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 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.

Old Halloween…..New Halloween

As a cradle catholic I understood the feast days of All Souls and following All Saints Day. What I understood was that meant two “extra” masses in addition to Sunday mass in a short seven day week! I always assumed the extra masses were meant to keep children in line gluten with thoughts of massive amounts of candy.

When I was 20 I had the privilege of traveling to Mexico the week of Halloween and I have never enjoyed the holiday more. The people walking to the cemetery in a quiet but gay line as they talked to each other in lowered voices with smiles on their faces and bright boquets of flowers, food, trinkets, and wrapped packages for their loved ones laid to rest.

This was done in such a festive and proud way that it was easy to understand and didn’t seem at all morbid to my young mind. For that fleeting moment I felt sad that no one would ever visit me when I was gone and celebrate my life with gifts, flowers, food, and community. This feast for the dead is a very old custom or tradition in Mexico.

Maybe we could learn from this old custom to create a new tradition for Halloween.

Millennials are my fav

Now I should start this post by telling you I’m a baby-boomer, and the millennial generation is a favorite group of mine.

WHAT? WHY?

First let me remind anyone reading this post that we were all young even though we are very selective with our memory when it comes to how we behaved, our opinions, our attitudes towards others who were older than us. I can remember thinking that I was smarter, better acting, and our opinions were ,of course, so much more important than our elders. Now having said that, I think we could agree that feeling “all knowing” when you are young is just a normal part of growing as a human.

What really bothers me about the next generation that follows mine is that they are being bombarded by the internet , as well as my generation, as to how pampered, babied, or spoiled they are. Now don’t get me wrong I suffered the same comments when I was young by the generation before mine, but the internet and news seem obsessed with the Millennial generation.

Let me remind anyone reading this that EVERY generation of humans has had a burden to carry: divorce, wars, depressions, social change. And it is completely human to think that our generation was the most remarkable group of humans that ever lived. The Millenials will suffer from this selective memory as they grow older just as every generation before them has.

Now that I’ve covered the WHAT I’m going to tell you WHY!

My children are all of this generation, and as a proud parent I just can’t imagine criticizing an entire group of people from which my children belong. I admire what I have learned from this generation and I have learned a lot. The tech age arrived so quickly and as a mother I had to learn right along side my own kids in order to help them with school and their futures. The tech age surpasssed my knowledge quickly and by the time they were teenagers I was asking them for help learning about one new tech item or another.

This generation holds no fear when it comes to the truth and never ask one a question you don’t want to hear the answer to. My generation was more about hiding truths from our parents than confessing or explaining them. I admire their fearlessness as a group. They don’t fear trying new things, going new places, or starting their lives over and over in various cities and job markets. I never even imagined living anywhere but where I was born and you stayed at a job as long as possible!

Now don’t get me wrong there are some things about Millennials that concern me like tattoos for instance, I do believe the generation following the Millennials will have some comments to make in regards their obsession with body art. I’m also concerned the stress they endure will have on their minds and bodies as the societal burdens they carry will become very heavy, national debt, retirement, parenting, politics, the list is long.

What I pray is that the Millennial generation will come out the other side with some of these current problems solved so they can grow old and complain about the generation that follows.

A mother’s love is forever

If you are a mother then you are part of a very special group of people. Only mother’s carry their children inside their body for nine months before giving birth. It’s a special wonder to be part of that group. Being a mother is a job I took very seriously. To teach and shape the minds of little humans is a huge responsibility.

There’s another group of mothers that no mother wants to be a part of. The group I refer to is mothers who have lost a child. When I was raising my children I knew women who had lost their infants, toddlers, or teenagers. Our hearts would break to hear about the death of a child we knew. Deep down we would not admit it but we feared the thought of being a member of that group. Some mothers would avoid another mother after her loss as if her grief would rub off.

