Changes

And just like that, everything changed.

“Who picked this place?”
“I did, Mom.”
“Did you look at other places?”
“I did.” (honestly not prepared for what might come next)

“You couldn’t have picked a better place for me. I’m so happy here.”

I stared at her, not sure quite how to react.

I finally said, “I’m so glad that you’re happy here.”

And we sat in silence, looking at the mountains.

Food and Memories

Certain foods remind me of people and places.

Laughing Cow cheese – Marie in Kuwait
Mangoes – Christie in Egypt
Bulgogi – Chanta in South Korea
Little Star pizza – Brad in San Francisco
Amaretto – Bryan in San Francisco

And pork chops – Dad

When he started dialysis, they told him he needed to eat a lot more protein. A LOT more. I made him protein smoothies with frozen fruit a couple of times a day. Breakfast included two fried or scrambled eggs each day. Meat protein, which they encouraged him to eat, was more difficult. He had such a hard time swallowing. Chicken was nearly impossible to eat. Fish was better. Salmon and cod became go-tos. Scallops were fairly easy to get down, and pure dollops of protein. We tried pork chops one evening, and they were a hit. They weren’t too difficult to swallow, I made them with multiple different sauces, they were a high source of protein, and he found them tasty. And now whenever I see a pork chop, I think of Dad.

I made them tonight. Just one, just for me. In my kitchen in Asheville, not in his in Winston-Salem. And it just wasn’t as good.

Me, too.

“Mom”

That’s what caller ID shows when Mom calls me. Our conversations are as short as the caller ID.

“Hi, Lori. It’s Mom. I don’t remember why I called. Bye.”
“Hi, Lori. It’s Mom. I don’t want people cleaning my apartment. Make them stop.”
“Hi, Lori. It’s Mom. Where is the blue material? I want to make cushions.”

I usually don’t have time to respond before she hangs up on me, my “I love you” disappearing into a dial tone. It’s like she simply has to get the idea out into the universe. I jot notes on scrap pieces of paper and follow up when I’m there in person.

Today I received this call.
“Hi, Lori. It’s Mom. There’s a birthday list here and we need to write cards. Please come over.”

Before she hung up, I told her I’d come after dinner.

Mom likes to send birthday cards. She always has. I arrived, reminded her she wanted to send birthday cards, and got the Ziploc bag labeled “birthday cards” from her closet, a pen, and a pad to practice on. She said, “Now whose birthday is it?” I walked her to the bulletin board where earlier in the year Dad had made her a cheat sheet of family and friend birthdays by month. I read the June birthdays: a grandson, me, a family friend, and a granddaughter-in-law.

There were no July birthdays listed.

We both saw it at the same time. Dad’s birthday. August 15. She started crying and I followed a mere milli-second later, hugging her tightly. “I miss him so much,” we said in unison, crying, then crying some more, which then turned into sobbing, a mother and a daughter missing the same man, more than either ever thought possible.

After a few minutes and several Kleenex later, we sat on the balcony, watching the sun set. I love the Blue Ridge mountains, shadowing each other, deeper and darker versions of blue layered upon each other. As the sun set farther, the outline of the mountains became darker, more pronounced. We sat in our rocking chairs, holding hands, rocking in unison, side by side.

“This is my favorite time of day.”

I nodded. “Mine, too.”

“I really like it here.”

I didn’t want to break the spell by asking her to repeat herself, in case I had mis-heard.

I nodded. “Me, too.”

The New Normal

Everyone keeps saying self-care is so important when you’re a caregiver. And for me, at least, it’s one of the first things that gets dropped from my busy to-do list. Now that I’m back in Asheville, I decided to make attending morning water aerobics a priority. It was something that brought me so much joy when I first moved to Asheville. Being in the water, the camaraderie of the other “mermaids” (as we call ourselves), getting exercise – there was nothing not to love. No matter how tired, or stressed, or bleh I felt before class, I always felt better afterwards.

And as I drove to class this morning, I found myself crying. I couldn’t understand why I was crying when I was going to something that I love to do. Something that brings me joy.

