somebodylovesmeblog

Sharing God's love with the world, one heart at a time.


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My Second Mother’s Day Without my Mom

Today is my second Mother’s Day without my mom.

I never thought I would be the one to continue to grieve, to be overcome with emotion, and to miss my mother so very much.

Since my mother passed away, about a year and a half ago, I have felt her presence with me…a love that fills me and sometimes overwhelms me.  All of the moments that are precious and a treasure to me now, at the time were experienced as normal everyday moments.  Not realizing the memories that she was gifting me with…going through my days, as though each one was just another day, and not having the eyes yet to perceive true beauty.

My mother lived with Joe (my husband) and me for about eleven years.  Through those years, I was the one that would help her make purchases for gifts.  When it came to gifts for me, she would usually tell me what she would like to give me, and would ask me to choose and purchase.  Needless to say, I was never surprised!

Mom’s Final Gift to Me

When she was in rehab before she died, she was thoroughly enjoying herself.  One of the activities she loved was Bingo.  One day, I walked in to her room, and her face was all lit up.  She told me that she won Bingo, and was able to choose her prize.  She chose a beautiful flower arrangement so she could give it to me.  She was so excited and happy that she was able to surprise me with some beautiful flowers.  I was very touched at the time…but as time goes by, that one simple gesture touches my heart in the most deep way.

These are the moments that stay with us.  Snapshots of time that keep us grounded in love.  The miraculous scenes of life that play and replay through our minds and hearts of times gone by.

Moments spent with those we love.  As I sit here thinking and honoring my mother for all she was, and all she did for us as a family, many of those times come to mind.

Some of those moments that will always be with me:

Watching my mom through the window of the Senior Center when I arrived to pick her up.  Seeing her sitting at a round table with five of her friends, laughing so hard that she had to lay her head down on the table.  I had never seen her laugh like that.

Seeing her in her cute reading glasses, looking up from her book at me, when I came home from work and popped my head in her room to ask her how her day was.  She usually said, “I had a beautiful day.”  I will never be able to part with those glasses.

Watching her eyes light up when Joe or I served up one of her favorite meals.  Or favorite desserts.  Come to think of it, most everything was “her favorite!”

Getting beat royally by her when playing Canasta, Skip-Bo, or Sequence.  Sometimes it was downright mortifying how bad she beat me!

Losing my temper and yelling about our differing politics.  Feeling awful afterwards, I would apologize, and she would just say, “Sometimes things just need to come out.”  She would never hold those outbursts against me.

Strolling through Costco pushing my mom in her wheelchair with a cart in front of us…stacked so high with items she wanted to purchase, that we could not see where we were going!

Her excitement upon learning that she was going to be a great grandma.  That was one of the things that was holding  her back from passing on…she wanted to see her grandson’s baby that would be coming in five months.  I said, “Mom, you know that in heaven you will be able to see your grandson.”  She looked in my eyes and smiled.  She said, “I know, but I am not ready to leave this Earth yet.”  She didn’t make it to see Brayden’s birth, but I KNOW she is with him now.

The privilege of assisting her to shower, wash and style her hair, and put lotion on her.  In the beginning, she was embarrassed to have me help her in that way.  However, it became comfortable and natural for us.  And I enjoyed helping her to feel a little pampered.

Seeing the joy on her face when looking out her bedroom window and seeing three snowmen that the sweet neighbor girls built for her.

Sitting next to Mom at Mass and special worship times, feeling so close to her.

Seeing my mother, as she was near death, look me straight in the eye and tell me that I had the most beautiful blue eyes she’d ever seen.  Then proceeded to call me “Jan,” telling “Jan” that her daughter and son in law take good care of her, but she worries about their health.

A few days before she passed away, I climbed into bed with my mom, and put my arm around her,  I asked her if it was ok that I was there with her.  Her answer?  “We should do this more often.”  Yes, we should have….

Once I asked her if there was anything she would have done differently, being that she had a hard life.  She told me she wouldn’t change a thing.  She said that her family is her blessing, and when things get difficult, you just need to “offer it up to the Lord.”

I have learned to do just that, Mom.  I have finally learned to offer my life to the Lord.  And a large part of myself is the part that came from you.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for being you.  Thank you for loving the Lord.

 

 

 

 


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One Year of Life Since…

Mom with Baby Bernadette

Mom with Baby Bernadette

Today is the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.

