Growing old…appreciating life…damning life

Okay, I have to be honest; I don’t know if this writing is more about the thoughts running through my head or the wine running through my veins, but I feel compelled to write, to share, to cry, to vent or share whatever comes out of these fingers.

I am alone. I am not lonely. My family has just left a day before me for a Thanksgiving holiday. I will greet them tomorrow, after taking care of some household necessities, meeting up with our house sitter, getting our ailing dog to the vet and making sure that our dog staying home has all she needs.

I am sad. I have come to the realization that our nine and a half-year old dog is dying. We have had all the tests, had him hospitalized with the vet to try to figure out what is wrong. He is not making platelets or his body is destroying the platelets that are being made. Anyway you look at it, he is dying and I am sad. I look at him not being able to walk up the stairs in our home and I am sad. I watch him as he cannot eat his favorite snack and I am sad. While I know he is not my child, my tears are real and my pain is true.

I have read in the newspaper two things that truly disturb me; 1) Legalizing marijuana because enforcing the laws as an illegal substance is overcrowding our prisons and 2) not allowing nativities in a community.

If you have read my blog before, you know I am a Christian woman. I do not understand that a country that is more than 50% Christian can say it is illegal to celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. And it is not just that we should be allowed to celebrate Christmas and Easter as Christian holidays, I believe that acknowledging other faiths is okay if it means that we, as Christians, can be open about our faith. Having a Menorah does not lessen my faith as a Christian. Why do we have to be denied our faith? We should not have to sacrifice our faith just as those who are Jewish, should not have to sacrifice their faith. Why can’t we work, as a country, to be open to all, even Christians!

It seems that people have decided that it is easier to lower out morals than to enforce the laws we have or guide our children to lower their standards. Many may say that I am a strict parent and expect too much of my children. I will tell you, that until the day I die, I will always say that you should wait to have sex until you are married and that living together is the easy way out.

If we teach our children about commitment in a marriage and that it is not something you throw away because there are problems, we teach them to think before they act, to be sure that the decisions that they make are for the long-term. If I would have walked away from my marriage every time there was a problem, I would have been divorced by now. I love my husband, very dearly, and I would not want to be with any other man, but we have had our conflicts. That is natural. I cannot think that there are any two people who think exactly alike. That is what makes life interesting. And I am not an ultra conservative Christian, so while you might look at the above rantings as that of an ultra conservative, think again. I believe that we should teach our society to be committed and look towards the future in all: work, relationships, living and not just believe that we can just move on to the next thing when we tire of what we do or have.

BUT I think that we need to be respectful, more controlling of our thoughts and actions and realize that we should not be a society of instant gratification. What is wrong with waiting until you are a responsible adult to have sex? What is wrong with having drugs be illegal? Why is it wrong to error on the side of modesty than flamboyance?

I just don’t get it. I just have to wonder if our world is just falling apart.  As I have told friends, “It is hard to close Pandora’s box. How do we get back to a world of responsibility, of modesty, of deference, when it has all been done and accepted as normal?”

I fear for my children. I hope that in their upbringing to appreciate nice things, hard work, respect and modesty, that they are not swallowed up by the world. I hope that they can survive, be a positive influence, be a beacon of their faith and give hope to the world, that it can be a loving world.

It is funny. While I think these things, they have come to the surface because of the mortality of a dog. My thought to say, ‘just a dog’ for emphasis enters my mind, but he is so much more than ‘just a dog’. Copper, is a true dog, someone who is loyal, loving and faithful. I wish that I could be like a dog. I wish that I could be always loyal, loving and faithful. As a human, I cannot be that perfect. Oh to be a dog, for that perfection.

I don’t know if Copper is going to die in three days, three months or three years, but I know that he is better at being a dog than I am at being a person. And that makes me sad, lonely and oh so wanting to be more like a dog. Maybe that is why dog and GOD use the same letters…so close to perfection.

I will let this sit for the night. In reviewing, I believe all I wrote, and even in the light of day, wine or not, I am sure I will stand by these words. God bless my dog, for his is perfection!

