The Lost Art of Hospitality

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People don’t seem to entertain much in their homes anymore. Maybe it’s their busy lives or a lack of confidence in their cooking abilities, or their self-consciousness about their homes. I like to have people over. Not all the time, of course. I love going out to eat where someone else has planned the menu, shopped for the ingredients, cooked and cleaned up. It’s generally worth every penny.

What makes a meal great for me is the company.

Home hospitality invites people into your private world, if you are so inclined. Some people find it too invasive and stressful.  For me, it is a way to connect with people and share values and customs. My children learn how to be hosts and hostesses.  They have to engage guests in conversation, make everyone feel welcome and comfortable, and help with the dishes. They put their devices down and make eye contact. And they learn to speak with adults who are not their parents, teachers or coaches.

It doesn’t matter if you buy prepared food and serve it on paper plates or cook a feast served on your china and crystal. After all, what’s the use of having all those beautiful things if they are only going to be used as decoration behind glass or stored in a closet? Using them lends beauty and a special aura to a meal. It creates memories for our children, who will in turn be happy to use them when we pass them along the family chain.

My mother was a master of entertaining. She made everyone feel warm and welcomed. She was so skilled at making her table look beautiful and her food delicious while also pleasing to the eye. She prided herself on “assembling” meals, a mixture of store-bought items which she would masterfully spruce up and home-made foods. I can only share this secret now that she is gone. I think she wouldn’t mind. Okay Mom?

The truth is, people are happy to be invited and not have to cook.  Unless you’re a world-class chef or the food is vile, no one will remember what they ate. And no one cares if you spent days slaving in the kitchen or merely a couple of hours. What they will remember is the feeling they had while in your home.

Priceless.

 

Desperate for Respite

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I love the title of this essay and have been waiting for years to use it.  I always say this will be the title of my book, if I ever get around to writing one.

My disabled son will be going to sleep-away camp for two weeks soon, where he has gone for many years.  The camp specializes in caring for kids with chronic illnesses.

This Sunday, a week before he leaves, I am travelling to Israel on a women’s trip.  You must be desperate, you may think. Or crazy. Who goes on a trip to Israel in the middle of turmoil?  I am. This trip has been planned for months and I feel strongly that I need and want to go.

And yes, it gives me an extra week of respite from my child with special needs.

I don’t really feel as desperate these days as when my son was younger.  His health is stable as of late, so it’s his day-to-day care that becomes part of my daily grind.

Unlike typical people who graze when their stomachs tell them they’re hungry, I have to remind my son to “feed himself” 5-6 times a day with formula through his feeding tube.  He can do this independently. He is typical in that his face is generally glued to some sort of screen or device, so asking him to attend to this task progresses quickly from the nice, calm request of “Ben, please come feed yourself”  to “Ben, come feed yourself NOW!!”  It exponentially increases my shrew quotient.

Add the medication three times per day, and it’s a carefully orchestrated care plan that has become somewhat rote for me.  The trickiest time to medicate him is at 4:30 a.m.  Unfortunately, the sleep-to-wake autonomic process can cause my son to have one of his “crisis” episodes. The medication eases this transition so he can awaken and have a good day.  If I oversleep or set my alarm incorrectly, things go downhill very quickly.  My husband and I share much of our son’s care. I do the early morning medications and he does the last feeding before bedtime (when I’m usually asleep.) It works for us.

When we had our first child, I became aware of the constant competition between my husband and I about who was more tired.

“I’m so tired,” I’d say.

“No, I’m so tired,” he’d reply.

We agreed to acknowledge we are both exhausted and to just be kind to each other.  Being tired is a state of adulthood. Whining about it doesn’t make it any better.  Either get some sleep or stop talking about it.

So I don’t complain about the early morning medication.  As long as it keeps my son functioning and happy, it’s okay with me.  I appreciate the occasional break when I can allow my body to wake up at it’s natural time. Or an afternoon nap.

I will definitely welcome the separation. Even if my respite includes an occasional air raid siren or bomb shelter visit, it is a different stress and hardship from my daily life but one the Israelis know well.

Desperate for respite – from my home to the Middle East – it’s something everyone yearns for.

Preschool Cred

shutterstock_203431999Last month I went to pick up my ten-year-old daughter who was swimming with friends at a local pool and came across a preschool “graduation” party.  They looked so little to me – it was hard to believe they would be kindergartners in September.  The teacher recognized my daughter’s friends as former students at her school.  I confirmed that yes, they had gone to that preschool but my daughter had not.