Much has happened in that year’s time, including the birth of our first grandchild, and our move across country to be near him. There has been pain, suffering, fatigue, intense stress, confusion, and grief. However, there has also been a deepening of faith, excitement, joy, and a closeness with my mother that I never experienced before. I feel like her spirit, her heart, is one with mine. I can feel her presence all around me and feel her love for me, my sisters, and our whole family every day.

A few years ago, a friend of mine who lost her mom, told me that when you lose your mother, she is just “gone.” This friend did not have a close relationship with her mom before her death, however, when she shared those words with me, she had tears in her eyes. She was communicating her feeling of emptiness, and the reality that there would be no more stories, no more chances to ask her mom questions about her life and her experiences, no more chances to physically feel her mom’s love or to have the opportunity to show her mother how much she appreciated and loved her.

Sometimes we focus so much on ourselves and our own needs and pain, that we forget that our parents are human beings. They had a life before we were born, and had struggles and weaknesses to overcome just as we do. As we lived our lives and became more mature and “educated”, it was sometimes easy to overlook the lives of those closest to us, the ones who brought us into this world, and who loved us the most.  Many “eye-rolling” and “here we go again” moments…and many times, for legitimate reasons.

The love our parents showed us was the best they had to offer. Just as the love we showed them and to our own children, family and friends, was the best we had to offer at the time.

For we are all flawed. We are sinners.

I believe that when our loved ones die and are united with Jesus in heaven, and when our hearts are also open to Jesus, a connection is forged. The Communion of Saints.

That is what I am feeling very strongly from my mother. Especially today.   I know that sin and weakness no longer affects our relationship. We are joined in perfect love now, and nothing can take that truth away.

During this past year, many truths about my mom have been revealed to me. I would like to share some of them with you, in the chance that they may be of help to you. Such simple things that help to keep my heart filled with love and a smile.

 

How would I know:

That when you repeated the same stories over and over, you were sharing with us that these were some of your most treasured memories. At the time, it was frustrating to actively listen to those repeated stories over and over. In fact, I could repeat them word for word. However, now I feel so close to you when I remember those same stories, and imagine the scenes you described to me over the years of my life. You are helping me to know you and myself more and more each day, by understanding your life experiences.

That when you called me into your room each morning, or for special occasions, when I was rushing out the door, just to look at what I was wearing and how I looked for the day, that you were missing those “good old days” for yourself, and that it brought you much joy to see me “dressing up”, wearing make up, getting my hair done, wearing jewelry…and going out into the world.   You were living your memories through me and my life, and were sincerely happy for me…always telling me that I looked beautiful. Even when I didn’t feel beautiful, I saw my beauty through your eyes.

That when you requested certain foods or things during holidays or seasons, and they sat uneaten or unused, that you were reliving a time and season way past…from your growing up years, to your times with dad and our family life. It wasn’t the things themselves that were important to you; it was the connection, the memories associated with those things. Many things come to mind. Ribbon candy, Easter peeps, filled chocolate Easter eggs, jelly beans, candy corn, embroidery kits, Barbies, baby dolls, beanie babies. Also jewelry, red lipstick and nail polish, and your favorite fragrance, “White Shoulders.”

I have been wearing “White Shoulders” all week in memory of your last week here on earth. The connection between us, and the beauty during that painful and precious time will always astound me and fill my heart. I never thought that death could be beautiful, however, your passing from this world to the arms of Jesus was inspiring to me. You grew older gracefully with humility; and with a trusting heart, let go of us and the world to reach out to your next adventure.

Thank you for trusting me with your life during the time you lived with Joe and me, and thank you for loving and trusting me with your very life at the end.

It is an honor and privilege to be your daughter. I will always feel you with me, and will always strive to have your faith, humility, love and forgiving spirit.

Rest in the peace and light of the Lord, Mom! I love you.

https://somebodylovesmeblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/spiritnot-personality/

https://somebodylovesmeblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/remembering-my-mother-mary/

 

 

 


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Beauty and Love are Always to be Found

Since my mother’s death in September, it has been hard for me to focus on the feelings and truths that are waiting for me to acknowledge.

It’s  not that I am consciously afraid of the feelings that will bubble up, but more that I know the immense tidal wave of feelings and memories that will engulf me, and I just need “me time” to sort it all out, and actually have the time to feel, face and process all that the Holy Spirit reveals to me. 