(I have re-read, and stand by my words.)

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Being Thankful…Always

Many think about being thankful at Thanksgiving time. I try to be thankful everyday because that is what my faith says. Whether things happen that are good or bad, I need to find something to be thankful. I learned that, many years ago, when we had an unemployed household. And I continue to learn daily.

I quit working, for pay, when our family moved to Spain. When we moved home, it was decided that I would continue to not work for pay so I could manage the home, the children, our lives, as Kent would continue to travel in the United States for his work.

Well…that was the thing, there needed to be employment. That did not happen for nine months. We were faced with financial and social strains that we could never have imagined.

All of the friends that we had in Spain were no longer available in our life. There were no more business lunches or dinners or drinks. And things had changed at home as well.

Kent would go to his office, in our home, every day but there was no connection to others. I would take our son to the bus for Kindergarten and take our daughter to pre-school and we would go to church on Wednesday and Sunday, but things were different. There was a disconnection with our life.

Life moved forward without us in the United States. The friends with whom we had socialized had met new friends and it was hard to fit us into their busy schedule. We had our son at school in one town, our daughter in pre-school in another town and our church was in a different town. It was a mess and it was getting difficult to act as if everything was okay in our home. There was a lot of stress and arguments. How could we pay our bills? How did we get to be so distant from our friends? How are we going to survive?

There did not seem to be much to be thankful. I felt my life was falling apart. But I had to find something. So I began thinking: ‘We may not have a job, but we have money to pay for insurance; if someone becomes ill we can still go to the doctor. We still have a roof over our heard. We still have food to eat. The adults may not be getting along, but we still need to be thankful that our children are happy.’ No matter what our ailments, place in life, our financial status, I can be thankful that I wake up in the morning.

In my life as a Christian, I do not always do what is proper. I don’t always pray as I should. But, I think, always give credit to The One who sees to my needs. While things were not easy for those nine months, we survived and grew stronger. It was because of my faith that I muddled through and learned and became a better person.

I P.R.A.Y.

When I have a conversation with God, I Praise first. I thank God for all of the things that he has given me. Sometimes what I am given is not what I want but it is what I need. It is through our trials and tribulations that we grow in our faith. If things were always hunky-dory, we could not grow as a person; we would become spoiled brats, always getting our way.

Next I Repent. I ask God to forgive me for falling short of His expectations. And I fall short every day.

Thirdly, I Ask. I don’t ask for things because that is not what we need. I ask for guidance and inspiration and His patience, while I try to figure it all out.

And lastly, I Yield. To me that means that I give myself to Him to use my life as He sees fit. Does that mean that I become a Job-type character and I am inflicted with sores and poverty? Or am I blessed to no end and can take my blessings to help others? I don’t know. On any given day, I think that I could be used as either. But however I am used, I remain thankful, thankful for my loving, imperfect family and my blessed and imperfect life.

Now, after nine months of unemployment, my husband did find a job. We have not had that sort of turmoil in our home since. It was a great learning experience and through our trials, we grew as a family. I do not have all of those lessons down pat; I still make huge mistakes in my life. But I know that I can survive. When it does not seem that I can, I P.R.A.Y.

Happy Thanksgiving, every day!

Poor man’s coffee connoisseur

I love coffee! I love good coffee! But I cannot afford Starbucks’ or Scooter’s or Jidders’ Coffee House coffee for two reasons: 1) I live out-of-town and do not go into town every day and 2) while Jidders, a local coffee establishment, has reasonably priced coffee, it would still cost me over $35.00 a week, with tip and that over 52 weeks totals $1800+.  I know that I can think of more ways to spend $1800.00 than in someone else making me coffee.

SO….I needed to find a way to create that same coffee, whenever I wanted it, at a reasonable price. Having lived in Spain made the first step to my solution simple. When living in Spain our family adopted the philosophy that we needed to become Spanish and live as the Spanish. While I had purchased an auto-drip coffee maker, I decided that since the Spanish thought American coffee as ‘dirty water’, I needed to invest in a more proper coffee maker.

