Posts Tagged With: grandma

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

Grandma Powers Southern Style Carrot Cake

Many of you who know me or read this blog regularly know that I like to  share my families culture, history  and traditions. So to honor the State of Virginia where this cake was first made and to honor my  mother in law I want to share her cake receipt with you. In doing this I am hoping to keep one more of our families traditions alive.

Around 50 years ago my husband’s family  lived just outside of Winchester Virginia. Where they lived with up to 7 children off and on, some are from a first marriage, ( they added one later to make a nice round 8). Moving often due to the nature of Grandpa Powers work as a bulldozer operator. He spent years building the many interstate and highway systems of the two states. I- 79 running north and south in West Virginia is one of the last he worked on. Grandpa would often fallow the construction for many miles often leaving for months at a time.This meant leaving Grandma with a house full of kids to raise on her own. So as a frugal home maker she often made home-made desserts for her children and neighbors kids. One of the mothers that she met while living in Winchester, shared this wonderful cake with her and told her that it came from a very expensive hotel in the area in the late 1950’s. It has been in the family ever since and is my personal favorite cake of all times. So someone in the 1950 got it right and we have not changed much about the cake in the last 65  years.

So as my birthday is only a few days a way, I though it fitting to make myself this cake. It is a frosting free cake. I am not an icing person and neither is my husband so this cake gets served at our house with just a cold glass of milk. I hope that all of you will try it and love it. It is just one of the many traditions that I am so happy to have gained from one of my favorite people.

Southern Style Carrot Cake

3 cups sifted flour

2 cups sugar

2 tsp baking soda

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup vegetable oil… ( yes we know that it seems like a lot but it is just perfect)

3 beaten eggs

2 tsp Vanilla

1 20 oz can crushed pineapple ( Use a good brand, generic seems tough in the cake we use Dole)

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Just use a kitchen spoon for this cake no need to get the mixer out. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 1/2 to 1 hour and 40 minutes, test with tooth pick to make sure the cake is dry inside.

I start shredding 2 cups carrots this usually means about two large and one small carrot. If you have slightly more than two cups just add it in.

Mix dry ingredients together, flour sugar, soda, salt and spices.

dry ingredients for carrot cake

dry ingredients for carrot cake

Stir and then add in wet ingredients, oil, can of pineapple, vanilla and slowly at the end add beaten eggs.

adding wet ingredients to carrot cake.

adding wet ingredients to carrot cake.

ready to beat eggs and add to cake

ready to beat eggs and add to cake

When eggs are incorporated in the  batter add shredded carrots and pecans. Pour batter into a large pan like a 13 x 11 deep ( not a Pyrex 11 x 13 glass pan) cake pan or angel food cake pan. The cake can be cut into about 12 to 15 pieces.

two piece angel food cake pan with cooking spray

two piece angel food cake pan with cooking spray

I use this pan so the cake can be placed on my cake stand and it cools faster with out the outside ring.

 

Carrot cake out of the oven

Carrot cake out of the oven

This cake is dense and rich but not overly sweet.The cake stores well at room temperature and with out cream cheese icing it does not need refrigeration.  It does take about 4 hours for the cake to totally cool and get firm to eat with you fingers. Yummy as a late night snack.

Finished Southern Style Carrot Cake with no frosting needed

Finished Southern Style Carrot Cake

 

Thanks for the Birthday cake recipe Grandma it is delicious as always.

