things I do that annoy people

monkey photo credit: Syed Ikhwan (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

I leave cupboard doors open, lose my keys regularly and my phone often, repeat myself sometimes when I’m trying to explain something or feel passionate about something, but perhaps my most annoying trait is that I like to be right. This is not in a proud or an “I’m better than you” way, it’s simply in an “I’m passionate about my convictions” and a “truth matters” or “words matter” way.

Unfortunately, the expression of my convictions and my desire for truth and understanding are often misconstrued. And painfully, the fact that I recognize this in myself and consciously try to tone it down and let it go is often lost on the people who are the most annoyed by me.

I still recall and inwardly recoil over moments in my youth and my past in which I failed to let something go. But I’m also aware of a number of times I stopped myself and walked away, yet the effort went unnoticed. Perhaps it is easier to notice the presence of an irritant than the absence of it?

True I deserve demerits or detention for every time I needed to have the last word. But I also would hope the scale could be balanced if at least just a little for every time I let someone say “irregardless” without correction, bit my tongue clear through while people praised a leader I’ve witnessed painfully disrespect nearly every minority group I can imagine and, in recent months, display a disassociation from the truth–yet defended those same people from the other side that derides them.

And all those times I’ve carefully worked to discern what is worth speaking up for and what is not.

What do you do?

You keep trying every day.

[Day 97 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]

Things you save

thewayofthedodo
This isn’t even good ice cream, but oh how I miss that HALF GALLON in all caps at the bottom of the carton.

I like to save money. In fact, I even like to save other people’s money. When I was traveling for work (that’s funny, because I just got back from Cedar City where I found out I have to turn around and go back to Cedar City tomorrow before heading down to St. George. For some reason, unless I have to also board a plane, I no longer consider it travel) I went to great lengths to get a good deal on hotels and plane fare and rentals even though those expenses would ultimately be paid for by the federal government entity for which we were working (and, as we all know, the federal government is not exactly known for being thrifty).

One time I left polite feedback for a hotel that was not very clean (I have a little thing about seeing visual reminders that someone lived/slept there before me) and the hotel gave me $30 off my room. Which I promptly passed on to my employer.

I loathe finding out something went on sale the month after I bought it (looking at you, Suave Body Wash, for which Costco ran a rebate in their next month’s flyer). I love stores that let you double or triple up on savings (item on sale, plus 20% off sale, plus an additional $10 off your $50 purchase). I am still mad about that time nearly all ice cream labels (brands, they are not, in fact recording studios) cut the half gallon down to 1 3/4 quarts, which is now even smaller. They were not even subtle or apologetic about it.

I’m pretty sure the extinction of the half gallon of ice cream is right up there with my concerns about the bald eagle, wolves, tigers, giant pandas and manatees–all which have made remarkable and beautiful comebacks. Because we all know the half gallon is never coming back and as far as our grandchildren are concerned it will be right up there with unicorns and the dodo.

In any case. I just realized I forgot to set my 8-minute times, so apparently I’m not as concerned about saving time as I am about saving money. And yet it is true I have come to appreciate the value of time over money (within reason) and, in an uncharacteristic move, have, since I started working full time, become in the habit of seeing the doctors at instacare for some things rather than trying to fit in a doctor’s appointment during my office hours, even though the copay is $10 more. That is a really awkward sentence, making one thing entirely clear. Timer or no timer. This writing prompt is over.

That said, I’m all of a sudden curious. If anyone happens to read this post (admittedly not my best work), tell me the best deal (in other words, the most money you saved) when buying something you either really wanted or really needed. Like that time you really had to buy something now and couldn’t wait for it to go on sale,* but through some miracle, you got a really good deal on it and came away relieved and happy. Go!

*Like how I really need a new pair of Birkenstocks right this minute but I do not want to pay full price.

