Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On this day 55 years ago

I was born, three weeks premature, to a young woman, an unwed mother, a student at university, in Philadelphia.

This wonderful young woman made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Despite the social mores of the day, she chose to carry me for 9 months (well - almost), and then do the unthinkable.
She gave me up for adoption. It resonates with me often, this incredible thing that she was doing for me, her child. She wanted me to have more than what she could give me.

I was adopted into a home with a beautiful mother and a handsome father. I had a two year old brother waiting to tease me (and he still does). 

Our mother called us her adopted darlings when we were younger. We are not related by blood, but by love. Matt will always be my beloved brother that I look up to. As much as he wanted to ditch me as a kid, he was always the first one to stick up for me when I needed him. 

My mother loved us fiercely. Both my brother and I have now celebrated our first birthdays without her. Matt was adopted just a few days after he was born, but because I was premature, I didn't 'come home' until February 2nd of the new year. Mom and I always considered that our special day.

But on this day, I think of my birth mother, and the incredible sacrifice she made for me. God Bless her, where ever she is. I hope she knows that I think of her, and love her too.

Merry Christmas,
Elizabeth Mary

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

This time of day

It was after dinner, our tummies were full, the ice cream man might have been by. We had our baths and were snug in our jammie's. This is where the magic starts...
The heat of the summer sun was gone, the sweat & grime washed off our little bodies. Now was the time. We were allowed to go out on the front porch in our jammies.
A breeze would gently blow, the birds were still chirping and chattering back and forth. The light would get just the littlest bit dim & you could see the first of the flashing fireflies.
We would call to our friends who were in their jammie's too and also call to the neighbors. The older kids were back out at play - kick the can, flashlight tag, we would be joining them someday soon. 
The fresh air would fill our lungs, make us yawn, rub our eyes, time for dreamland.

Yes, I still miss my mother,
It was a magical time.
With love, Liz

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sewing with my Mother

listening to my daughter's music. 

They are both here with me - even though they aren't...
one is gone - 3 months now since she left this world behind, one is away - crafting an incredible and amazing new life.

I listen to the hum of the sewing machine and it is like a cat's purr; comforting, reassuring, reminding me so much of my mother.

I listen to 'Sondre Lerche' Radio on Pandora. Regina Spektor is using her voice in that wonderfully crazy way she has. I see my daughter - sharing time in our shop, doing dishes, getting ready for school, studying - all to her own unique playlist.

They fill my heart, surround me, make me ache, cry and smile.

with love from, Liz

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I truly enjoy my Creativity

Can I just say that my mom would have loved Etsy if it had been around years ago?
There were SO many times that we would be working on something together and needed a particular 'special item' to finish off our project. Of course, we would probably end up creating it ourselves. 
At the time, you could only get what was sold in the stores - you know - the normal stuff - not the really awesome stuff - if there was awesome stuff somewhere...

I am currently reworking a linen suit I purchased at Unique Boutique, 402 3rd Avenue, NY, NY on 3rd between 28th and 29th.
It's adorable. But. I have never understood the theory of lining a wonderful, breathable Linen, with Polyester. Really??
Certainly I have been sewing long enough, and sat at the foot of the master (mom), to know that lining a piece of clothing gives it support, shape and structure. Ok - I know that...
Back to this cute little suit...I have now taken the lining out of the skirt and the jacket. As you can see in the photo, it looks a bit raw. Wait no longer - this is where that crazy imagination of mine (mom) comes into play. 
I am a great believer in the idea that clothing should be fun. 

{Maybe this is where my daughter gets the idea that I was perhaps a clown in a former life. But really - I'm ok with that observation. It was said after much thought and said with love}.

But I digress... I want to finish the raw seams and was considering my options. I wanted it to look pretty inside. Fun when you opened the jacket. My first thought was Patterned Seam Tape. SO CUTE! I could make that. However, sometimes it just pays to get that 'something special', the awesome stuff, from the experts. SO -let's look on Etsy. 

