Monday, July 1, 2024

Losing My Parents a Year and a Half Apart

Looking at the world today.  In restaurants, families all siting around on their individual phones.  No one talking, visiting, pay attention to the others, much less looking at each other.  How many opportunities missed with those near us.

Recently, I lost my dad, he was 93 and mentally full of life, physically, not so much.  He began falling more over the past year and a half.  He wouldn't tell anyone.  At one point, his doctor called me with him in her office and asked if he had told me about a fall he had.  They know that I live 11 hours away from him, so she was hoping that he would at least tell his daughter about it.  I couldn't help her, he stopped telling me about his falls months ago.  He refused to downsize and move into assisted living, he refused to move closer to me, he was a man of his own and wanted to stay that way.  I begged him, found nice and affordable places for him near me, alas, in vain.  I told my husband once that my dad will do out like Elijah, in a fiery chariot of modern times. 

He did.

He fell in his bathroom on Easter Sunday night and during the next 20 days, I traveled 38 hours back and forth to Nashville, TN to care for him in the hospital and clean out his apartment at the end. By this time, my dad had been living on his own for way too long and had no strength in his worn-out frame to muster any healing from the brain bleed and then the femur bone break that happened in the rehab hospital.  Evidently, he was an aspiration risk back at the intensive care unit and the medical professionals recommended he go to hospice.  I fought that for 2 days asking that he go to skilled nursing first and heal there.  He was so sweet and happy that my brother and I were there for him. He kept telling me that he loved me and was so happy that I was there to care for him.  He kept asking where he was going next, what was the plan.  I had planned on moving him closer to me and found an assisted living place for him and Rocky, his dog.  The hospital personnel gave me no choice but hospice.  Hospice, the dreaded option.  Finally, after my brother said it was the best, I signed him over.  They transferred him at 2:30 pm on Friday, April 19, 2024.  My husband and I still had dad's apartment to deal with, so we went there and worked on getting it cleaned out.  We finally got back to dad in his new location, the hospice facility.  It was dark, quiet, sterile.  Dad was dozing.  I went to find a "nurse" to find out how dad was and what the plan was.  She showed up and I told her that his hands and arms were swelling and needed attention.  She simply said, "Oh, we won't be concerned about that."  I was shocked and said, "What?"  Quickly, she said, "We can put some pillows to prop them    up."  I never saw any pillows.  Anyway, luckily, he wasn't too drugged.  I said hi to him and he woke and he was partially sitting up.  He was in a new gown and covered sufficiently.  The room was warm with the TV on low.  I stood next to him and asked him how he was.  He looked at me and said, "I don't like this place." "But Dad, it's quiet here, you aren't hooked up with anything, you can get some rest and heal your leg."  He mumbled something away from me and all I could get was ...tomorrow."  He turned back to me and gave me the biggest smile..teethy and sweetly...  I looked at him and moved by all he has been through told him I loved him.  He said he loved me too.  He asked me if I remembered when I needed his help and that he did help me, "Didn't I?"  "Yes, you did, yes you did help me." I love you, Dad"  "I love you too." he said.  "Do you think Biden will win this election?" "Oh, I don't know, Dad, I really don't know." shaking my head. Only until weeks after, did I realize that he was scared and trying to make conversation. Damn! why couldn't I have stayed with him longer and talked politics with more time.  Oh, Dad, I'm so sorry!  We left after a while, he started to doze and I was tired and would see him in the morning before we left to drive 11 hours back home.  

In the morning, I arrived to see dad and he was in a deep sleep with his mouth wide open breathing heavily...Oh NO!!  Not Dad!!  A nurse showed up and I said to her, "Well, you have him all drugged up so I can't talk to him."  She coldly responded, "He was in pain, did you want him in pain?" "No, but there could have been a happy medium!"  She walked away.  I tried to talk to him for a few minutes and realizing it was no use, I sang him the same song I sang mom before she died the day after I left her.  The Winnie the Pooh song....I sang it the best I could for him, hoping he could hear me and the love that I had for him.  I then reached into my purse for my holy water bottle and spraying his face and chest with it.  I left....never to see him again.  The next night he was gone, 6:40 pm CST April 21, 2024.  Will I ever be able to forget this and feel good about it?  NO.

We lost mom a year and a half ago, she was 90 and riddled with both types of arthritis along with gut issues. Basically, mom's body was her enemy her whole adult life with ulcers, arthritis, and emotional issues.  We think she was bi-polar; she was up all the world was right, but when she was down, stay in your room and keep quiet.  She kept our home spotless, and she was a good cook, too.  She loved us and she was great at making our favorite meals, baking us birthday cakes and making sure we were ok.  Dad left her for another woman in 1981, just in time for her to see the three of us leave the nest and the change of life hit her.  She was alone in a big house with grown kids getting involved in their own lives and not seeing what she was going through.  Twenty-six years down the drain.  Luckily, she had worked her way up the banking latter and was doing pretty well as a branch manager.  But not right away during the divorce.  She said nothing, how did she do that?