I realized I was admitting this is the new normal. I’m not in Winston-Salem. I’m not caring for Dad. I’m back in Asheville, to my “normal” life, one in which he is no longer alive. And it was so painful I almost couldn’t stand it.

Trying Times

This has been the most difficult twelve days I’ve ever experienced. My Mom has Alzheimer’s. My Dad was her caretaker and they lived at home together and basically didn’t share anything about her condition with others outside the family. Before he passed, Dad and I talked about care options for Mom and decided the best option would be to move her to a community in Asheville where as her Alzheimer’s progressed, they could provide more and more care.

On a Monday, Mom’s pastor and I told her that we found her a new home in Asheville and we’d be moving her.

A full twelve hours, non-stop, of her crying, me holding her, and saying, “I know. I know.” “But Jerry promised me I could live here until I diiiiiieeeeeeddddd.” (he didn’t) “But this is my hoooommmmmmmeeeee.” “What about all my pretty things?” “Why can’t I live by myself here?” These weren’t soft tears. These were heart-wrenching, full of pain, break-your-heart-in-a-million-pieces tears. I couldn’t argue or reason with her; I simply listened and held her and gave her Kleenex.

Then the anger. I had mentioned that Dad had left money in his estate for her to make this move, so that she would always have a home for the rest of her life. She then cried angry tears, screamed and cursed my Dad and said she hoped he was rotting in hell, and threw her wedding ring across the room. I listened, held her (when she would allow me to touch her), gave her Kleenex, and picked up her wedding ring for safe keeping.

Days later: “I can’t find my wedding ring.” I mentioned she took it off and she asked why. I said she was mad at Dad and she didn’t want to wear it. She asked why. I simply said, “You’re angry he died.” She nodded in agreement and I gave her back her ring.

She wanted to visit the new unit before we moved in. My sister met us there six days before the move-in. We pulled into the parking lot. “This place is so ugly!” We entered the lobby. “Why would anyone paint the walls such an ugly color?” We entered the unit. “This? This is where I’m moving? It’s so small!” (it’s larger than any of the places I lived in San Francisco). She collapsed in the middle of the empty living room floor, crying, “It’s so smaaaaalllllll. I’m embarrassed to live here.” I sat down next to her, held her and asked her to tell me more. Why would it embarrass her to live here? After much holding, and comforting, and tissues given, she told me people would think she was poor. My heart broke again. Both she and Dad came from modest backgrounds. They both worked so hard to both live comfortably and provide for us, their three children. I remember Mom clipping coupons and rationing food as we grew up – money was always a source of concern.

As we started packing up her condo in Winston-Salem, she insisted she would take everything. I encouraged her to pick out her favorites and we would pack those first. After she had gone to bed at midnight each night I packed up everything else. When she was out of the house, we would take boxes to Goodwill to donate. We packed her favorites during the day. She labeled boxes and my heart broke again. Once a voracious reader and writer, she had trouble spelling words, and sounded them out like a first grader. “Br..” I heard her saying. I returned to the living room and saw the word “bricle” (breakable) all over a box, written a dozen times in combinations of capital and lowercase letters. She put pieces of blue masking tape on the furniture she wanted to go to the new unit. Each day, more pieces had tape on them. I’d take tape off. She’d put tape on.

She continued to worry that the new place was too small. One night, after she had gone to bed, I marked off our living room with masking tape of the dimensions of the new living room. I rearranged the furniture, based on where windows and doors were. When she woke up, I asked her how she liked the new arrangement. “It’s great.” I explained that was the size of the new living room. She nodded.

“But it’s such a drab color. I want it the color we have here (a super pale yellow).” I confirmed with the new place that it was okay to paint walls. They said they’d call an outside vendor to get it done before Mom moved in. My sister, in Atlanta, bought the paint and dropped it off in Asheville, on the way to Winston-Salem, the next day. Move day was four days away.

By Tuesday night we had everything packed up. “Why are we still here?” I explained the movers were coming on Thursday; that we couldn’t move everything ourselves. “It’s a wasted day. When we leave here, I never want to return. Too many bad things have happened here.”

She saw neighbors in the hall, who said they were sad she was leaving and they would come and visit her in Asheville. She told them that she and Jerry had always planned to retire to Asheville, and sadly he died before he could get there. I didn’t correct her.

