My mother believed

My mother always believed in me.

The past few days I have been on a cabin-fever mission to clean out files. I have a lot of files. Today, contained in a file I labeled “bits and pieces” which I recall creating to store future writing ideas, I found a manila envelope with “Christine Writings” written on it in my mother’s handwriting.

I wasn’t surprised. I knew my mother, who rarely saved anything sentimental, had saved some of the things I wrote when I was younger. There is a three-page handwritten essay on “Childcare and Babysitting.” I was probably in junior high.

“When a girl gets to a certain age she needs more money of her own and needs more responsibility. Babysitting gives you both. It also gives you in a roundabout way lessons for homemaking and childcare. Although you have to know some basics and important facts before you start, each time in some way, a new experience occurs.

The age that I find easiest to handle is around seven to ten . . .”

In it, I spelled “allowed” as “aloud.”

There is a sheet torn from a school newsletter we put together in 8th grade. The type is a script and is purple. Remember the smell of mimeograph copies and how they were a little damp at first? I wrote a poem about the snowflakes.

“. . .They drift on sometimes furiously, sometimes serenely, but always beautifully, ever journeying on to the end where they finally rest on even the smallest twig. And the twig is proud.”

I remember sitting in science class beside the window, watching the snow fall and composing this poem in my head. I did a lot of day-dreaming in grade school. I probably should have been paying attention.

My mom kept an essay I wrote in freshman English class, period 6 entitled “My Favorite Place” about the beach. My teacher wrote on the top, in red pencil, “Check some spots for awkward structure. Watch modifiers.” But he gave me a 4.5 out of 5.0 anyway. I got a 5.0 on “The Typical Mixed-Up Teenage Girl.”

“Carefree is her name and rule to live by; or often she wishes it were so. Actually insouciance (insouciance? Where did I come up with that word?) is one virtue she lacks. It would be so easy for my friend if she didn’t take things to heart so hard.”

I have a feeling I was writing about myself here.

Then there is the short story, “The Power of Giving” that I wrote in December of 1971. I think I might have been a better fiction writer then than I am now. I knew how to write a hook in the first sentence.

“The memory of it all is still as fresh in my mind as it was the first few days after the accident, and probably always will be.”

It’s a sentimental story, written in first person (I guess I liked first person even back then). A young girl gets in a car wreck right before Christmas and ends up in the hospital. She’s self-centered, and feels sorry for herself that she won’t be home for Christmas and throws a tantrum of major proportions. Later a little old lady named Auntie May visits her.  They strike up a friendship and spend a lot of time talking. The girl knits Auntie May a scarf for Christmas. Auntie May has no home to go to and is headed to a nursing home. The narrator gives her the gift she made. “That was the first real Christmas I ever had,” the narrator says, “For that was the year I discovered the power of giving.” The teacher liked it. He asked me to read it out loud to the class and I couldn’t get through it without crying. That’s still true of some of my writing.

My mom kept a poem I wrote in 1975 about our neighbor who was from Germany. I illustrated it with a drawing I made of the little old man with his cane, walking down a sidewalk under a big branching tree with bare limbs. Convincing me yet again, lest there be any doubt, to stick to writing and not drawing.

“. . .
Wonder if
While walking down the street
He yearns to be
Where he is not
Out of place;
Lonely for his home,
A place to understand,
That understands

His name was Mr. Gronauer and he did not speak English well. My dad used to go over and visit him from time to time to talk about Germany. One day my two sisters and I went over, maybe to give him and his wife Christmas cookies or something. They used to give us those gigantic Hershey’s chocolate bars. I’m not sure Hershey’s makes them anymore. On this particular occasion, they invited us in to have a seat on the sofa and they poured each of us a little glass, maybe about a shot, of liqueur. It might have been brandy. I took one sip and wondered how I was ever going to be able to drink it all. My oldest sister didn’t seem to be having any difficulty with it. I think Carol and I surreptitiously pawned ours off on her. I might still be sitting there today otherwise.

