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Traveling Light

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To all of our dear friends:

We are taking a little blog break, due to a big move to a new home.

We are sorting through family memorabilia and the accumulation of many years. My mother is big into this. All the souvenirs of the past are soaring as the “dream’ life unfolds..

We will soon be “traveling Light,” in all ways.

We will try to give you some updates along the way. You can also track us on http://www.deannemincer.com and on my facebook pages, but we will definitely see you September, when the story resumes.

With Love and Light from
Deanne, Richard, and my ever present, much loved mother

Casting Off

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A new cycle was beginning.

Jean, our hospice nurse, spent time examining mother. She spoke with confidence and gentleness to my mother. Everything had changed. Since the episode a night earlier, Mother was now too weak to leave her bed. She was confined by her own weakness. Her world began to change. Only days earlier, she had sat in her wheel chair, eaten a normal meal and laughed with us in another room. That was to be her last foray outside of her bedroom and her last burst of energy. Everything was shrinking – her appetite, her mobility, and her own body. But her mind was still quite acute. There was no way I was giving up on her. I still thought she and I could get her through this, despite what the doctors and hospice said.

After Jean took time to get acquainted with Mother, she asked all of us to join her in another room. The mood was sombre as we listened intently. Now we were in the world of hospice, a very foreign country to all of us. Already installed in Mother’s room was the humming oxygen machine to assist her breathing when needed. We had refused bringing in a hospital bed, wanting mother to be in her own usual bed.

Jean explained what it meant to have palliative care. She showed us the powerful drugs, like morphine and lorazepam (for anxiety) that would be available for Mother to help ease her through the process. Luckily, Mom was not in pain, and we were grateful for this. Jean warned us that we should not count on our memory to remember when and how much medication Mother was given. We should have a journal. My brother, the ever organized and with a Navy pilot thoroughness, prepared the journal for us.

I made the decision immediately that I would be the only one to give Mother the heavy drugs. I was still her protector and wanted to prevent her from being drugged unnecessarily. Then we learned of the array of other hospice workers who would be available to help. Ever polite and grateful, we walked Jean to the door, thanking her along the way.

When the door closed, we stood stunned but coping. Bill and Judy would soon be returning back home, but they knew they would never again hear Mother’s cheery voice or see her smile. Each took private time with her, holding back tears as best they could until they left the room. They also knew that this would be difficult for Richard and for me and asked us to call whenever we needed help, no matter the time of day or night.

The four of us talked as Mother rested, still with her ever faithful Siamese cat by her side. We agreed on the plans for the funeral and who would be called in Ann Arbor. This would be the key part bill and Judy would play as we held vigil. As we talked, Judy continued knitting the pretty pink afghan she had been making for Mother as a Christmas gift. The afghan was only partially made.

On the morning that Bill and Judy departed, I stood in the kitchen alone with my brother. He said, “Judy cast off the afghan last night and is leaving it for mother just as it is.” She cast off, a knitting term that was a kind of closure on the item being made. Casting off is also letting the ship or boat be free to go out to sea. Mother was casting off her life as she knew it, and we were with her. The destination seemed certain, but the final journey was not yet charted. That was to be revealed to all of us, along with the ethereal lessons and miracles.

Judy left the afghan draped over Mother’s shoulders as she laid in bed. I tried to keep it there as much as I could, placing it to warm her neck. It was a parting gift made with love. At the time Mom took her last breath, that pink afghan was still warming her. But then, Mother had cast off permanently. She was sailing through clear and vibrant seas, and free at last. Soon she would bring us along.

A Shift was Taking Place – for All of Us

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The next morning dawned, and Mother was still with us. We were bleary eyed from the night before. Mother was not the only one who changed that night. In ways we were yet to learn, so did we.

May, the aide who had stayed with mother and been her companion and caregiver at times when I could not, arrived and was told about the events of the night. She had a kind nurturing nature and a special gift we came to value, she was spiritually attuned and not afraid of death. Mother was comforted by just seeing her.

While we waited for the arrival of the hospice nurse, we made Mother’s room our gathering spot, drawn by the constant awareness that she may not have awakened to this dawn. Mother began counting and naming each of us in the room as if keeping a tally. “One, Deanne, two, Richie, three, Bill,” and on. Sometimes she dozed off. When she awakened, she would again begin the count. If someone was not present, she would say words like, “Judy, where did Judy go?” and we would reassure her that she had just gone to the kitchen.

Bill and Judy announced that they would change their departure day. They knew this would be their last time with Mother and recognized fully what our future would be. They understood how hard this would be and took on a new level of support. They became our rocks.

When Jean, the hospice nurse, rang the door bell, I rushed to meet her. As I had done with all the many people who had, at various times, entered our house to assist us with Mother (the aides, the nurses, the physical therapists, the social workers), I immediately thanked her for coming. Then I began almost speed talking to be sure they knew everything about mother that I could share. I was her protector and wanted to be sure they knew who she was and what I thought she needed. “My mother’s mind is good. She has some vision and hearing issues. Don’t touch her left shoulder where she has terrible pain from the shingles she had many years ago.”