I purchased a stove top espresso maker. In Spain it is just called a coffee maker because they do not categorize their coffee as espresso; you can purchase cafe’con leche, cortado, cafe’ solo or carajillo (coffee with milk,  coffee with less milk, coffee with no milk and coffee with brandy). In Spain all coffee is based on what we would call espresso. My 24 oz. coffee mug is unheard of and the largest cup would be 8 oz.

When we moved home I wanted to continue on with my Spanish coffee style. The stove top coffee maker moved home with us and my auto-drip coffee maker was relegated into storage.

For years, I would make my coffee, add milk and sugar but still head to the coffee shops for my latte’ fix. Now I had owned an espresso/frother machine in the past but I really liked the stove top method and decided against purchasing a new espresso machine. But I needed a solution to my coffee predicament.

As I was walking through a Target Store one day, I saw a hand frother and new that I was on my way to becoming independent. I purchased the frother and then got about to testing  the heating of milk to the proper temperature in my microwave. I determined that 2 minutes gave me the proper heat and frothing ability. I did discover that freshly opened milk froths better than milk that has been opened for a couple of days.

I was disappointed this week when I was reading a magazine and there was a quote about swapping out those unwanted, useless gadgets, ‘like the frother you received from Uncle Fred‘! I love my frother and would not exchange it for the world. It saves me money and helps start my day right.

The last step was to find syrups that were sugar-free and reasonably priced. I went to the internet and searched and searched and searched and found  http://www.lollicupstore.com. This website has a great variety of sugar-free syrups and when you add in the shipping,  it might average out to $8.00 per bottle of syrup (a guess). The bottles range from $4.50-4.85 a bottle. Shipping is expensive, but worth it because of the variety and it is delivered UPS to your door. I usually stock up once or twice a year and order 12-15 bottles at a time. It is definitely less expensive than $1800.00 a year and the sugar-free varieties are greater in my home coffee shoppe than any coffee shoppe I have ever visited.

I am not a coffee expert but I like good coffee and a great latte’. People who know me, know that I carry my Mickey Mouse Mug where ever I am in the morning. I have approximately 13 oz. of coffee and 8 oz. of frothed milk. My variety ranges from ‘Almond Joy‘ to ‘Bing’ candy bar to caramel pumpkin to Peach Melba.

My new discovery is added syrup to the milk prior to frothing. I add sugar-free vanilla syrup. It adds another layer of complexity to the coffee and it reminds me of homemade vanilla ice cream as I sip through the froth to get to the coffee.

While this system may not be for everyone, if you like a good coffee but don’t like the expense, I would invest in my system and enjoy what you like, when you want it and not worry about needing to get out of your automobile or sitting in a drive-thru.

It definitely works for me and it makes me, not a poor man’s coffee connoisseur but an economical alternative to the expensive coffee shoppes.

ENJOY! Today was Caramel Pumpkin Latte’ with Vanilla Bean Froth. I am getting ready to make my second up.

Cooking to Clear My Head

My head is just spinning from everything that happened last week. I look at my poor boy (see previous post) and the matted hair on his legs that are tinged red because of the blood. I look at his nose that is clotted with blood and I just feel nothing but pain. The vet told me today that clotting is good so I just keep his nose clear enough to breathe. No big test results back yet; hopefully they will know something tomorrow.

I spoke with my friend who is a nurse and she explained what could be causing his low platelets. While his eating has slowed down (probably from the yucky blood taste in his mouth), his tail still wags and he looks bright in his eyes.

BUT….on to my day.

To get my mind off of things, I decided I needed to clean up my frig and freezer. And what I mean by that is, I needed to get those old bananas baked up; I needed to use the pumpkin that I baked earlier this month; I needed to make something with the fresh corn that I froze. It was going to be a baking/creating day.

I used a base quick bread recipe and then added my mix-ins. The base recipe is as follows:

  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. oil
  • 4 eggs

Mix the flour, salt, baking soda, and any spices; set aside.

