FOOD FOR THE SOUL
This is part 2 of my story of my moms battle with cancer. I was going to stop after the blog on her diagnosis, but the next 6 weeks were probably the most precious time I spent with my mom. It’s funny how after months of hoping against hope that she could beat it again, we are faced with the realization that it is not to be. The reality has hit us square in the face and it was time to step up and care for the person who has been the rock in all of our lives. When I was married, my husband and I moved 7 times. Each time my mom would show up with her BBQ and Texas Sheet cake for everyone to have lunch after the moving was over. It didn’t matter if there were 2 or 20 to feed, she was there. She had the kindest heart and was one of those people who didn’t know a stranger. I can’t even begin to write about how many times she was there for me, and for anyone who needed help. She was a great role model, be it thorough her work ethic, or her cooking skills. There was nothing she wouldn’t do, nothing was beneath her.
About a week after her surgery, we brought her home. She was on oxygen, but seemed to have very little pain. Kelly and I took turns staying the night, sleeping on the couch, with her beside us in the recliner. I can remember trying to sleep while listening to the quiet clicking sound of the oxygen concentrator. Often times I would wake up in the middle of the night only to find her sitting in her chair smiling at me. She would say ” I am so happy you are here Shelly Sue, I know it’s hard on you.” On the nights that we couldn’t stay, dad would take over night duty. It she was able, she would lay propped up on the couch, with dad laying on the floor, as near as he could be. I found myself going through the routine of work, taking care of my family and then doing all I could do for her. I watched the weight drop off of her, and the breathing becoming more labored. And still she remained beautiful, joking with the grandkids and others. She never questioned “Why me?”, and she never showed anger at her diagnoses. I found myself just staring at her, trying to file those snapshots in my memory. We would visit as often as we could, and the visitors seemed to be endless. They had planned to begin chemotherapy, this time for comfort measures, not for a cure. The weekend before chemo was to start she told my aunt that she didn’t think she was going to make it to that appointment Monday. I think she had a premonition that she was going to meet her Heavenly Father.
The doctors no longer give you a time frame that you can follow, so we didn’t know if she had 1 month, 3 months, or a year. I remember a deep discussion Kelly and I had about what would we do if she began having pain and was uncomfortable. How could we find the strength to sit at her side watching her gasp for breath…slowing sliding away from us? It was incomprehensible to me…….and I think God listened to our laments because I am almost positive a pulmonary emboli took her life that Sunday morning. She died the day before her chemo was to begin. Dad and I were with her that Sunday morning when she left us and became one of Gods angels. I just happened to stop by after church to check on them, and Dad met me at the door, stating mom couldn’t get her breath. She had some breakfast and told dad she wanted to take a bath. I sat by her side, holding her hand, telling her that as soon as she could get her breath Dad and I would help her out of the tub. She took my hand, smiled and softly said thank you. She then looked at Dad, and laid her head back and she was gone. I often times wonder why I was there that day? I never wanted my last memory of my mom to be of her dying in a bathtub. She was a very private lady, and I knew that would never have been her wish either. Why didn’t I tell her that I loved her when I knew she was passing? Why do things turn out the was you least expect them to turn out?
It has been 12 years since she left us, and the pain is not as crippling as it was then. As I reflect back to the day I realize that God knew that Dad needed someone to be there with him. Something private and deep passed between the three of us that morning, and Dad and I became close after that Sunday morning. Mom was always there for me, and maybe it was my time to be there for her. I will never know if she even realized that I was there at the end, but I will never forget the look that passed between us, conveying love and trust between daughter and mother. A love that will remain in my heart until we meet again in heaven…where there will no longer be pain, tears, hurt or that horrible “C” word ♥
The magical evening was coming to an end. It had been a wonderful night, full of laughter, and wonderful conversation. Each of them sharing their hopes for the future. The decision was made, they would do whatever was needed to take this leap of faith. They were soul mates, and the love was so strong that they knew they would be happy forever. It was time for him to leave, and they stood face to face, both hating to part. The music had been playing softly in the background during the candlelit dinner. She knew he couldn’t stay, he needed to leave, but all she wanted was to remain safe in his arms forever. The lighting was dim, as a pair of candles burned softly in the room. It seemed like it was just the two of them against the world. As he turned to leave, something magical happened…a moment that she would remember forever…a moment that could never be repeated. He held her protectively in his arms, and they danced in the corner of the candle lit room, slowly moving to the song “I Cross My Heart”. He whispered for her to close her eyes and just move with the music. She rested her head on his shoulder, and sighed as he quietly sang the words, sharing his feelings of love for her…..”Our love is unconditional,we knew it from the start….I see it in your eyes, you can feel it from my heart, here on after, lets stay the way we are right now, and share all the love and laughter, that a lifetime will allow….I cross my heart, and promise too, give all I’ve got to give, to make all your dream come true, in all the world, you’ll never find, a love as true as mine”…stopping to kiss her when he wasn’t singing. Slowly they danced, willing the time to slow down, savoring that moment of sharing what was to be the beginning of a wonderful life together…completely unaware that soon it would be nothing more than a memory…….
