An Orphan at 52

I didn’t expect to feel this way, but I do.  I lost my father to cancer almost 3 years ago, and I lost my mother to sepsis almost 3 months ago.  That wasn’t supposed to happen to either one of them, but it did.  After my father passed away, I was heartbroken and grief stricken.  Two days before his funeral my mother went into the hospital for hip replacement surgery, the beginning of a different kind of nightmare. Five months and  two more surgeries later, and after an allergic reaction to antibiotics almost killed her, she was able to go home.  After she was feeling better, I had her to talk to nearly every day.  She helped me through my grief over my father.  Now she’s gone too.  She developed sepsis two days after her last surgery February 27th, to remove the spacer in her hip.  She went into septic shock and passed away within a few hours.  It was so fast, so unexpected.

Intellectually, we expect our parents to pass away before we do. But as I now know, the experience is far different than the theoretical knowledge.  I still have family that I love and care for, and love me in return, but each of those relationships is different than the ones I had with my parents.  My dad was my first hero and male role model.  My mom was the strongest woman I knew.  Like any child, I had my ups and downs with them, growing pains, etc., but I never doubted their love for me, and they never doubted mine for them.

I find myself feeling somewhat lost, weirdly enough.  Why?  I’ve been an adult for decades now and raised a family of my own.  So what’s this feeling all about?  Do others feel this way?  NOW who do I call for cooking tips and recipes?  Who do I talk to about fishing, religion and politics?  I just had a birthday, the day before Mother’s day this year.  No matter how old, my mom faithfully called me early morning of my birthday to sing “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” to me. Not this year.  I know that the pain will ease with time.  I am blessed to have many good memories to look back on with love and fondness.  It wasn’t all peaches and cream by any stretch of the imagination. But that doesn’t seem important any more.

It’s a little frightening to become the matriarch of the family.  I don’t feel like I’m quite up to filling those shoes yet.  But I suppose that I’ll get there.  I have my faith, the rest of my family, and friends.  But I now realize the type of relationship we have with our own parents is a unique one, whether it was good, bad or indifferent.  I’m not somebody’s “baby” or “little girl” anymore. I realize that I still treated my parents differently than any other person in my life.  I still looked up to them.  Age was irrelevant.

Even in the midst of my grief, I am blessed.  I had a good relationship with mom and dad.  Sometimes roles reversed and I was the caretaker, but they were still my parents.  They were – are – will always be – special to me.  And I love them.  As my mom used to tell me “I love you Tammy, with all of my heart, always and forever.”  Me too, mom.  Me too.

Dedicated to my mom and dad, now in Heaven.

MomDad1964

Grandma drank a Hot Toddy

My grandma was pretty much a tee-totaler except when it came to colds and flu, then she was known to fix a hot toddy at night.  I never really knew what she put in them but I know there was a shot of whiskey or sometimes brandy in it.  (My grandpa drank so therefore the alcohol was available.)  I’ve seen a few different recipes for hot toddies since those days – do you have one to share?  It’s been such a horrible flu season this year I thought maybe we should ALL drink a hot toddy as preventative medicine if we weren’t already sick.  🙂

For a single serving, you can either steep an herbal teabag or use hot water.  Fill your cup about 2/3 full, then add a shot of whiskey or brandy (especially if you infused it with slices of fresh ginger and orange peel like I did), a slice of lemon, a stick of cinnamon, and honey to taste.  Super soothing!

On a related note, I’ve been thinking about which herbs I’m going to plant this year and came across the website below.  If you’ve never grown your own herbs, either for culinary purposes or medicinal purposes, here’s a little snippet to get you thinking about growing some herbs this year.

Easy-to-Grow, Dual Use Herbs

If you prefer to buy and plant individual varieties of herbs, there are many that are easy to grow and do double duty as both culinary and healing herbs. You should be able to find the following herb plants or seeds easily at the garden center in the spring.

  • Catnip: Yes, you can dry the leaves and share them with your kitty, but you can also brew a tea from catnip that’s said to help with indigestion. Plant catnip well away from other plants. It can be terribly invasive in the garden.
  • Chamomile: Beautiful, nodding white flowers belie its ability to induce calm and restful sleep.
  • Garlic: The edible bulbs provide antimicrobial action in the body and also may help to reduce cholesterol. Simply use it as a cooking agent to spice and season food.
  • Lemon balm: Lemon balm may be used in cooking to create a simple lemon-flavored syrup. Medicinally, teas made from lemon balm help reduce fevers associated with colds and flu.
  • Parsley: Garnish your plate and use in salads. It acts as a diuretic.