“She did go to preschool though; she is a preschool graduate,” I quickly assured her. The absurdity of my response struck me, as if my daughter’s pedigree was in question.

Now I’m at another transitional education point – my eldest child will apply to college in the fall.  This time there are three adults (I know – it’s generous to call a 17-year-old an adult) involved in this decision, not two. We hope we have instilled in our son the ability to allow his life to unfold organically. I guess we’re about to find out if he will apply similar criteria to the college search that we did for the preschool search:

1) Is it a place where my child will be safe and happy?

2) Will he have a variety of learning opportunities, both academic and social?

Beyond that, I am not sweating the small stuff and fortunately neither is he, at least so far.  I am confident that he will get into one of the 3,500 colleges and universities in this country.  He is a great kid with a “resume” that reflects his interests, capabilities and growth. He has an idea of the kind of place he’d like to attend, and we support him wholeheartedly.

“Remember the crib,” my husband and I remind each other.

When we were shopping for a crib before our first child was born, we looked at many cribs in an enormous baby store until our eyes glazed over.  They were all nice and would all do the job. Do we buy the super expensive most beautiful crib or the functional, practical one?  We settled on the latter.  We realized once we got it home that we didn’t remember what any of those other cribs looked like.  What made our crib adorable was the baby in it.

We apply the crib theory to most decisions in our lives: don’t agonize, go with your gut feeling, and trust your inner voice.  We’ve found you don’t need to treat every decision as if it’s a high-stakes, win-lose situation.  Generally, things turn out the way they are supposed to.

My children are all preschool graduates, from a few different “schools.”  They don’t remember their preschool years, but I do.  As long as they were in a place where they were safe and happy, that was fine with me.  The fanciest, most prestigious, most expensive schools were not the criteria we used to pick preschools.  Location and a good vibe was what we were looking for.

“I thought you sent me to school to learn,” I told my mother when I sent my first child to preschool, “but it’s the best child-care ever!”

It was an epiphany for me. I was not the mother weeping when her two-year-old went off to class for three hours, twice a week. I was the one skipping happily out of the building to savor a few hours of freedom.

College will be a different experience, but maybe not so different.  Yes, he will study and learn. And he will put into practice the lessons he learned in preschool like how to use his words, how to share, and how to keep his hands to himself (hopefully.)  He will start out in a dorm with people looking out for him.  Something tells me I won’t be skipping away when we drop him off.  What a difference a few years makes.

I try to keep it all in perspective – a happy and independent adult is the goal, however he gets there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Joy” of Air Travel

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We recently went on a family trip. It’s easier now that our children are older.  All they need is their screens and some sugar and they are good.  We bring our 15-year-old’s wheelchair, that he uses occasionally, to make it easier getting through the airport.  Adding to the stress of travel is the anticipatory stress of going through security because of my son’s feeding-tube supplies and medications.

On the first leg of our trip, I made the security people aware that I had medical liquids in my backpack. They took my son’s wheelchair and simply let the bag go through the machine – it was so easy.  What a relief! I was not so fortunate on my return flight. I was alone with my two eldest sons on the way home.

Again, they took the wheelchair through. But when I told them I had medical liquids, they pulled me aside and looked at the contents: three cans of formula and a small bottle of liquid medication. I was given a choice.  They could open the cans of formula to test them; but then I would not have formula to feed my son. Or they could search through my bags and thoroughly pat me down.  Really? I’m just a middle-aged lady trying to get from Point A to Point B.

I had no choice and felt like a cornered animal. They searched through everything in my backpack and purse. Then I had to submit to the pat-down.  They called a woman TSA officer over to do the honors.  I wanted to cry. I stood there as she explained what she was going to do. She patted down my body and checked the waistline of my pants. Normally one to find the humor in things, I could find nothing funny about this.  I had to take off my shoes again to be checked. I quietly cooperated when what I really wanted to do was scream. Other passengers tried to avert their eyes but gave me pitying looks, glancing between me and my child in the wheelchair.

It was such an indignity and a dehumanizing experience.

“What’s dehumanizing?” my disabled son asked as he listened to me complain to my other son when it was over and we were walking to our gate.

“It’s when someone makes you feel like you are not a human being, but like an animal or an object,” I told him.

