Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Calls to Heaven

It's been almost six months without Mom and the loss I feel in her absence is not any less than it was in the beginning. If anything, there seems to be a greater void now than there was in those first few critical days, weeks and months because it's been longer since I've seen her. Having a previous interest in grief counseling (read some of my work here), I know that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, just as there is no time limit to the grief. I dismiss E.K. Ross' individualistic idea of working through stages with the goal of "getting over it" or "moving on" with a life separate from the one person who has always been the closest to me. Why on earth would I do that? Instead, I seek anything that helps me feel close to Mom and keeps her a part of my daily life. I talk about her, and I like it when people ask me about her.

One of the many things I miss is our phone calls. I spoke to Mom every day of my adult life, often twice a day. I always looked forward to calling her, even when I had nothing to say, because she was always so sweet and so happy. I never called and found her stressed out or upset. Certainly she must have been at times, but she never let on. She was never down or in a bad mood, and never nagged or told me what to do. Heck, she never even gave me advice, unless I asked. She just listened, laughed and asked me about my life. So since her death, I sometimes speak out-loud to her while I'm driving, as if I'm making a call and she's on the other line.




When I called her the other day, I felt like I had nothing to say for the first time. A little embarrassed, I apologized to her, and explained that because she now probably sees and knows everything that's going on in my life, maybe even before it happens, I didn't have much to update her on.

So I just listened. Don't worry, I don't actually hear her voice (though I wish I did) but rather, just imagine what she would say. I realized that a lot of our conversations were just about the mundane details of life, yet they held so much meaning to me. Why is that? What is it that I miss so darn much about those calls? What could I learn and apply to my life right now that she taught me?

With tears starting to trickle down my face, I realized what I missed: her positivity. Mom never burdened me with with her worries, fears or complaints. She never had ulterior motives with her questions and she never spent a second being judgmental or questioning my plan or ideas, no matter how crazy some of them must have seemed at the time. She supported and encouraged me. She asked me things about my life with a genuine interest and curiosity, because she cared, loved me unconditionally and wanted to know what was going on in my world. With Mom, I could always completely be myself and be loved and accepted. I never had to try and act a certain way. I always hung up the phone with a smile on my face, and a full heart.



About to become a Mom myself, I started to think and wonder how I could be more like this; more like my Mom. I want to have the type of relationship with Autumn that Mom and I had. I want her to look forward to calling me when she's older too, and not just call me out of a sense of obligation. So how do I cultivate this now? The answer was simple and apparent: I start being that way with everyone in my life, also like Mom did. Mom was one tough cookie, the toughest person I have ever met, but she did it in the softest, sweetest way imaginable. Like her Mom and her Mom before her, she endured so much but did it with a heaping serving of grace, and with a smile.

When my Dad would come home from work, she never vented or burdened him with her troubles or worries, even when I know that times were difficult. This is not to say she didn't have real conversations and discussions with him, but there was probably a time and place for it, away from us kids and not first thing after he walked through the door. The first thing she always did when my Dad, brother or myself came home was pleasantly welcome us, give us a snack, and ask about our day...1950's style. Now that's how I want to be. For Nathan, and for Autumn.

My thoughts drifted to other areas of life, areas people usually complain or worry about. "Talking" to Mom reminded me that none of those things are really worth getting upset about either. Really, who cares about money? Yet it is the number one thing couples fight about. While growing up, we lived on just my Dad's income, and there were short periods of time when he was out of work. I remember having a yard sale so we could order pizza, eating military MREs, and I remember that big block of government cheese. Did Mom complain? Nope, never. So now, though Nathan and I may be "broke" for a week or two following large purchases or a vacation, I have to keep it in perspective and remember that it's really not that bad. It's only money, and we're not going to go hungry or be out on the street. Heck, we're not even going to loose our cable. Why waste time and energy worrying? Mom didn't. She knew life was too short for that.

Most importantly, this call to Mom also helped me remember that everything is going to be fine with me being prepared - or not, gasp! - for baby Autumn. Having just completed my baby registry, I was beginning to worry about what I was going to do if we could not afford to get everything on there; everything we "needed." But after my call to Mom, I remembered looking at my baby book, which I found in the garage in early March, where Mom recorded everything she was given when I was born. It was a fraction of the stuff I'm hoping for. Heck, most of what I registered for didn't even exist back then. I seemed to survive just fine without a pack-n-play, fancy ergonomic carrier or a diaper genie to individually seal each diaper.


Here's what Mom received when I was born.
All of my registry items are great, but I have to remember that Mom has already shown and given me all I really need for when baby Autumn arrives: Her positive outlook, toughness wrapped in sweetness, grace, a smile even when it's tough or I'm tired, a whole lot of patience and love, love, love. Everything else is really, when it comes down to it, unnecessary, isn't it? Who cares if you have the fanciest nursery on the block and every baby comforting machine on the market if you're stressed out and complaining to your husband all the time?




2 comments:

  1. A beautiful post. What wonderful memories you have and what a wonderful legacy. Your Mom will still be with you as you put into practise all that she taught you as a mother. I love your name for your daughter. Autumn is a season of change but with so many beautiful colors.

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  2. I love everything about this beautiful posts.

    We lost my FIL in January to cancer and I feel like this will help me help my husband during his grieving process. He and his dad worked for the same company so they spoke several times every day and it has been really tough for him.

    It sounds like you have realized the very most important parts of being a wonderful momma from the way your mother was. :)

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