“To Those I Love”

A dear friend and cousin sent me this poem by Isla Paschal Richardson. It came in a sympathy card which I received after attending Mom’s funeral (which, by the way, was everything and more that she could have asked for!). I absolutely love it, and wanted to share it with you.

“If I should ever leave you, whom I love

To go along the Silent Way, grieve not,

Nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk

Of me as if I were beside you there.

(I’d come – I’d come, could I but find a way!

But would not tears and grief be barriers?)

And when you hear a song or see a bird

I love, please do not let the thought of me

Be sad…..For I am loving you just as I always have….

You were so good to me!

There are so many things I wanted still to do – so many things to say to you…

Remember that I did not fear…It was

Just leaving you that was so hard to face…

We cannot see Beyond…but this I know:

I loved you so –’twas Heaven here with you!”

“Your Life is an Occasion, So Rise to It”

This is a wonderful quote from “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” movie, circa 2007. I had never seen it, but was intrigued by the title. By chance, it was on TV last night and I watched most of it.

Long and magical story short, the time comes for Mr. Magorium to die and let another take his place running his magical toy shop. He tells his friend and assistant, Molly Mahoney, that she has all the magic she needs to run the Emporium herself. She doesn’t believe him, and although Magorium knows she can, he understands that she needs to figure this out for herself. He tells her, “Your life is an occasion, so rise to it.”

That quote just captured me. Here I am, getting ready to bury my mother tomorrow, worried that I won’t do everything that she asked for, and so on—and I hear this wonderful quote. My life, your life, all of our lives are occasions! So we must rise to them.

Even when we are in grief or pain or loss, we must go forward. We need to remember that our lives are occasions, as well as gifts, challenges and hurdles over which we must cross.

Just when I felt my heart shrinking away in sorrow, here is one more heaven-sent moment to make me realize how wonderful, how amazing, how incredible and how good my life is. I had 64 wonderful years with my mom, and I still have my dad. I have the love of my life as my husband, I have two wonderful step-daughters, an absolutely amazing granddaughter and another on the way, I have four cats whom I adore, I have dear friends, my body is healthy and strong, I have the privilege of being an American in America, and so much more.  I have this beautiful world and all it holds each day. I have laughter and tears, I have hope and dreams, I have love and joy, I have a beautiful life.

It is up to me, to all of us, to make our lives the occasions that they are meant to be. Let us all rise to the occasion!

My Mom is With the Angels Now

My amazing mom died on December 16 at 7:00am. The Crankee Yankee and I were on our way to see her, having been called by my dad earlier. He said that her breathing was getting labored and that we had better come soon. About 15 minutes later, he called again to say that she was gone.

As anyone who has watched a loved one decline at the end of their lives, there is a mix of grief and relief, sorrow and joy–joy for them to be able to leave their poor sick bodies and fly with the angels. Although I will miss her every single day of my life, I know that she is happy to be free and is able to be an influence for good in a higher realm.

Dad and I spent a lot of time talking about her, and alternately weeping and laughing. I made all the phone calls and wept with those who have loved her so well.

Mom and I planned her funeral months ago, and now everything is in place just as she wanted it. She had picked out her “going away” outfit, and asked for one perfect red rose to hold. Her hairdresser, Connie, who adored her, is doing her hair and I will be doing her makeup. Mom had a small collection of cards and letters from family and friends that she cherished. We decided to put them in the casket with her, surrounding her with all that love and affection.

Here is the obituary I wrote for her months ago (which she approved):

“Gloria Spaulding Bullock of Wolfeboro, NH, known to all as “Glo,” died peacefully and with the full knowledge that she had said, done and experienced everything she wanted to on December 16, 2015. She is survived by her husband of 60 years, Ned Bullock, and her daughter, Jane (Bullock) Fraser.

Among her many accomplishments, she co-authored a children’s book, “Shopping at the Ani-Mall,” with her daughter, Jane, published in 1991 by Windswept House of Mt. Desert, ME. She also developed the genealogy of her relatives from the Feero line, “Christian Feero, Loyalist of New Brunswick,” published through Gateway Press, Inc. of Baltimore, MD in 1983. This

chronicled Christian Feero and his people from 1751 to 1983. All research was done by visiting libraries and graveyards, speaking with living relatives, collecting photos and handwriting everything; no computers, no Internet.

Glo was a beloved member of the Wolfeboro chapter of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO), and a regular at the Country Bookseller morning coffee and chat group. In her lifetime, she has been a wife, mother, saleswoman in the early days of WTWO TV out of Bangor, ME, managing editor for the Granite State News, business manager and partner for the

Ned Bullock Photography Studio in the summer, and Camp patrol in the winter, a ballroom dancer, writer, teacher, mentor, friend, advisor, excellent cook, Scrabble maven and jewelry designer. For the last 15 years she made and sold beautiful necklaces and earrings under her company name, Folie a Deux.

