Mothering Comes Full Circle

I want to take some time to share some information and thoughts about a very important person in my life, my mom.  My mom was the 9th of 13 children born to a coal miner and a homemaker in a small town of about 2,000 in Southern Illinois. Mom grew up on the edge of town and lived a simple existence. Most of the food they ate was made from scratch.  No store-bought bread for them. Grandma made homemade biscuits that would melt in your mouth. My mom moved to the Chicago area at the age of 20. She got a job at White Castle which is where she met my dad.  She married my dad and continued to work until right before she had me.

Once I was born my mom became a homemaker. She volunteered at my grade school all the time. For the last few years I was in grade school, my mom was the school librarian. This allowed me to see her every day at school during breaks.  After school and during the summer, I tended to be with my dad. He owned a lumber yard in town and I was his helper. Every night when we came home, mom always had dinner ready for us. My mom took care of the house in a way only she could. Everything was always clean and in the summer there was always flowers and a garden.

When my daughter was young and I went back to work, my mom watched my daughter.  She loved taking her for walks in the stroller. Everyone knew my mom and her “precious angel” because they were always out and on the go. My mom enjoyed those days to the fullest. Her granddaughter is her pride and joy. It has been hard on my mom in some ways being so far away from her family. Growing up we saw them an average of two weeks out of the year. Since my dad died my mom has been spending more time with her siblings and their families.

After my husband died, I came to realize the true importance of family ties. I make a trip once a year to see what is left of mom’s family. I feel very close to them when I am there. I think I can relate to my southern roots in a way that I never realized before. They know there is nothing more important than family and that money and material things can’t hold a candle to family togetherness. I am so looking forward to going to them in June and get back to the basics of what life is really about. How hard you work or how much money you make all means nothing if you don’t have loved ones to balance you out and let you know what is truly important. Namely that family must come above all else. When times get tough, family is really all you can count on for true support.

My mom is early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She is still capable of living alone and functioning, she just needs my help now. After all the years she took care of me and brought me up to be the person I am today, I feel the least I can do is help her out now when she needs it. I have taken over her finances and day-to-day management of her home and life. I am an accountant and this comes second nature to me. I also take care of her medical care and medicines. Mom gets confused and upset easily if she can’t understand something. I tell her not to worry that I have everything under control.  My mom appreciates the help I give her so much. I look at it this way, Mom took care of me when I needed it and now it is my turn to repay her for raising a well-rounded independent woman. I believe most things in life will come full circle if given the chance.

This week I will be having foot surgery.  After my surgery, my daughter will be coming home for a few days to take care of me. I raised her to the best of my ability and now she will be paying me back. This is just another example of mothering coming full circle. Any person who does not have kids might not understand this, but once you become a mother you are a mother for life. No matter how old your children get, they will always be your children and you will always be their mom. Spouses and friends might come and go in your life , but you can always count on your mom. The bond one shares with their mom can never be duplicated. You are a part of them after all…

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Happy Easter Everyone!

I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy Easter.  It has been my observance that the meaning and way of celebrating Easter changes depending on what stage in life you are in.  For those of you with little kids, Easter tends to be about Easter egg hunts, Easter baskets and of course the Easter Bunny.  I remember how excited my daughter would be about what the Easter Bunny was going to bring her. Then of course there was the buying and wearing of a special Easter dress for my daughter.

I am a Slovak and every Easter our traditional meal included Ham, Sausage, Bacon, Cirak(Easter cheese made of eggs),Potato Salad, Deviled Eggs and Paska(raisin and rice bread). My mom and aunt would spend many hours making all the food. Since I am a catholic we had a tradition of getting an Easter basket filled with the above food blessed at church on Holy Saturday afternoon. I am one to go to church on Saturday night because I don’t want to get up to go on Sunday.  This meant going to the Easter vigil every year.

This year is a very different Easter for me.  For the second year in a row no one is cooking the traditional Easter food. There will be no blessing of the basket again this year.  Instead I will be taking my mother to an Easter buffet for our dinner. My aunt is out-of-town this year. My daughter for the first time in her 21 years will not be with me for Easter.  She is staying at college with her husband. Normally she would come home, but since I am having surgery in a few days she is waiting until after my surgery to come home. My mom is going on vacation in a week, so we decided why make the effort to cook for just the two of us.  We did this Easter buffet last year and it was terrific. Who wouldn’t like prime rib, ham, lamb, chicken Marsala, fish and all the trimmings and side dishes you could ask for.

I went to the Easter vigil alone tonight. I find I am doing many things alone these days. The service was very long almost two and a half hours. It did give me time to think and reflect on how life is ever-changing and we need to embrace every moment.  Never take anyone for granted especially family.  Tell them you love them every time you talk to them. Losing my husband has taught me many things but the greatest of all is that every day is a gift and not a given.  I pray that everyone reading this has a blessed and Happy Easter!

 

Camping……an Ultimate Simple Getaway

English: Trail No. 4, Indiana Dunes State Park

English: Trail No. 4, Indiana Dunes State Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Looking South across Chesterton, Indi...