But this time was different. Jean, a tall and strong women, with graying hair and a kind face, who had years of experience as a hospice nurse, stopped my monologue in mid stream. “You can tell me all about your mother, but first, how are YOU? How are you and your husband doing?” I hesitated. I was dumbstruck. Then I started to cry. It was, in my mind, the first time anyone had asked about us. Even now I cry as I write this. It never occurred to me that someone would care so much about the caregiver and all of our stress, fear and fatigue. In time I began to see Jean as some kind of angel – though angels were not something I knew much about in those days.

The relief was palpable. I think my breath slowed down and my shoulders dropped (just as I taught my yoga students). I did not need to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders anymore. There was someone else who cared and, more than that, knew how to make this work. In time, I saw that Jean had wisdom to share and advice to give that far exceeded anything I could imagine.

Finally and gratefully, we could begin to learn to let go. We were not in this alone. And when Mother met Jean, I think she knew it too. A powerful force had entered into our lives. What it was, we did not necessarily know, but we were relieved and grateful. The surrendering would now begin.

The Light. She Saw the Light.

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As I stood by mother’s bedside, talking to her and trying to reassure her, I was distraught. We brought her home and promised her that we would not send her back to the hospital and now the worst had happened. We did not yet have everything hospice would provide to help her and, from what I was witnessing, she could die at any moment. I felt helpless and wanted to cradle her in my arms for safe keeping. I kept telling her I loved her and everything would be okay. Even if she didn’t respond; I knew she would hear me on some level.

Over the years, I had many times felt that it was up to me to save mother. It was, of course, a foolish thought, but one that carried a shared agreement between us. She and I would both do our best, so we could enjoy more time, laughs and adventures together.

Now, I found myself running in and out of her room, down to the kitchen to get anything I thought might make her feel better – peppermint tea, cool water. I held her hand and talked quietly to her, I used some of my Reiki energy, moving slowly over her body and calling forth all healing. I prayed. I chanted my mantra.

In short order, Bill and Judy heard the commotion and came from their bedroom on the third floor and met up with me in the hallway. I don’t know why I hadn’t wakened them before. They would surely have helped.

“What’s going on?” they asked urgently. I told them I thought it was possible Mom was dying. It was the first time that they saw her in this state, even though it had been happening frequently in the hospital. They gathered around Mother’s bed, talking with her and trying to soothe her. Now they saw firsthand how grave the situation was. I told them I would call hospice and see if they could help.

As I spoke with hospice, I explained that mother had not yet been admitted to their system. She was scheduled for this the next day.
It never occurred to us that one day would make such a difference. We had none of the powerful drugs hospice would bring the next day. I begged them to tell me what to do. They did their best. We were all helpless. They suggested we dial 911. We all said no. We were on our own and frightened beyond measure. Mother would have to make herself live through that long night. And she did. But something happened to her that night that I did not, at the time, fully understand.

When Mother was again able to speak, she looked up at the ceiling and repeatedly pointed to something. “The light” she said, wistfully, “Look at the light.” She smiled slightly and turned to me. She thought that I could share what she saw. I could not, but I was very familiar with these words as a common statement made by those who have had near death experiences. They usually saw a light not describable in this world and one that brought enormous peace.

I believe now with certainty that, during that night, my mother parted the thin veil separating life and death, as we termed it. She had crossed into the Light of Eternal and Divine Love. Now everything would be different for all of us. Now she would be teaching and showing us, in her own way, that she had already seen where she was going.

The Veil Parts and the Vigil Begins

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As a note to you: These excerpts reflect my thinking at the time they occurred. This is because it is important to demonstrate the actual events, unscreened through a lens of greater wisdom and knowledge. Of course, I already knew that life and love are eternal, but I did not know this through the Truth within my heart. I had not yet experienced the Truth of this knowledge. That was to be my mother’s mission. As we were to learn, she took that mission very seriously so that we would “get it” in no uncertain terms.

The story goes on…

As the ambulance pulled into our circular driveway, we were all waiting on the front porch and with excitement. We were Mother’s reception committee. Besides Richard and me, my brother, Bill, and his wife, Judy joined us. They had driven from our hometown, Ann Arbor, Michigan when they learned that this may be the last chance to be with Mother.

The sun was shining brightly as the ambulance attendants opened the back door. We clustered close by as they brought mother out on the stretcher. Our family’s quirky humor brought rise to a silly comment. “Oh, you have the wrong person,” someone said, referring to Mother. The attendants looked alarmed. How would they know we made family jokes? Hahaha! Mother never heard the comment, but, if she had, she would have laughed along with us. In truth, the laughs held a measure of anxiety. As they carried mother toward the house, Mother shouted to the attendant, “Hey, my slipper is coming off”; as her foot hung over the edge. We laughed again.

