Friday, May 19, 2017

14 sleeps

Two weeks from tomorrow SIL and I will be on our way to Ireland. This trip was planned last July and it has sped up and surprised me that it's just two weeks away. I'm both excited and exhausted thinking about it. Exhausted because I have to get through Memorial Day first...and then who knows if this "survivor bubble" I'm in will explode or not. (I've bought my trip alcohol so I should be fine.)

Tonight after work I decided to read, thoroughly, the trip plan and am so dang excited about going now. Here's what's on our itinerary.

Day 2 (Day 1 is all travel)
Arrive in Dublin and meet "the gang" as I'm going to call them.

Side bar: In case I didn't tell you, this trip is through a company called Grand Circle Travel. It's a land tour. All we really have to do is show up.

After we meet the Gang...we have a walking tour around our hotel by our Program Director.

Side Bar: I'm just going to say now that the Gang will have one of the following and will eventually annoy the h-e-double-toothpics out of me

  1. The person/couple who's always late
  2. The know it all
  3. The whiner
  4. The ugly American
Any who.....
After the walking tour we have some free time in Dublin and then we have a Welcome Dinner. 

Day 3:
A tour of the city. I'm assuming this will be via a big bus. During this tour we'll stop at Trinity College. 

Y'all, Trinity College has THE library I've wanted to shoot as a photographer for decades. Here's photo from the Interwebs...I only hope I can come close to something this breath taking. 

Photo stolen from some fantastic photographer on the Interwebs

Also at Trinity College, and probably a bit more interesting is the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells contains the 4 Gospels in Latin, are extremely ornate and are from 384 AD. 

After we finish that tour we have the afternoon free. My plan, and SIL is riding shot gun on this, is to find this store called Celtic Whiskey and do some Whiskey tasting. My Kidd Valley buddy provided this gem to me and I cannot wait to see it. 

Day 4
What trip to  Dublin would be complete without going to the Guinness Stonehouse. I've heard its a touristy tour, but hey...I'm a tourist. And we get free Guinness. What's not to like. 

Leaving Dublin we'll hit Glendalough and the Glendalough Monestary and some place called Avoca before we end up in Kilkenny for the night. 

Day 5
Kilkenny starts with a walking tour, Kilkenny Castle and ... wait for it...a Hurling demonstration.  I just hope I don't hurl. hahahah...After that we'll have the afternoon free to wander through Kilkenny. 

Day 6
It's off to Cork. On the way we'll stop at Cahir Castle and then Waterford. Yep. THAT Waterford. I'm not a huge crystal fan, but it will be interesting to see. Once we arrive in Cork we'll get a walking tour and dinner. 

Day 7
Cobh (pronounced cove). We'll see St. Coleman's Cathedral which has the largest carillon in Ireland. (Yah go ahead...look up carillon...I'll wait...and I had to look it up as well.) "The 49-bell Carillon of St. Colman's Cathedral in Cobh is the only such instrument in this country and is the largest in Ireland and Britain."

Cobh is also famous for being the last place the Titanic docked before it's fated trip. The Lusitania sank not far off this island too. 

Day 8
The ever so popular Blarney Castle. And no, I won't be kidding the Blarney stone. Gross!

We'll also hit Killarney where we'll take a horse and carriage tour through a forest. 

Day 9
We're going on the extra tour for this day and taking a trip to Dingle. Kidd Valley buddy said Dingle was worth every we're doing it. 

Day 10
Ring of Kerry and Killorglin. Basically an all day driving tour with some free time.

Day 11
Galway. On our way we get to stop and do/see THE second most exciting part of this trip ...a working Sheep Dog farm. Yes! Weather permitting we'll get to see how they train and work the border collies. Love this. 

Oh and we'll get to see the Cliffs of Mohr!

Day 12
Walking tour of Galway and the rest of the day on our own.

Day 13
More side trips. We've decided to do the Connemara side trip to see more of the country. There's a monestary on this side trip that's supposed to be beautiful. 

Later that evening we'll do the farewell dinner. And by this time I'll probably be ready to come home. I always say (and I think Mom/Dad used to say) ... "it's always nice to go on vacation but it's always nice to come home."

So yah...that's the trip. It'll be here and gone before I know it. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day Mom. Wish You Were Here

It was hard to put into words how much Mom meant to me when she was alive. Now, it's even harder. So instead of trying to put into words...I'm posting this...