English: Looking South across Chesterton, Indiana’s main intersection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Indiana Dunes State Park, beach view ...

English: Indiana Dunes State Park, beach view from bathhouse on a nice sunny day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forest growing on dunes at Indiana Dunes State...

Forest growing on dunes at Indiana Dunes State Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The dune climb near the bathhouse, In...

English: The dune climb near the bathhouse, Indiana Dunes State Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I decided it was time to get back to the roots of my blog.  I want to let anyone and everyone know that life can be simple and yet still fun and exciting.  Camping is a good example of this. There is a wide range of camping options available.  The simplest being pitching  a tent and totally roughing it.  On the other extreme, one can buy or rent a drivable motor-home that is the epitome of luxury. My version of camping falls somewhere in the middle.

I am not professing to be an expert on camping by any means. I have only been a camping enthusiast for a little over a year. I have a favorite camping destination and it is the only place I visit.  My place in the Indiana Dunes State Park.  I live about 40 minutes away, and considering I hate driving it seems like the perfect destination.  The park has a beach, multiple walking paths and is close to a nice little town called Chesterton, Indiana. When I go camping I am not looking to have a weekend full of activities, but to have a restful period to enjoy nature and get away from it all.

My camping experience has been spent in a pop up trailer. In the past I have camped with my sister-in-law in her trailer.  This year I am planning on branching out and getting a pop up trailer of my own. The number one rule will be it has to be air conditioned. I like the summer, but I hate heat and humidity. My daughter also has asthma and if it is really hot she needs to be able to go to a cool place as needed. I am going to get a camper that sleeps seven because my daughter and son-in-law will be camping with me and of course we have to have plenty of room for the dogs. On a rainy day we need to be able to be in the camper together without being so cramped we want to kill each other.

When we are camping, we tend to only spend time in the camper to sleep, cool off or to change clothes. After all we are camping and want to enjoy the outdoors as much as we can. We cook all our meals either over the campfire or on a small BBQ. A canopy to keep out the sun is essential for us.  We have also been known to bring fans from home if it is going to be very hot. Now before you jump on me, remember I DO NOT like the heat and if I am camping I do want to be outside and not in the camper all the time.  Going hiking is a favorite part of camping for me.  I love going for walks at home, but hiking in the woods is far more enjoyable.  The kids love to go to the beach when it is warm.

In the summer, the town of Chesterton, Indiana has a European market in the town square every Saturday. We have found some of the best hot pretzels there. The art and craft vendors always have great food and gift items to please anyone’s tastes.  I am looking forward to getting a hot pretzel and homemade blackberry jam on my first visit in May. Since we only tend to go camping once a month, we try to make sure we hit the market on every trip.

Our dogs love the fact that they are allowed to come camping with us.  They enjoy being outside and going for walks almost as much as we do. I think they like the fact that their owners aren’t rushing around and just taking it easy and giving them love and attention.  My dog loves sitting on my lap every night for the campfire. When it is chilly, I have a huge towel that I wrap her in so she doesn’t have to miss any of the fun.

I love sitting in my camping chair and spending hours alternating between listening to music and reading a favorite book.  Having quiet time to myself is very important. In the evening we love to play games as a family. We have bought many games just for this purpose. Laughing and talking together without the outside world distractions keep us close and remind us that family is what is important.

I feel everyone should experience a good camping trip with their family at least once. Nothing can bring people together like enjoying nature to the fullest and getting away from everyday life distractions. My family is so looking forward to a summer full of camping adventures.  Stay tuned for updates…

Dogs……Truly Man’s Best Friend

! Love My Dog(s) November '06 Mosaic

! Love My Dog(s) November ’06 Mosaic (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)

 

 

I have written previously how I currently have two dogs.  To me they are so much more than pets, they are true members of the family.  No where else can I find the unconditional love they give me everyday.  Each day when I come home from work after a long day they are so excited to see me. No matter how long or terrible my day at work might be, I know when I come home the dogs will be waiting for me with all the love I can handle. They don’t ask for much except to be fed, be  let out on command and to be petted and loved at least for a little bit each day.

 

My dogs know when I am sick. They are always extra good and want nothing more to be by my side. When I am upset they can sense it.  Any time I cry, they are right there to lend kisses always.  How can one keep crying with a dog giving them kisses?  I do admit to spoiling the dogs like crazy.  Right now they are all I have and I depend on their love as much as they depend on mine.  They could be considered my best friends.  I spend more time with them than anyone else. I am a firm believer that a dog not only enriches your life, but can also extend it. I am proud to be a dog lover!

 

Loneliness……Am I Ever Truly Alone?

A few years ago when I found out my husband was sick, I knew that one day I would be alone.  I had been alone many times in my life and I knew I could survive  the loneliness.  Or so I thought.  Growing up I was an only child.  My parents had me in their mid to late thirties.  I spent a good part of my childhood alone.  While my parents loved me with all their heart, they were not one to encourage me having friends over.  I was the kid who could be your friend at school but after school there was no play dates or God forbid sleepovers.  I spent a great deal of time in my room alone as a child.  This was fine for me since I didn’t know any other way.

