Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #26 - I love my new Ultimate bag!

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #26 - I love my new Ultimate bag!

Hi Mom,


Did readers always expect this to be about grief and loss? Well, okay, it still is. But it's also just sharing with my Mom.

You get it, right Mom?

Show and tell was always a big thing with us, Mom.

I have needed a new bag for Ultimate in quite some time.

Here's a bad picture of the hole in the old Ultimate bag. For those not in the know, Ultimate is a sport with "discs" (Frisbees for those of you who may call all facial tissues Kleenex and all copy machines Xerox), and so this is my bag for Ultimate gear.

My old bag was a WMU bag, and it worked great for Ultimate stuff. It was roomy. It had side pockets that fit discs. It had a WMU logo, so I can represent. But there were holes. This picture shows only one of the holes. The Velcro on the strap handle was shot, so I could not Velcro together the handle. My keys have fallen out of the holes more than once. I worried that at the moment I am walking near a storm drain, if the keys fell out... I am very worried about dropping my keys down a storm drain, so I avoid storm drains as a general rule.

So, I went to the WMU book store. But what's the chance that it still sells the same athletic bag I must have bought 20 or more years ago? NONE. Less than zero, actually. So, I was re-grouping. Trying to figure out what to do. I was actually thinking of taking the bag to be repaired as it fit my needs so well.

Then Liesel and I were in Meijer and passing by a display with DETROIT TIGERS athletic bags. Talk about represent! Hello? I figured if the bag was not PERFECT for my needs, I could return it. I love to return things to Meijer. But check it out!! It fits BOTH my cleats and my turf shoes. It fits a nice selection of hats, wrist bands, and discs. One side pocket holds my current most used visors and the other my throwing discs. Glasses are accessible. There's even my Moby hat and sun screen in this thing. And since I have not choked this one full of extra useless crap like the other one (which added at least 10 pounds), I also can use the front zipped pocket for my phone and keys. I even found that the watch I had tied to a strap of the old bag was still keeping the right time! How is that for random chance?

For those reading this, and thinking: "WTF, isn't this written by a guy who is grieving his mother who JUST DIED 27 days ago. And isn't this the last day of the month? Didn't he make a big deal out of this day and its significance yesterday?"

Yeah. I did. So what?

Here's the send off to July. I have something that makes me happy. This new Ultimate bag is one of the top ten things that made me extra super plus good happy this month, and I need every single one of those happy things because the month as a whole kind of sucked (see the above disclosure about mother dying for starters on why it sucked).

Show of hands: how many people did I get to read a little anecdote about buying a new bag for Ultimate thinking I would get to something profound or touching?

Life goes on. The Detroit Tigers play games. I wear stuff with the team logo. I go play Ultimate. I haul my gear there, and I fear losing my keys down storm drains, which are deep, dark, full of water, and generally not accessible.

You get it, right, Mom?

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

Oh yeah, and the Memorial Service talk will continue tomorrow... Just couldn't deal with that today. I needed a happy thing.


- Conceived and concocted while listening to BERLIN COMMUNITY RADIO and RADIO APOREE.

- Days ago = 27 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.31 - 19:24

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #25 - Counting Days

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #25 - Counting Days

Hi Mom,

Dad (the Big Guy or BG) sent me this photo the other day, and I just started weeping.

This photo tells me so much about you, just like the other one from the other day (Post #22).

I had forgotten about the flower petal clock in the corner of the counter at the Hazelwood house. See it there in the picture?

I didn't mention the dishes during the Memorial Service. When we were older, dishes were something you would let Lori and I wash, though often just one of us, and you would do either the washing or the drying.

And yet, here you are working alone. This photo tells me many things, such as the apron and the latex gloves. I often use latex gloves when I wash dishes. The hot water hurts my hands. Liesel teases me about this thing. There's that dish rack. Our first dish rack, Liesel's and mine, was your old one. All those pots. No dish washer in those days. The ceramic mug my dad used to drink root beer is waiting to get washed right by the sink where he set it for you.

Mom, what did you use that alarm clock for? Obviously, you're timing something. Or maybe it's just sitting there in front of the flower clock for when you do time things but you were not timing something when the picture was taken.

I did not ask you enough of these questions before you left us. I did not look at all these pictures with you and talk about our lives nearly enough. I was too focused on my life. I would call or visit, and I would talk about my life. Yes, I know, you were interested. But I am very interested in your life, and I feel like I do not know enough about it.

So, I started counting days. Not that this idea is related to the previous, but this is my next topic.

