Grieving is Unfinished Work

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Water color portrait by Jacqueline Stubbs

Sometimes I have to write something for myself – about my Mom. I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately. Not that I don’t think about her throughout each day, because I do. I’m talking about the thoughts and questions that bring me to tears. The kind of boiling tears that make you walk around the house carrying tissues and not daring to put on mascara or go out because you’ll look like hell and start crying all over again when anyone asks how your day is going. Continue reading

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The Hole View – Retirement Pressures

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The guy who cuts my grass broke a window on May 17th. Two weeks later, I still don’t have a firm schedule for its repair – although I did finally get a price quoted. In my retirement transition, I’ve been focused on this hole and angry. It’s a symbol of everything that is broken and that I’ve been waiting to get fixed. Now that I am retired, that which used to be a nuisance, sometimes becomes an obsession. I retired from a  career in power where I worried about the scope of outages, when the next hurricane might come, and a myriad of daily decisions and administrative matters. Now, my decisions are like this: Continue reading

“Dad Romance” – A Valentine from Vietnam

Dad card 1I recently read more letters from my Dad to my Mom during the Vietnam War. They encompassed significant dates such as Valentines Day, their anniversary, and the birthday of my younger brother. Dad was notoriously frugal, yet generous. This Valentine’s Day card is a perfect example. In the enclosed letter he describes, with pride, how he procured a “good as new” wool pea coat for Mom from the ship’s store.  The sailor to which it had been assigned, never picked it up and it was on sale for $3.00! However, it will cost $15 to have it lined, so figured my Mom could “do that herself.”  Frugal. He also described how he was going to buy her a beaded “shell” for $25 (a lot of money then), and “I assume you are still a 38 and I dream about them.”  Generous and in love. Continue reading

Letters from My Father to My Mother

Dad and Adm LyleSettling in with the loss of both parents and recently retired, I have found time to do things I’ve been putting off. Today, I started digging through a box of letters that my Mother had saved. I remember the first time I saw it. It was the spring my Father died and Mom moved into assisted living. I knew it was precious or they would not have included it in their household shipment to Texas. It was in the hall closet, along with photo albums, video and audio recordings.  Into a box they all went, and there they stayed, in my closet, for 4 years. Continue reading

Retirement – Identity Struggles and Feelings

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The above was from an article written in 2013 when the thought of early retirement didn’t exist. I was fully immersed in a career that I loved, working for a company and with people I respected, and really doing well….until my Father died shortly after it was published and I became the primary caregiver for my Mother. I spent the next four years immersed in elder care, my job and nothing else….until I started considering early retirement. There is lots of advice on the financial aspects of retirement and how to spend your time,  but not that much about one’s shifting identity and the emotions involved. I think of retirement planning in terms of three F’s:  Finances, Fun and Feelings (MOSTLY feelings.) Continue reading

Things That Should Be Discussed

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Family Secrets – Talk About Your “Stuff”

In an earlier blog, I wrote about how “perfect” my Mom was.  I never met my Mom’s parents and it wasn’t until I was 40 that I learned why my Mother strived for perfection.  She had high expectations for me as a daughter (including the white glove test.)  She was upset when I told her I wanted to be married at a local B&B. Nothing less than a fancy church wedding and reception would do.  She hand sewed my bride’s maids’ gowns and helped over see the selection of music, flowers and catering.  It was perfect.  I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it without her. Continue reading

Water-Color Lessons

Creative Pension Payment:  Realizing the Capacity to be Creative

My Mother was an excellent artist.  She was also a stunningly beautiful model, a gourmet cook/entertainer, and excelled at gardening and interior decorating.  The perfect 70’s Mom.  Her clients, art students and friends asked if I shared my Mother’s artistic abilities. Uh, hell no!  A daughter’s perception of her Mother’s perfection.

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Model Mom Head Shot

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Glam Mom Entertaining

 

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Arty Mom (Water-color by Jacqueline Stubbs)

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Eggs Trapped in a Berndes Pan

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Artistic Pension Payment:  A Lesson in Cooking

My Mother was an excellent cook.  I have many of her fancy pans and other cooking paraphernalia that she considered essential.  However, I was always too busy working and usually single, so I tended to assemble food items rather than create meals.  One of my fancy cooking items was an 8 inch Berndes saute pan.  After listening to a cooking show on NPR, I attempted to fry/steam the perfect egg, later to be laid upon a decorative smear of low-fat plain yogurt and sprinkled with Herbs de Provence. Continue reading