Education was Important to my Mother

Education was important to my mother.

Keeping her children happy was even more important.

So, when her oldest daughter lost her sense of humor and started freaking out about final exams the week before graduation, Momma Benedetti went to her bag of tricks to ease the tension.

She dressed up in my graduation cap and gown and declared she was a “college gad-gee-ate”.

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When that didn’t so much as get a smile from me, she tried walking into my bedroom with a rose between her teeth and asked me to tango.

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Unfortunately, I was so hung up on doing well on my finals, that neither action made me any less anxious.

Yes, I was her more sensitive child. The one the doctors always referred to as “emotional” and recommended enemas on a regular basis.

You know the kind.

Every family has one.

And lucky me, I was the one.

It wasn’t until the next morning, while I was sitting on the throne, looking down at the painted toenails of our clawfoot bathtub, that I burst out laughing.

Mom had painted all of the nails on the claws with bright red nail polish.

Her oldest daughter needed to laugh, and Mom wasn’t giving up until I did.

She succeeded.

I sat there on the toilet laughing hysterically and shaking my head in awe.

Mom got me on that one.

I was now prepared to kick some serious butt on the last of my final exams and to graduate from community college.

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Thanks, Mom.

It’s because of you that I went on and became a “college gad-gee-ate”.

I miss her every day, but it’s memories like these that keep her close to my heart and very much alive.

Love you, Mom.

Love you to the moon and back.

Continue reading Education was Important to my Mother

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One More Christmas Memory

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It’s that time of year, again.

Christmas music is playing non-stop, the stores are jam-packed with holiday shoppers, and kids are busy making their lists to send to Santa praying they’re on the nice list – not the naughty one.

The Princess and I have been busy attending Christmas concerts and enjoying the company of good friends and good food.

The outside lights are up, the tree decorated and my Dicken’s Christmas Village painstakingly set up with careful attention given to the placement of each piece before having snow dumped all over it for that added, cozy Christmas touch.

The holiday season is here in full force. I’m laughing, listening to Christmas carols and starting plans for my Christmas dinner party.

God has been good. We have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, food to eat and the love of family and friends.

So, why do I feel so empty? Why does my heart ache?

The (Dicken’s) Christmas Village that I started years ago was bought with money that my Mom sent me in my early days in CA. Bought with the thought of times past and the innocent memory of childhood trips to our downtown to see lights strung on Xmas trees and store fronts.

As a child, we didn’t have a car, and my Mom hoofed it to work every day and stood on her feet for hours-on-end at a Jewish Bakery in upstate NY; schlepping rye bread and jam-filled jelly doughnuts to an endless stream of customers who waited patiently to purchase fresh baked goods and to chat with the animated Italian who had a smile as bright as a summer day.

She could wait on 2 to 3 customers at a time, give a hug and a cookie to a munchkin and make everyone feel loved and important; all without breaking a sweat.

And home she trudged through snow and ice after a hard day of standing on her feet, only to be greeted by youngsters anxious to go downtown to look at the Christmas lights twinkling in store front windows and draped on snow covered trees.

“Please, Mom,“ I’d beg. “We’ve all eaten dinner and I’ve washed and put away the dishes. Can you please take us downtown? Please, please, please?”

“I’ll help pull the little ones on the sleigh and we won’t ask for anything, Mom.”

“Honest,” I’d plead.

“We won’t ask for anything,” I continued, looking at her with my best puppy dog eyes.

And Mom being Mom, she quickly grabbed something to eat, bundled us all up and off we’d go downtown looking at lights and talking about our school day.

Over the years, I’ve added on to my Dicken’s Village and always smiled with love and fond memories of a time when we were poor with material comforts, but rich with Mom’s love and steadfast support.

This Christmas season my heart aches for a time past when the snow filled our sidewalks and the tree lights sparkled on the snow as our sled quietly slid-on through the new blanket of white stuff.

As an adult, Christmas has always been my favorite time of year, and I’ve always called my Mom to share with her the joys of the season.

I never realized until recently how my Mom mirrored that joy and how much happier I was after sharing my experiences with her.

With Mom’s passing this October, I find my mirror has a crack and my joys are not as colorful, not as merry.

She wouldn’t want me to feel sad and I’m trying hard to stay merry, but there are times a certain song, a certain smell, a certain Christmas scene takes me back to a time when my Mom was my Mom, and I was her little girl.

And my heart aches for one more moment, one more conversation, one more Christmas memory to share with my mom.

“Merry Christmas, Mom. I love you to the moon and back. Always have. Always will.”

I wish for all of you the merriest of Christmas’s and a Happy New Year, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

Thank you for your continued love and support.

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I Love You to the Moon and Back

I’m on a rollercoaster ride and I’m not quite sure when it ends.

Or does it?

I eat. I sleep.

Make chicken soup and play board games.

The recipe for the cookies calls for “shortening.”

I don’t exactly know what “shortening” is.

I’ll call Mom.

She’ll tell me what it is and let me know what I can substitute.

Wait a minute.

We buried Mom last week.

No more asking her for advice. No more hearing her ask, “How are you and the Princess today? Doing anything fun?”

I feel like an untethered ship with no rudder, no oars.

The fall days are as gray and as empty as my heart.

My foundation has a crack and I feel weak and unstable.

I need to keep walking. Baby steps. One at a time.

Need to keep connecting.

And remembering.

Sharing.

And listening to stories of a life loved and well lived.

My Mom was my rock and my rock is no longer.

We buried Mom last week and with her my heart.

Love you, Mom.

Love you to the moon and back.tony-detroit-362133-unsplash

Photo by Tony Detroit, Unsplashed

I’ll be Ready, too…

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Numb.

