When I was young, Halloween was one day. One short parade at school in your costume, and trick or treating in the afternoon. Boom, you're done. My kids have had about 3 weeks straight of various Halloween festivities. The plus side is we are getting our money's worth of store bought costumes. All fun!
We brought the kids to our annual local Monster Mash. They do such a great job decorating a local farm with games, face painting, a spooky haunted house, snacks, and of course, a hay ride. Connor was a sport, wouldn't wear his costume, but got in the spirit for his sisters sake.
This blog was started for Charlotte's adoption trip, and I really just keep it going as a journal, scrapbook, a place for thoughts and updated pictures. I also have been printing it at the end of the of every year so myself and the kids can read through it later on. So I just keep posting. It has taken me a few weeks to even be able to write this here. My mother passed away from cancer on August 12th. It was a Tuesday, dinnertime, 6:15pm at her home, with all of us holding her and telling her how much we loved her. It is still so shocking to me that she is not here, walking this earth. That I can't talk to her. Grief is all day and everyday. I tell my friends, who have been so kind, how can this not be the top story on the news every night. People lose their mother everyday, so many of us walking around like zombies. I have had many close friends who have lost their mothers, fathers, very recently too. I believe you can never understand the pain until you experience it for yourself. It is such a empty place, the loss of the person who loved you unconditionally, your cheerleader, your confidante of things you only tell your mother. The person who has known all of your history , who cares about stories of your life like no other. The world has shifted for me like no other time in my life. Having become a mother these past 10 years, my mother and I bonded and connected on such a deeper level, exchanging stories, advice, and so much laughter from tales of motherhood. It is so bittersweet for me now, there is so much more I want to share. My mother was 80 years old. Before she was diagnosed in March, she was vibrant, funny, curious, interested, always worked so hard towards a healthy life style. She mediated for 40 years, walked, ate oatmeal and fruit everyday. I just find it so cruel that cancer just came into her life, all of our lives, and how fast she declined. Facing cancer she was stoic, steady, and able to find her own kind of peace, her own calmness. I do find some solace that we were all able to come together to care for her. My sisters living with her ,and around the corner, were with her for every appointment, shots, transfusion, meals, showers. So much to navigate through, drs, drugs, insurance, hospice, etc. We were lucky to know we would be there for her, and each other every step of the way, as hard, confusing, and sad it would be. My parents were married for 56 years. My father who is 95 and still recovering from a broken hip is doing ok, lonely for my mother, her companionship . They spent all their time together since my Dad's retirement. Lunch out everyday, travel, errands together. All of our lives have been changed forever, and we all know that the grief process will take time and have many highs and lows. He is beginning a new routine, and doing well. My mother had so many joyous attributes and , believe me, a couple of annoying ones too! But I want to just mention a few: She loved late night TV. HBO,, (Mad Men, House of Cards) talk shows, repeats (Carson, Letterman, whoever had the better guest). You always heard her laughing , loudly, from some funny segment . Sometimes she couldn't stop laughing. (Frazier, Cheers, The Office). She loved cable news shows., Charlie Rose, even Bill O'Reilly. Reading! Reading, newspapers (NYT, NYPost,) magazines, (Vanity Fair, New York,), books, so many, bestsellers, political articles, and discussing them with my father. She also liked the Star and the Enquirer and People. You know, to be current..... Married to a airline executive there were trips over seas and all over the US. She loved a new routine, museums, sightseeing and if available, flying first class!! despite having anxiety about flying. She loved talking on the phone to her sisters, her friends. Hearing about their kids, my cousins. I spent many of my teen years waiting my turn for the phone (pre cell phone days)!! She really didn't like to cook, but she was a great one. Some fancy, some not, but always a nice meal, no open containers on the table, she would tell us, always try to have a nice table. She loved going to shows on Broadway. Going to NYC for anything really, shopping, restaurants, she loved a day trip to the city. She loved movies, going to movies, talking about movies.
She loved nightgowns, clean sheets, walking on the beach, Cape Cod, crosswords, celebrity guessing games. cruises. She tolerated Yorkies, and ended up loving so many. She used to love to drink ice tea, then to chew gum, then just regular tea. She never drank alcohol, never cursed , a few slipped, but would laugh at silly movies that had teenage boy humor, i.e. Bridesmaids, Howard Stern, etc.. She loved clam chowder, scones, homemade chocolate chip cookies, seafood, salads, grapefruits, sushi, lobster, Italian, brunch, gourmet dinners and fast food. It really was just the meal, she loved eating out with company, sharing a table and having lots of laughs.
She bought birthday presents, Xmas presents, always sent a card for every occasion. She never liked her penmanship, she thought it was too big, but it was elegant. She went to school and got her Associates degree later in life, and always pursued ways in which she could better her life intellectually and for her health. She said the rosary everyday. I can't remember a time she ever lied. She listened. She gave opinions. She never judged you for mistakes, and always supported myself and my sisters. When she disagreed, she let you know, but always ended with its your life and your decisions. Do what will make you feel best , doing the right thing was always her advice. My mother was once a secretary in my father's office at TWA. But I would say her career was us. She was our mother, for all of us that was enough. She wasn't the crafty mom, or the adventure mom, she was the nurturing, funny, loving mom, the best kind. How blessed my sisters and I were. But by all means, there were your typical leave the dinner table arguments too. That's what love and emotions get you!
My mother's name was Lorraine McNamara Carstairs. Her legacy will be in her children, her grandchildren. I realize after so much reflection on her life these recent weeks I have so much of her instilled in me that I can never let go of her, I wouldn't want to. She is my greatest influence. I wouldn't want a life where I didn't think of her many times of day and think of all the comfort she gave me. Comfort is the best to describe the way in which I felt loved by her. Just sitting with her in a room could give me that, just talking silly on the phone could.
I have thought many, many times, how did my mother handle the death of her mother, my beloved grandmother, Mary. She was my age, and although my children are younger, as devastated as she was, she continued. She made sure we kept going and we went on. She didn't fall apart, so I can't either. I try everyday to be present and be a mother that my Mother was to me. I have been given so many lovely sympathy cards and it is just recently that I can understand their words, that my mother will live on in me and in memories . She does, all the time, every day. I loved my mother with all of my heart and always will.
My mother is still being treated for multiple myeloma, so it has been harder to keep the kids entertained while we take care of her and visit. Swimming and eating ice cream are still tops, as much as I would have loved to take them on a big trip. They are still just enjoying not having a school routine.