Thursday, October 30, 2014

Let the Gratitude Begin!

Once we had decided that we would do another blog post in November about gratitude (cliche, I know), I realized that today is the best day for me to start talking about it.  Yes, my last post was about my mom and breast cancer and some memories.  Today is some of the same, but with a different twist - so now you have to read to the end to see what the twist is.  :) 

My mom and her husband Bill

On October 30, 2013, my mom and her husband had arrived the night before (moving her from Nevada to Georgia) to help get her moved into our home following her terminal diagnosis.  The folks from hospice were expected after lunch, so we were all waiting to meet with them and get settled.  My husband, Rob, had even come home from work so he could be involved in the meetings.  Before hospice arrived that day, Rob received a call from his brother.  He found out that his mother, an active 80 year old who, for the last few weeks, had been trying to figure out what was wrong with her stomach, was diagnosed with a very fast spreading cancer and had 2-5 weeks to live.  And then hospice arrived.  To help my mom who had been given maybe 6-8 months to live.  Our lives changed in that moment, but I can't say it was all bad. 

About 6 months before that, I had started a "gratitude" journal of sorts.  It's a book I had bought called, "The Happiness Project".  Each page has a place for 5 years worth of journal entries, with only enough room for about 1-2 sentences each year.  I hadn't missed a day of my journal, and so I continued to find something "happy" to write about each day - even October 30, 2013.  That day I wrote: 


Mom is here, and one step closer to being much happier.  Carol has only weeks to live, so she is also closer to Phil and eternal happiness! 

And, I truly meant what I wrote.  My mom was happier being with her kids and grand kids for her last few months, and she knew that the end of her life on earth would be the end of her pain.  My mother-in-law had dearly missed her sweet husband Phil, who has passed several years earlier, and she expressed how excited she was to see him again - on the other side. :) 

Carol with her 4 kids, celebrating her 80th birthday

Like I said, our lives were changed that day last year.  Our 3 teenagers loved and took care of their dying grandmother, and learned a lot about life and death and especially about what is truly important.  And they watched as their parents did the same.  I would never wish this lesson on anyone else, but I am grateful that our family had this experience - together! 

Me and my mom on Christmas

Just 4 weeks later, my sweet mother-in-law Carol, passed away on December 1st.  Then, only 45 days later, my mother passed away too.  Though it was a difficult time, we found joy in remembering the lives that they had led and the examples that they were to their families.

Holding mom's hand

So as we move into November, the month of gratitude, I hope everyone can find peace and happiness in their day no matter what that day brings.  I always write in my happiness journal at night right before I go to sleep.  It gives me a minute of reflection on the day, and helps me go to sleep with good thoughts.  

Whether your life is peaceful and calm, or a little crazy right now, give it a try!  Even if you don't write it in a journal, just take a minute to think about the best part of your day, and you will see a difference.  :)


Thursday, October 16, 2014

In Honor of our Mom...

Sandra McKenney Holden
It all hit me on Sunday.  This week marks one year since my mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which was just one more piece of her original Breast Cancer diagnosis about 4 years prior.  The brain tumor, combined with multiple tumors throughout her body, helped us make the difficult decision to accept the terminal diagnosis.  Of course, these memories all came flooding into my mind during Breast Cancer Awareness month, which my husband likes to refer to as Breast Awareness Month - his favorite time of the year.  (LOL) 

So, Suzy and I talked about it, and rather than taking advantage of the pink ribbons we see everywhere this month and trying to encourage everyone to get mammograms (we actually discourage them - please use thermography instead), we would like to take the opportunity to honor our mother.  From that day last October when she became terminal, she only lived for 3 months.  Most of that time was spent in my home, as our families surrounded her with our love and care.  Although it was a difficult time that I wouldn't wish upon anyone, I also wouldn't trade it for anything. 
Sandy with Lisa and Suzy, about 1972

November 2013

Mom LOVED to talk about her daughters, and was so proud of what we had created with Sisters' Gourmet!  Of course, it was from time spent baking with her in the kitchen that Suzy and I developed our love for sweets!  She helped us develop some of the recipes, worked for us in many different capacities including being our first salesperson, and was the best proofreader anyone could ask for. 

We are grateful for the time we had to spend with her, and are happy that she is in a better place.  To all of the daughters reading this, give your mom an extra hug today!
Our families at her funeral in Arkansas

We love and miss you, Mom!!
Lisa (and Suzy)