This post is a salute to everyone who has ever touched my life. I appreciate and applaud your friendship, love, comfort, guidance, wisdom and support. After all, where would I be without you? As “they” say, “it takes a village.” Surely, it’s taken an entire nation to get me here. I am blessed.
I was not the easiest child, I can positively say. Since my mom’s passing in July this year, many things have come to an acute point of conversion. I sometimes wish I could be little again, knowing what I know now, and appreciate my mom more than I did. Impossible. Yes. But “they” say, “hind sight is 20/20.” So very true. The question, ‘If you could do it all over again, would you do it differently?’ First of all, most of us wouldn’t go back for anything, but if I could appreciate my parents more back then, I would do that. I would also appreciate and spend more time with my grandparents, my aunts and uncles and cousins to be sure. I have an amazing family.
I remember growing up, looking everywhere for acceptance, from the time I was young but especially in Jr. high and high school. I have never confided that to anyone. There were cliques and crowds, most of which I didn’t seem to fit into. The struggle and desire to be simply ‘liked,’ was real. If I could go back, I’d pay more attention to school and worry less about what everyone else thought of me. In 100 years, no one will remember. Mom said that all the time. I appreciate now, her words of wisdom then. Salutations to all those who befriended me back then. You truly meant the world to me and still do today. My true friends, you know who you are, thank you.
Thank you to my children, without whom I wouldn’t have excelled in patience and compassion. You are all the reason I was born, I’m positive. It was hard; there were times I wasn’t so sure we would make it, but we’ve all come out on the other side. Adults now, I pray your dreams and aspirations come true. I wish you kindness, wonder, and humility. And, for Heaven’s sake, live like there’s no tomorrow because we don’t know if there will be.
My sisters deserve my utmost respect. They become your best buddies somehow even when you used to think they were just a pain in the butt. When you’re the eldest, they are more like shadows that never go away. Then, when you are mature enough to appreciate ‘sisters’, you’re grateful you have them. They now are “qualified” to know my secrets and dreams like I never trusted them before, seriously, not on your life. I never had a big brother (secretly wished for one every night), but my cousin filled the bill for me. I appreciate and love him like a brother as much today as I did when we were little. I wanted to be like him, blow up tiny anthills with firecrackers like him, ride a motorcycle like him and make a ‘machine-gun sound’ with my voice like him. Sadly, I’ve only ridden a motorcycle (my own Sportster), but not like him. He rides with the wind, on a mission I don’t fully understand. Here’s to the war-hero Veteran I knew he’d always be.
And finally a toast to my husband for always putting up with me and giving me the most beautiful life a person could want. I don’t know where I’d be if he hadn’t come along. “They”say, ‘everything happens for a reason.’ For me to be sitting here writing this, I have him to thank. Living on a little lake, understanding my need to be in the Virgin Islands and sending me twice a year sometimes, doing the best he could with the kids I already had, giving more than he asks for in return and even buying me a little crown (haha), loving me through my multiple sclerosis and never complaining; I couldn’t ask for more. I’m 54 and finally got my crown!
In this month, the first Thanksgiving without my mom, my children scattered across the globe, and me here in the Northwest in the freezing cold, I’m thankful for so many things and am blessed in ways I never dreamed possible. I wish all of you a bountiful Holiday with all the love and happiness you can handle.
Sometimes the tendrils of ones life become so intricately interwoven, you can’t quite figure out who or where you are. This year, 2018, has been a ‘passing through’ for me; a very difficult year. In other words, the only way out is through. Heartbreaking, harrowing and grievous. I haven’t written for many months as I simply have not been able to unearth the courage. Hurricane’s Irma and Maria devastated the islands of my other “home.” At least it’s where my soul feels at home. I wasn’t able to go to my favorite places when I was there this year. The very people of these islands are disheartened and broken in so may ways, as was I, when I saw first-hand the devastation. Life must go on, and as it does, as we begin another trip around the sun. Summer is the best time of year for me, at least it used to be.
The second of my Ocrevus infusions occurred in March, before I went to my beloved islands again. I’m not convinced anything is working well at all. My feet and my soul are symmetrically numb. I’ll probably go ahead with the third round in September – just because. Maybe it takes more time to benefit the MS, overshadowing and silently convoluting my life.
Most of all, my dear sweet mom,Jeanne Francis Barry Frostad, passed away on July 16, 2018, most unexpectedly. She was born on April 4, 1944. Technically, she had squamous cell carcinoma of the base of her tongue. She never smoked a day in her life. She also had pulmonary embolisms, which unexpectedly cut her life short without so much as even a meager warning. She was 74 with so much life left to live. She and I were going back to the US and British Virgin islands this fall, she talked about it with me almost daily. She loved it there as much as I do. I am happy I was able to convince her to see those beaches. The photographs are all we have left to highlight the memories of our trip, and our entire lives really.
Do you ever look at an old photograph, and remember that day only because of what the photograph portrays? “I remember that sweater,” only because its still there in that picture. I remember her smile, her laugh and how much I loved her, because of that picture and the ones in my heart. I only knew her as my mom. I did not know the woman. Looking at some of the photographs, it is only NOW that I can see how beautiful she really was. Just a ‘mom’ but she was so much more than that, to so many more people than I know. She touched so many lives.