My heartfelt thanks and gratitude go out to all of you that have prayed for my mom, me, and my family, and also for your love and support.  An extra thank you to Tina, who reached out to me in her special way, to empathize and encourage me to write.  She knows that writing helps me to sort things out, and hopefully my search and struggle will help others who may be experiencing similar things.

Right now I am feeling overwhelmed, with the magnitude of what is occurring in our country and the world, and also with the tapestry of my own  life.  Although none of us will ever know the full beauty of our life tapestries until the Lord reveals them to us in His Glory in heaven, I feel as though some of the golden threads will be made visible to my eyes, through the Holy Spirit.  Somehow, the Lord will open my eyes and heart to understand the reasons for events in my life, and also the lessons that I was meant to learn through each struggle.  How everything was interconnected, and how the Lord always leads us to beauty, even through things we consider to be evil and ugly.

Beauty and Love are always to be found, especially when things are the darkest…especially in the midst of pain, struggle, and any evil that Satan wreaks on our lives.

So I ask for your patience, as I trudge forward, one step at a time.  I ask the Lord to use me as a vessel, to touch hearts that need to be touched with love and comfort.

This past Saturday, I went grocery shopping.  As I listened to Christmas music while strolling the aisles with my cart, my eyes caught the rice pudding.  The delicious, all natural rice pudding that I always bought for my mom.  All of a sudden, I was overcome with emotion.  It was an all consuming sadness, happiness, and love, all at once.  I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, and  just stood there, looking at the pudding, unable to move.  I allowed myself to feel all of it fully, and then just moved on.

After that, little snippets of memories kept popping up.

The awesome birthday parties mom gave us.  Mine was a fall birthday, so the decorations were always fall themed…lots of orange and black crepe paper and pumpkins.  Orange, yellow, and brown flowers on my cake, and honeycombed bright orange  pumpkin centerpieces.  I absolutely LOVE fall, and those birthday parties are probably one of the reasons I love it so much!

The delicious soft boiled eggs she made for me mixed with pieces of white bread.  When I was feeling a little sick, the eggs were so comforting to me.

Playing cards and board games with mom…she was the master of Canasta!

The way she always had something to serve to visitors.  Even if it was store bought cookies and coffee, or sharing our dinner, there was always something to offer to guests.

The grocery store.  When Mom first moved in with us, she would go grocery shopping with me, using her cane.  She would just want to buy everything, mostly sweets, so we got two carts and we both filled them.  Then she started using her walker, which then led to a wheelchair.  Although it was stressful when she shopped with me, it was sad when she no longer asked to go.

As soon as I walked into the house after shopping, she would always ask, “What goodies did you get?”  Meaning, cheesies, donuts, ice cream, cookies, pudding, etc.  I tried to limit them a little, but she  ended up getting most of what she wanted.

“The rosary is on at three thirty; would you like to pray it with me?”  When I finally accepted Mom’s invitation to pray with her, our relationship changed.  I remember one occasion vividly.  While we were praying, I looked over at her face.  There is no other way to describe what I saw…her face was illuminated and transformed.  I could literally see the Holy Spirit shining from her.

The many times she told me to just relax.  There was always so much to get done after work and on weekends to stay caught up as well as I could.  She was always telling me to let things go and just relax.  Maybe I should have listened???

On one of the days right before she passed away, my sister asked how she felt.  Mom said, “I’m good, but not as good as I will be in February.”  When my sister asked her what happens in February, she said, “I am going to have a great grandson!”

At one point, I said, “Mom, you know you will see your great grandson once you are in heaven.”  She looked at me with a glint in her eye, and said “I know, but I am not ready to leave this world yet.”

One night when she was having a hard time sleeping due to her breathing issues, I climbed in bed with her, and held her hand.  I asked her if it was ok that I was in bed next to her.  Her answer?  “We should do this more often.”

The look of wonder in her eyes the day before she died, when she looked straight into my eyes and said, “You have the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen!”  And then she called me “Jan” and proceeded to tell me about her daughter, Bernadette, and her husband that take care of her.  She said they did such a good job, but she worries that they do too much and worries about their health.

That moment when our eyes connected, when she was so weak and had gone through another breathing episode.  She asked me if I gave her “the pill” yet.  I “knew” that she meant that she was ready to pass on…she was ready to leave.  I am not sure why she thought there was one “pill” that would allow her to die, but I do know that she trusted me and she was telling me that her time on earth was ending.

Where does this all lead to?

