Friday, July 30, 2010

Garden update.

Jasara came for dinner last week. Everything we ate was from the garden except for the beer and salmon.

Eight pound cabbage

A little perspective.

Martha in the garden taken from Sue's cell phone.
Tomatoes almost ripe. Cantaloupe are the size of baseballs. Cucumbers the size of ... I don't know. Just not big enough. Yellow squash is prolific, but zuchini isn't doing that well. Beans are flowering, kale is growing as always. Will plant for fall in August.


I stand watching as she walks slowly to the car with her walker, inching closer and closer to the car, reaching out tentatively to grasp the edge of the door, pushing the walker aside as she still holds it for balance, takes my hand or arm, inches her way closer to the car door, reaches slowly for the handle above the window. 
I guide her hand to the handle, she grasps my arm for balance, shifting her weight slowly, slowly, then finally she’s in position to ease herself into the seat. I stand at her back to brace her and then gently shove her so that she is centered on the seat. I hand her purse to her, and reach in and put the seatbelt around her, shut the door, and put her walker in the back of the car.
I get in the car, adjust the visor so that she can control it when the sun hits her. I take off. We get to the physical therapist’s office. I make sure that we are not too close to the curb. I get out, get the walker, bring it around to the door, open the door. She begins to get out. First the feet, then the legs, slowly extending, then pushing against the seat, pulling on the side of the doorframe, then reaching for the grip on the door to pull her. Or, she grabs my extended hand and I pull with all my might, hoisting, pulling, until she is on her feet, still, on her feet, after all these years. 
She grabs for the walker, and slowly she walks toward the doors. First one door. A heavy door that I hold while she enters. 
But then another door that I have to hold open while holding the first door open so it doesn’t hit her as it closes. She’s not aware that I need a place to stand while holding both doors. The walker runs against my toe. I move it out of the way, reaching to extend my arms at the same time. Good thing I'm flexible.
She’s in. Now to find the restroom. Oh, it’s through that electric powered door and then through the door on the right.
Hold the door so that it doesn’t come back and whack her as it almost did once when she powered it herself but couldn’t get out of the way as it opened toward her. I had to run, grab her, the walker, and the door. That won't happen again.
To the bathroom. Hold the door while she gets herself and the walker into the bathroom. Door shut. She’s on her own. But I lurk by the door, waiting to hear if she needs help. Ten minutes. Mom, are you okay. I’m fine.
Sometimes I think that she has died in the bathroom. It's a terrible thought, but one that occurs when it's silent for so long.
I open the door. She’s fine. She’s washing her hands. Mom, the soap is off. Amy is waiting for you.
The physical therapist gets her adjusted on the bed where she will do ultrasound on mom’s bone spurs on the bottom of her feet.
I have to go to the bathroom, she says. You know that at this age my plumbing isn’t what it used to be.
Mom, you’re just anxious. You just went and you went before we left. Please hold on, because if you have to get up then Amy has to start all over again.
I think, just you wait, Martha. When someone tells you that you really don’t have to go to the bathroom when you really do have to go. Now.
Mom, please just hold on. She’s almost done. Then you can go to the restroom.
Okay, Sybil, I’m done. You’re all set.
I’m not coming back again. What does this ultrasound do anyway?
Remember mom, when she did it before? She made your bone spurs go away.
And besides, you might live to be 102 (which is actually just around the corner) or, Amy says, 107.
Noooo, don’t say that.
We just want you to be able to walk no matter how old you are.
Back on go the support hose, then the shoes, then turning her slowly so she can right herself. She’s up. Now she’s headed toward the bathroom.
I open the door for her. She's in. Then I wait. Ten minutes. Mom, are you okay?
Back to the elevator door. I push the button, the doors open. She walks in. We stand there. And stand there. I finally say, oh, I guess I need to push the button so we can move. I’m tired. And I'm not 101.
Down the stairs, out one door. Out another door. Mom, wait here while I get the car. But stand here so you are out of the way of the doors. I do not want to return to find her whacked out on the floor by an out of control electric door.
I run get the car. Pull it up in front. Go to the door. She’s on her way out. Slowly walking to the car. The sun is beating down on both of us. It’s 98 in the shade. It’s okay. We can do this. My foot hurts. Slowly, finally, she’s at the curb. Holding on to the door, then reaching for the handle, then … she’s in. The walker in the back. I take off.
We’re at her place. Out of the car. Same routine. I park. By the time I park she’s going in the front doors. The electric door closes behind her almost hitting her in the back. I cringe and tell myself I should have gotten her in the door before I parked.
Okay. In her apartment. She heads for the bathroom.
Mom, I’m going now. I’ve got to go.
Okay, honey, I love you. Thank you so much.
I love you, too.
I close the door behind me.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday used to be one of two days I visited mom. Thursdays were appointment days. I would leave work early and take her to get her hair done, to doctors appointments and to the store. This was after she quit driving. After I stopped working I started going mid-week three to four times. Weekends belong to me and Ben.