Combine the sugar and oil; mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Slowly add the dry ingredients.  Beat for 2 minutes.

Depending on the type of bread you are making, will determine when you add your mix-ins. If you add pumpkin or bananas, add to the wet ingredients before adding your flour mixture. If adding chocolate chips, raisins (dried cranberries, dried cherries, etc…) or nuts, add after the flour mixture.

Your main add-ins should equal 2 cups: 2 cups bananas (6 medium), 2 cups pumpkin, 2 cups, applesauce, or any combination there of. You can then add nuts, chocolate chips, raisins. Your spices should equal 2 teaspoons. (For the pumpkin muffins: add pumpkin pie spice, bananas: cinnamon and ginger) (And yes, I know that I do not have the popular KitchenAid Mixer but this was a Wedding Gift from my grandparents [previous post], so I cherish it)

This recipe made enough to be put in 3 – 10″ greased loaf pans. Bake for 50 minutes @ 325 degrees. I have a convection oven so you may have to adjust your baking times.

This recipe is not a sticky topped bread. The top has a nice crust on it which is what I prefer.

I was a busy girl; I made 10 large loaves and 11 small loaves of bread. My types were: Pumpkin, Banana, Banana Nut, Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip (I used the peanut butter as the oil and then added a little oil to get the correct consistency), Chocolate Chip – Dried Cherry(I adjusted this recipe and added milk to make the batter more moist since there were no moist additions. With this recipe, grease and flour the loaf pans).

                                                                                        I also made a 10 X 15 pan of Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting and a Chicken Corn Chowder.

I wish I would have done a better job with remembering the recipe for the Chicken Corn Chowder. I know I used 2.5 large chicken breasts that I cooked in water. In the same water I added fresh frozen corn (probably about 3 cups) and then added 5 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed. The spices I used were salt, pepper, coriander, dried mustard, minced onion and ground thyme. When the potatoes were cooked, I added 2 T. of butter and milk (1 or 2 cups). The only thing I would have done different is frying the potato cubes in oil so they would have stayed firmer. It was very good, don’t get me wrong but next time, I will get a crisp layer on the potatoes before putting them in the soup.

This all day cooking did help my mood. And while I know it meant nothing to Copper, since he was isolated at the time of my cooking, he does have a bounce in his step that he hasn’t had for a few days. I heard him bark today which hasn’t happened for a while.

My head is definitely getting cleared and my family has a lot of home cooked food to bring them comfort. I hope that this is all good karma and news will come tomorrow from the laboratories. If not, I still have 2 cups of pumpkin and probably 3 cups of bananas that I can create some more …maybe a black bean pumpkin soup or a Cuban black bean banana something; my choices are endless. I hope that I can create out of love instead of stress on my next baking/cooking day.

I will keep you updated.

(View from my kitchen window)

For the love of a Dog

For anyone who is a pet owner/lover, there are many things that you would do for your pet. But what happens when something needs tobe done but you don’t know what it is? There are many people; I can be counted as one of them that says many times, “Wow, wouldn’t it be nice to live a dog‘s life.” That is kind of like saying something about the grass being greener on the other side of the fence.

What we fail to think about sometimes are the downfalls to the dog’s life. We don’t realize the hard work, maybe chemicals that have gone into that greener lawn.

I have wondered about those things this week as I sit and watch my eldest dog suffering. Is he suffering? I don’t really know because he cannot tell me. Does he hurt, is he sad, does he know we love him? All of these questions run through my head as I watch him. If I were a guessing woman I would say, no he does not hurt, but it is irritating; he is sad and he knows we love him.

The frustrating thing is the vet says he has never seen anything like it before. Last Sunday, my daughter says to me, “Mom, I think Copper is bleeding.” I looked at his face and there was a brown spot on the side of his mouth. I took an old towel and gently wiped the area and saw the towel turn red. Yep, he had been bleeding. As I was cleaning, the area seemed hard so i wasn’t quite sure what to do so I did not look inside his mouth. I just thought that he got snagged on something which caused the bleeding.