Beauty and Love are always to be found, especially when things are the darkest…especially in the midst of pain and struggle.  And too many times, we do not understand the truth of that, until our world is shaken.  Until that person is taken away from us.  Until a stressful or difficult situation is behind us. 

I take great comfort in this truth:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

 

 

 


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Spirit…Not Just Personality

Out to Dinner Bernadette and Mom

Out to Dinner
Bernadette and Mom

God always answers prayers, although sometimes they are in ways we could not have imagined. I am learning to trust His ways, especially when we cannot see the answers, because He knows what we truly need, not just what we think we need or want.

When my dad was experiencing a decline in health twelve years ago, I prayed that he would pass away before my mom so I could get to know her. In my mind, I would be able to forge a “true” relationship with her, and get to know her as a person. I imagined long heart to heart talks over coffee and lunches, enjoyable shopping dates, being there to help her with household chores, and do all the things I fantasized were things that close mothers and daughters did together. I wanted to know her true personality, and I wanted her to know me. This was my prayer.

The Lord knew what my true prayer request was, even though I didn’t know the fullness of what was needed to fill that spot in my heart that was longing for my mother’s love.

He knew that I needed to know her spirit…her heart; not just her personality.

So the Lord placed my mother with Joe (hubby) and me, and she made her home with us for the past eleven years.

I wish I could say that all those years were a breeze, and that every moment spent together was quality time. I wish I could say that my heart was always right and that every thought I had was loving and peaceful. I wish I could say that we had long, intense mother to daughter talks that allowed me to know about her life, and that we chatted endlessly about mother/daughter things. Because those were the things that my mind had the capacity to wish and hope for.   I was looking for an illusion of what true love is.

God, in all His mercy and love, revealed to me what true love is all about.

He gave me eleven years of snippets and moments of love with my mother. He helped me to love my mom through our interactions, especially when my mind and heart were not in it. He showed Himself through her smiles, her patience, her love, her gentle spirit, her ability to take life as it was given to her, accept it, and offer it to God each day. I watched her as her health declined through the years, and she was able to do less and less. I watched her struggle to walk a few steps to the bathroom, then struggle to move in bed. I watched her struggle to just breathe. I knew in her last week on earth, that her suffering was united with Jesus, and that I was privileged to share in that beauty. That beauty was manifested in a love that permeated my whole being…an all-consuming love that was almost overwhelming in its intensity.

You see, God answered my prayers, although in a way far superior to what I requested.

I asked that He allow me the time to get to know my mother’s personality. What He blessed me with, was the opportunity to know her spirit. And her beautiful spirit is what will be a part of me, and all who knew her, forever.

Thank you, Jesus, for loving us so completely, that you know our hearts and needs more than we do. Help us to always trust in your mercy and love, knowing that your desire is for us to find peace and true joy in your presence forever.


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In Memory of My Mother, Mary

Visit with Gram at Rehab

Visit with Gram at Rehab

There is no easy way to say this…my mother passed away on Thursday, September 17, 2015. So many emotions have been ebbing in and out of my being, however, right at this moment, I am feeling kind of locked up…like I have not been able yet to comprehend all that transpired.

The only way I know to sort things out and remember, is to write.

So here I am, with a heart full of pain, wonder, gratefulness, sadness, joy, and a love that is permeating through my heart as I never felt before. For I know that the Lord, and His Mother, have been with us each moment.

Being 88, my mother had been getting weaker and shorter of breath throughout the years. She was at a point where she was more than happy to just read, watch tv, or do her word search puzzles while in bed. She slowly started to choose eating in her room versus eating with my husband and me in the kitchen. Her appetite started to decrease (she was always a “foodie”!!!) and she only wanted very small portions of meat. Her short trips to the bathroom were more labored.

Then the breathing episodes started. After, and sometimes during, any physical activity, she would become extremely short of breath, and then start gasping for air. It was terrifying for her to experience, and horrifying for me to watch.

Joe (hubby) and I celebrated Mom’s 88th birthday on Saturday, August 8, with her. She enjoyed her favorite coconut cake, and we gifted her with the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy rosary that she requested.  A few weeks before, Joe and I drove her to Ohio to visit with my two sisters…I knew in my heart that it was the last trip she would ever take.

A short time after that trip, on July 31, I had emailed the following thoughts to myself, so I would not forget:

“Today I feel a total emptiness and sadness that is running deep in my being. I feel a deep sadness like I have never felt before.

