Monday, September 29, 2008

Popcorn and Inspiration....

Today is Monday September 29, 2008. I am just getting over "Strep Throat" which has taken its toll over the past 10 days. I have felt a little disconnected from the world and especially my mom. I decided tonight after dinner I would make her some popcorn(a favorite treat of hers) and go visit. My mom is adjusting to life in an assisted living group home. She is no longer capable of living on her own and the level of care she needs is more than anyone of us could give her. She is living in a wonderful group home with a staff of caregivers who are truly amazing. Her safety and care was paramount to each of us..

When I drove up to the house tonight I had to smile....The gorgeous cape cod style house was decked out in Halloween attire....Very seasonal....I was greeted warmly as always... I walked up the stairs and Bonnie was in with my mom getting her ready for bed. My mom was excited to see me and the first thing she asked was..."Carla, I am so glad to see you, you must have felt inspired to visit me tonight....I was hoping you would come." With popcorn in hand and feeling very inspired we had an amazing 90 minutes. We shared a connection, tears, memories and many good belly laughs.

I felt helpless when tears flooded her eyes, "I want to go home, I just want to go home, I am ready to begin a new chapter in my life." she said. I thought how profound...a new chapter in her life. As her Alzheimer's progresses I am astounded how clearly she thinks and communicates for those few precious moments. She shared her tears and frustrations with me, going as far as to apologize for feeling the need to complain, which is something my mom just doesn't do...complain....she reminded me complaining does no good anyway...because nobody wants to listen to a complainer. I tried to fight the tears myself but to no avail....the free fall had begun. As I listened to my mom express her concerns about her Alzheimer diagnosis my heart ached. How could this be happening? and of course why my sweet mom? She then shifted to a place of bravery. She reminded me life is no picnic and troubles come to all. We talked about many spiritual experiences and the most touching was her personal witness that the veil which separates us from our loved ones on the other side is very thin and not to far away. She expressed her love for her parents and the admiration she had for her mother. She shared her favorite childhood experience of taking the train to Yellowstone...or for that matter driving in her dad's old truck with the shell on top. She called those trips really living.... She would then revert back to her wall of pictures and say...there are a bunch of happy faces on my wall....I am lucky to go to bed and wake up every morning with all of those happy faces looking at me.

We talked about my children and how very proud she is of each one of them. We reminisced about heartfelt memories. I am so grateful my children will always have such fond memories of Grandma Mannes. My mom looked at me tonight and said..."I hope we take more good memories than the bad ones when we leave this earth." I told her I bet we do. I felt of my mother's sweet testimony and was touched when she asked if I would kneel in prayer with her at her bedside. What an honor to share that priceless moment with my mom.

I am most grateful for....popcorn and a mother's inspiration.


Friday, September 26, 2008

September and Christmas Music

Fall has officially arrived, which in any other part of the country would mean crisp cool air, a gorgeous parade of leaves as they start to fall from the trees, dusting off your favorite sweater, high school football games, apple cider and enjoying cooler weather. I actually miss the changing of seasons. I feel like I am missing an important signal that a new season is being ushered in. I have always loved fall and the symbolism of plenty, the harvest, gratitude and the onset of the Holiday Season.

Growing up in South Dakota fall meant beautiful Indian summer days, cool crisp nights and the turning of the leaves. My favorite tree is the Sugar Maple with brilliant shades of reds, golds and yellows. To this day there stands the most beautiful Sugar Maple on the corner of Phillips Avenue and 33rd Street in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I use to drive by that tree everyday and use to think....what a work of art. The huge branches seem to reach out to me and whisper...slow down and enjoy....I still take that drive everyday and imagine the grandeur of that tree this time of the year.

So tonight as I blog...I turned on tranquil Christmas music and feel my mind flood with such sweet memories and feelings of why the season of fall is so important to me. When I take an inventory of my life, family, experiences, blessings and opportunities its hard not to take pause and feel my heart flood with gratitude. I have been blessed with 4 really amazing human beings whom I am blessed to call my children. I am so very proud of them. Each one has been blessed with amazing gifts, talents and an enthusiasm for life, living and running after their dreams. It's so fun to watch them grow and know I have had a small part in their lives. One of the great blessings of motherhood....watching your children grow, experience the ups and downs, the love and tears and have the courage to pursue their dreams. A gift. I am also taking inventory on grand dogs....we have 5. Griffin and Jackie have (2), Cori and Brett have (2) and Kylie has (1). No grand babies...just grand dogs........

