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,

What?

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.

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- 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.

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- 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.

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- 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.

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- 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.

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- 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.

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- 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.

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- 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.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #19 - - Assorted Stuff #1


family vacation - 1972
Long Lake, Traverse City, Michigan
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #19 - Assorted Stuff #1

Hi Mom, When I started this blog nineteen days ago, I meant it to be like our phone calls. I called nearly every day to talk to you, and I wanted to continue to talk to you, feeling strongly that you are still listening. But the first eighteen posts have been focused on grief and the Memorial Service more so than just the every day nonesuch of our lives. I have been alternating a piece of my talk from the Memorial Service every other day, but I am deviating from that pattern today.

Next up from the service is the mints story, for which I would like a picture of mints on a kitchen counter, but I cannot accomplish that task quite yet today. I have a Calculus test this afternoon that I will surely fail, even if I study more. But even so, I don't have the heart to write a lot today.

I suddenly started crying this morning when I told Liesel that I love her.

I miss you, Mom.

I would not be able to get through this loss without Liesel.

I am going to run some errands, walk the puppy, and do some studying for this test. Though in keeping with my plans, I am not going to make myself miserable studying.

In other news, Dad has agreed to go with me to Traverse City for two days at end of next month, and so I thought a picture of us at Long Lake in Traverse City was in order. We used to live there, as you know but my readers may not. This is the beach at that house on Long Lake. I love how you are dressed. Channeling Jackie Kennedy. This is one of your classic looks. I will never forget that yellow head scarf or the back top. You are so beautiful.

Even though I have my eyes closed, this is a good picture of us all. I am ten years old. Lori is two, almost three, as you wrote so carefully on the back of this photo in your lovely handwriting, which I can show here because I have the technology!

You were very specific. Lori is two years and a 11 and a half months old, which tells me that this was taken in July around the middle of the month, possibly a day like today, which is July 24th.

I miss your careful and precise handwriting. We practiced handwriting after the meningitis for a long time. I have pages of your post-meningitis handwriting to share here, and I will.

I wish I had taken the time to go through all these old photos with you in the last fifteen years. More on that subject in a future blog post.

Lastly, I am starting a new thing for the blog. Each day when I called I would tell Dad to give you a kiss and tell you I love you, unless you were listening, and then I would tell you. I want to start ending the blog that way as it's meant to be like our phone calls, and I still mean these words with all of my heart.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 20 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.24 - 10:09

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #18 - the new Muppet show




Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #18 - the new Muppet show

Hi Mom,

When I started this project, I claimed that some of the entries would be very short, such as a single line.

I have not yet fulfilled that claim, but this one will come close.

Mom, I know you liked the Muppets, especially Miss Piggy. We all watched the Muppets together as a family. I have a Kermit with a Santa hat that you bought me. We shared this affection for the Muppets.

There's going to be a new Muppets show. Let's watch the preview together. I already watched it. I think it's awesome.

There's also this article from Geek.com.

GEEK-First trailer for ABC’s new Muppets show takes the Muppets in new directions

Thinking of you today...

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- Days ago = 19 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.23 - 9:13

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #17 - Memorial Service pt. 6 - school


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #17 - Memorial Service pt. 6 - school

Hi Mom,

I wish I had a picture of you studying or at school. As far as I know, we do not have such a picture, but then, I am not done going through all the pictures.

Nevertheless, this is a great picture, don't you think?

Your smile is caught halfway between neutral and a smile. Kind of a "neutile." Or a "smeutral." Okay, I am reaching, I know. Still, it was the best photo I had for this entry that seemed distantly school related.

I also like the severe lighting from the camera flash.

Here's the next part of the Memorial Service talk, following from the previous #5:
As you can see the nicknames inter-relate. She was frantically trying to do everything, much too much, and her other mode was being intense. She was intense about everything.
In the early 1990s, she decided to go back to school and finish her college degree, and we observed the collision of both nicknames on a nearly daily basis. My mother was not much for computer use (and this was in the very early days back when we used big floppy disks), and so she wrote all her papers long hand, and I edited and typed them for her. She would go over and over the papers. If one had even a smudge, it had to be printed again. I think we printed one a dozen times. I had always known my mother was particular, but her return to school showed me how much of a perfectionist she could be.
She was very intense about her studies. She would recopy notes multiple times. She would recopy from the recording she made of class periods. She would re-listen, often multiple times, to her recordings while ironing or doing other tasks. She would shut herself in a window-less bathroom with the fan on to provide white noise and study for hours and hours while sitting on a pillow on the toilet. Flash cards, notes, the text book, all the review exercises, the workbooks. Everything and more. She achieved perfect scores nearly all the time on everything as she set the class performance bar for excellence very high. Then again, she only ever took one class at a time.