When I married, we moved away from mom.  That was so hard, I cried for the first few months.  Mom never complained that we left and thought my husband hung the moon.  She seemed happy that I was settled with a good man and my own family. Later she told me that after work, instead of going straight home, she would go to Wendy's and get a coke and French fries and just sit and basically cry.  Now when I think of that, I wish I had been there for her, sat with her and ate French fries with her....and cried. During her years along, which spanned 40 years, she struggled with her health.  She sold the house and bought an upstairs condo and decorated it in all her favorite colors.

We cannot look at life and laugh in the face of fate.  We cannot look at the future as if it's ours for the taking. We were never promised a future, much less tomorrow, never.

Thursday, May 16, 2024


It's tough, really tough when you are caught between two generations and being in another generation with your own stuff to deal with.  No, I'm not talking about eating sandwiches, though it would be nice to sit by a big oak tree, eating a favorite sandwich with no cares in the world.  That is not what I'm talking about at all.

You see, if you have been around the "Pillars" at all, you will see that generations have had their turn, turning this girl on her head.  Life sandwiches, people sandwiches, loved ones sandwiches, those people that God put in your life to care, love, and want to throw the pickle from your favorite sandwich at.  

Years ago, I was told that we are given the parents we had for a reason, to grow us, strengthen us, or learn from.  I agree, and we do not know what that purpose is until we are looking backward, 20/20 vision.  Maybe, maybe not, I don't know really.  Since I am a parent of grown children, what are they looking back at?  What did they learn, grow from, or get stronger with me at the helm?  My husband doesn't think deeply into such things, so I'm on my usual, to think up things to wonder about. I'm not really worried about my kids, they all seem to be figuring it all out for themselves, but I do wonder what I gave them, what WE gave them.

We went to Mass every Sunday and holy days, we prayed the meal blessing, I taught them about Jesus, forgiveness, and I showed them how committed I am to the Catholic faith.  Two of the three are Catholic and I guess that's pretty good odds.

Watching my mom die less than a year ago was depressing and such a loss in my life.  I miss her terribly since she was my sounding board where my dad was concerned.  He divorced her 40 years ago for a younger woman who divorced him 10 years and 2 kids later.  What goes around, comes around, yes?  My mom never remarried and remained married in the Church to my father.  She also stayed engaged with our families where my dad did not.  He was always living off somewhere and enjoying his friends.

Now my dad is gone, he died alone in a hospice facility three weeks ago.  A couple of his friends visited him the day he died and were able to speak to him and perhaps he heard them and was comforted.  I was there the day before, but with me living so far away, I had to go home sometime. I was with him for 5 days at the hospital.   I now have regret that I didn't do enough for him, ask questions to the medical professionals caring for him, I was his POA and needed to be his mediator.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  He was 93 and had fallen twice and had a brain bleed, broken femur and heart issues, so he was in bad shape.  Mom was 90 when she died, she was ready, her arthritis pain from 90% of her body was tiring and she wasn't able to do anything for herself.  She fought a tough battle for as long as I can remember.

Now the sandwich generation is only an open faced one.  It's quiet and gloomy, dark and empty basically.  My life was full of weekly conversations with both my parents, good or bad, I talked to both my parents weekly.  Now I find myself sitting in adoration listening to their voicemails.  Mom left me the gift of her voice...finally.  She used to never leave messages, but at the end she was leaving them all the time.

We live in a very transient society.  Kids go away to college states or countries away from family.  Jobs or found and they stay away and begin their lives far from parents, siblings, extended family members.  The family no longer is what it used to be, and the support and relationships are as endearing as they were a few generations ago.   That is sad.  I wish and pray that people start seeing that and want to make a change.  I pray for the family unit to be cherished again and needed again.

Sunday, March 10, 2024


Beyond me to speak about a woman, a stranger in a new and vast country, making her mission known and a reality, in a man's world.  But I'm going to.  