A little background: Copper is 9 1/2 years old. He is a Lakeland Terrier, a smaller version of an Airedale Terrier. He is from Virginia and not a well-known breed in this area. He is an indoor/outdoor dog and is spoiled rotten. He does not run around loose and is very protective of his home.

He did nip a boy’s finger once when this boy was teasing Copper and the boy stuck his finger through our chain link fence. I don’t know if Copper really bit the boy intentionally or if Copper was barking at him and happened to close his mouth in a bark with the boy’s finger close. May it be noted that this boy constantly poked at Copper with sticks through the fence and would yell at him. Like I wrote, Copper was very protective of his home. Copper seems to know when the “bad boys” are walking near our fence because he will bark; he does not bark at good kids!

I haven’t heard Copper bark for days. He just does not have the energy. By Monday, he seemed ok and we decided to lay low on calling the vet. If he had injured himself, it would heal. That all changed on Tuesday.

Tuesday morning, I noticed blood coming out of Coppers right nostril, the same side where there was the blood spot near his mouth. It was time to go to the vet. The vet looked at Copper and had this concerned look. He looked up his nose and then looked into his mouth. The concern on his face grew. He said that he had never seen anything like this in a dog and asked if there was a chance that Copper chewed on electrical cord. I told him, “Absolutely not!”

Apparently, I should have looked inside his mouth; I should have been more diligent in my looking him over. The vet said that his mouth looked all cut up and bleeding. He asked if he could have gotten into rat poison; another answer of NO. A swab of his mouth and nose were taken; we received and antibiotic to treat for a viral infection, just in case and were sent on our way. I asked if I should be feeding him soft dog food and was told yes. Oh and I was told to isolate him from our 3-year-old Lakeland, Tinkerbelle.

Got home to a phone call from the vet telling is that he had contacted the lab 60 miles away and was told they needed blood work from Copper. The nurse first told us to come in at 2:00, Wednesday and then corrected herself and told us to come by at 5:30. I guess they realized they did not to expose any of their other patients if Copper was contagious.

I woke up Wednesday morning to see that his other nostril had started bleeding and I immediately called the vet. I was beside myself. I had no idea what was wrong with him and there was nothing I could do to help. He went back to the vet and tests sent out.

As of Friday here is what we know: he is not in renal failure, a couple of tests done in Nebraska are leaning towards possible rat poison based on certain levels in his blood. Because of that, he was given a Vitamin K shot and Vitamin K pills. Plus it seemed that his bleeding was lessening.

By Saturday and continuing into today, the bleeding is back, he is lethargic and to get him to eat, I have to hold his bowl in such a way that he does not have to bend his head. While Friday his tail was wagging, that all stopped on Saturday.

I know that you do not need these details. I know that Copper means nothing to you. But he means the world to me and I know that there are many out there that have an ill pet or a pet that they have lost. It means something to you to remember that loved pet.

I hope by Monday that we have more answers and that we can work on a cure. Or if there is no cure, at least we will have some answers.

I think of Tinkerbelle who has no idea what is going on. She just knows that her buddy is not around to pester her, or she him.She might be worried if she is going to disappear. She wants much more loving than usual.

No matter how much we want to believe that a dog is just a dog or a cat is just a cat, when it comes down to it, I would do anything for my dog; I have bathed his bloody front legs that he uses to wipe his nose. I make burger and rice for him because he quit eating the soft dog food that we bought for him to ease the irritation in his mouth. I cleaned his bottom because his intestines didn’t like switching from hard to soft food (another reason for adding rice to his diet). I have cried more tears than I thought possible. And through all this, Copper still looks at me with love, even through those sad eyes, I can see the love.

I pray that there is a cure and I pray that he can get back to the same old Copper that we all know and love. But more than anything, I want him to not be in pain. Maybe the answer will come soon, for that I pray.

It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas! A memory of Grandma Thom.