She tells me frequently how much she dislikes Sundays, how lonely and long they are. And I often feel guilt that I'm not there. I'm not sure how it's different than any other day, but it is. I used to feel the same way on Sundays before I married Ben.

Today Ben was working on a bid and I decided to go over, even though I'll be there tomorrow to take her to an appointment. We watched the Mariners and for a change they won. Watching the M's was always something we shared, but then the Mariners started losing and she started watching less and losing interest. But today that spark was back.

We talked about books. I told her I read a book I didn't like because of poor writing and she was animated again. It was fun to see her talk about reading. She said, "Now, all I read is trash. It's just escape reading for the story." I empathized.

I set up her fan because her apartment gets stuffy and the a.c. blows on her. Ben will see what he can do to fix that.

I cleaned the counter, set out her vitamins, picked up a bit. And even did some stretching on her floor.

It was one of those days I found joy in caring for her, being with her, talking to her. I thought how lucky I am that she is still here, so viable, and so present. How many people have a 101-year-old in their life who can still contribute? Some people, but not many.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I could be silenced

There are days I find joy in giving to my mother, running her errands, cleaning, paying bills, ministering to her.
Other days, not so much.

Some days I feel resentment.
But resentment debilitates, undermines, subjugates.
I guard my heart.

Some days I think of Evan Mettie, a young man like many, severely injured by an I.E.D. in Iraq.
He lives in a bed in an extension to his parent's home. He will be there until his parents are gone.
They are fortunate they were able to bring him home.
But for the rest of their lives they live with the reality that their son is disabled, unable to fulfill their early hopes for him.

I think of spouses whose partner is ill.
Parents with young children with cancer or cerebral palsy.

It's humbling.

I could believe my story is meaningless.

I could be silenced.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Peace in the moment

That's all we have.
I realized tonight that as I started writing in earnest, I stopped breathing.
Reliving the past is hard, but necessary when you decide to write a book.
To stay healthy and inspired I will have to remember that breathing is prerequisite.

I took mom her new support hose today, along with her sweater that had been in the backseat of the car.
It was soaked with three cubes of butter I had left in the car in the heat.
I washed the sweater and it was okay.
I told Ben and he was remarkably restrained.
Perhaps because the dog ate two of his bluetooth earpieces that he left lying around.
A strange disquiet, an inexplicable exhaustion has overcome me.
I want to escape.
I want to go back to Nova Scotia and redo our trip last year, but this time stay longer,
lingering along seaside ports, unworried and unhurried, unharrassed by concerns at home.
Is that ever possible?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Peace in the passing

For years I've thought about writing mom's story. Not just her story, but a collective story. Her life impacting my life, my life impacting her. The lives of others.

For more than ten years I've made journal entries on the computer and for the past 18 months I've written on this blog about what this journey with her has been like. But I hadn't yet made the decision to actually write a book. It was just something I talked about, rather than actually did.

Instead, I embarked on another writing adventure, one that involved telling the stories of the people of the Lower Yakima Valley, a place where five distinct cultures met and coexisted for generations. Yakama Indian, Japanese, Filipino, European, and later on, Hispanic, comprise the population of Wapato, Toppenish, White Swan and Harrah. But Wapato was the primary focus of my venture.

I had cards printed as a calling card, different images of the valley on each card.  I interviewed people. I met a Japanese man who suggested I write a fiction piece, using it to tell the Japanese story in the valley. He even had a book title. 

I got side-tracked from my original vision,. As compelling as the Japanese history is, it's not the story I set out to tell.

Backing off a bit, I realized that I had lost my way. I wanted to return to my original, theme of Faces of the Valley inclusive of all cultures, but narrowing the focus to women: Five Women, Five Cultures. Shaping a Valley. Talk about stories!

