{May 16, 2012}   Internal guilt

Mother’s Day.

A day that hasn’t been the same for me since 2005

that’s the year a very close friend of mine lost her mother.

and it seems as if every year (or every other year) since then someone else I know and love (friends and family alike) has lost their mom

Most recently,  my favorite painter

I spent half of this year’s Mother’s Day thinking about those two friends of mine.  Thinking about how they’d never again be able to do the very thing I was doing at that moment.  It made me cry

2005 was the year I stopped “publicly” celebrating Mother’s Day. Part of it was a conscious effort while some parts were unconscious. It was the year I stopped posting statuses and pictures leading up to the holiday. It was also the year I unconsciously stopped making Happy Mother’s Day calls to all the mothers I know.

At times I feel guilty that my mom is still here while the moms of people I know and love aren’t. I start internally asking myself questions about what makes me different from them. What is it about me that I got to keep my mom and they didn’t. Or, what is it about them that their mom gets to see God before mine does.

I’m very careful about mentioning  ANYthing regarding my mother to these friends. I feel as though saying anything about her is another reminder to them that theirs is gone.

Last year I lost my cousin.  She was the mother of two. I was visiting with the family and wanted my mom’s attention. I called out “mom” and immediately wanted to kick myself.  How dare I make it known that I still have a mother yet I was there to mourn with two people I love who had just lost theirs.  These were the thoughts running through my head as I grabbed a soda for myself, my mom and aunt.

What do you say to them on Mother’s Day? that they haven’t already heard?

2005 seems like a long time ago and just this past weekend I felt compelled to speak on  these feelings

I know and understand that I have no control over who dies and when. That has never been my job nor will it ever be my job. But,  that doesn’t change my feelings. I am human you know.

I did a video blog about this thinking it would be easier to get my words out that way. Wrong.  I cried through pretty much the entire video.

Will these feelings ever go away? I don’t know, they stay buried in the back of my mind and come to the forefront on Mother’s Day or whenever I hear that someone I know has lost their mother.


{December 19, 2011}   ‘Til Death Did They Part

58 years. That is how long my great-grandparents had been married before Friday, Dec. 16, 2011. That is the day my great-grandmother was taken from me. She was 86. She’d had Alzheimer’s since 1999 and on March 8, 2007 (my birthday) we put her in a nursing home.

I was told that she’d died early Friday morning, a little after midnight. When I found out I thought about what it was that I was doing while she was taking her last few breaths. I was on Twitter talking about how I was going into my last day volunteering at the middle school.

When my mother told me I remember shaking my head and grabbing her as the tears fell. I believe the image of that moment will forever be somewhere in my head.  We went to eat shortly afterwards with my grandmother and great-grandfather. Well, they ate, I wasn’t hungry. Halfway through the meal my great-grandfather tells me that he has nothing else to live for. She was his world. He wears an old, dirt red colored picture of them when they were younger on a chain around his neck. He took it off and gave it to me telling me to keep it so that I could always keep them together. He told me to fix it up if I had to which meant get a new chain for it if need be. I promised him that I would.

Today, Sunday, we went to view Grandma Grace’s body. She looked good.

It was heartbreaking to be up there looking at my lifeless great-grandmother. But what was worse was watching her husband grab the edge of the casket as if he was unsure if it would’ve been okay to touch her. He and I both had begun to cry even before we’d walked into the room to see her body.

I wanted to scream upon seeing her but nothing came out. I only spoke a word of thanks to the lady who handed me some tissue. At the time I couldn’t put what I was feeling into words so I just stayed quiet.

I wanted to yell at her to wake up so we could go home. I wanted to kiss her with the hope that she’d open her eyes, start complaining and calling me Kissing Kate (the name she gave me b/c I was always kissing her).

I also wanted to shake the life back into her or at least breathe it into her nostrils which were wide open. But, my name is Ashley, not God.