In these photos I can now see that Mom and Dad were in love, and that Mom really was our rock. She made everything ‘okay’ in our family. My sisters and I, her grandchildren, and even her great grandchildren will be the Encore of her life.
Mom loved flowers. She loved creating peaceful environments for herself and others. She spent many years planting peoples pots with carefully selected flowers and greenery to enhance their homes, decks and gardens. She was gifted beyond measure. My sisters and I called her almost daily to ask questions about our own pots. Does this flower like sun? Does this one grow tall? And me, “Mom will you just DO my pots?” What plants should I buy? Do you like this? All these questions were texted to her, or one of us called her daily. Come to think of it, we were probably more needy the older we got, right Mom?
I made her come with me to buy my couches and find throw pillows that matched my house (not the ones that came with the couch, Heaven forbid!) Alix recently asked her about some green flower pots she found to see if they were “okay.” With Mom’s blessing, we purchased accordingly. Kirsten’s house has pictures hung just like mom would do. “They must be hung low enough so that when you are sitting, they are at eye level.” This ideology was ingrained into us since we were small. Now when I walk into a business office or even other people’s homes, I chuckle to myself when I see pictures up near the ceiling. She would shake her head and smile. Never hang two pictures on a wall together, always an odd number. Never paint two walls the same color in any room, only 3 or 1. Okay Mom.
Baby Brig smelling the flowers, like his “Bean” would do, and like his mommy taught him.
There are so many times I reach for my phone to call Mom. I’m still in the middle of the passing through. If I’d only known she had just 74 summers to live, I would have done things differently, more purposely. I would have visited her more after Dad died in her little house in Snohomish, and then in Wenatchee with her new fiancee Bob. I don’t think I could have called her more often, but I definitely should have asked how SHE was doing instead of being the perpetual daughter, talking about my own life. My sisters, Alix and Kirsten, are going through the same thing for they called her as much as I did. We ask ourselves, ‘how did she do it?’ I mean listen to all our problems. Never once did she feign throwing her phone out the window of her moving car to prevent us from bombarding her with our emotions, life, children, husbands, plants and pictures. She smiled. She listened. She cared. She loved with all her might. I’ve heard it said that children pick their parents before they are born, well then, we three souls waited in line to have her as our mother I guess. I’m proud to be in the Encore of her life.
My mom was the biggest constant in my life, my rock. Kirsten’s and Alix’s rock also. Jody, her first grandchild, was especially close to her, and was the first to affectionately call her “Bean.” Bean has 12 grandchildren and one great grandson. She believed she was blessed, I know, as she often told us that.
I feel so lost without her, adrift in an ocean of emotion and sadness. I don’t know what I’m doing in my life anymore. It all seems without purpose. I don’t know how to find what I’m looking for or where to go to find it. For 54 years she has been with me, and I think I took that for granted. I am blessed to have my 6 adult children, 1 grandson, and my sisters. I do KNOW this. But passing through, trying to find a way within the tendrils of my intricate life is exhausting. Yet, how can I complain? Many others have a more difficult life than I do. I don’t have to work, my husband takes care of all the bills with clearly only love in his heart. I travel to the Caribbean every year to see my grandson, Brig. I don’t get to see all my kids regularly, as they live their lives, but the moments I do, I hold close to my heart.
I have everything anyone could want, and all my pictures are hung with care, everything inside and outside matches. I just don’t have my mom anymore. It sounds childish but it’s true. Where do I go from here? I know I’m not alone. Many people live everyday without a mom, the difference is, I understand how it feels now. It’s heartbreaking. The photographs mean so much now, and the videos of her on my phone. I should call her and tell her I’m doing okay today…. but I can’t. She’ll never know how much she is missed but I think she knew how much we all loved her. I’d give anything to hear her voice or smell her again.
All her grandchildren together at Lake Chelan this summer, her last. Blake was missing in the group photo, so is included above. Also missing, but in Heaven now forever with his Beanie to hold him, is baby Tyler. She would have loved to see everyone together. I believe I’ll see her again someday, but it will never be soon enough. There are so many questions left for her to answer, but she taught us very well. We need to remember how to make our own choices without her help; maybe close our eyes and ask her to send a sign? We still have more of her belongings to go through, so much to find a place for in our own homes, my sisters and I.
We will always love and miss you mom, we are here because of you. You taught us all that you could, and hopefully it’s enough to get us through this life without you. I hope I am half the mom you were to us. I’ll see you again one day, but not today. If I close my eyes, I can see your beautiful smile and hear your chuckle. I’ll miss having margaritas at Todo Mexico on the river with you. I’ll miss how you made everything all right in my life. I have to remember I am part of you, and for that I will be eternally grateful. Love you more Mom!
This song reminds me of how to go on without you. You loved listening to Kenny Chesney with me, and though you didn’t get to hear this song, I know you would agree.
You are my hero.
This post is dedicated to my mom who was sad I had lost one of my most valuable friendships. I miss you a lot Kat!