Finding New Ways to Celebrate

Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday. If she were still alive, she would be 64. She died almost seven years ago from pancreatic cancer and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and wonder how my life would be different if she was still here.

In the past, I used her birthday as an excuse to drink. Since she wasn’t around to celebrate, I figured I’d celebrate for both of us, which meant drinking more than I would normally drink. Now, I realize that I drank because I missed her and I wanted (or needed) to numb the sadness I felt in not having her with me. Instead of focusing on the beautiful life she led before leaving us, I focused on the grief of not having her with us.

Today, was the first time I have woken up on her birthday feeling peaceful and joyful. I still miss her horribly; more than I could ever convey through words. The pain runs deep and I know there will always be a piece of me missing. However, today I choose to focus on her beautiful life and celebrate it without drinking. I will be completely and totally present and focus on those things which she loved.

As I look out the window, I see the tulips beginning to show themselves and the daffodils beginning to bloom. Besides her family and animals, her greatest love was being in her garden. She loved this time of year; a new beginning as new life slowly appeared after a long, grey winter.

Earlier this morning, I sat down at my sewing machine and worked on my son’s new valances as I sipped my coffee and listened to one of her old records. She was an amazing seamstress; I only realize now just how good she was. My stitches are uneven and often messy. Her work was neat and precise, something that only comes with time and practice. I picture her smiling (and perhaps laughing) at my attempts, knowing in time I will figure it out.

This afternoon, I will take my son and daughter to frozen yogurt to celebrate Grammy Rickie’s birthday. It is important for me that they know that just because someone is gone, doesn’t mean we stop celebrating their life. In talking about her and celebrating her, I hope I can always honor her life and memory.

She wasn’t perfect. She had her demons as we all do. Her life was challenging at times; sometimes more than she thought she could handle. But, she did and she did it with grace, dignity and bravery.

Although, I lost her way too soon, I am so grateful I had her for the time I did. Would I change things if I could? Perhaps. But, I know that God needed her more than I did. Her strength and bravery continue to guide me on this journey through life.

And, when the time comes, and I see her again I will laugh with her about my messy and uneven seams.

Happy birthday, Mom!

Feeling the Music

Record Player

For Christmas, my husband got me a record player. Yes, you heard me right, a record player. Well, I actually ordered it, wrapped it and put it under the tree, but in any case, it was a gift from my husband. Why in the world would I want a record player? See, when my mom died over six years ago, I inherited all of her records in addition to all of my grandparent’s records. Besides smelling a bit musty, they were in pretty good condition. So, I hauled them home and put them in a basket in the office. And, there they sat for some time. Once in a while I would go through them, remembering all the hours I spent playing around on my grandparent’s turn table, fascinated by the whole process of needle to record and then music – amazing!

I grew up with music. My mom’s cousin worked for Merle Haggard for many years so I remember a lot of classic country at my grandparent’s house, which made sense with my grandma being from Texas and all! My dad introduced me to classic rock from an early age. In fact, the very first song I remember singing was that Police song that goes “little black spot on the sun today” or something like that. My mom was really into folk country/rock and introduced me to the greats like Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris and Nanci Griffith. To this day, my favorite artists aren’t those of my generation but those who I grew up with and was exposed to at an early age.

When I came across a great deal on a new Crosley player on Zulily, I knew I had to have it. Being the great guy that he is, my husband even surprised me with a few new records to go along with it – Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Van Morrison (you see what I’m talking about?!).  Now, when I’m in my office sewing, working on the computer or crafting I can play one of my records and instantly be transported back to my grandparent’s living room or a sunny day at the house I grew up in with the stereo blasting and six-year-old me dancing in circles singing along – not a care in the world.

Music is a connection to our past. It’s often what keeps the memories alive when everything else is gone. I’m still grieving over my mom’s death, but listening to her Beach Boys record or an Emmylou Harris song she loved lets me feel close to her, connected to her.

In the new year, I’m going to try to sit back, relax more and feel the music. I encourage you to do the same!