Yes. My mom believed in me. When I’m doubting myself and wondering what to do next, my mom’s belief, in the form of a manila envelope, calls me forward, still.





Someone’s crying

Three years ago today, I held my mother’s hand as she took her last breath. This is the post I wrote the day after. Today I am remembering a moment towards the end of her days when she was at Hospice. I never had a lot of time to have the heart-to-heart conversation with her that I yearned for. Things were moving too fast; I was too busy with Dad, and Mom was too sick. But on this afternoon, for the minutes she was awake, I leaned over her bed and said, “I’m going to have to find a way to talk to you.” She said, “Yes, you will.” Then I cried the tears I tried so hard to hide from her. She reached up with both of her arms and cupped my face between her two hands, giving me a lifetime of gratitude and love, a million words of goodbye, in one moment I will cherish forever.

Christine M. Grote

On Thursday night I heard my mother stir and I rose from my bed on the floor in the corner of her room and hurried to her side.

“What’s wrong?” she asked as she roused from the deep sleep she had been in all day.

“Nothing’s wrong, Mom.”

“Someone’s crying,” she said.

In my mom’s 78 years on this planet, I imagine she heard and answered a lot of someones crying.  In the 1950s through the 1970s she was raising five children who had been born within six years, including my sister Annie who was extremely disabled.  I suspect there were a lot of times someone was crying.

Even as we grew older we were sometimes crying: me coming home from college carrying a basket of laundry when a relationship ended; a long-distance phone call to speak of a loved one who died; a conversation about one thing or the…

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Kathleen Pooler’s “Ever Faithful to his Lead – My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse”

Today I am sharing my review of Ever Faithful to His Lead — My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse, and a short interview with the author, Kathleen Pooler. Since I wrote my first memoir, I’ve been following Kathleen’s blog at Memoir Writer’s Journey.

Kathleen_PoolerKathleen Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner. Her memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse was published in the summer of 2014. She is currently working on a sequel, Hope Matters: A Memoir.

Both books are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal, and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments to live a life of joy and contentment. . The issues she tackles are domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure.

Pooler believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.

She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York.

My review:

Ever Faithful to His Lead — My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse is an important story for anyone who is in an emotionally abusive relationship. It is very courageous writing, insightful into important gender issues, and powerful in its potential to help others.

Ever Faithful to His Lead
Kathleen Pooler’s brutally honest and at times self-berating memoir about her not one, but two successive, emotionally abusive marriages is an important read for anyone in a similar situation. It is an important read for anyone who suspects a friend or relative of being in a similar emotionally abusive relationship.

Pooler questions herself, “What I ask myself now is why did I tolerate so much for so long?” Although readers may think that Pooler has a flaw or weakness of character by today’s standards, it is important to remember the times and social constructs and gender expectations that were in play during the 1960s to 1980s era. In some ways, Ever Faithful to His Lead is a good study in gender issues.

Importantly, this is a success story. Through it all Pooler diligently stays on a path to independence. She earns an advanced degree in nursing while raising two children and coping with an alcoholic, at times absentee, husband. Pooler berates herself for tolerating first one and then a second husband who was unsupportive and volatile because she perceived a need for a man in her life and a father for her children. But eventually she takes the necessary steps to independence and self-reliance.

This is a story of resilience, fortitude, and overcoming self-defeating tendencies.

By sharing her story, Pooler has the capacity to help not only herself, but others who may be in a similar situation. We can all learn from Pooler’s experience.
I applaud her courage in telling her story.

Six questions for Kathleen:

1. On your website, Memoir Writer’s Journey, you write, ” We are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.” Can you tell us a little more about this concept and how, in particular, this statement applies to you and to readers of Ever Faithful to His Lead?