The morning of the move, she said she couldn’t find her purse (a normal occurrence). We walked through the condo. It wasn’t in any of the usual places. She started crying hysterically. I feared she packed it in one of the boxes when we weren’t looking. “Why did you pack my purse?” she hurled at me, accusingly. I shrugged and said, “I thought it’d be safe.” “I’m not leaving here until we find it!” She cried for hours and I asked her caregiver to take her to her favorite bakery. She returned and wasn’t crying anymore.

The movers loaded the truck. When they arrived at the new place and did a walk through, the head mover looked at me and said, “There’s no way everything on the truck will fit in here.” I told him I understood and would they be willing to take a few pieces ten minutes down the road for an extra generous tip. They said they’d be happy to. I thanked whatever being is looking over us a million times for small acts of kindness.

I had carried all of Mom’s plants in my car. We set up her balcony, overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, first. Her rockers, a small table, and dozens of potted plants with brightly colored flowers. She sat and rocked as the movers worked.

That day, the facility let us know the painters had a three week delay and couldn’t paint her unit before move-in. My sister and I asked the movers to put furniture in place, but not up against the walls. We would paint that night. I went to the hardware store and bought tarps, paint rollers, and masking tape. I returned and Mom came into the unit to see how far along the movers were. She mentioned that they did a good job on the paint job. My sister and I exchanged looks. “You’re happy with this color?” my niece asked. “Yes, it’ll do.” We started moving the furniture against the walls and hid the painting materials. I felt pangs of guilt in my stomach. I didn’t do what I said I would do. I hated accepting that Mom couldn’t process events any more.

We started opening boxes. About 20 boxes in, we found her purse. My sister and I did a happy dance, and brought it to her. “Look what we found!” She cooly looked at us and said, “I knew where it was.”

We entered the dining room. All the tables were full, so we sat at a four top by ourselves. Other folks came in after, but no one joined us. I felt madly protective of mom. Would the other residents be nice to her? Would someone join her when she was at a table by herself? Would they overlook her lapses in memory? Or shun her?

We needed to buy a bookshelf. All of her bookshelves in Winston-Salem were built-ins. She has so many books. She reads the same one over and over, but it’s a comfort to have hundreds of paperback novels. As we walked through the antique store emporium, I asked “What about this one?” and she would say it was too narrow, or not the right type of wood, or didn’t have a back. We found a couple that were okay, not great, and I said, “Okay, well let’s remember this, and we’ll keep looking.” She laughed and said, “You can remember it, but I won’t.”

We were getting off the elevator as other residents on the hall were waiting to get on. We stopped to exchange pleasantries. They asked Mom if she was new. She said yes, she had just moved in. They asked when; she looked at me. I explained that we moved in on Thursday. They asked where she was moving from, and she said Winston-Salem. She mentioned that her husband had recently passed away from cancer. They said, “Cancer is a horrible disease, but you know what’s worse? Alzheimer’s. I hope I never get that.” Mom’s response? “I agree. I hope that I never experience that.”

I returned to her new home in the morning and found her sitting on the balcony, rocking and reading the newspaper. “Isn’t this just beautiful?” she said, as she motioned to the mountains. I nodded, and said it was.

I’m hesitant to believe that she’s happy, permanently happy, in her new home. Just as she forgets bad things, she also forgets happy things. I want her to be as independent as possible. I worry I’ve made the wrong choices. I miss my Dad so much and wonder what he would have done in this situation, what he would have said, what decisions he would have made.

Saying Goodbye

Question: What do all of these things have in common?

  • A bottle of Purell by the front door
  • Protein bars in the pantry
  • A partially filled pill box on the kitchen table
  • Reading glasses on the side table
  • An unopened letter on the desk
  • Protein shakes on the second shelf of the refrigerator

Answer: They will inspire unimaginable waves of grief when you realize that your father will never use any of them again.

Dad went into the ICU on Thursday. And even though he had been in and out of hospitals since December 26, it was different this time. He was in pain, unbearable pain, from peritonitis. When the Emergency Department doctors diagnosed him, I asked if it was curable. They assured me it was.

