The days in between the holidays…

If you have lost of loved one whether it be years ago or as recent as this past year then you know how difficult the holidays are. You might even have some well meaning person to remind you of how hard holidays are without a loved one , as if you didn’t understand.

I lost many loved ones on special days or holidays, New Years Eve-brother, Christmastime- brother, stepfather- my wedding anniversary, 4th of July- mother, my birthday- brother. Although this is an unusual amount of loved ones to lose by the age of 40 , it is also an odd number of celebrations to loose loved ones on. I decided I needed to embrace these holidays which is how my business FloralMemorials came about. My husband was a contractor and often had wooden stakes and the idea came to me to paint and decorate them so I could have something to decorate the graves for any holiday or celebration. This need to celebrate has been an amazing experience for me and one that I am most grateful for.

Those deaths have been 20-30 years ago and I have found that those days in between holidays have brought me the most comfort, understanding, clarity, and peace. Every single day a thought drifts through my mind or I drive by a part of town that sparks my memory, but always with a smile and no longer with a tear or lump in my throat. Those days in between are just as important if not more than the few holidays we share. Own those days they can’t be given back to you and they are amazing.

You can feel it……

I am trying to get back out and enjoy life like I did before COVID. After a year off from most social interaction I was excited to go and do things again, even simple errands were more attractive now. There’s a change that has happened and you can feel it in the air.

I’m talking about hostility. I have encountered so many people who are so upset about the smallest of things, whether it be road rage, or some slight they think another has given them, to hateful attitudes towards service workers. Now I realize these people have been with us all along, but this is different. This isn’t just a once a year encounter, this is a daily event. Did we stay inside so long that we have completely forgotten how to treat our fellow man? Have we suffered such enormous set backs from COVID that we are just angry all of the time?

I’m not sure what the answer is but it’s definitely different and you can feel it in the air around you.

I’m an old lady too!

Six years ago my daughter gave me a gift that transformed my life. I realize that is a bold statement but I genuinely feel that way. The gift was an iPad. Now understand that I learned windows on a desktop with lots of tears and bad words. I could email, look at the internet, and do some graphics but nothing like my iPad. It was easy to use, I never felt like the iPad would blow up if I hit the wrong key, and no tears were involved. No I understand you might think that my daughter helped me learn but no she told me I was on my own after setting up my email and cloud account and showing me where I could find apps to download. I taught myself and opened up an online store. I worked social media and with three different printers over 4 years I could master anything. I do almost EVERYTHING online. The reason I tell you this rather long winded story is this: I’m not young. I cringe when I have someone tell me that they can’t learn computer, they can’t keep up, or they don’t want to. I cringe because I am the same age as the people telling me this and all I hear is fear. I help when they ask a question in regards to “online questions” and I even go so far as to do a lot of things for them online which I don’t really mind at all. I do worry how isolated seniors will feel as technology flies at the speed of sound these days. Each year a senior doesn’t learn the more they will not understand what the generation below them is talking about, the more they won’t understand the world and how to function within it, and the more they will be afraid.

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Now I’ve blogged about this once before ( see blog “I’m an old lady too” February 2021). Teaching an old dog new tricks is code for they won’t change their way of doing anything. Now it’s not new tricks that I would like others to learn as stated in my previous blog post, but rather old tricks that I would like to lose. I have so many that it almost seems like a challenge with little possibility of a good outcome. My list includes:

*Stop worrying about how I spend my time. It’s my time and I need to forgive myself for not doing something every minute of everyday.

*It doesn’t have to be perfect. This one is a little hard for me to do as I have always been the fixer and doer of my family.

*Stop thinking about the next five things you need to do. I use to make list of everything that needed to be done and every errand that needed running. I rarely finished the list in one day but I worked myself to death trying to reach the end of the list.

*Stop comparing your life and yourself to others- this one came as I aged – I just cared less about it.

This is the list I care about now……..

  • Listen more, talk less
  • Live everyday like it’s my last ( very hard to do grocery shopping, cleaning house, and doing laundry )
  • Try something new every week ( easy enough, as long as you don’t set the bar too high in what you learn). The learning is the most important part.

