Gone…but certainly not forgotten

I got the text about two weeks ago.  I was sitting at my desk at work when it came through.  I picked up my phone and it read, “Mom just had a stroke.  She’s on her way to the hospital in an ambulance.”  I dropped everything and headed out to the hospital.

Now…this was not my mom.  My mom passed away 21 years ago this year (I will see you again post).  This was my best friend’s mom.  But this was my family too.

I met my friend Angie 28 years ago.  We both worked at Price Club (now Costco) and we hit it off right away.  It was almost as if we lived the same life.  Not long after we met we could finish each other sentences.  It’s almost as if our lives melded together to the point it felt like we had known each other our whole lives.

It wasn’t long before I met her family.  I remember meeting her mom Gloria for the first time.  It was back in the late 80’s and I remember how stylish and trendy she dressed.  She liked the same music as we did and in fact she went to many rock concerts with Angie.  She was super friendly and she reminded me of my family with different sayings and foods that she cooked because she was originally from Pennsylvania like my mom’s family.

Six years into my friendship with Angie, I lost my mom suddenly due to a brain aneurysm. She was not sick.  It came out of no where.  It, of course, was a huge adjustment.  My kids were 3 and almost 2 years old when it happened.  When my son started pre-k the following year, I had a dilemma.  The school celebrated grandparents day and everyone’s grandparents visited the classrooms.  The trouble was that my dad had remarried and moved to Florida, and my mother-in-law lived three hours away.  Who would go??  When Gloria found out, she volunteered to go to his classroom.  I remember her telling me how the day went and how nervous she was when the kids had to introduce their special someone that was there with them that day.  When they got to my son, he proudly told everyone that Gloria was “Grandma.”  And she was Grandma.

Many of our family traditions changed when I lost my mom.  She was the person who hosted our family holidays.  We created some new traditions, but Gloria took us under her wing for some of them and treated us as if we were her family.  To my kids, she and her husband Bob were “Grandma and Homey.”  (Homey is the name that Angie’s kids gave her dad).  Over the years our families grew closer.  So close in fact, that when my son was young he thought he was part Korean because Angie’s husband is Korean (smile).  They were Aunt Angie and Uncle Sung, and we were Aunt Lesa and Uncle Mike.  In life you are given a family, and sometimes there is family that you choose.  I’m not saying that one is better than the other…sometimes you are blessed with both.

Mom pulled through the stroke and was recuperating when she had a major set back Tuesday evening into Wednesday.  Again another text came in saying that she was being rushed to the hospital and this time it really didn’t look good.  So I went to the hospital and sat with my second family a second time.  When you’ve never been through a loss like this, you know it’s going to be hard.  You dread it, but of course until it happens you have no idea what it’s like.  Having been through it, I knew what was coming for my family.  I knew the gaping hole that was about to be ripped into their hearts.  I knew what it was going to feel like and I wished so badly that I could stop it from happening.  My friend was about to be forced into the “I lost my mom club,” and I wanted to post a sign that said “No Admittance.”

I was able to briefly go back into the room she was in to see her.  She was awake and she recognized me.  She grabbed my hand and thanked me for coming.  Thanked me for coming.  That’s how she was…thinking of others.  I left the hospital that night at midnight knowing that was probably the last time I would see her and knowing that my second family’s lives were about to be shattered.

The next morning while I was sitting in my doctor’s office waiting to be seen I got the text that she was gone.

Gloria, Mom, Grandma was a beautiful soul inside and out. She loved her family. She had an amazing husband of 40 years.  It was evident of the love they shared. She raised two beautiful daughters, had 4 amazing grandchildren, and an adorable great-grandson.

Rock that Ryan picked for her when he hiked the grand canyon

Rock that Ryan picked for her when he hiked the grand canyon

She loved rocks.  Yep…that’s right rocks.  She collected them wherever she went. Didn’t matter where she was…she was a rock hunter.  Where most people post pictures of their kids and pets on Facebook…Mom posted pictures of rocks.  Now don’t get me wrong…she posted other things (smile), but she did love a good rock.

She made killer chicken corn soup, loved a good bargain, and enjoyed serving others.  She loved the mountains, log cabins, and moose. I love moose too so we were kindred spirits there (smile).  But most of all, she loved her family and I was blessed to have been a part of it.  I’ve always said you aren’t truly a grown up until you’ve lost your mom.  She is your biggest cheerleader and I guess because you spend 9 months physically being a part of her you just have a special connection.

I will help my family get through this loss in any way that I can.  It’s a process and a journey that’s different for everyone, but they will know they are not alone.  We are so grateful of the time that we had with Gloria, Mom, Grandma.  We are happy that she had a relationship with Jesus so we know without a doubt that she is with him. That is a comfort.  And we know that her body is whole and she has no more pain. And of course it’s a comfort knowing that we will see her again.

I’d like to think that my mom was in the receiving line when she reached Heaven.  I think she probably thanked her for looking out for me.  And I’d also like to think that the room Jesus prepared for her is a log cabin complete with every beautiful, fascinating rock that was ever created.  And maybe…just maybe…she has a pet moose.

My Second Family

My Second Family

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Champagne wishes and caviar dreams…

When I was in high school, there was a popular show on television called “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” hosted by Robin Leach.  Robin would interview wealthy entertainers, athletes, business people…well basically the rich and famous (smile).  I always loved seeing what kind of houses they lived in, the beautiful areas of the country, or world, where they resided, and how they got to where they were in life. It champagne-06was fun to dream of living like that someday.  I was pretty sure that would never be a reality for me, but I did have hopes that one day Ed McMahon from Publishers Clearing House would one day knock on my door with a bunch of balloons and a big cardboard check with a 1 and lots of zeros after it.

Ahhh…if only.  What a fun lifestyle that would be to live.  Lifestyle.  Way back in June I promised I would talk about why this word is such a thorn in the side of the LGBTQ community and here it is September already. Honestly I have no idea where that time has gone.  Did we have a summer??

So, something that I hear ALL the time from people is that they love gay people they just don’t agree with their lifestyle choice.  Sigh.  I really try to react to this with grace because I never thought that being gay was a choice so I can’t really relate. Now there were other things I believed about being gay that I no longer believe, but this was not one of them.

I can choose to live a healthy lifestyle.  I can eat the right foods, exercise, drink lots of water, or I can choose the opposite and eat terrible foods and live a sedentary lifestyle.  If I was rich, I could choose to live an extravagant lifestyle and have fancy cars, a really big house, trendy clothes, or I could save my money for my future needs, donate money to charity, and live a frugal lifestyle.

There is one thing I can’t choose…and that’s to live a straight lifestyle.  That’s not something that I choose…it’s something that I am…straight.  No one has ever said to me, “I’m so glad you choose to live a straight lifestyle.”  So why then do we condemn gay people for choosing to live a gay lifestyle?  It’s not a choice.  If you think it is…you haven’t met enough gay people.  You haven’t entered into their story. If you do, it becomes clear.

So…when you say, “I love you, but I don’t agree with your lifestyle.”  What you are really saying is I don’t agree with you.  And not in a “I don’t agree with your opinion” sort of way, but a deeper you.  Their very being.  Because if you ask a gay person, they will tell you they can’t separate their sexuality from who they are as a person.  And in this area, as a society, we tend to drill things down to sex.  A person is gay or straight whether they are having sex or not.  Again…it’s a part of who we are not what we do.

Robin Leach would always end his show with the tagline “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” because those are things that people associated with rich people.  I’ll end this post with this…

Once we learn that something we say or do hurts someone, we should try to do better.  So do better.  And love each other.

Because love matters…