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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blocks

It's been a LONG time since I have posted...but since I am taking a creative writing class, I thought I would share my assignment with you...in honors of Alzheimer's month, the walk on Saturday, and my mother...

Blocks



                We are made up of many blocks, blocks of color, of personality, of physical features. Blocks of memories who create who we are, moments of bliss that change the way we look at the world. These blocks define us as a person. We are known by these blocks. Whether we are the person known for having a huge heart, an attitude of complete happiness, or strong and determined; it is who we are.              This was created for the Alzheimer’s Project by Ria Hills who wanted to express that even though this disease takes away our loved ones, the essence of who they are is still alive behind the blocks that have distorted our view of them. This movement to keep loving our family members and visiting them if in a home is crucial to their well being. That even though Alzheimer patients don’t know who you are anymore or whether they would remember a visit, loving them, like babies, keeps them alive.
This picture reminds me of my mother and how her blocks made her a woman who was known for her hospitality, her generosity, and enthusiasm for life. She was everybody’s friend, even if you didn’t think you needed one. She was the first one to call and be by your side, rain or shine, she was the one to count on, the cornerstone.
“Mom, why are you late?” I would ask often as she would come watch my kids while I went to work.
                “I’m sorry koristi mou (my daughter in Greek), I got lost,” she would say in shame as she put her hand over her face. Like the picture, I feel this is a common reaction of Alzheimer’s patients in the beginning stages as they realize that they have a disease that slowly traps them in their own body, unable to express or function in the life they’ve been living.
                As the years went by, the blocks were slowly rearranging. The ones that made her who she was were creating someone my family and I didn’t recognize anymore. Slowly the things she would do every day soon became impossible to conceive. Her eyes seemed lost, her generosity confused. She was there, Stella was there, but not the Stella we all called mother, wife, or yiayia (grandmother in Greek). She was now there as someone who needed us more than we could ever imagine.
                “Mom, I’m here to pick you up. Are you ready? Let’s go.” My sister and I would say everyday as we would start our day making sure we took care of mom. She would always fight us, as she was losing her freedom; freedom to go wherever she wanted to go and do whatever she wanted to do. Now we picked her up every day and made sure she was safe, made sure she would eat, made sure she was dressed.  And her hand would cover her face in frustration and shame.
                “But I want to go home,” mom would say in the afternoon in anger. “Please let me go home!” she would demand with her hand over her face once again. She would sob in frustration as we kept her with us seemingly against her will.  
                “Mom, you cannot be left alone anymore. We have to be with you now, just relax and hangout with us. Dad will be home soon.” It never eased her spirit. She was broken, realizing that something was wrong, something was not right. And we would sit together, scared of what was to come and saddened at the loss we were all experiencing. This is not how life should be. She was too young to go through all this. It was not fair, I would always say. And as this work above is labeled “Fractured” that is exactly how we began to see our mother. Fractured, but daily getting worse, and unable to be fixed. I cried daily with my hands over my face as I felt her blocks rearranging her being.
                “Mom? Mom?” we would call out, wondering where she had wondered off to now. In panic we would search our neighborhoods, our homes, and yards. In aggravation we would drop what we were doing to find her.  We’d always find her sitting in a corner, crying, just wanting to go home.
                “I was trying to go home koritsia (daughter in Greek), but I can’t find my way! I have dinner to make and a kitchen to clean” she would cry, face hiding behind her hand. She would look at us scared and frustrated at her own mind, unable to let her be who she was.
                I see my mother every day; she is still with me here on earth. I hug her now as she used to hug me as a child. Her body so frail, her demeanor so lost. Her eyes light up, not because she knows my name, but because she recognizes my face in some way. She doesn’t fight us anymore to go home; she is home; all day, every day. My sister and I cannot care for her like we used to, she now needs fulltime care. My father has devoted his life to taking care of her at home. She is where she always wanted to be by the afternoon, home.
Although I cannot see her the way she was before the blocks got muddled, like this picture her essence is still there, but like this picture she is not who she was completely. She cannot come to my home and help me raise my family as she once did; she cannot call me and tell me how much she loves all of us. She cannot meet me at the mall for Santa pictures in December; she cannot do anything at all.
                So I take a little longer to stare into her soul, like this picture I can see her if I look real close. My embrace lingers as I fully inhale her blocks into my core. I sit with her, like we once used to, putting her delicate hand in mine. And I think oh how I wish I had my mom here with me now, to hide in her embrace when this world gets too tough. Oh how I wish her blocks were put back in order, the way they once were.