Video of Mom...

And this....

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Here We Are Again

Here we are!
A month after the last blog post....
Almost 4 months after Mom passed...
The eve before Mother's Day...

What now?

First, the last 4 months have flown by so fast I can barely believe it. I know time flies when you get older, but good gracious it's as if those full months were nothing more than mere minutes.

I sold the Catalina house this last week. Proceeds heading to the Estate fund and hopefully I can start paying off Mom's estate and move forward just a little bit. One more check box checked. It's a relief, to be sure, to have that house sold. Oddly, I thought it would take longer to sale that house than the Voyager house. Who knew?

The rest of the Estate is what it is. Every day I do something related to it and have gotten used to the idea that this isn't a fast process.

Not looking forward to tomorrow. I've chosen to spend the day by myself. I'm not one to want to be around people when I know I'm going to be overly emotional. It's funny how everyone says grief is individual and unique for each person, then they try to NOT let you grieve the way YOU want. I know most have good intentions and I wouldn't change the support I have for nothing, though it gets a little exhausting. I now understand what Mom and SSIL had been saying when they both lost family. Funny how experience gives you perspective.

In other exciting news...Ireland is just a short couple of weeks away. I'm so excited. I'm a little anxious because I've not done any of the typical Jenn planning that I normally do, but I'm learning to go with the flow. I plan on spending a good portion of this weekend getting caught up on research of what we'll be doing. We got our final paper work and credentials in the mail yesterday and seeing those made me realize this was real. And happening in T minus 15 days...

Before we get to that though we have to go through Memorial Day. This one will be tough. Seeing Mom's name on a headstone isn't going to be something I thought I'd do so soon in my life. But I'll get through it. There will be many family members there to support me...and some alcohol. Seriously, it'll be a tough weekend, but one that has to happen and one that will soon be a memory.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Seattle Celebration of Life

I wasn't quite ready to write about Mom's second Celebration of Life after it ended last weekend. But now I've had a chance to reflect on it.  We had mom's second celebration on Saturday March 25th. I estimate we had about 50 family and friends come by.

What did I learn about mom?

Her Boeing career was so much more than I had imagined. I knew mom was one of those women who didn't let the "man's" world stop her. She fought her way through management with the Good ol' boys. Two of her previous co-workers and employees were there. One I've know pretty well throughout the years. She calls mom, Mama Jo. She has recounted stories of how mom helped guide and motivate her through Boeing and through her own personal life. That was mom. If you let her in, she'd be into everything in your life. Good and bad.

The second gentlemen I knew at arms length. I had met him and his wife a couple of times. I didn't know what mom had done for him. He told me how he was moved up here from Edwards AFB and how Mom was directly responsible for his career growth into management and logistics. He teared up a little when he remembered all the things she taught him about how to be a good manager. He felt he had been very fortunate to have mom show him the way.

She was, no doubt, a career woman. She loved her job and hated her job with equal veracity. We all do. But at the core was a woman who wanted to grow and to bring good people around her to help them grow. I only hope she knows what an impact she had on them.

Other guests that made a surprise appearance are two friends from my childhood. Both live nearby and I'm sad that we don't get together as much as we could. In Lancaster their parents and mine were inseparable. Every weekend we were either at their house, or them at ours. We laughed at how many weekends everyone stayed the night because of too much booze. We recounted stories of Boeing picnics, and the trouble our parents would get into ... such good stories. The best part is we have something on the calendar to get together in April. I really hope we can continue to do just that.

Family showed up too. The sister from Portland and her family came up. My aunt Jean and some of her family came up (always good to see her). She, in fact, is the person responsible for my scrapbooking problem. I wish I had gotten a photo of just her and I so I can write a scrapbook page about her.

I had several friends show up to support me. People who had met mom through the years and who considered her "Mom" too. Some put "Adopted Daughter" on their name tag. That just made me smile.

Overall I had to smile at the love in the room. A deep sadness brought all of us together, but the stories and the happiness that was in the memories made it bearable.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Mom Memory of the Day

Its inevitable. Every day a memory of mom and I will drop into my mind. I've been jotting them down and planning on writing a bit more about each one. Many of them are funny to me, but are such inside jokes that I'm sure no one else will think they're funny.

