Her Hands Have Touched Hearts and Souls

Moments with Momma – Volume 5

These hands have worked so hard and today they are making a Halloween headpiece for the costume I will wear to a Halloween party next weekend.

As I watched her struggle to pull the floral wire tight enough to hold the blooms in place, I thought about all the things her hands have done. She has always loved flowers! These hands have dug in the dirt for more years than I have been alive, coaxing beautiful blooms to grow from tiny plants. Her flower gardens have been a source of pride and joy for her. She would point out each flower and tell you it’s story as she slowly wandered from flower bed to flower bed. Her landscaping was a work of art. When a large yard became too much and she moved to a condo, her love of flowers went with her. To most, her patio looked way too small for a flower garden, but we were all wrong. She filled the entire space with flowers. There were flower up high, down low and in between. She tended her small paradise with love and care, removing each and every bloom when it passed its peak, watering endlessly and talking to them to encourage them to be strong.

When she sold her condo to leave indiana and move in with us, one of her great grandsons took her beloved flowers home with him. Since she has been here with us, she hasn’t had any flowers to tend but I think its time she got those hands dirty again. We have a large lanai and pool deck that is begging for more color. Maybe keeping her hands in the dirt with keep her heart in the game.

As I thought about her hands, the strangest memory came to me. I remember as a young child growing up in the 60’s watching her get dressed up to go to town. Back then, women wore gorgeous, tailored suits to go shopping. After all, it was the time of Jackie O. I would lay across her bed and watch her put on her nylon stockings. Her hands would gather up the stocking all the way down to the toe. She put her toe in and then she started working that gossamer fabric up her leg gently working back and forth to make sure it was smooth and straight. Then she would put on her suit. She had two that I thought were the most beautiful clothes any woman had ever worn! One was bright spring green trimmed in navy blue and the other was cheerful, sunflower yellow trimmed in black. Once dressed, her hands would add the finishing touches – a thin belt threaded through the tiniest of belt loops and fastened in front. She would always smooth the front of her suit after the belt was on. Then she added a fabulous silk scarf that tucked in the top of the suit jacket for that perfect put-together look. Finally, she would pull out the perfectly matched pair of high heels, classic pumps in either navy or black. She looked so stunning!

I also remember her using those hands to paint greeting cards. She loved to paint. One year she decided to hand paint all of her Christmas cards. For months she would spend her spare time in her painting room creating winter scenes on blank cards. They were beautiful beyond description and lovingly made from these very hands.

Isn’t it strange how just noticing her hands today brought back all these memories! Her hands are not as strong and sure as they once were, but the joy she has brought to others through these loving and giving hands will live forever in the hearts she has touched.

Thanks for being here today. Have a great weekend and we will talk to you again on Monday!

Love

Suzy

It’s Not All Sunshine and Roses. Sometimes there is Melancholy.

Moments with Momma – volume 4

Most of the time Mom is upbeat about her new life in SW Florida, but there have been a couple of days when she has felt differently. When questioned, she had a hard time describing what she was feeling. Then she found the word – Melancholy.

Hmmm, Melancholy. What a dark, foreboding, yet somehow romantic word. When I hear the word, I immediately think about the harsh, raw, wind blowing across the damp and dreary Scottish Moors. I feel the heaviness of the clouds as they blanket the landscape. I can feel the chill creep into the very bones of the heroines of a romantic novel as she draws her woolen shawl tightly around her shoulders. She gazes across the desolate moors thinking about the love of her life whose life was cut short as he bravely fought for the future of the kingdom, leaving her alone, heavy with his child in this lonely land.

When I asked her what her thoughts were when she was feeling melancholy, what she said actually gave credence to the above description. She talks about things that will never be again such as how she hasn’t been truly happy since my dad passed away, about how so many of her great friends have passed, how she misses doing all the things she use to be able to do that she will never be able to do again. She says it’s a heaviness in the heart. It’s not sadness or regret, just a heaviness from missing the people and things that were.

She explained to me that one of the biggest blows to a person’s life is when his/her driving privileges are taken away. It’s like stripping the person of their freedom. When Mom moved down here we all decided it was not safe for her to drive. Her reaction time has slowed and she was in a new and unfamiliar place. I am here every minute of every day to take her anywhere she wants to go whenever she wants to go but, I guess it’s just not the same.