My mother, we lost her over a year ago and I miss her terribly, was a banker.  She went from a housewife to a teller and worked her way up the ladder to become a branch manager of a credit union in Birmingham, Alabama in the late 70's.  She would tell me that she had to "work 3 times harder than a man does to break even in this man's world."  She believed it wholeheartedly, too.  I also had a taste of that reality in a few of my jobs, but my mother was a fighter with Irish blood in her veins and rose to heights I was in awe of

Now for St. Mother Cabrini.  Some, I've heard complained that there was no mention of God in the movie, I thought it was all OVER the movie in every word she spoke, every child she hugged, every tear she shed, and every ounce of love she had for her people and the children.  The fact that she never spoke of God when being confronted with the evil of the authorities, mayors, senators, magistrates, bishops, and cardinals and even the Pope has a simple yet real bane fact:  she was always confronted by men.  Men in those days and even in these days in high places did not relate to a female, much less one religious thumping a Bible.  No, no, they had their own deity, and it was not the Creator of our world, our Almighty God!  She had to related to them on their level and goodness gracious, she did!!  As the mayor said to her, "Too bad you are a woman, you'd make a good man."  Of course I won't give away her response, but it was succinct and as good as any Rhett Butler's.

 “If the mission of announcing the Lord’s resurrection to his apostles had been entrusted to Mary Magdalene, it would seem a very good thing to confide to other women an evangelizing mission.”

Time after time, Mother Cabrini found herself at an impasse, but quick on her feet she made her points into unavoidable positions that could not be ignored.  She knew that starting a mission, the funding would come.  At one point she said, “If the mission of announcing the Lord’s resurrection to his apostles had been entrusted to Mary Magdalene, it would seem a very good thing to confide to other women an evangelizing mission.”  The movie could very well have put skin on Mother Cabrini again and show the world what one woman could do to change the world.  She made a huge impact in the world with all the many missions/hospitals/schools/orphanages she started all over the world.  She had to have changed lives, not only the children, but the men she had to press and press for help and support.  St. Cabrini made history as a woman who was determined, strong-willed, and stubborn.  My youngest daughter is a very strong willed, stubborn individual as a young adult now.  I know what that looks like.

The movie was approved by a few priests that I respect, one Fr. Chad Ripperger, and Fr. Mike Schmidt (Fr. Mike Schmitz Reviews "Cabrini" Movie ( among others.  Always concerned at what Hollywood would do, especially to a religious centered movie of the Catholic persuasion, I decided to go after hearing Fr. Ripperger recommend us watch it.  I went with a few of the ladies in my prayer group, I am the token Catholic, but they have accepted me as their sister in Christ. They all loved it as much as I did, of course, I was enjoying the views of the Vatican, Rome, all the religious garb and Swiss guard that are all timeless.  As a Catholic, I am proud to be part of the same faith that St. Cabrini was driven by.  Every turn she made, was Catholic, Christian, and God-guided.  Please run don't walk to see this movie, hopefully you can get popcorn free, but only if the theatre is running a promotion....  

Friday, June 30, 2023

A Letter to My Mom

 Dear Mom,                                                                                                                        6/30/2023

    It's been several months now since we talked.  Even the last time we were together, we were not able to have a conversation, much less much of a visit.  There have been so many times that I want to pick up the phone and talk to you.  Tell you something about the kids, what Karl was up to, or what little Anthony was doing.  How he makes us laugh...I wish you could have met him.  I wish you could have met all my grandchildren, we have 4 now.  Rebecca had her third a month ago at home with her midwife and all went perfectly well.  Little Martin was 10 lbs 12 oz.  crazy, I know.

    Missing you and wishing I could talk to you, hear your voice, not just the voicemails I've kept to listen to, but your voice, in person. At the same time though, I don't want you to still be at that nursing home, miserable and trapped.  I would want you to be back in your condo enjoying a warm bath every night, watching TV in your middle bedroom and enjoying your own food.  I would want you to have your little red Toyota corolla outside waiting for you to get out in the morning to Mass or to the grocery store.  So, I guess, as they say, you are in a better place.  Wherever that is.  However that is, with Our Lord, Jesus.

    Not knowing what that is exactly like, I wish I knew that you are alright and happy.  My friends all say, "You know where your mom is!  She's in Heaven!"  I know that, I pray for that, but what is that and how is that place?  Are you happy, Mom?  Are you Okay, Mom?

    We have lost so many relatives throughout the years and I mourned their absence in our lives.  But I have never lost anyone so close to me as you.  You are my mom, my mother who gave birth to me and raised me, who knows me through and through.  I worry about you, miss you, and pine for your presence to tell me what happened to you now.  I still need advice, since I haven't figured out life yet and need your input.  Basically, just to call and talk to you, make you laugh, or just give you some good news about the kids or Doug.  Just to chat for a few minutes.