I started this blog two days after you died, so if I remember that fact, I could use the blog to count each day for the first year. But then, I decided to make it easier, and I started counting the days as "days ago" (IE. days since you died) at the bottom of the blog. I needed a counter because soon I will not be able to just subtract from the date. Soon we will leave July behind, and then days since you died is not as it is today, which is simply 30-4 = 26. Then, I will need the count. And so I will count. And some day, though the days often seem to crawl by, eventually, the count will reach 365, and I will acknowledge it on this blog. Then, (well, okay, two days later), I will have reached my goal to write one of these posts every day for a year.

And then what?

You will still be gone.

Writing this blog will not bring you back.

What will I do then?

I have 340 days to think about that.

But for now I am working and watching soaps and missing you.

I miss you a lot more today than I did yesterday.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 26 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.30 - 19:01

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #24 - Memorial Service Part 9 - Y&R & Turkeyville

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #24 - Memorial Service Part 9 - Y&R & Turkeyville

Hi Mom,

Doing things we shared together is difficult sometimes. Well, often.

The Young and the Restless is a part of my weekly life. I may not watch an episode a day, but some work days that are filled with work that is somewhat mindless (such as grading Discussion  Boards or worksheet assignments), I may watch five-six Y&R episodes in a day.

I quite lost it two weeks ago when Gabriel revealed to Chelsea that he really is her supposedly dead husband Adam Newman, Victor's black sheep son. I wept and wept. This was a moment we had been waiting to see, Mom. I felt you watching it with me. I feel you with me as I type these words, but it's not the same as you being here with me in this physical universe.

I already wrote about your affection for The Young and the Restless, Mom, in Hey Mom #4. And I wrote about this thing with Gabriel/Adam and Chelsea already in #12.

I am still watching Y&R as I work. I try not to be sad. The grades are better for the students if I am not sad or angry.

The next Cornwell's Dinner Theatre show, one of the nun shows (Nuns in Las Vegas), starts at the end of August. Dad and I will go just for you. You loved Turkeyville so much. I will tell you all about it.

That's all for today. Except for the next bit from the "talk."

Here's the next bit of the Memorial Service talk (we're nearly at the end) continued from Hey Mom #22:

My mother and I shared many great times together in the last 53 years. We were avid viewers of the Young and The Restless, which we often watched together. When she was in the coma in ICU, I played Y&R on the TV, hoping the familiar sounds of the show would be comforting. In these last few years, Y&R was one of our main topics of conversation, mainly because she missed so much of it as she often slept through it, and so I would recap it for her and tell her what I thought about actors or story lines.
She also loved Turkeyville, which is a restaurant in Marshall. She especially loved the Christmas show in the dinner theatre there and is solely responsible for making the director keep a carol sing-a-long in each year’s program. Though she could not handle going to the show in 2014, we went in both 2013 and 2012. I took her to many shows there before and since her meningitis. I will always think of her, there. And so should you. Go visit.
Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 25 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.29 - 18:31

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #23 - the phone calls

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #23 - the phone calls

Hi Mom,

As you know, I tried to keep in frequent contact with you. Though I lived with you and Dad for nine years after your meningitis, I would call often if I was away, especially when I went to the Neahtawanta Inn in Traverse City for a week or two.

Even after I married Liesel, I spent many days at your Richland Woods House helping Dad take care of you, and I would call on many of the days I did not come over. After we moved to Kalamazoo, I called you every day. For years, Dad would position you near the phone, put the phone on speaker, and I would share about what was going on. In this last year, sometimes you were "zonked" (in a deep sleep), and so I just talked to Dad.

At the end of each phone call, if you were listening, Mom, I told you that I loved you and told you to have a good night. Sometimes I was a bit stern in telling you not to keep Dad up all night. I would also add that he was to give you a kiss.

If I was just talking to Dad, I would say this: "Have a good night. Give Mom a kiss for me and tell her that I love her." He did this every night before they went to sleep, listing all the people who loved her, and telling her: "I will see you in the morning."

This last statement was always true.

When talking to you, Mom, you would tell me you loved me in return. When Liesel and I first moved to Kalamazoo in 2011, you were doing better with this line in both clarity and volume. But as your neurological condition progressed, it became harder and harder for you to breathe in and say those words as you exhaled. Sometimes I would just hear you breathe in. Often Dad would say, "did you hear that?" or "she said it but you couldn't hear it." But I always knew. I always knew you said it. In your last days, I knew by just the look on your face that you were saying "I love you, too" to me in response to my ever so frequent "love yous." And I know you're saying it now. I feel it. I feel you.

So, I am still calling Dad, but I am trying not to call him every day, though it's difficult to break the habit.

