Category Archives: Love

Zombie Connection

Mom loved games…cards, bingo, board games, video games…especially video games. When I was growing up, the free-standing “classic” video games were starting to pop up at the local convenience stores and arcades. Mom allowed us kids to walk the half mile down the road for an evening of electronic entertainment. THE HIGHLIGHT OF OUR WEEK! We each bought our snack of choice – making sure to get quarters for the machines. We took turns playing Galaga*, Pac-Man*, Centipede**, and Tempest**. My favorite was Centipede.

Our trips down the road were abandoned when the home gaming systems were introduced. I don’t remember which one we bought…but it was a great investment. Family time was spent challenging each other for high scores. The loser for the night was “awarded” additional chores by the winner. It was during these battles that Mom started playing games with us. She was mesmerized by the images on the screen. Her favorite game was Pac-Man. She gripped the joystick with such intensity that a dent was worn into her “joystick” finger. Many a controller met its demise in her clutches.

In the wee hours of one particular morning, we awakened to her persistent nudging. She herded us into the living room to validate her high score. I don’t remember the number on the screen but I do remember the look on her face…she exuded excitement…giddy…bubbling over…beaming…so proud of herself. We were in awe of her achievement.

Her love of video games remained with her over the years. When a game console wore out, she upgraded to the next version. I think the games were her escape from the burdens of being a widow with three children to raise. The games were also a way to connect with her family. I always found it amusing that a “game party” materialized when she was stuck on a level. During the “party”charade, she invited the grandchildren to see if they could beat the level that she just happened to be stuck on. It was during these sessions that Chris, young gamer extraordinaire, would get uninterrupted play time and unlimited attention from Grandma. After the level was passed, they went back to taking turns playing…each feeling that the other was taking WAY TOO MUCH time on their turn.

The sweepstakes craze brought her out to play games at the internet cafes springing up around town. Mom exchanged her usual home games for the games of chance and frequented multiple locations. She had a whole game plan devised for visiting each location based upon the available games and the free food and drink provided. She spent so much free time at the cafes that we started teasing her (tongue in cheek) about taking trips to the “crack” house to get her fix. (Please note that I am in no way comparing time spent playing video games to a drug addiction. This analogy is intended to portray the extent of her drive to visit the internet cafes.) Mom could spend the entire evening playing games at the cafe for twenty dollars. To her it was a social event. She enjoyed the food catered from local restaurants, drank the coffee and soft drinks, and talked to anyone who sat next to her. When we teased her, she quickly pointed out that she spent less for an evening of entertainment than we did. She laughed saying that we couldn’t even go out to the movies and get snacks for what she spends. Right as usual!

She turned her attention back to playing games on her computer. She didn’t play the high-tech 3D multi-player games. She preferred the more straight forward ones like slots, poker, Bejeweled****, Jewel Quest (all varieties)***, and her favorite was Plants vs. Zombies****. I remember chuckling to myself when she and my sister came to visit after my cancer surgery. The pain medicine caused me to fatigue easily. I wanted Mom to be entertained when I was sleeping so I downloaded Jewel Quest for her. She started from the beginning and by dawn the next morning she had completed all levels. She was on a roll…having a blast…and pulled an all-nighter. That’s MY Mom!

Her computer was on its last leg. I bought a new computer and brought it with me when I traveled to help care for her after surgery. The new computer was all set up with her favorite games. Ready and waiting for her. But Mom never got to play on her new computer. Sometimes I look at the computer and imagine a smile beaming across her face when she experienced the lightening speed of the new laptop. I imagine watching her play and listening to the game tips she always shared. I miss sharing in her passion for games.

I rarely keep games on my computer. Because I spend too much time playing games instead of doing the things I should be doing. But not now…Now I need to feel close to Mom. So I downloaded her favorite game – Plants vs. Zombies. And when I click on the grave stone, I escape into a fantasy world where Mom is standing over my shoulder…excitedly calling out instructions to help me beat the next wave of brain eaters. I imagine her pride and laughter when I make it to the next level. Check out the PopCap website for more information.

Screen capture of Plants vs. Zombies (PopCap Games)
Screen capture of Plants vs. Zombies (PopCap Games)

So…can I get anyone to admit they enjoy playing this game? Or perhaps you can share your favorite way to escape the trials of life. (Strictly PG rated please.)

*Galaga and Pac-Man, distributed by Midway (in North America)
**Centipede and Tempest produced by Atari
***Jewel Quest produced by Iwin
****Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies published by PopCap Games

A Letter to Mom

Hi Mom,

Been thinking about you a lot lately. I miss you…so very, very much. I long for our weekly conversations. No specific topic…just chatter about the seemingly insignificant events that played out since we last talked. Funny how those discussions don’t feel so trivial any more. They have taken on a whole new meaning. I now see them as the medium in which we expressed our love. Not by the specific words that passed between us…but by the time we spent sharing…keeping in touch over the miles.