So, the question I have been sitting with over the past few days is this: what is the lesson I can take away from these conversations? The answer? I need to be fully present every moment and to be fully engaged in everything life puts in front of me. I need to love a little deeper and express that love more openly. I need to appreciate my friends more completely. I need to never take for granted the ability to move freely and to drive. I need to notice the beautiful things around me, to drink in the fragrances of the flowers, to feel the breeze on my skin. Most importantly – I need to be so filled with gratitude for every single experience I have that I feel as light as air. I need to mentally record every experience and every moment of joy so I can look back on them in the future and be grateful.

The day will come when all of us will be in Mom’s position. We will be looking back over our lives and melancholy will fill our hearts. Time marches on, friends pass and situations change in a heartbeat. None of us know when these things will come so it’s just the most important thing in all of life to be unendingly grateful for every experience that happens today and every day.

Blessings to you, my friends. Thanks for being here with us on this journey.

Love,

Suzy

You Better Watch Out! Momma Got Wheels!

Moments with Momma – volume 3

My sweet Mom has always been a Go-Getter! She was always on the move, always so athletic and so fearless. She was always on at least one bowling league, played golf as many days a week as possible, was active in the ladies card clubs as well as so many other things! She and my dad spent every Friday night out ballroom dancing where they could really cut a rug. There was literally nothing she wouldn’t try. According to her, the best way to cut a watermelon was by wielding a machete overhead and slicing the melon open with one swift downward blow. She was a great shot with a shotgun. She could spend the day out shooting with her brothers, come home, clean up in her dancing shoes and head out for a night on the town with dad. What a lady!

The problem is now she is not so mobile. The stroke and the falls have taken their tolls so now she has been forced to slow down. She gets around the house by surface surfing or using the walker but long walks or outings were out of the question – UNTIL – we had her get herself a new set of wheels.

Every morning I take our Golden Doodle for a 2.5 mile walk through the neighborhood just as the gorgeous SW Florida sunrise is happening. In the evenings my husband and I take the dog for another 1.5 -2 mile walk as the sun is setting. Now Mom can enjoy these blessings as well! She really enjoys seeing the wildlife, especially the burrowing owls that have set up household in our neighborhood. She is looking forward to the morning we see an armadillo or bald eagle.

Another great thing about her new set of wheels is that it comes apart in 4 pieces! My niece and great niece were visiting last week. We learned together how to take it apart and reassemble it. It is SUPER easy! We can pack all the pieces in the trunk and head off for great adventures beyond the neighborhood! So far we have only taken it to Fisherman’s Village in Punta Gorda but there are many things on our adventure list! We have lovingly dubbed the mobile chair The Adventure Buggy. As soon as the weather cools off just a little bit more in the middle of the day, we are heading to the Botanical Gardens. We are both super excited about that!

We hope you enjoy a few of our pictures from our world. Thanks so much for joining us today! We would love for you to subscribe to our blog so you never miss an episode!

Sunset in the neighborhood.
Sunrise in the neighborhood
Just another sunset 🙂
Bald Eagle on our path
Mom is in the lead!
Lacy Mae, the reason we walk!
Armadillo just doing its thing

Love,

Suzy

Sweet Mother of Jesus! That Was GOOD!!!

Moments with Momma – volume 2

October 20, 2020

Hello again! We are so glad you are here! Things have been heating up around here – especially in the kitchen. The kitchen is where Mom and I have found common ground. Finding common ground is what has made this work for us.

We wanted Mom to move in. We prepared for her to move in. We planned and schemed and thought we had done all the things to insure a smooth transition; however, when the time came, it was still a huge adjustment for everyone. The last time we had lived together I was an 18 year old kid heading off to college with no idea of what I wanted to do with my life. Mom ran the household exactly the way she wanted to. We all followed her house rules. Now she was moving into our house where I ran the household exactly the way I wanted to. I had been running our household for 36 years. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little bit bossy and I run a pretty tight ship. So here we were, two grown women each use to being the Queen of the Home.

In my mind, my role was to make Mom my patient, to care for her every need, make sure she was safe at every moment, make sure she was taking her medication correctly and so on – you know, be the Warden. All she wanted was a safe place to live where she could be as independent as possible and to have someone to do things with. So, it took us a minute. Then it started coming together.

She had collected recipes from her friends for decades. She brought them all with her. I had a 4 week rotation of menus already prepared that worked for me. But it isn’t about me. It is about us. We have come to a workable arrangement. Mom plans the weekly menus using all her favorite recipes and we cook together. It has been so much fun! She is sharing favorite foods from her life and we are spending so much great time together in the kitchen. While we are cooking she gets to tell me about who she got the recipes from, when she got them, what was going on and a bit about the people who gave her the recipes. Truly a winning situation for everyone.

