The One Year Anniversary of My Mom’s Death

In honor of the one year anniversary of my mom’s death, I’m reposting what I wrote on Mother’s Day last year. Love you, mom, and I’m so glad you’re at peace now.

*****

“Who will be your mom when Nana’s in Heaven?” My 4-year-old asked me when my mom was in the hospital a few weeks ago and we knew the end was near.

“Nana will always be my mom, even then,” I replied.

“What will she do in Heaven?”

“She’ll walk on new legs with Jesus.”

*****

My mom may be in Heaven, but she’ll always be my mom. I know she’s there, walking and dancing and moving freely in a way she hasn’t in more than  a decade.

My mom was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy shortly after she married my dad in her 20s, which basically meant that her muscles were weakening. Back then she hardly had any symptoms and I don’t know if they realized then the journey that was ahead of them.

my beautiful mom in the 1970s

My beautiful mom before she was diagnosed

Since I was in elementary school, I started to notice the progression of my mom’s disease. Her balance was off, so she stopped being able to wear heels. Then her calf muscles noticeably deteriorated so that she didn’t like wearing shorts anymore. I can remember the sound of her clomping down the stairs slowly as she landed heavily with each step because she couldn’t control the movement as well.

As the years went by, she walked slower and slower, finally having to get a cane when I was in high school. I remember how it was so important to her to have a nice-looking one that was not medicinal looking.

We moved to California from New York right after I graduated and my dad bought her a bike to ride the trails with him. I’ll never forget the day she fell on that bike and knew that was her last time riding it. With each new downward progression, I saw her spirit break a little.

mom and me at my wedding 10 years ago

Mom and me on my wedding day 10 years ago

In the last decade, she went from using a cane, to a walker and then finally a wheelchair.  We eventually had to move her into an assisted living facility so she could have the care she needed. Her mind started deteriorating too, which made it difficult to have a conversation with her.

We knew we were losing her, but I didn’t realize how soon she’d be gone. On Easter she ended up in the hospital, her body too weak to breathe on its own anymore. When my aunt arrived, we knew it was time to say goodbye and she slipped away peacefully, surrounded by love.

I am so so glad that she is free from the burden her earthly body brought her and walking and dancing with Jesus in Heaven. She’s forever surrounded by a joy greater than anything she ever had here on Earth and I’m thankful for that.

I’m thankful I had a mom who instilled in me a faith in God. She was a woman who valued education so much, that she earned not one, but two masters degrees. She was also very open, so my friends would send me to her with all of their questions about sex. :)

Today Doug and I took the kids to her gravesite and brought her some things to tell her happy Mother’s Day.

the kids leaving flowers at Nana's gravesiteIt was their first time there, which brought up many questions from Reece about where exactly she was and if she could hear us (I’d like to think so, buddy, but I don’t know for sure). Later, we watched the DVD slideshow that the mortuary had made for us (which is where the pictures of pictures of her above are taken from). I loved that Emme even recognized her as her younger self and would point and say Nana for each picture.

On this Mother’s Day I’m thinking about how my mom lives on in me in the ways I care for my kids. When they call for me in the middle of the night, I’ll remember how she would come comfort me when I had a nightmare. When I sing them the song “Summertime” at bedtime, I’ll remember how I loved when she sang it to us on humid summer nights in NY. When I take care of them when they’re sick, I’ll remember what a great comforter she was and how she nursed us back to health when we weren’t feeling well (and even when we were faking it a little).

And always, always when I make the homemade sauce that my Italian grandmother taught her how to make and let my kids have a meatball as their afternoon snack, hot out of the pot that’s simmering on the stove, I’ll remember how that same delicious smell wafted through our house when I would walk in the door after school.

Kids and Me on Mother's Day

For better or for worse, our mothers live on in their daughters and I’m glad I have these memories to pass on to them.

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Home At Last

We started our 600 sqft home addition the week of Thanksgiving and on February 4, as the walls inside came down, we moved in with my in laws to escape the construction dust.

Home renovation and addition with exposed beams and no back door

Not liveable!

Living Area almost after

Ready to move in!

We thought we might need to stay with them for a couple of weeks—I didn’t even pack an extra set of contact lenses—but we quickly realized it was going to be much longer than that. Weeks turned into months and I’m happy to say that as of Tuesday April 21, we’re home at last. It’s not that living with my in laws was bad, it’s just that nothing beats the comforts of home.