This mantra about sharing our stories came to me when I was honing in on the main theme of my website. Hope has always played a powerful role in my life and I personally have found hope and strength from sharing my own stories and from hearing the stories of others. I wanted to create a welcoming atmosphere where people would feel comfortable sharing their stories and envisioned my blog as a kitchen table where people could gather and share. In the case of my memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead, breaking the silence helped me to heal and forgive.

2. You write,” I grew up with Walt Disney’s myth of dreaming, hoping, praying that someday my prince would come…” How do you think your life might have been different if you would have been born thirty or forty years later than you were? Do you think young women today are better prepared to deal with some of the challenges you faced, or not?

Interesting question. I say this because I have had younger readers tell me they cannot relate to the Boomer issues of societal pressure to marry from the 60’s and 70’s. It’s a different time now and expectations of women and their roles in society have changed dramatically with the Women’s Movement. Abuse still happens but it occurs within a different framework. Yes, I do think the women of today are better prepared to take care of themselves and forge independent lives.

3. Your description of hiding in the closet, on more than one occasion, when you heard your first husband, Ed, returning from a night out drinking is chilling.  As you often mention in your memoir, a lot of factors fed into your decision not to leave your marriage before you did. Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently? How would you advise another young wife who may be cowering in a closet somewhere, or pretending to be asleep to avoid a confrontation?

Of course, hindsight always seems to highlight issues that were not apparent at the time. I had a blind and naïve faith that all would work out in time, despite evidence to the contrary. Knowing what I know now, I would heed all those red flags before the wedding and walk away sooner. I would take my inner doubts seriously and take action. My advice to another young wife—value yourself enough to not tolerate abuse of any kind. Listen to your inner voice and claim you inner strength sooner than later. Reach out for support and get out.

4. What made you decide to write your story now?

This is not the story I wanted to write or started out writing. But as I kept writing, this is the story that revealed itself to me. I had to break my own silence by facing the guilt and shame I hid behind for years. I started out writing about the simultaneous battle of a cancer diagnosis and my young son’s spiral into substance abuse (my W-I-P memoir) but soon realized I couldn’t tell that story until I told the story before me. When I looked at the life of peace and joy I was living, I connected with my purpose for writing it—to share hope that no matter how far down into the abyss you go, there’s always hope for a better life—there was no stopping. If my story touches one other person and gives them hope to find freedom from abuse, I will have achieved my purpose in writing it.

5. In one or two sentences, what is the most important advice you would give to someone suffering from emotional abuse based on your own experience?

Love yourself enough to want and demand respect and love in return. Emotional abuse is not as obvious as physical abuse and yet it can be just as devastating. Power and control are at the root of any abuse situation. Trust your feelings, claim your inner strength and have an escape plan. Seek support from trusted family and friends. There are many community resources available but one has to break through the denial that abuse is occurring. Knowledge is power.

6. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your book or your memoir-writing experience?

The positive responses to my memoir have been beyond my expectations. So often we question if our personal stories will be of interest to others, if writing our truths will be worth it in terms of possibly offending others who may disagree with our version of the truth. Publishing Ever Faithful to his Lead has validated for me the power of memoir to transform and heal, both the writer and the reader. Not only was I able to forgive those whom I felt hurt me but I was able to forgive myself. That is the freedom I want to share with others. Our stories do matter.

Links to contact Kathleen:

Twitter @kathypooler
LinkedIn: Kathleen Pooler
Goodreads: Kathleen Pooler
Facebook: Kathleen Pooler/Memoir Writer’s Journey


Roller Girls – a Scoot and Shoot event

On the evening of May 10th, Scoot and Shoot visited the Roller Derby at Cincinnati Gardens. This was a particularly challenging photographing venue. There was low light and high action. I used a high ISO from 1600 to 3200, and had my lens wide open at an f-stop of 5.4. In some cases I tried to pan with the jammer. Mostly, I wanted to share with you the excitement of the Cincinnati Roller Girls.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _01