Glo had the great gift of knowing that her time on Earth was limited. With that knowledge, she was able to make her own decisions about her final days, speak and visit with all those she loved, and even pick out her last outfit. As she so often said, “This time is a GIFT! How lucky I am to have this wonderful time with my family and friends, and to say everything I want to say, to give away some of my things to those who will love and cherish them as keepsakes, and to leave a legacy of love and hope.”

One of Glo’s last requests is that any cards or notes sent to Ned Bullock or Jane Fraser be hand-written and NOT via email. Glo was a confirmed Luddite and never owned or used a computer in her life. She felt that nothing meant more than a hand-written card or note, and asks for everyone to please respect her last wish.”

It has been my privilege and pleasure to be her daughter and friend for every day of my life.

 

Great Adventure at the Salad Bar

The Crankee Yankee and I stopped in for a bite (and to use a coupon) at a well-known restaurant whose name rhymes with Scooby Boozeday’s. We both chose a menu item that came with the salad bar.

Now the salad bar at this restaurant is great. It has a wonderful selection of fresh vegetables, including edamame, and also some excellent ready-made salads;  potato, broccoli and cheese, and pasta, peas and ham. There is also a good choice of dressings, plus homemade croutons, chopped bacon (REAL bacon, BTW), sunflower seeds, and so on. Quite frankly, half of the attraction of eating there is the salad bar.

Our waitress, like all of the servers there, was attentive and perky, and like all the other servers, called us “guys.” That’s one of those non-sexual, sort-of-friendly-but-indiscriminate appellations that a lot of servers use to cover males and females of all ages. (For the Who Really Cares Record, I don’t like it—why can’t they just call us “folks?” But that’s a gripe for another post.)

Back to our well-meaning waitress: we had no sooner forked up a mouthful of our salads when she popped out of nowhere saying, “So! How are you doing with the salad bar?”

Uh–what? How were we doing with the salad bar? I so badly wanted to say, “Well! Thank you for asking! It was quite an adventure! You see, we walked up to the salad bar, picked up our plates, and–wait for it: WE FILLED OUR PLATES WITH SALAD! IT WAS INCREDIBLE! Then we brought the salads back to our table so we could eat our salads. What a concept: you pick out your own salad items and then eat them!!!”

But I didn’t. I just smiled at her, hoping that the mouthful of salad I had wouldn’t leak out of the corners of my mouth. I mean really–what do they expect you to say?

The same happened with our entrees and drinks. Now I admire people with enthusiasm and a dedication to their work. I waitressed myself through the last two years of college to pay my tuition, and I understand that serving people food is often, well—challenging. I did admire this young and earnest gal who was doing her level best to make sure that we were happy with our food. I observed her with other people as well, and she was upbeat, attentive and friendly.

Finally, I looked at the Crankee Yankee, smiled and said, “Buddy, we are old and crabby, aren’t we?”

Without missing a mouthful, he cheerfully replied, “Yup, we sure are.”

We gave her a big tip, headed out to the car, limping slightly because our knees are getting a little wonky (and because we’re old), got in, looked at each other, and laughed our heads off.

That was our big adventure at the salad bar. When you’re near one, do stop in at good old Scooby Boozeday’s and have the salad bar. Oh, and those little “mini” burgers, too. They’re pretty good and they go well with the salad bar.

Remember to tip your server generously, even if they do call you “guys.”

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

I absolutely love this quote from Plato–we never  know what hard and silent battles those around us are fighting. It seldom shows on peoples’ faces. Although when we are going through a hard time, we always feel it shows in every breath. We may nod and smile at others, but inside we are in such pain, and wanting to be heard and understood. How many times do we pass another on the street, unaware of their suffering or situation?

These days I find myself remembering that quote over and over again. For me, each day is filled with a combination of loss, sorrow, dread and acceptance as I watch my mother dwindle from the metastatic breast cancer that is killing her. I know she must go—I know she will go. I can’t expect the world to stop spinning because I am in the process of losing one of the most precious people in my life.

I know that so many others are in pain and sorrow, and I hurt for them. I know that my own pain is a speck of dust in the world where so much sorrow exists. But it is my pain, and as such it often overwhelms me. It feels as deep as the ocean, as wide as the sky and as far-reaching as the wind.

Last night the Crankee Yankee took me to our favorite seafood restaurant, where we dined on succulent fried oysters, onion rings and coleslaw. (These days fried food is a rare and semi-forbidden pleasure, so when we have it, we really enjoy it.) I was feeling especially down and going out to dinner was a welcome diversion.