I was talking to God this morning, and asked why has my mother’s life been so sad? She was such a beautiful young girl, and since that time she endured so much pain and struggle. Why??? Why couldn’t she just enjoy her life, family and friends, in a carefree way like so many do?

As I was asking Him these questions, He immediately answered me. He said, “Through all of the pain and struggles that she experienced, it brought her closer to me, and she will be with me soon.”

That is why I knew she didn’t have too much time left with us on earth. But I had no idea of what would happen in the next two months.

Mom ended up being admitted to the hospital the day after her birthday. Her stay there was almost a week, and then she was admitted to the rehab center for a little over three weeks.

With oxygen, nebulizers, and meds she had never taken before, she seemed to get much better. She actually had a good time in rehab…loved the food, received at least 50 cards and some beautiful flower arrangements, had many visitors, did well in rehab activities, played bingo, got her hair done in the salon…and smiled big when we came to visit each day.

One day my husband noticed that she was “down” a little…barely noticeable, but not quite as “up” as before.

We took mom home on Friday, September 4, and she was admitted to Hospice (in our home) the next Friday. So, in essence, she passed away two weeks after coming home from rehab.

There are many stories to share with you during my mom’s hospice time, and there will be many blog posts, I’m sure.

I will leave you with this: my mother had a special devotion to the rosary meditation. One of the promises of the rosary is a holy death.

At my mother’s moment of death, she just peacefully stopped breathing, and I felt nothing but happiness for her soul, because I knew she was with Jesus.

But that doesn’t take away the pain of missing her.  I know it will be a journey, and that the Lord will walk that journey with us all…leading us closer to Him.

                                                                                                                                             

 

 


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My Day was Changed

Today, instead of the salad that I had planned for lunch, I decided to go out.  When I left the office, it was very dreary; a little chilly, no sun, and while heading in to the restaurant it started raining.  Add to that the haze I have been in due to a respiratory bug I am recuperating from…my spirit really needed  some lifting.

As I was sitting and enjoying my lunch, a sweet little girl caught my eye.  She was about two years old, with short, shaggy golden brown hair that magnified her beautiful, smiling brown eyes.  She was in a cute little polka dot shirt and black leggings.  As she sat on the table facing her mother, every now and again she would burst out in laughter due to unknown words her mom whispered to her.

Their joy was contagious!  The innocence and beauty of the love between this mother and her daughter touched me, and I felt my heart fill up.  For some reason, I felt a connection with them, and couldn’t keep myself from smiling.

As they were on their way out, the little girl broke free from her mom, and ran over to me.  She looked up at me with those gorgeous eyes, said good-bye, then ran back to her mom.

My day was changed in a matter of moments. 

In the past, I may have not even noticed the beauty that was occurring right in front of me.  Sometimes it is so easy to be overwhelmed with the negative around  or within us…we forget to open our eyes to the goodness that is always right there in front of us.

As I grow in faith and maturity, I am learning to keep my eyes, ears, and heart open to God’s whispers to me.   He never lets me down.

Today, He was reminding me that His love is all around me, sometimes in unexpected places.  And I am reminded to praise and worship my Lord and Savior, and to be grateful in all things.

Need I tell you, the sun is now shining and there is no sign of rain?

 

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:8-9

We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.   Romans 8:28

 

 

 

 


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One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, my mother in law, Velma, left this earth and returned to her heavenly home.  As I sit down to write about the blessing that she was (and always will be) in my life, my heart is completely filled with love and many emotions are welling up inside me.

After knowing her for 39 years, and being her daughter in law for 35 of those years, it is easy to see the transition of our relationship, although for some years it was difficult.  Words can never express what I feel for her, and the empty place in my heart knowing that I will never again see her face, hear her voice or laughter.  I will never again feel her hand holding mine or her arms around me.

However, I will always feel her love.

Pulling a line from one of my favorite romantic comedies, “Sweet Home Alabama”, Velma was “a complicated woman.”  She struggled through a horrendous childhood, one that she spoke of often to me; however, she never fully acknowledged or released the evils and pain she endured.  Instead, she focused her entire being on raising her six children…5 sons and a daughter.  She loved them intensely, and wanted to give them a secure home, in the only way she knew.  That was through homemaking.  She kept house like no one I ever knew, and her cooking and baking were her shining glory.  That was how she showed love…by nurturing.  Velma had her flaws, as we all do.  Deep in her heart, she knew she had these flaws.  She compensated by DOING for people…in so many ways.