I got married at the age of twenty and when I was twenty-three had a beautiful baby girl.  She is my only biological child. I was an only child so I thought nothing of having only one child.  My husband came from a family of eight and all they did was fight.  My daughter says that sometimes she wishes she had a sibling, but most of the time no way.  If she had a sibling it would mean she would have to share.  My daughter and I share a very close special bond.  She is now twenty-one and married, but we are still very close.  She says she definitely wants more than one child.  She wants her kids to be able to share the bond of siblings.

I am a practicing catholic and I truly believe in angels. I feel when the people you love die they are given the power to watch over you so to speak.  I know of many instances where a person could have been severely hurt or even died but didn’t because of a minor miracle.  I think the miracle comes in the form of an angel.  I will give you a couple of examples.  When my daughter was one, my husband was in a terrible car accident while deer hunting.  Looking at the damaged van, one would wonder how did he ever survive.  I think his mother in the form of an angel saved his life on that rainy night.  By doing this he was able to raise our daughter for another 18 years.  Her life would have been vastly different if he had died on that fateful night. A couple of years ago on her way home from college, my daughter was in a terrible car accident.  Her car crossed all lanes of traffic and flipped over five times. She survived the crash with only bad scrapes and bruises.  She told me later that night that she felt someone’s arms come around her and hold her from the start of the accident.  To this day, both of us believe those arms belonged to her father who had died eight months before.

You can call me crazy if you want but I think each of us has one or more of our own angels looking out for us everyday.  Now that is not to say that bad things still don’t happen.  I just think that we are sometimes given second chances from a higher being. I have been feeling lonelier than usual lately.  There have been many things I have had to deal with lately alone.  My mother is fighting early Alzheimer’s disease and it is challenging to keep an eye on her. My daughter and son-in-law will be coming home from college soon and need to make plans for next year. I am trying to help them decide what is best for them.  I also found out in the last couple of weeks that I will be needing two surgeries in the next couple of months. My first surgery is a foot surgery involving a lump that has a 50% chance of being cancer. Now the possibility is scary for anyone, but considering I will be alone to recover after the surgery is especially daunting. I am not looking for sympathy at all.  I am trying to point out that there are certain times that loneliness seems more pronounced. For my second surgery, a follow-up to a hysterectomy, I am waiting until the kids come home because the recovery period will be longer and more extensive.

I live alone not by choice but because that is how things happened.  My kids are home when there are breaks from college.  All other times it is just me and our two dogs.  Most of the time I am so busy that I don’t mind being alone too much. But it is hard to be alone in times of crisis and pain.  I know my dad and my husband will look out for me. I am not so scared about my upcoming surgery as I am about being alone afterward. Being an invalid gives one a good amount of time to think. I know firsthand as this will be my fourth foot surgery. I am wondering , however, if I am really going to be alone. Or will my guardian angels be there with me very step of the way to help me feel like I am not alone.

So Much Can Change in a Week…

It doesn’t seem like a week since my kids left to go back to school.  So much has happened in our lives in just this short amount of time.  Monday was normal for all of us.  I had work and the kids had school nothing different there.

Then along comes Tuesday.  I had to attend an offsite training for my work.  I have never done this before and it was a nice change to break up my work week. I talked to my daughter at lunch she had an all day cooking lab and was doing well. Mid-afternoon my cell phone rang.  It was my daughter and she knew I was in training so it must be very important. I went in the hall to take the call.  My daughter had just found out that her husband was no longer being deployed to Africa in June.   She was crying so much I almost didn’t understand the news. I asked her why she was crying and she said she is still in shock and is scared of what their lives will hold next.  They were counting on the money that my son-in-law would make while deployed to help them start a new life together when he returned. I told her not to worry that we will figure something out and to just be happy that he will be with her.

Wednesday and Thursday were very busy days for all of us.  My daughter is now very happy that her husband will be there for her graduation and their one year wedding anniversary. She had her senior luncheon at school and she was given an award for most outstanding student in the Restaurant Management program.  I am very proud of her, she has come a long way. They also got my son-in-law signed up for classes next year so he can get his degree in December.  Now all we have to do is find them an apartment at school that accepts dogs.  My daughter is also checking into possible employment for the fall semester.

I had a checkup at the doctor on Thursday night.  During the checkup, I was told I would need to see a foot specialist for a lump on the bottom of my foot.  I have a foot doctor that I love that has done surgery on me before.  I had an appointment with him today and he told me I will have to have the lump surgically removed. I have scheduled the surgery and now I have to go into work Monday and tell them that I am having surgery and will be out of work for at least a week. They are really going to love me.  At least I will be able to work from home.

This week held many changes for my family. Some good..some not so good.  We have to accept whatever happens and learn to deal with it.  Who knows maybe next week will make this week seem like a piece of cake.  Stay tuned….