[Day 96 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]

Of pine, funeral potatoes, and a good set of pipes

My mother didn’t have a funeral. Neither did her mother. Part of me was relieved. When my grandmother died I was relieved I didn’t have to fight with my mother or anyone else to honor her wishes, because she made me promise I wouldn’t let them do a funeral for her. When my mother died, we all felt the same about honoring her wishes, and we were, perhaps, relieved at not having to plan her funeral. But I think we missed out on something. We did have a gathering–I’m not sure you would call it a viewing with her casket closed–also her wishes. Several members of my dad’s family came. They’ve always been supportive like that, even though–perhaps especially because–he has been gone for so long. Mom’s sister Jean and all her children came, along with several people from my mom’s work and her neighborhood. And a number of our friends. I still remember from when my father died how much it means to you when your friends show up for you in times of loss and tragedy.

In any case, so it was a new experience for me to be involved–or at least present–in the planning of a funeral as we gathered in Duchesne last Saturday for the planning of my mother-in-law, Barbara’s services.

So I figured now might be as good a time as any to draft my own wishes.

I want to be buried in a simple pine box. With one of the quilts I made. I used to think I’d like to be buried with my favorite quilt, but one of my friends threatened to open the casket and take it back before I was laid to rest, so I’ll settle for the first quilt I made. The pattern is called Card Tricks. The fabrics are tan with trees, moose, bears, and a canoe (remember how I always wanted a canoe? I still hope to make that happen some day). It’s also the one with a splash of black craft paint on the back (back when I made boring, un-crazy-pieced quilt backs). Because, kids.

Please don’t let them curl my hair or put lipstick on my lips or blush on my face. I didn’t bother in real life and I certainly don’t want it in the post-life.

My favorite hymns are More Holiness Give Me and Lord, I Would Follow Thee, and Be Still My Soul (aka Finlandia). Well Come Thou Fount speaks to my heart and always makes me cry but it’s not in the hymnbook anymore, so I’m not sure everyone would know the words. My other favorites are There is Sunshine in My Soul Today, but I think it might be a stretch asking people to sing that at a funeral. Also, Reverently and Meekly Now, but that’s a sacrament hymn, so also not appropriate for a funeral. I do want people to know what I believe (I don’t know how anyone couldn’t already, I’m not exactly shy about it). 2 Nephi 31:20 sums it up nicely and I’d love to have it included on the program, if there is one.

People can speak or not speak as they wish, but I do have a silk envelope of really kind things my friends once wrote to me tucked away in my top dresser drawer in case my family doesn’t have much to say. But whatever else is on the program, please remember to keep it short. If it goes over an hour long I’m going to come back and haunt people, and not in a good way.

Please let Lindsay be a pallbearer, but only if she wants to be. I’ll forever be grateful for dear old Cora Soulier for having the good sense to choose the women who supported her in life to be her honorary pallbearers. But there is no good reason for women to not be actual pallbearers as well.

My favorite flowers are gerber daisies, lavender, and hydrangea (I’m not sure those go together particularly well). I’d honestly be almost as happy with some sage brush, as the scent brings back many fond memories, but I think people in my family are allergic. Aside from something simple on the casket, please encourage people to give their hard-earned money to the refugees or the missionary fund–or both–in lieu of flowers.

One teeny tiny thing that would make me almost as happy as that time we finally tracked down someone to play the banjo at Kate’s Celebration of Life and that other time when Book on Tape Worm performed at my 50th birthday party would be the sweet sound of bagpipes. Amazing Grace would be lovely as people leave the chapel and head to their cars, or even as they leave the graveside and head back to the church for a family dinner.

Note: I’m fairly certain at least a few of my family members will be sad if there are no funeral potatoes, so please someone make sure there are funeral potatoes. Oh, and if it’s not too much trouble, serve root beer floats for dessert instead of cake. I don’t really love cake. And root beer floats are my favorite.

before they were adults

momanddad

When my mom was a little girl she moved a lot. I’m not exactly sure why. My grandpa was an educator, not military. But I know she never spent much time in the same school and I think she must have been kind of lonely. She worked hard in school. She was the oldest child in a family where children were seen and not heard and expectations were high. She was responsible. (As an oldest child myself, I understand the pressure of being responsible.)

She didn’t seem to have a particularly happy childhood. But I know from her younger sister that part of that may have been perception. She was extremely hard on herself. She was an achiever. She was a perfectionist.