I realize we have an enormous country with thousands of airports. And ever since September 11th, authorities have tried to do many things to make air travel safer. Some things simply give us the illusion of safety.  The TSA workers are just doing their job but they do not make me feel any safer.

Some people may say I should just avoid flying.  I tolerate the basic stupidities everyone must go through to get where I want to go.   I leave my liquid deodorant and hair gel in my checked luggage, even though I think it’s pointless.  I can’t do that with my son’s medical supplies. It’s the senselessness of a one-size-fits-all screening process that sends me over the edge. Are the skies really safer with random, inconsistent screening?

There must be a better way.

 

 

 

Am I a Dance Mom?

I think of myself as a generic, run-of-the-mill mom.  Like many parents who benignly neglect their children, my kids spend hours in front of the computer searching God-knows-what.  Apparently my 10-year-old daughter is a fan of the show “Dance Moms.” I have never seen the show.  Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy watching television.  Binge-watching shows with my husband is a favorite activity.

For some reason, reality shows hold no allure for me.  Judging by the number of them on television, I gather I am in the minority.  My daughter is a big fan of this reality, dance mom show.  I was vaguely aware that it seemed to spark an interest in dance in her as I saw her twirling around the house in my peripheral vision.  She wanted to take a dance class, so I called a local dance studio.  Ignorant of all things dance, I didn’t have the words to make this request so I had to speak in the universal language of television.

“My daughter doesn’t know how to dance, has never taken a dance class, but she’s a big fan of ‘Dance Moms.’ Which class would you recommend for her?” I asked. This clearly was not their first Dance Mom inspired inquiry. The woman on the phone totally got it and pointed my daughter towards Broadway Jazz.  She loves it.

She happily attends her weekly class and always enjoys it.  I thought she looked so cute, picking out appropriate clothes to wear each week, doing her hair up into an intricate bun – sometimes with accessories on it.

Then she casually mentioned that the cast of Dance Moms was coming to town.  She reluctantly asked if maybe she could go – she said they would even be teaching a dance class.  Her reluctance showed that my daughter knows me well.  Surely I wouldn’t agree to waste money and time on something so frivolous, would I?

I mentioned it to my husband, who was on the same page as me.  Still, the 10-year-old gently and systematically kept asking, eventually showing me the website where I could find all of the information.  What to do?

I sought the advice of a friend who is the mom of my daughter’s best friend.  She was enthusiastic and thought her daughter would love it as well.  Really?  She would consider it?  Would I?  Could I?

“You talk about making memories.  This would definitely be an experience your daughter would remember,” she said.

She had me there.

So I surprised my daughter, and myself, by buying tickets and planning to attend this event. It included meeting the girls from the show, having your picture taken with them, and taking a class taught by a teacher from the show.  Four hours of fun.  She was so excited.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought.  I tried to keep the curmudgeon in me in check and mustered up excitement and enthusiasm for my child.  The event was well-organized and not a complete mob scene.  The mother-attendees were a mix of typical suburban moms, like myself, and what appeared to me to be true dance moms.  There were many adorable girls, appropriately dressed, and then there were others who reminded me of Jon Benet Ramsey.

I realized where my daughter got the bun idea from. What I thought was darling and adorable when she created it at home, suddenly looked pedestrian in a sea full of buns.

The dance girls seemed like typical girls, though a little precocious. “Please turn off your flash when you take pictures…it hurts our eyes,” they requested.  They seemed bored with the endless picture-taking.  Who wouldn’t be? I only met one mom from the show – a school principal I’m told. She seemed normal and nice.  The other Dance Moms were busy selling merchandise so I did not interact with them.  My friend and I agreed there would be no merchandise purchases; the memories would have to be made through the experience and pictures of the day.  Our girls were so excited because they ran into some of the girls from the show in the bathroom! Can you imagine? They use the bathroom too!

The dance class was cute.  Our girls were on the younger and less experienced side, so they happily positioned themselves in the back of the room.  They warmed up, learned two dances, and got to dance in front of the people from the show.  At the end, each of the four girls from the show did a dance routine.

On the way home, the girls were chatting about the day.  “Did you see why we were so skeptical about it?” I asked.  My friend shot me a glance to silence me.  I was grateful for the restraint.  No need for grumpy old me to be a buzz-kill.  They experienced the day through the fresh eyes of children, not through my cynical lens.