Wanda Gay Powers At Christmas 2012

Wanda Gay Powers At Christmas 2012

 

Categories: Birthday, cakes and family deserts, country cooking, grandma | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Concentric Circles of Life and Death

Well it should come as no surprise that things here on the mountain are changing again. The spiritual head of our family is making the slow transition from the world of the here and now to the land of forever. It is a shaking off of the old skin and the trying on of the new freedom of the spirit that we are watching. It is emotionally stretching everyone in the family to the limit. This transition into the concentric circles of life and death, where there is no beginning or end.twirl-bluegrey-web The cancer has moved to the bones and a hip fracture has made her bedridden. So with other complications to her overall health the Dr’s know that she will not recover. The body worn out and now only a cocoon for the vibrant, fiery, giving, helpful, spirit that is still very much alive. It is a slow and often painful process to see the soul finally be released from the body. Yet, as amazing to watching as a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. This experience has only one drawback, this butterfly will one day fly off with out me……

There is no time line of events. It is day by day, hour by hour,breath by breath. It is ups and downs and moments of clarity and others of total delusion. The pain comes, then the drugs, then the weakening of the vale between the worlds. She talks with those she loves who have departed, she sees them and knows they are close. The chorus of angels then fades and the drugs wear off, she is with us, clear, focused and even agitated with us. She is happy to see the men of faith that come to pray with her. They remind her that it is only for a little while and she will be healed. Healed and free from pain…. free from being trapped in a broken body…….. Ahhhh the final release.

She is my best friend, she is my spiritual rock, and the cancer is taking her away from me. I find some comfort in the words of the great writers, thinkers and spiritual believers.For generations we have survived this awkward step in understanding and some have left words for us to fallow.This is just one of many quotes that I have found some comfort in:

“The Prophet” by   Kahlil Gibran

from the section on friendship,

“And let your best be for your friend.”

“If he must know the ebb of your tide,

let him know its flood also.”

“For what is your friend that you should

seek him with hours to kill?

“Seek him always with hours to live”

“For it is his to fill your need, but not

your emptiness.”

“And in the sweetness of friendship let

there be laughter,and sharing of pleasures.”

“For in the dew of little things the heart

finds its morning and is refreshed.”

 

Our relationship has always been more than “married into the family” we have always been friends. So as I finish this post I am waiting on word that she is released from the hospital to go home. To spend her final days in the place she feels most comfortable and safe. I will sit with her when she settles in and read to her while the hours pass. So I can share the last few days or months that we have together, before she flies away.

Butterfly at Holy River State Park, WV

Butterfly at Holy River State Park, WV

Categories: Cancer, Death, Family, family health, Friendship, grandma, poem | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Beginning and the End

As the truth of the news sets in I fill with a choking pain. I do not know what to say and I have no idea what is going to happen in our families future. They don’t give instructions on how to deal with the cancer process. The results from Grandma chemo are the worst you can get. The Dr.’s see no improvement from the 6 Chemo treatments that she has received. There is nothing left that they can do.

As we hear this my husband and I look at each other with eyes that are wide open. The future was never a proven fact, only a glimmering hope on the horizon and try as we (the whole family) might the fact is that we had one good year and maybe a few more months before the cancer starts to change our lives again. I got word from the Dr that we would see the cancer return in about a year and we would be lucky to have Grandma here with us at the three-year mark. That seems all seem like a dream now as the tumors have doubled in a matter of 6 weeks. The first year is already gone and we are now looking at maybe having months with her not years.

Wild Blue Bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Wild Blue Bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

She has gone and made her funeral plans and picked out the casket and song that need played. Her plot has been saved and the final paper work is almost in order. The fact is that she is going about this transition in the most honorable way possible. She is thanking everyone and saying the words that need said to make everything “Right” before it is too late.  It is an important time for my family and I hope all of you understand that in the coming months I may or may not write my weekly post. I will try to share things I love when I can and when the mood strikes but not unless it feels right.

We are about finished with the remodel just in time for all of this to happen. The Barn Wood Builders are coming back to finish up the filming of the house the 28th of Aug so we have time to get all the details done by then. At some point around that time I will be getting Grandmas room ready and she will move back in with us at some point in the future. I am ready and willing to make her last days as comfortable as possible with Gods help.