But it was as a child, or at least a youth, she fell in love with the ocean. She lived in a number of places in California where she had access to the beach. Her love of the ocean stayed with her throughout her life. It was evident every time she would pack us kids and sack lunches in the car and drive us to Florence–Devil’s Elbow and the Heceta Head lighthouse–for a cold sandy and salty day on the rugged Oregon coast. Not at all like the warmer, milder beaches of Southern California. Her love of the crashing surf was also evident in the many wave-scenes she painted during her oil painting years.

Dad, on the other hand, was raised on a land-locked ranch. He was riding a horse as a toddler–all the Rex kids did and at least once–it may have been Uncle Bob–one of them fell asleep and slide right off said horse. He spent lonely days as a sheepherder during his childhood (and the more I learn about sheepherding, the more alarming that is to me). But by the time I fell in love with the ranch the sheep were long gone and there were just cows to feed and brand and herd.

My parents met at BYU (which is where my children’s parents met as well). According to my mom, my dad was somewhat of a legend. He was tall, dark, and handsome. And was known for wearing a Stetson and cowboy boots and walking on the grass adjacent to the sidewalk. My mom was petite. Tiny ring finger (I know because of the way her tiny ring fits so neatly inside of dad’s). Size 5 1/2 shoes. She had lovely legs. I know this because my dad told me so, but also because of their wedding picture, in which she wears an untraditional short dress. At my dad’s request, from what I understand.

They loved to dance. Or so I’m told. I recall many a night where us kids were left with dinner and instructors to “play nice” as my parents, all dressed up, left us to attend various ward and stake balls. Back in the day when such things were held.

“Before they were adults” is such a tricky phrase. The truth is, we may grow into adulthood. We have jobs and mortgages and children and cancer and high cholesterol and even–blessedly–grandchildren. But we are still kids at heart. The child and teenage versions of ourselves are still tucked inside of those flawed and imperfect adult minds and souls. We are still worried and afraid sometimes. Hard on ourselves. Excited over little things. Hurt and bewildered by unkindness, thoughtlessness or people who are hard on us or fail to appreciate how hard we work to be good people and to carry the heavy burdens of adulthood with our child-hearts.

We ought to be gentler with ourselves and with each other.

[Day 95 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]

One time

overwhelmed

One time I typed the writing prompt at the top of my post and was all set to hit go on the stopwatch but I realized I am still so emotionally spent that what I really want to do is roll over and bury myself in blankets, close my eyes, and sleep.

But I will prop my eyes open and skip over the series of one-time events I can think of that may be interesting to write about and return to yesterday and the day before.

To that one time a seemingly quiet and unassuming woman was taken from us before we were ready and we were overwhelmed.

We were overwhelmed by the grief. The first-time unimaginable grief for her husband and children and sisters and brother and grandchildren who have never experienced such a loss. The still unimaginable grief for those of us–primarily in-laws who even though we do know that this unimaginable grief you don’t think you can possibly survive is in fact something you will live through, also know that losing a mother is a loss like no other.

We are overwhelmed–and even humbled–by the show of support by family and friends. By the food pouring in at everyone’s homes. By the phone calls and visits and texts and Facebook messages. By the friend who bursts through your door and runs up your stairs to give you a real hug even as you are both still on the phone with each other as you are in the midst of breaking to her the bad news. She jumped in her car and drove straight over so she could give you a real hug.

Overwhelmed by the lines of people spilling down the hall, out the double-doored church entrance, down the stairs and into the church parking lot when you arrived at the viewing Tuesday night. A crowd that was undiminished even half an hour past the scheduled end of the viewing, but finally dissipated an hour past.

The crowd that resumed the next day before the funeral. The crowd–as your brother-in-law puts it–inclusive of almost all walks of life. Family, friends, teachers, classmates–some we’d seen recently, some we hadn’t seen for ages. The Native Americans who stayed in with the family during the family prayer and also came to the cemetery and the family dinner because they were indeed welcomed and loved as family by this woman and who told my father-in-law, “you asked us to be here and we are here.”

Overwhelmed by the same bursting-through-the-door-while-you’re-still-on-the-phone friend who drives nearly two hours while still suffering from a concussion to be to the funeral and to stay to the cemetery and take lots of photos because she knows you will be busy talking to family and not be able to take all the photos you want–or even know the ones you will wish you had taken later, because she has lost both her parents too in recent years and she knows.