I am pretty sure my daughter is not going to be a professional dancer and that I am not going to be a dance mom. While I was reluctant to indulge in this activity outside of my comfort zone,  I saw how much fun she had.  Maybe I’m just a mom who was happy to give her child a fun day she will always remember.

That’s what I was going for.

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Making Memories

Where has the time gone?  A couple of years ago, when my eldest child was finishing his freshman year in high school I had a sudden, somewhat panicked feeling that he would be “gone” in a few years.  He would leave the nest and life as I know it would never be the same.

I remember when my children were small and every older person sagely advised me to enjoy this time as it all goes by very quickly.  I thought, “Yeah, right – I can barely make it through each day.”  And then that moment happened – I suddenly felt time accelerating.  What to do?

“We have to plan some vacations,” I told my husband.

Vacations and unique activities are what make memories.  The day to day drudgery is how you build morals and values both consciously and unconsciously.  But it’s the out of the ordinary things that children remember.  Encouraging (or forcing) together time can be novel in itself but the challenge is to make it memorable.

I’m not one to scrapbook or take loads of pictures.  I think the greatest memories are in your head and the way you viscerally feel when remembering them.  The ones that are in your hard drive.  Making memories can be intentional.  And many memories are created unintentionally.

I had a simple, visceral memory of my own recently.  At the end of a yoga class the instructor was going around giving everyone a therapeutic touch as we were in our final, resting pose.  She gently placed her hand across my forehead.  It made me remember the many times my own mother did this.

One of the goals of parenting for me is to create good memories for my children, like my mother did for me.  As the first spring arrives since my mother died, my heart is lifting with the anticipation of warm weather, flowers and trees blooming.  My happiness is muted knowing my mother will not enjoy this spring too.  She loved going out to “inspect” her yard, clipping shears in hand.  This memory will comfort me as I take shears and go out to inspect my yard.  My mother will be with me and I’ll see things through my eyes but with her filter.

As I think about it, the vacations are the vivid memories we take from childhood but the little things are what brings us comfort and security throughout our adult lives.  The memory that a parent cared for our bodies and our souls.  That they were interested in who we were and how we fared in life.  They are our biggest cheerleaders.

I guess that’s why I’m so focused on making the most of this last year before my eldest flies the coop.  I feel an urgency to impart my wisdom, though I realize my timeline is arbitrary. I will continue to parent, but he will be influenced by the people he meets and his own experiences.  What things will he remember from his childhood?  The good times at the beach, holidays, vacations? Family dinners and family friends?  Familiar songs or prayers? The cool hand on his warm forehead?  The special things I bake and cook – the tastes and smells?

Will he remember the things I’m not as proud of? Apparently I’m known to raise my voice once or twice, or a thousand times. In my mind’s eye, I don’t perceive myself as a yeller though I admit the children provoke me sometimes.

I tell them, “I didn’t always yell.  I used to be a normal person, just like you, who speaks in a normal tone of voice.”

Hopefully they won’t remember their Mom as “Old Yeller.”  I try only to look forward, not back.  The goal is not a perfect childhood, but a solid one to build the foundation for a successful adulthood however one defines that.  I hope my children will remember the good times, the meaningful moments and the laughter in our home.

I know they will remember their mother pointing their finger at them and saying, “Let me tell you something….”

Me and My Dad

My Dad is one of a kind.  He is a generous, opinionated, smart, and loving man.  He expresses his feelings easily and freely.

Throughout my life he periodically asks, “Have I told you I love you today?”

Pretty great, I know.

And now he stands alone, after losing my mother to cancer six months ago.  Fortunately he is a healthy and independent seventy-seven year old.  But he is alone.  He no longer has my mother to schedule their social calendar, cook meals, beam with pride over their grandchildren.  Now when I call his house he can no longer chat with me briefly and hand the phone to my mother.  He and I are in a new place, bound together by our grief as we forge ahead without his wife and my mom.

We are lucky that we had a relationship independent of my mother so that we are not strangers.  It’s the same as before, but closer.  We check in with each other frequently.  We help each other – he does some of the driving of my kids and I frequently make dinner for him.  While he can shop and feed himself, cooking is not an interest of his.  It makes me sad to think his house will never be filled with the joyous, life-affirming smells of the kitchen. My husband and I provide a home-cooked meal, a glass of wine, and a sounding board as my dad moves forward to figure out his new reality.