Except that it wasn’t. And three days later, Dad drew his last breaths surrounded by his wife, his children, and his pastors.

Dad was the epitome of love and compassion. He thought of others and how we could work together to make this a better world. When I was in high school, and questioning organized religion because of (insert myriad of reasons), instead of forcing me to attend services, he asked me what I would like to do to help others. So from then on, we worked the Samaritan Soup Kitchen downtown on Sunday mornings. I didn’t think much of it then, but later I realized what a sacrifice he was making to take me downtown every Sunday morning. He actually liked church. He liked the social aspect of it; he liked the faith aspect of it.

I was supposed to travel to Charleston on Thursday morning for a friend’s 50th birthday celebration. As I was getting ready to go, I went into his bedroom to say goodbye and noticed he was in incredible pain. We ended up calling an ambulance because I couldn’t transport him in my car without hurting him. He apologized, saying that he always ruined my trips. I laughed and told him not to worry about it – there were more important things. On Friday, from the ICU, he told me to go to Charleston, to be with my friends, it was important to celebrate relationships.

One thing he was clear about was that he did not want to be sustained by life support, and he had documented that thoroughly. We had discussed it on Saturday morning before I left for Charleston. His doctors had come into the room and said that if the infection didn’t clear up soon, they would need to remove the Tenckhoff catheter that he used to perform peritoneal dialysis. I looked at them and asked how he would be able to perform dialysis. They said he could revert back to hemodialysis. I shared that that wasn’t an option for him, since his blood pressure was so low. They said that CCRT, the continuous dialysis (which was apparently very painful and could only be done in the ICU) was the other option. From his bed, Dad shook his head and looked up at me with pleading eyes. I told him I knew that wasn’t what he wanted, and we wouldn’t let that happen. The doctors left. I reminded Dad that he was of sound mind and he could make the decision at any point to leave the hospital and we would engage with Hospice at home. He joked that he had never been of sound mind. He also said that if they told him he would have to be in this existence for a month, that wasn’t the life he wanted. I asked him if he would agree to the treatment for a few more days, maybe a week, to see if things got better, and then we could re-evaluate. He said that sounded like a good plan. He told me to be safe, enjoy my friends, and we’d see each other the next day.

So on Saturday mid-morning I went. Early Sunday morning I learned his condition had worsened, so I drove immediately to the hospital, praying the entire four hours I was driving that I wouldn’t get a speeding ticket and that he would survive until I got to the hospital. When I entered the ICU room, my Mom, my brother, and my sister were already there. I was overcome by guilt and sadness. He was fully on life support, exactly what he didn’t want. His eyes were half open and he was gasping for breath. I was gutted.

I leaned over, kissed his forehead, and told him I was there. He opened his beautiful blue eyes and said, “No way!” I repeated that I was there, Mom was there, Greg was there, and Ashley was there. The whole family was there and he was surrounded by love. Again, he said, “No way!” closed his eyes, and leaned back. We talked to him and told him how much we loved him, how much we appreciated all that he had done for each of us and for our community, how much we’ll miss him, how we cannot imagine living without him in our lives. I choose to believe he heard us. Occasionally he would squeeze my hand, or an eyebrow would raise, or a slight smile would pass his face. My brother left to get some sleep before his night shift.

And then the nurses asked to speak to us. I went out of the room. Before they said anything I blurted out, “He’s dying and he’s on life support and he didn’t want that and he’s in so much pain and we have to abide by his wishes and I don’t want him to die and he’s going to and is there anything you can do to cause him to be in less pain?” And then I collapsed.

They tried to tell me I was making a decision out of love. I was honoring his wishes and he was suffering and if we moved to “comfort care” they would have a lot more latitude with what they could administer.

I called his pastor. They ordered drip painkillers from the pharmacy.

We waited for his pastor to arrive. We waited for my brother to return. I checked his phone to see if anyone had sent messages that I could share with him. There were a couple, as well as about 300 spam and marketing messages over the course of one day. I chided him for subscribing to so much junk, then proceeded to read the offers to him, one by one. We laughed, and I hope he was laughing, too.