Anyway, I've kept you long enough and I've rattled on without making much sense.  I love you mom, and you will always be my mom.  I sing Anthony that song and now think of you and your smile as I sang it to you.  Everyday, I think of you, everyday I want to pick up the phone and tell you something, everyday, I feel that part of being your daughter sighs at your absence.  I pray for you everyday and hope that you are alright, safe, and happy.

Love always,


Sunday, April 30, 2023


 In today's homily at Mass, Fr. talked about being quiet. How hard is that? It is hard since we have cellphones that play music, podcasts, read books to us, talk to friends and relatives, give us the latest weather report and news. In my sewing room, I often listen to a book or a podcast (LaVar Reads is my favorite), but recently, I have been turning off all noise, opening a window and just listen to the birds, or breeze through the trees. Maybe, just maybe our Lord has something to tell me.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Mom, Part 2


Where do I begin here talking about my mom's funeral, or Mass of the Resurrection for the woman that has been in my life as a force to be reckoned with since my birth.  My mom was 2nd generation born American from Irish Catholic parents. She was the last of 6 children. I don't think mom was spoiled or pampered at all as the youngest, she would say that she had to learn to cook at age five.  My grandfather was a frontline foreman with the Erie Railroad and retired after 48 years of service.  My grandmother was a housewife.  They had an Aunt Minnie that lived with the family for years helping out with laundry and mending.  I remember visiting her in the old folk's home, she was a whisp of a thing in white sheets and a blanket. 

Anyway, mom raised us Roman Catholic.  Dad was a methodist when they married, but when I was born, he decided to convert.  We attended Mass every Sunday and even on vacation.  She taught me about the faith in her actions and her prayers.  We had all the typical Catholic pictures about our home. My parents tried to pray the rosary as a family, but my 2 brothers wouldn't be still, and they gave up.  I kind of wish they didn't give up.  Maybe our family would have survived and not broke up...but alas, I digress.

Mom lived alone for about 41 years.  She had a condo that she had all fixed up beautifully in her peaches and creams.  She gave me her chair and ottoman that her uncle Samuel, Fr. Haughton, had in his rectory that she had for years after her parents died.  She was proud of her priest uncle and had memories of spending time with him.  She was a devout Catholic and an Irish one at that.

So, when mom was sent to the assisted living a few years ago, I contacted the parish near her and made sure she received communion each week.  She loved the older couple that would come each Wednesday.  They would read the daily readings and give her communion.  Later when she was moved to the nursing home last year she didn't know anyone who was Catholic and didn't receive Communion for several months. When I visited her in November 2021, i went to the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament, nearby and at the giftshop met a lady named Judy who told me she went each week there on Thursdays.  "Consider it done!" she said, when I asked her to put my mom on her list.

My younger brother, who was with mom at the end.

Judy and another lady visited mom every Thursday from that week on and mom would call me to tell me about their visit.  When I went there to say goodbye to mom in last October, I went to the shrine and found Judy at the giftshop and told her. She was so sad, but said she would go the next day.  My son and I had to leave on Thursday the day before mom died.  Judy went to see mom and pray the rosary over her.  My younger brother and his son were there with her and told me later how power and impressed they were.  Kevin, my younger brother, stayed with mom all that day and came back the next day to hold mom while she took her last breath.  Before I left on Wednesday, I mentioned to the hospice nurse that mom was Catholic.  She asked if I wanted her to call Fr. for her last rites.  She said, if I call, he comes right away.  I said "Yes, please."

Our family attended St. Peter's Catholic Church in Hoover, Alabama for years when we first moved to Birmingham, Alabama.  I called the parish office concerning the niche she purchased in the parish columbarium years ago.  The lady was very nice and asked if we were planning the funeral.  I really wasn't sure, my brothers weren't Catholic and I didn't know any of mom's friends anymore.  She said, "You need to talk for Fr., he will help you!  We consider him the funeral priest, its his gift."  After speaking with Fr. Vernon, he convinced me that it was alright to plan one and that "your mom was a practicing Catholic up to the very end and she deserves a funeral Mass."  I agreed.

Mom's funeral was beautiful and Fr. Vernon was just the man to help me with it.  Our daughter, Sarah was able to get off work to attend and cantored the ceremony.  practiced "O Danny Boy" and then asked if I'd sing with her as a duet.  We powered through it pretty well.  My two brothers and their wives attended and 2 of my nephews.  Our son, Marshall and his wife Emily were able to get off work too.  It was wonderful having everyone together.  

My brother, Mike was her executor and took care of her the last few years, he told me he picked out the urn for mom. He said that the funeral director pointed to a cheap urn, but Mike said, No, I want that one."  It was one with a band of pearl around it.  Mom told me years ago, that if she would stop biting her nails that she would like a pearl ring.  Imagine that.