Through the door of our classic colonial home and up the sweeping stairs they carried her, into the bright and cheerful room we created for her. Much of the furniture was that which our parents had purchased years ago, a dressing table and chest of drawers. Mother’s collections were on the shelves, her ceramic and varied cat collection,and photos of her with the many cats she had owned and loved. Her favorite books lined the shelves.

This was her room, made just for her. The thrill she exuded was palpable, especially as she broke out in the biggest and most sincere smile when, now lying on her bed, her petite Siamese cat leaped onto the bed to greet her. It was true love and a beautiful reunion. Even in the hospital, we had arranged to bring her dear little cat to visit. The doctor bent the rules and agreed, given Mother’s dire situation. it was one more attempt to “breathe life into her.” it helped, but it was nothing like this.

She was home, safe and sound!

We let her rest and have time with Dasher, her adored cat, as we went to the kitchen to talk and plan. it was a time of mixed feelings. Happy that she was home. Worried that her time was short.

Now that Mother was with us, Judy and I took on the nursing role. In the hospital they hadn’t bothered to sit her on a bedside commode. Instead, much to our and her objection, they painfully inserted a catheter each time. No more of this, ever again, we promised her! Between the two of us, Judy and I could move her onto the commode. Not being used to any of this, we had to figure out what to do next, spilling some of the contents on the bathroom floor. Even this we laughed about. Nervous and happy at the same time.

Mother was rallying. She was excited to be home. We prepared dinner and wheeled her into the upstairs room we had turned into a den with a large TV. No need for her to maneuver the steps. We all sat together eating on trays, talking, laughing and enjoying each other. We went to bed early that night.

By the next day, another turn of events occurred. Mother, the sweet serene person we knew also had skills at getting what she wanted. She seemed so healthy now, we began to wonder if her serious problems at the hospital were an attempt to convince us to bring her back home. She seemed so miraculously better. Our worlds had been turned upside down to welcome her back home. The four of us pondered this together and were not sure what to think.

We had scheduled a long-standing and trusted aide who cared for mother for many months, even going to the nursing home and the hospital, to come and be with her during dinner time. We had important decisions to make and decided to talk about it while out of the house. We left Mother in good hands. Our conversation had to be about final plans for Mother and we did not feel we could do this in our house.

When we arrived home from dinner, we were told that Mother refused to eat dinner and was uncharacteristically upset and angry. This was not like her, and we were not sure what was happening. I sat with her a long time as she went to sleep. As was my habit during her time with us, I got up to check on her during the night. She was in terrible shape, having trouble breathing, seemingly in pain and worse, seeming near death. There was panic in her eyes. In retrospect, I believe it was that night that she had a near death experience. I am convinced of it, given all the signs and changes that came later. She had already parted the veil, but not yet for good.

On the Road to “Home”

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It happened a few days before Mom departed her body. She laid in her bed and looked dreamily at the ceiling. “Home soon,” she said softly as if speaking to some unseen person. “Home soon,” and she smiled faintly and exuded a sense of deep calm. Sitting on the bed next to her, I mused on her comment. We had never used the term “home” for the afterlife or heaven, but she clearly saw it that way. It was she who introduced me to this idea — only one of her many parting gifts before she had free reign to teach us whenever and whatever she chose. She would soon be unrestrained by her body.

As we thought on what to share with you today, it seemed that we were getting ahead of the story, that we needed to give context to the progression of events. We would have preferred to write only of the miracles and joys that emerged later, all so full of love, but this would not give a full picture. So, it is even now with tears that we tell you of the weeks preceding Mother’s departure.

Another bout with heart failure had landed Mom in the hospital. Only a short time before, she was hospitalized and then needed to have rehab time in a nursing home. It was there that her indomitable spirit began to waver. Even though she had been through much in her life time, now, at age ninety-eight, it was the first time I saw signs of giving up. It was heartbreaking to witness.

I was with her everyday, trying my best to make her happy. I decorated her room with objects familiar to her and then placed autumn leaves and Thanksgiving, then Christmas decorations everywhere I could. We brought her home for dinner to sit by the fire and hold her precious cat. But she felt abandoned in this “home” where she lived and not of her choosing. She had grown too weak to walk and was now reliant on a wheelchair. One by one, her freedoms were disappearing. We were both desolate, especially knowing it was now next to impossible for us to care for her at home.

The dreaded recognition sunk in. Even in this highly acclaimed facility, she was not treated with dignity or given the attention she deserved. I spent much of my time asking staff questions like “Why did you plunk her in her wheelchair with everyone else in front of the TV running old black and white films? She asked you to please take her back to her room so she could read and do puzzles?” Or “Why did you leave her in her room to read and not turn on any lights when you knew she cannot reach them herself?” Or “My mother is lucid and aware. She objects and is afraid when dementia patients are allowed to roam into her room and her bathroom, open her closets and drawers and no one makes sure they leave.” We were saddened and angry that she was not being seen as herself, a person deserving proper care and attention. I was trying to fight a battle that could not be won.