Bazingo! Ask and ye shall receive. Ok, maybe this isn't really what Matthew 7:7-8 was referencing - umm - patterned seam tape? But - Heh - it works  :) 

Needless to say my mom would have loved this score! I am off to shop. I'll let you know what I chose and show you pictures of my finished 'creation' when my project is completed.

What have you found - that was the 'perfect ending'?
Post your comments below!
Talk to you soon, Liz

My mother's hands

It promised to be the spring day that I had long been wishing for. My arms lifted the first towel into the air and  pinned it to the clothes line. I burst into tears.

I was struck with the image of my mother as a young woman, hanging sheets on the line at our Wynwood Road house. I was little and would have been found playing on the swing set or in my hide-away under the arching branches of the forsythia row at the edge of our property - reading one of my coveted Big Little books. I would watch her as she went about her task. This woman who grew up with orange crates as her bedroom furniture derived so much joy from her home and all of the daily tasks that kept it running. She especially loved the smell of sheets dried on the clothes line. After a hard day at play, my brother and I were guaranteed a night of sweet dreams as she pulled up those sheets smelling of fresh air and sunshine and tucked us in.
To this day I'm sure there is nothing better.
So when my arms rose in the air to pin that first towel onto the clothesline, I burst into tears. I cried through the hanging up of two loads of laundry as I remembered my mother's hands at work. 

Enjoy each moment,

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Grief Weather

Mantle of winter
Windy pall 
swirling and wrapping around me
Icy rain and snow
piercing my skin
Chill that holds my heart
within its firm grip

Blaze of warmth 
does not touch
the nether reaches of my soul

Mantle of winter
Please release me

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Until Tomorrow

was what I said in my last post. That phrase could mean 'until tomorrow', in this case 'in a month', or it could be 'goodbye'.  
It was goodbye.  

Me and Bobbi
Pheasant Run Farm Bed and Breakfast
Winter Concert and Live Recording
January 2014
My friend Bobbi came by on Sunday evening, around 7:30. She brought her guitar and we all kept company with Mom in the family room. Bobbi played, my brother Matt, daughter Ginna, and I joined in, laughed, listened. 

At 9:00 Bobbi was getting ready to leave. I walked her into the living room. We talked for a minute and then my brother poked his head in the door. He said to me "I think you better come in to the room". Bobbi opened her guitar case and went back into the family room with me.

Our last family portrait with Mom
Thanksgiving 2013
She played her guitar softly, I climbed into the bed on one side of Mom, and Ginna climbed in on the other. Matt held Mom's hand. We hugged her, kissed her, and loved her into the Arms of God. Ginna gently removed the holy medal from around Mom's neck and fastened it around her own. Mom died at 9:15 pm, 54 years to the day that I was placed in her arms from Catholic Charities. It was the perfect ending.
Bobbi was blown away. I think, at that very moment, she understood what I have felt for a long time. That it is as important a moment seeing someone pass into the next life as it is welcoming a newborn into this world. It is a true and sacred privilege. 
 Mom, Geneva (my cousin Suzanne's adoptive mother), and my Aunt Jo, Mom's older sister.
 Of course Mom brought along a hat and scarf she knitted.
In Harrisburg.

 Mom doing one of the things she loved best - holding babies. 
This is Lily, my niece.
Mother's Day, May 2009

Mom with great granddaughter Elise.
Mother's Day, May 2009

 Patty, Lesli and Mom. 
Ginna and my friend Lin were there too
Surprise 50th birthday party at Patty's house
December 2009

 As usual Mom was clowning

These rings were in Mom's 'memory box'. 
A silver one with flowers, and a gold one with hearts. 
When she gave them to me a few years ago she couldn't remember where they came from

She also gave me her engagement ring many years ago

Because I live 2 hours from 'home', whenever I wanted to 'channel' Mom, I would always wear these. It was sometimes difficult to talk to her on the phone, so for me - this was my connection. 
 Her charm bracelet 

A sliver cross bracelet 
We added some of Mom's holy medals to the links in between

My friend Kerri and I made them into necklaces, by attaching another bracelet chain. I have other pieces too. Some that I had made for her over the years. I have been wearing something of hers every day since she has been gone. Now instead of them channeling my Mom, I consider them my Armor. They are a way to have her with me to help me fight this battle of grief.

