The Loss of my Mom

30 07 2018

November 4, 1995 was a day that changed the trajectory of my life in ways that I wasn’t prepared to deal with.  Three days before, the Lord blessed us with a blessing that we didn’t plan for but are very grateful to have received.  November 1st was the day our fourth child was born.  On November 2nd, we were allowed to take our beautiful new daughter home.  Before we went home, we took her to see her grandmother.  My mom held her newest grand-daughter for a few moments and then gave her back to us.  Two days later my mother passed away.

Her passing was not unexpected.  Several years earlier she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had a mastectomy along with chemotherapy and radiation.  After all of that she was cancer free for almost 5 years.  This time when it came back it came back with a vengeance.  It got into her lymphatic system and then metastasized below the knee and into her brain.  At the time those were very rare places for breast cancer to attack.

Prior to her cancer returning, I was the designated executor of her estate and each of my kids, along with my sisters kids were to get $10,000 from her estate.  When the cancer returned, she decided to get married.  As I remember, and I may not be remembering correctly, a major reason for getting married was the medical benefits that he had.  This would mean that all of her money would not be spent on her cancer treatment.  After she got married, she changed the trust and put everything in her husband’s name. She did not have a will and based on what my sister once told me, I think she was coerced into making the changes.

While her cancer was in remission, she worked for a very famous financial advisor who also had an attorney working for her.  I went and talked with them as this whole thing about my mother making this radical change from providing for her grandchildren and children to leaving it all to her husband was not like her.  Unfortunately, I got nowhere with this meeting.  What really upset me is that they knew my mother and this was a radical change in behavior that I would thought they might have reached out to my sister or I and at least asked if everything was ok.

Two days after my mother held my youngest child, I got a call from my sister saying that our mom had passed away and that they were waiting for hospice to come get her body. I decided to drive up and wait. Not sure why I did that, it just seemed the right thing to do.

Before my mother passed away, she felt her current husband would not give my sister or I any of my mother’s money. She and my sister had cashed in a couple of her CD’s and given the cash to my sister. She had pulled a couple for me but didn’t/couldn’t cash them as she couldn’t remember my social security number. Within 2 days of my mother passing her husband called asking if I knew where two of the CDs were. I didn’t have them yet so I honestly answered no and to check with my sister.  Shortly after this my sister gave them to me and I tried to cash them.  However, it turns out I needed his signature to cash them and he wasn’t going to let me have both of them.  My mother’s fears were confirmed.

I wanted to have a memorial service for my mother and tried to set something up for a few weeks after she passed away.  I got lots of pushback from my sister and my mother’s husband.  With counsel from my church family, I went ahead and while my sister attended, it was very obvious that she was not at all happy that I had the memorial service.

I didn’t, or maybe haven’t grieved in ways that would seem normal.  Yes her passing made me sad and I miss her greatly.  However, I never really cried for her.   It just seemed a natural part of life and while I had a great loss in my life, life just seemed to go on.  Many years later, I sensed God prompting me to attend Grief Share.  This is a ministry for those that have suffered a loss as they try to adjust to the new season of their lives.  I learned a few things but I didn’t get the healing or closure I was hoping for.  I don’t know that there was anything wrong with the program or even wrong with me.  I just don’t know how that was supposed to impact my life.  About that time, we were preparing to adopt our foster daughters.  I thought that maybe God wanted me to go through this to better understand the grief my soon to be daughters would be going through.  However they were reunited with their mother.

Not too long after the memorial service, my sister moved to Idaho with no warning.  She left pots and pans she had borrowed from our mother on the doorstep and left with no other discussion.  It took me awhile longer but with no family ties to the San Francisco Bay Area and with the cost of housing being unreasonable, I found a job in Chandler Arizona and we moved to Gilbert, Arizona in August of 1997.

Living in the desert has definitely been different from living in the Bay Area.  However in the desert I have formed a much deeper relationship with God that I don’t know would have happened if I had continued with my life in the Bay Area.  Obviously I don’t know what would have happened had my family and I stayed in the Bay Area.  I do know that I would not have met the friends I now have.

Until next time…

Paul





Bathroom Hand Dryers

6 07 2018

I am nominally a very practical person. I am not a germaphobe!  I think it is a great idea to use hand dryers in restrooms to reduce paper litter, keep the bathroom clean, reduce landfill, and save trees. However I have to wonder sometimes if the people designing these facilities are either naive or not thinking things through.

If you “assume”, and I learned from the movie “Bad News Bears” what happens when you assume, everyone washes their hands, then having a hand dryer and a door that opens IN to the bathroom is a workable idea. However, I have observed that the above assumption is false. I don’t have any data on the percentage of folks who wash versus those who don’t but even if one person doesn’t wash, this is a problem. Now if there are paper towels so that you can use one of those between your clean hand and the door handle, then all is good. Except that now we are using/wasting a paper towel when the whole idea was to not use that resource in the first place.

For example, I have washed and dried my hands and now they are germ free. Then I have to grab a handle that the person who didn’t wash used just before me. Now my hands have picked up some of their germs.

What dawned on me the other day was the restaurant employees at one of these facilities. There are signs that tell them they must wash their hands before returning to work. The fact that the sign is necessary is scary enough. Anyway, so now they have washed their hands because of the sign. Then they have to grab the handle to get out of the restroom and the person before them didn’t bother to wash. I mean they aren’t an employee so the sign doesn’t apply. Now this employee who washed their hands and had to grab that less than sanitary handle, is serving you your food.

I am certain I am not the first person to think this all the way through. Some might say I am overthinking this.  I am fairly certain this is not an original blog post.

Until next time…

Paul








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