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My new Substack account on the loss of my mother.


silverkitties

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silverkitties

Love the quote from Tennyson—I’m just rereading his In Memoriam and it truly speaks to me. And yet, his descriptions of the holidays made me feel as if every day is not unlike it…when you see that empty place at the table. At least that’s how it felt my first 2 years. 

I do remember, Mission! I remember your dad passed away on December 27th. In fact, I was even thinking about it during Xmas (most of which I spent in bed with the kitties). I hope you felt a little less alone with Ernesto and his family. God bless him. 

Any plans for the year?
 

 

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MissionBlue

I could not celebrate Christmas with Ernesto's family, because both his grown children and his ex contracted Covid!  They have all recovered, thank goodness. 

Ernesto and I had a cookout here with an old friend on Christmas Eve, during a break in the rain.  For New Year's Eve, Ernesto and I shared a dragon fruit at midnight, a Mexican custom for good luck.  He paid $8 for it.  One market was charging $15 per dragon fruit -- what a racket!

My plan for 2022 is to finally sell my childhood home, and start a new life.  I am resigned to the move, but the logistics have been difficult since I have things left over from both my parents, my grandmother, my great uncle, and my half brother, not to mention my own stuff and Ernesto's.  Plus Ernesto's health has not been good due to complications from diabetes.  

January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, is also called "little Christmas," so have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. 

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silverkitties

$15 for a dragonfruit! I have to admit I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to fruit prices, but that feels unheard of. Even $8 seems a bit steep. But hey, holidays come only once a year….But I am curious to know the significance of the fruit. 


Well, I will pray for the continued decent health of Ernesto for you. How are YOU doing yourself?

 

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MissionBlue

The dragon fruit, is called that because the skin has spikes that resemble fire and the scales resemble that of a dragon.  In mythology, the dragon represents strength, power and good luck.  Dragon fruit also has many health benefits.  

I am ok, except I feel tired and overwhelmed by the move.  I am hoping I can find a nice place to live and don't miss my childhood home too much.  There are too many memories here, both happy and sad.  Without my loved ones here, it will never be the same, so I might as well make a new start.  However, my reason for selling is primarily financial, since I am broke.  I have tried hard to improve the property, but it's too expensive to do it all on my own.  The house and cottage are very old, constructed in the 19th century.  It will be a paradise for someone who can afford to finish the renovations.

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silverkitties

Sorry about the delayed response, Mission—I’ve only just had time to catch up. 
I had no idea there was such an association for dragon fruit. Right now, I’d like to ask my mom if she knows anything about it: do they consider it lucky in Asia too? But alas, I can’t.

There are quite a few memories in my house too, even though I’ve only been here just over 13 years. But it helps me feel close to my mom. I love that the area is quiet too. Just hoping I can hang on….

Have you considered any boarders for your cottage or is it in too unlivable a condition? 

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MissionBlue

The dragon fruit is native to Mexico and Central America, but is cultivated and very popular in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world.  Its red color and association with dragons make it the luckiest fruit for Chinese New Year:

https://www.mybluetea.com.au/post/the-luckiest-fruit-for-chinese-new-year

My dad and I were very close.  I wish I felt his presence here, but I don't at all.  Of course, his belongings and photos remind me of him, and I dream about him occasionally, but there's nothing to suggest that he is trying to contact me.  I want to believe in spirits, but I don't seem to have the gift for detecting them.  I kind of hope my dad is not around witnessing my miserable life without him.  If his spirit survives, I want him to be completely happy and not worry about me.   I hope to see him again when I have shuffled off this mortal coil. 

Ernesto does have the gift for sensing spirits, but we don't know who is trying to contact him since he also has a lot of dead relatives and friends.  He claims he heard someone invisible call out the name, Consuelo.  This was before he knew that was the name of my great aunt whose antique oval portrait hangs on the wall of my living room.  She used to visit here often and lived here for a few years in her old age.  I was her caregiver.  She passed away at age 95 in 1997.

The cottage is the main reason I need to sell my property.  I can't afford to repair it to make it rentable.  I don't really want to be a landlord.  One of the best features of my property is the privacy.  Having tenants would cut down on the outdoor space for entertaining and gardening.

Most importantly, as the cottage is on the same parcel as the main house, and is not up to code, it is preventing me from getting homeowner's insurance.  If I knock it down that would greatly reduce the value of my property, because it is much easier here to get permission to renovate a home than to build one from scratch.  Since even old earthquake shacks are selling for top dollar these days, I might as well take advantage of the opportunity to sell and buy a home that doesn't need so many repairs. 