Every weekend, I find myself habitually reaching for the phone to call you. You’re still at the top of my favorites list and contact list. When I added your number, I entered “A Mom” to make sure you sorted to the top…easily accessible…always visible…always there. I can’t bring myself to remove your number. When the phone rings, I hold my breath for an instant…wondering if you are on the other end. Then reality comes crashing down on me. I will never get to hear your voice again. Never again chuckle at the messages you left that usually started with “I’m not wanting anything…just calling to see what you’re into. You don’t have to call me back. Talk to you later.”

I wish I could have spent more time with you over the past two years. When I look back on those days, I get angry. No…stronger than that…I become enraged. To borrow your words…“Fit to be tied!” I’m livid that the cancer prevented me from traveling long distances…from coming home to visit. And no, I’m not mad at God. I know there’s a reason that I had to experience the cancer…but I DO wish He would let me in on the secret. No, I’m just mad at the circumstances…mad about the lingering side effects that have a daily impact on my life…mad that we didn’t get a chance to make up for all that lost time.

But I digress. You know how I ramble on and on…and on. Let’s get back to you. I just gotta ask…So, how’s that new body working out for you? I bet you’re thrilled that all of the needles and tubes and staples are gone. No one waking you up for more tests…more needle sticks or to take your temperature. I can see you beaming from ear to ear as you look at your new, shimmering skin. Bruises gone. I bet you’re walking on air…on cloud nine! OK…OK…I just couldn’t resist the clichés. You gotta admit it…now that’s funny, eh?!

I know there’s a lot of worshiping going on in Heaven. How’s the singing work? Do you automatically know the words or is it kinda like karaoke? You know I can’t sing worth anything…not one of my gifts. Which makes me wonder…does everyone sing good up there? I just can’t imagine being in His presence…what’s it like? I bet you’re talking His ear off. I think I would be speechless…which is pretty much a miracle if you think about it….me, speechless. LOL! Reminds me of the Mercy Me song “I can only imagine.”

Oh yea, before I forget. Thanks for the amazing sunset you left for us the day you went home. After we (the immediate family) said “good-bye” to you, we escorted the Hospice team to their cars. Everyone gasped in awe as our eyes absorbed the vibrant blues, pinks, and purples in the sky.Mom Smiles from Heaven

My heart leapt with joy…it immediately understood the significance and beauty of the moment…the significance that eluded me for several weeks.

We stood there…embracing in the driveway…alternating between wiping the tears and taking another photo. We wanted to remember this vision. We needed to remember your smile in the sunset…the beautiful purple sunset. By the way, did I ever tell you that purple is my favorite color? To be honest, I only just figured that out during cancer treatments…but that’s another story. I recently learned purple symbolizes spirituality. So I’m sure you can guess that I was overjoyed to see the image of Jesus silhouetted in the purple clouds. Welcoming you to your new home.

One last thing before I go…We could really use some help down here. We need some guidance on how to move on with our lives…how to live without you. Please help us to move past the pain to a place where the beautiful memories are not followed by the void of losing you. Help us to remember that you are happy, and healthy, and in the presence of perfect peace. Yup, that’s it…maybe you can send a bit of that peace our way.

Until next time…

I LOVE YOU, MOM

What You Oughta Do Is

Several thoughts for today’s post had been churning around in my head all day. I couldn’t settle in on what to write about. Each topic will eventually bubble to the top and make it to the page…but today…none of the ideas were firing off the neurons in my head…none were awakening the impulses that normally produce a tsunami of words pouring out through my hands. My fingers usually racing over the keyboard in a vain attempt to keep up with the thoughts transported by the synapses. I frequently struggle to get the images in print before the electrical impulses discharge somewhere along the way. But NOT today…today I just wasn’t “feeling it.”

Over dinner, I shared a few of the top contenders with my Hubby. When I speak my thoughts out loud to him, a crystal clear clarity forms out of the nebulous void. As soon as this topic emerged, he did not hesitate to make the decision for me. He exclaimed (as if a matter of fact)… “That’s it! You ought to write about…What you oughta do is!”

So, this blog will be the first of many random “Mom-isms”.

When I originally considered this topic, I could feel a spark but just couldn’t figure out how to explain the complexity of the relationship that made this “Mom-ism” such a sensitive issue. Most likely it is one of those things inherent in the Mother-Daughter relationship. At first we emulate our Mother, attempting to learn everything she has to give. But as we grow…older and questionably wiser…we begin to develop opposing views to most (if not all) subject matter that we once took as fact. From how you wear your hair…to how you dress…to who you date…to your beliefs…to who you marry…and THE LIST GOES ON.

It was as if we were on opposite sides of a chasm…shouting across the distance between us…the intensity of our words building like waves crashing on the shore…churning out of control…trying to convince each other that our side was better…that our perspective was the right one.

Discussions, debates, and heated arguments all emerge from these differences of opinion. Some relationships have only minor “fender-benders” but others have full-out “head on” collisions…as was true with me and Mom. At first the phrase was subtle. Over time it grew to become the single string of words that immediately raised the hair on the back of my neck and caused my very core to brace for an argument. Those five little words packed such a punch…and have brought me such pain. “What you oughta do is…”

As I grew older and more mature, I slowly began to realize that I wasn’t as smart…or as wise…or as (insert any number of adjectives)…as I once thought. When I began to see more clearly, I had to admit to myself that my Mother was right WAY MORE that I gave her credit. To borrow a phrase from my Husband – The older I got, the smarter my Mom got!

