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My mother died three years ago today. Today was also the day I first heard my baby's heartbeat. When we finally found the heart beat, I was elated. I could hear this tiny rapid heart beating within me. I think it is lovely that I have something so special and lovely to associate with the day that my mother passed.

In a less serious and more hilarious note, a young man saw me walk out of the midwife center ans started a friendly conversation that ultimately ended with, "so are you married or anything?" I had to smile. "Yes, honey. Didn't you notice I just came out of the midwife center? I'm pregnant." His response was a slow & surprised "daaaamn!"


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Last weekend we had a bonfire in memory of my mother. It's been a little more than a year now since she died. It was a gathering of friends and family, poems, songs, stories, fire, marshmallows, supressed tears and gentle hugs.

I had visions that I would write every day about my mother during December and January. That I would have lovely stories to tell. All year long I've had little moments where I remember my mother. I wish I'd recorded these moments.

I'm glad I've had time recently to be with my father and sister. I feel slightly more human. I don't really feel anything about my mother's death any more- except for a bit of confusion over this lack of feeling. I must be in denial. I used to call my mother weekly- sometimes more often, just to share every little story about school with her. Successes, failures, frustrations. I consulted with her on how to clean up the marker when the toddler in my care drew on the unfinished wooden table. You get the picture. I referred to her as Stephanie to indicate that as I grew into adulthood our relationship changed and grew into something more than mother daughter. She hated it- but I think she understood my intentions and so, for a long time she put up with me calling her Stephanie.
But now- it's like I feel more pain at not feeling pained about her death than I do about this loss. It's not that I don't care. I do. It sucks. But I say this and write this with little emotion. I feel somewhat inhuman, uncaring, forgetful.
That is why I appreciate being around people who remember, who care on a daily basis. They share their memories, and emotions and I remember that I am human, that I miss her too.

I'm a little concerned that I am going to fall apart someday, or that I am not entirely human. Ever since I was young I've felt different in terms of how I approach and view death - detached and pragmatic. I figured once someone really close to me died I would feel/be different (more normal in my response to death).

It is different.
I can hear my mother telling me to count this as a blessing, and hear the hurt in her voice as she says it. The kind of voice that says she knows logically that the hurtfulness is unintended- but stings anyway. Like when I told her I was a little jealous of the knitting she did for my other siblings cause she always experimented with me- tried something new for the first time- and then made an improved version for them.

So- outside of feeling like I don't feel appropriately- I'm good. It's weird. I know I shouldn't really worry about having 'normal' greiving. I should allow myself to let the memories and tears come when they do. I worry that my lack of distress/grief must mean I didn't love her. Like I'm not honoring her. I did, and I do.

Knitting etc

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I have stayed up late the last two nights knitting with friends. My mother taught me long ago, and when I tried to pearl as well she said "I think you should wait until I have more time to teach you." Well, we never did get around to that- but the muscle memory was there- and it was not difficult to get back into the swing of things. My mother would knitin the car, while wtching TV- which is probably why she could never remember the ending to mystery shows she'd watched before. Of course - she was like that with jokes too. She's get half way through a joke and forget the punch line. Not always - but often enough that it stands out in my memory.

Ginger snaps & tea Tuesday

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I realized that my last blog was a bit self centered. Of course, who wouldn't want to make claims to be like Stephanie? But I'll try to focus more on remembering my mother, and less on self glorification.

Monday's memorial was to have a pear for Breakfast. For a very long time, my ma would get a small plate, a proper cutting knife, usually the red handled knife, and slice a green Anjou pear. She occasionally mixed it up by having a yellow or red barlette or other varietals. The pear was usually consumed with a cup of tea, and a number of family members roaming the kitchen, dining room and bathroom as we prepared for the day.
On Sundays breakfast was accessorized by the newspaper, and the comics were shared and passed around the table.

These days I find I enjoy a sliced pear dipped in almond butter. I recently enjoyed a pear that my father picked for me- prepared in this fashion. I will always associate pears with my mother. Back in Virginia we had a market that sold local pears in the fall. I'm so glad I was able to share them with my mother. Virginia was my first real home away from home. Still, I was able to contact my mother on a whim, to ask about the water to rice ratio, about confusing cold symptoms and other things that only parents/family can answer correctly.

I am so ragged these days. Worn thin. But I have realized how so much of what my Mama embodied has been ingrained in my brain to the point that all this stuff on the calendar for honoring my mother's memory is stuff I do without thinking. It's almost like breathing. I painted a snail mail post card that should arrive at its destination soon.
Yesterday I made a pizza (added to a frozen pepperoni and sausage pizza) and put on jalapenos, onions, sharp cheddar and Romano. It reminded me of our Friday evening tradition of making pizza from scratch. I included my participation in that tradition on my application to work at Papa John's. I have no idea if it was a deciding factor - but I got the job...
I've also cooked a meal recently that was not only well rounded, but varied and balanced in color as well.

So- some day I'll get all my work done right away (insert sheepish grin here). In the mean time we are planning a 'snow picture walk' of the town- to take pictures at night of nearby churches and cool buildings while the snow falls.

