens, but those
were the ones I made special note of

when I punched the key to see the
earth" view,
then it was the landscape more than the delineated map
there was the moment when that little tiny plane on the screen
big huge real plane in the air
carrying my first baby - and I felt a certain level of birth pain
watching him fly into open ocean
over the beautiful blue big pond of the Atlantic
and I just felt his freedom to fly
on his own
into his completely personal new life
as an adult
as a man
as the son I love
so happy to share stories with him
on the Way

his plane was over Great Britain when I went to bed

when I woke up and went back to see his little plane on the screen
he was four minutes from landing in Sarajevo!
then three
then 0
I wanted to see the word "landed" and fidgeted around
and finally was satisfied enough
that he had landed safely

that was about 7:15 am Thursday
Bryan and I went to his school talking all the way
and then I needed to get ready for work
fidgety seems like the word of that day
couldn't manage to be too far away from the computer or phone

spacing out on a tv show
I saw Brandon's cell phone number on the screen without a ring?
a moment later the phone again, a ring,
and it was Brandon!
I jumped up and could not believe it - there he was
at Mahdi's home with her and her Mom having a meal together!
Mom, she put 30 pounds of food in front of me and it is delicious!

his voice sounded so happy!
and it was like he was just across the counter from me in the kitchen
I asked to speak with Mahdi and her sweet voice was so happy too
in the background I could hear her Mom speaking
and she does not speak English so this was a new sound for me
and it was warm and strong and clear

Brandon told me right away that she was really really wonderful
so I had that in my heart as I listened to Mahdi's
translation of her Mom's message to me:

Brandon is here now and he is going to be fine.
I will take care of him - now that he is here,
he is mine.

I loved that! Started to cry - he is mine!
that is the best thing she could have ever said.
it made me laugh and cry at the same time...

Brandon said he felt so very comfortable
and if he closed his eyes he wondered if when he opened
them up again
would he find himself back in Missouri?
it was like a dream he was living

later in the day
he posted several photos on Facebook
and I could see him in Sarajevo, Bosnia!
Brandon with Mahdi
Brandon with Mahdi's Mom
Brandon with a little tiny kitten in his big gentle hands
his smile as big as his face could handle
a look that reminded us of his "happy dance days"
of his "little man of heart" days

it is a new person I look forward to re-meeting
when he returns
it inspires me to try to be a bit new too for him
for me and us

I am so happy
that he is...
and that we all have each other

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Carolina on my mind

Brandon is sleeping in Charlotte, NC tonight and will be
heading to Dulles early in the morning
his flight today was interrupted by a cancellation due to weather
and I am very happy for a safety decision
followed up by taking care of the passengers with a good meal
and a nice place to rest this evening

this kind of day is frustrating for him, he wants to be over the Atlantic
and will be tomorrow...

travel opens so many doors of learning
partience, problem solving, communicating with people directly,
face to face
a balance between trust and caution
survival skills

Brandon joked last week about the movie Castaway
and I tried to change the channel of that scenario in my head
while he bantered with Bryan
the thought of my son talking with a soccer ball named Wilson
freaks me out!

today was a long day for me as we got up at 4:00 am
seeing him off a little after 5:00
I did "the wave"
a family tradition of waving until we can no longer see the vehicle
our loved one is driving away in...

I was glad to be working today, it caused me to focus on others
and that is a good thing
in the afternoon at the office, I was asked to do two projects that
involved extremely repetitive paper cutting
now, I am good at that sort of thing, having done that for years
when making thousands of handmade cards, etc.
at one point I realized that my eyes were crossing
and then dozed with my head up
and thank the gods,
a weak paper cutter
that couldn't and didn't take my finger(s) off

cold water to my face
hearing from Brandon later helped more
and I am getting more used to the idea
that my children
grow up
every day
and I do too
every day

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Gandhi in Wal-Mart

recently I was in Wal-Mart for a handful of things
for some strange reason I keep thinking that if I refuse to take a huge cart
or hand carrying basket that I will buy less
it sort of works but not really