The names alone will make you wonder—Cherry Choke, Cincy Psycho, Candy Kickass, or Hannah Barbaric. Rough and tough names for a rough and tough sport.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _02Some of them come dressed to kill in flashy colors,

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _03sparkly shorts,

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _04tiger prints in florescent green,

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _05or stripes.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _06Many are decorated with tattoos.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _07Their clothes sometimes take a beating.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _10 I’d never been to a roller derby before. I always thought of it as a rough race. But now I know more. The woman above is a jammer for the Cincinnati JV or Varsity “B” team, the Violent Lambs. The jammer for each team is the only person who can score points, and she does it by passing opposing team members.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _12The rest of the skaters make up the pack. They try to block the opposing jammer. The game is played in 2-minute jams started by a whistle.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _13The jammers start each jam behind the pack. The first jammer to get through the blockers is awarded the lead jammer. The lead jammer can decide to end the jam before the 2 minutes are up if it is to her team’s advantage to do so.Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _14Once the jammers have made it through the pack, they skate quickly around the rink and then they each begin to score a point for every opposing skater they pass in a lap, including the opposing jammer and penalized skaters who are sitting on the bench. (I’m not sure what actions result in penalties, or time-outs, but they happen quite regularly.) The refs skate around in the middle of the rink, call out  penalties, and keep track of the points each jammer earns.Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _15The jammer’s teammates not only try to block the opposing jammer from passing, but also set up blocking to help their own jammer get through.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _16Because of all the blocking and pushing, the game gets a little rough at times.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _17Blockers often try to push the jammer out of bounds. When that happens the jammer has to go to the back of the group and try again. Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _18Unlike my previous, uneducated impression, roller derbies are not just rough free-for-alls. The young women care about the game and how their team is doing.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _19Here two jammers are going against each other. If the lead jammer falls behind, she can stop the jam so that her opponent does not score any more points.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _20Here a blocker is trying to prevent the jammer from passing.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _21This jammer has decided to end the jam. Her signal to the refs is raising her bent arms up and down. The ref blows the whistle; the skaters stop. And a new jam begins. Usually, (perhaps always) a new team of skaters takes over each time the jam ends.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _23This jammer has broken through the blockers who turn to try to help their own jammer through.Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _24Often the jammers are the smallest skaters. If they can’t push their way through, they can sometimes squeeze through small openings and at times jump over obstructions. Maneuverability is important in a jammer.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _25It’s an intense sport.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _26The women play hard.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _27A group of blockers tries to hold the line.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _28An individual blocker tries to obstruct the jammer.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _29Players get knocked down.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _30

Players get hurt.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _32The action is fast.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _33Hearts and souls are in the game.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _34They give it all they’ve got.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _35They want to win.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _36They push ahead.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _37They stand their ground.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _38They plan their strategies, play their hardest, and strive to win. They are competitors.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _39They are women.

Two important things

I realized two important things recently.

When I visited Jeff Hillard’s Cincinnati Authors class to talk about Dancing in Heaven on May 1st, one of the adult or non-traditional students said, “My daughter’s friend has a sister who is disabled and in a wheel chair. I always felt a little sorry that my daughter’s friend wasn’t able to share the mother-daughter experiences that my daughter and I were able to share. Her mother was always too busy taking care of the disabled sister.” She made the comment to point out that Dancing in Heaven showed her another side, a different side, of having a disabled sibling or daughter.

I smiled, but made no comment in reply, because she hit a very sensitive and very deep nail on the head. And I think that is one of the things I’ve grieved for with the loss of my mother the most—the hope I had, the possibility I had, of having some of those special moments with my mother. That’s one of the things I realized recently. And perhaps the word “realized” isn’t the best choice. I always knew that Mom wasn’t able to do the some of the things with me that my friends’ parents were able to do, or that I had wished she were able to do. “Faced my denial” might be more accurate.