Overwhelmed by the cousins from California who always show up and are there for you. You thank them for coming and let them know how much it means to you that they would be there and when they say “We wouldn’t miss it,” you know they mean it, because they always have and always will be there with you and for you.

Overwhelmed when you see your stake president who works closely with your husband and who has also lost his mother and who took time off of work and also drove that nearly two hours to be there for your husband. (Nearly two more hours back home again afterwards, of course.)

Overwhelmed again when you see your brother and his wife who still mourn the loss of your mother and who also took time off work and drove the same distance to be there for you and your husband and your kids even though they knew with so many people you would hardly get a chance to visit with them. They just needed you to know they were there.

Overwhelmed again when you learn your Relief Society president and your neighbor down the street–both who have lost their mothers–who had no idea where they were going and who had to stop and ask for directions, twice–also took time from their busy days to show up for your family.

Overwhelmed again to learn that not one but two of your husband’s coworkers (one is now retired) made the long drive to and back to show up for him and to let him know they’ve arranged for his class for extended days so he can have more time with his family.

Overwhelmed and again humbled by the reach of this wonderful matriarch whose mortal resume may not have been long by the standards of the world, but whose faith and service surpassed what any of us likely imagined and whose mark on the world was overwhelmingly good and beautiful and worthy of such an immense tribute.

Overwhelmed by the knowledge you can work harder and love more and serve better and by the desire to do so as you are once again reminded in a powerful and beautiful way that “…by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.”

[Day 94 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]

joy and sorrow

In just a short time ago some people I love, who only a couple of months ago buried an angel granddaughter, have experienced what must feel like a lifetime of joy and sorrow, much of it in just one weekend. And it’s not, by any means, over.

My nephew drove home from North Dakota with his wife. Such visits are rare and welcomed. So much so some of my own kids drove out to be with them. JOY!

Within hours of knowing they were coming, the same family got a call learning that another son was coming home from his mission early. Apparently this is not something you learn until your child is put on the plane to come home and you receive directions what time to pick up him or her. -sorrow–the kind of gut-punched, “I-don’t-know-what-hit-me” kind of sorrow, and yet also possibly relief at being reunited and to be able to wrap your arms around someone you love in order to travel this road together-

That same day half the family (the extended, anyway, because there is more a less a corner of their small basin town that is either a clan or a dynasty of our family) went to a funeral for (if I overheard correctly) the last member of their grandfather’s generation.-sorrow-

And the other half of the family attended the baptism of another nephews. JOY!

I wasn’t physically present on this particular weekend, but this family I love was in my thoughts constantly. I prayed for them. I held space for them in my heart.

Oh, and why did the first son and his wife come home that particular weekend? As I guessed in the moment it occurred to me they must have had a reason, it was because they had an announcement.

They’re expecting their first baby. JOY!

The next weekend (because we do not always or even often have a moment to catch our breaths), and, as the story goes, after not just one but possibly two fridges went out, I happened to see on Facebook a happy engagement announcement from the cute boy dating one of my cute nieces. JOY!

I was amused to learn later that the social media post went up before my niece had a chance to call her parents, so I think there was a little bit of surprise amidst that joy as well.

Cut to this past week where the unthinkable, unimaginable happened. We were not prepared. We are still in shock. And we are mourning the loss of the heart and soul of our extended family. My father-in-law missing his wife of 58 years. My husband and brothers- and sisters-in-law missing their mother. Their aunts and uncle missing their sister. And so many nieces and nephews missing a grandmother who loved them so dearly. -sorrow, seemingly unending, un-mendable sorrow-

Yes, I know this is not the end. And yes we–at least some of us–have felt the sweet peace the gospel brings. We can only imagine her sweet reunion with her parents and other loved ones. But that does not remove the sorrow or the hole in our hearts. sorrow upon sorrow upon sorrow

[Day 93 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]

Post Edit: After writing this post I’ve been reflecting upon how both our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows are generally connected to family.

bathrooms

[note: everything feels superficial and inane, but I made a goal and I want to keep it so I’m going to skim the surface for awhile until the rawness of the past week wears off and I find the right words to do it justice.]

