Colorado

Leaving Life Behind

So I have avoided this post long enough. I have spent a little over a week trying to figure out how to write about losing someone I love deeply. My conclusion is there is no easy way. The fact that this love is the root of everything that I am, makes losing my mother all the more complicated. It is similar to the feeling I have when I speak about my father. It is a void, an emptiness, loneliness, and “A Hole in My Soul” as the band Aerosmith put it.  You carry the emptiness with you forever.

Veda M Lowrey age 84

Veda M Lowrey age 84 Rolla Missouri

So the death of my mother was unexpended but not surprising. She lived 89 wonderful years, loved deeply, lived truthfully and honestly. She worked harder than just about anyone I have ever known and gave everything to her family. Her children and brothers and sisters were everything to her and she enjoyed spending as much time as she could with all of them. She was loving, stubborn and strong and you always knew where you stood and usually, that was under her grace.  I have often wondered how she ever spent 40 years alone as a single parent raising 4 kids after the death of my father. Now at 50 with two sons of my own, I understand that it was the best thing for her and us kids. I remember how proud she was when I graduated from college and disappointed she was when I got a divorce. How she warned me about not burning the candle at both ends and tried to teach me how to slow down and enjoy the ride. Lessons that I don’t ever think I learned, but I do try to remember them when life wears me out or people try to grind me down.

Veda Maxine Lowrey age 21

Veda Maxine Lowrey age 21

I am my mothers’ daughter for better or worse and I know she is still here with me looking after me and kids. I share her passion for reading, flowers, and peaceful quiet homes where you feel safe and loved. It was a pleasant life she made for me and my siblings and we knew we were lucky to have her.

Old age is not a beauty pageant. Nothing about it is pretty,  slick or shiny. Being smart, rich or kind, will not save you from the ravages of time. The process is painful, dirty, slow and humiliating. You lose everything you worked for and often the very people that you love most. It is not meant for the weak and to live 89 years means she was a fighter and wanted what was left in this world for her. I love that about her and only hope to be the same strong fighter in my future.

photo of Boulder Colorado and the front range by Alex Smits

Photo of Boulder Co by Alex Smits used with permission

Rest in peace mom, I will think of you often as I plant my flowers, when I find a good book that I just can’t put down, and when we are eating a well-cooked meal at home with the table full of laughter and wonderful memories. Gods speed on your journey and take my love with you.

I will be returning home to Colorado in a few weeks to place my mother by my father’s side in my home town of Boulder, Co. I will be spending lots of time with family, friends and working on what the future will be like without her. Forgive me if my writing is sporadic for a couple of months. I am not sure what I will be writing about or how often, but I know I  will be posting about our trip and the revelations I make as I search for my roots. 

 

 

Categories: Colorado, Death, Family, family memories, Healing, old age, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Holidays Without Our Parents

So,every adult child has to go through this at least once and some of us have to face it 4 or more times if you are married. It is the day you realize that you will not have a Mother or Father around for the holidays.That you are grown up and you have lost the one or two people in your life that you look up too.  This is the first full year after losing my Mother In Law and one of many years since Tom and I have both lost fathers. The Holidays feel different without them and we feel that we have lost the key to our holiday celebrations.

I think I was in shock last Thanksgiving.I do not even remember what we eat and even if we did  eat… some how I just blanked it all out from Oct 22nd to New Years day. I remember the tree and the kids opening gifts and making breakfast for my family but not much more. I was a stay at home mom then… what did I do for three months??

It seems that this fall the reminder of the loss is tangible. It is harder this year, I can’t call up and ask a questions about how to make stuffing, from the father who has been gone 25 years. The holiday craft making for Sunday School kids is just a distant memory. Christmas cookies and candy over flowing from my mother’s kitchen is no more and I wonder how we will continue as adults. Children suffer deeply with the loss of a grandparent or step grandparent,but I wonder if they feel the loss as long as the adults.The pain lingers for years as we share dinners, gifts and reminders that the person is gone. They are not replaced by thoughts of a new toy,an exciting movie or by the first boy friend or girl friend.

The reply to my heart-break most often is “make  your own memories and traditions” share them with the children. The logic seems to work until you realize how many of us do not have children or have only one.The family dynamic has changed and we don’t always have younger siblings or children share the traditions with.

In my case shopping at the mall is nothing compared to the years I spent making cookies with my mother in our kitchen.Tom still misses opening day of deer season with his Dad and Thanksgiving is not the same without having everyone together for dinner at his parents house. My husband and I still continue to share both of those traditions with our own children and try to pass down those memories to them so nothing is lost.

It is tough doing “Adult”sometimes.I guess we keep moving forward the best we can and at times just fall apart when we finally realize that times change and we can’t stop them.Loss is part of living and being a grown up is all we can do. As Dory says” Just Keep Swimming”.

