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The Circle of Life

October 2, 2008

This has been a time of bringing life full circle.  The day before autumn, September 21st, my Mom found her sister, my Aunt Beda, dead on the floor of her home.  She was about to move into assisted living October 1st where she could be near her daughter in the nursing home.  This past year, my husband and I have had the privilege of helping live life on her own terms.  She was a very independent woman who was totally dedicated to her daughter.  We were her first responders and helped her up when she fell after her recovery from several medical challenges she faced in the past year.  When she world regain her strength, she would get herself up after a fall.  If I noticed a new bruise on her face and asked her if she’d fallen, she’d say “Yes, but I got myself up!”  Though she had a lot of pain, she never complained about it and she never gave up on life. 

I am so happy I was able to be here this past year and help her.  It is something I will always treasure.  Now it is up to our family to help keep my cousin’s spirits up.  Her mother went every day to visit her.  I don’t think we’ll make it every day, but we will make sure she isn’t forgotten.

I’m starting to feel like I have too many projects started and I’m not finishing any of them.  I’m doing doors for Obama, trying to get a class reunion meeting organized, find someone to serve on the mental health board, get a historic preservation commission started so I can get a committee started to turn the Cedar Valley Seminary Building into a community arts center, scan dozens of family photos and continue my family genealogy project, finish scanning and documenting my sister’s 800 + slides of China, clean the house, finish the fall garden work, connect with my two mentees……….eeeeeek!  How did I ever have time to work?  More people should be able to retire early so more people would have time to work on their own life’s work.

Pulled in Two Directions

June 9, 2008

When I was a working parent, I always felt like I was pulled in at least two directions.  I always felt like my first priority should be my children, but I had to earn a living, which required time and energy away from my children.  Never an adequate parent and never and adequate teacher–that was how I always felt.

Now in retirement, I’m living in two places.  I still have my house in Milwaukee with three apartments and I’m living in my Mother’s house in Iowa.  Stuff here, stuff there, too much stuff everywhere.  Still pulled in two directions, but at least now I don’t feel inadequate in the same way.  Once a month I make a trip back to Milwaukee and pack up a few more boxes, sort through more clothes, and take some time to reflect on what I’ve accumulated and what to do with it.  What was once so important, now stares at me from the shelf, its importance diminished.  Trips to Value Village are helping to lighten the load.

Some things cannot be dispensed with at Value village.  My Mother has an overabundance of some things–like quilts.  For many years she was home bound caring for my Father in his final years.  She made three wool sampler quilts with wool bats one year, a wool quilt with circles and appliqué, quilts made from our old clothes; she has quilts her mother and grandmothers made–more than a dozen quilts.  When I went to auctions, I would wonder how such beautiful heirlooms could end up on a auction block, but I’m getting a better understanding.  The younger generation doesn’t want bedding that can’t be thrown in the washer. They don’t live in houses with unheated bedrooms that make those wool quilts a necessity.  It never occurred to me that finding a home for my Mother’s quilts would be a difficult task.

So now I find myself in two worlds.  One world of managing property and trying to squeeze rent out of tenants, and evicting them when they deliver excuses after excuses.  Pulling weeds, calling plumbers, and finding repairmen for a house that bleeds me.  One world of managing my Mother and her lifetime accumulation of things.  I should have a sister to help, but we were denied her help when colon cancer stole her away from us two years ago.  Role reversal–I have to sit up and wait for my Mother to come home, remind her to take her medication, weigh herself in the morning, get her to the doctor, monitor what she eats.

Sill pulled in two directions, but at least I feel my role is more clearly defined and failure isn’t part of the picture.  I will never regret the time spent with my mother and I have an opportunity to find the next generation of caretakers for the family heirlooms.  Hopefully they won’t end up at an impersonal auction in the hands of someone who doesn’t know or care about the stories that fabric holds.

Hello world!

June 2, 2008

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