On Thursday of last week, we had to say goodbye to our little Maisie. She’d been ill for several months, had stopped responding to her meds, and we knew there was nothing else we could do. We couldn’t let our baby suffer anymore.
Needless to say, we are heartbroken. Vivian misses her too. She roams from room to room — and outdoors — looking for her sister and lifelong companion.
We console ourselves by remembering Maisie had a full and beautiful life. No cat, ever, was more loved. She always had Viv to watch over her and keep her company whenever we were away. She reveled in the freedom to explore the outdoors here on Perry’s Point, but preferred to stay close to us when we sat out on our deck.
Maisie, you were much more than a pet to us. You graced us with heaps of generous love and affection and your sweet, unique brand of friendship for almost thirteen years. And your quiet dignity, even in sickness, will never be forgotten. You are pain-free at last.
For me, this winter has been a time of deep reflection. The dormant months are ideal for slowing down and looking inward, giving one a chance to rest, to heal, to quiet the mind and to focus on the spiritual side of life.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about and missing my mother more than usual. She has visited me in my dreams quite often in recent weeks.
I wonder why.
I suppose I could chalk it up to growing older and becoming infinitely more aware of my own mortality. Or maybe she knows I need her more right now.
Today, I dedicate this post to you, Mom. I wrote the following piece in January of 2012, ten months before our final goodbye.
The Little Things
You always hear people say that we shouldn’t love the material things in life, and usually I am inclined to agree. However, in one particular area of my life I must beg to differ. Sometimes we have certain items that are so very precious to us because they keep our memories bright.
My mother is now in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She has changed so much in the past few years, from a vibrant, independent and beautiful woman, into a person who needs constant care. She can still smile in recognition at me but can no longer carry on a conversation of any sort. We are losing her, bit by bit, with every visit and every passing day. This is probably why I hold on so tightly to a few items that came from her.
As I write this, I am wearing a pair of wool slippers that my mother knitted for me. They are teal blue and white with little bows sewn on the top. I found them a couple of months ago when I was sorting out some storage items, and even though they are a little tight, which was the reason I had put them away in the first place, I’ve worn them ever since, stretching them so they would fit. Just knowing that she had made them for me gives me comfort.
While I was looking for Christmas baking inspiration a few weeks ago, I came across a recipe for cherry cake in my collection, written in Mom’s elegant handwriting. I remembered her making that recipe many times over the years. My heart ached with loss as I read it, but I knew I had to use it. Now that Christmas is behind us for another year, I still have some of that cake left, and I savour every bite.
And on my right hand, I am wearing my mother’s wedding band. It had been sitting in a little box in my dresser drawer for months, waiting until the day it would go on her finger for the last time. So for now I am wearing it because it makes me feel closer to her, and to Dad as well.
So please don’t try to tell me that things aren’t important. Sometimes it’s the little things that we need to hold onto, the touchstones for our priceless memories. Sometimes it is all we have.
There are all sorts of good-byes in this world. This past weekend, a blogger friend of mine had to say good-bye to one of her dear little cats, and everyone who knows me at all knows what cats mean to me. I feel your grief, Lois!
And you might think when another blogger friend decides to no longer continue with her blog that it wouldn’t be a very big deal, but to me, it is. A virtual, cyber relationship can be meaningful, especially when it is a relationship that has gone on for a while and you have supported each other in ways other people can’t. She will be missed. 😦
But I am richer for having known her. As a writer, I understand why she needs to do this. And we will still be in touch on Twitter (though that isn’t the same!)
I wish all the best for you, C.R., in your writing career and everything you do.
Nothing gets me out of bed in the morning quicker than the expectation of savoring rich, delicious coffee.
At least two big, fragrant, caffeine-infused cups are an essential part of my routine and a necessity to get my brain working. Later in the day, however, my beverage of choice is tea, usually of the green variety.
I know; big deal, right? Why am I blogging about something so ordinary?
Because sometimes, something as simple and mundane as your cup of tea or coffee can be elevated to (extra)ordinary, depending on where you are, who bought it or brewed it for you, or who may be around to share the experience.