I am finding it hard to be excited for the Holidays this year,even with the little ones around. I will do my best to make our home warm and inviting and we will have friends and family here.The kids will spend time together and we will eat well. But in my heart there will still be an empty chair at our table. I will spend a few minutes remembering and giving thanks for those we have been lucky to know and love,but Thanksgiving is going to be tough this year. empty-chair-at-thanksgiving

 

Categories: About me, childhood memories, Colorado, Family, grandma, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

My Brothers Gift of Memories

I know it maybe a little late for talking about Christmas gifts but this one just keeps me thinking about my childhood. The gift is really nothing of great value and  would not have any meaning unless you had grown up in a plant and flower loving family. My older brother who is now in his 60’s sent me a package in plain yellow envelope with a simple letter. The letter was short but made tears come to my eyes. The letter folded in half and on the interior page was  8 small hand-lettered packages. Each packet contained seeds. Really who in their right mind cries over seeds, I guess I do. As I read the letter from my brother it informed me that many of the seeds inside the letter were seeds from plants that grew in the yard of my childhood home. The home in Boulder, Co. sold in 1994 and I had already moved here to West Virginia.

letter with seed packets on the back

letter with seed packets on the back

My garden loving brother had for several years lovingly transplanted, split, graphed, stolen, seed headed many of the flowers from my mothers gardens. So when the house that we had all lived in almost 40 years  sold the flowers had moved to his home. He worked for years to cultivate and love them into mature plants and trees. Years passed and I had only randomly thought about her gardens and the love that my mother had for her rose gardens. It was a ritual to go see the Home and Garden show in Denver every spring. We talked with vendors and eat fun food and spent just a little money on fresh plants for the yard that every year. I had forgotten about many of them, until this Christmas.

While talking with my close friend Alex recently, I asked him about his collections and why do we even have collections. We debated about the need for all of us in some form or another to have physical things to recharge our memories. That some objects can bring about very strong memories responses, good and bad. That as humans we hold on to things that are meaningful to us. In my case my brother had the for thought to save plants and seeds. I on the other hand was raising a young child and taking care of a farm full of animals. I had no time to worry about what was being left behind at the house at the time.

As I opened one of the packets, a flood of memories flowed through my mind. The long hot Colorado summers with a yard full of flowers, bushes and trees. Where every other summer the money plant bloomed in beautiful purple flowers and by fall the flowers had turned into seed pods. I would ask my mother to pick and play with them with great joy. The seeds inside these paper pods look like penny’s between thin transparent paper. I would spend hours pealing the pods apart and collecting the seeds for play money or tossing them into the wind to sprinkle the world with new plants. I loved these flowers and missed them later in life. My eyes tear up at the thought of asking my mother if I could play with the pods. I am sure the she knew that I would eventually bring a huge spray of the flower pods into the house for her and  I would also destroy most of the others as I “played” with the delicate paper pods.

 

money plant, lunaria

Money Plant, Lunaria, flower catalog photo

The other packets held the seeds of other memorable flowers such as Oriental Poppies with Their huge orange flowers. My Mother had a bird bath garden surrounded by the blazing orange blooms. I loved that they were the only flower bed in our yard that never needed weeding. The flowers were so tightly packed that you could not see the soil between stalks. I loved to fill the bird bath and water the poppies. We watched as the huge buds would form in the heat of summer and as if they knew the hottest day of summer they would pop open shining their faces back at the sun. Their would be hundreds in bloom at once, drawing bees and birds alike. I would watch the stalks all summer as the blooms would fade and the petals fell to the ground. I would wait until the tall thin stalks dried and the seed pods would open and collect 4 or 5 in my hands and shake the tiny black seeds into my hands. Hundreds maybe thousands would fall from the hallow shell into my sweaty palms. Amazed I would wonder why one flower could produce so many life-giving seeds.

large orange poppy. thanks to the burpee catalog

large orange poppy. thanks to the Burpee catalog

The letter also contains Sage, with the purple flowers that love the hot weather of Colorado. The White Anemone that grew under the eve of the car port along with Larkspur and Columbine. Chives and Garlic that grew out back in a garden that my brother started while I was in 8th grade. He was 25 and just beginning to discover his love of gardening. All these flowers/ plants are over 30 years old and I knew them day in and day out. I know them as well as I still remember my first address and phone #.

As I fished up my conversation with my friend Alex, who collects toys and other nostalgia from our childhood, I realized how wonderful it is to travel back to those places and times. We talked about shucking peas, how many times we had watched Batman, what songs and music made us remember the “good old days”.  I shared with him my plan to not only plant these seeds but share my love of gardening and flowers with my son and  grand-daughter. They are the 3rd and 4th generations of my family to see, love and pick these flowers. The seeds were not only a gift from the past but a gift to the future. The future that started with old seeds and will end with this Grand MaMa having little hands bring her bouquets of fresh flowers from my yard.