When I first met Velma, I was dating her son, Joe, and I was just 17.  She nurtured me…helping me to feel accepted and loved, by inquiring about me and my family, and always feeding me something special.  I remember, she would sit me down, and ask if I wanted a steak.  Then she would reach in the freezer, pull out a steak, and fry it for me. I never had my own steak before…my family always ate “family style”, so that impressed me.  She made the most awesome sausage and pepper pizza I have ever tasted…her pizza dough recipe was the best, and the tomatoes and peppers were home canned.  Simply delicious.  And her cookies, Swedish tea log,  bread pudding and pizzelles.  Yum!

Remember… Velma had six children.  That lead to crazy unforgettable Holidays, filled with her children, grandchildren, food, love, laughter and lots of noise!  The whirlwinds of activity were overwhelming, but how I miss those times!  Those were the years that changed the “in-law” relationships to “family” relationships.

Velma’s greatest gift to me is her wonderful son, Joe.  (my awesome husband) All of my brothers- in-law, sisters-in-law, and their families are also a blessing to me.  We are a family of heart…separated by circumstance and miles.  But we are always there for each other, in mind and spirit.

When I was a very young newlywed, Velma was very intimidating to me.  Since her cooking, baking and cleaning were the best (her favorite line…”that’s the way I do it”), and my self-image was zero, that was an uncomfortable time for me.  In my own mind, I could never live up to Joe’s mother, and I felt inadequate as a wife.  This feeling continued through the birth of my two sons.

I always felt I had to be “perfect” in every way…clean house, perfect wife and mother, perfect food, etc.  And I knew I wasn’t perfect, so I had a real dilemma in my own mind.

Two things happened that changed and molded our relationship.

The first thing was something that probably shouldn’t have happened.  Joe and I were experiencing extreme pain and difficulty in our marriage.  I went to my mother-in-law in despair, and shared what was happening. (through the  years I learned not to share those kinds of things concerning our marriage)  I later learned that while I was at work, my mother-in-law showed up at our front door, and confronted Joe.  She let him know that he had a good, loving wife, and in no uncertain terms, gave him a piece of her mind.  When we talk about it now, Joe gets a chuckle out of the memory.  I feel the love; in finally being aware that she loved me, and thought I was a good wife to her son.

The next thing that changed our relationship was mortifying to me at the time.  I had been a stay-at-home mom, and then had to work part time.  With two young sons, I just could not get it all together.  My house was a mess, and I left it that way when I left for work one morning.  A few hours later, my mother-in-law, who had our house key, had decided to drop over to bring us a few things. Oh, did I tell you how many times she stopped over with bags of food and “supplies”?  So she called me at work, from my dirty house!!!  I had never felt so exposed and embarrassed.  She let me know that the house was now clean, and there were some groceries she brought and put away for us.

At that moment I realized, I never had to pretend to be perfect for her again.  She loved me no matter what.

And I learned to love Velma no matter what.  Because through the tense times, hurtful words spoken, and all that occurred due to human frailty and weakness, I was able to feel her love.  She loved her whole family immensely. And because of that, she left a legacy in her children and their spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

On the morning of her death, she was found, peacefully unresponsive, with hands still holding her rosary.  Although my  family did not arrive in time to hold her hand to say our last good byes, she was surrounded by other loving family members.

She will hold our hearts forever.

We love you, mom.

We know you are in heaven with Jesus and the angels He allowed you to see while on earth.  We know that you are enveloped in His pure love, peace and joy that can never be felt on earth.

We will carry you in our hearts until we meet again.


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Shooting Stars and Miracles

Sometimes I am not sure who really does the most “teaching” in families…the parents or the children.

In my own family, I know that my two sons taught me some awesome truths.  They helped to stretch me out of the confined box I had unknowingly built myself into.  As all you parents will identify with, the love and connection that my husband and I felt for them was something that we never felt before.  However, even where there is great love, there is always more to learn about what love really is.

It feels like both yesterday and a lifetime ago, our family had the opportunity to camp out at a friend’s beautiful property, which included 110 acres of wooded land and a lake.  We had a wonderful time there…it was the kind of place that was so far away from city lights, that the night was intensely peaceful and black.  When you looked up, you could see a sky filled with beautiful stars.  It was breathtaking, and so peaceful.  It was like heaven; our family being together in that beautiful setting, just enjoying the stars and the sounds of crickets and frogs.