I was so proud of you for going back to school, Mom. I thought I was a good student when I wanted to be, but watching you study, how hard you worked, it was an inspiration. No normal person with other obligations, like a job, or other classes, could possibly do all that you did in your intensity for school. You are such a perfectionist.

I like that you trusted me to select an English teacher for you when you wanted to take English 105 -- Sherry Dykstra, who was the perfect choice for the kind of student you were. BTW, I tried to find Sherry via Facebook to tell her that you passed away, but I can't find her. She may have a different last name now.

Though I did not show it at the time, and though I was frequently a jerk about how annoyed I seemed with you, it meant so much me that you relied on me to help you with your school work.

For my readers, I was never an unrelenting jerk, and I would apologize and lovingly help you, right Mom?

I would not trade those times for anything.

I think of you often at both WMU and KVCC, and all the good times you had there.

But I will never be able to live up to your example.

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- Days ago = 18 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.22 - 17:53

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #16 - license plate



Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #16 - license plate

Hi Mom,

It may be silly to be sentimental about a license plate, but I am. I felt this sentimentality even before you died.

Here's a picture of my car's back end with your license plate from your last car, Scarlet, which I drove until I bought this Subaru in 2011.

I have been thinking about getting a vanity plate for my license plate for a couple of years, but I am not sure if I can part with your license plate, even though the license number is in no way special. But it was yours, and it reminds me of you, and right now -- and even before your death as I mentioned -- I like things that remind me of you; I hold things of yours special and dear to my heart.

But should this be one of those things?

I had to let the car go, as it could no longer be repaired and driven, even though it was monogrammed with your initials (see pictures below).

Maybe I could monogram my car with your initials as one of many tributes to you.

What do you think of that idea?

(I write the above and wait for something that will give me the answer...)




Still waiting...

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

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- Days ago = 17 days ago

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- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.21 - 18:52

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #15 - Memorial Service pt. 5 - Dinner


Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #15 - Memorial Service pt. 5 - Dinner

Hi Mom, The picture above is one of my favorite pictures of you. It's a pretty good picture of Lori, too. It was taken in 1985 shortly after my college graduation, for which you gave me a camera. I snapped two shots at this meal. I will share the other one another time. I like this one because you haven't even noticed yet what I am doing.

There are several things in this picture that remind me of all our times together and what a wonderful mother and human you are (I am still not ready to use past tense for you.) and how you cared for our home and our family. You're wearing one of your favorite t-shirts and your wedding ring. There's your pills by your plate and the Village of Richland glass you liked so much filled with water from the well. This is the typical dinner: chicken breasts in a light white wine sauce, broccoli, I suspect there's rice somewhere that is out of the shot. Lori has a small salad, something you insisted she have, in one of those little bowls you liked. There's also the ceramic bowl (bottom left) that was among your favorites used to serve the vegetable. And you can just see the corner of the yellow place mats that you used as hot pads in the center of the table once you discovered that they did not function well as actual place mats. The dining table runner is folded neatly and on the counter over Lori's left shoulder. You can see other things that you liked to keep on the counter: the crystal starburst candle sticks, the miniature statue dad made of you as a study for the larger version, and that wooden thing that held very thin, orange fabric "flower" stems. I am not really sure what was the deal with that wooden thing. It looks like there's a book on the counter, over your right shoulder, probably left there by me, and something you would make me remove shortly after taking this picture.

The other photo has a bit more data. I am fairly certain this is a summer time photo. Look at your hair. You had recently been to the beauty shop, possibly even earlier that day. I love your facial expression here. I caught you at a time when you did not know you were being photographed. That's your natural face. Not a pose. Just one of the millions of moments when I saw your face, just normal, over the last 53 years. I wish I had more of those moments captured. The every day life moments.

Do you see the butterfly hanging over Lori's left shoulder? You may remember that when Liesel and I returned to that house and lived there for two years, I brought that butterfly back, but I hung it in the wrong place. I hung it on the wall that would be over your left shoulder, which we could see if the shot was a bit wider.