One thing I've learned through all this is that people lie. People tell you to "don't sweat the small stuff". And that "small stuff doesn't matter". This isn't really true. The "small stuff" are all the stories that make me smile and remind me of the woman mom was. The "big stuff" is easy to remember. The "small stuff" a little more cherished.

Today's memory is brought to you by the alcohol Tequila.

Sometime in the 90's. I really can't remember if I was still in school or just out of college. I think the latter. Dad was off hunting. Mom and I had been out shopping. She had purchased a book shelf that we planned on putting together that night.

On our way home, we stopped by the grocery store and bough makings for Mom's famous enchiladas. And apparently some tequila and margarita mix.

Mom mixed the margaritas (actually I think this might have been before the night in college that made be turn away tequila forever). At any rate, mom was mixing the drinks and I was making the enchiladas.

We laughed. We cooked together. We talked. We did what mother's and daughters should do together.

We ate dinner and went downstairs to start putting together the shelf.  On our way downstairs mom made some comment about the entire pitcher of margaritas being empty. How'd that happen?

We spent the next 2 hours putting together this shelf. The instructions were pictures and not words. Which, as you can imagine, with tequila in your system are confusing.

Finally. Finally we got the shelf together. We plopped ourselves down on the couch to stare at our work of art.


Then we looked at each out and broke out in a gut laughter that led to uncontrollable giggles.

To this day I wish I had taken a photo of the shelf. There were 4 shelves. One of them was not connected and hanging down.

We laughed and laughed. Ultimately we left the shelf there and went to bed.

I smile just thinking about how much we giggled.

I have this and so many more that I want to get out of my head and onto paper - well virtual paper.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

I'm Fine...Not Really

ChickenLady called me today about something completely unrelated to Mom and how I was doing, and our conversation naturally went to Mom and grieving. ChickenLady lost her husband several years ago, so she gets grieving. In fact, she helped SSIL through the loss of BigBro.

Anyhow, she said a couple of things to me that really resonated.

First let me say I feel like I'm not doing this grieving thing "right". Knowing full well there is no "right" way to grieve. "Everyone is different", everyone says. And I truly believe that. I'm not crying every day or every waking moment like I expect I should. Turns out I'm probably doing just fine.

ChickenLady said that after the loss as significant as this you're in a Survivor Bubble. You're just getting through the day doing what you need to do. And in my case, closing down mom's estate is a lot of work, stressful and a constant in my life. In my survivor  bubble, I'm doing what I need to do to get things done. Which makes sense. I wondered how I was able to compartmentalize my feelings right after mom died - just so I can get the house cleaned out and ready to sell.

She went on to say that the survivor bubble will get weaker and little holes will start to form. Don't be afraid of those little holes. You need them.  She implied that eventually the bubble will burst and that's when you'll feel the full weight of your grief.

I really like this analogy. It really made sense to me and made me feel like I wasn't going crazy or that I did, in fact, have a heart and can feel.

I also mentioned to her that I've stopped myself from crying every now and then because I say to myself, "I'm stronger than that." To which she responded, "Crying really shows your strength, not the other way around." I must have sounded confused because she went on to say that crying shows your brave enough to deal with the emotion.


So here I am...where I am I have no idea. I just know I miss mom horribly and that I really, REALLY want to talk to her, oddly about this whole thing.

Today will be a hard day. Today we say good bye to a good family friend who died in February. Him passing just added to the grief for this year.

Can we be done with 2017 already?

Monday, March 13, 2017


It's been almost 2 months since I lost mom. TWO MONTHS! Gone in a blink of an eye.

It's been a rough 2 months and thankfully sometimes a happy memory finds it way inside. I had no idea that grieving AND trying to settle mom's estate would take such a toll on my mental capacity. It's exhausting to say the least.

In two months though, I feel like I have made some ground on this thing called Estate management. But let me tell you, if you've not had to do it, it is harder than you think. I was so naive thinking that all it took was an organized person. No, in fact it takes an organized person, a smart person, a really smart person, and patience.

Today I received an offer for mom's Voyager house. With minimal back and forth we agreed to a price. It's contingent on the house passing an inspection though, so there's that. But the thought that I might have that off my hands is quite the relief. One down. One to go.

Its the second house that's going to cause me more grey hair. Every time I turn around another piece of paper work is required and more $$ is required. I'm so done with it. And then I need to remember that patience is something I need to practice.