The pastor arrived. My brother arrived. The painkillers in a drip bag arrived. We said a prayer, holding hands. I explained to him step by step what would happen. I reminded him the first thing he told anyone when he checked into a hospital was that he has a full DNR (do not resuscitate) order. And that he didn’t want to live a life sustained by life support.

The nurses started the painkillers. “Dad, they’ve hooked you up to a stronger painkiller. You won’t feel the debilitating pain that you’ve experienced over the last few days anymore.” They stopped the blood pressure medicine drip. “Dad, they’re stopping your blood pressure medicine drip. Your blood pressure might drop.” They stopped the CCRT process which was cleansing his blood. “Dad, they’re disconnecting you from CCRT. I know how painful this was over the past few days, and you won’t have that pain anymore. This is what you asked for, and we love you so much.” It was 3:33 pm.

I had an idea that when someone is taken off life support, they die. But they don’t. The body keeps fighting, keeps breathing. The heart keeps pumping. We continued to hold his hands and tell him how much we loved him for the next 1 hour and 13 minutes. I was watching an artery? a vein? in his neck, mirroring his heart beat. I watched it slow. And slow. And stop. And I heard a guttural cry. I wondered where it was coming from when I realized it was coming from me. There is nothing that could have prepared me for him drawing his last breath. The tears would not stop flowing as I sobbed, heaving to breathe.

The nurses told us we could stay as long as we wanted. I don’t know if we stayed a couple of minutes or much longer. I do know that when I leaned over for to give Dad one last kiss goodbye, his body had gone cold.

The Joy of Celebrating

One of the things that I honestly love about getting older is celebrating dreams come true. I’ve been so fortunate to celebrate with friends as they achieve “the thing.” “The thing” could be anything from getting married, having a child, buying a home, selling a home, landing a new job, retiring, growing a garden, taking that dream vacation, learning to play that instrument, writing that book, mastering that recipe. It’s whatever has taken the hard work and brings joy.

And this week I was absolutely thrilled to watch another friend achieve a life long dream – being appointed as a Justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court. I met Mark when I was an undergrad at Carolina and he was in law school. I remember giving him a gavel that I had procured at an auction – a harbinger of great things to come.

The ceremony was delightful. I had never been in a Supreme Court courtroom before. It was appropriately majestic and regal. High ceilings and dark green leather seats with brass studs. I loved seeing the court file in – three women and three men. Even though I had nothing to do with it (other than voting), I loved seeing that our Chief Justice, the Honorable Cheri Beasley, is an African American woman, and a person who is incredibly well spoken and polished and simply lovely. The feeling of collegiality among the court was pervasive.

Kind remarks and witty stories were shared. An oath was taken. Justice Davis was robed. Applause all around. And then Mark shared his remarks. I’ve known Mark as a friend for almost 30 years. And he brought the same wit and humor and humility and graciousness to his remarks as he has to our conversations. He shared how seriously he takes his duty as a judge, and that his personal views are irrelevant as a judge; his job is to interpret the law. He talked about the respect he has for his colleagues and what he’s learned from his mentors over the years. And he talked about his commitment to uphold the Constitution. I left the ceremony feeling inspired, uplifted, and with a glimmer of hope. Mazel tov, Justice Davis!

Cabin Memories

When I was about eight years old, my parents decided that we would build a cabin in the mountains a couple of hours from our home. Our pastor had a cabin there, and we enjoyed weekends spent visiting – tubing down the New River, watermelon seed spitting contests, dark nights full of sparkling stars. I’m not sure what order things happened next, but they bought a piece of land on the mountain, bought a dilapidated log cabin with foot high weeds all around it in another town from a fellow church member, and bought a ’54 Chevy at a yard sale for $300. At least that’s what I remembered. Dad’s corrections are in italics in parenthesis below.

It was true, they did buy a plot on the mountain.