I had the less than 10 or 12 items in the basket (gave in at one point)
that I "needed"
going in for 2 or 3
so I headed for one of the speedy counters

standing in line looking forward I was not in any great rush at all
for a change

and glanced back

I thought I was having a spiritual experience on the spot in a Wal-Mart
of all places on this crazy holy earth!
a little Indian man was standing right behind me
white hair, glasses (ok not the roundy kind)
holding three small bananas
so I asked him to please go ahead of me
I had more things than he did
and he said that he appreciated my offer
but he was fine and not in any hurry
I wanted him to keep talking because he sounded just like Gandhi
(as if I personally know right?)
I swear this is the truth

ok, so I started putting my items on the conveyor belt of a counter
and he noticed the two cans of tennis balls that I had
and asked if I played tennis
well, I did a thousand years ago or so, my sons do, but
interestingly enough
these tennis balls were to use in our Holistic Healing group
on Reflexology - we were going to put them on the floor
for foot massage! (I had volunteered to bring them for the class
and decided that we needed to have new ones instead of recycling
the dozens we have around)
we laughed about that and then he asked where my sons played tennis
at Hickman High School and Mizzou at the Green Tennis Center

well, it just so happened that his son played at Hickman many years ago
and was part of the team when they were very highly ranked
in the state
I asked him about those days
and it was fun listening to him talk tennis
when it seemed more fitting for him to be saying my
favorite Gandhi quotes...

I remember being a bit self-conscious at one point about my purchases
I was buying nail polish or something that seemed so uncool
in front of Gandhi!
I laughed at myself in myself and enjoyed just chatting
right then and there
so focused and a bit oblivious to the extended reality
that included being in a store

my order was suddenly in plastic bags, paid for, and
I was supposed to be on my way
in the ways of grocery store manner & ethics
but I decided to wait at the end of the counter
for Gandhi to purchase his fruit

I expressed to him that I was most certainly grateful to him
for not taking me up on my offer to go ahead of me
he laughed and said it was a good decision on his part
he said that actually whatever it was that he had originally
come into Wal-Mart to purchase was not there
(amongst the zillions of stuffs)
and he thought that he would not leave without doing his part
to help the struggling economy
and those three perfect little bananas would be his contribution

he was happy that he did
since we had such a nice conversation
and how rare such an encounter is
in a world in such a hurry
that we pass by such lovely interesting people all the time

but we both chose to enjoy the moment
in line
a sliver of time
passing into the next
with a story in the pocket of my memory

waving goodbye
I smiled carrying two plastic bags
looking at many many faces as I walked out
wondering about their stories

did I regret not "mentioning" the fact that he stunned
the living daylights out of me, being Gandhi in Wal-Mart
and all that?
in a way

will I ever meet him again?
I only know that when a trip to Wal-Mart is on my radar
I know which one out of five or so I will head to!

Friday, May 13, 2011

KC - Dulles - Vienna - Sarajevo...OMG!

Brandon and Bryan have their shared Birthday on Monday the 16th.
Brandon will be 21 and Bryan 17.
We are experiencing their special day over many days it seems.
on the day after, the 17th,
Brandon will be picked up at 5:00 am and head to Kansas City
to catch a flight that begins his first international trip ever!
I am excited for him, scared a little, mostly focusing on the journey ahead
and how to prepare for it.
The bank today helped out with advice and he bought his traveler's checks...
just looking a them brought back floods of memories
from the time I took my first trip...

his sweet girlfriend is from Sarajevo, Bosnia and she is there now
after finishing up her exams...they were not able to get tickets together so
they will meet there.
Mahdi's Mom sent me a message:
she will take care of Brandon as if he were her own son.
I know she will.
Brandon and Mahdi came over last Saturday, my personally declared official Mother's day
and she brought a beautiful bouquet of flowers for me
it was her idea and her gift.
I got all teary and gave her a hug.
Brandon was all smiles and explained that he had predicted
EXACTLY what I would do and I did it perfectly!
it was a special day.
I cannot remember if I blogged about it or not
some of these days are a blur...

please keep safe travel thoughts in heart and mind for him
he will be there for about a month and then comes back for a packed
summer of teaching tennis
I am proud of his effort in school - he finished exams and now
looks upon his senior year at the University.
his plan is to continue on and I know he has the willpower
to continue
he has worked hard at his job as well and has managed money well
and is able to take this trip now

I can sense his excitement and nervousness and there are times when we look
at each other, smile and do not have to say a word
last night he called late and asked if he could sleep at our house
of course, anytime
I set up a "creative bed" for him in his "old room"/the new computer/filming room
his roommates were having a party and he wasn't interested
in the noise, "beverages" etc.
I knew he was exhausted after his last exams yesterday