We were enjoying our seafood in the peace of the “early bird” hour. There were two other couples in the restaurant. As we boxed up our remaining feast, a woman from one of the tables called over to us asking if we had ever had the fried clams. I suddenly found I couldn’t speak, much less look at her. The Crankee Yankee answered her, and they got into a little discussion about how good the food was. Ordinarily I would have joined in, but I was suddenly exhausted and couldn’t even bring myself to look at her.

I must have come off as terribly rude, but honestly I just couldn’t do more than just sit there, staring at the wall. As they wrapped up their friendly conversation, she said, “have a blessed day.” The Crankee Yankee wished her one as well. As we walked out the door, she said with a slight edge, “God bless.”

Oh, dear. Madam, wherever you are, I apologize for my rude behavior. God bless you too, and may your own hard battle be won soon.

Lists, Lovely Lists!

Oh, where would I be without lists? I love all forms of writing, and list-making is one of my favorites. I know I’ve written about lists before, but frankly, they are an important part of my life. Lists make a foundation to the day; I know what I want to accomplish, and even doing 3-5 things on it make me feel I’ve justified my existence–for that day, anyway.

For example, here’s my list for today:

  • empty the dishwasher
  • do laundry, and, in a separate load, wash the *winter comforter
  • clean the bathroom
  • remind the Crankee Yankee that he promised to vacuum yesterday
  • dust and polish the furniture (once the Crankee Yankee has vacuumed, that is)
  • finish hemming the **quilt I made for Ava, my granddaughter
  • try to fix the zipper on one of my jackets

It may sound funny, but ever since I stopped working, I find I need this daily structure. Lists are how I conquer the dragons in my world; I can go to bed at night and feel I’ve made a good dent in the day.

Simple, I know, but it works for me.

*This thing has been living in a loosely-tied trash bag in our attic and Heaven only knows what it may be harboring! If so, I wish them an quick death in the clothes washer.

**This was supposed to be a Christmas gift LAST Christmas!

 

Love Notes From the Universe

You know, if we keep our minds open, we can often glimpse a “grand plan” behind what seem to be ordinary occurrences. These days as we help my dad care for my dying mom, I see patterns in everyday existence. I began noticing them after connecting with some wonderful people who are a lot like me in ideas and beliefs.

A few years ago I began taking metaphysical classes from the amazing *Noreen McDonald. After the first one, I drove home with my head spinning and thinking, ‘how crazy is this? What IS all this metaphysical stuff all about?!’

The first lesson had been about positive thinking, starting with being positive about ourselves. We were each given a sticky note at the beginning of class—I snorted when I saw mine: “I love Jane!” We were told to put the note on our bathroom mirror and look at it each day. The reason for this exercise was to promote loving ourselves. Being the self-critical ass that I was, I pooh-poohed the whole idea as simplistic. How could a mere sticky note prove I was loved for just being ME?

So there I was, driving myself home after that first class, inwardly flogging myself with wasting my time and money on this class, when I noticed the license plate on the truck I’d been following for miles. The license plate read “URLOVED.”  Coincidence, I thought. There are no “love notes” from this impartial universe we live in, I chided myself.

Now, a few years later, with many more classes, a Reiki master practitioner license, as well as a whole pile of new life experiences under my belt, I no longer believe in coincidences. Here are some of my own personal love notes from the universe:

  • A job that I was planning to retire from in a few years suddenly went in a new direction and my job was gone. This happened EXACTLY when Mom’s cancer no longer responded to her meds and she went into Hospice. I could not possibly have kept that job and helped out with Mom’s care.
  • I have been involved in a few major traffic jams that made me late to where I was going. I found out in each case that a horrific accident had caused the jam; if not for the traffic jam, I could have been involved in those accidents.
  • Each and every time I need a parking spot–even in the most crowded places, I ask for one and I get one–always.
  • Each time I have been running late to get to an appointment, I keep on saying that I will get there in plenty of time–and I do. Always.

…and there are many, many more love notes and messages that happen on a regular basis. Also, I have learned to never say “I’m broke,” because then I will be. Money always seems to come at the right time, and often even in the exact amount when I need it. I keep picturing the universe as carrying a tremendous laundry basket full of good things, some of which just spill out on me from time to time. I find myself asking when something unpredictable happens, what is the message here; what is it I am supposed to learn?

I find that, as long as I am willing to ask for something good for myself, it will come to me. I still sometimes fight the urge to think, ‘oh, I’m not worthy of anything good, I don’t deserve it,’ and so on. Why in the world would I NOT be worthy? Why not accept the gifts I keep being offered? In fact, why don’t we all just assume that we are good enough to deserve good things?

Trust me, if you keep your eyes open, you will start to see opportunities where you may think none exist. Look for those love notes from the universe, and you will find them. They have probably been falling all around you for years.

*Check Noreen out at http://www.noreenmcdonald.com.