All of this is lead in to share the next part of the talk from your Memorial Service, in which I shared about your insistence on making us all dinner, even when you clearly did not have time. In the picture above, you had time, and you were not yet fully Frantic Woman though you were very intense.

You were always intense.

So, dinner.

Here's the passage from the Memorial Service on the subject of dinner:

Dinner also became an issue. She would not let us make dinner. We would get these calls at 6 or 6:30 from Meijer that she was stopping to buy what she needed and she would be home soon. Then in full Frantic Woman mode, she would scramble to try to prepare a meal before 8 p.m. She didn’t always get it on the table before 8 p.m. We offered to make the meals so that they would be waiting for her when she got home – remember in these stories my sister and I are both adults. She would not entertain such plans. She insisted. She was very intense about it and often quite frantic.
Okay, that's through about 1000 words of my talk that totaled a little over 3000 words. More to come in the next installment.

Like the laundry, turnabout is fair play. I made so many dinners for you, Mom, in the last fifteen years, though not as many as my father, who fixed your plates every night, and my sister, who pre-made many meals for freezing that Dad would stretch out for days once thawed and heated.

I would like nothing more than to fix a plate for you tonight, Mom.

On an unrelated note, Hey, Mom, I want to show you this video. It has nothing really to do with the subject of dinners and you, but I am listening to this song/watching this video, and I wanted to share it with you. I have a history of sharing things with you that I like but that you are not going to like. Why should that change now that you're dead? :-) Plus, the video seems REALLY metaphorical.





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

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- Days ago = 16 days ago

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- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.20 - 12:04

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #14 - Meijer

Meijer on Gull Road, Kalamazoo
Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #14 - Meijer

Hi Mom, I went to Meijer today, and I thought of you.

It's weird to think of you in a place like Meijer, but there's so many memories that I can't help it.

You loved Meijer so much. You loved seeing what was new, even in sections that you generally did not review, like the paint aisle. I know you missed how you used to be able to take your time in Meijer, and how it was never the same after you had to rely on us to wheel you around. But I took you to Meijer so much, and spent so much time there with you as a child, that I am not going to be able to go to the store and not think of you, not feel you there with me, telling me to turn around and go back, or telling me not to run off, or asking me to go get a box of brown sugar because you forgot it.

So, I had to fight my emotions the whole time I was in Meijer. I am sure it will get easier to bear, but it's a problem to associate a place with you, Mom, so strongly, a place where I have to go every week.

I feel closest to you there, Mom. Maybe I should have some of your ashes interred there.

I was very fortunate that it was Liesel's idea to go today. I felt a lot better being there with my wife than being there alone. I am going to struggle with being there for quite a while; I may always struggle to be there.

For those who don't know, Meijer is a general merchandise and grocery store. The picture here features "our" Meijer, yours, Mom, and mine, the one near Richland, the one where we went shopping so many times since it was built in the 1980s, especially in the last 15 years when a trip to Meijer was the highlight of your day.

I wish I had some photos of our trips to Meijer in the last fifteen years. It was such a production to take you. I had to get you into the car at home, into the wheelchair in front of Meijer, often when the wind was whipping around crazily, and then get you into the store. I preferred to wheel both you and a cart at the same time, which was tricky when you wanted to be taken down every aisle because Dad would never give you such a tour when you went with him. I wonder why we never thought of touring the store aisle-by-aisle and THEN doing the shopping with the cart? Seems to me to be the right thing, now.

I should go back to the Gull Road Meijer as much as I can, especially once to tell our favorite cashier about your passing. I am not sure if I can do that now. That visit may have to wait until I feel stronger.

I often dream of Meijer, and often these dreams feature me selecting a book or comic, as you would always buy me one when I was a kid. The section is always moved in my dream, and it is surrounded by other great sections featuring great merchandise. I re-arrange the store in my dreams, which I suspect that you did, too.

Do you remember when I was a kid and I lost you? I went to the Convenience Desk and had them page you on the loud speaker? Boy, were you angry... But I couldn't find you. I remember that I was upset, too.

Next time I am in Meijer, I may ask the Convenience Desk if they will page you for me on the loud speaker.

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

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- Days ago = 15 days ago

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- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.19 - 16:04

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #13 - Memorial Service pt. 4 - Ironing


Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #13 - Memorial Service pt. 4 - Ironing

Hi Mom, so yeah, I have an iron and an ironing board. Do you remember when I got these? I want to say you were with me when I spent gift cards at Target after the wedding getting things we needed that you would approve of, like this clothes iron and stuff, a laundry drying rack, and a hamper.