In two weeks we'll have another Celebration of Life for me. This for her Seattle family and friends. It dawned on me this weekend that I'd better get to planning. I have much already done, but the final touches need to happen. Thankfully this is a simple celebration.

So how am I doing?
Well, there are good days and bad. The good are days where remembering mom brings a smile to my face. The bad are days I want to badly to talk to her. Then when I realize I can't, it just hurts. A pain I haven't really ever experienced. She's gone! Forever. It's when that thought enters my mind that I'm just so dumbfounded at how we got here. Denial.

Then there are times I think I'm not grieving the right way. I know, logically, there is not "right" way to grieve. In fact, I'm a tad worried that I'm bottling it all up and some day it's going to be unleashed and I won't be able to stop it. Then I worry some more about that.

Worry, mental exhaustion and more worry are all my compadres of late.

On a bright, personal side, I'm getting my act together so for anyone who has to deal with my estate, they won't have as many issues. I bought this great book called Get It Together and have gotten it together. At least I've accomplished one thing in the last 2 months.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mom's Eulogy

Saying goodbye is, for real, the hardest thing I've ever had to do. 

It started with scattering Mom's ashes on Saturday. We drove up into the Catalina mountains. The clouds were ready to burst and the wind was howling. I just hoped we could get her scattered without much rain. 

We found a vista point that overlooked Tucson. It was perfect for her. You could see almost all the way to Mexico...had the clouds not been in the way. Mom would have loved this view. It felt right to put her ashes here. 

The wind was blowing like crazy. And the sky was threatening rain at any moment. We hiked down a bit and stood in a circle. Mom had a poem she wanted read. I knew in my heart there was no way I could read I gave it to cousin Bruce to read. After we all took a cup full of Mom and went our own way and had a moment with Mom.  I tried to say goodbye then, but no words would form in my mouth. She knew. I'm sure she knew. 

As I turned to walk back up the path, I got hit in the cheek with a rain drop. A big, wet, cold rain drop. Then another, and another. By the time we got to the top by the car, it was coming down hard. And it was cold. We posed for a quick photo and off we went. 

We stopped at a cafe to have a toast to mom...except we had nachos instead. Which she would have loved. 

Sunday we had her Celebration of Life at the Voyager. 150 of her friends showed up. It was almost standing room only...dozens of cookies were made and I didn't get a single one. 

The service was beautiful, it was long, but beautiful. No doubt Mom would have approved. We had a moment of open mic.  Never being sure if anyone would say anything, I was nervous about it. But person after person got up and expressed their love for mom. Each had a special little story. In fact, the Pastor told a story about when he knew he and mom would be life long friends. She had her gall bladder out and he went to visit with her. She SHOWED him her gall bladder. That became the joke of the day. Several people said they saw it...and a few were sad they had not. 

This Eulogy I wrote to be read at the service. The reader read it completely out of order and totally screwed up the flow...but the point got across all the same. 

Eulogy to Mom
Eulogy by her daughters, Jennifer Wraspir, Billie and Melanie
Our family would like to thank you all for being here today to celebrate the life of JoEllen, our mom. For those of you that knew JoEllen, she was not only the life of the party but often the reason for the party.  She used to always say to us kids "Don't be so serious, life is too short, just have fun".

We always knew what an amazing, generous and kind woman she was, and in these last several weeks since she passed, the outpouring of love and support has proven this to be true. Hundreds, (and that is not an exaggeration), of emails, texts, calls and messages have come to us kids. She redefined the phrase “social butterfly.” She’d be humbled at the outpouring of love, and yet secretly she’d be thrilled to know we were making such a fuss over her. Our one wish is that SHE knew she was so loved.

We probably don’t have to tell you our mother was a special woman. She embodied all of the attributes of a “perfect” mom. She was caring, thoughtful, hardworking, compassionate, loving, tough on us when we needed it and so much more.  It was so difficult to think of all of the words that described mom as a person and how much she meant to us. Our mom was our best friend, our idol and we looked up to her all of our lives. We swore as teenagers we would never turn out like mom. And now we’re proud to say we are our mother.

Mom was born on Nov 5, 1947 in Grant’s Pass, Oregon. She died on January 16th, 2017 surrounded by her family and friends. Her life, to put it mildly, was something else.

She was a career woman her entire life. She started working at the Boeing company in the late 70’s. She struggled in the “man’s world” of Boeing, but proved time and again a woman could do the job, and in some cases better than any man. She retired from the Boeing Company in upper management and was so proud of all her accomplishments during her time there. She would use her experiences there when giving advice to us as our own careers started taking off.

