Saturday, October 25, 2014

Memories of My Mom

Today I stood in the middle of 15,000 people and cried like a baby because I missed my mom.

Mom has been gone for a little more than three years now and I'm still not used to it. I think of her all the time and wish she were here to go to my girls dance recitals, my boys high school graduations or just to talk to about the boring day-to-day stuff like we used to.

Lately there have been quite a few reminders of my mom.  Last year I planted a crepe myrtle tree in
honor of my mom and grandfather. I thought it might not have survived the winter but instead it blossomed beautifully. In my front garden, the morning glories climbed up the trellis, through the garden and down the sidewalk.

Kid 2 was going through some books recently and he found an old boarding pass I had used as a book mark. It  was the boarding pass I used to fly home on Christmas Eve 2010. Me and 6 kids rushed to board a flight, knowing it was my moms last Christmas, but not knowing if we'd get to her before an approaching blizzard. It was a blizzard that ended up shutting down most of the Northeast United States. We landed in Philadelphia just as the snow was starting to accumulate. It was the best/worst/craziest/happiest/saddest most memorable Christmas ever.

That old boarding pass is still sitting on my dresser. For some reason I just haven't thrown it away yet.

Today the kids and I participated in the Susan G Komen Race For The Cure. We've wanted to do the race for a few years now but we always had other commitments. Race For The Cure raises money
and awareness for breast cancer. Since my mom had liver, lung and brain cancer, but not breast cancer, I didn't write down that I was running in memory of my mom.

But then a weird and unexpected thing happened.

As we were standing in the warm up area before the race, I started noticing all the names on other peoples shirts that they were running for. Almost everyone was running either in celebration of, or in memory of, their mother, their sister, their wife or a friend. Some had actual names written on their shirt. Many just said "In memory of my mom".

Standing there in that sea of pink t-shirts, I became totally overwhelmed with emotion and started crying. More like bawling. As music played on the stage and people danced and cheered around me, I just stood there and cried. It was Kid 5 that was the first to notice something was wrong.

I told him I was OK, I just missed my mom. He put his arms around me and said "I miss Mimi too."

I pulled myself together and set out on the 3.2 mile course. I've often said that you meet the nicest people at races, and today was no exception. I talked to a man whose wife had just had a baby last night, but she insisted he be at the race today with their other children to run in honor of their aunt. A woman, not all that much older than me, was racing in memory of her daughter. Not in celebration of, in memory of, her daughter. I can't even imagine. Many women were running for their sisters. And I was surprised and happy to see so many men running in celebration of their wives. It's probably the only place I've ever seen so many men proudly wearing pink.

Tonight my mom, the kids Mimi, was on all our minds. They asked if next year I will put my moms name on my t-shirt even though it wasn't breast cancer that took her. Yes, I told them, I will. Cancer is cancer and cancer took my mom from me.

Next year my t-shirt will say "I run in memory of my mom. And I miss her every day."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Family Time on a Mountain: Way Better Than Minecraft!

I've always said I'd rather give my kids experiences than things.

To be honest,  they have most of the "things" they've asked for. But when I consider gifts or vacations I try and look at what can we do and not what can we buy?

When my sister and I were kids my parents took us on vacation to a different state each summer. I still remember sitting along Mirror Lake New Hampshire listening to the Loons as they swam on the lake. We toured the Baseball Hall of Fame in upstate New York with my dad. We even camped along the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. But I don't remember a single souvenir or thing that I bought any of those summers.

Being a military family for twenty years meant we moved every few years. But it also gave my kids the opportunity to see new places and experience new adventures. The travel bug seems to have caught each of the kids as well. Both kids 2 and 4 have worked extra hard these past two years to pay their way through non-family trips to Washington DC, Philadelphia, California and Colorado. Kid 3 is campaigning hard to get permission to travel to ComicCon next year (he's closer to having my permission than he knows) and the other kids have their own dreams and plans as well.

Now that I'm a single mom vacations aren't as financially feasible. But this weekend we took our first
official family vacation since before the divorce. Unfortunately, Kid 1 had to stay home and work. So me and the other five kids packed up the car and headed off for a long weekend trip to Pinnacle Mountain Arkansas. We rode horses, hiked, went to the State Fair, and explored a World War II submarine.

There was lots of laughter and few squabbles. I knew my "experiences not things" motto was working when one of the kids momentarily stopped scrambling up the mountain, turned around and said "this is even better than Minecraft!"

It makes this momma's heart happy to see how when the kids are removed from their daily routine they connect and really seem to enjoy being together.  Kids 2 and 4 - the two who normally argue over who is right - paired off on the hike up and down the mountain.  Kid 3, the most quiet of my crew, and kid 5, the most sensitive of the family, also paired off. More than once on the 5 mile hike up, down and around the mountain those two ventured off on their own to sit and take in the view.

Later that evening we all reached the over-tired laughter on the verge of tears point and I had to remind them that we were in a hotel and the people in the next room might not enjoy hearing the hysterics coming from our room.

Although, even if we did get a little too loud, I hope it's a memory the kids will always smile and remember.

We made it to the top!