I don’t really think any of this has to do with old dogs (age) or new tricks (anything that is different from what you do now). I think I am more self aware of is what is needed to make my life mine.

National Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day

I know that my title is not an attention grabber and that’s ok. I want to personally recognize this group of people that have made my life easier. This particular group, until you need them and chances are you will need them one day, are there for people at their saddest and most vulnerable moment. The first encounter I had with a funeral director was when I was 19. My oldest brother died in an accident and the family was gathered at the funeral home trying to make arrangements. My parents couldn’t put aside their hurt and anger long enough to bury my brother so they turned and said “ask Missy what she wants”. I was stunned, I wasn’t a parent. I wasn’t even an adult , really. This poor funeral director pulled me aside and walked me through the decisions with such kindness and understanding I couldn’t have made it through that day , or the funeral to come. I don’t remember his face at all just his ability to understand my humiliation, my pain, and my lack of knowledge. He saved that day from being one that could have left me hardened and pissed off.

I have had too many encounters with other funeral homes and the employees that have helped me and I have had people with the same kindness and concern at each one. We may not like talking about what a service these individuals provide , or maybe we tell ourselves that we wouldn’t want to have one as a friend, but I tell you it would make your life better if you did. In recognition of those who provide this service, I say THANK YOU!

Missy

Holidays and sitting them out….

I remember when I was a little girl and how I loved looking forward to a holiday. My younger brother and I celebrated them together in every wish, dream, and moment. It was our time then. We would excite ourselves with the idea of Easter morning chocolate bunnies and spring toys. Christmastime we spent hours thumbing through store catalogs marking the pages of everything we wanted by bending the page or using a permanent black magic marker to circle the desires that year. We would Trick or Treat on Halloween and come home to sort and group our candy in neat little piles before counting them and gorging ourselves. I would always run out of chocolate candy first as I had an enormous sweet tooth and my brother would pretend not to notice that I ate his when mine was gone.

These holidays were my childhood and were some of my best holiday moments. No one realizes that until those moments are long gone. As an adult I was given the gift of having children to celebrate these moments with and I loved every second of every holiday. Even as I celebrated these moments I knew that they would stop some day and my job would warp into the final stage of observer. My participation would be more “watching” than “doing”.

At first the role seemed strange to me but I have learned by watching my children being the “doers” in holiday celebrations just how lucky I really am. I love reliving in my mind how my younger brother and I celebrated together and the only sad part is that he is not here to share our memories together. I watch my children build their own lives and I know how lucky I am to have raised them and had those moments. I still love holidays and the family time that they bring but I have learned that it’s ok to sit them out and let them be celebrated by the here and now. I enjoy watching others live what I have learned. I hope that my children will see someday how wonderful their lives have been as I do now.

Choices in Death

I know it may seem odd since my business is cemetery decorations but I like the idea of green burial. It’s more than just the ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in a word-simple. I think it’s important to have one final decision in life and that is how your death or life will be celebrated. Now this is not a simple choice if you have a child that has proceeded you in death, a husband, a sibling, a partner. I had to make choices for my family members without knowing exactly what they wanted. I tried to make decisions that were appropriate, respectful, and loving but those were choices I made for them, and it was a long time before I forgave myself for something I had no control over. My parents, and siblings have been gone for over 25 years and the pain doesn’t flood me as it once did. The deaths just came suddenly but not surprisingly. I lost my mother, younger brother, and father all within 9 months. I had already buried my stepfather and my oldest brother, and my middle brother would follow in just a few years. I was afraid, afraid to talk to them about death even though most of them were inevitable, but it was so much simpler to just put it away in the back of my mind. What I wasn’t prepared for is I would be the only decision maker, the only one left to make those choices.

Holiday Healing

My family members, as it happened, passed on or near holidays, Christmas time, Fourth of July, my wedding anniversary, New Years Eve, my birthday. It’s not like they planned their deaths to occur on days that would be a constant reminder of their deaths that’s just the way my road in life lead.

I had children that I was raising so I kept my thoughts about this “holiday passing” to myself and refused to let the holidays be anything but happy for my family. It was hard, but not painful to the point I couldn’t function, that would come later.

