Some happy Mother’s Days are out of this world

As my girls and I made plans for Mother’s Day, I glanced at the photo under glass on my desk, family gathered around my Mom. Her sweet smile. The familiar ache built in my chest, pulling me into the dark place, wishing I could have one more Mother’s Day to shower love on her.Mother's Day joy

Then I realized that our little brother, Mac, who drowned when he was three, is in heaven celebrating with her.

little brother Mac
Malcom Bayard Foard III

And she is there with her dear mother, celebrating the life of a true servant-hearted woman.

Feb13^11

And my grandmother, Eleanor, is celebrating with her mother, Maria, who died when Grandmom was a girl.

Maria Tschanin Zimmerman
Maria Zimmerman

And Maria is celebrating with her mother from her native Switzerland that she fled during an Anabaptist persecution.

That’s as far back as I know family history on Mom’s side.

Enough to give me perspective.

Would I really want to drag Mom back to this little world, when so much has been opened up to her? So much joy. So much celebration. So much connection. So much life.

No.

I stroke the face in the picture, say ‘I love you’ again, and release her into the hands of Love who holds her forever.

Real love is like that, isn’t it? Loving, holding, and then releasing when necessary.

For the first time, I am truly ready to pick up the mantle my brother offered after Mom’s funeral—the matriarch of the family.

To continue to hold them all up in prayer, no matter how large the family grows.

To rejoice in their accomplishments and weep with their pain.

And to smile when my family is gathered around me.

Grammi love
Grammi love
grandchild fun at Easter
egg dying with grands
three generations at Christmas
three generations at Christmas
Siesta Key
Fun in the surf

The circle goes on.

So good. So good.

My perfect storm came slowly

If a picture really is worth a thousand words, this would be a very short post. I thought some of you might be wondering where I’ve been, and why I’ve missed a week here and there.me with mask

The story is way longer than I can tell, and probably more than I know, or you want to hear, but the gist is deteriorating health for the past year. The Perfect Storm for my immune system.

My mother’s last year of life, her final week and her death, along with the months it took to settle her affairs took a deeper toll than I was aware of at the time.

Grief can be cruel to the body.

Another piece was the accumulated effect of years of pushing myself, going beyond tired, because, “It needs to be done,” and “I’ll rest when things get back to normal.”

I haven’t found Normal on the map.

Have you?

The final piece crept up on me as well. I have no idea how long it has lingered in the background, making it harder and harder to push on, giving me days of brain fog and lethargy, days when I chastised myself for being lazy, or worried about getting too introverted when I couldn’t get myself out to the grocery store,

Or too old.

Over the hill.

Spent.

I was sick most of the time I was in Switzerland with MD, went downhill from there, spent Christmas day in bed, and never really recovered.

That began rounds of antibiotics for one infection after another –all lab verified—until the bacteria grew resistant or I developed allergies, and ended up at infectious diseases receiving a week of IV antibiotics.

(Now I have tremendous sympathy for those who undergo chemo. I was freezing all the time. My hair gained lots of grey and fell out in the shower. I was too nauseous to eat, and barely able to drive there and back every day. Period. Nothing else. At all.)

After all the antibiotics, I was diagnosed with a massive yeast infection. (With no energy, I hadn’t shopped or cooked much, so we ate more processed food, snacked on more carbs – pretty much feed the yeast at ever increasing levels as my health deteriorated.)

It took replacing a smelly carpet in the kid’s guestroom to lead us to the larger picture.

Mold.

Not realizing, still, how much it was effecting me, I worked on the remedy one room at a time, as I had the energy to box things up and clear them out for the carpet layers.

They found mold in the walls. The sheet rock needed replacing. Then painting. Then unpacking . . .

Months later, on a severely restricted diet of mostly meat, fish or poultry and green vegetables, probiotics, and an antifungal twice a day, most days I was functioning well for a few hours.

I finally had enough energy to focus on the main living area, where we’d had a beautiful oak engineered wood floor laid several years back. It had begun to show black streaks, in the grain, growing bigger and more pronounced. In a few heavily trafficked areas it actually came to the surface and broke up the wood.

A team of water detectives had told us the water table was too high for our sunken floor, so I researched alternatives and landed on a special coating for the concrete, and porcelain tile.

I scheduled the new tile floor, then started boxing up the living and office areas, which meant sorting and boxing a lot of books!
stacks from office

office stacksboxes of books from office

It was so hard to part with my Writer’s Digest and The Writer magazines from many years back. But who was I kidding? If I hadn’t read them or re-referenced them by now, when would I?

A few days before the work was to begin I had the large Persian rug picked up for cleaning, and we rolled up the thick felt pad.

My good hours quickly diminished to hardly being able to get out of bed.

It was only in retrospect that I realized that by clearing out the living room, we’d allowed more mold spores into the air.