I have been blessed with great friends. Life long friends who have walked beside me during my darkest hours and have been so very present for my accomplishments, defining moments and a great big belly laugh. One of my dearest friends is Laura Robinson, she lives in Salt Lake City. I have always admired her drive, accomplishments, passion for life, willingest to take risks and her successes. She is generous, kind, honest and we are kindred spirits. There is never a judgement only encouragement. She has wiped many a tear away, helped me see the possibilities in myself when I was ready to give up. She is always cheering me on. I was blessed to meet another great friend in Stacy Beckstead who lives outside of Seattle. She is another noble soul who has a passion for life, motherhood, grand motherhood, a great red nail polish...and travel. Stacy is another who never judges..only encourages. We have been blessed to stay connected to each other... our plan is to all live in California one an assisted living center so we can live out our days laughing and being girls.

I have been blessed with great friends in Mesa as well. There is something very wonderful about girls, dinner and 70's music we all appreciate. Sadly as time passes there are more single women about. I say only sadly because no one wants to see their family broken....on the other hand.....just think what the world could accomplish if everyone of us had a great wife at home.....there would be world peace, no divorce, stocked pantry's, spotless laundry rooms and literally no child left behind.... ha ha's just a thought....

I am grateful for the gift of family. Family in my opinion is the greatest source of strength and happiness but can be the greatest source of frustration at times also. I guess this could be what the Lord meant when he said...."There must needs be opposition is all things".... and this too shall give thee experience.

Its Friday night....tonight there are no football games I will be going to, no real crisp air to talk about...(That is coming next week), no pulling out my sweater tonight.....However there is Christmas music playing....candles burning and a feeling of gratitude as I take inventory of all of my blessings.....


Monday, September 22, 2008

The Upside....


My children will be so pleased to know I have catapulted into the age of Blogging and technology. My name is Carla, I have four amazing children Griffin 25, Cori 23, Kylie 19 and Ethan 17. I smile as I was typing Griffin and Cori's ages. It wasn't to many years ago I wondered if I would ever be out of diapers, sleepless nights, play groups, potty training and sibling rivalry which only continues with the next two in the family. I smile because I have come to appreciate how good every minute of life can be and on the other hand how short our time on earth really is.

I could and should write a book called "The 10 stupid things I did when I was 39". Something tells me it has the potential to became a national best seller...With that being said...I have been a life long student of this educational process called life. All in all it has been a great ride. If I were to complain about would be how quickly the days, months and years pass. Sometimes I wish I could hold out my hand to stop the quick progression. Since that won't happen I am learning to enjoy the journey instead of planning my stay at my destination.

My mother is a great source of strength to me. She is an elect lady. She has always been willing and able to handle the many challenges life has thrown her way. Her life is one great opportunity she has capitalized on time and time again. I smile as I share with you, her desire to eradicate warn and frayed under ware from female humanity. She always asked me prior to my leaving the house if I had on clean under ware. I was a Senior in High School on a snowy winter night in Aberdeen South Dakota when I was in a car accident. As I was being transported into the waiting ambulance, I remembered how lucky I was to have worn clean under ware out that night. My mom was waiting for me at the door of the emergency room...she look at me and then asked that tell tale question....I could look at her and answer honestly....CLEAN UNDER WARE.

My mom's kindness and generosity left imprints on many in our small community. Her charity never needed a reason or confirmation. She just acted.

As my mom's mind drifts into her past, I feel tears and sadness that this great women is now in the sunset of her life. There are so many times I want to call her to tell her about my day, feel her hug and encouragement for pressing forward. She was an ordinary girl, born in Ogden Utah. She lived an extraordinary life. The more I look back, the more I am thankful for my mom's legacy.

I would love when she would sit down at our piano and play "Alice Blue Gown". A song she still holds dear. A couple of weeks ago my older brother started to record her history, asking her questions and taping her responses. I was touched in many ways by hearing what she holds so dear. She commented to me on one of our outings, her greatest treasure was her family. She told me, the interest she has earned on her lifetime investment are her children and grandchildren..her comment was not a bad return...

I am blessed. The more I let go of the little things the more I see the hand of God around me. I am learning to have faith and believe that life does work out even better than we can imagine.

The upside...I have long put away the diapers, picked up the toys, shared my last car pool as I have entered into a new season in my life. As my children continue to live their own lives, I play a duel role in their lives as teacher and more importantly student. My children have taught me the most valuable lessons on forgiveness, charity, unconditional love and family.

I welcome these new years as my youngest children get ready to leave the nest. What a great time in my life to develop my talents and gifts.

I would like to look back at my experiences and say.....I took the road less traveled...and that by far has made all of the difference.