What I will miss the most is the old garden, the birds and the view.  I'm afraid a developer will destroy everything and build three homes, but that would be their right. 

My neighbor doesn't want me to leave, because I am her last link to the past.  We're the same age and have known each other since childhood.  She knew and loved my late relatives, and I, hers.  However, she's thinking of retiring to the south of France and spending part of the year in New Orleans, so I may not see much of her in the near future anyway.   Most people move at least once in their lifetime.  Now it's my turn. 

I want a home with an open floor plan and a garage.  This way Ernesto can safely park his car and truck.  That is, if he follows me to my new home.  Nothing is for sure with him.  His big dream is to return to Mexico where he has two properties, bigger than mine, thanks to an inheritance.  My next roommate or partner may need a garage.  Or perhaps I will buy my first car and live happily ever after. :-)  Just me and my car.  I know lots of single ladies who have a blast driving here, there and everywhere.  Not sure if I'll enjoy driving, but I have to give it a try.  Taking cabs and Uber is expensive in SF. 

If I languish here, the possibilities are limited.  The hardest part will be leaving San Francisco.  Maybe I'll get lucky and find someplace suitable in my hometown.  I don't want to move to the country, because of the fire danger.  Every place on earth has its pros and cons.  I like my quiet street and having a fire hydrant close by, but Columbus took a chance...

I hope that you get to stay in your home for as long as you like. 

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silverkitties

Hello Mission,

Sorry again for the delay: I’ve been occupied with my new class, completing the edits on a student’s doctoral dissertation, and writing my latest post: in fact, I just pulled an all-nighter to finish it along with other things. This is after an entire day spent in bed in Saturday. Now I’m falling asleep. 

You mention being disappointed about not gleaning your father’s presence. I haven’t encountered anything that I think might be my mom since 2015. It’s like she disappeared for good after those odd incidents. So now, I’m just happy to dream about her. I notice I feel happier after dreaming about her even though this initially used to depress me. 

I hope WE  can both somehow remain in our houses. I’m going to tell you again— YOU NEED TO WORK ON THAT GHOST STORY BOOK! You are an excellent writer. Or maybe you could start by selling some short stories? I know I’d buy your book. If I can find a ghost story contest, I’ll send it on to you.

More later—I need to crash now before I announce my new post.

 

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MissionBlue

Hello Silver:

Thank you for your reply.  I understand how very busy you are.  I admire your diligence.

I greatly appreciate your encouragement about my writing a book or short stories.  That might be something to consider in my new home, wherever that may be. 

I am resigned to selling my home.  It would take a miracle to be able to stay here much longer.  I figure we can't take anything with us, so I might as well learn to let go.  I wouldn't even be here if my ancestors hadn't had the courage to make two big moves in their lifetime.  The first to escape the Mexican Revolution, and the second to make the trek to California from Texas, like the protagonists of "The Grapes of Wrath."

Redfin just sent me an email that January is shaping up to be the most competitive month in housing history.  "Buyers are pouring into the market to claim a home before mortgage rates rise further as new listings slow to a trickle."  If I don't list soon, I could miss the boat.  Meanwhile, my Zillow estimate went down $5,000 yesterday.  I hope Redfin is right. 

It must be a great comfort to feel a deceased loved one is close in spirit.  If I manage to be happy in my new home, then I hope my dad will see that and be happy for me.  Of course, he will always be in my heart and in my memory, but nothing can substitute for having a loved one be alive and physically present day to day.  I was very lucky to have him with me for as long as I did, but it's never enough time when you love someone.  My dad was the most wonderful man I've ever known personally.  My missing him has made me feel like I took him for granted at times, but this is a delusion caused by grief.  I know I was a comfort to him throughout our life together, and that is my greatest comfort now.

I had a dream about my dad just last night when I fell asleep in my living room chair.  I saw my dad go out the kitchen window and onto a ladder propped against the house.  To my horror, the ladder started to fall backwards.  I tried to reach out the window to grab the ladder, but it was too late.  I feared my dad would fall from two stories up.  Fortunately, instead of falling to the ground, the ladder leaned against a juniper tree in the yard, and my dad was able to climb down safely.  He had a big smile on his face.  I was so happy.  Maybe it was his way of saying he's okay, or just my own wishful thinking. Who can say?  