[credit – posted on http://garden.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Medicinal_Herbal_Garden_Seeds]

I think I just Feng Shui’d my living room!

Is that even a word – Shui’d?  I have no idea.  I don’t know much about Feng Shui either, except that it has to do with energy and flow.  I don’t know the rules of it but I spent the last several hours upending my living room-turned-workshop: taking stuff out that didn’t belong there, tossing unnecessary items (yay me!), rearranging my workspace and reorganizing my essential oils, herbal remedy ingredients, containers, candles, incense, lamps, table, diffuser, mailing packaging and supplies, you name it.  Okay so my hallway is a little off for a moment, but the energy in my living room is GREAT!  It feels like there is a flow to my space now, so maybe there is something to this Feng Shui after all.  Why not?

My day started off not so great, not feeling well.  Once my sinus headache cleared, I decided to tackle my work space to make it more me-friendly.  It’s amazing how much your ‘space’ can affect your outlook and how you feel – sometimes we just have to step back and take care of ourselves.  THEN we can help others so much more effectively!

I also made a nourishing homemade soup, not exactly like Grandma’s chicken soup recipe, but I did start with a great turkey bone broth I made and froze not long ago.  Chicken broth (or turkey) is so good for you, and really does help when you’re down with a cold or the flu.  Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, immune boosting action.  Add in fresh veggies and herbs like carrots, celery, onion, garlic, ginger, squash, thyme, greens, potatoes (whatever combo you like), and you’re packing some serious nutrition to restore you.  A little meditation, some herbal tea with ginger honey, and I’ll settle down tonight so much better than I began this morning.  I begin and end my days with prayers of thanks and gratitude.  Some days I feel it more than others.  Whether I “feng shui’d” anything today or not, I’m feeling extra thankful, and truly blessed.  Peace out.

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Seeking Grandma’s Wisdom

Here we are in another new year.  2018.  It looks a little odd still.  I used to worry about messing up the year when writing checks, but thanks to modern technology I rarely write a check anymore.  Out with the old, in with the new….really?  Do you make New Year’s resolutions?  Every now and again I have, but not often.  I do however, find that it’s useful to remind me to reflect on where I am, what’s happened in my life, and where I’d like to go next.  What has served me well, and what do I need to change?  What is no longer useful and needs to go?

That last one – what needs to go – has often been a tough one for me.  Left to my own devices I’d probably become a terrible hoarder, the kind they put on TV shows.  Well, I’d like to think not THAT bad, but there’s a smidgeon of doubt in the back of my mind.  Especially when it comes to sentimental items, I have a hard time throwing them in the bin.  But honestly, how many drawings that your children have made can you keep before it becomes a fire hazard?  So, one thing I do try to do is go through my things in the new year, throw out non-useful items, pare down, and get rid of those things – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally – that no longer serve me or my development as a good person.

BUT, “out with the old” doesn’t literally mean OLD.  Grandmas are “old” but I’d never consider throwing her out.  Grandmas, and Grandpas, have a lifetime of experience, wisdom, and stories to share.  Or at least nuggets of it.  No one is perfect.  I am finding the younger generations, sadly my own kids included, often don’t realize the value of seeking out Grandma’s wisdom.  I refer to “Grandma’s wisdom” in the generic sense of course.  Grandma’s recipes, herbal remedies, stories about the family, stories about growing up, values, relationships, skills, crafts, all kinds of wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) things that make up the fabric of our lives and provide a sense of connectedness and identity.  Once “Grandma” is gone, she’s gone.  At least from this Earth.  Unless we take the time to absorb Grandma’s wisdom while she’s with us, we lose a valuable part of ourselves and who we are, where we come from, and an opportunity to pass on knowledge and wisdom that she’s accumulated throughout her years.  I wish our society still valued and respected elders.

I think everyone needs to feel a sense of connectedness, a comfort and confidence in their own identity.  Surely that is at least one of the reasons for the popularity of Ancestry . com and sending in your DNA for testing.  Often we are separated from our extended families due to military service, job opportunities, etc.  But this apparently universal need for connectivity doesn’t disappear, so we try to fill the void in other ways, including social media.

Still, Grandma has her own unique blend of wisdom to share, one that can’t be found on the internet.  So, while I no longer have any living grandparents or dad, I do still have my mom and stepparents and siblings who share a history with me and have many stories and nuggets of wisdom to share.  Wisdom I hope to capture and share with my daughters.  So while I’m sorting through my ‘closet’ and disposing of those things that no longer serve me, I want to be sure I keep and continue to seek Grandma’s wisdom this year.

Praying for many things for us in this new year, including more love and compassion for all, growth and success on our personal journeys. May you be always blessed.  Happy New Year!