Kind of a dramatic lighting effect with the iron, eh?

You were very big on ironing, which actually constitutes the next part of the talk I gave at your Memorial Service, continuing from post #11.

Here's what I said:

Ironing was another thing about which my mother was very particular. She would iron everything. She would iron jeans. She would iron t-shirts. Later, in my adult years, she felt that I should do my own ironing, but I wouldn’t. I liked being rumpled or at least not completely wrinkle-free. So, she did the ironing and than charged me for her ironing services. I started getting these notes with list of ironing charges. She charged 50 cents for pants and 75 cents for dress shirts. I told her to stop. I was not going to pay her. But then, my mother was much too fussy to let me out of the house wearing unironed clothes, especially if I was going with her to church or brunch at the country club. So did it anyway. She continued to do it no matter what I said. I tried to take them from the laundry room and put them in my closet but she would find them and iron them anyway.
So, that's the only chunk I am serving up today. It's enough, and I am still trying to catch up on late work, you know, that I get paid for.

Mom will surely remember this, but the readers do not know. I did actually pay you for some of the ironing, right? I did not stiff you for all that work. I started refusing around the time I owed you $150.00+ and realized I would not be able to pay you back and so I wanted to stop ironing. But you would not stop. And you kept charging me until the meningitis made you stop. We never let you near an iron again after that for fear that you would burn yourself.

Even this, I told you I appreciated before you left us, Mom. And I did appreciate it. You were always trying to take care of us, take care of me, just like I do now with my family.

I wonder how much I actually did pay you before we stopped.

I wonder if I kept those ironing bills or if I threw them out? I held on to those bills for a long time. Your handwriting was so pretty.

When did I realize that everything you left behind would become so precious to me?

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

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- Days ago = 14 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.18 - 17:27

Friday, July 17, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #12 - I miss you


Taken at Turkeyville Christmas show Nov. 9 2012
Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #12 - I miss you

The following was written 1507.16 - starting at 16:03:

That thing in which grief blindsides me just happened and reduced me to sobs. Kind of like thunder with blue skies. Kind of like a wind shear on a calm day.

I had been getting kind of worried. I had not really cried in a few days. I felt numb. I felt empty. I did NOT feel okay, but I did not have tears just under the surface all the time. I felt cried out. But I doubted that I was done crying.

But I am watching Y&R while I am working, and the guy pretending to be Gabriel Bingham, who is really Adam Newman, just told Chelsea that he IS ADAM NEWMAN, and I really want to tell you about it, discuss it with you, share it with you, Mom.

And so that made me cry.

And for all I say about you being in my heart and with me and looking over my shoulder, and all that -- and I mean it -- I feel that, but it's not the same. It's not the same as you and your body being right here or out in Richland where I can call you or go see you.

And I am not sure how to feel about that change of status quo. I am not sure how to understand that loss and move on from it. And I am NOT going to stop watching Y&R even though it may make me bawl like a baby during every episode, and I am not going to stop feeling you with me, and I am going to keep writing this blog because it helps me make sense of this change, and I like to write run on sentences and fragments in my grief, but I have not made sense of it  all yet (not the grammar; the loss of you, Mom), and I am not sure if it ever will make sense.

So, just in case you missed it, Mom, Adam just told Chelsea who he really is. I paused the show to write this. I hope this is not another stupid soap opera trick that will get wiped away. I am unpausing now and hope that his confession continues.

Next day, now, Friday 1507.17 - It was not a stupid soap opera trick. Chelsea KNOWS. Wow.

And not to be a broken record, but I miss you, Mom. I miss you. I know this feeling is not unusual or unique, but it is heartfelt, it is true, and it's going to get repeated, a lot.

I miss you, Mom.

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

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- Days ago = 13 days ago
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.17 - 10:33

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #11 - Memorial Service pt.3 - the shirt


Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #11 - Memorial Service pt.3 - the shirt

Hi Mom, So, it's time for another piece of my talk from the Memorial Service, which is still not yet a week old. That's weird.

