Friday, December 30, 2011


Life feels quite complete. Our little family is together. The twins have such a strong life force; it carries the rest of along. The highs, the lows.
Their obsessions demand attention. Trucks, cars, airplanes, trains. Sense a trend here? We not only buy trucks, cars, airplanes and trains of all sizes, shapes and colors, we read books about them. Various vehicles cover their shirts, pajamas, and pull-ups. We stop to watch a train go by, observe the garbage/compost truck, and comment on the airplane overhead. We know the difference between a backhoe and an excavator.
Who knows where their next obsession will take us. At 33 months the world is a pretty amazing place.
Watching them develop and grow, I constantly tell myself I am so lucky to have joined the Grandma Club.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Tree

Every year I dread putting up the Christmas tree. Mike usually helps a little, but the bulk of the work  falls on me.
I often say an artificial tree saved our marriage. It seemed the stress of picking out the mutually agreed upon perfect tree was too much for us.
We are now on our fourth artificial tree. I thought the first one would last a lifetime, but it seems each year they add new features to artificial trees. The last two are pre-lighted. When we moved into this home with a 12 foot ceiling in the great room, our seven foot tree looked little and scrawny. I bought a nine foot tree. For three years the lights were perfect. Then last year a third of the lights quit working. I didn't have the fortitude to try to go through all of them to find the faulty lights. That tree remained in the box.
I dragged the seven foot tree upstairs.
I took much longer than I had planned to decorate the tree. Our decorations are nostalgic. So many were gifts from people since passed or marriages failed. Handmade decorations from my first years, when I had no money to buy fancy ones. A collection of key chains from of our travels. Ornaments that hung on my mother's tree. Each a memory in itself.
I find I dally as I hang each ornament thinking of the people who contributed some decoration. I think of the happy times and sad times in my life.
Now it is almost time to take the tree down for another year. I dread this job more than I dread putting it up. But I know some part of me will enjoy gently packing away these treasures of memories until next December when I begin to silently argue with myself on whether I should put up the Christmas tree or not.

Monday, December 26, 2011


I am a part of the sandwich generation.

I am torn between caring for my mom in Michigan and going to California to spend time with our grandsons.

When we are in Michigan, I miss our California family so much. I look at pictures we took on our last visit, I watch the video clips taken, and we sometimes Skype with them. Alexander and Sebastian are 33 months and they change so much in a short amount of time. I hate being away very long. We try to support their parents. We make sure they get out without the children. They need the break and time for each other. I cannot imagine rearing my children without the support of an extended family.

When we are in California, I wonder if my mom is OK. I wonder if she is eating. I wonder if she will die while I am gone. She is very understanding about my huge need to travel to CA often and never tries to make me feel guilty for leaving her. I am thankful for that, but I still feel badly.

On one of my flights home from California, I met a delightful Vietnamese couple. As strangers sometimes do, we shared stories of our lives and families. When I shared my dilemma, they told me the story of taking his mother back to Vietnam to die. They stayed two weeks and got her settled at a family member's home, but had to leave before she died, because they had to get back to their three children an aunt was caring for in California. They took solace in this Vietnamese saying, "Tears only flow down."  They explained that it  means - you must care for your children before your parents. You do the best you can by your parents, but your first priority has to be your children.

I have thought of those words often over the last two years.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas and Mom

This is Mom's 91st Christmas. Because she has aortic stenosis, she is very frail and weak. She still has spirit though. Mom continues to live alone in a small apartment. She qualified for hospice the day after she turned 90. Hospice has been a blessing in many ways for our family.
The nurse visits at least once a week and a home health care aide comes twice a week for about an hour. She helps Mom bathe and does light housekeeping. Mom has frequent health crises and because hospice provides all health care in her home, some of the pressure of caring for Mom has been lifted from my shoulders. I am very grateful for this support.
Mom is not the typical hospice patient. She is not bedridden, but needs lots of support. She tries to take her clothes to the second floor to launder them, but this activity exhausts her. Her sister and I bring them home to launder, but Mom wants to be as independent as she can be and it distresses her to get this kind of help.
We convinced her to stay at our house for a few days over Chrismas. Helping her bathe, I realize how truly frail she is. Right after her shower she went to take a nap. I felt exhausted myself!
This may be Mom's last Christmas. I hope to make it as special as I can.


I keep asking myself what my writing voice will be for this blog and I have no answer so I decided to use it as a way to find my voice.
I am an on-again/off-again writer. I write furiously for days and then nothing for a long time. Yet there is much I have to say. Maybe this blog will be what I need to write more consistently - at least that is what I am hoping for. Oops, ended the last sentence with a preposition - at no-no. Too lazy to go back and re-word.
I started a blog a year and half ago when I was in a major crisis with my mom, but let it lapse.
I am not in crisis now; I just need to write. I like writing and thinking someone out there in cyber-land will find me and read my rants and musings.
Ideas for this blog came so easily when I was doing the dishes and now they have evaporated. More to come.