I can never express how wonderful my brothers gift is, but I thank him for holding on to a part of my childhood that I hand almost forgotten. I love you Bill Lowrey and am so glad you are my brother.

 

Peace rose my mothers favorite rose from the Jackson and Perkins catalog

Peace Rose my mothers favorite rose from the Jackson and Perkins catalog

 The future is all held in the power of just one tiny seed.

Money Plant seeds

Money Plant seeds

Categories: About me, childhood memories, Colorado, Family, nostalgic, seeds | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Snowdays can be Fun Days Too!

Afghan Fort with Christopher and the bunnies in the house

Afghan Fort with Christopher and the bunnies in the house

Do you remember the joy of “Snow Days” as a child.  Some how I had forgotten how much fun my mother made those days. We were all home together and the house was a total mess. We eat hot soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. We  build furniture cushion forts and had all the pets inside the house. When it warmed up to at least 20 degrees we  all headed outside to play in the fresh Boulder, Colorado snow. Shoveling feet of snow off our drive way and helping the neighbors pull cars from the snow banks of snow. Then heading back inside for hot coco and cookies. Taking our snow-covered clothes off and tossing then over the heating registers to dry.

Christopher painting his snow bunny

Christopher painting his snow bunny

The boys in our neighbor hood always were starting snow ball fights that lasted hours and the girls were always trying to get them to stop long enough to go sledding at the local park. We built snow men and my friends dad built a snow woman one year that had all of us laughing. Even my mother thought she was funny…that was rare.  Then if we were lucky it was a cartoon afternoon. In warm sweat shirts  and fuzzy socks with long naps on the couch.

Have times really changed that much? The addition of the computer and X-box has given us more time to play games and surf the internet. But that little voice of my sons still asks when can we go out side, can I have hot coco when we come back inside and if we are having bean soup for lunch? hummm sounds like my own questions coming back to me from a new generation.

I am learning to accept the mess on the floor and colored markers and paper on the table as a sign that all is fine on this snowy day. We make valentines for the family and the glitter is everywhere, the floor, the table, our hands and  even my hair. The next mess in the long line of ones that I will clean up at the end of our day fourth snow day.

Christopher with Home made valintines

Christopher with Home made valentines

Finally at the end of this day of snow, soup and glitter we start a warm bath and add lots of toys. Bubbles float and fly around the bathroom. I ask Christopher “How was your day, did you have fun?”The reply is a warm happy smiling  “YEA!” I smile and acknowledge that I am feeling tired. That this snow day was fun for me too. I spent time with my favorite little person doing the things that he loves most of all. I honored my mother and my childhood friends with time in the snow playing and getting pink cheeks and drinking coco from mugs.

Tonight I will again clean up the messes left from the play dough,  bird seed from the feeders we filled,  the plates and cups from another round of soup and sandwiches and the snow ice cream we eat in front of the T.V. but in the end it is worth the messes. It is worth the glitter every where to think that someday he will look back on these cold snowy days and smile and think of the fun we had together.

snow ice cream in bowl

snow ice cream in bowl

Snow ice cream

1.  4 cups fresh clean snow… no yellow snow!

2.  3/4 cup milk

3.  1/2 cup sugar

4.  1 Tablespoon vanilla

put snow in large bowl add milk, sugar and vanilla. mix until smooth.. taste and add more of sugar or vanilla to taste.

Categories: About me, child care, Christopher, Colorado, family fun, Personal art work, snow, Snow day | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The advice I gave my Daughter in law about winter driving that applies to so much more

Photo of Boulder Colorado thanks to Alex Smits Photography.com

Photo of Boulder Colorado thanks to Alex Smits Photography.com

Growing up at the foot hills of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder Colorado where is seems that winter lasts 6 months of the year, we all got lots of practice driving in snow and slush. I admit, I was a very timid and stressful winter driver in my youth, but I did learn something after a few winters under my belt. The most important and what I shared with my daughter in law this last week was learning to NOT be a white knuckle driver. I am not sure if this a common expression or is just what my mother called it. The white knuckle driver is one who  holds the steering wheel so tight that the knuckles on the back of you hands turn white from the grip that you have on the wheel. Where you are so afraid of what is happening on the road that the tension is visible all over your body. Most young drivers experience this while learning to drive and it passes only to return when winter weather reappears. So when I am feeling stressed behind the wheel in the winter, I still to this day, I take a deep breath  and play this song in my head to remind myself what to do.

38 Special… “Hold On Loosely”

If you choose not to see the video  I still want to share with you the chorus with you so that you understand what is that I am trying to get at.  ” Just hold on loosely, but don’t let go, if you cling to tightly to her, you’re gonna lose control”. This is a simple way for me to force myself to slow down, take a deep breath and stop white knuckling my way through life.

snow covered road by Jeff Cook.

snow-covered road by Jeff Cook.