By the statistics Blogger keeps, yesterday's Calculus post was nearly as popular as any of the previous nine posts, and no one "liked" it on Facebook. Maybe this is because no one likes Calculus or not enough people per view to get even one like. I should not be so focused on readers, and I feel a bit ashamed for even mentioning it. I am doing this to talk to you, Mom, and by extension, then, I am doing this for me. And yet, I feel like I am finding good endings, or so  people have told me. I like that I worked down to my last line yesterday: "I am undefined at zero." This thing about zero, especially dividing by zero, is a big deal in math. I thought I might get a like for that. Is that me being too needy? I can't tell because I am undefined at zero.

Okay, next topic...

I was just thinking about pictures to post here. I suddenly wish I had more pictures of you. I wish I had taken a picture of us holding hands, just the hands in close up. And it hit me again that you're gone. You have been cremated. Your body is gone. Bones were pulverized. I have a little bag of your ashes. There's three other little bags. The rest we interred in the Memorial Garden next to the church. Is that where I should go to visit you? It doesn't seem right. That's a nice place and all, but your body is not there, not really. Besides, I feel you with me all the time. I don't think I have to visit you. I think you are visiting me, all the time. And though I feel you, I still miss you.

Why didn't I think to take a picture of our hands, mine holding yours? There's probably a poem that speaks to this thought, but none come to mind at this moment.


I went searching for my book of Rilke poems. I thought I had a book of Rilke poems. And I couldn't find it. Much like, I think I keep hearing your voice, and you are not really here, not physically, at least not the way I always understood "physically."

Oh, yeah, so this is all preamble to today's main event, which is about the Memorial Service and another piece from my ... talk. I still don't like calling it the other thing yet.

Here's the next segment after the bit (the start) I detailed here at

Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #9 - Memorial Service pt.2 - the start.

I will probably collect them all in one entry when I get them all included a piece at a time.

Here we go:

I would like to start my description of Marjorie with this shirt. My father helped me create this shirt to feature two nicknames I gave my mother in the 1990s: Frantic Woman and Ms. Intensity. I should have added a third: Ms. Genuine. My mother could not tell a lie. Everything my mother felt was clearly apparent on her face. When she didn’t like one of my girlfriends, and there were a few she did not like, she couldn’t hide it very well. Though she was never crude or cruel, she could be blunt. She would say what she meant, and she would ask any question she felt like asking. I admire these qualities of hers.
Before I come back to the names on this shirt, there’s another name for my mother: the ANL. My best friend and I create acronyms for some of the people in our lives. We had a very difficult time creating a suitable acronym for my mother. Eventually in our random way, we came upon ANL, which means Acronym With No Letters, and it fits. My mother is very difficult to describe. This collection of stories will not do her justice, and I am leaving a lot out, especially things with which I had less experience, like her church work. Her essence is difficult to capture. You had to know her. You had to feel her intensity to really get what she was all about.
And so, the nicknames. Frantic Woman came about at a time when she was clearly doing too much in her life, but she was unwilling to relinquish all her household tasks. After my sister and I were grown up and had jobs, my Mother’s therapist gave her the prescription to get out of the house most days as a way to combat depression. But here’s a woman who spent her life in the home, taking care of everything, and suddenly she was spending most days out of the home, and yet believed she could still take care of everything. For instance, the laundry. My mother would not let me do my own laundry. I would ask her about a shirt in the laundry room that I wanted to wear soon and when she might get around to laundering it and maybe I could just do it myself. “Don’t touch it!” she would cry. “I will do it!” And so she would. After a full day of shopping, appointments, or classes, she would stay up until one or two in the morning doing laundry and all kinds of other things she would have done had she stayed home even one of those days during the week.

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

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- Days ago = 12 days ago
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.16 - 18:21

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #10 - Calculus - Test #1



Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #10 - Calculus - Test #1

Hi Mom,

I may very well fail my Calculus class. I am pretty sure that I failed my first test, which I took yesterday, especially given that I was able to devote about zero (very close to zero, which is a thing in Calculus called a Limit) time to studying. In fact, so confident was I that I would fail, that I almost decided to not go to class yesterday and take the test. But then, I am aiming to at least achieve near perfect (I know one day I will miss) attendance, and so I decided to go. My next fear was that I would not be able to even attempt any of the problems, and so I would submit a blank test, which is about the same as not showing up. But then, I managed to write something down for each problem. I tried. I am not sure if any of it is right, but I tried, and I did so without trying to leverage your death for sympathy points as I have not told my professor of your passing.