When mom and dad married in 1981, we added to our already large family, the even larger Wraspir family. We used to joke that we didn’t have a family tree, but a family hedge.

Mom cherished her family above all. And family to her was anyone from a real relative, to friends, to members of her community. Her house was always filled with friends and family. All of our friends called her “mom”, because she was like a mom to everyone. She would talk to anyone, and any dog, most likely she’d speak to the dog first…

She was the communicator for all of us. If you wanted to know anything about what was going on with someone in the family, you called mom. That’s not to say mom shared everyone’s secrets, but she was definitely in the know. And her family loved her back – tenfold. She was the one everyone called for advice because we knew she’d tell us how it was.  She was happy to dole it out and expected you to listen. And while we may not have followed all her advice over the years, we’ve discovered that she really did know what she was talking about.

Mom loved to cook. Together she and dad would try new recipes and taught us to be open to trying new things. Entertaining and having people to dinner was one of her favorite things. Any given weekend you could guarantee someone was coming to the house for dinner. And no one ever left hungry.

Mom and Dad loved to travel. They got the travel bug when Dad was transferred to Saudi Arabia in the late 80’s. That afforded them the opportunity to see the world. And see the world they did. Together they visited England, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand – to just name a few. And they traveled to every single state in the United States by RV. While they loved exploring other countries, they especially loved exploring their country.

The list of things mom loved is extensive. She loved to read, to sew, to quilt, to cook, and to play games on her iPad. She loved her animals. And she loved her Seahawks. If the Seahawks were playing you knew not to bother calling because you could guarantee she would not answer the phone.

We feel like we could spend all day speaking about mom. She was an amazing woman who taught us a lot. The most important lessons were not verbal; they were in her actions. We know we are the people we are today because of her influence and guidance.  She always worked hard, complained when she needed to and was there when you needed her. She was our mother, but also our best friend. We will miss her every day for as long as we live. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Always on my mind

I miss her.

I miss my mom.

I'm trying very hard to not be sappy all the time on FB, but I find I want to talk about her daily. She was such a fantastic woman (and complicated, and difficult, etc) that I feel like the world has lost someone special.

This week was all about preparing for her Celebration of Life in Tucson. I had to finish her eulogy and man that was hard. Writing a eulogy to express how much you loved her, what her life was like, and just what the world would be missing now was one of the hardest things I've written. I'll post it here eventually.

I also put together a photo movie to show at the Celebration. Oh boy...that was hard. And yet somewhat cathartic. I was mostly ok until I put the song mom wanted to it. I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe.  And boy Mercy Me was really what I was saying...the tears that came out were intense.

On Saturday of this coming weekend, we'll be scattering mom's ashes in the Catalina mountains too. I've assigned a family member to figure out where to do this. I'll assume that too will be difficult.

I keep telling myself that once I get past this coming weekend, and the last trip to AZ, things will get better. I do know that's not going to happen, in fact it may be the absolute opposite.

Yesterday, I met with a representative from the Neptune Society and officially signed up. The Neptune Society is a company that takes care of all the details related to your cremation. Mom and Dad had purchased the same plan and it was sure nice to just make one call and let someone else who knows what they're doing to do it. The added benefit is if I were to pass outside the US or some place other than home, they take care of that too.

The idea that I didn't have to worry about that was a great gift from my parents. I can only imagine that when my time comes, that I can give the same gift to my loved one.

It wasn't an expense I should have taken on right now, but I figured no time is really going to be a good time.

Monday, February 06, 2017

24 New Things

One of my goals this year is to do 24 new things...meaning something I've NEVER done before. I did this back when I turned 40 and was hard pressed to get 40, In fact, the day of my birthday that year I was at number 39. I was stuck. My office mate at the time, tossed a trisket on the floor and said, "Have you ever eaten a trisket off a dirty office floor?" #40 was hatched.

This time, I'd prefer to not put my life in my hands by eating a food item off the floor of my office. So I figured I need to do two new things a month to get my 24. I'm already behind.  I've only charted two new things. One I'd rather not have at all, but life is dealing lemons this year.

First New Thing
Being an executor of a will and dealing with someone's estate.

Second New Thing:
Home food delivery.

It's this second one, I'd like to discuss.

