Sunday Stills: The Legacy of Favorite #Places

Tuolumne Meadows

Friday was the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of the official state legal lockdown here in California. It was a beautiful sunny day with mild temperatures. My neighbor and I walked our dogs, of course keeping the appropriate 6-feet of social distance.

I was struck by how many people were out and about, enjoying their front yards, walking their dogs, even some riding bikes around the neighborhood. I feel this crisis, just like 9-11 in 2001, will bring community together even more so.

This week’s theme is Favorite Places

A Favorite Backyard

To spark the creativity for this post, I share a previous photo of my lovely sunflower from last year. You might remember I was home bound for two months recovering from foot surgery last summer, so my back-yard, lush with sunflowers and plumerias was my favorite place for a while. I guess it will be again while we languish at home.

lazy opening of sunflower petals

A Leisure Legacy of Favorite Places Instilled

Some of you may know that my mother passed away in early March. While I am sad and still find myself weeping for no reason, I am content that she is at peace.

For recreation, Mom always insisted we all go somewhere every Saturday or Sunday, whether it was to church, the beach (we lived in San Diego), the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Sea World, or trips to the Cuyamaca Mountains to enjoy winter snow or summer picnics.

Summers found us all at La Jolla shores beach or tide pools. During my younger teen years, we also enjoyed weekly warm summer evening excursions to Pacific Beach after a quick dinner at Wienerschnitzel or Taco Bell.

Pier at Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach Pier

My mom and dad loved camping and spent two-three weeks each summer enjoying the Sierra Nevadas. When we kids were old enough, we joined them.

Woman Hiking
Mom at 41, hiking in the Sierras

I just love seeing this photo of my mom back in 1981, when she was healthy.

Before our 2-week camping trips, a trip to the local library was in order to stock up on books. We did a lot of reading on those 8-hour road trips and read on our down time at the campsite.

We camped in Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, but always seemed to land in Tuolumne Meadows, in Yosemite’s high country. Less crowded than the Valley, with its onslaught of tourists and hot summer temps, Mom preferred Tuolumne’s campground, with Ranger-led evening campfires, endless hiking trails and daily fishing!

Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne Meadows

A Leisure Legacy of Favorite Places Continues

“Our camping trips and excursions instilled a strong leisure ethic in me that exists to this day and has been passed down to my daughters, my brothers and their children.”

A Disappointed Daughter’s Perspective
Family enjoying a hike on mountain
Sunset Walk on Lembert Dome, Yosemite, with my daughters and my brother

I had the honor of writing and preparing her obituary for publication in a local San Diego area newspaper. Diane loved her community of Lemon Grove. Services will be conducted in early June, around the date of what would have been her 80th birthday, in a beautiful park near the home where she grew up.

Obituary Image

We have obtained a permit to scatter her ashes in her beloved Tuolumne Meadows, in July, where she loved to fish in the meadows, where we hiked as a family for over 15 years.

At last, she will be at peace in her favorite place.

Today’s post is chattier than usual as I remember my mom and her legacy. Remember, your post should focus on the theme rather than reflect on what I’ve written.

Sunday Stills is taking a one-week break March 29. I will be back to the blog in April to participate in Becky B’s April Squares and resume Sunday Stills on April 5.

Wishing for More Time with Elderly Loved Ones

Spending time with our precious family

I recently led a discussion with my university students on the subject of aging and leisure and the physical and mental effects of aging on our bodies and on our society. When we age, of course our bodies naturally slow down.

My students took a short, online assessment “How Long Will I Live?”  and had to write their reaction to the number provided. (Click to take the test–it’s free and interesting).

Some students were afraid to see what that number might be, hesitant to face their mortality. Others saw it as a wake-up call to become more healthy while still young. Most got a number between 77-94 years of age.

When I read the theme of the Weekly Photo Challenge, Wish, I knew I had to share something about our wishes for good health and a long life.

Our allotted 80-ish years on this planet are fleeting and should never be squandered. With that said, sadly we take our own time for granted, then gradually lose touch with our elderly loved ones. The lovely ladies in the above photo are all in their 80s, with two of them not in the best of health.

This quote spoke to me:

Spend time with those you love. One of these days you will say either, “I wish I had,” or “I’m glad I did.” Zig Ziglar

In the photo below, my father is hiking Mammoth Lakes with his brand new trekking poles…on his 80th birthday! It took a lot of coordinating with the family to surprise him with this trip. My dad and mom took us to Yosemite as young children and forever planted the love of the outdoors within our hearts. This was a tough hike, he admitted later, but you would never had known that day.