I remember only three shopping trips with my mother. One was to help her buy a dress to wear to my grandmother’s funeral in 1984. Another was to the drug store in 2012 so she could buy all the over-the-counter rememdies for her stomach pain that we all attributed to stress but was actually cancer. And a time when I was a young teenager that she wanted to walk to the grocery store, not thinking in advance that we’d have to bring all the groceries we bought back home. We weren’t able to carry them all between the two of us, so we decided to push the grocery cart filled with bags home. We hadn’t crossed the first street when Mom tipped the grocery cart over as she bumped it down the curb. The groceries spilled out into the street. I laughed so hard I was afraid I was going to wet my pants.

I have often gone shopping with my daughter Anna. It is one of my favorite things to do.

I went out to lunch with my mother once, I think, although I can’t really remember it well. Then my sister and I took her out to lunch for her last birthday in May of 2012. I remember that one a lot better.

I have taken all my sons and my daughter out to lunch.

You might say I even have a passion for creating those mother-daughter and even mother-son experiences.

But while doing all this self-revelation recently, I can’t help but remember all the things my mother taught me. Or the things she made for me. Or how she patiently ripped out and fixed badly sewn or completely wrong seams in my fashion creations. Or the late-night conversations at her kitchen table on the overnight visits. Or how she was always there when I really needed her the most, if not in person, then certainly across the telephone wire. The time when she and Dad came to my dorm room with a computer when mine died the night before a test. Or when she and Dad came to my hospital room the day I had neck surgery, or the day I had Michael. Or the way she hand-wrung out the wet baby clothes in a washer full of water that wouldn’t drain when she came to help me at home.

Some people have mothers who are alcoholics, or drug addicts, or too self-interested to bother. Some people have mothers who die young. Some have mothers who leave.

No. My mother didn’t have a lot of time for lunches and shopping with me. But in every way that she could be, she was a mother to me. She was a very good mother to me.

And I miss her so.

If your mother is still with you, I hope you are able to enjoy her each and every day. If not, I hope you can remember her kindly for what she was able to give you under whatever circumstances or challenges she faced. And if you are a mother, I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day.






The power of laughter

Our relationships with individuals are unique and take on their own, color, flavor, and song. My sister Carol, who is little more than one year older than me, has the unequaled ability to transport me back to a simpler time and place when days were long, responsibilities few, and laughter contagious.


Photograph compliments of my talented niece Kathryn Flowers
at Krystal Beauty in Sarasota, Florida.

I treasure the moments we’ve had, continue to have, and will have in the future. And I’d just like to say, “Thank you sister, for helping me free my joy now.”

Is there someone in your life who makes you feel the joy of childhood again?

Keep going

It’s no secret to those few bloggers and friends who continue to follow my posts, that my energy for this is waning. I would just like to say thank you for sticking with me. I will be back to reading your posts and writing my own, hopefully soon. Whoever thought when I was in the throes of trying to keep up with all your posts that I would ever say, I miss reading what you’re writing. But I do.

I’ve been reading a small Advent book I purchase many years ago called Let it Be: Advent and Christmas Meditations for Women, edited by Therese Johnson Borchard. It clearly has a religious bent, but not overly so. Many of the readings have secular value. I would like to share a small excerpt from today’s reading that I found particularly appropriate.

Be Patient, Stand Firm

“Commitment and enthusiasm are two concepts that are, unfortunately, often confused. Commitment is that quality of life that depends more on the ability to wait for something to come to fulfillment—through good days and bad—than it does on being able to sustain an emotional extreme for it over a long period of time. Enthusiasm is excitement fed by satisfaction. The tangle of the two ideas, however, is exactly what leads so many people to fall off in the middle of a project.

“When the work ceases to feel good, when praying for peace gets nowhere, when the marriage counseling fails to reinvigorate the marriage, when the projects and the plans and the hopes worse than fail, they fizzle, that’s when the commitment really starts. . .