Given the incompetence, it was no wonder mother landed back in the hospital.

Being in the hospital was not much better. Many days it seemed she would not live until another. I, like most caregivers, was burning out rapidly, in a mad rush to improve the situation and give my mother some peace and happiness. Finally, we made the decision to bring her home with us. We wanted her to be with us, and safe. This was the home she had grown used to. It was the only place she wanted to be. She knew we would try our best to support and cheer and help her. She would soon be back in her bedroom and with her frisky and beloved little Siamese cat.

We promised her that, no matter what happened, we would not send her back to the hospital. She was with us to stay.

I sat with her at the hospital until the ambulance came to drive her home. It was just after Christmas (the most bleak and sad Christmas of my life and probably hers as well). We had filled her room with holiday decorations and the fluffy talking toys she and I used to amuse ourselves. We begged the hospital doctor to let her come home for Christmas Day. A festive dinner was planned, the tree she had helped us decorate just weeks ago was bright with cheer, her carefully wrapped gifts were under the tree.

I had hope she had lost track of time and would not remember it was Christmas Eve, a time special to us since my childhood. I left her at the hospital and cried all the way home. My husband and I were determined to have Christmas Eve together. On one of the many calls I made to the hospital to check on her, one of the nurses told me they heard my mother playing with one of the Christmas toys. It filled the room with merry songs of Christmas. Then, I was told, Mother asked her if it was Christmas Eve. They turned her TV to a celebration of mass. Again, I cried at thinking of her alone, lying in that lonely room watching mass. She wasn’t even Catholic.

On Christmas Day, I entered the hospital through the decorated halls and the staff wearing Santa hats. I was all ready to bring her home for her few hours of celebration. But the doctor stopped me outside her room. As wheelchairs rolled passed me, with patients going out to celebrate the day, the doctor warned me. Those few hours at home would cost her dearly. Did I want to take such a chance? Sadly, I concurred. So Richard and I packed up whatever foods we had prepared that could be transported to the hospital. We tried to make merry, serving her foods she liked to eat, like pate and Brie and crackers and apples. We all tried hard to “make merry,” but Mother never even opened her presents. She was too tired.

When Richard and I returned home, we ate a bowl of cereal and went to bed. We could see that the hand writing was on the wall. This would be Mother’s last Christmas with us. We decided that we would bring her home with us. We had always felt that we could make her well and take care of her best with us. But this time, we would be bringing her home to die.

The Miracles and the Moon

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Ah, the moon! Something mysterious happened with the moon at the exact moment my mother took her last breath. I would call it a miracle. It has taken years to try to decipher what it was meant to show us. We are still pondering it. But whatever it was, it seemed that a powerful spiritual message was being sent. Was it a tribute to my mother? Was it a way to soothe us as we came to terms with the final departure? Was it a coincidence?

Both my husband and I witnessed this inexplicable happening. Unbeknownst to each other, we each did our own “quasi-scientific” experiments to test the veracity of what was happening. Days later, I was still “testing” whether it could have happened at all. And, to our surprise, several people said they looked at the full moon on that same night and immediately were drawn to thoughts about my mother and us.

I remember, as little girl, my parents taking me out into the yard to look at the moon. It was an adventure to be out in the dark, gazing at the moon, but with my mom and dad close by. At times we used a telescope to look more closely at the gleaming moon. At least once we stood to watch a lunar eclipse. We were a little family, looking and talking and telling tales of the moon. “Hey, diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle. The cow jumped over the moon.”

As years passed, I paid little attention to the moon, except for the time we Americans landed on it. Gee! It isn’t made of green cheese after all!

But then, a new relationship was born with the moon. It had to do with a guru, a spiritual teacher, who, unexpectedly, sent powerful energy to me. Some of it was conveyed through the image of the moon. At first it seemed incredible to me, but later I got to know that this was an acceptable and even welcome way to “know” things. Often the knowing came with a full moon.

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.” What a silly song. But the moon spelled a kind of love within me. So it was not surprising that something was happening when my mother, whom I loved so much, was moving ever closer to her departure.

I am not sure how I knew this. It just became clear to me that my mother would not die until the moon was full. In the three and a half weeks she clung to life, she was often chatty and lucid even as her body was turning to bones and she could barely eat. We fed her carefully crafted milk shakes, dipping the straw into the liquid and transferring it to her open mouth. She lacked even the strength to drink on her own through a straw. So we fed her, like a little bird. Sometimes she seemed to rally and I would plunge into every endeavor to bring her back to the vibrant mother I knew. It was a loosing battle. Everyone from hospice who visited our home and cared for her told me so.

Still, I would stand out in the yard and plead with the moon as if bargaining with God. Please don’t let the moon be full yet. Please give me a few more days. Then, in time, it would be one more day or one more night. Begging and pleading, I would stand in the dark, as if I had some power and could influence this outcome. How naive and desperate I was – until I was taught the final lesson — of surrendering.

