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Lost and found

January 28, 2012 | Death,Family,Motherhood,Parenting

A year ago, my telephone rang at 3 in the morning. It was hospice. We might want to get there now before Mom died, they said in less clear words, which made it harder to snap out of my sleepy haze. I was the only family member they could get on the telephone. I started calling the rest of the family. Hospice called again at 3:30. Mom was gone.

It was Friday. I had to tell the kids at breakfast that they weren’t going to school. And why. The grieving began.

We each dealt with our loss in our own way.

Except for the initial shock and the funeral, two of my children said very little. I broached the subject once in a while, but they made it clear they really didn’t want to talk about it. I hadn’t said anything for a while.

One morning, we were in the car on the way to school with the radio playing, and I was singing … “Hey, soul sister … ain’t that mister mister …” when I heard this tiny voice from the back of the car. I turned down the music and asked, “What was that?”

“Do Christians die?”

Ah. I’d been waiting for this. But it still took me by surprise.

Then the questions just tumbled out, one after the other.

Will you die? Will Pappa die? Do we all die?

She asked all the questions, but the other two listened, while I did my best to answer them.

My other daughter wears her heart on her sleeve, and her grief was the most outwardly expressed. The loss of her grandmother has changed her indelibly. She’s had a difficult time with loss or leaving or saying goodbye.

For the rest of the school year, she went through severe separation anxiety. She would sob and cling to me when I dropped her off at school (something she’d never done).

We backtracked. I read her “The Kissing Hand,” and I gave her my heart locket. It was a gift from my mother when I first became a mother. I put a picture of me on one side and a picture of her on the other. I told her any time during the day when she missed me, she could take her kissing hand and hold on to the locket.

Then she lost the locket. We searched everywhere. Nothing. Everyone at school was keeping an eye out for it. It finally turned up.

She doesn’t wear the locket anymore. But she still has a difficult time with goodbyes. We all do, I guess. We just show it in different ways. She still misses her grandmother. We all do. But she will always be in our hearts.

Posted by Becky @ 5:16 pm | 6 Comments  


January 11, 2012 | Family,Home

I love what comes home in backpacks.

The dog’s tail actually does curl up like that. I love that, too.

Posted by Becky @ 5:43 pm | Comments  

Poinsettia tradition

December 18, 2011 | Birthday,Family,Holidays

After Mom died in January, I wrote about how I’d gotten my last birthday poinsettia from Mom.

This year on my birthday, my husband and son came home with a beautiful poinsettia for me, and they told the story about how my mom had always given me one on my birthday. The tradition continues.

I love my family.

Posted by Becky @ 10:49 pm | Comments  

Letters to Santa

December 8, 2011 | Family,Holidays

Dear Santa,

Please explain to my first-grader that your elves don’t have the parts to make iPads. Or … something. (*cough* $499 *cough*)

And, please. Don’t let the pigeon out of the book! You know. The $14.99 book?

I’ve been good. Really, I have.



Posted by Becky @ 10:26 pm | Comments  

NOLA: Olivier’s

October 11, 2011 | Traveling

We asked the concierge if she could recommend a nearby restaurant that’s quiet. Quiet? In New Orleans? (I’m sure she wondered, “What is WRONG with these tourists? Who comes to New Orleans for quiet?) She knows her restaurants. She recommended the perfect place, Olivier’s Creole Restaurant.

Except for some fairly loud, very well-dressed girls who showed up after the Hanson concert at the House of Blues (I somewhat expect to get struck by lightning just for writing that), it was very quiet with great drinks and delicious food.

Here’s our waiter, Chris. He looked up how to make a Zombie for us.

Here is that amazing food.

We went back the next day to get pictures outside. What a fabulous place!

Posted by Becky @ 5:15 pm | Comments  

Charming Marie in New Orleans

October 2, 2011 | Blogging,Music,Norway,The Snake Charmers,Twitter

Remember how I took Charming Marie to Norway? Well, I thought I’d take her to New Orleans with me last month. (Yes, that’s a blue cow covered with the Blue Dog.)

But wait! Looky here! There’s Marie … for real! She flew in from Houston for the weekend. I was in NOLA for a journalism conference.

That’s Ricky. He took our picture. Yep, it was game day. The Saints played the Texans.

More pix to come.

Posted by Becky @ 3:32 pm | 2 Comments  

Books: A First-Rate Madness

September 13, 2011 | Books,Politics,TLC Book Tours

I just finished reading A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links between Leadership and Mental Illness by Nassir Ghaemi. I received a review copy from the publisher, Penguin.

When I first got this book, I thought, oh great. Another book about a bunch of dead guys. And it was, indeed, a book about men. It was about some of the most noted leaders in history — Lincoln, Sherman, Churchill, Gandhi, FDR, JFK, MLK and Ted Turner — and how mental illness either hurt or helped them as leaders. And it’s not what you might think.

He argues that a leader who suffers from, say, depression is the best leader during a time of crisis. With such a mental illness, he says, a leader is more likely to have the qualities of realism, empathy, resilience and creativity — all of which are needed to lead others through a crisis.

He also argues that leaders who are mentally healthy — Bush, Blair, Nixon — do more harm than good during crises.

I was skeptical at first. I figured this might be someone with a singular focus into which he wanted to fit this idea. It actually turned out, though, to be the opposite. He had a much more varied background — a degree in history, another in philosophy and another in public health — which helped him see patterns that others would not. A historian, for example, might fail to see the dimensions of mental illness in a subject’s life. Ghaemi, however, was able to draw from all of these aspects of his background to see a subject more clearly and completely.

He asked an important question after discussing Hitler (whose manic-depression was made worse by how and with what he was medicated), “Why not just exclude the mentally ill from positions of power?”

Because, he answered, “… such a stance would have deprived humanity of Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Kennedy. But there’s an even more fundamental reason not to restrict leadership roles to the mentally healthy: they make bad leaders in times of crisis — just when we need good leadership most.”

I expected his writing to be dry or somewhat academic, but it wasn’t. He’s engaging and compelling, and the book is a great read. I highly recommend it.

Posted by Becky @ 3:43 pm | 4 Comments  


September 12, 2011 | Death

We buried Mom’s ashes last weekend and got to spend the day with family, aunts, uncles and cousins. It was a good ending.

Posted by Becky @ 6:00 am | 2 Comments  

Litterbug, litterbug fly away home …

September 11, 2011 | Forest City,Iowa

… take all your trash with you and leave us alone.

Otherwise? I’ll find out where you live and dump all my garbage in your front lawn.

I’ve written about this before (two years ago to the day). I really don’t get it. An entire bag of fast-food trash? Really? I’m sure you’re “this” close to home. Why can’t you just hang on to it until you get there and put it in your own trash can? “Litterbug” is actually too nice a word. I prefer “litterpig” or “litterjerkhole.” Just stop throwing trash out your window. Please?

Posted by Becky @ 6:00 am | 4 Comments  

Though I’ve got to say goodbye to the summer …

September 10, 2011 | Forest City,Iowa,Summer

… I’ll send my love to it every day in a letter, sealed with a kiss.

Sigh. No, I’m not ready to say goodbye yet.

Posted by Becky @ 3:32 pm | 4 Comments