Even though my perspective changed, I still found it difficult to hear those five words strung together in that specific order. They just set me off when anyone (especially Mom) uttered them. Today, I yearn for the sound of her voice…I long to hear Mom say “What you oughta do is…” And this time, I will lovingly listen and respect the wisdom that follows those five little words…the wisdom she felt important enough to share.

Do you have any “Mom-ism” that you care to divulge?

He Welcomes Her Home

I’ve previously written about the amazing sunset that appeared over my parent’s house the day Mom died. I recently shared the photo with my Mother-in-Law. As I displayed the photo in front of her, she immediately exclaimed “Do you see it!” At that instant my eyes fixated on the purple image just above the tree line.

Do you see it?

Jesus Welcomes Her Home
Can you see the image of Jesus with outstretched arms? His robes gently falling from His wrists. His glory illuminated above His head.

The day before Mom passed, she continuously chanted the word “Ohhhh…” followed by the name of a family member who had already gone to be with the Lord. She continued the roll-call of sorts…moving through each of her siblings. Periodically she changed focus and mumbled the name of a living relative…once. For a brief moment, she uttered a single reference to the living before quickly returning her chant to those waiting for her in Heaven.

My sister and I pondered her words. We imagined that Mom was between our world and Heaven. She was in awe of the beauty before her but couldn’t find the words to describe its magnificence. Her wonder could only be expressed as “Ohhhh!” Her family beckoned for her to join them. Perhaps the angels were singing to greet her. Jesus was there…smiling…with outstretched arms awaiting her arrival. But as she moved toward her new home, she glanced back toward her body…still in the world of the living. She saw us…caring for her…praying for her…loving her. We think that it was those moments that she mentioned our names….attempting to comfort the family that she would leave behind.

We miss Mom dearly but feel peace knowing she is in Heaven smiling down on us.

My Mountain Mother

In the hills of West Virginia, she began her life
the daughter of a coal miner and loving housewife.
Born at home in Plymouth Bottom, the coal mine town
where the company required they settle down.

Blind to the poverty of the coal dust streets
her joy was shared with each person she would meet.
She eloped at 15 for marrying young was the custom
and within two years, a new life she welcomed.

Mom and Me
Mom and Me

Blessed twice more in rapid succession…
her family complete, a smile her permanent expression.
The love story continued with a promising future
until tragedy struck and left her a single mother.

She moved to Ohio looking for work
for she couldn’t support her family as a restaurant cook.
Nights in a factory were difficult and tough…
we didn’t have much extra but always enough.

Her children grew and built lives of their own
leaving her proud of their independence but feeling sad and alone.
Out with a friend, one night she chanced to meet
a smooth talker that swept her off her feet.

Thirty years ago she married her second love
and while taking a new name, she gained a daughter and a son.
The new couple sped through the years enjoying each day
as they laughed and loved in their own special way.

Graduations and weddings and grandchildren, now eleven
drove her empty nest to yearn for attention.
Looking through the window, she found her calling
to rescue stray kittens, now her life had new meaning.

As the years passed, her heart began to weaken
perhaps drained from the love she shared without hesitation.
We felt her embrace and affection in everyday actions
for saying the words, didn’t often happen.

She learned as a child to keep her feelings contained
and limit expressions of emotion, the reason unexplained.
It was sometimes difficult to see through her tough exterior
but we knew she loved us deeply, and that’s what matters.

I held Mom’s hand as her breathing became shallow
and reminisced of a vibrant woman, who was now only a shadow.
I wished to go back in time for a long sweet embrace
to tell her “I Love You!” and “You can never be replaced.”

We said good-bye as Jesus welcomed her home
and rejoiced in knowing we would never be alone.
For we see her smile that continues to glow
in every sunset that graces the heavens, both above and below.

Mom Smiles from Heaven

My 5th Wedding Anniversary

Love is a unique emotion that changes over time. It is moulded by the events of life…energized by the “ups” and challenged by the “downs” of our day-to-day existence. With all of the challenges that we’ve experienced, I’m sometimes amazed that James and I have made it through to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary.

A Brief History
James and I met on match.com after our first marriages The Sweetsended in divorce after a combined total of 32 years. We were very cautious in seeking a partner for our second marriage. We married in 2009 after dating for two and a half years. Almost immediately challenges of blending two families engulfed us. Follow that with significant life events and you have a recipe for yet another divorce. A few of our bigger challenges include two job layoffs in the first year, two house moves, cancer patient and caregiver, car crashes, parent illness, and serious teenager drama. All-in-all, a very tough 5 years!

Reminiscing
For our anniversary this year, James suggested that we celebrate by reliving a few experiences from the 7 1/2 years we’ve been together. Our festivities included dinner at the site of our first date, the first meal we cooked for each other, visiting our favorite date hang-outs, flowers from our wedding, revisiting the 5 Love Languages, and snuggle time. A very low-key, intimate celebration. Perfect! Continue Reading My 5th Wedding Anniversary