Search This Blog

Friday, June 1, 2012

my sweet mary evelyn.

it's been years in the making, but i finally did it.  i put my big girl panties on and agreed to go up to Pennsylvania to see my grandparents.  i could not continue the emotional denial any further.  we packed our family of five in the car and left last weekend for what has been avoided for the last three years. 

this would be the first time i would see my grandmother since she lost the ability to recognize people. 

i knew what to expect, but i didn't know what to expect.  you know how people will say things like "she acts like a toddler now" or "she gets confused easily."  it's all very different when you experience it for yourself, and probably for a thousand different reasons.

If old people had exersaucers, these would be the toys attached to my grandma's.

i walked into the house at 7:30am.  she had just finished eating her cereal.  her hair was all over the place --- boy, if she knew what she looked like, she wouldn't be sitting there like that for my husband and i to see.  she was always well put together.  hair and make-up always done.  and here she sat before me looking like a frizzy lionness.  i said "good morning" to her and immediately asked her if she was done eating so i could take her bowl to the sink.  she gave me a quick "yup!" and off i went.  upon returning to the table i noticed her gazing fondly at my hubby's sneakers.  she said, "WOW!  Look at those shoes!  Those are NICE!"  and there it was... that innocence that was undeniably adorable.  over the next five minutes i took over sitting with her while my hubby, kids, and grandfather went outside to look at the pool we would all be converging on to disassemble shortly.  when my mom made it to town the first thing she did was to put my grandma's hair back in a french braid.  she finally resembled the woman i called grandma.

i couldn't stop staring at her, remembering all the fond things she used to say to me.  i sat watching her with tears in my eyes, which turned into tears down my face, which illicited much inquisition from grandma.  she was so puzzled.  "why are you clying?"  ... "or something like that."  she used words that were slightly wrong, but she didn't know what was wrong about them, so she couldn't fix it to say "cRying."  i tried to explain that my tears were because i missed her house, this place, this life with my grandparents involved, but she didn't understand, and she stopped paying attention.  she started singing "doodlydoodledoooooo" and tapping away with a ruler on a cup.  i knew deep down inside, this was still the same woman.  her love of music hasn't stopped.  she even started whistling.

at one point i made some silly face in a reaction to something she did --- i got the biggest laugh in return.  hmmmmmmmmmm she likes it.  she likes crazy silly faces.  MORE FACES!  so i pulled out all the stops, constantly making silly faces and even resorted to making silly farting noises.  i had her rolling.  and you know what was the best part?  she told me how cute i was.  i think i stopped breathing.  i found myself back in tears.  she is so much like the old her, but she just can't remember me. 

i so love her.

 it was a 90 degree day in Pennsylvania that day.  my grandparents don't have air conditioning, nor do they believe in opening windows to cool down.  there wasn't a fan in sight and the only thing we had to cool us down was being destroyed in the backyard {the pool}.  with six kids running around miserable from the heat, we found them constantly in and out of the house.  their gut was to go inside to get away from the heat, but then they'd get there and realize it was hotter there than outside. 

each and every time my oldest daughter would enter the house, my grandmother would stop doing whatever she was doing and she'd just stare at Emma.  truth be told Emma didn't know what to say and after the first few instances of this my sweet baby girl was really bothered by the attention.  my grandma would stare at her and just say "wowwwwwww, you are BEAUTIFUL!" over and over and over and over.  she was completely enamored by her, which warmed my heart to  no end.  i tear up just thinking of it.  i'm so touched that even in her confused state, she can say such lovely things to my child.  i know emma was uncomfortable, but i hope one day that will be what she remembers of her great-grandma.  i'll never have my grandma tell me that i'm doing a great job with my kids, but at least i know she thinks they're beautiful.

Ethan (9 yrs)
Emma (8 yrs)
Sophie (6 yrs)
The pool that all the kids and grandkids learned to swim in...that my grandma is now afraid of.
Standing at the bridge where all of us kids and grandkids used to feed the minnows and take a quick dip...
... now the cows reign over this land - no swimming in there anymore!
After taking the kids down to the "crick," I walked back up to the house to find my hubby ready to head over to the hotel.  After a day of hard work in 90 degrees he needed to get to the air conditioned hotel room. 

Before I left I went inside to say goodbye to my grandma.  I found her in a chair panting and exhaling a lot.  I asked her if she was hot and she said "yes." it was as if she was seeing me for the first time again.  i told her i'd get her a nice cold cloth for her head {why had nobody thought of this yet?} -- when i returned i wiped her face and put the cold cloth on her head.  she looked longingly into my eyes and said "thank you for taking care of me."  i started crying.  she has always been the one to take care of me.  it made me really sad things aren't the same.  i told her how much i loved her and she said, "wow you sure are birdy!" and by that, based of my knowledge of things she used to say to us, i'm pretty sure she mean't "purdy" -- she followed it by saying... "or something like that!"  i gave her a big kiss on her cheek and bid her farewell until the next day.  i had to leave because i had to have an enormous cry. 

my grandma's name is mary evelyn.  she will only answer to this name.  she doesn't go by "mom" or "grandma" and if you do slip and call her that, she always asks "who's that?"  calling her mary evelyn this weekend was hard.  she is my grandma but as she exists today, she has no idea i belong to her.  that's a hard thing to swallow. 

we spent the next day with the entire family (23 of us) at the best amusement park on the planet, knoebel's grove.  my grandparents showed up late and left early, so we didn't get to spend much time with them there, but my kids had a great day to make up for the depressing and stifling day before.   as soon as i made it back to virigina, i ordered two slim standing oscillating fans from amazon and had them two-day shipped to my grandparents house.  the last thing i need to do is worry about my grandma getting heat stroke. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

1.2.3. breathe.