80-year old dad hiking on his birthday in Mammoth Lakes
Dad loved his trekking poles he got for his 80th birthday!

Here is a photo of my mom, who at age 76, continues to reside in a convalescent home because she cannot care for herself. In this picture, nine years ago, she was able to use her walker and stroll along her beloved San Diego beaches.

My mom is healthier days when she could walk with her walker near her beloved beaches.
Mom and me in San Diego at Thanksgiving, 2008.

In this photo below is my spunky, Auntie Kim, who began life as a Korean orphan. Now in her early 80s, she is still going strong! She lives near her oldest daughter, my cousin.

Auntie and Me
Auntie and Me in Oregon.

Oh, how I wish I could spend more time with these precious ones. My aunties and mother-in-law live in the Pacific Northwest, my mother in San Diego. At least my father lives within a two-hour drive. Sometimes distance limits our time together.

Mortality surely limits our time together.

But we can still wish.

Make the best of your time with your loved ones before that time runs out. It will, no matter how much you wish it differently.

 

Where are You Going? Here’s to Strong Women

May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

With all the turmoil and sickness plaguing us these last few weeks, I want to take a moment to celebrate my daughters’ January birthdays.

If we were having coffee today, I would invite you in for a hot beverage of your choice (coffee’s ready!) and perhaps some virtual birthday cake.

Today is my oldest daughter’s 32nd birthday. My younger daughter turned 29 on the 21st. They spent many of their childhood and teen birthdays with just me, when I was a single mom raising them with little financial help.

There is something about our children’s birthdays that incites reflection.

Two years ago I wrote a reflective piece when my oldest turned 30, a milestone birthday for the both of us. Here is that post, Where are You Going, My Little Ones.

Through the grace of God, some luck and sheer grit, I raised these incredible women to be strong and independent. Perhaps you can see this in the photo of them fist-bumping after walking me down the aisle after my second wedding in 2013.

Daughters celebrating after marrying off their mom!

My oldest (pictured on the right) is an Aerospace Engineer living in the San Francisco Bay area and has happily worked for the same defense contractor since 2007. She put herself through 4 years at UCLA, graduating with honors, then receiving her master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering. She lives with her boyfriend and two cats and does not plan to have children.

My youngest (on the left), after a long, stressful educational journey, where she was academically expelled from university, ultimately clawed her way back in and graduated with her bachelor of science degree in Recreation Therapy. One year ago, she sat for the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist exam and passed on her first try.

She chose to move away from her friends to a town on the California Central Coast and now works for a State Hospital as a Recreation Therapist. She shares her first apartment with her dog and a fellow co-worker. She is not dating at the moment, but hopes to have children someday.

We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.Both daughters make more money at their young ages than I ever made at the height of my career.

And I am damn proud.

I want them to live their lives in a world where choices matter and living the strength of their convictions takes no effort.

My oldest daughter was severely affected by the outcome of the US elections. I sat helpless as she sobbed over the phone in her disappointment. Not to be stopped, she recently took part in the women’s march in San Francisco.

But even with all this recent turmoil, I am still a mother.

If you have children, enjoy them at every age. I am blessed to be a mom of these lovely, talented young women. Enjoy this lovely version of the song, Turn Around. Here is a sample of the lyrics:

“Where Are You Going (Turn Around)”

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four,
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of my door.

Notes: by Harry Belafonte, Malvina Reynolds and Alan Greene. Published by Clara Music Publishing Corporation (ASCAP). Administered by Next Decade Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.

I am also linking this song to Hugh’s Views & News 51 Weeks: 51 Songs from the Past.


Winter Weekend Coffee SharePlease join the coffee clatch at Part-Time Monster’s Weekend Coffee Share

 

 

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My Mother’s Feet No Longer Touch the Earth

If we were having coffee this morning I would tell you how much I have missed sharing posts in the Weekly Coffee Share, and bid a Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms.

If we were having coffee, I would share my heart with you today.

On this Mother’s Day, I miss my mom, who sits in her wheelchair in a nursing home a few hundred miles from me. Further inspired by the weekly photo challenge Earth , I was reminded of Mother Earth and immediately thought of the mountains and the ocean.

My mother went to great lengths to make sure we regularly visited the beaches of San Diego as well as the trails of Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite. Places that are impossible for her to visit now.