So as Grandma always tells us this is really not an Ending but only the Beginning. That death is not the worst part,it  is being trapped in a broken body that is terrible, that the spirit is free at death and can finally return to the unending love of our creator. She is so wise in all of her 78 years that I must believe that what she says is true. That death will only be a better beginning for all of us. That her freedom from pain and suffering will also release the rest of us from our suffering also. That somewhere in the future I will be able to breathe freely again but this time it will be for her.

Window at the Hutte Haus in Helvetia West Virigina  The old and the new

Window at the Hutte Haus in Helvetia West Virgina The old and the new

Categories: Cancer, cancer treatment, Death, family health, grandma, Healing | Tags: , , , , , , | 23 Comments

The Results are In and I am Not Sure How to Write About It.

As some of you already my Mother In Law was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer last year at this very same time. I was a long road for her with surgery, radiation, and months of recovery time over the summer and fall of last year. Things were looking great back in Nov. She was free from any Cancer and ready to get back to her normal life at her home and enjoying the holidays even if she still was not eating well. This spring things were still looking bright when she just kept telling me she was so tired and run down after a move to a new apartment.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

I think we all just thought that the move had worn her 77-year-old body down and that she would rebound. She was not sleeping well and seemed to have some sort of UTI infection that would not go away. Finally we talked about when she was going to see her Ears, Nose and Throat Specialist again. The appointment was in about ten days and she did not want togo any sooner than need be. So we waited until the appointed date to get her check up and what did they find but that a tumor had returned. Holy Crap! NO NO NO ! Seated there in the chair across from the monitor of her scope, I watched as the scope slowly went through the nose to the throat to the voice box. Their on the wall of her throat,just above her voice box sat a lumpy mass of almost white speckled tissue shaped like a Lima bean. The Dr looked me in the eye and said “This does not look good” and I knew then and their the situation of her recovery was over.

The Dr went on to let us know that we needed to plan for a CT scan of her neck and a biopsy of the tumor. As we sat in the office getting those appointment made a nursed asked if she would like to just get the pre-operation testing done this day and not have to drive the 1:30 back the following day. She agreed and we spent a few more hours getting blood drawn, a chest x-ray and EKG done to make sure all was well for her Biopsy.

Well the results showed a spot on her lungs, and the CT scan was then cancelled as they now wanted to get a full PET scan with the Biopsy. Her Daughter and Son spent two days with her while all the tests got finished, a long couple of days of driving and waiting for everyone.

Well the results are in and it is not what anyone every wanted to hear, the Cancer is back, it has also moved to the lungs. Disappointment fills my heart to over flowing. The families hopes are devastated. The dreaded cancer is back and now spreading. With Wanda reaching her life time limit of radiation treatments it looks as though the main treatment now will be Chemo Therapy. What kind and if their will be surgery to combat the lung issue is still up of discussion. The next couple of months will be more trips to seem more Dr’s  and Surgeons. Then a trip to see a panel of Doctors who review her treatment plan. Then a time for prayer….and reflections for Grandma.

At 77 she has total control of her mind and body and this comes as a major set back for her. She has expressed that she is ready to met her “Lord and Savor”, “that it is His plan that we all fallow” and that she will need time to pray about her future choices.

Many times while driving Grandma to do weekly chores, I have witnessed her strength, courage and love. She never complains, she never shy’s away from the pain she experiences. She never blames God for the situation. She instead glorifies what she believes by witnessing to everyone around her. Grandma says to every person she talks to that “This is not the end, but only the beginning.” ” That life here on earth is really the hard part, that death is finally freedom from pain and suffering”. She glows with knowing that her freedom is real and that she has time to remind people that death is only a simple transition from body to spirit and nothing more.