For two or three nights I was mistaken and thought the moon had turned full. Even one sportscaster mentioned the team playing under the full moon, then later commented that he was wrong. No it wasn’t full yet. I was relieved.

But then the night of the full moon arrived and I could not turn it back. That was to be my mother’s last night with us in the world. I can easily feel the exact emotions I felt and how the angel-like hospice nurse guided me to give a special gift to my mother.

There will be much more to tell. Now my mother, my seeming co-author, tells me to rest.

My Mother’s Love Brings More Signs for Us to Enjoy

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Many of you have shared how comforting it is to read about all the funny and fascinating, touching and sweet ways my mother has left signs of her presence. If you know of others who would find this writing of comfort, please feel free to pass it on. The more love is shared, the better. Especially when a loved has recently departed, we are helped in feeling ever connected to those who have left their bodies. It is important to remember that, even if you have not noticed clear “signs,” it does not mean they are not happening. Most of us find it all to easy to discount the little coincidences or to fear that, in believing if they are from one who has “died,” it is a little too spooky (like a spooky ghost), to accept them.

At one point, I was “spooked” by these things, particularly because the signs were so frequent. Luckily, my husband and I were usually both witness to my mother’s messages. We could testify for each other. The fact that both of us experienced these events is not so common. More often, there is only one person receiving the attention of the departed, and usually the signs do not come in the form of hundreds and hundreds of signature pieces.

I say “signature” because the spirit world often chooses common themes or forms to communicate their presence. Some of these are butterflies, dragonflies, various types of birds and other wild life, feathers, rainbows, fragrances, certain tunes, lights flashing, water running, the moon. There are many. Over time, my mom’s special forms became clear to us, but they weren’t at the beginning.

In short order, we knew that butterflies, violets, Dvorak’s Symphony “From the New World”, and the moon were some of her favorites. But she was ever creative, almost as if she was playing a fun game with us. We had the feeling that she was grinning from ear to ear when one of her carefully grafted events were recognized. At times, we thought she was getting carried away and we would say, “Mom, we get it; We know you are here with us!”

As we continued our Memorial Day Weekend activities, Mother came up with a few new ones to entertain, not just Richard and me, but my brother and sister in law as well.

As the four of us walked through the greenhouse and garden areas, selecting plants to adorn her and my father’s gravesite. We discussed the merits of each we considered. Would they be hardy, survive without the need for watering, what combination of shapes and colors were best? Judy, with a bit of whimsy, suggested we plant some catnip. Good idea! Mother adored her many cats and maybe some cats would be attracted to visit her at the cemetery. (Not that she was still restricted to the place where her body had been placed.)

Where we live in Connecticut, there is a lot of wildlife. My mother, Richard and I grew to relish seeing the many that came onto our property. I even went so far as to name some of them. The deer were special favorites; we spent countless hours watching the drama of deer life – the does expecting their young in the spring then later bringing their fawns for an introduction, the mighty bucks regally displaying their antlers of all sizes, some with as many as 12 points. We were honored when the bucks “dropped” their antlers on our property. We saw this as a priced possession that they left for us to enjoy and a form of thanks for the corn we fed them in the deep of winter. The deer, however, could be destructive, eating plants and shrubbery. With this in mind, I asked my brother if we needed to get deer resistant plants, something we always consider for our property.

“I’ve never seen deer at the cemetery,” my brother said. So we let it go. Most of our relatives, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, in Michigan were buried there, so there had been many visits to this place.

With shovels and all the usual gardening equipment we arrived at Bethlehem Cemetery. It was the first time I had been there since the markers had been changed showing the year of Mother’s death. I steadied myself for the experience and felt again sad when I read it. To me, it had always seemed that the second date was far away when, of course, it wasn’t.

We did our work, said some words of comfort and personal feeling. I took one of my mother’s little ceramic Siamese cats she had collected and cherished for years and quietly placed it next to the head stone. I told her that it was from Dasher, the cat that was with her to the end and now was our cherished friend.

As we began to drive through the cemetery to stop at the graves of other relatives, something caught our eye. It was a large deer running among the stones. Aha! There were deer there after all or did one just drop by to bid adieu to my mother? We were surprised.

Then something else caught our eye. We were stunned to see a woodchuck roaming about with its head stuck in a large pale green can. It careened with each step. We all became concerned and longed to help it, the sight was so pathetic, but there was nothing we could do. The cemetery attendant was not present so we drove home. As we did we wondered if this was some vision mother had arranged. When she lived in Ann Arbor, she did many battles with groundhogs that made a home under her deck, then chomped away on the wood siding. She complained about them all the time. “So there,” she might have said, “I just put a can on your head. No more chewing on my deck!” But Judy and I fretted all day about that poor woodchuck and even made calls to seek help for the little creature.

A few days later, we returned to Connecticut. We were greeted by a family woodchucks waiting for us under our side porch – a mother and three little babies. We found them charming. We had never had a family reception like that before.