But then, in the quiet of my thoughts one evening, I knew. First I wanted to write a personal story, the one already in my head. It's not really my mother's story, because it's told from my perspective. But I have recordings of her telling her story that I will use.   The rest will be my story, my experience with my mother, and the story of others who have been a caretaker to an aging parent. 

The gift of the story, fiction or non-fiction, is to impact another person's life. My goal is to help others understand guilt before it descends, set boundaries before they are broken, and still live their lives in the midst of caretaking another life. It is a story of loss, healing and forgiveness. 

It is a practical story, designed to help others navigate the life of a caretaker: the hiring and firing and supervising caregivers, advocating for a loved one in medical settings, learning to take charge without appearing to take charge when they are in danger, but not wanting to lose their independence, the role of compassion and patience in the face of changing roles and watching a parent become someone you barely recognize. These are just a few of the topics.

I've worked on this project for a very long time, mainly because I have lived the project, but it feels like I'm just starting. It fills my mind night and day; themes and topics and events and conversations and feelings occupy much of my thinking, whether I'm actually writing, watering the yard, talking to Ben, walking the dog, and especially when I see mom and a myriad of emotions surface, each and every time.

I talked to a woman this weekend who had her dad living with the family the last three years of his life. He had cancer and after living in a garage apartment next to the house for a few years so that he could still be independent, but she was there to check on him. One day she and he realized that he could no longer take care of himself.  She moved him into the living room, where he eventually died. Her husband and two teenagers also lived in the home, although one daughter went to college when the grandfather had moved into the living room.

Her father has been gone two months. She said she hasn't cried since the funeral. She has peace. She said someone once remarked that she looked sad in a photograph of her while her father was still living.

"Now," she says,"I just feel relief. I feel happy, like I no longer look sad. My brothers, who weren't around that much, are having a harder time."

I want that peace when mom is gone. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Growing old is not for sissys

Mom got sick last night and had an unfortunate accident in her bed. Sandy, the manager, went down at 3:30 a.m. and changed the bed and her clothes. When I went over this morning, I suggested that she might start wearing Depends underwear to bed at night, just to avoid these types of accidents in the future.

Of course, she resisted. First, it was embarrassing to have an accident. But I am practical. If she has accidents (this is the second) she will end up having to move. I don't want her to have to move, so I am suggesting something that will keep her safe and more comfortable.

She said, "That would be a mess." 

No, mom, not as much of a mess as having the manager come at 3:30 a.m. to change the bed. That is not in the job description, although they are exceedingly gracious and kind to mom.

In that moment, I realized for the thousandth time how bone tired I am of hearing no. Of going through her sicknesses and her neediness but not having the cooperation. But friend Ted once told me, "That is what you will miss the most, being needed." I know that. I also know I'll miss her knowing pats on my knee, her concern for me, even when I get impatient at her concern, her loving kindnesses, her grit and tenacity, my mom. 

But just once, I said, I'd like to hear, "That sounds like a good idea."

Through the last decade I’ve been confronted time and again with the nos, the resistance, the not wanting to let go of her independence, the not wanting caregivers, the not wanting the cane, not wanting what will make it easier for me, but always wanting what is easier for her.

I get it. That is what has resulted in her being 101.

But it's certainly no fun. It's hard work being this old, and as she has said many times, growing old is not for sissys.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


This morning I ate a breakfast of lightly sauteed carrots, onions, beets, zucchini and basil. Maybe a weird breakfast, but last night we ate a delicious feast prepared by friend Paul that had my tummy not happy in the night. (Sorry, Paul, but I'm a lightweight when it comes to rich food--but it was a wonderful meal.) So, my vegetable breakfast that came directly from the garden into the pan was supposed to help my tummy settle down.

Ben and I went out this morning and worked for awhile in the garden before it got hot. I gave the tomato plants a a wheelbarrow load of cuttings. Ben cut the wire cages out from inside the new wood cages he built.  We have green tomatoes, finally. They'll be ripe soon. We have seven tomato plants, but two don't have flowers. They are the ones who aren't in the direct sun.

A sunflower finally bloomed, the sweet peas are lovely and remind me of my grandmother. I located the sugar snap peas...a small section I had forgotten I planted. I will dry some and plant a fall crop in August.