Tuolumne Trails

I am not a writer of poetry, but I was able to scratch this out on impulse.

My Mother’s Feet No Longer Touch the Earth

Sitting in her wheeled chair, she vaguely remembers how her feet once touched…

…the mountain trails of Yosemite
…the wet sands of Pacific Beach
…the warm asphalt streets where she walked her dogs
…the backyard grass in care of her injured wild ducks
…the clean wood floors of her beloved home

Feet that touch the ground no more.

Time and dementia robbed me of her life, too young
Her feet unable to feel Mother Earth

Her favorite places still long to feel the touch of her feet again.

I can only retrace her steps and willingly I go…
For the rest of my life.

If we were having coffee, my wish for you is to enjoy your Mother’s Day, however that may be.

I love you, Mom.

A Disappointed Daughter’s Perspective for Mother’s Day

Mom-and-Me

Back in September, I wrote a post that elicited an emotional response from a variety of readers. For Mother’s Day, I would like the share this again.

Mom-and-Me
Mom and me in San Diego during Thanksgiving 2008.

For my mom; my dream reader

As I delve more into blogging each day, sharing my perspectives, I’m challenged with the notion that I am a disappointed daughter. My mother may never see this, not because she has passed on, but because she lives in a nursing home since 2010, at the young age of 75.

Mom’s health has always been poor; I remember as a kid in the early 1960s, how she had bottles of prescription meds for sleeping, for waking up, and probably “mama’s little helpers” for all I know. She was very much the hypochondriac! At age 40, she contracted lupus, which slowly took her health away.

By 2009, Mom, still living by herself (divorced my dad at age 39), started showing signs of dementia. Because she was on Medi-Cal as a result of the divorce, she was taking so many medications from different doctors that her health was failing on every level. I was disappointed by Mom’s manipulation as well as the doctors for not taking better care of her.

My mother is the daughter of educators, but she married young and lived the typical “housewife and mother” lifestyle, raising three kids (one daughter, two sons); and consequently never finished her college degree. Disappointing…she was one math class away from a B.S.

She took great care of us but she was obsessed with vacuuming and putting on her hair and make-up all day long. She did not like to cook, so my Dad would cook after coming home from working all day. By the time I was 16 and learning to drive, Mom decided she wanted to re-learn how to drive. By the time I started college at 18, she decided to work on her degree. A little friendly competition there, Mom?

My husband and I live 500 miles away from most of our families who still live in San Diego. We get to San Diego two-three times a year. Visiting Mom in the nursing home, or at a family gathering, results in her telling me how happy she is to see me, while telling me 10 times in 5 minutes how pretty my blouse is.

I feel my Mom’s poor health and distance robbed me of a good relationship with her—no fault of anyone’s, really. But…it disappoints me.

However…

Mom did teach me valuable life lessons. The innate educator in her compelled her to teach me how to read at age four, spell such words as “constitution” (I can barely type it!), and made me sound out words phonetically—all good skills! By the way, Mom had an IQ of at least 165 (but acted like the proverbial “absent-minded professor” with little common sense). In high school, Mom insisted I take Latin (!) as my language requirement, and she could still remember hers and could still conjugate verbs (“amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant”)! In college while still living at home for a bit, we would debate philosophy and religion and she would help me write my term papers!

For recreation, Mom always insisted we go somewhere every Saturday or Sunday, whether it was to church, the beach (we lived in San Diego), the zoo, Sea World, or trips to the snow in the Cuyamaca Mountains.

Tuolumne-Meadows
High country of Yosemite National Park

Every summer we camped for two weeks in Sequoia and/or Yosemite National Parks. This instilled a strong leisure ethic in me that exists to this day and has been passed down to my daughters.

Mom also bred and showed collies, which took us all over Southern California, then to the Pacific Northwest while we lived in Oregon for two years. Ever had hairy, panting, drooling dogs sit next to you in the backseat of the car on road trips? Yay. Our collies did well, many reaching championship status. With 10-12 dogs in the backyard (never came in the house, too hairy, and Mom vacuumed enough as it was), my brother and I had the pleasure of not walking the dogs daily, but riding our bikes holding the dogs’ leashes so the dogs could trot next to us! Needless to say, we were all in great shape!