A sweet remembrance from cousin Jim Drager:

I'm so saddened by the loss of Aunt Ginny. In my mind, she will always be the most positive, loving and kind person--consistently, that I've ever met. I still remember her at my first Holy Communion, giving me a hug and kind words. She was always that way. What a beautiful person.
In a way, I celebrate her by trying to emulate her. I can only hope to be a fraction as good as she was.
I'm so blessed to have her and you all as part of my family. I am thankful.
I'm sorry that I could not be at the services. Know that I am with you in prayer and thoughts. 

 While we were waiting for Hospice to come I made this wreath for Mom. It now hangs on her front door. She would like it.

I have tried to write this post many times in the past month. There is more tell.

with love, Me

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I had plans, Mom had different ones

I thought we had more time. Ha! Who am I? 
But I had plans. 
The first of many: super girl was going to redo Mom's family room. I was going to find places for most of the furniture in the room, then move some of her bedroom furniture downstairs. I wanted her to be able to sleep in her own bed. She loves her bedroom. And really, her bedroom is so pretty. Isn't it?
My brother called me yesterday morning. "I think you should come up". 
But I had plans.
I was going to come up on Sunday. I was going to take Mom to bingo. She was going to get a chance to see some nieces that she hadn't seen for awhile. And she loves people. I was going to show her some fun. 
On the way up to Mom's, I called some people to let them know more of what was going on. And then I did something - only God knows what - and the phone's screen went black. I couldn't get it to come on, charge, anything. I had more people to call. Get Ginna on a train, have her picked up and delivered to York.
I had to make plans.
When I got to the house, Mom was sitting up on the sofa. Her breathing was labored, even with the oxygen, and she was agitated. She couldn't acknowledge me. I sat down next to her and put my arm around her. She relaxed into my body. The hospice nurse had just given her a low dose of morphine and lorazepam. The hospital bed was on its way. 
But wait, I had plans. 
My cousin Patty was coming by on Monday. We were going to talk about Volume 2 of the Trulinos Family Cookbook. It had been discussed for so long, we were finally going to make it a reality. 
My mom made the first family cookbook. It was while she was still working. This was before computers were in widespread use. Wait, is that what BC means!? She asked all the relatives for recipes. But that meant hand copying all those cards for everyone. It was a lot of work! On her lunch hour Mom would type up the recipes that my brother and I gave her, as well as her sisters and nieces. She had it printed many times over, (there are a lot of us). Every morning before she went to work, she did 9 laps around the dining room table, collating her cookbook pages. In the evening after work, same routine. When mom presented her project to everyone at the next Trulinos Family Reunion, the family was astounded. Needless to say the cookbook is a staple in many of our households. We definitely need a Volume 2! And I had plans.
In the evening Ginna and I climbed into bed with mom and we made a Mommom sandwich. We snuggled her, petted her, talked to her and kissed her.
I had plans.
I was going to have my girlfriends to the house every other Saturday. Mom was going to hold court in the living room with the fireplace roaring, (after all Punxatawney Phil says we are going to have 6 more weeks of winter).
 We were all going to knit, crochet, have tea (ok, and maybe wine), talk, laugh and just have fun! When it got warmer we would do the same - on the screened in porch.
I had plans.
It's February 2nd. 54 years ago today, I was delivered into my mother's arms courtesy of Catholic Charities. I was born in December, 3 weeks premature. When I arrived at 320 Wynwood Road, I was 6 weeks old and weighed just over 4 pounds. My paternal grandfather took one look at me, then at his daughter in law and said "Ginny, she's not going to make it". That's exactly why Catholic Charities chose my mom. They knew she would take on the challenge, and succeed. My brother Matt is adopted too. My mom use to always called us 'her adopted darlings'. She would often recite to us:
"Not flesh of my flesh
Not bone of my bone
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute
You didn't grow under my heart
But in it".
Now her oxygen tank pulses and beats, in the living room, while she breathes. We give her morphine to keep her from being "air hungry", and the other drugs to keep the unexplained anxiety down.
But it's our special day, and I had plans.
I have now made many phone calls. Family and friends have started to visit. The neighbors came over with their little girls. Abby and Sarah love Ginny, and vice versa. Abby was concerned about seeing mom, but Sarah is still young enough not to know. She giggled and had her little bear give mom kisses.
Anne (mom's childhood friend/best girlhood pal) and her daughter Joanne were looking at pictures with us. We were reminiscing and laughing at Ginny and Anne's childhood antics. If you know Mom, you'll realize that she was the 'nix nux' or the mischievous one.
Nancy, her caregiver stopped by, we looked at more pictures and laughed some more.
Mom was in the room with us when our first daughter Ginna, was born. Because she was unable to have children, I wanted her to have a birth experience.
Ginna's midterms are this upcoming week, so she is working on projects that need to be submitted. I am getting ready to make dinner.
It is quiet now, and I have to make plans.