I polled FB to determine which of my friends had tried any of the hundreds of companies out there offering food delivery. The responses were all over the place. I had a couple of requirements that I needed the company to have.

1. They had to offer a 2 person serving option. Most offer 4 or more servings.
2. They had to offer a low cal and/or low carb option
3. They had to offer enough options for each week

After some research I ended up with Home Chef. They had everything I was looking for.

I've had about a half dozen means from them. 2 are delivered each week. All of them, so far, have been fantastic and super easy to cook. I've added them all to my cooking blog, so go take a look.

The nay-sayers are asking why I would spend "so much money" on such a frivelous thing. Here's the thing, it's not frivilous. I'd be spending the $$ on groceries anyhow. In addition, I'm not wasting as much. They deliver EXACTLY the amount you need to make the meal. I don't have, what I call, useless leftovers hanging around. In the long run, I think I'm saving money by not tossing out so much food.

The other thing this is doing for me is it's getting my cooking again.

I've cancelled the service for the next couple of weeks as I'll be traveling to Tucson again. But as soon as I get back, I'm back at it.

Parisian Bistro Steak w/ dauphinoise potatoes and green beans

 Steak Wellington with roasted carrots and mushroom demi-glace

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad

Friday, February 03, 2017


I'm a bit stunned that it's only been 3 weeks since Mom passed. It feels like it's been a lifetime.

I'd love to say things are "better" and in some ways they are, but truthfully it's like I have a second job. Dealing with closing an estate is a lot of work.

I've been uncovering interesting things with Mom's world. Most have made me slightly disappointed in her not feeling like she could talk to us kids about what was what. But whatever. It is what it is.

I've booked my flight to Tucson for the last trip and Celebration of Life. Her friends there are doing all the arranging and I really don't have to do too much. I was momentarily bothered by decisions they were making without checking with me, but then I realized this Celebration is FOR them, not so much for me or our family.

I'm working through the list of things to do. Learning a lot and feeling stressed over getting it completed.

As for me, I'm doing ok. I have my moments and find I really am not liking nights. When I lay my pillow on the bed is when my brain starts to miss mom more than ever. I start to think of things like, "I can't call her to tell her what goofy thing Linus did today." Or "I can't call her to bitch about work." Or I can't call all.

It dawned on me the other night that death is, in fact, final. I knew this logically. And when I say it out loud it sounds ridiculous, but the realization of it is just heartbreaking.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


I remember when Dad died, Mom counted the days, then months, then years. It seemed odd, to me, at the time for her to be so aware of how long it had been.

And now?

Now I get it. I find myself thinking, "Mom's been gone for two weeks."

And then I think, "Two weeks?" It just doesn't seem possible. It feels like she is still just a phone call away.

I'm doing OK, I guess. I received a book about Grief in the mail (from who I don't know) and I've been reading it with my eyes wide open. You never really understand grief until your knee deep in it.

I feel bad because I didn't understand Mom's grief with regards to dad. Sure, I missed dad. But he wasn't my every day conversation. He was the man I loved who raised me. I miss him. But not the same way Mom would have.

Now, with Mom gone, I get it. I totally get it. I feel like my right hand has been removed. To say there's a hole in my heart that will never be filled, seems like a cliche...and yet so very accurate.

Most my meltdowns happen at night. They happen when I settle into bed and my mind starts to slow down a bit. I start to think about everything I've been doing to settle Mom's estate and then it hits me like a ton of books.

Her phone rang the other night. It was The Niece. When I texted her and asked why she was calling Grandma, she said, "I forgot. I used to call her on my way home all the time." That broke my heart. I told her I'd be that call now if she needs it, but to understand, and be reminded, that other people are grieving her loss is just as difficult as grieving myself.

Mom and The Niece

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Longest Week Ever

Mom has been gone just over a week now. I'm still coming to grips with what happened. I held it together for the week we had to clean out the house. I got home on Sunday night, unpacked, went to bed and completely lost it.

I cried for 30 minutes straight. I miss her so much.

I know that the next year will be hard and I'll want to rage, and scream, and cry on a regular basis. I've already had some moments of realizing I can't call Mom for answers on things. I can't call her and tell her what goofy thing Linus did. I can't call and argue with her about politics. I can't call her on Thanksgiving and tell her the Bird is in and the Clam dip is done. I can't do any of that and that breaks my heart.