Last night our dinner was so good I definitely heard the angles sing. We want to share the recipe with you! Here’s to finding common ground!

Emillie’s Pasta – from Barb Godzwa

Ingredients:

1 lb sweet Italian Sausage

1 lb hot Italian Sausage

4-5 cloves of garlic – I use the minced garlic in a jar with olive oil

1-2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

2 cans diced tomatoes with garlic and oregano – juice and all

1 lb ziti pasta

1 bag of baby spinach leaves

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Brown the sausage in a large pan breaking it up into small pieces. Drain and return to pan.
  2. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano and Italian seasoning. Stir to mix thoroughly.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, juice and all.
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Cook your pasta according to package instructions. Drain but reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
  6. Combine sausage mixture and pasta together into one pot over medium heat. Mix well
  7. Add spinach leaves (remove large stems) and stir together.
  8. Add the reserved pasta water, shredded mozzarella and parmesan. Stir well and heat until the cheese is melted.

NOTE: If your mixture seems to need more liquid, I added about a cup of heavy cream when I added the cheeses.

NOTE: Do yourself a huge favor and buy a block of parmesan cheese. Use your cheese shredder/grater to shred it right before adding it to the pot. You will not be sorry!

The end result was beyond magnificent – a religious experience actually! We added roasted broccoli for a side and a grape salad for dessert. Oh my, Oh my, Oh my!

Bonus points!!! Because this recipe makes such a large quantity, we fed the 4 of us and had enough left over to freeze for another meal!

Thanks so much for being here with us!

Love,

Suzy

Moments With Momma – Volume 1

The circle of life has come full circle. I have heard that phrase “the circle of life” my whole life but, until recently, it was just a whimsical thought. About 6 weeks ago it became our reality.

The backstory:

Mom had a stroke a couple of years ago from which she recovered fairly well. Unfortunately, it did leave her unable to live alone due to her lack of balance which caused a constant risk of falling. My sister, Rhonda, was at a point in her life when she could retire. She volunteered to sell her house and move in with Mom. That was a blessing! We were not in a position to have her live with us at that time. Our home had tons of stairs, was not handicapped suitable and we worked full time. It was just not a good match. A little over a year ago we sold our business and our home and moved to Florida to embrace semi-retirement. Along came 2020. Mom had fallen several times over the past couple of years, but nothing incredibly serious – until March. She fell in her bathroom in the wee hours of the morning and broke her left leg just below the hip joint. The paramedics took her to the hospital where they found out the break was severe and required immediate surgery. Rhonda called me to let me know. I started scheduling a flight to get back to Indiana and was just ready to push the “Purchase” button when she called me back. The response to the pandemic was developing moment by moment. The hospital closed down to any visitors other than one person to be there during the surgery. I would not be allowed to enter the hospital even if I was allowed to fly. So, there I sat, in Florida, half the continent away, waiting for phone updates. She made it through the surgery and was transported to a re-hab center for her recovery. The re-hab center was on total lockdown and allowed no visitors at all. The patients were confined to their rooms at all times. Mom had a miserable experience from start to finish. She was in pain and isolated from everyone. Luckily she has always had a fighting spirit so she dug in and worked to get better. The moment they agreed to release her, she went back home. She and Rhonda continued to live together. The effects of the stroke and the broken leg combined with her advanced age of 85 made the situation more than Rhonda could handle alone. I was home full time and I had Kevin and Ross available so we all decided it would be safer for Mom to move in with us. Mom agreed that it would be best. She sold her home and all of her belongings. That was extremely hard on her emotionally as well as physically but she got it done. On September 7th, she got on a plane that delivered her to the next phase of her life. Despite everything that she had been through, her attitude has been amazing! She relishes each day in Paradise! So, that is how we got to where we are today. We have gone full circle from me being the one being cared for to me being the caregiver. It took a minute for us to all settle in to our new life just like it takes a minute to adjust to all the new phases of life, but we are doing great!!!

There are going to be many great adventures as we continue our quest together. Because we all know it won’t last forever, I want to record and share our journey every step of the way. I invite you to come along with us. Please subscribe to our blog so you never miss a moment. We will be sharing the good times and the bad, figuring out things that work and things that don’t, laughing our laughs and drying our tears – and we are going to do it together. Maybe some of the tricks we learn along the way will help you or someone you know as the circle of life continues to come full circle.

Thank you so much for being here!

Suzy