Hooray!!

Two bright faces were staring me down from a shop window early this morning.

I like to think they were smiling.

Though I’m not quite sure as those faces belong to the felines residing in an animal friendly children’s bookstore down the road.

Still the title of the book behind them shouted out the word “Hooray” enthusiastically.

I did too, though luckily no one was within ear shot.

It was 7am and I’d made the short trip to a neighborhood by the lake for a quick walk and to practice driving the black car that now sits in my driveway every evening.

My red Subaru is currently in a body shop as I was hit from behind on the freeway two nights ago.

And though I was stunned and a bit speechless at the time, today I celebrate that all is well.

I’m substituting yoga poses this Saturday for yellow parrot roses found while walking past ivy covered homes.

One place catches my attention with wind chimes dancing on the upper porch creating duets with the meditation music blooming within.

Once I arrive at the bird sanctuary right next to the lake, I discover something new.

But as I turn, I realize it’s really something quite old.

And appropriately labeled a “Garden of Peace”.

I notice that just beyond there are hundreds of tulips and a scattering of ornate fountains.

You can’t buy a gift as beautiful, I mumble in awe.

I linger a little longer and consider even if the days ahead might be costly ones, I’m so rich with the gift of good health this day.

“Hooray!” I say again as a young jogger turns her head, and laughs running by.

Before I leave my visit to the garden and the lake, I receive one final gift.

It’s the words I see carved into a sun dial that read: “Count only the sunny days”.

Sounds like my optimistic mother, I’m thinking as I look up at the blue sky smiling back down on me this Mother’s Day Eve.

“Oh, you can count on it”, I whisper and nod before skipping on back to the car.

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New perspectives

It was something I hadn’t seen before.

A two year old, four year old, and seven year old, sitting still at the same time.

And my three grandkids kept on with this peaceful focus, watching the animals grazing before them.

Maybe I just hadn’t noticed before.

But then I was also slow to pick up that my once wild and wooly caterpillar of a teenager suddenly grew wings.

And then blossomed beautifully into her role as a mom.

I told her so in a Mother’s Day card I tucked into her May birthday present yesterday.

“Thanks for being such a great and loving mother to my grandchildren,” I wrote.

I like to think I’m transforming as well, growing new wings and new perspectives.

This Mother’s Day’s day I drove to my mom’s old care facility after buying a bouquet of daises and box of chocolates. I was there to attend their weekly church service.

I haven’t been back since Mom left.

I do have tough memories of my mom in the care facility with her tearful pleas to go back to her old house. And I’ll never forget the painful care conference with my husband at my side when I realized his dementia had actually surpassed that of my mom’s.

But I also have plenty memories of laughter, with Mom entertaining caregivers and fellow residents while I’d dispense her beloved Dove bars to the crowd.

As I entered the facility today I asked the receptionist to pass out chocolates to any mothers who were working.

And I asked her to share the daises with a resident who might be struggling, or having a particularly rough day.

Once I walked into the tiny chapel, I recognized a few ladies who used to sit at Mom’s dining room table.

I suddenly felt at home.

And I felt Mom right in the room with me.

The small group sang classic old hymns and listened to a sermon directed to the elderly women in the group.

“Remember to always ask for help if you need it,” the minister reminded them.

A gentle, smiling usher from the local church asked me if I would help out some Sunday with the service.

The woman said she is getting older and many of her friends are now residents themselves.

Sounds like she was listening to the sermon.

Though it isn’t something I would have done a few years ago, I’m thinking of helping out.

I can’t think of a better Mother’s Day gift for Mom.

And I know a peaceful new perspective can be mighty good for the soul.

Moms, May and Magic

Every year I’d buy Mom the same gift in early May just as the pink and white crab apples trees would start smiling for the camera.

Mom’s present would be the best and brightest hanging plant of the season for the back porch.

But she wouldn’t receive hers on Mother’s Day like most moms.

My mother would receive her gift early on May 5.