Pulled up the spinach that had gone to seed. Ben will add more drippers and I'll plant carrots or beets...something good that will last. My gardening partner doesn't like beets, but husband Norm does. I like them sauteed with onion, the way Norm prepares them.

We've been eating potatoes...just digging them up and eating. They are small, but tasty, right out of the bed.

The onions are the talk of the town. Walla Wallas the size of softballs. The smaller white onions are great for sauteeing, like I did this morning.

Carrot thinnings are succulent, as are the leeks. Peas are about done, but harvested a bag full yesterday that I will freeze for soups.

Cantaloupe have bloomed. Hope for similar to last year.

Zucchini is small, partly because the plants are crowded. I pulled one out this morning to make more room. The yellow squash is okay, but they seem to shrivel on the vine. Had two last night, however.


Bachelor button

Walla Walla onions

Sweet Pea

Friday, July 16, 2010

The miracle of friendship

Old friends, Michael and Mary Wilson, arrived unexpectedly from Moab, Utah, on their way to sea kayak in Alaska the night before Donald, Nga and Tai left Wednesday morning.

I had written Michael and Mary a letter six months or so ago and sent them photos I took of them and their children in 1978 in Park City, Utah, where we were good friends nearly 40 years ago. I met them in 1971 when Michael and I were on ski school together. They taught me Transcendental Meditation. I left Utah in 1973, but would return over the next couple of years and always stay with them when I did. They were people precious to me, but life intervened in a multitude of ways.

For two years after my divorce I traveled from Park City, to Sun Valley, Idaho, then to the Olympic Peninsula, down to California and then back again. I would work six weeks in Park City, stay with Michael and Mary, and then head off again.

Eventually I spun off my circular route and went to Maharishi International University, or MIU, in Fairfield, Iowa, to become more involved with the TM movement. I was seeking something "more," but wonder if I couldn't have found that more in Park City, the way they did. But as we agreed, it appeared that wasn't my life path.

Eventually I returned to California and visited them again in 1978, when I took the photos. I never saw them or talked to them again after that, until this week, 32 years later, with many lifetimes and experiences in between.

When they drove up the driveway I was in awe that they were actually here. They had called on their way through to catch the plane in Seattle, allowing for a day to spend with us, but not really knowing how it would turn out. After all, we hadn't talked in all these years. Mary said she had my address information in her address book and that's when they decided to see if it would work. They arrived to much fanfare, ate dinner with mom, Donald, Nga, and Tai.

We decided we would go camping at Sawmill Flats, up Chinook Pass on Wednesday after Donald left.  Thursday afternoon they headed over the pass, enjoying their first sight of Mt. Rainier on the way to Seattle.

While camping we began to catch up on the intervening 30 years, although their first night on the patio we did the "nut shell." I quipped, "Yeah, a nut in a shell." Mary told me that she had thought I would be in their life always...and now we had 30 more years to catch up.

The guys fly fished and Mary and I talked some more. We ate tuna Michael caught in Mexico, along with the vegis from the garden that Mary weeded for me for two hours while I got the trailer ready. We drank wine and talked and laughed.

It was a rare experience. It's not often that someone from so long ago can show up and instantly feel the camaraderie. I enjoyed them as much or more than I ever did. Loving them. I felt the familiarity, their spirit, their personality, so much like it was then, unchanging, even though all around us had changed.

I saw in them the young people I once knew and loved, now with a few more aches and pains and health issues and parents dying and kids getting raised, and their grandchildren born. They have traveled the world extensively. Mary has traveled in India several times, they have hiked around MountBlanc in France, spent another month in France, traveled to Bali, Nepal, Italy, Greece, Mexico and other places. It is hard for me not to envy, but we all get something different. They earned it and have been blessed by it.

Now it is time, Mary says, for her to stay at home for awhile, at the oasis they created in Moab on a piece of property fed by a spring, allowing them to create ponds and gardens.

As they prepared to leave yesterday Mary was walking to their camper. She turned and said, "This was incredible." Considering all the incredible experiences she has surely had, that spoke volumes. And I agreed. I can't wait to see them again.

The sweet with the sweet

It was a week of sweetness with nephew Donald, his wife, Nga, and daughter, Tai.