Why am I taking Calculus? Well, that's the plan, right? I am back to school for computer science and Calculus is required. After how I struggled with Pre-Calculus, I decided that I should take Calculus by itself, so it is my only class, and I can give it my whole focus. Well aware that a summer session moves at double time, I felt that with the help of a tutor I am paying, the help of the tutoring lab, and some hard work, I would be able to conquer Calculus and earn the grade I need (which needs to be better than my Pre-Calculus grade).

My prof compared Summer session to drinking water from a fire hose, and this is a bit how I have felt so far.

Yes, I thought about dropping the class, and here's why I didn't. I figure I may well fail. But since WMU regards me as an undergraduate, any F grade will be replaced by the new grade when I retake the course. If I get through this course and fail (or earn too low of a grade), I will know more when I retake Calculus, and maybe I can do it in the more leisurely Winter semester. No biggie.

So, Mom, remember how I told you that you timed your death well in terms of choosing a time I had a reduced work load? Maybe you even were waiting until I got back from Scotland and that's why when I was showing you all those pictures from our trip, you kept saying "I am glad you're back" over and over. Did you know? Did you really time this event? I like to think you did. It would fit how you did things.

Well, even with your good timing, I did not calculate how your passing would affect me and affect my ability to study. I am all right, but all right is a relative term. I have not shut down, curled into a fetal position, and stopped eating or showering. I am functional. But my "all right" status is difficult to define. It's much like "all right" is a limit to value that cannot be reached, like dividing by zero.

I am undefined at zero.

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

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- Days ago = 11 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.15 - 9:00

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #9 - Memorial Service pt.2 - the start


Mom loved Christmas
Hey, Mom! Talking to my Mother #9 - Memorial Service pt.2 - the start

Hi Mom, I scripted my talk for your service. Lori spoke first and did a great job. I will share more about that later. She was a difficult act to follow.

Though I scripted everything, I improvised my first remarks, and then I forgot one part, which I will add here.

I started something like this:

"My mother loved the CBS television program Everybody Loves Raymond. In one episode, Raymond's mother Marie discovers that Raymond had already written a eulogy for his father, Frank, but not one for her, and so Marie asks Raymond to write hers. If you know the show, this becomes a funny example of Marie's manipulative ways. I never imagined this day. I never thought about a service taking place let alone planning what I would say, and so I have only spent two weeks writing these remarks, and this is what I have. Here goes."

I was going to add: "I am very blessed and honored to be able to speak at my Mother's memorial service." But I forgot to say that, despite the word "blessed" written at the top of the first page. So, I said it to everyone who complimented me on my remarks after and I write it here. It's a privilege to be able to write something in tribute to you, Mom, and I will share all my remarks a chunk at a time for the next couple of weeks, interspersed with other items so as not to overwhelm you.

Mom, I felt you there in that church just as I feel you with me all the time. I don't have to ask you how you feel about my talk because I know.

In writing this post, I think about how it was my suggestion that got you and Dad watching Everybody Loves Raymond, and how we watched the TV show so many times in the last fifteen years. There were times that we managed to get close to three hours of "Raymond" in an evening as we ate dinner and spent family time together. Their jokes became our jokes, such as Robert's "is this about me?" or "Ray is here! Ha, ha!!" And I got to watch you laugh and laugh, knowing that some day I would not be sitting with you any more and would not be seeing you laugh any more. But I think I still hear it, your laughter, and I will surely hear it next time I watch a rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond.

Here's the rest of what I consider to be the introduction to the "talk" (which others call a eulogy):

"Thank you for attending this Memorial Service. I made clear to friends of mine, many of whom had not met my mother, that by informing them of this service, I was not obligating or even expecting them to attend, and I meant that. And yet, I am happy to see so many people turning out in support of my mother and my family. I have no words for how much it means to me see all of you here. Thank you.
I would like to tell you about my mother, Mrs. Marjorie Ellen Tower, born Marjorie Delbridge in a little country town called New Lothrop. I will try to keep my comments short, but those who know me, and know I am a writer, also know that I could write a book on this subject, so short is a relative term. 
When I started thinking about what I would say today, I worried that I would make this talk too much about me and not enough about my mother. And yet, all I have of my mother are my experiences with her, and so anything I say cannot help but be about me as it is also about her, which is fitting. My mother was always very much more focused on her family than she was on herself. This is one of the important things to know about her. 
My sister and I have a wealth of experiences with our parents as we lived with them late into our adult years. My sister moved out when she was 31, and I lived with them until I was 47. Though this is not an unusual living arrangement pretty much everywhere else in the world, it is here in America. I used to be embarrassed about it, but after the meningitis, I was able help my Dad take care of my mother for many years, and we all grew much closer because of it. I would not trade those years for anything even though I wish the meningitis had never happened to her. Having her family around her is exactly what my mother wanted, and we were all there together with her in her final week."
after tooth removal... :-)
I thought it odd that I was the first one that day to mention your birth place and your maiden name, but I am glad I did. Those things needed to be mentioned. I tried to keep the subject of the talk on YOU, Mom, and not on me. I think I succeeded for the most part. More parts to come in future entries.