It is in my saddest moments that I think of what she has allowed me to share in. Much like the movie ” Driving Miss Daisy” I am not the real person in charge in our relationship, she is. I am a humble driver, medication giver, house keeper, that is her friend and family. I would not say that I am in any way  religious, I have to many misgivings about any group doctrine. But I am a deeply spiritual person, that knows what she says is true. With her kind and loving wisdom she has brought comfort to hundreds of people across our area. She reminds them to “Trust in a power greater than ourselves and know that we are not alone”. That statement gives me and hundreds of others the comfort we need to get through another day with Cancer.

photo clip from the movie Driving Miss Daisy

photo clip from the movie Driving Miss Daisy

Categories: Cancer, cancer treatment, Family, grandma, health | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Cancer sucks! /Know One Gets Out of Here alive

Most everyone has experienced  Cancer in some way.We all know some one who has it, is recovering from it or has passed away from it. I have even owned a dog with it. It is a ruthless killer and if you are lucky to know, or  be some one who has survived it, you are a miracle. My life is up side down due to my dearly loved mother-in-laws diagnoses with throat cancer. If all you were not following to close this maybe the first time that you have seen me write about it. I was trying to let the terrible words sink in and not totally put a damper on my husbands 50th birthday party the last time I wrote about it. March 26 we were given the news that she had stage 3 throat cancer. It was a hard couple of days and my husband had a large birthday party planed 3 days later. How to celebrate the life of one loved one and stifle the tears for another one. It was a hard couple of days.4 generations of the powers family 2014 This is not even the first time I have dreaded hearing the words cancer as my X-husband passed from stomach cancer about 7 years ago at age 41, his mother soon after was also treated for cancer and survives to this day. I have seen my aunt fight to keep her breast for as long a possible fighting a little lump that would change her life. Cancer is part every species, race, age group, nation and living creature on the earth.We all fight the same battle and none of us is going to get out of here alive.

Cancer seems to either bring out the very best in people or the worst. I am proud to say that most of our family has come together in support of my mother in law. We all have heard stories about wives or husbands walking away from a sick spouse or a families falling  apart when a child becomes ill. It is a strange  thing to observe who hangs in their and who walks away. My husband and I are in the stay and fight camp. We along with his brother and sisters are all standing our ground in her fight against cancer.

Grandma is now receiving  her first round of radiation and is fighting infections of all kinds. It seems that when the cancer started to really grow in her body she was just worn down and infections of all kinds set in. It is as if one break down lead to another, some are even mental and spiritual. It has been a long hard fight but there is some light at the end of the tunnel now. The tumor is shrinking and she is slowly healing and gaining strength. At this point we are just hoping that  she will get to go home and spend some time with us. It is a simple wish from the heart with nothing flashy or brash.We know that with this type of cancer our time maybe limited so we make the best our of what time we have. grandma Wanda Dec 2013 Living surrounded by so much beauty here in the country you forget about what really happens in life sometimes. We all do, we all focus on work and dinner and paying bills, we just don’t always think about what happens at the end. It is our nature to not think about it, we are human. Then something makes you look at it again and you can only embrace the fact that it is part of the plan that we are born into, we are babies, we live, we die and the cycle begins again. This is what I see in the country every day. The farmers, the ranchers, herders live with it day in and day out, with death and birth, over and over again. I look out my kitchen window and see the hay that grows and watch as it gets mowed down in its prime, just so in the cold of winter something will live again. It is a perfect undisturbed system. I have been so lucky to share this country life with my mother in law for so many years. We lived only yards apart on the farm, we shared in the planting, growing and harvesting together. It was on the family farm that I learned about her and cycle of life that she loves still today. She taught me that every thing on the farm was a gift and that gift needed shared.

Grandma Wanda Powers with Christopher

Grandma Wanda Powers with Christopher

My family and  I know that what seems like an ending is really just the beginning.  A new beginning for her no matter where it takes her and for all of us who get to learn to step forward and teach others about what she has taught us over her 76 years. Cancer sucks,on that we can all agree, but it is really only a step towards the next phase in the journey. One that she is prepared to take and we will stand by her all the way.

Spike buck horns in the woods

Spike buck horns in the woods

 

Categories: Death, Family, family memories, Healing, health, old age | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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