Tai is four and delights us all with her charm, humor, intelligence, flexibility, playfulness, creativity and curiosity. They come to visit GG, or great grandmother. I realize that Ben and I are loved and they enjoy visiting with us. But the highlight of their visit is GG. I saw that Donald was sad when they had to leave her.

Each visit for many years has carried with it the knowledge that it could be the last time they see her.
But that is the way with all of us and mom has defied the odds many times over. Tai was just a baby when they first came, thinking then that it would be the only visit.

I'm always sad when they leave, leaving the house empty of Tai's enthusiasm, Nga's quiet humor and love of family (not to mention her fabulous cooking), and Donald's love of life, his intellect and curiosity.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Camping on Cook Mountain Ridge

Fourth of July weekend was the inauguration of our "new" camping trailer, designed to get us out of town and on the road. We camped with our friends Paul and Katy and their two new mules, Kit and Kate, who had just arrived from Tennessee two weeks ago.

We went up Cook Canyon out of Ellensburg and then up on the canyon ridge. Dry meadows were blanketed with purple lupine. Spring-fed meadows still nurtured wild Iris, hellebore and other wild flowers.

We arrived Saturday afternoon and set up camp, which consisted of our portable fire pit, a pile of wood and four chairs, and a table right outside our trailer with the extra campstove, where I did some of the cooking. We were set for a relaxing weekend.

We were also expecting Paul and Katy's daughter, Allyson and son-in-law Tony for an evening by the campfire and a birthday celebration for Allyson. They were staying at Paul and Katy's for the weekend with their daughter, Lily, and taking care of Greta, Paul's year-and-a-half old hunting dog. Greta was hyper and Paul decided against bringing her because they wanted to work with the mules.

About 7 p.m. Katy received a phone call.  When she got off the phone, she said, "Greta is dead." She had strangled on the fence next to her dog house, apparently getting the snap on her collar caught and unable to free herself. Tony had discovered her, too late to help.

Tony and Allyson arrived grim-faced at camp with Greta wrapped in an old quilt. We talked through what happened and then near midnight sang happy birthday to Allyson and ate birthday cake before they headed back to town.

We went to bed, but around 1:30 the mules began stomping their feet, apparently bored with their confinement. Around 4:30 a.m., Paul and Katy got up and tied them to the outside of the trailer. At 6 a.m., Paul and Katy went for a short walk to the edge of the ridge to watch the sun come up. When they got back to camp, Kit was loose, somehow releasing the snap on her lead. Katy kept looking for the meaning behind two snaps: one causing death, the other causing release.

While they stalked Kit, I made a breakfast of eggs, bacon and potatoes, knowing that Paul's diabetes was going to wreak havoc if he didn't get fed. By the time Paul laid a hand on Kit's halter and was able to tie her again to the trailer, he was shaking.

We sat around a dead campfire and ate our breakfast, preparing for the next step--burying Greta, still wrapped in the quilt in the back of Ben's truck. The day was warming and it was time.

Wild Iris

Ben and Paul found a spot under a pine tree while Katy and I gathered rocks to place on the grave. Once Greta was covered, Paul threw tobacco on the grave, a Native tradition, and prayed that her spirit would fly free of chains.

After the burial, Ben and I went to get water from a spring for the mules and walked along a road lined with Lupine and Wild Iris, keeping Taz close. No more traumas for the day.

Wild Iris

That night we ate dinner around the campfire and watched in awe as deer skirted our campsite as dusk settled. The second night we were snug in our new trailer, hearing nothing, not even the deer that relieved itself next to the trailer in the night. The mules settled in and didn't mind being trailered.

Wild Iris 
Monday morning Ben and I walked up another road, saw a large buck with a antler span of 24 inches bound across a hillside meadow. I took more Lupine photos and talked with Ben about the van I still want for traveling places a trailer can't go. He just sighed.

That evening Paul and Katy talked more about Greta, how she died, how bad they felt, and eventually how she really hadn't been the right breed for them, philosophizing and grieving the way one does after one loses a pet.

In spite of the sorrow of Greta's passing, it was a good weekend with beauty and sorrow.

Have no idea what this is

Ben and Taz enjoying the view

A view from Kittitas Valley to where we were camped. 

Greta's gravesite.


I'm always seeking for a different perspective, one that will bring me up short when I complain about it being too hot, or too cold, or about my foot hurting, or caretaking mom, or Ben not responding the way I'd like him to.

