Enjoying every day!

We spent our last morning/early afternoon of vacation at Empurius beach, followed a visit to the nearby ruins.

The ruins are Greek below and Roman above. Steve and Jeff listened to the audio guide… and then I asked them questions :-).

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It was another wonderful day!

We’re back at Mas Blanc now, packing and getting ready for a very early morning. We fly back to JFK at 10:00am. It will take Steve and I about 18 hours to get home, and it’s daylight all the way!

Photos and memories…

If you are like me, you take photos of all sorts of things to help you remember. Do they really help you remember? Maybe not so much. I read this article 3 years ago and it is good enough that I saved the link. The takeaway is that photos alone don’t help you remember. You have to go back and look at them if you want to remember them.

My mom spent the months before Christmas 2014 weeding out boxes of photos. Many went in the trash. Some went into albums. The rest went to different ones of us to keep or throw away. Thankfully, mom did not want to leave her photos for someone else to deal with when ‘later’ came.

Mom had one album in her room at Preston Place when ‘later’ did come on 12/23. The kids and I went through it and took the photos of us. I’m sending the rest to my brother and I hope he will enjoy seeing the photos of him and his family that gave mom pleasure.

Mom shared her album with visitors as she told them the story of her life. She had a bulletin board with newer photos (mostly taken by me or Lorna with our phones) and they were also part of her story. Mom wanted prints — a digital frame did not work for her. At the time, that made me crazy, but when I took these pictures off of her bulletin board I realized why she loved them. Pictures that you can hold in your hand are more real.

I’m trying to find the right balance between living in the moment and taking pictures of every moment. The thing is, sometimes a photo catches a moment that becomes a fantastic memory, and it’s hard to predict exactly which photo will do that. And, even though it goes against my wish to de-clutter, I think I’ll be printing more photos.

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I don’t remember this photo, and I don’t know who took it, but it is one of the best photos of my mom that I have found. She hated posing for photos and it’s rare to find one where she let that go and was herself.

Gone to heaven…

Mom died peacefully, in her sleep, on December 23. I wanted to write sooner but time got away from me.

Lorna took this video of mom a few weeks ago and I have to share it with you. If you watch all 30 seconds, I guarantee that you will laugh. (On my screen the video looks sideways until you click the play button.)

My mother would wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas, personally and with feeling, if she could. She can’t, so I’m doing it for her. Enjoy the holidays, make memories to treasure, and it might be a good idea to take a video or two :-).

About my mom…

I’ve written about my mom before so you know that her health has been iffy. She has come back from being nearly-dead so often that I was beginning to think that she was indestructible. Not this time.

Out of the blue, a clot lodged in her lung and there is nothing to be done. Or, to be more precise, there is nothing that she wanted to have done. She clearly told me so. And you know what, that’s OK.

Over the last few days, she started saying goodbye to everyone. I don’t know how she knew this was coming, but she did. She wrote cards, she was especially warm and loving with everyone. Monday she told me that she wanted to be cremated (already paid for), buried in a nice wood box made by Steve (it’s on his list to make), and that there was no need to dress her up in something when the time came. In fact, she said, if she looked good in what she was wearing and it was comfortable she was happy to go to heaven in that. My mother is a practical woman.

Mom and I have talked about death off and on over the years. We agreed that dying in your sleep, without pain, is definitely the way to go and that is happening now. Her friends have been visiting. When she was alert, she was practically radiant and she made everyone feel so good! It was lovely to behold. She is no longer alert but people still visit. There is some crying, but also lots of remembering how feisty she has always been.

I know that I will miss my mom a lot. She made me crazy sometimes, but she has been an ever-present, always loving part of my life. Her memory will always be with me.

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Yesterday mom said “I wish I had time to….” I could see the wheels turning in her head and I asked her what — and she went to sleep. I suspect that there was just so much that she wished she could do that she couldn’t put her finger on one thing.

I hope that I can hold onto this thought. It’s a reminder to not let things go until ‘later’. To be kind, and to apologize right away if you know you should. It’s also a reminder to enjoy every day as if it’s your last, because it could be.