The end of the phone call is different now. The phone calls themselves are the same. We share about what we're doing. We talk about plans. Same stuff. I am failing Calculus. I took Liesel to lunch at Food Dance. I have to call Rogers Heating to get the gas line put in the for the grill.

Every time we get to the end of the phone call, it's weird. I want to say what I have always said: "Have a good night. Give Mom a kiss for me and tell her that I love her."

But this statement no longer applies.

You are not there anymore to kiss.

But I know you still hear me tell you (or tell Dad to tell you) that I love you.

Thinking about this prompted me to create a tag line for the end of this blog because it (the blog not the tag line) is meant to continue these conversations, these phone calls (or the in-person conversations).

Here is the new tag line (which I have been using for a few days already);

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

It's still true.


- Days ago = 24 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.28 - 18:36

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #22 - Memorial Service pt. 8 - More Intensity

Pill, Chris, and Lori - Mom's birthday 10-07-1970

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #22 - Memorial Service pt. 8 - More Intensity

Hi Mom,

I know I share things with you that you know or you remember, but the readers do not know and cannot remember.

Dad's nickname for you is "Pill." You had so adopted it for yourself that you labeled yourself in this picture as "Pill with Chris and Lori - Birthday (yours obviously) - 10/07/1970." In this photo, Lori has just turned one year old two months previously. I am eight years old, over halfway to being nine.
I did not add "Pill" to the discussions of your nicknames because in later years, Dad stopped using it. You were not a Pill in quite the same way after the meningitis. But this picture was taken long before that tragedy. This is your 34th birthday.

You look so happy.

This picture tells me a great deal about you and our life, our home, our family. There's your tea on the table and the nearby teapot. There's the orange table cloth that we still have. The careful place settings. Birthday napkins. I can see the iron on the kitchen counter in the background and the old ceramic cookie jar, in which we never put cookies. We had only lived in this house on Hazelwood for a little over a year. Update on curtains 1507.28: You loved those yellow curtains didn't you Mom? You made them out of burlap. And though you loved them, you left them with the Hazelwood house when we moved. (Original text: I wonder if you liked those curtains. I found pictures that show me that they were still hanging there two years later, so maybe you did like them. I should ask Dad about this.)

Part of today's bit from my talk is about your standards. There are other things in the text, too, but this is the focus I want to keep right here. You are always so explicit about certain standards being maintained for how things are done, for what is done, for what is prioritized. Dad had mentioned not setting up the Christmas tree this year. I feel you right here next to me, Mom. I can feel your disapproval. It is palpable. It is real and physical.

I promise. Certain standards will be maintained. Just the way you want it.

This is the next bit from the Memorial Service, last detailed HERE with the Mints Story on pt.7:
Really, she had been Ms. Intensity long before I gave her the nickname. For years, she cleaned our home all on her own. In later years, after we moved to West Gull Lake Drive, the home was bigger, and my father made more money, so she would hire someone to clean. Not only did she clean along with the person, (not to supervise but to chat) but she often cleaned before the cleaning person arrived. She was both intense and frantic about the annual Christmas party for my father’s firm that took place annually at our house. The house was never perfect enough for these events. And yet one of my college friends referred to our house as the dustless, dirtless house, and she didn’t even see it in its pre-party immaculate state.
My mother was intense about her health. She had many doctors monitoring her health, even before the meningitis. In later years, her doctor told her to walk every day when she recovered from breaking her back in the mid-1990s. I took many of these walks with her as I worked at home and also needed exercise, but I had to keep up. She set a brisk pace, and we had a specific route that we adhered to religiously, walking all the streets in the same order all the time.
And so it was with my mother. Everything just so, very particular, fussy, intense. And yet thoughtful. She put this intensity into the thoughtful ways that she showed her love for us. Her guiding principle was the Golden Rule. She tried to live up to it. She did not always succeed as it’s difficult to ALWAYS treat others as you have them treat you. This is one of her greatest gifts to me as I try to do the same and fail just as often.
My sister has done a good job of detailing many of the things that shaped my mother’s identity, such as her role as our mother, baking, holidays, and cats. I could recount so many examples of the thoughtful gifts that she assembled throughout our lives, not just our childhoods. Even after the meningitis, she insisted that certain standards were maintained, and she’s going to watch my father to ensure he continues these traditions. She knew our favorite foods. She even learned favorites for friends or girlfriends of mine when she made dinners for them. In my adult years, I would often come home to find a plate of that evening’s dinner, perfectly arranged, covered with saran wrap in the refrigerator. My mother was the most generous and most selfless person I have ever known.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 23 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.27 - 7:51

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #21 - Tigers Game 1507.17

Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #21 - Tigers Game 1507.17

Hi Mom,

You know, I love Baseball.

