The Art of being grateful

I am a positive person. But the last few years have tested me sorely. My mother passed away, my husband was in a serious car accident requiring two surgeries, my father had open heart surgery, a surprise, but very welcome grandchild, and more that I don’t care to share. Throughout all of this, my daughter had a recurring health issue with her heart. She has a misfiring called SVT, which does not sound like a big deal, but it can be terrifying when they are active in sports. She has been a trooper for years, taking meds, and learning tricks to try to get out of the bad rhythm. Also dealing with people that don’t understand or care that she is having an issue. The cure for this condition is meds or an ablation. An ablation is when they burn the heart to change the misfiring of the heart. (I am sure there is a longer explanation, but I am going with simple) There is a 95% success rate with ablations, but sadly we were in the 5%, and we were scared to do another ablation. A very bad stress test woke us up to the dangers of this heart condition and we decided to try again. Luckily, I love my daughter’s Doctors. My faith in them helped me to support my daughter to go through it again. I am happy to say she had ablation on Tuesday, and it looks like so far it is a success.

I went to say good night to her last night, and she had a huge smile. I asked if everything was ok, and she said she was happy to have a normal heart. The point of my post is that I am grateful. Because through all of it, I realize it could be worse, and I choose to focus on the good. So although my posts are generally positive, I suffer through trials too! If you are going through a tough time, stay strong as the bad times do pass, and it makes you appreciate the good times even more. We are celebrating in our home this week and enjoying that my daughter may be finally cured. Needless to say, I have been spending time with her this week, as she is resting, but I will be painting again soon!

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Is the glass half full or half empty?   I choose half full……

Embracing change

The holidays remind me of my Mom, and that time stands still for no one.

Another Christmas has now passed, and as usual it got me thinking. Thinking about how you never know when ordinary times stop being ordinary. When something is going to change forever.   This made me think of a Yoda quote which is:

“Difficult to see, Always in motion is the future.”

Things are always changing, some for the better, some not. This year was a pivotal year in my family. It was the second year without my mother during the holidays. I themed my table around her love of Moose, and thought of her at past holidays with us.

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But it is also the start of a new beginning, as I am going to be a grandmother next year. Or Mimi, as I am hoping to be called. This means next year, we will have a little one to remind us that life goes on. A little one to distract us from our grief. And to give us hope.
It was discussed on Christmas, that next year my son and girlfriend would like the families to celebrate together. To enjoy the little one’s first Christmas. So this means new people at our table, and more new traditions. And I am happy for that. While we were talking about the new number of guests, somehow my Dad mentioned that he had found some silverware from my mother’s side in her things.  I realized that to host the additional people I would need more silverware. (I am a bit of a planner) My Dad brought the silver over later in the day, and it almost matched my other Grandmother’s perfectly. Isn’t it ironic that as we are talking about adding more guests to our holiday, another set of silverware from my mother’s side appears? It seems as though my mother is sending a sign that she approves, and as usual is giving me a helping hand.

I am trying hard to embrace change, while savoring the times I am enjoying now. My niece and nephew are also growing older, and its only a matter of time before they have their own spouses and traditions that may not include my home. So this year, I drank in my time, and enjoyed and appreciated my time with everyone. Because I know firsthand how fast, and permanently things can change. I hope you also enjoyed your time with your loved ones and savored every minute.

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Making new Traditions at a Sanno Spa

Grieving and healing

On Black Friday last year, I had a pretty horrific day.  My mother was removed from life support and passed away. After lots of research on grief, I found one suggestion that has helped me immensely.  Make new traditions.   I have done this with all the holidays this past year, and I wanted to do the same on the first anniversary of her death.

So on Black friday this year I wanted to do something nice.  Something wonderful to help fade the memory of that awful day.  I came up with the idea of a spa day with the remaining women in my life, and family.  My daughter just turned 16, and has been asking to go to a spa, so it seemed like the perfect time.

The Spa that I picked is one that I have visited before with a girlfriend.  Its Sanno Spa, in Old Saybrook.   The peacefulness of the spa and beautiful landscape paintings throughout, relax me.  I told my family my plan, and they all agreed to go.  Who would not want to visit a beautiful spa and spend the day with loved ones?  It sounded like a great idea, and it certainly was.