I knocked on the door gently
asked if he might like a backrub... ok
without a spoken word, a quiet space remembering so many times in our lives together...
we had gone out for pizza at the mall early in the evening
a total flashback to his childhood when we did that at the end
of the school year
a chance to talk once again...

as I was sitting on the floor, rubbing his fuzzy head,
this man was there
where there used to be a little boy
then a quiet man's voice said:
thanks for doing this, Mom. it was worth coming all the way
across town for this backrub.
you are so welcome.
I love you, Brandon.
love you, too, Mom...
good night
great flight, my son

Friday, May 6, 2011

whiskers on kittens & the Knights of Ni

this morning Bryan and I were going to school
and as my experience so often is
I cannot remember how something started
I just remember parts of things
that may not be such a bad thing
selective memory
selective braindeadedness
sometimes I just laugh from a liberated feeling because it is actually
very funny to me when I literally forget so much!
at other times I get a little freaked out or upset
because how on earth could I ever forget
compared to my old normal way

well, here is what I remember about this morning:

all of a sudden we are singing Julie Andrew's tune from
The Sound of Music, My Favorite Things
Bryan knew more of the words than I figured he would!
and I knew them all, yes, I could actually remember!
I bragged that I was sure I could do a sing along with
Julie in that movie as well as Mary Poppins

then we switched channels midstream and started talking about
Monty Python and The Holy Grail
Bryan is hysterical when he does these English accents
and recalls word for word whole sections of the movie
I love to laugh
oh that was a great song in Mary Poppins
and we talked about the genius of comedy
and he wants a whole new creative energy to come out of Hollywood
go for it Bryan

talking about shoestring budgets
when they could not afford real horses in Holy Grail
and so they bought coconuts to clatter

Paul, thank you for sending us the movie several Christmases ago
Gary, thanks for my anniversary issue of Sound of Music
VHS may need to be upgraded at some point!

years and years of morning rides, many times with a chosen quietness
other times we talk about what is coming in the day
perhaps a test, a dream from the night before...

there were years we walked to school together,
Brandon the little man next to me side by side
Bryan the little baby with his pacifiers
me, with a song everyday,
made up
they remember
so do I
long long ago
those memories
and refreshing
as Spring

Thursday, May 5, 2011

sparkling eyes

ever since writing here last
my mind has wandered around a beautiful moment
part of me wants to hide the experience in a secret treasure box
hide the key
inside my soul
and wrap holy wings around such a time

a side of me wants to share it
only if it is safeguarded
no misuse or false interpretation allowed
no reading into it
no damaging something so delicate
what anyone else does with this is not mine to own or control
so in surrender of trust, I give

I cannot seem to be able to communicate anything else
until I free this story
letting it fly where it may
knowing that the essence of strength encompasses
every word
tears that flowed
between sparkling eyes gazing upon each other's love
in the freedom flight of forgiveness

whenever I have started writing about anything else
I get many words down and then lose them
over and over
so now I will share simply
about a conversation that changed my life
and the life my son Brandon and I share...

he called and asked if he could come over so that we could talk
I can never say yes fast enough
I made sure nothing "was wrong"
several days later we were sitting at our kitchen table

we looked at each other and I knew this was a special time
so I did my best to be completely present
for him
with him

without divulging more than I want to for us
he shared that he recently had an overwhelming experience
in his heart...
he remembered times when he had said things to me in the past
that hurt me and felt so deeply sorry from this place of love
that was newly opening in his life

I looked into his sparkling eyes
and listened with spiritual ears to spiritual words
our hearts met in his serious beautiful mind
and we talked about the nature of love
and repentance
understanding and wishing I could have understood more
during those painfully difficult years for him
and for me, too...

we shared for a long time

at one point, he said:
Mom, of course we want you to live a long time
but I want you to know that if you do die earlier
Bryan and I will be ok now
we will take care of each other, you don't have to worry about us...

and I could cry and cry in the comfort of the relief and peace
he gave me
such a deep gift, beyond words

I could share how sorry I felt that I was not able to find
the way
to reach him in the darkness he felt for several years
we talked a long time
past any sense of time passing
and the washing of tears
made for more sparkling eyes

when we came to earth again,
we pushed our chairs away from the table
we pushed pain away from between us
and we found something to laugh about

it didn't matter what
it was just so good to laugh and hug each other
to life