When my first daughter was born, Mom drove up to Northern California every SIX weeks for a week to be with her. She was and is obsessed with babies and toddlers. As the kids grew, Mom spent hours looking for just the right birthday and Christmas gifts, which of course, needed a lengthy explanation. As a grandmother, she played with my daughters, read to them and bought them clothes. Mom taught my oldest daughter to read and play music on a recorder. My daughter went on the play clarinet. Mom was indeed a talented musician, playing the recorder, viola and French horn.Mom-Dad-and-Me

Dear Mom, if you ever read this, please know that I love you despite my own perceived disappointments. Mothers and daughters may have ambivalent relationships, but you instilled the love of leisure and the love of education in me and from these my disappointment turns to everlasting gratitude.

Love, child holding heart

Your daughter

Where Are You Going, My Little Ones?

Yosemite Girls

Summer Day in Tuolumne Meadows
Summer Day in Tuolumne Meadows

Thirty years ago today marks the birth of my first daughter, “MAM.” First off, I am in awe that 30 years has gone by. Secondly, how can I be the mother of a 30-year old?

At age 24, working a part-time job with no benefits, and having just moved back to my home town in San Diego, my then husband and I broke the news to our family that we were expecting. The pregnancy was a bit of a surprise, since I had an ectopic pregnancy prior to that. With one Fallopian tube, the chances of getting pregnant were much slimmer.

When I announced this news to my grandfather, he changed the subject and asked how my car was doing. He was concerned that neither my husband nor I had full-time jobs at that time. I didn’t have medical insurance, either, so I was able to access Planned Parenthood’s prenatal program for a reasonable monthly fee.

MAM was due to be born on February 4th.

On Sunday, January 27th, my youngest brother and I were playing Trivial Pursuit. He had to answer the question, “What was the horse’s name in ‘Jingle Bells’?” He was 14 years old at the time and as he sang the song, it came out “bells on ring-tail rise” (instead of “bells on Bob’s tail ring”) which resulted in uproarious laughter on my part. As we both laughed uncontrollably for what seemed like hours, I suddenly felt a cramp. Much more than a Braxton-hicks contraction, this was painful!

Yes, I went into labor. I told my doctor the next morning that I laughed myself into labor. MAM was born on January 29th, six days earlier than expected.

January 29th in our family holds significance. Most of the family hales from Kansas. January 29th was the day that Kansas was admitted into the United States. My curmudgeon grandfather, who so blatantly ignored the pregnancy, was amazed. Why? Because January 29 was his 70th birthday! MAM came early to be born on his birthday and be his first great-grandchild, forever endearing her to him. Today, Grandpa would have been 100.

And that was 30 years ago.

Youngest daughter, “LAM” was born on January 21, three years later. Again, the surprise of “I’m pregnant again?” This time I was working for the City parks and rec where I eventually spent 30 years of my work life. My husband was in school and working full-time.

Both pregnancies were textbook. Had I been a pioneering woman from the 1800s, I would have born a brood of kids. With LAM, since it was my second pregnancy, I looked pregnant sooner. My doctors worried I might have gestational diabetes, but no, she was just a big one!

We had to take a few prenatal classes, and with this health plan I was able to use a midwife under the supervision of an obstetrician. When the day arrived (why are so many babies born in the wee hours of the morning?) I started feeling the rhythmic contractions, we headed to the hospital. I kept having these painless contractions, thinking they were just the Braxton-hicks’. As the nurses and midwife checked my blood pressure, the nurse asked me if I was having a contraction. Because it was painless, I said no. At the same time, my midwife, who was monitoring me, said “yes.” I thought they might send me home since there was very little pain with the contractions.

My midwife announced that I was one in one-thousand women who have painless contractions during labor. Two hours later, they broke the water and my 10 pound baby girl was born! Pushing out a bowling ball with no epidural effing HURT!

Thirty years later, MAM is a successful aerospace engineer with a Master’s degree, working for a defense contractor in the Silicon Valley. LAM is finishing up her last semester of school with a major in Therapeutic Recreation (that apple did fall close to the tree). Both amazing young women.

This milestone year of 30 birthdays for MAM sparked my maternal emotions, and I am reminded of this old song (partial lyrics):

“Where Are You Going (Turn Around)”

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four,
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of my door.

Notes: by Harry Belafonte, Malvina Reynolds and Alan Greene. Published by Clara Music Publishing Corporation (ASCAP). Administered by Next Decade Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.

If you have children, enjoy them at every age. I am blessed to be a mom of these lovely, talented young women. Enjoy this lovely version of the song.