“When we feel most discouraged, most fatigued, most alone is precisely the time we must not quit.”

—Joan Chittister, Songs of Joy

If you are struggling with a project, I hope you will keep going.



Mothers’ wisdom

Dear friends, acquaintances, readers, and unconcerned passers-by,

I am sending out this request for guest bloggers who would like to share a memory and write on the topic of mother’s wisdom. Now that Mom is gone, when her little pieces of wisdom come to mind I greet them like a precious jewel. I am planning on sharing those little jewels with you as they drop into my hands. But I realized that we all have pieces of wisdom from our mothers. I invite you to share one here on my blog. I hope to hear from you, whenever, at


“Things don’t always turn out like you think they’re going to.”

 Mom said that to me at some point during our journey through her last six weeks. I don’t remember what comment I made that provoked it, but I’m sure it was one of my attempts at being upbeat and optimistic about her move to the assisted living facility. Or maybe it was a fore-shadowing of her dip in the whirlpool at the new facility that I thought would be heaven after all the years she wasn’t able to get in or out of the bathtub at home. That turned out to be incredibly uncomfortable, a test of fortitude and endurance actually, when Mom had to sit (for a very long time according to her) on a straight-backed metal seat that got lowered into the tub. “I’m not going to do that again,” she said,” unless they can get some kind of a cushion for me.”

Some things just don’t turn out as good as you think they’re going to.

I don’t know what experiences in her life drove that thought home but I imagine the day-to-day care of Annie; Mom’s attempts to improve the quality of life for her mother who had dementia; or Mom’s constant battle to take care of Dad at home as he continued to decline with Alzheimer’s provided many opportunities for failed attempts and things that didn’t turn out as good as Mom had hoped.

It’s not a profound statement really, or likely even one that we haven’t already learned on our own. But sometimes, some of us, need to be reminded, I guess.

Mark was playing golf this morning. He doesn’t get out that often. We used to play occasionally with his parents. I rode in the cart with his mother and he with his father. I enjoyed that well enough. His mom wasn’t considerably better than I was and it wasn’t overly taxing for me. I can’t say the same for later attempts to play in a foursome with our sons or other people who didn’t mind devoting hours to the game week-after-week and year-after-year in order to improve their skills.

I really like the idea of playing golf with Mark and some friends. I imagine it might be a life-style I could enjoy—a weekly outing on the golf course on 70 degree, blue-sky, breezy days. Laughter, camaraderie, the challenge and the feeling that comes when the ball soars off the tee and flies out over the green straight ahead dropping into an excellent chipping or putting position (I really have to stretch my imagination on that one.)

In my weaker moments I sometimes forget the frustration and utter humiliation of some of my later attempts at golfing. My mind conveniently refuses to recall that the last time I played nine holes I quit after only three, picking up my ball, jamming my 5-iron into the bag, and parking myself in the cart while uttering all kinds of best-forgotten comments.  I think maybe golfing would be a fun thing that Mark and I could enjoy. Sometimes I think, maybe I’ll try again.

At times like those when my imagination threatens to delude me it is good to remember the wise words of my mother, “Things don’t always turn out like you think they’re going to.”

Undoubtedly so. Thanks, Mom.


My mother had a hard life

I woke up to a fascinating, no, more than fascinating, soul-stirring, comment on one of my blog posts. Although I had planned to do another post about our recent trip to New Orleans, in keeping with my intention when I started this blog of writing about what was on my mind when I woke up, I am sharing this story with you.

When I arose this morning, I checked my iPhone for email and found this blog comment to moderate by a new reader, Roseanne, who wrote, “. . .I was just lying here looking for sleep, when my Mother came into my thoughts. I got up and put into the computer ‘My Mom had a very hard life ‘ and found your blog. I’m going to put it in my favorites and follow you. I have never done anything like this before. . .”