On July 4th, the day you died, both of my favorite teams, the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs, won their games. I almost wrote the following and sent it via Twitter:

"My mom may have died today, but at least both the Tigers and the Cubs both won. Thanks for trying to cheer me up, Baseball."
But I didn't write it.

It seemed silly, trivial. Baseball is hardly important on the day you died, Mom. And yet, I watched some of the game with Tom and Sam, and we had a cook out. I even tried to play some D&D, but we didn't get very far. I even did some work. I had grades due.

Almost two weeks later, I went to a game, shown in these pictures. The Tigers won this game, too. That's a happiness. I need happiness right now.

I am blessed with good friends. And so, even before you died, Mom, my friend Matt Frayer asked me to go with him to a Tigers game on Friday, July 17th. The seats were amazing. There were two other guys with us, so four in all. They are not pictured. No one seemed in the mood for a group shot.

Look how close we were to the field. Third row back, which is like basically sitting on the field.

It was glorious.

I did some walking about. I like to take at least one loop around the stadium concourse. I was in search of ice cream, which I knew you would appreciate, but the line was too long, so I bought a Slushee instead. It was cold and refreshing, which is what I was after. And there was a lot of it, so that was also a bonus. I ate a hamburger, an Italian sausage with peppers and onions, and a small pizza. I also drank a Pepsi, which may be the only one so far this summer. I am trying to avoid Pepsi, which you will be happy to know as I drank so much of it as a young person. In fact, you bought me so much of it. Did I ever thank you for all that Pepsi?

On my walk around the stadium, I stopped to photograph the statues of the Hall of Fame Tigers players.

I want to take Dad to the stadium, but that may have to wait for next year. He would love the bronze statues.

You know, Dad and I will think of you, talk about you, feel you with us, and even talk TO you every time we do something together or go somewhere. I wish the meningitis had not happened to you. I know you would have loved the food in the Tigers Club at Comerica Park, which is more like country club food.

I would have loved to take you to the park just to eat in the Tigers Club. I did not eat there on this trip, but I may when I take Dad.

Our seats were amazing. We could look right into the dug out. I took the next shot from my seat. I was that close. I waved at Justin Verlander, but he did not see me.

 The Tigers were playing the Orioles, and they won 7-3. JD Martinez made some amazing catches, one robbing Chris Davis of a home run.

I was just about to say to the other guys sitting with me that José Iglesias, who had one home run, was due for a second when he hit it. Boom! Three run homer.

Both Victor and JD Martinez also homered. Gose hit two doubles. Sanchez pitched six decent innings only giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

It was country and western night. We did not stay for the fireworks, but we saw them as we were walking back to the car.

I probably won't get to another game this year.

I made you watch a lot of Baseball with me in the last 15 years, Mom.

I miss you.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

This entry was composed while listening to radio aporee and this thunderstorm recording.


- Days ago = 22 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.26 - 13:07

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #20 - Memorial Service pt. 7 - Mints story

recreation - mints on a kitchen counter near notes and lists
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #20 - Memorial Service pt. 7 - Mints story

Hi Mom,

You loved this story. It would always make you laugh.

I can hear you laughing.

Last night, I dreamed of you laughing.

You were there in the living room, and then you were gone.

Here's the next bit from the Memorial Service, continued from this post #17:

One of the best stories that casts her as Ms. Intensity involved my best friend, Tom Meyers. He was visiting, and we were playing D&D as we often do. Please visualize that we are in our 20s or even early 30s in this story. It was a Friday night, and my parents were gone at some event at Miller Auditorium, possibly the symphony. There were two chocolate mints sitting on the kitchen counter, like the kind hotels often leave on bed pillows. They looked discarded, like left-overs. Tom asked if we could eat the mints, and it seemed to me that they were free game, so I said sure. Tom was in the bathroom off the kitchen when my mother came home, immediately went to the counter and cried “Mints! Where are my mints!?!” She had been thinking of how she would eat them through the whole concert and all the way home, looking forward to it. Had I been the one to eat both, I would be in deep-doo-doo, but my mother loved Tom and instantly forgave him. However, Tom was afraid to come out of the bathroom and also was suddenly paralyzed and bladder shy. He stayed in the bathroom a very long time, waiting for my mother to go upstairs. She was very intense. Intense about everything.
This feels like a good story to share three weeks after you died, Mom.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 21 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.25 - 20:18

MINTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHERE ARE MY MINTS??????

I bought mints at Heilman's for this post.
Mom loved Heilman's.
I have been buying her presents there for years.