Until tomorrow,
Much love,

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

For my family and friends because it is part of life

It's been a year and a half since mom got sick. She was diagnosed with MDS in July of 2012, soon after this photo was taken. You can read more about that here.
Needless to say, this past year and a half have had it's ups and downs. You can read about that here and then here.

During this time, mom has had two 'rounds' of chemo. The first round consisted of 7 successive days per month for 6 months, the second consisted of 5 successive days for 6 months.

October 2012

Each of these rounds were followed by a bone marrow biopsy. 
Christmas 2012

Mother's Day 2013

The last bone marrow biopsy told us that the chemo wasn't working anymore. This was in June of 2013. 

July 2013
One of Mom's favorites - a hot fudge sundae

September 2103
Just before she went into the hospital with pneumonia

I wasn't ready to tell anyone about the chemo stopping - at that time. In many ways I was relieved. It seemed like it wore her out more than it helped her. Anyway, I kept thinking I would let everyone know - and then I didn't. And the months went by.

September 2013
At rehab

October 2013
Mom with her amazing care giver Nancy

October 2013
Working on her exercise with Nancy and Toni

 We were very happy mom was well enough to come in and help us get ready for the St. Mary's Church Bazaar.
 December 2013
Modeling one of my Jewel Box Bracelets that converts to a necklace - she wasn't sure she wanted to give it up.

 Christmas 2013

 Enjoying the fire

During this time she has dealt with dementia, battled infections on her face, gout in her joints, increased pain from her arthritis, and has fallen more than once. We now have more handles in doorways, transfer chair in the tub, arm supports by the toilet, support by the bed, motion sensor lights, and a sound monitoring system.
My brother lives in an apartment attached to the house. He takes care of all of her meds, bill paying, waking her up in the morning, getting her clothes out, making her breakfast, and getting her settled before he goes off to work. When he gets home from work he cooks her dinner and later, gets her to bed.
He is my hero. 

In between morning and evening, Nancy takes over. She takes mom to all of her appointments, washes her laundry and cleans the house. But most importantly she makes mom happy. Nancy is kind, loving and most of all trustworthy.
Do I realize how blessed I am? living 2 hours away? You betcha!

It's a new year and now there's a new story. She just visited her geriatrician who told her that she thought it was time to consider getting hospice involved. 
Hospice through Medicare will pay for a lot of things that are and aren't covered right now and won't pay for items that are considered 'curative'. They will have someone come in during the hours that Nancy isn't there. They will help in other ways as well, being mostly concerned that mom is safe in her home. This help will cost mom nothing.
My brother Matt will take mom to see her oncologist on Tuesday. We should know a little more then. Maybe, I don't know. Matt has recently talked to more than one health care person who has told him "No one holds the God card".  
I'll keep you posted here. Because this is a new story.

I love you all, 
Lisa, Liz, Elizabeth - most importantly - daughter of Ginny.
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