He has been retired for several years.  How will he fill his time without my mother? Will he stay in the house that he and my mother built and love so much?  Will he date? Remarry? Where will he live?  These are questions he grapples with and I can only stand by and watch.  In a weird way, it’s how I feel about my 17  year-old son.  Of course they are on two different ends of the life cycle, but they both have to define who they are and figure out their own life.

I admire my father’s resilience and strength.  He is grateful for the wonderful marriage he had. And he is cognizant of the fact that he is still living, and should continue to do so as fully as possible. For now, I’m enjoying this time of having my father to myself.  If and when he is in another relationship, things will change.

My sister and I have taken to referring to him as “paterfamilias,” which he doesn’t care for but it amuses us.  “Pater” for short.  He takes seriously his role as head of the family.  He is a caring father, grandfather, uncle, brother-in-law, and cousin.  My mother’s way of doing things are ingrained in him, as they are in me.  He knows just what to take to someone’s house as a hostess gift.  He is thoughtful and caring, but even more so as he channels my mother’s special brand of kindness and thoughtfulness.  He remembers birthdays and goes out of his way to write meaningful cards.  He is very aware that he is the last parent standing and wants to ensure that his legacy is as rich as my mother’s.  He wants to make sure he too will have a lasting impact on his family.

I think of my Dad all the time and feel responsible for his well-being.

“Is it a burden?” a friend asked.

Not at all. I am grateful that we live near each other and can share the joys and sorrows of daily life with one another. It would be much harder to think of him alone if I did not live nearby. We have good boundaries and separate lives, though they often overlap.  I recently invited him over one Saturday evening but he declined, saying he wanted to be with adults.  Gee, I thought 50 year old me was an adult…but I knew what he meant.  He wants to hang around with peers, not people my age all the time.  He enriches my life, and the life of my family.

So who will my father become, after being Rita’s husband for 54 years?  Someone equally as wonderful.  Just a little different.

 

Happiness Prevails

I anticipated my son’s bar mitzvah with trepidation.  Yes, I was looking forward to the service and celebration.  But I was also dreading it and wondering if I would be a weepy mess, missing my mother.

Once the snow became a non-issue, the sun came out, everyone arrived from out of town as scheduled, and I felt tentatively excited and happy.  Everything went as planned.  My son did a wonderful job, as did the rest of our family and friends.  I found myself “in the moment” during the service, very engaged, and happy.  How could I not be happy?  I was surrounded by so many people who love and care about me.  And who knew my mother.  They all assured me that a) she loved my outfit, and b) she was beaming with pride from up above.

I wore jewelry of my Mom’s throughout the weekend, and of course her coats.  I could feel her style and panache channeling through me as I prepared for each event.  I faltered when choosing a necklace to wear one night.

“Don’t over-think it,” my sister said.  “Just go with it.”

Thank goodness for her grounding sensibility to keep me on track.  Just like my mother would.

It occurred to me when the weekend was over that I felt more happy than sad.  I was pleasantly surprised to feel that way.  It makes me hopeful that I will feel fuller happiness as time goes on, without my mother in my life.  I realize she is everywhere.  In the love and nurturing I receive from my dear friends and family.  In the way my dad, sister and I always ask, “What would Rita do?” In my children.

I am ever an optimist, like my mother, although a more cynical one.  She lived every day to the fullest.  And I will too.

Evolution of a Parent

My 15 year old son has a genetic disorder called Familial Dysautonomia.  Search it and you can learn all about this awful disease.  Ben is our 2nd child, 16 months younger than his older brother.  Since our first child was typical, it was obvious to us right away that something was wrong with our second child.

He was unable to breast feed, took forever to drink a bottle, seemed to have a lot of reflux and projectile vomiting.  At six months I took him to the emergency room because I thought he sounded horribly “junky” in his breathing.  It was during that hospital admission when it was discovered that he was aspirating when he drank a bottle.  They gave him a nasal-gastric tube, followed a few months later by a gastrostomy tube (since the aspiration had not resolved.)  After visits to many specialists, the mystery of what ailed him was discovered when Ben was one year old.  As awful as it is to get a diagnosis, it is comforting to know what is wrong and have a medical team to guide you along the way. And fortunately, one of the characteristics of people with FD is a sunny disposition when they are feeling well.  Ben is blessed with this disposition, which is an asset to our family – we get to skip the sullen teenage years with him.