When I was at BYU I had lots of great roommates (and a few interesting ones too) but one was so much fun I lived with her two years in a row. In fact I lived with her until she got married, I think.

In any case we have lots of happy and fun and crazy stories together, but also a sad one. And one in which I learned a valuable lesson.

There was a time in our friendship when things shifted. There was a wedge between us. A feeling of resentment and eventually anger. And I had no idea how or why.

One day it all finally came out and it had to do with our shared bathroom.

Apparently I was a slob. I thought all young people were slobs. But I was insufferable.

Excuse the graphic detail, but apparently the detritus of Q-tips and cotton balls involved in my early morning beauty routine that weren’t tossed directly in the trash–and possibly even those that may have piled up in the overflowing trash bin, as seems to occur even in my grown-up life bathrooms (although, generally, not on account of me), as annoying. Even irritating. Even wedge building.

And I get it. That’s obnoxious. But I was oblivious. And the sad part–at least to me–is that it was an easy enough fix. I should have been taking my basketball skills more seriously and worked harder on my bank shot, or even any kind of shot. At the very least I could have rebounded and neatly handled the my missed shots.

Only I didn’t fix it until it was almost too late.

Because I didn’t know about it.

My lesson learned was what can happen to a relationship when a teeny tiny frustration or resentment is left inside to grow and build and fester until it has become something greater than itself. And the painful takeaway is that the sore, ugly, swollen wound will take even more effort to heal because it went so long untreated. Growing bigger and worse and even more bitter.

And that’s why I try to be in the moment and aware of how and I feel and why. Be frank about that with those who allow me to. And sometimes even with those who don’t. And why I have great respect for those times when people choose to honor our relationship by telling me how they really feel about something that could easily grow into a wedge and allow me to address it best I can. Or at the very least reassure them no harm is ever intended and work on doing better.

[Day 92 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]

there are no words…but i tried to find some anyway

barbararowley
Please don’t miss the lovely twinkle in her eyes, which we now surely will

It’s not lost on me that I recently wrote about keeping vigil, never intending to keep vigil again–or at least so soon–in such a personal and tragic way.

Tuesday night Shane and I and his parents, Keith and Barbara, his sister Rochelle and her husband Bill met for dinner as they came to town to prepare for Barbara’s back surgery the next day. We invited our kids as well, but only Luke and Emily and James were free to join us. We wanted Barbara to choose where to eat, as she would be going hungry for awhile after dinner. She chose Chuckarama, because she wanted mashed potatoes and gravy. We enjoyed our time together–made even more delightful with the presence of James–and especially appreciated the extended daylight, warm temperatures, and cheery daffodils as we all walked out together.

The next morning I was assisting with some training and got a text about 10:12 that the surgery had gone smoothly and Barbara was doing great.

At 1:17 I got another text stating that Barbara was still not awake from the anesthesia and the docs were doing a CT scan, as they were a bit worried.

I left work at 4 and went directly to ICU, where the family was gathering because Barbara was still unconscious.

It’s too soon to write about the roller coaster of emotions we’ve ridden the past 4 days. The images I can’t un-see. The big hole in my heart over our loss. The heart painfully wrenched by witnessing unexpected tragedy and mourning with those who mourn. My husband and his losing his beloved mother. My father-in-law his wife of 58 years. My children and nieces and nephews their dear grandmother, who knew how to make each one of them feel special. All my in-laws losing someone who treated them like her own.

In short, after two grueling days of a vigil like I’ve never before experienced (and never want to experience again) at the NCCU at University of Utah Hospital, we learned the damage from an anoxic event in her brain was irreversible. We were given time for anyone less than two hours away (and who wasn’t already at the NCCU) to arrive and to say our goodbyes before they would take her off life support.

At 2:29 this morning, Barbara slipped through the veil and returned to her parents and other loved ones, along with Heavenly Parents.

We are still in shock. Reeling. Heartbroken.

