I’ve been home from visiting my mom in PA for nearly a week, and I wanted to post something before I forget some of what went through my mind as a part of this visit. I didn’t take any photos on this visit, and that is my only regret. I took my camera, but I forgot about it until it was too late on every occasion. I will do better the next time. However, I am including a few photos Mom passed on to me from her collection.
Mom with my sister, Kathy and her husband Randy in 1991 at my apartment in Florida.
Me, Mom, and Kathy in 1991 at my apartment in Florida. Can’t miss the big hair, eh?
Mark and I decided that I needed to make this trip because my mom is getting older and we don’t want our kids to grow up without really knowing their maternal grandma. It had been over 18 months since our last trip, and I don’t want time to continue passing without spending more time with Mom before the Lord takes her home. The timing for the trip ended up happening at the same time my eldest sister was in surgery as a part of treatment for bone cancer. My two other sisters were able to make the trip to Florida, where Kathy lives, to be with her and her husband Randy during the surgery. It ended up being good for my mom to have us there at a time she might have otherwise spent worrying about my sister.
Kathy’s surgery was successful as far as it went. The doctors replaced two bones in her legs with steel rods. When they were operating, they discovered that a large cancerous mass on her hip was bigger than they had anticipated from x-rays. She will be receiving radiation treatment for the cancer and physical therapy to help her possibly walk again. I heard from my brother-in-law today. An MRI revealed the cancer has spread to her liver. She was released from the hospital today, and a local hospice will be helping to care for her. Your continued prayers are appreciated.
Back to the trip–this was the first time I made the 12+hour drive to PA with only the kids. It really went well. I think they are finally old enough to make this doable in the future. I hope to make this trip more often now that I know it is doable. My mom was so happy to have us visit. She had a broken wrist, so I was able to do a few little things around the house, but mostly, we just visited, looked at old photos, and enjoyed each other.
She and my brothers doted on my girls, and the boys were thrilled to explore Uncle Dave’s extensive DS game collection. Evangeline celebrated her 10th birthday there with Grandma, Uncle Dave, Uncle Bob, Aunty Patty, Uncle Larry, and several cousins. She also ended up getting birthday money from her uncles, and she sure loved that!
We visited the local mall–one story and small–according to my suburban children. It was too cold to swim, but we were able to spend a couple hours at a local state park that we all decided would be a great place for a family vacation in the future. Now we hope to come up with a way to make that happen while Grandma is still living less than 15 miles from there. Grandma bought everyone ice cream cones at the beach concession at Parker Dam, and I enjoyed a cone with teaberry flavored ice cream, which is something I have only ever had in Pennsylvania.
I took mom on an errand to pick up some planting flowers from a local family-run greenhouse one afternoon. The man who owns the place was so respectful of Mom. He asked about her family, and he listened with great interest to her answers about all her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren as they walked around his greenhouse choosing what she would buy. When it came time to pay, she pulled out $30, and he only let her pay $10. He said, “I’ve had a good year, and I’ve learned that giving a little comes back 10,000 times.” So we left with $30 worth of flowers for $10 and a feeling of God’s blessing. The greenhouse man also kept telling Mom how glad he was she would plant and enjoy the flowers. It turns out this same man had once come to visit mom last year when she was sick and the furnace was broken. He spent several hours there working on the furnace, and wouldn’t let her pay him. So it made me glad to see that God had placed such a generous person in Mom’s path who understands what it means to love your neighbor or to care for the widows among you.
My brother David, whose single and has a neurological disorder, lives with my mom. He is on a disability pension from the army, so he doesn’t work and is home with Mom all the time. He has also had some health problem lately,and I had the opportunity to take him to the a medical appointment while we were there. David can’t drive, and Mom often cannot drive, so my sister-in-law Patty often takes them to their appointments. Being there to help this one time made me very thankful for Patty taking on the repsonsibility of getting Mom and David where they need to be. David, by the way, will have hernia repair and his gall bladder removed on June 29. Again, prayers for a safe and successful surgery are appreciated.
While I was at Mom’s, I realized how thankful I am for all that she has taught me. She gave of herself over and over again for her 9 children, and by the time I, number 9 came along, life was relatively easy. I reaped the benefits of all the experience she had from raising my 8 siblings. My dad was always an interesting character, and she loved him and stood by him until his death at the young age of 66. They had been married 43 years when he died.
Mom and Dad on their wedding day, October 7, 1943
Dad, sometime in fall 1943 after returning from WWII serving with the Merchant Marines
I am so grateful I was able to make this trip. My stream of consciousness blog post shows just a glimmer of how blessed I felt to make this visit and to be reminded of how God has blessed me through my family.