This is not exactly the Merry Christmas sentiment I planned to write this week, but I think it might be better. Truly, enjoy the holiday time you spend with those you love, and those you like, and those you might not be all that crazy about but who are in your life anyway. In the end, our lives are about people, not things.

Mom Update…

For those of you who may be wondering…

10 days ago we all thought my mom was dying. ‘We all’ included her physician, the staff at her assisted living center, the hospice staff who came later, and me – the not-medically-trained quilter.

My mom is much beloved at her assisted living center and they did everything they could to help and that included finding round-the-clock sitters and getting hospice set up on a Sunday. It was an amazing mobilization of help. I was mentally making funeral plans.

During those 2 days, we all said ‘you know, she could get better’ but none of us really thought she would. And then, she did! I showed up early Monday morning thinking mom would still be practically comatose and there she was, eating breakfast in the dining hall!

She’s gotten steadily better over the past week and is now mostly back to where she was ‘before’. Let me just say that I hope I inherited her healing genes :-).

No one knows how long this will last, but isn’t that true for all of us?

Every day is a gift. Hold that thought in your heart, as much as you can.

Enjoy today with a smile on your face, a song in your heart, and sewing in hand :-).

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This photo is one I took for my photo critique class with Ricky Tims. 

Why don’t we all have this?

This is an update on mom, but it’s also about health care, a subject that makes people lose their minds these days (mine included).

Mom fell Sunday night and tore up her elbow which led to a trip to the ER. They ran tests and found that her potassium was high. The words ‘kidney failure’ were bandied about and she was admitted. It was a long night. No word yet on how her kidneys are or why this happened, but she’s better now. My mom is tough and heals fast so I won’t be a bit surprised if she’s not back at her assisted living center playing cards in a few days.

At no point during any of this did we have to worry about how to pay for it. Mom has Medicare and supplemental insurance. As I looked around the packed ER, I knew that a lot of those folks were having a much more stressful experience because they had to worry about how to pay for their medical care.

I know good people who cannot afford insurance. They work hard, they live good lives, but food and housing consume their budgets. The stress of knowing that they can’t afford to go to the doctor is awful and leads to more health problems.

Even though we as a nation are split over how best to fix the system, we ought to be able to agree that everyone deserves access to decent health care. If I could wave a magic wand, we’d all have the same medical care that my mom has just because she is over 65. I guess that means that I’m for a single payer system where we all pay in and cover each other.

Before your head explodes and you start writing about why I’m wrong, take a deep breath. I don’t have a wand, I have an opinion, as do you. Our politicians, who have the power to actually do something, also have opinions, but they can’t seem to reach a consensus. Maybe they need to learn how to listen to each other and have a real conversation so that they can reach a compromise.

Feel free to comment with a different view, but let’s keep it constructive. Let’s listen to each other with open minds —maybe we could start a trend :-)!

Mountain hiking…

Our home in Sherman, TX, is 735′ feet above sea level. Red River is at 8671′. We were nearly 8000′ feet higher than normal and my lungs knew it. After taking 2 days to acclimate, we went on our first hike to Williams Lake. The trail begins at the Taos Ski Valley and is nearly 4 miles round trip. You start at 10,191′ and climb about 1000′ to the lake.

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This is supposed to be an easy hike and, in comparison to the next 2, it was. But walking uphill at that altitude is hard work! The kids were not mentally prepared and there was (gasp) a fair bit of whining.

Lorna took the Tula (a kid carrier) and she (mostly) and Chris (some) carried Bear most of the way.

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Bear is tall and weighs 40 lbs. I’m not sure how they did it.

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Jack embraced the challenge about a mile in.

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I always wonder, when I’m hiking, why I am doing it. My lungs were not happy when going uphill and my knees are not happy when I’m going downhill. What is the point? Well, one reason I hike is for the scenery:

The other reason I go on strenuous hikes is to prove that I can still do it!

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There is a Bavarian Restaurant at the end of this hike that serves traditional German food and Andechs beer on tap. Beer was the adult reward, the kids had sausage and lemonade :-).

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