2011 was a year i could live without doing over.  such pain.  and stress --- and heartache.  i keep telling my kids that the only way not to hurt so bad is to never love so much.  but can you honestly fathom living your life without loving with your whole heart?

i know i am not capable of loving less than that... unless i don't love you at all.

my father-in-law passed away on december 30th.  after twenty months of a courageous battle against cancer, he finally is at peace once again.  {bitter sweet, you know?}

my only adult experiences with death were those of my great-grandparents ten years ago.  the funerals were in a small town in Pennsylvania.  the type where it literally feels like you go back in time when you cross that township line.  THAT kinda small town.  i hadn't seen most my family in years... so even though i was {awkwardly} a pall bearer, it still felt like a fun family reunion more than a funeral. 
my grammy and pappy were people we hadn't seen in years.  the pain of their death wasn't as devastating.  my grammy had alzheimer's... she hadn't been herself in 10 years.  my pappy died shortly after she did.  they say that is very common with the elderly.  but given the distance of the previous decade, the loss was ultimately less painful because i hadn't spoken to him in so long.

my point is..... i never fully experienced emotional pain with death.  i experienced some regret, but not full-on emotional pain.

(although, i take part of that back... we had to put my dog of 13 years down back in november.  that certainly was some heavy emotional pain.  but even then, that's dog-pain.  not people-pain.  and in this instance, there certainly was a difference.  jiggah and i just weren't uber-close, though i definitely was sad and depressed that day he died. and for several days thereafter.)

but people-pain... yeah.  not so much.

my father-in-law was a fantastic man.  he loved me as though i was a daughter by birth.  and not only did he show me love in that way, he vocalized it to me.  over these last few years, given the state of my relationship with my own dad, i definitely felt a stronger bond with my FIL.  ironically, those were also the years he was much shorter with me in temperment!  i felt the love.  i mean.... you don't snap at the people you DON'T love, right?!  ain't that some shhhhhh....

here's something my brother-in-law wrote about my FIL:
In memory of Col. Herbert Hamako, a great American and a wonderful father-in-law. He was unjustly put in an internment camp as a child during WWII, yet loved his country and went on to serve a distinguished decades-long career in the US Air Force. Herb passed away this morning surrounded by his family. I'm grateful that my daughters got to spend so much time with him. We all will miss you, Herb.
ain't that some SERIOUS shhhhhhh....

my father-in-law passed away with all of his children surrounding him.  i've never experienced anything like it, yet to wonder if that happened to my own father right now, who would be there in that way?  the dedication my brother and sister-in-laws have shown throughout these 20 months has been something i can only wish for all dying members of our society.  the respect, the love, the faithfulness and dedication.  it was beautiful, however painful it may have been, up until his very last breath. the care my sister-in-laws provided those last few nights was top-notch, and always full of love regardless of how tired they were becoming.  on that last night i tried my best to get up for the hourly dispersion of medication, but i found myself only making it for every other, not even realizing there had been one in between.  i don't know how the girls did it.  they were amazing.

that last morning with my father in law was quite peaceful.  all his children and my mother-in-law sat or laid on the bed with him, holding his hand, stroking his face.  and the rest of us stood around them watching.  waiting.

when it happened all of our hearts must have skipped a beat.  i shook.  my legs just couldn't stop shaking, and the pure emotional pain of the end took over me.  my son put it best...

i don't know if i am more upset because my grandfather died or because my dad's dad died.

sitting in that room with all of these people you love, watching them suffer the loss of their husband or father, it makes it all the worse.  i cried for so many reasons that day, but mostly because i will truly miss him.  what an awesome human being.


it's been almost a month since he has passed and life certainly has slowed down.  we miss him dearly and speak of him often around the house.  we are all looking forward to the spring/summer when all of the family can reunite to spread his ashes, and perhaps, smoke a cigar and drink some grand marnier in his memory.  i think he'd like that.

i also think he'd like the fact that my work sent me a bonsai tree in his memory, which the kids aptly named "HERBIE T 'MAKO"... after their "amazing grandpa." 

minted madness!

i am a sucker for good, quality christmas cards.  for the past three years i've used a wonderful company called

they are awesome and the cards have an awesome weight to them.  never been disappointed and even if i was, i know i can count on minted to help a sistah out.


right now they are running a "refer a friend" deal...

i hate to just throw that embedded link out on my blog, but click it and head on over to  you'll get $25 just for signing up!  one catch... minimum purchase of $30.  BUT, you can get some good quality classroom valentine's for just a little over that. 