That's all for today, Mom. I have work and then a Calculus test. I am having lunch with Dad at the Park Club. Somehow I know you are going to be there with us, too.

See you later.

Love always, chris




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

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- Days ago = 10 days ago
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.14 - 8:10

Monday, July 13, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #8 - The tree removal story.


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #8 The tree removal story.

Hi Mom,

Before I share more about the Memorial service, I want to share more about something that happened last week just like I would if I had called you on the phone as I did practically every day for the last five years.

Last Wednesday, an hour before I was going to teach a particularly difficult class online, tree service persons with huge trucks, a hydraulic lift, and a wood chipper/shredder arrived to remove a tree that stands (or did) literally about 20 feet from my office window.

It was a cool day, so I had all the windows open, but even with the windows shut, just the sound of the trucks, the chain saws, and the chipper was so loud that I could barely hear myself think let alone speak for an hour to students about literature.

I lost my temper in a big way, and so it was a good thing that no one was home. Through some miracle of self-restraint, I did not smash anything, though it's also a fortunate thing that I was not holding a baseball bat.

I am not even sure if my neighbor was home; I was tempted to call and express my feelings about the timing of this tree removal. After all, it was just that hour from 10-11 a.m. Wednesday morning. Any other time would have been all right. I would have been annoyed by the sounds at any time but not insanely enraged as I was when I had to teach that class accompanied by the din of tree removal.

I thought of you, then, Mom. You were big on the Golden Rule. I would not like an enraged phone call from anyone, and so I did make one to my neighbor. After all, my neighbor may not have scheduled that specific time for the tree removal. And even if she did, it may not have occurred to her to check with me, not knowing that if I was scheduled to teach when the tree was due to be removed, I would have left the house and taught elsewhere rather than enduring the cacophony produced by the all the machines.

Then again, I could not let the injustice of this event pass undocumented, and because social media allows for these declarations, I sent the following to Twitter, which also posts on Facebook:


Okay, I know. Pissy and dramatic. Kind of ridiculous, really. So then, a few second later, I sent and posted the following:


Fair, right? My reaction was proportional to my emotional state last week, which was a bit like being filled to bursting with the Power Cosmic (I had to get a comic book simile in here somewhere).

Yeah... so it was all right. I moved my lap top to the dining room, and though still very loud, the chainsaws and shredder were a bit less deafening with me in there. And the workers did their job quickly and without a lot of shouting. By the time I was done teaching, the tree was gone, the trucks were gone, and it was over.

And I felt a bit like an ass, especially since that tree may have actually been on OUR property, and both the tree and the half-tree-sized branch that the previous storm had brought down (see photos), nearly missing her roof (a new roof, too) may have been OUR responsibility, legally speaking.

AND, at the time, she may not have known that my Mom just died. So there's that, too.

Last night, I decided to share this blog entry as today's post. I had sketched it a few days back, and I wanted to take a break from the excessive weight of grief and the tear-jerking content that has been and will be posted, especially as I work through the Memorial Service stuff.

So what happens while I am teaching today? This same neighbor brings over a lovely sympathy card and a tin of treats. You know what the treats are? NUTS. Spiced nuts! Get it? Tree = nuts?

Yeah, so now I have a thank you to deliver as I am very touched and blessed by her kindness and love. I also feel like MORE of an ass (which I did not think was possible) for my rage of last week.

So, there, that's a thing.

ABOUT THE PHOTOS: The three tree photos on today's blog show the post-storm, half-tree branch in front of our neighbor's house from back in early June. She had that all removed weeks ago. The tree I am writing about is in the foreground-right of the picture directly below (tree photo #2). Apparently, tree experts felt that the whole thing should be removed before a storm brought down the rest of it on my neighbor's roof.... I am guessing...