I am not a young thaang! (Sorry about the bad slang) but conversely, I am not as old as dirt. While my children are teenagers, when my grandma was my age, she had four grandchildren ages 6, 4, 3 and 1 (I am the one year old). We would be the only grandchildren she would have; as my mom’s only sibling never married. Since there were only four of us and we lived six blocks from them (six blocks is about 1/2 mile), we saw my grandparents a lot.

I loved my grandma probably more than any other relative I had/have. She made me laugh, cry, think, but mostly grow as a person. I think of her almost every day. And I definitely miss her. Even as I write this my eyes fill with tears and I think of the empty spot in my life. I know that she watches over me and sees what I have done in my life, but my children never met her. They never got to eat her Christmas cookies or learn how to separate an egg or just sit with her and share stories. You see, she has been gone 20 years this December 26th.

I have to tell you that the tears are really flowing now and I don’t know why. I thought I was finished grieving. It has been three Christmases since last I cried while singing “Silent Night” at our  Christmas Eve service. Maybe because I have never written about her; never put my grief to paper that the tears are flowing.

I have written about traditions and many of those traditions came from Grandma (and Grandpa) Thom (Thompson). Our Christmas tree went up on Christmas Eve because when my mom was growing up, the tree went up on Christmas Eve and Santa Clause decorated it. (We didn’t leave the decorating to Santa, we did that on our own). When I was older, I found out that the tree going up on Christmas Eve was all about the 12 days of Christmas because it always came down on Epiphany (Day 12).

On Christmas Day, we always had dinner at Grandma and Grandpa’s. We would have the same meal: bone-in ham, creamy mashed potatoes, fluffy Jello salad, homemade Christmas Pudding (Plum pudding) and mincemeat tarts with Hard Sauce. And as my Grandma was a tried and true Methodist *, the Christmas Pudding and Hard Sauce were not made with alcohol.  Our evening meal was ham sandwiches, Ruffles Chips, cheese always homemade cookies with English Tea (English tea is made with milk and sugar).  So many memories… (* She told me, at the end of her life, that the reason she did not drink wine was that she was worried she would like it too much!)

Grandma taught me how to iron. I will never forget the low ceilinged, dark basement where she ironed. She would sit with the ironing board at a low position, the green 7-Up bottle filled with water and the sprinkler attachment on the end to sprinkle the item to be ironed. She would have the old vacuum-tubed television on, with its Rabbit Ears, watching “A Secret Storm”. We would talk about the characters on the television, or what was happening at school or any crazy thing that entered our minds.

She started me on my grandpa’s handkerchiefs. When I mastered those, I graduated up to trousers and then dress shirts. To this day, I love to iron. I always start with handkerchiefs, then I move my way to dress shirts. Do I iron that way because that is the order I learned? I don’t know but it is always how I iron. My husband likes the fact that I don’t grumble about ironing, because he does like his things nicely pressed. (And please no grumbling about my domesticity. I do these things with a smile on my face. Anyone who knows me knows that I am my own woman and not a domestic slave. I learned those things from my mom and grandma. I can “bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan…” {Enjoli commercial from the 70’/80’s})

Grandma Thom was a fabulous cook. She was an artist at Christmas. Her baking began in August because she had so much to do that she had to begin that early to get it all done. She was famous for her “Christmas Cards”. These were Santa Cookies that she made for over 30 years, some years making 750 cookies to share as the Thompson Christmas Card. There were always enough for each of the grandchildren to give to their school classmates and friends outside of school. We would place our order and she would package them up to make sure we were taken care of first. Our family was known for our Santa Cookies and, even now, those cookies are remembered.

As well as taking the time to make the coconut bearded, raisin-eyed, royal icing covered cookies, she made peanut brittle, pecan brittle, divinity, 3 kinds of chip cookies, many old English favorites, popcorn balls and probably 30 other treats. She was amazing and such an inspiration. My grandpa made a Christmas Tree that would hold some of her scrumptuous gifts from the kitchen, all made with love. We looked forward to that tree appearing and were always sad when it had to be put away.  You can see that she used Spode Christmas Chinain the photo and the tree was always a short needled fir.