And they did buy a dilapidated (it was merely abandoned, not dilapidated) house from a fellow church member who had inherited it. (The church member’s grandfather was born in the cabin. We looked for the cemetery where he was buried and his tombstone said he was born in 1878, so we know the cabin was at least that old). Dad said the house could have been lived in, had someone put some work into it. The work we put into it was tearing it apart. Every weekend we would drive to a place in the middle of nowhere (near Pilot Mountain, NC, about a half hour from our house) and tear apart the house, salvaging as much material as possible – the 1” thick (1” thick, 13” wide, heart pine) pine hardwood floors, the hand-hewn logs (hidden beneath clapboard siding), and so much scrap lumber. Maybe the end image is the one that sticks in my mind – a field of weeds (that part was true) with simply the shell of what used to be a house, a few bricks here and there, some corrugated metal roofing laying to the side. One day as they were working, and I was playing, they noticed a blacksnake slithering out from between the clapboard and the logs. And then the snake was noticeably thicker. It was *two* blacksnakes, wrapped around each other, slithering out of the house. And out. And out. And out. They were each at least 8 feet long (6 – 7 feet, actually). We dubbed them Sally and Sammy, and kept an eye out for them each time we were there.

And then there was Pinnacle, the truck, named for the town where we bought her at a yard sale (bought from someone’s yard; it was parked in their yard with a “For Sale” sign on it, asking price $250, not $300) and the price was right. Pinnacle was a ’54 Chevy bright red pick up truck, with a can of said red paint in the truck bed. When we got her home, Dad said that he’d pay me to paint the truck. I remember it being an exorbitant sum of money, possibly $20 (actually, only $10). Remember, I was eight years old. So I got a 4” wide paintbrush, put some newspaper down in the garage, and painted Pinnacle. I thought she looked stunning. Being artistic, I even painted the raised “C H E V R O L E T” on the back tailgate a pristine white. Well, pristine except for that little bit that bled into the fresh red paint.

We had so many adventures in Pinnacle. Imagine what kind of truck you might buy for $300 ($250). Pinnacle had a huge bench seat, wide enough for dad to drive and my sister and I to sit in the front together, without even being close to touching. The windshield wipers only worked one way. So if it rained, we’d turn the wipers on, and they would swish to the left. Dad would then, as he was driving, reach out the triangle that should have housed a window (but was missing), lean forward, and slap the wipers the other way. They’d then swish to the left, and the process would repeat. Being young ladies influenced by peer pressure, we were mortified that our friends might see us riding in this pickup. So my sister and I would crouch on the floor of the cab, plenty of room there, until we had made it out of the neighborhood. Pinnacle had no seatbelts. Which would have come in handy the day that we rounded a curve and the passenger door flew open, my sister and I slowly sliding, on our way towards careening towards the asphalt. Dad pulled us close and slowed down. The door latch was busted. Nothing a sturdy rope couldn’t fix. He rolled down the window, tied the door shut, and from then on we had to enter through the driver’s side door. Until a neighbor borrowed Pinnacle and fixed the door handle by installing a hook and eye lock on the outside of the door. Even though this was the 1970s, I’m sure that wasn’t legit.

So each weekend, we’d go to dissemble the house, my sister and I usually playing in the fields while the adults pulled logs apart and numbered them. This went on for a couple of years and then it was time to reassemble them on the mountain. Dad hired a huge flatbed truck to load the logs, and up we went. The foundation had been laid with the help of a local contractor who had built many other beautiful log cabins, and we got to work. I’m not sure how much help my sister and I were. I remember them sitting us on the porch that was being built, and instructing us to hammer nails into the wood, which I remember as locust, which resulted in a lot of bent nails. But it kept us occupied. Sort of. (The other thing we did was give you and your sister brushes and asked you to “wash” the logs as they were waiting to be assembled.)

Dad installed a swing on a tree to the side of the cabin. We would sit in the swing towards the top of the mountain, and then as we swung out, we were so high above the ground, Empire State Building high (maybe 10 feet high). The mountain at that point was fairly steep, and we loved swinging out into what felt like thin air, singing the Carpenters popular hit, “Top of the World.” Until the day the rope gave way. Luckily the ground was carpeted with lots of leaves and pine needles, which provided a soft enough landing so that we escaped without any broken bones.

We were entertained when the chinking began. There was chicken coop wire (wire mesh, not chicken coop)  between the logs, and I remember mom smoothing the cement mixture in between the logs, against the wires, only to have the cement slowly roll out a minute later. It was a never ending race of placing the cement, moving on, seeing it rolling out, and trying to place it back in and get it to hold. The walls were taunting us and we thought it was hysterical. (We eventually put 10 penny nails, 1” apart in the logs, and for some reason that helped hold the chinking in, which is still there to this day.)