As I was midway in writing these words and looked out the window, right on cue and by our side porch were a mother and four little fur ball groundhogs. It was the first time they emerged, as I said, right on cue. Another signature theme, the groundhog.

Oh! Something else. Also midway through this writing and also right on cue – Dvorak’s Symphony was playing on the radio again. That makes three of the four times I have written, Mother struck up the band. You must have quite an orchestra up there in heaven.

More Memories of Memorial Day

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“I’ll be seeing you.” This refrain played over and over in my head that first Memorial Day after my mother’s passing. It seemed that it was inserted into my memory bank for a special reason. Oddly, it was also the first time I so clearly understood that my mother had the ability to place herself into events, books, and even manifest items and occurrences by her own power. Both Richard and I were mystified and not just a little bit confused by all of this. For some reason, I thought that, if someone wanted to communicate after they “died,” they sent a tidy little sign that they were okay and not to worry about them anymore. And that would be that! My mother clearly had something bigger in order.

“I’ll be Seeing You” is a popular World War II song. It is a poignant piece, and, because I like music of that era, it is a favorite of mine. It’s meaning reverberates for me still about seeing “you” in all the old familiar places, that this heart of mine embraces. I love the lyrics that end with “I’ll be looking at the moon but I’ll be seeing you.” Most of us think of this song as referring to a romantic relationship and of those separated by the necessities of war. I was surprised when they took on meaning about a different kind of separation, a separation “beyond” the world. As this story unfolds, you will grasp the meaning more fully. It is all about love and not just any trivial love, but one that is transcendent. It is about a love that feels like your heart is bursting open in joy.

In my last writing, I explained the astonishing coincidences within the book on tape Richard and I heard en route to Ann Arbor. I see now, in retrospect, that my mother was in high gear that weekend. In fact, she presented what I have called her “piece de resistance,” one of her highest achievements up to that time. It is about the violets, one of the themes we have come to see as her “go to” form of showing her presence.

Early in the spring, well before Memorial Day, I always take pleasure in planting grass seed in our lawn. It is quirky, but I am thrilled when the grass comes up and the lawn looks more beautiful. Over the years, I have hired others to do this, but I never like the results. I guess it has something to do with my lovingly putting down the seed by hand and throwing top soil all around and then waiting…

The spring after Mother’s departure, I again set out to seed the lawn, but this time there was a big surprise for me. Large portions of the lawn were radiant with purple violets. I know my lawn. Those were never there before. In wonderment, I immediately knew they must be a gift from my mother. She would know how I would remember all the years we trekked into the woods near our home, dug up violets, and transplanted them onto our property. Even as a little girl, it was an adventure we enjoyed and relished. We would ooh and aah over the different colors and varieties that we discovered, even yellow violets. I cherish this memory.

And now, as if by magic, they were blooming all over the lawn.

A few days later, Richard and I went to New York to visit out of town friends. In a hotel room where we have stayed frequently, we discovered that there was something new there too. In the entryway to the room was a lovely botanical print of a violet, hung so we couldn’t miss it. Whenever we entered the room, there it was. That picture was never there before.

Coincidence?

Then comes Memorial Weekend and we are traveling to plant the flowers at the cemetery in Michigan. Along the way, Richard and I decided to stop in Ohio to visit his ailing brother and our sister in law. We had formulated a plan that Richard would take his brother out for lunch, while I would entertain his wife at another restaurant. They were encountering some hard times with a serious illness, and we wanted to lend support.

My sister in law, Joyce, had carefully chosen a charming little quaint cafe.
We entered and were taken to our table. My eyes grew wide when I saw what was in the centerpiece of the table — it was an antique cotton handkerchief, exactly like one my mother used when I was a child. It was emblazoned with violets all over it. I was stunned. I noticed that none of the other skirted tables had handkerchiefs under the glass on them. When the waiter came to our table, I asked him about the handkerchief. He gazed at the centerpiece and seemed as amazed as I was. He said he had never seen something like this before. (Am I in the twilight zone?) Then, by some quirk of fate, he started telling me that this grandmother had just died and he had seen her image that morning. (I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone now for sure.)
Joyce and I have often marveled at the almost surreal time we had in that restaurant that day.

Richard and I continued our journey. As we rode along, I took note of the umbrella shaped May apples flowers blooming along the side of the road. I had not seen these since I left my childhood home and, you could guess it, my mother and I also transplanted those wild flowers onto our property. There also seemed to be many billboards and churches and signs about God and Jesus. One that could not be missed was a gigantic sculpture of Jesus coming out of the lake in front of the “Solid Rock” church. I felt as if all of this was more than riding along a highway through a part of the Bible Belt. I already knew that everything happens with purpose and that I learned through yoga, not through Christianity.

But there were more plans afoot. As I look back now, with far more understanding than I had then, I can imagine my mother rubbing her hands together as she gleefully plotted her next surprise. She was holding onto these and was poised to present them to include my brother and sister in law, Bill and Judy, with whom we would visit and do the ceremonial planting of the flowers for both my mother and my father.