The concrete walk leading to the spa entrance had large stately columns, decorated with colorful red bows and garlands of evergreens.  It was a festive and bright welcome for us.

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After signing in, we all went to our treatments, for most of us either a massage or facial.  After these wonderful treatments, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Fresh Salt, and had a toast in honor of my mother.  Eating lunch in our bathrobes, takes some getting used to, but no one gave us a second look, as we  were not the only ones enjoying being pampered on this day.  Our server even gave us blankets to put on our laps to keep us warm.  This spa certainly thinks of everything.

After lunch, we had a few more treatments of manicures, or pedicures, and some lovely time at the pool or hot tub.

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The sun was setting and we took a few moments to enjoy the pretty harbor and buildings with Holiday decorations.  We changed back into our clothes, settled our bill, and returned to reality.

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On our way out we were once again treated to the sight of the harbor building silhouetted with lights against the darkening sky.  Yet another treat for our special day.

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We enjoyed our pampering, our delicious lunch, but most of all enjoyed our time together.  It was my daughter, sister in law, mother in law, niece and future daughter in law that joined me today.  And helped me to get through an anniversary of a terribly awful day.  What better way to get over a day like that, but to start a new tradition, with the rest of the wonderful women in my family.  I am a grateful woman tonite, and a lucky one.

The end of the year of firsts

youngSoon my year of firsts will be ending.   I find that I have learned a lot in this past year.

I have learned that I have to let things go.  You find that when someone you love passes, you analyze things.  You think about how you treated them, your relationship, and did you give them enough time? Did you tell them how you felt?  I am an only child and had a tough relationship with my Mother.  But I always loved her and tried hard to be the daughter she wanted.  She was the daughter of two immigrants and had a tough childhood being raised by a Grandmother famously known in the family for being miserable.  So she had a rough start.  But even with that rough start my mother would do anything for the ones she loved.  But she was not always easy.  But who is?  And now that she is gone, I find myself thinking about things I did, or did not do.  Death has a way of changing your view on things.  Maybe you should have given in more, had more patience.  But you will never know if this would have helped.  So you must do your best and move on and learn the lessons that you have been taught.  And I am.

MOMMERHI

I have learned I am a tough cookie.  This past year I have helped my Dad through open heart surgery to fix an aneurysm. Then supported my husband when he was in a serious car accident requiring multiple surgeries.  Through all this I just kept going.  I had a close friend ask me how I did it.  And I replied “what is the alternative?”  I did have a few moments when I just put my head down and cried, but once it was over, I continued on.

Besides all the health issues we still were grieving for my mother.  Noticing she was not here to help, or support us.  Besides that I have had all the major holidays,  some nice accomplishments with my art,  a fabulous party for my daughters 16th, and found out I am going to be a Grandma, all without my Mom.  All this year at each little milestone, I noticed her empty chair.  I went to call her to tell her some news, only to realize she would not answer.  I visited her grave a few times to tell her she should have taken better care of herself so she would be here with us.  I cried at times that made no sense. And I have learned that grief does not get easier as time passes.  Instead it is like a weight on your shoulders that you learn to carry.

I am now nearing the Anniversary of her death, and I have learned a lot this year.  I wish I had told my Mom more how thankful I was for her. To tell her thank you for dropping everything to always help me when I needed it.  Thank you for giving me a beautiful name, that I hated for years, but now love for its uniqueness.  Thank you for being so thoughtful with your gifts.  Thank you for taking care of me and my family when we were sick.  And thank you for being a great Mom.

Sadly I feel like I have two dates for her death as she died on Black Friday, right after her favorite holiday.  So on black Friday this year, I wanted to do something special.  Something to make me not think of the last moments watching my mom removed from the machines that were keeping her alive.  Something to celebrate life.  So all the girls in our family are going to a spa day for my daughters 16th birthday.  What better way to spend a sad day but surrounded by loved ones?  And on the actual anniversary I will be having my Dad over for dinner where we will silently mark the day and be thankful when its over.  So we can continue our grieving but look for the silver lining.  Because although we are missing our loved one, life goes on.  I used to think that was sad that life kept going, but now I know that the current that carries you along is a good thing.  There are days when you may feel like your head is barely above the current, and then there will be days that you are floating and enjoying happy moments.  And those are the moments that I prefer to focus on.

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Thanks Mom for everything, and I miss you more each day.

Till we meet again…..