In time I need to write about the kindnesses too. The lady in the elevator. My friends and relatives who reached out and prayed and lifted and carried. Who visited. Who texted. Who posted messages. The friend who unexpectedly burst through my door and ran up my stairs this morning to give me a hug even as I was just beginning to explain what happened to her over the phone. She literally dropped everything, jumped in the car, and came to truly be there for and with me. The members of my congregation whose profuse offers to help became bold and impossible to refuse.

Until that time, here are the words that came to my heart this evening as tribute to this dear unassuming mother whose heart reached beyond where any of us imagined and whose loss we feel deep into the very fibers of our hearts.

Heaven shines brighter today at the return of the warm bright light of our dear Barbara Rowley. Barbara welcomed me into her family long before Shane and I married and has continued to love me like one of her own ever since.

Our bond deepened when she and my mother courageously battled breast cancer together a few years back, being diagnosed within a month of each other. Because of Barbara, we knew exactly what to do and which doctors to see from the moment my mother was diagnosed, which expedited my mother’s treatment. At times my mother’s appointments coincided with Barbara’s hospital stays in the same facility, helping them develop a special bond between them.

No words were needed when my mother’s cancer returned a year or so after remission. Barbara’s eyes would meet mine and I knew from her expression of deep love, understanding, and sorrow that we would not be alone in this journey.

Like my own mother, Barbara supported my quilting habit, even appreciating the mismatched prints, imperfect points, and rounded corners of my beginner quilts. She once surprised me with a blue ribbon after submitting one of my earliest efforts, which I had made for her, to the county fair. A few years later she surprised me again with another blue ribbon, having forgotten she’d already submitted the same quilt once before.

I will perhaps miss Barbara most on Thanksgiving mornings when, as tradition would have it, we often worked together in her kitchen while the rest of the kids were out in the mountains counting deer and elk. I would make pies while she prepped the stuffing and put the largest turkey you could imagine in the oven. I’ll forever cherish watching her lovingly write out on lined paper the 45-50+ names in her beautiful cursive as she figured how many tables and chairs we would need for the day’s feast.

Barbara is one of the beautiful matriarchs I’m privileged to know who has literally worn herself out in the service of others, opening her heart, pulling up chairs to her table, and feeding and caring for everyone within her reach.

I love you, Barbara. Thank you. Rest in peace. You are already dearly missed.

buying stuff you don’t need

I.
A friend of mine just started selling Tupperware. And now her Instagram is full of shiny photos of colorful plastics.

“I’m so relieved I went through all my ‘consultant’ phases before social media was invented,” I said to myself.

I can’t recall if Stampin’ Up* or Tupperware came first.

*See previous post on crafting.

My cousin sold Tupperware, so I had a party for her. And the words “free stuff” lodged themselves deep in my heart and I couldn’t stop.

When you sign up to sell Tupperware, you get this big giant duffle bag large enough to hide not one, but two bodies (should the need arise) stuffed clear full of free Tupperware.

And who among the young moms crowd doesn’t need another gadget in which to store Cheerios?

In any case. I can attest you can, in fact, have too much Tupperware.

It may not, however, be possible to have too many stamps. You wouldn’t even need a mini-sized duffle bag to hide all my wood stamps. And of course I was buying ahead for the zombie apocalypse, so I have not one but two full-sized ink cartridges of my favorite colors.

Note to self in hindsight. Ink doesn’t last forever. Even when shrink-wrapped. Don’t hold your break for a Life Hack tutorial with 50 ways to upcycle a dried-up ink cartridge.

II.
Just tonight I was telling my friend Melody’s husband Jeff about how Melody literally saved my life once. I’d been quite sick with the flu (note to everyone: If you are only sick for a day or two, and if your bones don’t hurt, and if you don’t feel like you got hit by a train, it’s not the flu). I saw my doctor and she was a bit concerned, but she sent me home. She told me, however, if I got any worse, to call her back.

I got worse.

I called her back.

And the bouncer at her front office brushed me off.

So I asked Melody to drop by and check on me after work. And you know, since she is a nurse, work for her is a 12 hour shift.

Whatever she saw in me gave her pause, enough so that she went back to her office for more serious diagnostic tools.

“You need to go to the ER,” she said.

“Tomorrow?” I asked.

“Right now.”