DO IT!  what are you WAITING FORRRRRRRRRR?!?!?! 

run, don't walk....

by the way, they'll give YOU $25 for each referral that signs up for up to 100 times over! 

my socks have officially been ROCKED!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

i am in hysterics right now.  serious out loud hysterics.  a total laugh out loud moment.

i have sucked at blogging this summer.  i know i suck, i not only can visibly see that i suck, i also feel i suck.  but you know what doesn't suck?  the fact that i've had a zillion blog hits this summer.  i am totally digging that.  but can i tell you why i think i've had so many??

ok, FACT.  i don't think this, i know this.

crazy and amazingly awesome peeps are finding me via a google search for preying/praying mantis.  LUUUUUUUUURVE this!  how random that i blogged about it and even more random that people click my blog on the google search options for preying/praying mantis.  it makes me giggle.  more than giggle, in fact.  it's just so neat, this internet world of ours.  we are connected people, whether you like to think it or not --- people all over the world research the wonderful preying/praying mantis, not just the good ole U.S.A..  you never know where a "click" can take ya and where you'll find your next friend. 

so for all you crazy awesome preying/praying mantis fans......... WELCOME!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

lucky girl.

i have a wonderful family.  i was born lucky like that.  not only was i born lucky like that, i birthed lucky like that.  double amazingness, i know.

my sweet, angelic, hysterically funny first born turned 9 last week.  as is common with his birthdays, he dreaded it.  honestly i think this came from having an older daycare provider when he was young.  she was also the funeral coordinator at the church.  do you realize just how many people die each week?  it's a sad, sad amount.  because so many people die each day, and because she was the funeral coordinator for the church, do you want to know how much talk of DEATH there was?  i never realized this until ethan got older.  as loving a woman as she was, i think she scared the ever loving shit out of my son. 

children are inquisitive little beings.  inquisitive and honest, both of which are beautiful qualities that led to emotional scarring.  at least, it did in this case. 

as much discussion as there was about death in that daycare she always told my son that the individual died from being old.

ding. freaking. ding.

my son doesn't want to get old because then you die.  if i turn another year older, i'm closer to death.

i get that logic, but damnit....................... birthdays are supposed to be happy.  not morbid.  every year, like clockwork my boy gets morbid.  this year he cried and cried and cried saying he was going to make an effort to get up early so he could be 8 for just a little longer.  he was born at 8:38am.  he was bound and determined this year to be up by 7am.  and damnit, he was.

knowing my sweet bambino would be upset that morning, while he slept i blew up thirty balloons and scattered them all across the floor of his room so they would greet him first thing.

by God it worked.

he was so happy and tickled pink that it was his big day.  there was no talk about the time, there was no talk about NOT wanting to turn nine.  all that we saw was that angelic smile he was born with nine years ago that day.  it was awesome.

he's had a rough summer.  his best friend (and cousin) moved to wisconsin.  his grandpa got very sick again.  his other grandpa got very sick again.  his dog is on his last legs (and even then it's only when they aren't slipping out from underneath of him.) --- it's been an emotionally charged summer, but only in the saddest of ways possible.  that entire week before and up to his birthday was nothing but one crying fest after another. 

and i can't say i blame him.

but fast forward three days past his birthday to his actual birthday party.  you wouldn't know there was anything wrong with my baby.  he was happy --- and doubly happy when he saw his best friend/cousin/wisconsinion show up for his party.  it was euphoric!

the party only consisted of members of his football team.  due to the mass amount of kids on his team, we requested no gifts.  people HOUND you about that, did you know that???  after learning lessons about true starvation this summer, ethan asked that if people insisted on bringing a gift, that it be a small cash donation so he can make his own contribution to the World Food Program.  honestly, this was his idea.

it was one of those moments in life that sorta takes your breath away from the sheer amazement of what just happened.  i cried.  i cried, i cried, i cried.  what a gem.

two hours of partying later and he had raised enough money to purchase 600 meals for people in Africa.  SIX HUNDRED MEALS!  he felt like a hero... his exact words.

thinking back to the lessons of this summer, while they hurt like hell, i truly love what they taught my son.  beyond what true starvation is, my son learned about the importance of supporting one another - that we can make a difference in this world through things both large and small.... and that sitting back waiting for others isn't the answer.

but can i share a little secret with you?  one of the children i was a nanny for just went off to college this year.  in fact, it was just last weekend.  she, too, wants to change the world, and i believe she's going to do it.  because of her belief in changing the world with education, my son realized he could help the people in Africa... it wasn't far fetched, or out of his reach.  because of her he came up with the idea of sending birthday money to Africa.  he didn't just have to think about the starvation, he knew he could take action and do something about it.  After all, Paige has made two trips to Kenya since January and raised enough money to board 18 students at the Royal Kids School in Mombasa.

THANK YOU PAIGE!  without your hard work with E3, my son wouldn't have made that connective step to helping others.  you inspired him

for those of you reading this today, please visit her website Global Paige and check out how awesome my baby girl is.  i've known her since she was 6 and couldn't be more proud of who she is today.  she truly is changing the world and blazing a path along the way.  a true inspiration!