I saw this happen to my own mother when my oldest brother died at age 24. I was only 19 and not yet a mother myself. I didn’t understand her grief until I became a mom myself and discovered that love. I do remember others avoiding her. I guess they just weren’t sure what to say or do. I do remember people telling her things that I’m sure they thought were helpful but they couldn’t possibly understand her pain. These mothers don’t need you to understand their pain but they need to know you remember their child. My mother said that everyone not wanting to talk about my brother hurt more than the people who just avoided her as if her loss would “rub off on them”.

I have been amazed by the women I have known that have suffered the loss of a child. These women are fierce and their love is forever. Their child is no longer on this earth but their love is far beyond what we can see or understand in this life.

I met one of these amazing fierce loving moms recently – Maria’s mom.

Maria’s mom will celebrate every holiday, every family triumph , every family birthday with Maria.

Maria lives forever in her mind and her heart.

Their love is forever.

Happy Mothers Day Tiffany!

Celebration of Life

When I moved into my apartment a few years ago I picked my childhood neighborhood. Maybe I was being nostalgic or maybe I just felt a comfort come over me when I first saw the duplex apartment. The House was old , like all the others, it had the original woodwork, leaded windows, and hardwood floors. As weeks went by I worked up the nerve to knock on a neighbors door. Now this neighbor was a lifelong friend of my moms but my mom died over 15 years ago and I wasn’t sure if she still lived in the home or if she was still alive. I knock nervously on her door it flew open and a smiling woman hugged me and said, “Missy!”. Not only did she recognize me but was happy to see me.

That started a friendship that would grow over the next 3 years. She ask me to come back after that first reunion and it became a daily ritual. At first we would just catch up on each other’s lives. Then it became stories about my family that I had never heard. She was an amazing story teller. She was also a great listener and I needed one. She always had a smile on her face and never complained. She never judged anything I said or did. I would walk her dog with mine and sometimes we would share a quick meal together at her house. I would ask her if she needed anything and sometimes she did. Somewhere in the very back of my head I knew that this would not last forever but I didn’t care. Just having her friendship and love was all that mattered. I knew how old she was but she didn’t seem old to me. She was always wanting to learn something new and her mind was so open that age was not present in our friendship.

my friend died a few weeks ago and the pain in my heart is the lost friendship. Her children held a celebration of her life and it was just as special and unique as she was. I could have not taken the time to reunite and create this friendship but the pain I’m feeling now is worth the love I received from her. She touched my life and I have grown.

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.

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………

Most recognized symbol in the world…….

Crosses are my business and also my passion as I create each one to be unique just as the person being memorialized is.
One night as I was working on a new cross I thought ” I bet the cross is the most recognized symbol in the world”
So I quickly took to Google to show myself how right I was. First let me say that humility is something that should be embraced when presented and appreciated until one leaves this earth. I often forget that I live in one small portion of this world and that there are many faiths, belief systems and customs in the world besides that of a Catholic American like myself.

  • The cross may be a symbol recognized by many but so is the Star of David.
  • The American Red Cross or that symbol used in war to mark the medical areas and are places where care and comfort are given may be the most recognized “cross” of all.
  • The peace sign and the Olympic Rings both made the top 10 most recognized symbol. I found that comforting in my mind. 
  • The skull and crossbones were one from my childhood that were on many items in the bathroom and the kitchen. I was told to stay away from that symbol.

I also found that there were multiple combinations of symbols and logos mixed. The Golden Arches and the apple with a bite missing are very recognized logos but are they symbols? Not in my opinion but your viewpoint might be different. 

  • Symbols come in different languages……
  • As well as different areas of study.

The cross may not be the most recognized symbol in the world which is not a big revelation, but what was most disturbing and revealing about symbols was that a symbol of hate was also in the top ten. I refuse to put a picture of the symbol on my blog. The symbol is a distorted red mark that one man used to lead others to kill millions of people for no other reason than hate for their difference to him.
As I said in the beginning, humility should be embraced and we should learn from our narrow thinking in all human relationships.

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