Advised to stay out of the house while the flooring was replaced, I packed my things and gathered food and toys for the dogs, who were going with me to YD’s. I stayed there two extra days, giving time for things to settle, for my husband to replace the A/C filters, and the construction dust to be cleaned.

The day I returned, I’d only been in the house an hour when I headed to bed. Too much moldy dust remained in less obvious places. My oldest daughter took me to her place, to a bedroom with an air filter and lots of TLC.

I was only able return to the house by wearing a face mask approved for mold.

For days I have cleaned like crazy (with disposable masks and gloves) and collapsed into bed (after a thorough shower). The painters finished yesterday. painters at work
So, that’s where I am now. mask 2
Today I had the house open all day, airing out the paint fumes I’ve grown so sensitive to.

The last few hours I have been able to go without the mask. Pure relief!

But then, I’m out back on the screened lanai writing on my laptop. (I don’t even know where my desktop tower is, though I found the box with my keyboard today.)
dogs on lanai by laptop
Tomorrow or the next, the tiler will finish the tile baseboards and help us move the rest of the furniture back in place.
floor
Of course, with a new floor and fresh paint (with a bold accent color) it is begging for serious decorating and far more aggressive thinning than I was able to do when boxing everything up.

The good news is, I’m so tired of having to deal with all the stuff that I’m feeling much less frugal or sentimental about hanging on to everything. I’m too tired for so much stuff.

And it’s been over a year since my mother died, so I’m ready to let go of many of the memories, and the little pieces of paper with her handwriting.

Time to purge.

Hopefully, I will soon have a clean, fresh, much leaner and mold free environment.

And my strength will come back so I can walk the dogs in the Celery Fields,

enjoy mornings once again,

and have the energy to sail with my husband.

And have a clear mind to write.

I’ve missed you.

Sooner or later, we are all bound to have them. What are the storms in your life?

What do you do with a troubled heart?

Why do I wake in the morning and expect this day to go as planned, “normal?” I suppose for sanity we have to assume some things will go on, the sun will rise, my heart will beat, my family will live and thrive. To think otherwise every morning would lead to madness, or at least extreme anxiety. When something abruptly changes the rhythm of things, especially when a life is ended, we are brought up short by the small part we play in making this world go around, for the day to proceed, for the breath we take. And our hearts churn.

This week I ran across a text I sent last year, confirming activities in August so I could plan my mother’s 93rd birthday celebration. I had no way of knowing that only days later she would begin her journey home, and instead, celebrate that day in eternity. As the dates approached, I entered into the memories of last year, my mother’s fall and treatment in the E.R., her admission to the hospital, then the transfer the next day to hospice, and the vigil that followed until she died the following Monday.

Mom lived a rich, complex life, much of it blessed. She was long past ready to go to Jesus, and she left behind a rich legacy and memories that I will never finish replaying. Still, her absence in my world is a black hole, sucking my energy with a jab of emotion whenever something triggers a scene or her voice. But my sadness is limited now.

And it is balanced by my awareness of the pain of others. How can I take up residence in my own emotions when so many others need prayer, love and support?

A few days ago, I stopped to talk with my next store neighbor as he entered his driveway after walking his dogs. Only the location and dogs identified the scarecrow who was a hefty and active man only months ago. Cancer and something unknown is sipping away his life.

A good friend comes to church alone, the husband she anticipated growing old with in glory, instead lying in darkness in his bed, resisting her efforts to socialize.

An exhausted daughter tries desperately to calm her mother, terrorized by drugs and dementia, and learns her brother has died.

A child is torn from his mother, brutally sent to Jesus too soon. Her grief is set to destroy her.

My heart aches for these and others I know, or am asked to pray for, as well as for those I read about in the paper and hear on the news, lives abruptly changed by violence or accident or disease.

And yet, the Jesus who wept at his friend’s grave says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

I’ve tumbled that over in my mind all weekend, my heart so troubled that sometimes I could barely walk. Lifting the ones whose burdens weighed on me to the only one who has the power to change anything, I interceded through out the day. Even during the night I woke and prayed.

Still, my heart ached.

This morning I read from my favorite prophet, Isaiah. “I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song.”

The pieces slipped into place. Like so many others, the command from Jesus not to let my heart be troubled is one I can’t obey on my own. I need his strength. And for me, his strength comes in song, whether singing out loud, or responding to every little thing in my life as a gift, in a song of internal thanksgiving.

Once I began turning my heart toward Jesus, thanking him for the cardinals and finches playing out front, the dishwasher humming again after DH fixed it, the softness of my pillow, all the events in the lives of my children and grandchildren . . . once I started, the naming of thanks went on unassisted.

And though I am still praying for those in pain, my heart is no longer troubled.

Are you burdened, “heavy laden” as the old text reads?

Or are you the burden-bearer, bending under the weight of it?

Unforced rhythms of grace