Authors confession: I have been reading quite a few romance novels lately…..so I thought I’d dabble in the fictional love story telling…see how it goes…♥
FOOD FOR THE SOUL
Growing up in a town of 1,000 people was just the right fit for me. We lived almost in the center of town…2 blocks from uptown, 3 blocks from the school and 2 blocks from the park. As most small towns do, we always had a full day celebration on the 4th of July. It would begin with a festive parade, complete with fire engines, police cars, floats, tractors and horses. The kids would stand at the edge of the road, bag in hand, ready to get a months supply of free candy that was thrown out to the crowd from the passing entries. The parade started at the grade/ high school, went down main street, turned at the hotel and went straight down to the park. It was always exciting because we only had to walk 1/2 a block to reach the parade route. We would cross the street with our blankets and lawn chairs sit in my Aunt Doris and Uncles Shellys yard. This was the meeting spot for the extended family to assemble. For many years we would have a fish fry and potluck in that same back yard. They would un-thaw the fish that the men and ladies had caught that previous summer when we all went on vacation together in Wisconsin. After the parade, while the adults were cooking the food, the kids would go to the park for the awards ceremony so see who’s float was the winner, and then to play some kids games.
Today I began going through some photos that we kept in a trunk after my parents passed away. It was too painful to look at them for the past 5 years, and I will admit I have shed a few tears in the last few hours. I found these photos of floats my mom created when I was a baby, and that continued throughout our grade school years. I just look at these and I shake my head in total awe of my mothers creativity and spirit. These were made with a wagon, chicken wire and countless tissues. This one is probably the best one that I could find. The date on the photo is 1960, which means I was 2 years old as a passenger in the float.
In this one, my sister Tammy was a baby, and my other sister Kelly was the one appointed to push her the short 4 block through the kiddie parade starting line, to the park. I would have been about 12 at this time, so I am sure that I was following close behind in some sort of get up. One year the town replaced the old water tower with a new one, and Kelly and I went as the old and the new water towers. She was in the “old” one, which was brick and straight up and down in shape. Mine was silver in color, and had the familiar shape of most water towers now..looking like a golf tee with a golf ball sitting on the top. I am hoping to find that picture somewhere. I know we were older, and I can even remember trying to walk inside my water tower, trying not to fall over.
This is the one that shows this wonderful, amazing woman who I called “mom”….As I said before, I am in awe of the things she did as we were growing up. Most things went unnoticed by her children, until after she was gone. She made every holiday special, but the July 4th and Christmas were always the best. Now I am in a new town, double the size…but the parade goes right by my house. My kids sat for years, as we did, with their bags, ready to catch the bounty of candy. I wasn’t as creative as mom, and we didn’t enter many kiddie parades, so perhaps I cheated my kids in a way. I have no excuse, other than the shoes I had to fill were much too large ♥
FOOD FOR THE BODY
PATIO POTATO SALAD
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup butter, cubed
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 7 medium red potatoes, cubed and cooked
- 3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
- Lettuce leaves and paprika, optional
- In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, mustard, salt and celery seed. Stir in the milk, vinegar and egg until smooth. Add butter. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Cool. Stir in onion and mayonnaise. In a large bowl, combine potatoes and hard-cooked eggs. Add dressing and toss gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. If desired, serve in a lettuce-lined bowl and sprinkle with paprika. Yield: 8-10 servings.