And this weekend, after 40+ years of enjoying the mountains and our cabin, we closed it up. My parents decided to sell the cabin as it’s getting harder and harder for them to maintain it. We thought that it might take six months or more for it to sell, and they received offers within the first couple of weeks of it being on the market. So we went up to pack up personal belongings and prepare it for the next owners. I didn’t think I’d be as emotional as it turned out I was. It was sad to pack up the quilts that we had slept under, layered and layered upon each other, as in the early days we only had a fire in the den for warmth. It was sad to clean out the cupboard, knowing we wouldn’t make any more meals there, sitting around the kitchen table made from lumber from the original house (it was actually the 5 foot door that separated the living room from the stairwell in the original house, that served the purpose of keeping the heat in downstairs). It was sad to sit on the porch, looking out through the bare trees down to the river which had given us so many delightful memories.

As we were walking back to the cabin after loading the car, mom stopped, looking at the green stalks of daffodils, the yellow flowers still tightly held. With tears, she said she wished that we could have stayed long enough to see them bloom. As we drove out of the driveway, I saw one lone daffodil that had bloomed, in the spot where the swing used to be. “Look, mom, a daffodil bloomed for you.”

 

2019 International Women’s Day Panel Discussion & Live Q&A

This is going to be a spectacular event on Friday, March 8. If you have access to an internet connection, join us for what’s sure to be an exciting conversation about leadership development, self-advocacy, and mentorship. Hope to see you there!

If you really want to know what's on my mind...

This Friday, March 8th, at 10am PST I’ll be hosting an International Women’s Day (virtual) Panel Discussion & Live Q&A with 4 amazing women from the tech industry, to discuss leadership development, self-advocacy, and mentorship. We will be using the Zoom video app to host the panel so as long as you have an internet connection you can join us! It’s free!


View original post 331 more words

Losing My Religion

I was raised in the United Methodist Church. Really raised. Church every Sunday (Sunday School and worship service) – if I feigned sickness I wasn’t allowed to leave my bed. No books, no radio. Wednesday fellowship, meals and more teachings. Youth Group, trips to the beach, sleepovers at the church, and more teachings. Youth Choir – singing praises and more teachings. Ice Cream Socials – lots of amazing homemade ice cream and more teachings.

Most of my neighbors attended our church, so gatherings blurred  – were they social or were they church? Did it matter? Almost every day I was with my church community. And my memories of growing up in the United Methodist Church were ones of tolerance and social conscience raising – volunteering on building trips after natural disasters, serving in soup kitchens, helpful our fellow people. We even allowed women in the clergy! The other churches in town didn’t.

Church became less and less of my life the older I got. I finally found a church in San Francisco that I felt at home in – Glide, which happened to be Methodist, but it put people before the doctrine. Everyone, I mean *everyone*, is welcome at Glide. It doesn’t even matter if you’re Christian. Love is love is love. I loved the Sunday celebrations, full of music and praise and joy and vulnerability. Even though I’m not living there anymore, I still stream the Sunday celebrations.

I’m sure if adult me were to visit child me, I would see the prejudice and discrimination that I’m sure were there in my childhood church community, but which were invisible to child me. That prejudice and discrimination hit me full force this week.

On Tuesday, the United Methodist Church voted to reinforce its decision that gay and lesbian clergy are not welcome in the church, and the church will not recognize same-sex marriages. My first thought when I heard that this was on the conference agenda was, “Seriously? This is 2019.” My second thought was that they would probably come to some sort of watered down compromise, much like the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” doctrine of the 1990s and early 2000s. I wasn’t prepared for what was shared. The vote was 53 to 47. That’s incredible in a jaw-dropping, mind-blowing way. 53% of the representatives of the church do not want to recognize the civil rights that every person is entitled to.

I’m heartened by the churches in the 47% saying they will break away, they will form a new denomination. There’s no place for this type of institutionalized discrimination in any organization. It’s 2019. It’s time.