In January of 1992, my grandma went into exploratory surgery. I was at the hospital when the word came out that she had ovarian cancer and that it had metastasized to other parts. We were all devastated. There were many tears, but we all forged on and did the best we could for her.

As time went on, she found that the Chemo did not work and it made her feel awful and not herself. We all tried to spend as much time together as we could. In late November/early December, my sister and I went to Grandma’s home to bake. We wanted her to have those same Christmas-time smells. She was unable to be in the kitchen; she was too weak. Individually, we would go to the Living Room and spend time alone with Grandma. My sister and I both told her that she was so important to us but she needed to take care of herself and that it was not selfish to let go and be where she could be healed, where she could be whole again.

You see, she was a very faithful woman and we knew that her dying was not the end for her. She had stopped being that happy, always there for a smile and a laugh, lady. And she was a lady. She never wore pants in public, never swore or said a bad word about anyone. If she could find someone to drive her to her destination, she would. She really did not like to drive. I knew that she did not like everyone, but never a cross word left her mouth. She was the epitome of grace. She is who I want to be when my children marry and become parents.

She went into the hospital in December. I was going to my in-laws for Christmas so on Christmas Eve, I went to visit her in the hospital, as I would not able to be there on Christmas. By then, she was semi-comatose. I sat with her and talked to her and did the best I could to hold it together.

I remember her saying, “Mmmmm, good apple pie,” as I sat with her. Even at the end of her life, she was still thinking about food. She was having good thoughts, comforting thoughts. It was very hard for me, but I had to leave. I told her I loved her and walked out of her hospital room.

The doctor was there as I left, tears beginning to fill my eyes. He told me that tests showed that her kidneys were shutting down and she had very little time left. He knew I was going out-of-town and this was his way of telling me that would probably be the last time I saw her. I made it to my car and totally lost it. The tears flowed; it was that ‘I can’t catch my breath’ kind of crying. I had to sit in that cold hospital parking lot, feeling alone and so sad, until I could gain enough composure to drive to work.

I drove the mile to work and when my boss looked at me, she sent me home because she knew that I was in no position to be at work. She also knew my family, well, and knew that this was a devastating loss. This was the first time our family had had a matriarchal loss in a long time. All of the other generational losses had been at such a young age that the “matriarch” position had not been established, or so late that someone else had stepped in.

My husband and I left for Christmas, knowing that it would be hard. We survived Christmas Day but decided to leave earlier to get back home, just in case we could make it back before Grandma dies. We left on December 26th and drove to Kent’s grandmother’s home to spend the night. Almost as soon as we walked into Rubye’s home, the phone rang. She answered the phone and said the call was for me. My heart sunk. I took the phone, trying to prepare for what was going to be said. It was my dad. He had to be the bearer of bad news probably because my mom was inconsolable.

It didn’t take long for all of us to realize that my grandma was in control until the end. Christmas was her holiday. She prepared for this holiday for months. No other Christian holiday received as much time, joy and love as Christmas. While she could not control how her cancer progressed, she controlled how it would end. She was not going to die before Christmas, as we would be thinking of how sad we were instead of the anticipation of Christ’s birth. She definitely was not going to die on Christmas Day. She held on until the day after.

While I still mourn her, it was because of her death that I am who I am today. She never met my children. In 1992, I was told by my Ob/Gyn, that I would probably never have any children. Because of that, she and I had great conversations about her struggles. She would say that she could get pregnant, but being pregnant almost killed her. After my mom was born, she was told never to have another child. She went against the doctor’s orders and had my uncle. She did stop after that. I don’t think I ever would have known that if she wouldn’t have known her time on this Earth was coming to an end.

I still love her and this writing has been very cathartic for me. Today, many tears have flown and many memories, good and sad, have been shared. I thank you for letting me share this with you and I hope that it has helped you remember someone who has had a lasting impact on your life who is no longer with you on this Earth.

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas and it has nothing to do with the decorations at Target or the advertisements that are beginning to air. It has a lot to do with memories of Grandma Thom.

Written in loving memory of Jessie V. Thompson  (photo of the Thompson family)