Much like when BigBro died I spent a good chunk of time being in denial - the first stage of grieving.

The say it helps us survive the loss, we become numb, we wonder how we can go on with out the person we lost. In this phase you take one day at a time and learn to cope with the hole in your heart. "Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief." They say it's "nature's way of letting in only as much as we can handle." At some point you will start asking questions, then is when you start the healing process. And it's at THIS point that all the feelings you were denying begin to surface.

Oh great!

I think I am very much still in the denial phase. I really felt denial in the hospital and think I went through all 5 phases of grieving that week in the hospital. Denial - Anger - Bargaining - Depression - Acceptance. The week in the hospital was hard and all those emotions did surface in that short time frame. I knew she wasn't coming back to us. When the reality set in, and she passed, there was relief. Then there was work that needed to be done.

The next week was cleaning out the house. I compartmentalized my feelings for that week to "get it done." The sadness of throwing or giving away someone's life was overwhelming. All I could do was tuck those emotions neatly inside to be dealt with another day.

Now I'm home. Alone. Two cats who missed me horribly and no mom to call to tell how much the cats missed me.

The Final Hours

Its 3:26 am on January the 14th 2017. I'm sitting in a hospital waiting room waiting, not so patiently, for the MomUnit to pass. We took her off life support at 8:00 tonight. She's being her typical stubborn self. We've all told her she can go, but something is still keeping her here. The doctors say it won't be long. UPDATE: 5:19am: Just went back to see mom. She's still holding on.

The family and friends have come and gone. Each saying their personal goodbyes to a woman we all loved so dearly. She truly knew no stranger.

As a family, we've spent the last 3 days sitting vigil by mom's side. We literally "took over" this waiting room and had, at one time, 20 people standing around talking to each other. People from differnt arms of mom's life. All here with one very sad purpose, to say goodbye.

Mom was never alone in the back until we all left for the night - usually around midnight. During the day, someone would be back there just sitting with her. Just showing her the love we all felt for her.

And now? Now it's silent. Just me and the tapping of the keys. It's too quite and now my brain has started to think. And I find myself starting to do what I do every time I'm about to begin something I know nothing about.

Truthfully, I'm a procrastinator when it comes to doing a task that I 1) don't know how to begin and 2) really don't want to do. And the task in front of me, closing Mom's estate - fits both those criteria.

So I start researching. Typing into the Googles "checklist to follow when a loved one dies". I'm not sure why I think there's a "manual" for this, but sure enough...there are tons and tons of sites.

And as  I sit here with my clouded brain just glancing at the pages, and nothing really sticking I find that my thoughts travel through my life with the MomUnit.

I thought, "What's my first real memory of Mom?" Do you have one of your mom? I have a few jumbled memories which I'm not sure are "real memories" or memories given to me by photos or stories. I can't really pin point the first. Instead, many more come flooding in.

March 1985
We're leaving Quartz Hill to drive to Seattle Washington. We're moving...again. I'm 16 years old, leaving all my friends and the boy I was sure I was going to marry. We danced, ONCE, to Careless Whispers and I made it "our song". He, of course, had no idea.

Pulling out of the drive way I asked mom if I could put in a song. She said yes. As the opening chords of Careless Whispers begins I burst into tears. I cried for the friends I was leaving and my "one true love." I cried and I cried.

I rewound the song and played it another 150 times crying each time on our trip to Chowchilla (stopping to see the grandparents).

EVERY time either mom or I would hear that song we'd call each other and say, "Listen!"

April 1986
Mom met me in Geneva. Dad was already in Saudi and she was going to meet him there. I had already been at TASIS for 4 months and we were all flying to Saudi. Mom and I were in a hotel. It was about 2 am in the morning. Mom got up to pee and couldn't turn on the bathroom light. She woke me telling me this...and said, "Mom, they're sleeping."

Why she and I giggled like school girls over that I'll never know.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Hello 2017


I didn't stay up and wait for 2017. Me and the demons snuggled into the bed and didn't look back. I vaguely remember hearing some fireworks, but that didn't wake me enough.

The new year to me seems like a clean slate. All the things I didn't complete last year, or any previous year, filters to the top and ends up on a list...again. Here's the thing, my goals are really just ideas of what I'd like to do. I never hold myself too closely to them - some I do, but if I don't reach any of them I don't beat myself up. That's not to say I don't try, I just don't lose sleep if I don't hit them.