38 Special  wrote and preformed the song with a love affair in mind, but I like to take the idea and expand it to life in general.  How often have we all smothered our loved ones, our children or choked off other opportunities in our lives because we were to afraid to just let life happen. We are terrified that we would not be able to handle the results of a life lived in the present. We do not believe in ourselves enough to handle what life was giving us. I was guilty of this much of my youth.

I wanted all the details of everyone’s lives. I had to check in with my friends a million times a day. I worried that if I wasn’t part of what was happening then something terrible would happen. Well guess what, terrible things happen everyday, all across the world, in my town and yours, to people we love and those we do not know at all and it happens with or without us. The reality is that we really have very little control over the weather, our friends, family or at times our own health. So it is by choice that I have tried to stop letting worry control my happiness.

Instead of worrying about everything that happens in my life I have learned, as the song says,” To Hold On Loosely, But Not Let Go”. To allow for the bumps in the road and the twists and turns that we all experience without totally losing my way in the world. Age gives you insight to realize that there is really nothing that you can not over come in your life if you are willing to just Hold On, Not Give Up and Try Again.

So to my Daughter In Law I said  “Try not to white knuckle all the fun out of life by trying to control the things that you can’t”. Don’t lose your balance and happiness because the fear of losing something or someone.We all lose it is part of life, but you can keep your sense of happiness if you just remember to ” Take a deep breath, go slow and hold on loosely but don’t let go”.

I am sure that our conversation about winter driving made sense to her it is easy to understand The  other part about not doing the same for her family, friends and future may have made her think that I was just crazy, I just hope when the time comes in her life that she will think back on this song and find some solace there.

toms truck on a snowy road near old house

toms truck on a snowy road near old house

Categories: Colorado, family memories, music, rock music, snow, winter driving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Books, Hot Tea and a New Bed

Me with my books again

Me with my books again

Ok,  I am really deep inside, a reader… not a writer. I write because I have so much that I want to share with my family and friends.Writing is my way of keeping those memories and stories alive. I set a goal of reading at least one book every month and writing at least one post every week. Then life happens and I struggle to keep up with those goals… But I think this will make reaching one goal much easier.

New White fence head board that Tom made for me.

New White fence head-board that Tom made for me.

I read almost every evening in my bed before we all pile into it at night. I spend hours and hours in my bed with a book, so when my 15-year-old sleigh bed literally crashed to the floor at 3 am in July, I was heartbroken. Tom and I did shop for several months to replace the bed. I knew what I wanted, a simple picket fences style head-board or foot board, but never found one. So, as the summer closed I was still bed-less. Tom finally did pickup a frame to put the mattresses on but it still was not the same.

headboard in progress pine picket fence style

headboard in progress pine picket fence style

So this Nov I asked Tom make me a head-board for my birthday. I explained what I was looking for and he took it from their. In a couple of weekends he had made the above headboard for me. I was so thankful to finally get my world back in order. When he hooked up that frame to the new headboard I was so emotionally relieved.I had a new nest.I could finally read and sleep well at night again.

I am also a tea drinker…. not a coffee gal. I don’t own a coffee maker and have never felt the need to pay 4.50 for a cup of anything other than hot spiced wine in the middle of a German Winter Fest. So from daylight to dark I have several types of tea that I drink through out my day. usually I start my morning off with iced tea and then move into the hot teas, unless the temperature outside is in the eighties and then it is Sun tea, Sweet tea or Sassafras tea all day. They say the health benefits are better for teas, but I drink them because of the never-ending different flavors. I started my habit young with my grandmothers Texas Iced tea and grew in a tea lover. In my teens I spent hours in a wonderful used book store/Tea house in Boulder Colorado where you could buy from the local Celestial Seasonings  tea company blends or try simple black or green teas. They also had the loveliest white china cups and sauces ever!

fresh made Sassafras Tea

fresh made Sassafras Tea

  So, now that I have my favorite reading area back I am soooo happy!  I am able to snuggle up in my quilt or comforter and have a cup of hot steamy tea again. I know it sounds a little funny how happy these things make me, but it really is the simple things in life that give us our biggest pleasures.

Categories: About me, blogging, Books, Colorado, furniture, Home, ice tea, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

A Peaceful Death

snowing in a pine

 

When I die take me home, to cold mountain air and songs that sing through the pines.
Take me home, to  a wide  open sky and crisp freshly fallen snow.
Spread my ashes across a high range and let me blow in the wind.
Take me home so I can join the deer and elk in their migrations.
Take me home to join the circle again.

Losing my father in law yesterday was hard, but I am relived to know that he died at home in his town with his family around him. I feel comforted that he was at Peace.

Categories: Colorado, Death, Family, poem | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

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