I've added the Edith Piaf movie - La Vie En Rose to my netflix list.
I have gingersnaps in the cupboard for Tuesday- but they will pobably be enjoyed with tea all weekend long.

I remember when my sister Mara went off to college. My mother sent her fun little post cards. The one that stands out the most was shaped like an actually shaped like a snail in it's shell. It was awesome.
When I started as a teacher I got a really awesome letter from Ms. Frizzle and Liz (think the Magi School Bus Series). She sent me a pair of pants that teachers like the Frizz might wear when teaching about fish, and a fabulous letter with many phrases often found in the books. It was inspirational and charming.

Early Thanksgiving

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This Saturday we hosted an early Thanksgiving dinner. I roasted a Turkey, made something like 12 pounds of mashed potatoes, and baked a pumpkin pie. As I prepared the pie and potatoes I was thuroughly enjoying the fun of cooking. When I started the turkey I was taken back to all the times I helped my mother roast the Turkey for Thanksgiving. We would share space at the kitchen sink, rinse the turkey in cold water, pat it inside and out with a paper towl, and salt it. Holding the defrosted bird in the sink brought a surge of nostalgia for cooking with my mother. I seperated the skin from the meat and rubbed butter on the inside of the bird, placing fresh thyme and rosemary along with the butter.

I have been planning to start to write on my blog in December as an homage to my mother's decline in health and the time we spent as a family taking care of her. But I realize as we approach Thanksgiving that this was really the beginning of her decline. She took off from work and was unable to return. I felt like yesterday's early celebration was in a way a celebration of the things my mother taught me in the kitchen. Sort of like a little offering in her memory.


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We have moved into our new home. I'm spending my time e-mailing and visiting schools in the hopes of substituting my way into a teaching position. The people here have been so friendly - both on the street and in the schools I've visited- I had forgotten that people are good (in general); I suppose that's not suprising considering my recent history with teaching and my run in with theives in Argentina. I miss D.C. - Alexandria really- the farmers markets, downtown, biking the GW Parkway trail, and most importantly all of my friends - my DC family.

I have made some friends here, we have a built in social network through Eric's department. Plus Alana is here and My cousins are nearby as well. I am significantly closer to my dad and sister.
The town has character and I like it. It seems that I will be able to substitute close to home easily - and hopefully often.

From my back windows - in the reading room, bathroom, kitchen and dining room I have a view of the funeral home next door. I see the families dressed in sombre attire, the hearse, the parade of cars with flags, the street parking meters covered - reserved for the funeral. They seem to host a funeral every few days. Infrequently enough that I am not overwhelmed by death in Pittsburgh. Often enough for death to remain my companion. I am drawn to the funeral home. But what would I say? I've thought it over many times but don't get any farther than "My mother died in January..." I want to crash a funeral - What do other funerals look like? How do other people grieve? Who is dying , and why? The question that haunts me "Why am I dying?" And the pragmatic answer that haunts me too, "You have cancer." Haunts me because it is true, and yet a meaningless answer.

On the plus side I can sleep with my closet door open these days . This is progress.

A joke for Stephanie

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Southern male voice: I met this woman the other day and I asks her, where y'all from? and she says "I am from a place where we don't end our sentences in propositions." So I says to her "Where y'all from, bitch?"


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So- I thought I was dealing well with my mother's death. I came home and felt really good about taking care of her. I felt- and still do - an inner strength that came from caring for my mother.

But I've got hives. I'm not allergic to anything. I'm just stressed. My body is dealing with what my mind cannot. Of course- having hives adds to the stress. It's circular.

Last night an ambulance hit my parked car. It wasn't the prius. That just can't drive in the snow, especially on hills. Which means I'm forced to stay overnight at work whenever there is accumulation. Fortunately my employer is an avid reader and I'm able to entertain myself.

In Memoriam

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My mother played games with us. She took us to parks, libraries and museums. She had a rule that homework was to be done before we played.
She saw that we brushed our teeth, said our prayers, and had a good nights sleep. She taught us how to clean and how to cook. We grew fresh vegetables and fruit, and made delicious pies together
As my siblings, my in laws, my father and I came together to care for my mother- signs of my mother's influence were abundant. We drank tea constantly. We ate meals together. When we asked for the help of friends and family- we asked for a good healthy meal, with vegetables. Fortunately people brought dessert as well. We took care of each other while we took care of her.
In her last days I told my mother that I would miss her. She touched my shoulder and replied, "You will carry me with you." As struggle to wrap my brain around the fact that my mother is really dead, I am reminded of the many things she did or valued that will carry on with us in the years to come.
She encouraged us to go to college.She continued to develop her mind through art and continued education. She thought it was important to vote, and to write thank you notes. She enjoyed classical music and listened to NPR. She spent money wisely; took milk in her tea; and traveled when she could.
She was my mother, and my friend.
She is my gaurdian.


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My mother passed away at approximately 2 am this morning.

It was very peaceful. We washed her body with rose water and sewed a silk shroud around her body. It is a beautiful tradition that gave us all a calm feeling as we were struggling to fathom the reality of our loss.