Last year I had none. I had "some" in the back of my head, but really didn't write any down...and I'm ok with that. Last year was such a crazy, chaotic mess that there was no way I could even focus on goals. THIS year I think, (read: hope) things have settled a bit. I still expect the crazy, but am hoping it's a lot less.

So ... here's the list.

24 New things
When I turned 40 I decided to do 40 new things. That took a LOT to do. This year I turned 48 and know that 48 won't happen. But half of it 24 new things. I've a list started and we'll see. Maybe I could secretly attempt 48 new things...well, now it's not a secret.

52 Weeks of Saving
I've done this for three years now and figured why not? It's kinda nice to have $1348 at the end of the year to do with what you want. THIS year I'd like it to go to something other than paying off a credit card. The change this year is that I won't be getting cash out, but transferring into savings instead. We'll see if that lasts. I'll also be starting backwards this year like I did last. Starting with week 52 and counting down.

I gave up on photography last year for sure. Even with the trips I took I didn't "feel" it. It wasn't until the end of the Georgia trip that I started to want to take photos again. My problem now is I'm tired of carrying that big DLSR camera with me ... so I bought a smaller camera and am going to see if it will suffice.  My photos aren't ever for big printing or selling, so hopefully the smaller will be better.

When isn't health on the list? I'm still riding the wave of the blood clot scare and am feeling motivated. I have NO plan to jump into this 100% right away. I know myself. It has to be small shopping and prepping again. Planning is key for me.  I also need to get back to the gym. I told the doc on Friday that the gym will be part of my life this next week so it may affect my INR numbers. We shall see.

Make an effort to go out more
I became a home-body last week. I wanted nothing more than to be home. That's all good and fine, but I feel like I am not making memories much anymore. I want my life to be more than inside my house. I also have this problem with "saying" I'll go somewhere, then wanting like nothing else to cancel right before. That has to end.

3 Road Trips
I took one last year. Sparky does not approve! I have two places that are on my list that I HAVE to check off. They've been on the list far too long. So buckle up.

Knowledge / Classes
Not sure what this is just yet, but I do know there's some classes I'd like to take. I'd like to take a Cake decorating class and perhaps a Management class. Something. I need more knowledge.

Along with wanting to get back into photography, Project365 may do the trick. I haven't done this in several why not?

Photo 1 of 365

24 Books
Dah. I hit 24 books this year on Dec 30th. Just in the nick of time. At least 12 will be from book club. I did print off this cool reading Bingo game that helps you read books not in your normal rotation. Should be interesting and fun to do.

Maintain current friends, make new ones
Relationships are big...and I think we all take certain relationships for granted. Need to still cultivate those relationships AND need to always be seeking new ones.

Work goal: Become a manager
It's been said outloud at work. I've heard them say things like, "Jenn's team..." Well, make it real. Make it MY team.

I think I have a couple of more that I may or may not add. They're not a big deal and really just something fun for me to do and are related to scrapbooking and tracking stuff in a year.

So happy new year everyone. What are your goals? Do you make them? Do you keep them? Do you care?

Friday, December 30, 2016

Farewell 2016....please...go

What a freakin year this has been? With a brand-new year getting ready to greet us I find myself in a very familiar place of self-reflection. A new year feels like a clean slate to me. And most years I find myself facing goals that I didn't quite complete the previous year and what new goals I may want to accomplish. For a couple of years now I've given up on specific goals because - well - I just don't care enough.

Blood Clot updates...
I'm still trying to get the INR (blood coagulation level) settled. It's been a bit all over the place and part of these several weeks after starting is all about getting it settled. Going about every other day to get the blood checked. It's a small price to pay to live.

Birthday Shenanigans
The birthday week is almost over. I did have a few gatherings planned. I usually do a party, but this year I just didn't feel it. I'm going to chalk it up to this year just kinda sucking all the way around.

Still, Wednesday my co-workers and I spent several hours at a local pub having some drinks, some viddles and some conversations. All that showed up are really some of my favorite work people. Despite the crazy that is work, the people make it worth it.

Thursday, the actual day of birth, I met the fam at the Keg, like always. Free steak dinner for your birthday is not a bad deal. The Braspir's, Seattle SIL, The Niece and Blueberry all joined me in ringing in a new year.

So...2017! What's next?

I can't wait to see what 2017 has to offer us. Should be an interesting year...Happy New Year everyone.