Bye, Mom. More tomorrow.



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

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- Days ago = 09 days ago
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.13 - 12:05

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #7 - One Week


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #7 - One Week


Hi, Mom, So, it's been over a week since you drew in your last breath. I might have acknowledged this fact yesterday, but I thought I should mention the Friday night visitation and the Memorial Service instead. I will spend at least a week and possibly more describing the visitation and service, though intermittently. We should spread out that good time!

I thought of you at 10:10 a.m. this morning. At some point, I will surely photograph a clock at 10:10 a.m. You picked such an interesting time to die. Two tens. Double ten. Readers, I don't have any interpretation for the time other than its duality and its memorability.

You also helped, Mom, by waiting until July Fourth to pass away. We will always be able to honor you and your passing each year on a day that is easy to remember.

My sister claimed that it's fitting that you died on the Fourth of July as it was a "non-holiday" in our family. In a sense this is true, we never threw a party. You did not have a box of Independence Day decorations. But we did things. We often went to Turkeyville on that day. Often, we went to the holiday parade in Richland, the one that prevented anyone from coming to get your body for over two hours. We often bought food from the annual chicken barbecue. And as my sister illustrated in her eulogy yesterday, you made a pie for the bake sale. Because your pies were so loved, yours was often pre-sold, someone bought it before you even brought it to the park. And we did watch a lot of fireworks in our lives. Occasionally we had our own, though mostly sparklers, on which we all burned our fingers.

I will think of you any time I use kitchen matches.

A week. Not a very long time and yet it felt like one of the longest weeks of my life. I put a lot of work into my eulogy, which I will share with you here, a bit at a time. But I know you already heard me. I know you like it, and you are proud of me.

A week. I am not sure how I will keep going, and yet I have no choice. Each minute opens up before the last. Time flows around me, and I am carried along on its current. And I have things to do: work and homework and dishes and laundry. The lawn needs mowing, and the dog needs walking. Liesel is stressed about her school work, and she needs my love and support as much as I need hers.

So, life goes on. It's such a cliché, and yet it's so true. We all must continue living and doing things that need doing, and we hope that it gets easier to do those things without you here. I feel you watching me. I hear your voice. I sense your presence. But it's not the same. I can't see you. I cannot give you a kiss, not today, and probably not tomorrow.

Though I feel you, I also feel empty.

I will always hold Richland dear to my heart as it's where I grew up. But already I have lost one reason to visit. You and Dad have always been my anchor, and I feel like I have lost half that anchor. And yet not, also. (I think there's going to be more content forthcoming on this anchor metaphor.)


You are here. (You readers can't see me, but I am pointing to my chest. Mom, I know you CAN see me, so you know what I mean.)


You are in my heart, and I am in yours.


You are all around me, and I am within your spirit, which holds me tight with love.


                                                                 ***

That's a pretty good ending, isn't it? Readers, pretend that is the ending as it's a nice final comment.

But I have a few maintenance type matters to work through.

Today's photo is from our trip to Britain in 1986. Obviously, that's us in front of Stonehenge. I like that you are holding my sister's hand. I like your smile.

Blog Housekeeping Stuff. This next bit will be back-posted to the first entry and the explanation of this blog feature. (Don't forget that there will be other blog posts on this blog, not just about you, MOM.)

At this writing, I see blog posts for Hey, Mom! grouping in three categories.

1. WORKING ON GRIEF: I need to work through my feelings, and I am going to do that by talking to you about my grief and the grieving process. The early stages of this will be the big stuff, such as the Memorial Service, making photo albums, and the anniversaries of your death, such as the first week, the first month, and so on. Some of this content may be as short as one line as I share one thing that made me think of you that day, Mom. The grieving process will have many facets.

2. MEMORIES: Though I am recounting memories as much for me as I am for you, Mom, I will recount memories from all the great times we shared in the last 53 and a half years. Readers may also enjoy this type of posting.

3. JUST STUFF: I miss talking to you in person and on the phone. So some of the posts or contents of posts will simply be things I would have shared if you were still here on this earth in physical form. For readers other than you, Mom, it won't all be "big" stuff. Some of it will be rather mundane. But then I know you loved my stories, Mom. You loved to hear about what was going on.

Bye, bye, for now.

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

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- Days ago = 08 days ago
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.12 - 14:15