We never knew what wonders we would behold from minute to minute. This was becoming a great adventure into the land of miracles. Anything could happen now!

On Memorial Day: I’ll Be Seeing You!

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mother portrait
Once again, we send abundant thanks to all who read and took time to write about the last post. This includes family, friends, and those who heard about the subject matter and decided to get involved by sharing personal stories. What seems to be happening is that many who have had communications from their departed loved ones or have wished to have this occur, have few places to go to share these thoughts. Most of us, including me, felt judged and sometimes even ridiculed for what I reported. So your insights mean a great deal.

Now, when I say us, I refer to my husband, who, along with me, cared for my mother, loved her deeply, and shared much with her, during and after her time in the world. Yet, as I said before, the “us” includes my mother. To say I am surprised and mystified by what I am experiencing, is understatement.

At various points, when mom was sending message after message, in quick succession and all so funny and joyous, I sought out the help of spirit communicators. I did not do this lightly. The world of mediums and psychics was not familiar or even welcome territory to me. I was wary, but more about this later…

The few friends who knew what was happening could see that I was struggling to understand and to not feel crazy or weird.  A few gave me leads to reliable sources to help. In the course of all of this, one stood out. She told me that when I started to write about my mother and be public about it, my mother would step fully into the process to help me. And she was right! My mother is very present now and has gotten even a little pushy, which was not at all her character in life. She was not controlling or bossy. but, don’t forget, she does not have to go by the sweet, gentle personality she had in the playbook of our life together on earth.

I am still trying to get used to this new concept. My mother is not who I thought she was. Not at all! She has had the singular power to pull me from my reticence to speak my Truth. That is not a small thing. She is powerful beyond measure – but then so are ALL of us, if we understood with clarity.

Now this was to be my writing about the miracle of the moon at the time of Mother’s passing. But it is not. Instead it is about the first Memorial Day after Mom departed. In fact, so many messages and signs came on that holiday weekend, I cannot fit them all into one writing. More will come next week.

I hope you enjoy this, Mom! And that my dear readers find it entertaining and illuminating.

Richard and I knew we would return to the cemetery for Memorial Day, to plant flowers at my parent’s grave. The day Mother’s body was buried, in January, was bleak, cloudy, and dreary. It was not unlike the way I felt. The flowers that would be left in tribute to Mother would soon become crisp and frozen. We filed from the church. My brother, Bill, and sister in law, Judy and Richard and I sat in the back of the limousine, traveling behind the hearse, flags flying to alert all others on the road we would not be stopping for traffic lights or stop signs. We were a part of a solemn cortege, the mourners accompanying the dead in a final funeral procession.

Arriving at Bethlehem Cemetery, once a quiet and rural setting but now surrounded by neighborhoods, a major highway nearby and just past a shopping center, we exited our vehicle with a steady gaze at the minister standing in wait, his robes and scarf ruffled by a breeze. The coffin sat under a newly erected tent with room for only a small group to gather but with little protection against the icy chill of the January winds. On top of the casket was the family farewell spray of white flowers and lilies. The flowers and the white represent everlasting life, like the symbol of Easter, the white lily.

As dismal as I felt, I had no doubt that, despite the death of the physical body, mother’s spirit was still very much alive. But we followed the rituals of my mother’s faith, and, I, the daughter, still in my own body, grieved at not being able to kiss my mother’s warm check or see her smile once again. The actual burial of the coffin would occur later that day and not in our presence, due to the weather conditions. When the pastor, whom I had known for many years, finished speaking and the service was complete, I held to the casket and cried. This time I would be leaving her, as I knew her, within a body. In her casket, she would be left behind covered and buried. No matter my spiritual beliefs, I wanted her back in my world of sights and sounds. Instead, I took some of the white roses and the white silky ribbon inscribed with “Mother” in gold letters. These would be keepsakes, something to hold onto and remember.

After all the guests left the lunch that followed the funeral, Judy, unbeknownst to us, drove back to the cemetery. My mother was buried by now. The pretty white flowers were resting on the snowy ground over her grave. Judy took more roses before they had a chance to freeze solid. She would dry them and bring some to our house for the Connecticut memorial service yet to come.

That night the temperature dropped dramatically, and the winds howled. Lying in bed, I felt desolate at thinking how cold it was in that coffin, my mother alone but for the soft toy Siamese cat we left next to her. I knew she was no longer inhabiting that body, but it was still not easy for me to grasp this concept. A part of me thought she must be cold and lonely. The separation I felt was deep and painful.

The next day, the plan was set to return to the cemetery in the spring. All of us would be together, to plant flowers at her grave for Memorial Day..