I retraced her steps and found the post I had written about my Dad and his mother.

But Roseanne’s words struck a cord with me, because even though I had never written about it, my mom had a hard life, as most of my loyal followers might imagine.

When she was young my mother often had to care for her two younger siblings because her mother suffered from heart disease and was quite ill a lot of the time. Then my father was sent to Germany in the army and Mom had their first child, my oldest sister, while he was thousands of miles away. A few years (and children) later, Annie was born with severe brain damage and Mom, along with Dad, took care of her every day for 51 years. Annie died shortly after Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Mom went directly from caring for her daughter to caring for her husband. She never got a break. Not one. That’s one of the hardest things I’m dealing with now in the throes of my grief.

So the fact that Roseanne found me by searching for those terms had me take notice. Thank you, Roseanne.

But Roseanne wasn’t the first person who found me recently. A few days ago I got a couple of comments from a person named Kathy and her brother Kenneth on my “Remembering Grandma” post that I had written about my mom’s mother. They recognized the Adams’ name and the house that my grandmother grew up in.

It turns out that they are distant relatives. Their grandfather Adams was my great-grandfather’s brother. They have remained in the same basic location that my, and their, Adams’ family set down roots when they came to Ohio from New York sometime in the 1820s. We are talking about meeting each other in the near future. It is an exciting find for an amateur genealogist like myself, and even more stirring for my heart that has found new family, albeit extended, after experiencing  the painful sense of loss of family following the deaths of my parents. I only wish I could tell my mom. She would have been thrilled to know. Thank you, Kathy and Kenny.

My new “cousin” Kathy wrote me and said, “I just have to say that I think my Grandma Adams up in heaven was pushing for us to meet. There were so many events leading up to me finding your blog and things that occurred afterwards that led me to believe it was not ‘just a coincidence.'”

I wrote her back and said that I believed my grandmother, in cahoots with my mother, may have had something to do with it too. Isn’t it a nice idea to think about loved ones plotting and scheming in Heaven, trying to find a way to break through the veil of life that separates us?

Now, I realize some of you will agree with me whole-heartedly, and some of you will think this is a bunch of bunky and I should devote my active imagination to more production purposes like writing a novel, perhaps. And I’ll be honest and say that I have been all over the map in what I believe about after life.

I can say, though, that when you lose someone you love dearly, it can make you want to believe. And belief, after all, is a choice we make. Belief, according to is, by definition, “confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.” If there was proof, you wouldn’t need to believe. You would simply know. It is something we can choose to do.

My mom believed in the power of prayer. And in the thinning of the veil from this life to the next. As she was near the end of her days in a bed at Hospice I told her, “I’m going to miss talking to you, Mom. I’m going to have to find another way to talk to you.” And she replied, “Yes. You will.”

So I’ll repeat the question I asked in my very first blog post, that I read again today while I was looking for what I actually said about the purpose of my blog:

“Mom are you out there?”

Anna Adams Lemmon (my grandmother) with Mary Lemmon Smith (my mother on right) and Sharon (my aunt in the middle) on the Adams’ family farm circa 1939.

Ten things I’ve learned since December

1. Being with Dad, even though he can’t walk, can’t talk, and may not always know who I am,  is now a comfort instead of a grief.

2. We do what we have to do and priorities get clear in a crisis.

3. Moving Dad to a nursing home was not as terrible as I had expected and always dreaded.

4. Everything is relative.

5. I have an unlimited and unstoppable capacity to hope, like my mother.

6. No matter how much we may want someone to live, death will not wait.

7. Grief comes in unannounced and overwhelming waves.

8. Grief has a taste and odor and prickly needles and fills up your senses, and creates nausea, and is so much more than mere sadness.

9. Words of comfort are, in fact, comforting.

10. You can watch your mother expel her last breath, touch her cold hands in a funeral parlor, and sit beside her closed coffin at her grave, and have none of it seem real.