I think that is why I love to read the stories of pioneer women, their lives making my life look like the life of a princess.

As I research the lives of the women of the Lower Yakima Valley, I find that perspective.

Lon Inaba's mother was raised in Japan during the late 1800s. Her father left her and her sister with an uncle who was a Samurai. She was raised as a princess but also with the discipline that attends that tradition. Later she came to the United States the wife of a man of means, hired to teach agricultural methods to the agricultural workers.

When she first arrived in Wapato she saw a barren landscape, but shopping trips to Seattle helped her set up house in the manner to which she was accustomed. Perhaps a bit of a princess attitude, but an attitude that would be tempered over the next decades by discrimination, financial loss, and eventually internment in the camps during World War II.

Asako came to the United States from Japan, also from a family of means. She would spend her life as a farmer's wife in Wapato, helping her husband raise melons and strawberries, teaching her children to make produce boxes so that they could contribute to the family farm, which was on leased land.  At least three of her granddaughters graduated from the University of Washington and a grandson studied agricultural engineering at Washington State University. Asako died in 2003 at the age of 93.

Myoko came to the United States in approximately 1932. She had ten children, three of whom were born in the camps, in 1942, 1944 and 1945.

Ida escaped from Germany into Romania with her young husband during World War II. Eventually they would come to the United States with one trunk between the couple and their young son, who was 5 in the early 50s when they arrived in New York City. They migrated to North Dakota, where they worked for seven  hard years before visiting the Lower Valley. They saw a land of opportunity and moved to the valley. Heinz's mother helped her husband establish a farm. Now in her 80s, Ida still gardens.

These are but tiny vignettes of the multitude of stories about the women who helped to create a land of bounty across America.

I honor them and thank them for giving me perspective.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The bitter with the sweet

After last weeks car troubles and naughty dog, we were thinking that we were pretty cool to be taking it all so well. But we were rank amateurs in the art of seeing the cup half full.

When I arrived home last week, I learned that dear friend, Mitch, had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS. Our problems dissolved into thin air and our great attitude seemed phony.

His wife, Irene, who has experienced her own health challenges, surviving cancer for many years, tells me that Mitch is at peace, knows where he is going, and only fears the disability and the process of getting there. He is making the best of a bad situation by planning to fulfill items on his bucket list. His two daughters are engaged, and one will marry Oct. 1. Mitch should be able to walk her down the aisle. The other daughter, Mallory, is moving her wedding date forward so that Mitch can participate. Son Michael survived three tours in Iraq and is living close. Son Philip just graduated from high school.

The small travails of our day-to-day living pale in comparison to life's cruel ironies of fate that take down some and leave others standing--like my 101-year-old mom, who has often questioned why she is still here and why so many younger than she have died before her.

I met them at church about 13 years ago. We adopted each other, just as they adopted Philip, now 18, right before they moved to Arizona seven years ago.

When Mitch and Irene lived nearby they used to come for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Mitch and mom would talk baseball and football. A few times Jared and I went on vacation with them. I was a single mom and would spend time hanging out with them, especially when Jared was gone to his dad's. A couple of times Irene tried to fix me up. Both times it was a disaster.

Irene already had three children when she and Mitch married. It was sometimes a struggle, but Mitch was a committed stepfather to all three kids. Sometimes when he and Irene couldn't agree, he would calling me seeking a "second opinion." We were family.

On Mother's Day when mom was 94, Mitch, Irene, Philip, Jared and a girlfriend, and mom and I, went to a Mariners' game. Irene alerted Fox News that a 94-year-old woman was at the game and they interviewed mom. Tenants at her retirement home where she had lived for 11 years were watching the game, learning for the first time how old mom was.

When I graduated from college in 2004, Irene came from Arizona to my graduation. When Ben and I married in 2005, Irene came to our wedding. When mom turned 100, Mitch came from Arizona to surprise her with flowers.

These are good people and good friends. When I told mom about Mitch, I was crying. She closed her eyes for a moment. Then she looked me in the eye and said, "Now this is not cold. But you need to pray for Mitch...that's all you can do...and then put it out of your mind." 

I knew that what she was saying was from a pure place--a wise place.

But I won't put Mitch out of my mind.  I will pray and then, in Mitch's honor and as a reminder, Ben and I will set about fulfilling our own bucket list.

Love you Mitch and Irene.