Months passed and Memorial Day would soon arrive. Richard and I set out by car to return to Ann Arbor, carrying with us some of Mother’s remembrances to share with the family.  We decided that, to pass the time in driving, we would listen to an audio book en route. This had become a tradition during the journey from Ridgefield, Connecticut, through New York, clear across the breadth of Pennsylvania on Route 80, into Ohio and up to Ann Arbor. We had made this trip numerous times after September 11 when my mother grew afraid to fly and the restrictions made it hard for us to be at the airport gate and for her to travel with her Siamese cat under the seat in the passenger compartment. So our only option was to drive back and forth if she was to continue visiting us for several months a year.

On these trips, we felt we needed to entertain Mom and ourselves, so I searched through books on tape at our local library.  Knowing that both my mother and Richard like to read mysteries, I found what seemed to be the perfect choice. It was a series of mysteries written by Lillian Jackson Braun. The story line included a quirky writer who had two Siamese cats, one purported to a a messenger of psychic clues. This was just the ticket – both my mother and her Siamese cat would love these stories

Excited to share what we expected to be all of us attentively listening and marveling as the mystery unfolded, we set off for that first trip, with mother and her cat, Dasher, in the back seat of the car. Within minutes when the reader began the tale, Richard and I would be listening intently. In the back seat, Mother and Dasher would immediately doze off. That was how it went for years. We got hooked on the cat stories. The motion of the car lulled mom into sleep and her increasing hearing problems made it impossible for her to enjoy those funny little tales.

So, for old times sake and because,(oh, yes, I did say we got hooked), I picked up at the library the only book we had not heard through the years. As the story emerged, Richard and I began to smile as one coincidental item or event in the book after another startled us. It sometimes seemed that my mother had chosen the storyline. We kept looking at one another, in wonder of the many “pieces” that had something to do with us or with my mother.

These are the primary “coincidences”in the storyline:. The mystery had something to do with a lost handwritten cookbook – didn’t my mother meticulously write out all her Christmas cookie recipes in little books and give them as treasured gifts to family and friends? We all talked about them, especially as mom aged and her beautiful handwriting grew more unsteady. Then, in passing, there was something about an old German Bible. Didn’t I still own the German Bible with all the exquisite artwork that had passed down from my mother’s family? There was mention several times of Columbus, Ohio (where Richard was born) and something about a TV Talk Show that had millions of viewers (hadn’t Richard executive produced the Phil Donahue Show for 18 years? It was seen by millions. And didn’t Richard and I write a book called The Talk Show Book?). Oh, then Poor Richard’s Almanac was cited. There were elaborate descriptions of cheeses that were to be served at a party. One of mom’s favorite lunches was when I made up a cheese and fruit plate for her. On a special occasion in the plot, we learn about a highland clad bagpiper, piping “Amazing Grace,’ a favorite of ours and mother’s and played by the bagpiper at the conclusion of our private Memorial Service in our home.

As we road along the highway, I began taking notes on the various portions of the book on tape that seemed to mean something to Mother and to us. I knew I would not be able to remember all of this. Now we fast forward to the present and Mother’s urging me to tell you about that book. I felt I needed to be sure I was accurate in the details. I googled and searched to find the right book. Finally I discovered the similar plot in Braun’s book, The Cat Who Said Cheese. Without enough time to order a hard copy of the book, Richard ordered it on Kindle, a device he uses but I do not. He volunteered to scan it and look for the parts I gave him in my handwritten notes. One by one, with almost as much disbelief that we felt on the first reading, they emerged. All of them, except for one.

My note said something about frogs. Frogs? I could not remember but had jotted down something about life and death. What was that? Then, in the last chapter of the book, Richard found it. The main character of the book, Qwill, had the habit of reading to his two Siamese cats. This time he was reading The Frogs, a play by Aristophanes, one of the luminaries of Greek literature. This playwright, whom I just happened to have studied in my theater classes in college, was known to bring feelings of both laughter and sadness, all at once. The quotes in the book are “Who knows if death be life and life be death?” and “Who knows whether living is dying and breathing is eating and sleeping is a wool blanket?” These are the kind of expressions that emanate from so much of my teaching of yoga, and I love both the wisdom and the silliness of Aristophanes.. Was Mother showing how her jokes and humor were reflections on what we perceive to be death? Whatever the meaning, Richard and I were touched deeply, both the first time we heard them in the car and again, yesterday.

To put a cap on the completion of this writing, I walked back into the kitchen. And, guess what? There was Dvorak’s Symphony “From the New World.” Could they be playing it so often on the radio and just at the right moments? As I heard the final chords of this magnificent piece, the announcer said,” You have just heard the NBC Orchestra, led by Arturo Toscanini. Well, you outdid yourself, Mom. It could have been any orchestra or conductor, but it was Toscanini, whom my husband met in his youth. It was Toscanini who heard Richard’s boy soprano voice singing, and who invited the twelve year old Richard to attend his farewell party in New York City before the maestro left to summer on his island in Italy. Richard still has the autographed personal photo Toscanini chose to sign to him.

Now, I ask you, could all of this have happened just by chance? No wonder Mother wanted me to tell you about our first Memorial Day. My mother is quite the maestro herself, I would say!