It was Mom’s birthday.

With my own blooming apple trees as a canopy, I dragged a couple of old boxes out to my backyard last night with a goal of sorting through and tossing out most of the contents.

The first I discovered was full of Mom’s old photos. I almost closed the box before starting knowing this pastime wasn’t going to help my melancholy mood any.

Mom’s been gone for two years now.

But I kept going, throwing out tired old albums, duplicate photos, bad shots, and pictures of people I don’t know.

My sour mood remained, but I grabbed another box from the garage anyway.

Though this time I quickly dropped it when I heard something rattling inside.

A mouse maybe? A squirrel?

Yet it didn’t sound quite like either one.

The rattle had a lilting magical quality, like ‘fairy dust’ for the ears.

I opened the cardboard box slowly, and then saw the light.

Or maybe I should say ‘lights’.

There were plenty of them.

Hot pink, lemon yellow, royal blue, lime green.

And the colors were twirling faster and faster.

Right on top of a mini princess wand!

Instantly my last memory replayed of Mom together with my two year old granddaughter. I could see them smiling and giggling as they joyfully pushed the heart shaped buttons of the magical, musical toy.

Then underneath the wand I discovered more buried treasure.

Magnificent photos of my daughter with her own grandmother.

It’s my last memory of the two of them together as well.

Yet the magic still continues to this day.

My daughter will be forever blessed to share the same birthday, May 5, with her grandmother.

And my granddaughter will soon be receiving a slightly used but priceless princess wand from me.

I believe memories truly are a gift, but shouldn’t be left hung out to dry.

Instead the very best of them should continue to be lovingly recycled.

Mom and the blue sky above

Mom had been in hospice for more than a year. I had a call one Friday afternoon from my sister that she wasn’t expected to make it through the weekend.

As Mom entered into her late stage dementia, my sister Nancy had moved Mom to be with her in Colorado. Mom’s decline occurred at the same time my husband Richard was entering into his own late stage dementia back in our home state of Minnesota.

I knew from the conversation with Nancy that I wouldn’t make it to Colorado in time to be at Mom’s bedside. But the rational side of my thinking wasn’t helping my emotional side at all. I’d been at my father’s side when he passed away. And I remembered how hard it was on my sister that she couldn’t be there, too.

All weekend I was tense as Nancy and I exchanged phone calls. By Sunday, we’d been told by the doctor “it was a matter of hours.” I felt I had to do something to keep myself busy.

Weather wise, it had been a gorgeous day with a bright blue sky and perfect temps. I knew there was a 5:00-6:00 pm yoga class nearby so I decided to attend. As I drove up, I was hoping it would be held outside on the deck overlooking the beautiful marsh land. I was so glad to see the teacher was actually putting the mats outside once I stepped out of the car.

I couldn’t help but remember how Mom liked nothing better than to be outside on a beautiful day. However, I was also wondering if I might lose Mom would while I was in class. I tried to stay focused on the breathing instructions from the teacher, but of course my thoughts kept going back to Mom.

Near the end of the class, we did a relaxing yoga pose called shavasana where the students lay flat on their backs. Normally I’d be falling into a nap at this point, but not that day. Instead I looked up at the incredible sky, listening to the birds.

I soon saw something cardinal red floating up higher and higher into the clear blue sky. A balloon maybe, or a satellite?

A tear rolled down my cheek. But still I felt at peace.

Afterwards, I hurried home to check my email. I had a message from my brother-in-law. He wrote that Mom had passed away at 6pm, just as class ended.

My sister called later from the hospital and told me when Mom passed, she saw a single tear had rolled down Mom’s cheek also.

I awoke early this Mother’s Day, the first one with out Mom. I checked in on the cardinal’s nest right outside my window. I saw the baby birds had moved on and were flying into the sky.

I left my nest as well, and drove to a special yoga class honoring mothers.

Once there I shared a special gift with Mom of just one more salty tear.