There is no feeling.

No thoughts.

I’m autistic.

Totally overwhelmed.

I wake up waiting.

Go through the day.

I eat, sleep, take care of my responsibilities.

My heart is in my throat.

I have everything to say, but am wordless.

I laugh.

I cry.

I wash clothes and sweep the floor.

Exercise. Shop. Clean the garage.

I call Mom.

“How are you and the Princess doing?” she asks.

“Good,” I answer.

“How are you, Mom?”

“Lazy,” she answers. “Very lazy.”

“Rest, Mom,” I tell her.

“Save your strength and rest.”

“Yes,” she answers. “Love you, sweetheart. Love you.”

“Love you, too, Mom.”

“Bye.”

Her time in this life is short. She’s ready. Her body is spent. She does everything to keep her mind sharp; does everything to show her children and loved ones that’s she’s still present and still Mom.

But the cancer and leukemia are slowly robbing her of her self-hood; of  her being.

And I am not ready to say good-bye; not ready to fly solo, but solo I must try.

When you’re ready, Mom, I’ll be ready, too.

Promise Mom.

I’ll be ready, too…

Rat Karma

The Princess is outside walking around with the exterminator.

Yep.

Unfortunately, our local raccoons have no manners and are messy eaters with the birdseed they steal from the Princess’s bird feeder.

 
Did you know that rats like leftover birdseed?

 
Un-huh.

 
They do.

 

And our cat, Boo, has been too occupied with the deer to mess with the baby rats, so we’ve got furry, 4-legged, low-riders scooting around the perimeter of our home and having a grand ole time.

 

Yuck!

 

I hate rats. The Princess, on the other hand, loves and respects all life forms, including RATS.

 

She spent the better part of an afternoon researching and calling various exterminator companies.

 

I can assure you, the pest control company that she eventually hired was thoroughly vetted to make sure the little buggers wouldn’t suffer any undue stress when they went to rat heaven. They simply eat a special food that they leave for them, and then drift off to sleep, like Snow White.

 

“Yeah,” he reassured her. “They may get a tad thirsty before they doze off, but that’s about it. It’s pretty painless.”

 

“Oh,” he continued. And you might have a peculiar odor coming from the house until we come and pick up their remains, but not to worry, it’s just their decaying bodies.”

 

Swell.

 

I’m so glad she paid a professional to do this. I was prepared to buy some traps, bait the traps and nail the little buggers. But the Princess, being the Princess, didn’t wanna hurt the little sweethearts.

 

“After all,” she informed me. “You could end up with bad karma if you kill them inhumanely.”

 

Un-huh.

 

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t looking forward to killing them myself, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And I certainly was not going to cohabitate with any 4 –legged creatures of the rat family. If you recall, the Princess and I played a version of “Pop goes the weasel” with a rat when we lived in CA. I did not and do not want to do this, again!

 

No siree, Bob.

 

I’m glad someone else’s karma is gonna be negatively tweaked, though. I can now go to sleep knowing that my “rat karma” is in tact.

 

And you, dear People, have a great day and I’ll catch ya next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

Praying to go Home

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I find myself at a loss for words these days. My heart is heavy and my thoughts are cloudy.

I have never been keen on saying “good-bye” to people, and if the truth be told, I’m the relative that always tears up at the airport and has to blow my nose a few hundred times before sending people on their way.

What can I say? Underneath my wry humor and at times quick wit, I’m an emotional lightweight; especially when it comes to my mom and people that I love.

Mom had to leave her apartment 3 weeks ago and was placed in assisted living. My siblings and I felt she needed more assistance and mom agreed to the move. She was struggling with trying to do simple, daily chores and could barely make an egg for herself to eat for breakfast. She knew that she couldn’t live independently any more and WE knew that she couldn’t, either. All the aides and help from family and friends could not maintain her and keep her safe; no matter how hard everyone tried.

My oldest brother contacted me this week. Mom is in the hospital. Didn’t really surprise me because I talk to her every day and have been keenly aware of the fact that she was not feeling well for some time now.

He called me for a second time this week. I knew when I saw his number on my cell phone that it wasn’t going to be a social call. Everyone that knows my brother knows that he’s not one for idle chatter.

So when I got the second call from him in as many days this week, I knew the call wasn’t going to be fun.

“Hey,” he started. “How ya doing this morning?”

“Swell,” I answered. “What’s up?”

“I just got off the phone with Carmie (our cousin).”

“Mom’s not doing so great. Doctor is referring her to rehab and then recommended that she go to the nursing home, after rehab,” he informed me.

“Hm,” I mumbled. “Doesn’t sound too encouraging.”

“Well,” he answered. “I called Uncle Toney. He’ll go up and see her and said he’d give me a ring later.”

“Yeah,” I responded. “That sounds like a plan. Call me, if you hear anything.”

My mom is over 3,000 miles away, struggling to survive, while at the same time praying to go home.

And I, her oldest daughter, idly sit with heavy heart and cloudy thoughts.

My mom wants us to play and to live life fully and doesn’t want us to feel sad. When she passes, she wants us to go to lunch and laugh with each other and remind each other of past fun times.

And I so want to honor my mother’s last wishes. I so want to be the dutiful daughter.

But it’s hard to laugh and go on living, when my mom is over 3,000 miles away and struggling to survive.

And at the same time praying to go home.

But I know my mom and I know how much she loves to laugh. So I need to hitch up my britches, and I need to go on, because that’s what Momma B. wants.

And what Momma wants, Momma gets.

It’s time to get up.

And it’s time to live.

Have a good day, People. And I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.