Archives

The Little Things – Mother’s Day 2017

Mama and DaddyIt’s the little things that I think and dream about now that Mama is gone. Some of them are real and some, those in my dreamworld, are reconfigured to how I wished or hoped they had turned out.

As time passes between my parents’ deaths, I find more and more Daddy and Mama are together, the two of them and sometimes with my sisters and and sometimes just with me, but we all seem to be younger, when our lives were more together than they are now and we shared the little things that glued us together.
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Four Years Gone: Grief, Loss, and the Paradox of Time That Seems Both Immediate and Eternal

mama-october-2010Today (August 14, 2016) marks four years since Mama died. It was a Tuesday then. At 5:50 pm, Mama took her last breath.

She went into what would be her death sleep around 1 pm on Sunday, August 12, 2014, with her last words of “I guess they’re going to throw me out now,” suffering, I think, the final heart attack that led to her death.

I assured her that I was not throwing her out, that she was home, and I loved her. It took me several months and writing Fields of Gold: A Love Story before I realized that Mama was back at nursing school at East Tennessee State University, unable to follow all the instructions she was given because of a congenital hearing loss, about to be dismissed from the program because she could not hear the doctors when her back was turned to them (she compensated for her hearing impairment by masterfully reading lips, even with hearing aids, most of her life). Continue reading

Elder Abuse Awareness Day – June 15, 2016

Elder Abuse Awareness Day: June 15, 2016There are many forms of abuse that humans can inflict on other humans. We see these kinds of abuse – and sometimes experience them ourselves by being on the receiving end – in action on a daily basis in the world around us.

While you and I may be strong enough, savvy enough, knowledgeable enough, and aware enough to recognize and prevent (or avoid or remove ourselves from) these manifestations of abuse, the most vulnerable people in our human family – children and the elderly – are often the most susceptible to and unable to protect themselves from these kinds of abuse. Continue reading

Remembering What Would Have Been My Parents’ 60th Wedding Anniversary

mama-daddy-wedding-announcementSixty years ago today at 4 p.m. in Unaka Avenue Baptist Church in Johnson City, Tennessee, my parents, Ned Moses Ross and Muriel June Foster, in front of a few family and friends, took their vows of marriage to each other, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health for as long as they both lived.

Although neither of them on that day could have imagined how their lives together would unfold, testing along the way the strength of the unconditional commitment they made to each other, my daddy and my mama were lovingly faithful throughout their union to their promise before God and their promise to each other.
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Life Lessons From Mama – A Tribute to My Mom on Mother’s Day 2016

Mama - Going Gentle Into That Good Night - Mother's Day 2016This is my fourth Mother’s Day without my mom. Although the immediate excruciating pain of losing her has subsided into a dull constant ache and longing punctuated by sudden and unexpected moments of intense grief, often triggered by a memory or something externally that I associate with Mama, I still miss her terribly.

But time and space has allowed me to grow into a deeper understanding, a greater respect, and a more complete love of this incredible woman that I was blessed to have as my mama. Continue reading

The Memories Never Die

Mama November 2011Mama has been everywhere on my mind the last few days and I realized that her birthday is coming up this Wednesday – March 2 – or Thursday – March 3 – depending on whether the date on her handwritten birth certificate is correct or the date that Social Security had listed for her is correct.

Growing up, Mama’s birthday was always March 2. A part of me still sees that date as her legitimate birthday. It wasn’t until I started in the role of her medical power of attorney (several years before dementias came to stay) that I became aware that the government had her birthday as March 3 and I memorized that date as part of the litany of information I had to give to medical providers, insurance companies, and pharmacies each time we interacted with them. Continue reading

Grief

Grief is unique and the grieving process is different for everyoneRecently in one of my caregivers’ support groups, I was asked by of the members if I could give her recommendations on books she could read on how to cope with/get over the intense grief she is still experiencing several months after the death of her grandmother (who had dementia).

My response was that I didn’t know that a book would help her because grief  and the grieving process is unique to each of us, especially in the case of dementias because we lose our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s twice: first while they’re still living and then again when they die.

Grief is sometimes very complicated. We all grieve differently, based on our relationships, our personalities, our temperaments, and our experiences in life.

The reality is that no two people ever grieve exactly the same way.

And this is one of those areas of life where people can cause a lot of irreparable damage – and layer even more pain on top of the pain of grieving – by imposing their ideas about grieving (how long, how much, how deeply, etc.) onto those grieving in the form of criticism for and impatience with the process as it unfolds.

None of us can get inside the grief of another human being. We’re not them. We haven’t walked in their shoes. We don’t know everything about them and we don’t know everything they know.

To assume that we do and to turn those assumptions into lectures about how we have been where they have been and we know what they’re going through and we know they’re not “doing it” right is the height of ignorance and arrogance.

Having had several friends in the last couple of months lose a parent and walking through the valley of the shadow of impending death with someone else who is losing a parent right now has brought the grieving process, which I’m still in to one degree or another with both of my parents, and its winding road that it is continuing to carve out in my life, back to the forefront of my mind.

The reality is that grief never really leaves us (it changes over time and it changes us over time, but it also comes right back in full force at you in the oddest moments even after a lot of time has passed).

In the end, grief is the price of love. It’s a high price, but I know that none of us would ever choose not to pay it.

I can’t imagine not having ever had my parents in my life, so even though their deaths have left gaping, sometimes acutely oozing, sometimes intensely aching holes in my heart that will never be repaired in this life, having them both for as long as I was blessed to have them makes this worth it.

Even in those moments when the pain is so strong that I can’t remember it for that instance.

So, for all of us who are somewhere on that continuum of the grieving process, know that grief after death means we loved in life. It doesn’t have a playbook nor does it have a time limit. It will get easier to do over time, but it will be a constant companion for the rest of our lives. 

And, when it’s all said and done, that is a very, very good thing. Never forget that.