Today is the first anniversary of my mom’s death. She was known as Nana here at TJCM and she appears in many posts from the past years.
Her death followed a long period of decline from congestive heart failure. In some ways, it seems that I lost her much longer ago because, as her illness progressed, she was not the same mom, the confidante with whom I spoke nearly every day of my life. She also wasn’t able to keep up her active social life in the senior community where she and Paco had lived since its opening ten years ago. She had a special gift for conversation, for listening attentively, and remembering each person’s stories. She also kept up with current events, so our conversations were often wide-ranging.
With so much changed in the world these last few months, I’ve often felt thankful that it was last year rather than this that we were dealing with Nana’s final months. Nana spent her last months in the skilled nursing unit of their senior community. Paco and I were able to visit as often as we wanted and my sisters came into town frequently for a few days at a time. Because our adult daughters E and T and our granddaughter ABC were in residence with us, they were able to visit often, too. This is one of my favorite four generations photos – Nana, me, E, and ABC at Thanksgiving in November, 2018.
This spring, though, the skilled unit has been in full lockdown for weeks due to COVID-19. Visitors are only allowed when there is imminent danger of death. As difficult as the last few months of Nana’s life were, it would have been so much more difficult if we had not been able to be there to talk when she was awake, help with her meals, put in calls for staff when needed, and just be present. My heart goes out to all those who are residents of long-term care facilities and to their families as they continue to contend with being separated at this critical time.
I’m also grateful that Nana did not have to experience the permanent move of E and ABC to the UK. Being able to see her only great-grandchild regularly was a joy and it would have been so hard for her to lose that in-person connection. Nana was also spared the worry when the London contingent of the family were ill with probable COVID-19.
It’s hard to say if a year is a long time or a short time in these circumstances. Mourning follows its own path and this year has submerged us in a sea of societal grief and loss, as well. I only hope that I am able to be a testament to Nana’s love and care for her family and friends in these troubled times.
Like most two-year-olds, ABC loves counting. She most often wants to count to ten. The way she tends to do it is, “One, two, eight, nine, ten!” This is especially true if she is counting while someone is hiding spiders for her. When her daddy was here in August, he did crafts with her – and some crafts that he did himself for her. One of her favorite things that he made were pipe cleaner spiders with googly eyes. ABC loves to have us hide them and then go looking for them, thus the attempts at counting to ten – as quickly as possible!
You may be asking, “Why spiders?” We tend to have spiders that build webs on the outdoor side of our kitchen window frames. Not wanting to have her be afraid of the spiders, we would point them out to her and she would often stand on a stool or have someone hold her so she could watch them. She would say, “Hello, spider!” a bit of the fear of spiders seeped through, though, so that evolved into “Hello, spider! Yuck!” although she still isn’t afraid of them. (Note for those of you who live in places with poisonous spiders. We don’t have any in the immediate area, especially living outdoors.)
So, for now, we’re having hunts for googly eyed spiders, who, when they aren’t being hunted, live in her bedroom on webs that her dad made.
So now my daily participation with Just Jot It January just got more challenging by a factor of two, but I couldn’t be happier! Daughter E and granddaughter ABC arrived safely yesterday evening after four weeks in London. Given the long day and the five hours of jet lag, they are both adjusting to being back quite well.
ABC was away for her nineteenth month and grew another inch while she was gone. She added more words, including a couple words of Tagalog. She is also pronouncing some of her older words more clearly. She clearly remembered us and the house – and her toys. She has been in quite a good mood, especially given that not only is there jet lag but she is also just getting over a cold.
The house is undoubtedly livelier than it has been. With more demands on my time, I’ll have to re-double my efforts to continue to post every day.
We decorated our Christmas tree today. While many people put their trees up right after Thanksgiving here in the United States, we usually wait until closer to Christmas and keep it up until Epiphany. This year, knowing that daughter E and granddaughter ABC will be heading to the UK mid-month for the holidays, we decided to decorate early in order to observe St. Nicholas Day on December sixth for exchanging gifts and opening stockings.
At almost eighteen months, we weren’t sure how ABC would react to tree trimming. We went through our considerable cache of ornaments and chose all the indestructible and child-safe ones for the bottom half of the tree. ABC was delighted with all the rocking horses, bells, animals, musical instruments, angels, etc. and ran back and forth with them. She wanted them on the tree and then wanted them back off to play with them, but, eventually, we got the whole tree decorated. We are sure there will be lots of opportunities to re-hang ornaments after she decides to play with them again!
I love our Christmas ornament collection, which includes ones that came to us from our families, handmade ones, and many that we have collected while travelling. One special one that we added this year is a handmade downy woodpecker, which we bought to commemorate the one that our daughters tried to rescue.
The woodpecker’s new bear friend is one that we have had for decades.
And two of ABC’s words are “bear” and “bird”, even if they do sound a lot alike when she says them.
I admit that, with so much going on this past year, I am having trouble feeling in the Christmas spirit, but ABC’s delighted squeals with each new ornament certainly helped.
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. We were able to bring Nana from the skilled nursing unit over to the dining room in the Village Center for Thanksgiving dinner, which was delicious.
For years, Nana had been the unofficial goodwill ambassador of the retirement community. She used to make the rounds of the tables after dinner, visiting with everyone and catching up on them and their families. After she went into hospice care in early summer 2017, she wasn’t able to be out and about. Now that she has been decertified by hospice and has done some rehab, she was strong enough to come over for an hour using a wheelchair outfitted with portable oxygen.
A number of people stopped by the table to say hello. There was lots of good food, conversation, and warmth, all of which counteracted the blustery day outside.
Last year at this time, I hadn’t thought it possible that we would have the privilege of another Thanksgiving with Nana and Paco. I am so grateful that we had this day together.
At my blog, I refer to my younger (now adult) daughter as T. Usually in person, I call her by her name, although, with granddaughter ABC in the house, we sometimes call her Auntie T. One of her high school teachers nicknamed her TNT because she was usually quiet until she gave forth a brilliant and insightful flash.
One of the things that T loves is tea. Not just any old tea, though. Along with sister E, she is somewhat of a tea connoisseur. At any particular point, we will have at least a dozen varieties of tea in the house, most with fanciful names and specialized blends. We have various tea pots and strainers and other accouterments. We also have a very large assortment of tea cups, mostly inherited from Grandma. It always feels special when we use them.
Another thing that T has always loved is tee shirts. She has many special tees that she has accumulated over the years. Many of them have science or environmental themes, which is fitting for T who has two degrees in environmental science. There are also some science fiction and fantasy tees, and, of course, some Harry Potter tees.