It’s funny how we can fill our lives and our minds to distract us from our troubles. I told myself that I was a strong person and that I carried on for my kids and their happiness, after all you can’t walk this earth wounded very minute of every day, right?

This is what I learned the hard way…..

Distractions are just that, they keep you busy but you don’t heal. I woke up one morning and my kids were grown and thriving in the world and I looked around for someone I knew and that’s when the grief and pain of losing everyone came down on me like a wave of nausea. It was Christmas time and I fumbled through crying to myself everyday and not understanding why. Grieving, although it might make others uncomfortable, is necessary part of our human function. When we grieve we are aware of our loss and the changes it will make in our lives. When we choose to be the strong soldier our grief will find its way out of our bodies sometime in some form whether we want it to or not.

If you are grieving then carry on and don’t worry so much about others feeling uncomfortable around you, you can always apologize later if you want. Distractions are just that – distractions – not because you are super human or emotionally untouchable it just means you are choosing not to deal with something at that particular moment.

Grief will come, it’s just part of who we are as humans.

Forever 17 in my mind.

While living with my Grandmother, from the age of 19 until my marriage at 25, we would have so many discussions about everything you can imagine. We would spend hours talking about family, kids, sex, marriage, childhood, mistakes, and so much more.

Many of the comments she made during our life discussions have stayed very vivid in my mind. Some of the things she said I didn’t understand completely until I was older or trying to work through one of life’s many twist.


When I saw this beautiful statue I instantly remembered something she said. “You know your body gets older with time but your mind is still remembering the seventeen year old you once were.” I can remember thinking at the time that being seventeen was a good time in her life. As I have grown older I understand so much more of what she was saying. As you grow older your body does fail you, your happy memories of your youth come to mind so much more than they used to, but keeping that  seventeen year old mind and heart is what is so important.

My Grandmother passed away just a few months short of her 104th birthday. I believe she is now forever 17.

This post is in honor of her birthday, October 11.

What Not to Say at a Funeral

I saw this post on Pinterest and it caught my eye immediately. I thought what a great idea. I’m not saying I would post this sign at a funeral but I do like the idea of talking about what NOT to say. If you are attending a funeral for someone you loved, cared deeply for, or respected, then this set of guidelines is a very good start.

Hugs– now not everyone is a hugger. I am, but I agree big squeezes are uncomfortable on many levels.

Bigger Plans and Better Place I agree it’s better to not assume that you understand the grieving families belief in bigger plans, and better places. Please, never assume that everyone shares your beliefs in the ever after because they don’t.

At Least– any sentence that starts with these words is not comforting to those grieving. Some examples I’ve heard:

At least he didn’t suffer

At least he didn’t know it was going to go that way

At least you have other children

At least your young, you can remarry

At least he made sure you were taken care of

I could go on and on with the “at least”

The fact is, any sentence that begins with those two words is not helpful. It sounds like some sort of consolation prize.

Then what does one say to a grieving family member at a funeral?

If you aren’t comfortable with hugging try these words;

I’m so sorry for your loss

I’m here if you need me

I’m going to miss ———–

A fond memory is great ……….but not in a family reception line.

Laughter is great too …………but more appropriate at a reception following a service.

Reaching for their hand and giving a warm smile to let them know you have been thinking of them is always welcome.

The most important thing to remember is you should be there to comfort them not make the day uncomfortable.

I just remembered………!?

I was watching a video made in 1968 of my hometown on YouTube. I have a tendency to be nostalgic so it was right up my alley. I’m also a fan of history so I justified the 25 min out of my day to watch the video. A scene from a local hotel with a beautiful indoor swimming pool was one of the shots on the video. The hotel no longer exists but it reminded me of the times my Grandmother would reserve a room for me and my younger brother for a weekend and we would just swim all weekend until we were exhausted. It was such a treat when she did this for us. She would sit by the pool watching us and reading or knitting. When she decided we were waterlogged enough she would order room service or take us down to the hotel dining room to eat. It was always a great weekend and she always picked weekends in the wintertime so that made the indoor swimming all the more fun.