My youngest son, Michael, who was about 10 years old at the time, was excitedly telling me that he just saw some shooting stars.  I said, “Are you sure that’s what you saw?  Have you ever seen a shooting star before?”  He answered, “Mom, I see them all the time.”

I told him I never saw a shooting star.

That’s when he uttered words that stay with me to this day.  He said, “Mom, you never see them because you don’t look for them.”

And guess what happened.  I looked upwards, and I saw a shooting star!  My heart was amazed!  From the mouth of babes, a spiritual truth was revealed to me.

God is all around us.  He is in the air we breathe, the sun that shines on us, the flowers and trees, the oceans, the rain that falls from the sky, the sounds and beauty of the birds in the air and all the animals, the moon, planets  and stars in the sky.  He is in our children, spouses, parents, friends, relatives, neighbors, and all the people of the world.

The Lord’s Holy Spirit and his miracles are always around us…why don’t we see them?  Why do we think miracles do not exist on a daily basis?

Because we are not looking for them.

Today, when I was walking and praying with my Lord, He spoke to me.  He told me to always keep myself open to Him, and I will be amazed at what is revealed.  There will always be a new thing of beauty to see, there will always be a new beautiful song to hear, there will always be a new opportunity to love.  God’s creativity is endless.

Are you ready to really look for God all around you?  You will find Him everywhere…starting right in your own heart.

And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?   Matthew 21:16

Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.   Isaiah 48:6


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Your Normal Day

Once in a while, I get a craving for what I consider a “comfort food”, and yesterday I really felt like having an omelet for lunch.  I work about 5 minutes from a Bob Evans Restaurant, so you know where I headed!

I’m not sure what caused it, but I had a horrendous headache…my head was pounding.   The hostess led me to my table, you guessed it, right next to a large table of children (6 to be exact) with their mother.

As I read the menu, I could hear one of the kids behind me rapping one of their eating utensils on their table.  It was going bang…bang…bang and it seemed as though it would never stop.  On top of that, the kids were loud (not misbehaving, just acting like kids!) and my head was about to explode.  My eyes started to scan the restaurant looking for another table for me to sit.  Just as I was starting to feel really negative toward the whole family  for “disrupting” my peaceful lunch, an amazing thing happened.

Across from the large table there sat two women who were enjoying some wonderful “girl time” together.  You can tell by their conversation and shared laughter, they were old friends.

One of the women started talking over the noise to the mother across the aisle.  In a casual, very friendly voice, I heard her say, “what beautiful children…are they all yours?”  When the mother answered yes, the friendly lady told her what a great job she had done.  She said that it is rare to see children so loving with each other, and she admired her for the love and discipline it took for her to brave the elements and take all of her children to a restaurant.  Then the two ladies started talking to the children, and it was heartwarming to hear how sweet they were.  When the little boy said, “Guess what I can do.  I can spin around and I don’t even get sick” I laughed out loud.

Guess what!  My headache went away.  I sat there, alone at my table, with my heart filling up with love for the family, and especially for the two ladies who not only shared love with the mother and her children, but also shared love with me  and opened my heart.

Momentarily, I felt very guilty for the negative feelings I had, but I quickly realized that I am human, and we are all here for each other.

See how God uses us all to edify and love each other?  These things happen all the time.  We just need to stay open to the source of the goodness.

Anyway, the family left, and the two women were getting ready to leave.  I went over to their table and shared with them the story of my headache, how the kids were hurting my head and annoying me, and then how their simple act of love toward the mom and her kids completely turned my day around.  I thanked them.  One of the ladies (Deborah), introduced herself and her friend, Carolyn, to me, and then took my hand in hers.  She had tears in her eyes as she squeezed my hand.  We talked a little, and then parted ways.  They thanked me for coming over to talk with them.

Because of their simple act of love, my day was changed, and my heart was once again filled with Christ’s love.

Don’t ever think that little acts of love and kindness don’t make a difference.  You don’t know the ripples that happen because of the ways you show love every day through your “normal” day.  Not only is the recipient of your gesture affected, but also people around that are watching you.

You can be the reason for changing someone’s day, or life…and never even know it.  When the love of Jesus resides in your soul, don’t be afraid to reach out and share it.

He will bless and magnify your efforts in ways you will never be aware of, to build His Kingdom!

May God bless you and bless your “normal” day!

 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8


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The Gift

One of the first things you will notice upon meeting my mother are her beautiful, clear blue eyes that are complemented by her silvery white hair.  When she laughs, her eyes sparkle.  When I look into her eyes, I don’t just see her at her current age…I see a lifetime. I also see her as a child, teenager, young woman, complete with the hopes and dreams that lived in her heart and spirit.