Sometimes a cup of tea is made extra special when it comes to you as a gift – a pretty mug and coaster in your favourite colour, along with your first infuser, and a yummy variety of loose tea flavours from DAVIDsTEA. (Thank you, Daughter. 🙂 )
Other times, a cup of coffee can be special when you get to enjoy it in a new locale.
Like the Caribbean!
And that is whether you drink it inside where it’s cool…
…or outdoors in the incredible, tropical heat.
Morning coffee tastes particularly wonderful in Rome…
Of course, when in Rome, it should be espresso, shouldn’t it?
Perhaps cappuccino? Nope. I stick to old, reliable Caffé Americano– style.
Java on the balcony of your room in Cannes also tastes pretty darn special.
And during a dinner cruise on the Seine in Paris?
The pleasure of a coffee after your gourmet meal is hard to outclass.
But as delightful as you can imagine all of these cups of coffee and tea were, there is one cup of tea I remember the most with enduring fondness. Today in particular, it makes all the others pale in comparison.
It is the memory of Mom and I sipping tea together in the late afternoon sun…
…on an incredibly special day, made that much more memorable by an intimate moment shared.
Today also happens to be a noteworthy day for my family. To be able to indulge in a good ol’ cup of orange pekoe tea with my mother today, on her birthday…it doesn’t seem like a great deal to ask for.
But again this year and for the rest of my days, fond memories will have to do.
Happy Birthday, Mom.
Knowing how much you always loved your tea,
this morning I’d like to imagine Dad putting the kettle on
and the two of you enjoying a cup together.
Karen at Healing Your Grief knows all about the enormous shock of suddenly losing a precious child. She lost her nine-year-old son to a car accident, and found a way to journey through the pain by writing about it in her blog.
In her own words:
When we tragically lose one of our children, our entire world comes to a grinding stop and everything we have ever believed is questioned. Through understanding this journey you have been given, my wish for you is to connect to a new hope and to a process of complete healing. You may at first not understand how you could ever survive this loss, that there can be no way out of this pain, yet over time, I promise, there is a way through.”
I have chosen to share her first post because it explains how she is courageously surviving such a profound tragedy.
During a conversation with my husband last week, he said, “You sounded just like your mom, the way you said that.”
This wasn’t the first time he made the observation. Along with the unmistakable signs that I have become “a woman of a certain age” (ack!), sounding like my mother seems to have become yet another aspect of my getting older.
“Hmm,” I replied. “I was always told I was like Dad and his side of the family.”
“You may look like your dad, but you have more of Carrie’s mannerisms lately,” he told me.
So, yes. I grudgingly have to admit that sometimes, when the words fly out of my mouth, or if I behave in a certain way, it makes me think I may be morphing into the woman who raised me. For example, if I defend myself when teased, it’s as if I am channeling Mom. “You proper fun-makers!” Or if I refuse to give in to someone else’s demands, the comeback that comes to my mind is “And I won’t dance to your pipes!” These are just a couple of the dear old “Mom-isms” from yesteryear.
And there’s so much more. I’ve adopted her quick laugh, as well as her sardonic humour and her no-nonsense way of handling whatever life brings. All showing up in my actions, the older I get.
There was a time, when I was much younger, that I would have taken issue and disagreed with such a comparison. The truth is, I have always thought while growing up that I turned after my father. Dad had always been my hero of sorts, and he was the parent I had always identified with and wished to emulate.
But now, I see that bearing a resemblance to my mother is a badge of honour and a cherished rite of passage. In fact, I’m realizing if I could only be half the woman she was, with her intelligent observations and her kind, fun-loving nature, I would be more than proud.
In a couple of weeks when Mother’s Day rolls around, I will be remembering my mother again for the lovely yet strong person she was, for the way she lived her life, and for each and every valuable lesson she taught me. And even though I continue to miss her every single day that goes by, I will give thanks that she is still showing up in my life in other, more subtle ways. And I will give a special thank you to the universe for giving me the dearest woman anyone ever called Mom.