This was such a great childhood memory. How could I not have thought about it in so many years? My younger brother and I did everything together, but he passed away 20 years ago and the memories are fading. I think the reason why it’s harder to remember things from our childhood now is that I no longer have him to talk to and repeat the stories that make me smile, laugh and cry. When we were young adults and we got together these childhood memories no matter how embarrassing, funny, or just plain odd would be told over and over. The four of us ( my 3 brothers and myself) along with my mother would laugh and tease each other about these childhood incidents- now stories

I don’t tell you this as a sad tale. I just want others to remember that when your mother, brother, sister, or Uncle Joe want to share the same old stories with you about when you were young, just smile and say “I remember”.

These stories are your history and when the people in them are gone the memories fade. By the way, watching that YouTube video and remembering times spent with my brother and grandmother were the best 25 min. I’ve spent in a long time.

A Simple Lifestyle Continued……

Once I realized that what I wanted was not the "norm" for people my age, and that I really no longer cared what anybody thought, I found my perfect little place to rent. Yes, I said rent. I had owned homes as I noted in the first part of this story and that was what I needed then but not really what I needed now. My children have grown and they all have homes which I enjoy going to. It was time to let go.


I let go of the control of family gatherings. I enjoy having them at my children's home. It nice to watch them grow as families and start their own traditions. I let go of stuff. How many of one item does any human being need? The holiday decorations were the first to go. I saved only the items that had meaning to me and gave the rest to the kids to sort before donation.
All the the childhood memories I kept in boxes I gave to each of my kids to sort through on their own. My job as the memory keeper was finished. I was never one to hold on to a lot of clothing but it needed some trimming too. The next items to evaluate were " family heirlooms". I have a few things that are special to me but the ones that weren't I gave an option to my kids and if they didn't want them they were donated. I use my mother's China EVERYDAY instead of waiting for 3 times a year. The kitchen was last and easiest for me. One of everything with the exception of baking pans and casserole dishes. I also use the silverware given to me by my mother EVERYDAY. I set up my workroom in the loft of my apt and I only have one bedroom.

What? Is she crazy? Doesn't she want to pass down things generation to generation? Why is my answer. Unless you are leaving land ( which their not making any more of ) I don't see any reason. It's just STUFF. I lost all my family- mother, father, brothers by the time I was 45. People are important, stuff is just stuff. People who have a enormous amounts of it seem to be doing one or more of the following:

A) always looking for it
B) worried about others taking it
C) cleaning it
D) wanting more

You get the idea. Oh and one more thing- I hate to break it to you but your kids don't want your stuff. It may be painful to accept but if your heirlooms have meaning to you then enjoy them everyday. Talk to your kids about your stuff. If they like something then why not give it to them now instead of waiting until your death? When people are grieving is not the best time for them to divide items among them. Feelings are raw and emotions are high and you expect your children to sit down and rationally sort through everyone of your items?
I think we can all remember a family we know that this did not work for following the death of a parent, uncle, grandparent, etc.

I found it freeing. Freeing of my time, worry, emotion. I found it to be a very peaceful to purge. Just a thought………

A simple lifestyle

A few years ago I wanted change and I took on a simple lifestyle or a minimalist life as some would call this change. All of my married life I had lived in homes. A small “cracker box” home to start and as the children came then a larger home to accommodate a family. The second home held all the memories of family get togethers, celebrations, block parties, holidays, well you get the picture. I loved that home but the memories could also cause sadness as family members one by one passed away.

Then I decided what I needed was to be a suburbanite. Living on the outskirts of the city where the lawns are perfect and the houses are architecturally the same. Now I had always lived in homes in the center neighborhoods of the city even as a child so the move to the suburbs was very different.

Now the neighborhood was neat and clean and the convenience of whatever store I needed was a few minutes drive to get to. I was sure I would love this quiet, neat living. I was so wrong. Everything about the center of the city I loved and missed. I missed the noise of the city- trains, sirens, voices, music, helicopters, all of it. I missed the people more. The neighborhoods are more closely knit with a wonderful diverse population. I love old houses with their history, imperfect windows or doors, craftsmanship that no longer exist in newer homes, neighborhood businesses, and living in the center of the city anything and everything is a short drive in any direction.

TO BE CONTINUED………