Mom’s current life consists of her love for God and the Blessed Mother, family, Barbies, Beanie Babies, all children, and all animals.  She is very selfless; always looking for ways she can help people, or little gifts she could give them.  Time with family, praying, reading countless books, word search, card games, movies, shopping, and dining out, fill her days.  Mom’s mobility isn’t what it used to be, so she depends on me and my husband for her outings and social life.  Being that we both work fulltime jobs, plus the responsibilities of home and a home business, we don’t get her out of the house as much as we would like.  Mom is a very social person, and I know she is lonely for friends.

Mom has lived with my husband and me for the past nine years.  At 85, she has lived through lots of life.  There has been joy in her life, and also a great deal of pain and struggle, which culminated with my dad’s death ten years ago.  After almost fifty years of marriage, her life’s love and best friend was taken from her.  To this day, she hasn’t gotten over the pain of losing him.  Although she is happy with us, I know that she misses him every minute.  I definitely understand that, because if I lost my husband, I would miss him every minute, too.

My mother raised four daughters.  I am second to the youngest, and was daddy’s girl.  Although mom took care of my needs, I never felt a close relationship with her while growing up.  She was always “my mother” and I never knew her as a person.  Everything in our home revolved around my dad…it’s hard to describe the person he was.  Let’s just say he was full of life, and everything usually revolved around him and his moods.  Although my relationship with him was confusing at times, I knew who he was, and some of what he had gone through in his life.  During good and bad times, I had a close relationship with my dad.

When my father’s health started to go downhill, and he was no longer able to do the things that brought him joy, it was difficult and painful  to see him so vulnerable.  My mom told me she used to go in a room by herself, pretending to play solitaire on the computer, and just cry.  We lived states away from them, so we didn’t know the extent of his weakness.  Her stories of how he would fall and she would struggle to get him up are just heartbreaking….the last time he fell, she dragged him with a sheet to the couch where he finally was able to hoist himself up.  Mom would never go anywhere without him, because she was afraid that he might pass away, without her being there.  He wanted to die in his own home, not a hospital, and she wanted to be there for him.

It was the Sunday after Easter in 2003, and Mom was in their kitchen preparing a roast for the crockpot. (she retells this story a lot) She heard my dad call her name twice, “Mary, Mary”.  She ran into the bedroom, and he was half off the bed – kind of caught between the bed and the wall.  He must have hit his head on the dresser, because he was bleeding.  From what she says, I think he was already gone.  She ran into the other room to get the phone, to call 911. She will always be sorry for not just staying with him and holding him.  No matter how many times I tell her that Daddy knew how much she loved him, and her name was the name he carried with him to meet God, she still feels that guilt.  I believe her inner life is filled with memories…mostly good, with bad and guilt swirled in.  Isn’t it the same for all of us?

There are many experiences Mom has never shared with me.  I know she goes much deeper than she has revealed so far.  But one of my prayers was truly answered.  When my dad was getting weaker, and his health diminishing, I would pray that God take him first so I can get to know my mother.

When we first took my mother into our home, I did it out of honor and respect for her.  I was happy that we were able to give her a safe and happy place to live, and felt that we were presenting her with a gift. 

What I have finally figured out, nine years later, is that she is the gift… to me.

I am learning so many things about my mom.  I have always known that my temper is from my dad, but my ability to forgive and love, came from my mother.  My mother sees the good in me, and although she also sees the rough spots, she mostly overlooks the negative.  It makes me sad, because every now and again I will lose my temper with her (always because of politics), and afterwards, I feel so bad.  When I apologize, she just says, “sometimes things just build up and things have to come out”.  I appreciate her words, but still feel bad that it happened in the first place.

Because of those moments with her, I now understand how she and my dad filled each other’s lives so perfectly.  My dad was very hard to live with sometimes, and she was able to let that go.  She knew and understood his heart…and forgave the actions.  BIG LESSON for me.  I have also learned many little things about her life, which help me patch together a feeling of the struggles she went through.  However, when I ask her what she would change….she says that she would change nothing.  She did the best she could with the circumstances that she was placed in.

And she does what she has always told me to do…she offers it all up to God.

Thank you, Mom…for such a beautiful gift.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;  That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.  Ephesians 6:1-3

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.  …  1 Corinthians 13