We were happy to have family to stay with instead of needing a hotel, I enjoyed the extra help with the kids and they sure were glad to play with their grandparents all the time. Plus, between the cleaning woman that comes to my in laws’ every two weeks and my mother-in-law cleaning while I was out with the kids during the day, I just ran a vacuum for the first time in two-and-a-half months. Not a bad deal!

One of the things that was the hardest to get used to while staying with my in laws—other than our significantly longer commute everywhere and the kids seriously missing their neighborhood friends—was living in a two-story house. Ranch-style houses are most common in California and while stairs look beautiful in a home, they are terribly inconvenient with small children. We’ve been home less than 48 hours and I’m already enjoying the convenience of having everything on one floor again!

Our home renovation project isn’t quite complete yet and it’ll be a long while before we have decor, curtains and area rugs in place, but the space is comfortable and it feels like home. Our master bathroom has a ways to go, but at least we have an extra toilet now. The closet organizers aren’t in, but at least our beautiful new bamboo floors are. And most of all, the extra space! The kids each have their own rooms now, plus we have one extra bedroom and we expanded our main living area.

I think Reece with his new bed and outer space room might be the most excited one of all to be home. He could not be happier with his new room.

Reece's room demo

Reece’s room in the existing house after demo

Reece playing in his new outer space room

Reece happily playing in his new outer space room today

While Emme also likes her room a lot, she’s taking some time to adjust to sleeping in her own room for the first time since she was a teeny baby. I think she misses her brother.

Emma's room in the addition after drywall

Emme’s room in the addition after drywall

Emma's room after

Emma’s room after

For now we’re using paper Redi Shades to provide privacy and darkness at night in our bedrooms while we figure out what our permanent window coverings will be.

Master Bedroom addition after drywall

Master bedroom addition after drywall was put up

Master bedroom after

Master bedroom today

I’m looking forward to when everything is truly done, but that will take awhile to settle in, so these are our before and afters for now.

Our exterior isn’t finished and our front porch is still dusty, but on our first full day home, we threw a blanket over it and sat down with our coffee cookies, hearts and espresso cups full.

Home at last.

Front porch coffee date

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This Week in Workouts: Sick Week #238

I’ve lost count of the number of sick weeks I’ve had off workouts this cold season because it’s been so many. I’m not sure what my family’s problem is–we eat very healthy, wash our hands, get exercise, do everything right–but somehow we are always getting sick. Add commune-style living to the mix and everything we catch just goes round and round.

Emme_Beco

Emme was sick right before me and wanted to be worn in the Beco Gemini while we ran house errands, so we took some silly selfies. :)

The last time I was sick, I was at least able to power through my classes with a little DayQuil to get me through. This time was different, though, and the congestion was too much to bear. So I took Wednesday-Friday off from teaching and wasn’t in any better shape to workout on my own the rest of the weekend.

Here’s what my boring week of workouts looked like:

Monday: Cardio + Strength/Flexibility – Teach Tabata and Pilates
Tuesday: Strength/Flexibility – Teach Pilates
Wednesday: OFF
Thursday: OFF
Friday: OFF
Saturday: OFF
Sunday: OFF

I’m not expecting to feel 100% tomorrow, so teaching Tabata should be interesting. I’ll probably be demonstrating the moves and then cheering my class on instead of doing the whole workout with them.

Friday was my big day of mostly lying on the couch, sitting the kids in front of movies and doing my best to rest. Saturday I managed to get myself presentable looking so we could go to a friend’s party and even though I spent most of the time sitting down feeling a little dazed between glasses of wine and DayQuil, I was glad I got out of the house a bit.

Firmoo_Glasses_all_Day

I even went out in my new glasses one day instead of just wearing them at home–never happens!

 

The rest of the weekend was filled with errands for completing our house renovation. Pro tip: Do not go to Ikea on the weekend, EVER.

The good news is, we’re moving back in this week! Yay! The house is so beautiful, I can’t wait to live there again. We miss being home and miss our neighbors and our routine, so it will be great to be home. The house won’t be completely done because the master bathroom still needs a couple weeks and then there’s the whole backyard landscaping project that will come next, but it’s definitely liveable. I’m eager to post before/after pictures, so I’ll probably post those before we have much up in the way of decorations.

Tell me friends, how do you prevent your family from getting sick all the time?

If you could remodel one room in your house, what would it be?

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