Image

Ria Hill (Fine Art Pastel Painter) . June 29, 2011. Fractured [a portrait of Alzherimers], Retrieved September 23, 2014 from: http://riahills.com/fractured-a-portrait-of-alzheimers/

Saturday, May 31, 2014

There you are! I knew you were here somewhere.



Once there was a young mother who gave birth to a little boy. She was so happy, so in love. He was her little man, her big boy. She did everything she could to give him the best life. She cooked for him, she cleaned for him, she kissed all his boo-boos, hugged him passionately, and prayed for his future wife. He could do no wrong in her eyes. The years went by, as they always do, and the boy grew up and she was always there for him, even when the world wasn't. He soon found a wife and created his own family and moved away. She was very sad to be so far away from her boy, not able to see him. She had grown ill and didn't remember like she used to, didn't remember anything at all. She slowly became unable to do much of anything for herself. Her husband had to step in and take care of her every need. This mother became trapped in her own body, unable to recognize the ones she had always loved, the ones she had given her all to, the ones she had taken care of were now taking care of her. Not even the boy who was her beginning and end was recognizable to her anymore. One Sunday afternoon while her husband was holding her up, helping her walk around the house she had made a home, she stopped and reached for a frame. Unable to use her hands to pick it up, her husband held it up for her. She hadn't been able to verbalize a complete thought in quite some time, just reacted with her eyes and would smile. But on this Sunday afternoon she spoke so clearly, letting her husband see his wife that once was. As she looked into this picture frame of her boy she whispered in Greek the words that would leave her husband breathless, "There you are! I knew you were here somewhere." Her husband held her, a little longer than usual, and wept as he realized that his wife is still in that frail body he takes care of everyday. She had been looking for her little boy all these years who isn't nearby to come and see her. There SHE was...he knew that his wife was here somewhere too. And he continued his walk with his wife around the house.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Unicorn


Tonight my little baby girl Zoe was going to her very first Father~Daughter dance. Oh how she couldn't wait for this night. Her dad had a game to coach so he wasn't able to take her, but She found a willing suitor who not only accompanied her to the dance, but bought her a new dress and shoes for the evening.  Her dad sent her off with a matching bow and I let her borrow a very special necklace, the unicorn. It matched her green dress perfectly and acentuated her eyes. Oh how she sparkled. I remember that unicorn necklace wrapped around my mother's neck. She used to wear it often and I always admired it as a little girl. And as I put it on her tonight my eyes weld up in tears as I thought of my mom. Oh if she was well she'd be here with me right now helping Zoe get ready for her night out. Oh if only...as my sister came over to make it an even more special night she too recognized the necklace and teared up. Tonight may little girl went to the ball with my prince long ago and my hero, my mom. We all saw Stella tonight through our little girl with a big name meaning life. Zoe, bringing life to all of us, even mom.




Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Resilient

So as you can see I got a full time job this year (because I never post anymore!) and it totally kicked my butt! Our family went through a complete transformation in August, and although I worried how my children would react to this change, I am continually impressed with the ability of my family to rise to the occasion! Finally, after 7 months my life is working, I am surviving and my children continue to amaze me. I never thought this would all work out and we would be able to function as early as we do. My fears overcame me at the beginning of this adventure of going back to work full time. Doubts of being a good mother filled my head. And I felt so badly for my babies having to wake up at 5:45am every day so I could make it to Campus Club by 7:00 and to my school by 7:30. But you know what, every morning there my babies are getting up, slowly but surely, getting dressed, eating, and ready for their day. They amaze me...how do these little bodies just adjust to life? They will be those students in college that can't sleep in and schedule all their classes before 10:00! 7 months and I finally got it down. Groceries, meals, lunches, gymnastics, basketball, soccer, wrestling, ballet, jazz, treats to school for birthdays, chef of the week, 7 dozen cookies for Christmas Decorating class party, teacher gifts, cleaning house, organizing school memory binders times 4, laundry, working out, all of this-finally gelling. Finally working...ahhh it's been a wild ride and I am so thankful for being able to keep up. The hubs and the kids, amaze this mama daily, and I wouldn't be able to do any of it without them!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

It's Been A While...



It's been a while since the last time I had a chance to sit and reminisce on the day, the moment, the minute when life becomes clearer.  Since the last time I wrote, I think I got a full time job, still working at the JC College in town, throwing and planning parties, and baking for whomever requests. Oh, I still have my four kids and the hubs...they are a constant. But today, today was one of those days when the week of too many job requirements, kid's activities, the hubs starting basketball season, and a couple of events and goodies to full-fill made it almost feel as an impossible moment. But as it always happens, everything gets done, everyone is happy, and a new week begins. I had a school dance, a district canned food drive to plan, promote, and show up and work at event, a dinner party to set up, a 144 cookie order to full fill, and a soccer party to attend, all while the hubs participated in the Hanford tournament...needless to say, I was overbooked. But I digress, today was one of those days that made me stop and appreciate a moment, a minute that will last forever. My mom's best friend Popi, my best friend Anna, and my sissy all came together to bake baklava, melomakarina, and gadaifi. All Greek deliciousness that Popi and mom would create every Christmas. And today in my kitchen we kept the tradition alive. My mother would never go to any party during December without a plate of baklava. It was her thing, her way of making everyone feel loved and appreciated. And today, in my kitchen, minus my mother, we kept her tradition alive. Popi even brought my mom's handwritten recipe for my beloved melomakarina. Words cannot express the joy I felt reading her handwriting as she shared her recipe with Popi. Our afternoon was filled with laughter, drinks, and memories that will never be far from my heart. These are the minutes in life that make everything seem so ridiculous, so irrelevant.  So after 5 trays of baklava, two trays of melomakarina, and a tray of gadaifi and a few too many drinks, we hugged and kissed farewell and pass out baklava to all our dear friends. Merry Christmas...
Photo
The tradition...love these two to pieces.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Dinner

Dinner again...it will end when I'm dead I guess...or when all my kids leave me and I have no one to cook for! Until then...this is what's cookin' in my kitchen this week!

MONDAY:

Stuffed Pepper Soup

TUESDAY:
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Apples and Onions

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

WEDNESDAY:
Left Overs

THURSDAY:

Salsa Chicken

FRIDAY:


Rosemary Chicken

Enjoy...some great recipes here this week! Can't wait!!!!



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Karen's Coffee Cake

Tonight I pulled out an old recipe, one I have made a hundred times. But tonight I made it with some tears and a heavy heart. It was a dear friend's of mines recipe, one she was known for and was mentioned at her funeral this past weekend. I remember her bringing it to work one morning and me not being able to STOP eating it. She willingly shared her recipe some 20 years ago, and I have made it ever so often, receiving the same praise she did amongst those who knew her best. So tonight, I dusted off my recipe binder (now I always use pinterest-this binder has become lost in this house) and flipped through the plastic sheet protected recipes I had cut out from magazines and copied from friends. There it was, the recipe in its original form with her hand writing all around it. She shared her tips of how to make it better from all the practice she had with it. It's a simple recipe, doesn't call for much, but the memories from this cake and the sadness of her sudden death make it a very special recipe, one I made tonight to remember my friend. It may say Dee's Coffee Cake on the top of this recipe, but it has become Karen's Coffee Cake tonight and forever more. Cheers to the kitchen and all the memories it holds~I've literally been in it since 3:30.