So I did. And my oxygen was at 80.

I remember lying on my back on the gurney with oxygen tubes in my nose trying so incredibly hard to bring it up to 90. Because they told me if I could keep it at 90 I could go home.

Instead I was admitted and stayed for a week.

As they admitted me I told Shane, “Whatever you do, DO NOT LET ANYONE IN OUR HOUSE!”

Because I had three young kids. My husband had just finished his master’s degree. I had been sick for at least a couple of weeks. And the house was a mess. A disastrous mess.

Of course by the end of a week in the hospital with double pneumonia when I finally got to come home on oxygen for what would be another month, I was still embarrassed, but also quite grateful to see my piles of laundry had been tackled, my kids had been fed, and my house had been deep cleaned.

The I can still hear the echo of my good friend Lynda:

“You have too many candles.”

“Do not buy any more candles.”

The culprits there were not just one retail candle and bath and body product maker that held semi-annual warehouse sales, but also the candle equivalent of Tupperware–PartyLite–that had lured me in with so many promises of “free stuff.”

While I’m happy to report I, eventually, stopped buying candles, I will never divulge how many I still have left.

Although I’m certain they, like my craft supplied, will come in quite handy during the zombie apocalypse.

[Day 91 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]

waiting

winter waitingThis has been a favorite photo of mine for some time now. I just now noticed the timestamp. I took it the day before my mother died. The last day I saw my mother. The day I didn’t realize I was saying goodbye.

Winter 2014/15

So much waiting.

Waiting for Zack to come home from the Middle East. Waiting for family to come for Thanksgiving. Waiting to decorate my Christmas tree until Christmas afternoon, when I would finally be home for a couple of days. Waiting. Wondering how much time was left.

Just yesterday I was thinking about my mom and how I stressed over the last few weeks over her life waiting and worrying, not knowing how long she would be with us and not knowing if I should leave to go on my first work trip (she said “Go!”) or make alternate plans (even though there really wasn’t anyone else who could have taken my place) because I did not want to leave when her time was short or not be with her to say goodbye.

Saying goodbye was a big deal to me. Especially since I missed saying goodbye to my father by one day. And so we waited. I waited to make plans–or not make plans–or cancel my plans. I waited to say goodbye. Even though I couldn’t possibly know when. And I thought we would have some warning. The hospice nurse said she would know. And we intended to keep a bedside vigil.

Juxtapose that seemingly endless waiting with a couple of tender sweet hours spent with my aunts and uncles and cousins gathered in a similar vigil–or at least similar to what I imagined–at the hospital, as one of my aunts–my dad’s sister–was also dying at the same time as my mother.

A rather loud, busy, but anything-but-lonely vigil by my aunt’s side–full of hugs and stories and laughter along with the tearful eyes.

As opposed to the quiet, lonely, vigil by my mom’s side at her home, as I tag-teamed–primarily with my brother and his wife–to grant my mother her wish to stay in her home.

Yesterday I was reminded about despite all our efforts “to plan,” how my mom went quietly, but not unexpectedly (because who really knows what to expect) but still on her own terms–when no one was looking–just a couple of days after my aunt died.

This meant both my brother and I could attend our aunt’s funeral. In fact I ended up flying out to D.C. next to one of my cousins and her husband afterwards.

And then I flew back at the end of the week just in time for my mother’s “viewing” (as she forbade us from having a funeral).

Anyway, the waiting–impatient waiting–and the not knowing–impatient not knowing–what was going to happen or when or what I should do was all for naught. And I regret not having relaxed a bit more (although not for a lack of trying) and trusted that everything would work out.

What occurred to me yesterday was how my mom meant it when she said she wanted me to go to D.C. and do this thing for work–this scary thing I had never done before and had worked hard to prepare for–and she very possibly went when she did in order that I could go. It wasn’t about the travel, although she wanted that for me too. It was about the opportunity to stretch myself (in many ways) and do something I’d never done before. Something I didn’t know if I could do. I know my mom wanted that for me. And she gave it to me. And I am the better for it.

[Day 90 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]

Note: There is another post to be written about waiting. It is a raw post. A hard post. And apparently it still waits to be written.