Even in the state of having a lifeless body you could tell she was a well endowed woman. She is where I get my monsters from, as they’ve been called.  Her nails were long like mine yet unlike her daughter and granddaughter’s, so maybe I get that from her too. They had her hair nicely curled and her make-up was good although I did want to take some tissue and wipe just a bit of the lipstick off her lips. I studied her body as though I was being given a test on it later. I noticed a mark on the side of her face that I’d never seen before.

I’ve been close enough to touch the body of a dead loved one before but I’ve never wanted to, until today.  I touched her hands and the flower she was holding. It was real which kind of shocked me. I even touched her hair which is grayish-white.

I’ve experienced death before but there have only been 2 people close enough to me in lineage to where my opinion on the funeral arrangements would matter. The first was my daddy but of course I was way too young to understand the entire process of planning a funeral. This is the first time I’ve been asked my opinion on what the funeral program will look like, what they’ll be buried in, which pictures will be put in the program. I’ve even been asked to read a passage or two from the Bible.

This is also the first time I’ve heard the classic phrases people use when someone has died and they not be enough comfort for me. They normally work but not this time. I mean I appreciate them of course but this time they just weren’t enough.

I wanted her suffering to stop more than anything in the world. But I wanted it to stop while she was alive, here on Earth with me and the rest of us. That’s selfish I know and I have to keep telling myself that God is the only one who could give her the peace I badly wanted her to have. I also have to keep telling myself that Heaven is the only place she’s able to get it. Deep down I know these things but it doesn’t mean I don’t want her back.

{August 10, 2011}   I want a love like theirs

today (August 10,2011) marks 50+ years that my great-grandparents have been together. I hate that I can’t remember how many years exactly but I can tell you that they’ll be hitting the 60 year mark sooner than later though

Wesley and Grace Calhoun are their names

the movie The Notebook is a bit similar to the love my great-grandparents have for each other in that the last name of the couple in the movie is Calhoun (just like my great-grandparents), their love endured a lot (just like my g-grandparents) and the woman battled Alzheimer’s disease (so does my g-grandma).  I have no plans on seeing The Notebook though b/c it’s too similar to them. My mama has seen it and said watching it was like being told stories of the lives of my g-grandparents

My grandma Grace has had Alzheimer’s since Dec. of 1999 and has been in a nursing home since March 2008 (she actually went in on my birthday which made me feel some kind of way that year)

I don’t have any recent pictures of them together b/c I didn’t have a digital camera back then. I only have separates now

celebrating the birthday of my favorite 87 year old

kissing him

I’d prefer not to put a picture of her on here b/c I don’t like taking pictures of what Alzheimer’s disease has done to her physical state

I hate that this disease has morphed the lady who used to make me re-wash the dishes if I left them in the rack too long into a woman who no longer recognizes me.  The woman who used to call me Kissing Kate b/c I was always kissing her, the woman who enjoyed watching me cheer when she was in town. In the early stages she’d hear my voice and turn her head in the direction and acknowledge me that way.  My great-grandfather bought her this little talking cheerleader. If you press her tummy she cheers “we’re numb. 1, we can’t be numb. 2 b/c we’re gonna beat the whoopsie out of you” and he’d play it for her and she’d mumble my name.  When she could she’d squeeze the doll’s tummy and it was a representation of me.  She still has the doll but she’s no longer able to squeeze it let alone hold it in her hand.

I also hate what this disease has done to her husband’s soul, mind, spirit, etc. It’s heartbreaking to watch him learn to live without his life’s partner. He still loves her dearly, he will be the first to tell you that even though she’s in a nursing home he still has a wife. He still wears his ring and has a picture of them from the olden days on a chain worn around his neck.

It’s heartbreaking to watch him visit her and she  not even know that he’s there. that right there makes me cry b/c I know that it’s not her fault that she no longer knows him.  She’s just existing these days and it kills me to use the word “existing” instead of living but that’s the harsh reality we as a family are facing.

My g-grandfather has forgotten the actual date of his anniversary and how long he’s been married but he’ll never forget that he has a wife. and of course, she doesn’t remember. Back when he could remember we’d take a cake down to the nursing home and he’d celebrate with her and the nurses who take care of her.

I want a love like theirs one day. For them it REALLY is “til death do us part”

et cetera