I give you this background to set the stage for raising this child.  We did everything we were supposed to do: early intervention, first in our house, then in special preschool.  Speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy.  Individual Education Plans (IEPs), special ed, regular ed.  Ben always seemed to be just a little behind and we worked hard to keep him as “normal” as possible. As his peers and siblings aged, the gap became more pronounced.  His limitations became more obvious.  We came to accept that Ben is probably not college bound; that hopefully he will get a high school diploma.  If not, we will still help him get a job where he can be productive and happy.

As he’s aged, Ben’s balance and gait have gotten worse.  His stamina is not great and it is difficult for him to walk long distances.  Last summer, we had him use a wheelchair for the first time.  We were in Boston on a family vacation and Ben had had one of his “crises” (a constellation of symptoms, including a very high heart rate, nausea and uncontrollable retching) that required heavy medication to put him to sleep so his body could “reset.”  He was so lethargic, he required a wheelchair at the Aquarium so we and our other 3 children were not stuck in the hotel room for the day.  Ben was thrilled and the other kids thought it was novel.  My husband and I exchanged a meaningful glance.  This was a huge milestone for us as parents of this disabled child.  It was a very public admission that he is fragile and weak and will continue to be so. Our family has to adapt to an ever changing reality.  It made us very sad, but it salvaged the day.

We decided to buy Ben his own wheelchair this past summer.  Annual visits to New York City to see Ben’s specialists, which we combine with a family trip to see the sights, led us to get the chair to avoid dragging him on an unrelenting march across Manhattan in 90 degree heat.

Recently we were in a Smithsonian Museum to see an I-Max movie.  We forgot our wheelchair but came across the ones for lending in the museum.  It occurred to me as we pushed Ben around that this was a good thing for him.  He seemed so much more engaged in the environment as he comfortably sat in the wheelchair, instead of dragging around, squatting every few steps to rest.  And because it was more pleasant for him, it was more pleasant for us.  We could enjoy his company instead of being dragged down by it.

A person can learn to accept a lot, as time goes on.  The stares of others, wondering what’s wrong with your child.  The curious questions about your son’s feeding tube.  Ben’s siblings take it all in stride.  I suppose they follow our lead, as we have always tried to be as normal a family as possible.  We had two more children after Ben, so that he would be part of a “pack.”  His siblings and our family’s circle of friends are his friends and his support system.

It’s not the family we envisioned, but it is ours and we love it….most of the time.

Grief, Continued

So it’s been almost 3 months since my Mom died.  I don’t cry every day anymore.  I do think about her all the time.  And hear her voice when I call my Dad and get their voice mail.

I have several of her winter coats, which I have taken to wearing.  Of course they each have a pair of gloves in them (and of course, Kleenex.)  My husband gives me a knowing glance when he sees a “new” coat.  He knows my Mom is wrapped around me.  While I know my Mom is a part of me, internally, I seem to get comfort from some of her external possessions.  I am carrying her everyday purse – I know she bought it at TJ Maxx, her favorite place to buy purses.  I carry Kleenex, shopping bags, an umbrella – all of the things she kept close at hand, “just in case.”  I stop short at putting a label on all of my possessions in the event they are lost.  While I am my mother’s daughter, I am my own person.  And I will not succumb to all of her idiosyncrasies.

I got through the first Thanksgiving without her.  And while my parents had been going to Indiana to my sister’s the past few years, I still missed calling her to discuss my menu.

“I’m having 20 people; how big of a turkey should I get?”

“Do I need appetizers?”  “What about a salad?”

Trivial things, I know, but all part of the package of having a mom.  Especially a good, extremely competent mom.  I managed without her, answering the questions with what I think she would have said.  I have grown into a very competent 50 year old woman.  I’m a grown up.  Of course I can put on a dinner for 20 without my mother’s input.

It just wasn’t as much fun.  It felt sad.  And lonely.  And I missed her, even if I could briefly pretend she was in Indiana.

My father spent Thanksgiving with my sister, where she took a turn helping him with his grief.  It’s generally one sided; he talks a lot about Mom but can’t listen too much if we do.  It’s okay.  As my sister said, “My grief pours out of me all the time, through my whole body.  I don’t really feel the need for it to come out of my mouth.”

Yet I clearly feel the need to talk about it some.  Or write about it when the mood strikes me.

Next week my sister is coming so we can clean out our mother’s closets together.  Yet another task for the grieving.