I remember when my father used to place a large Christmas star at the top of a towering cedar tree in the yard when I was a little girl.  He made the star himself, outlined in large Christmas lights.  I remember feeling afraid he might fall, but he never did.  You could see the star from far and wide.  No other home around here had anything like that.  My dad was so very special.

Once again, thank you for saying I could be a writer.  That means a lot to me coming from such a talented published author as yourself.   

Best of luck with your projects.  Have a happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!  

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silverkitties

Today is what would have been my mom’s 90th birthday if she were still alive: she passed away in 2014. I felt depressed all day today despite it being bright and sunny. Couldn’t help thinking how we all thought she would live past 90 since she looked so healthy until 2 months after her 82nd birthday when she had her first stroke. 

If Mom were alive, we’d be getting dressed up and eating out. I would be ordering the exact same cake I got this week—a chocolate cheesecake in the shape of a heart. We would be watching a movie and I would feel so thankful that she was still around.

Instead, I’m madly trying to finish a project due tomorrow and crashing on the couch. Crying. Wondering if I’m even going to complete it. If Mom were here, it would have been so much easier because at least I wouldn’t be feeling burdened by my sadness. 

Mom, I hope to see you again. I hope crossing the rainbow bridge will be like us waiting for each other at the airport or train station. I’ll be looking for you among the crowds. And then I’ll see your petite self, smiling and waving to me. We will exchange long hugs as we head to our private cloud in the sky. We will reminisce as we circle the globe and I will tell you how much I’ve missed you and how thrilled I am that we will never be separated again. Life is an empty eternity without you. Bye, Mom. Or rather, Au Revoir and Auf Wiedersehen. We’ll see each other again one day. I love ❤️ you!
 

 

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silverkitties

I can’t believe it’s been nearly 8 years and 2 days when my mom had her first stroke—the first obvious sign of her cancer that we did not suspect at that time. 
I still remember that Thursday, April 24, 2014 when she had her stroke, down to a T. Still remember that slightly overcast early afternoon when Mom and I went out grocery shopping in a nearby town. I remember being excited to watch a movie with her that evening…but only to find her unconscious on the couch in front of the TV. I was so worried…worried not only about losing her, but about the aftermath as she handled all the finances.

I remember the following day when I felt so relieved that despite her weakness, Mom was mostly conscious and looked much better. Of course, she wasn’t out of the woods (and never would be), but I believed she would thrive. In fact, those 2 weeks after her stroke were perhaps her best overall period before her death in October that year. It was a time when we still had lots of hope. Or so I thought. 

I didn’t cry today…I have a project I need to finish by Monday, but I still felt pangs: especially since it was an overcast day like that week. Hard to think about how happy and optimistic I felt during her apparent recovery and how things have changed so much. Hard to think how I tried to hang onto hope whenever I made my daily visits to her at the hospital, even on the day before she passed. At least, I could still see her, right? 

And now, the only time I ever see her —or Dad—is when I’m asleep and dreaming. In that first year, I would cry after dreaming about suddenly finding her when realizing it was only a dream. And now, I feel happy after doing so—I guess that’s some progress, we might say. Yet, I do find myself longing for the moment of death. It is said that when this happens, we think we are reunited with our loved ones. If there is no afterlife, then that will be the only means of reunification, even if it is not truly so. 

Sometimes, I don’t know I survived this long without her. Mom was everything to me—and still is. Although I am not depressed on a daily basis, I still feel a gaping hole on days when I am stressed out. There are still so many triggers: listening to an old song will bring back memories of that year, and my relationship with Mom at that time. A Facebook discussion on  Ralph Lauren will remind me of the various times Mom and I visited their stores and the fashion shows we watched on my computer. Eating pizza will remind me of the times Mom and I visited the local pizzerias. And now, with Mother’sDay approaching, I think of the gifts I gave her and the meals we had. How happy we were! The fact is, my life was not much better when Mom was around, but at least I had her. Someone who generally understood me. Someone who valued me. Who knew how to comfort me. And now…no one. 
 

For those of you who still have your moms, treasure every moment you can this Mother’s Day. For those of you who have lost your moms, especially recently, I know how painful it’s going to be. I spent so much of that first Mom-less Mother’s Day in tears. But remember, you are in sorrow because of your love….all of those wonderful Mother’s Days are proof that you enjoyed a beautiful, unconditional love like no other. Given all the lovelessness in this world, it’s something to cherish. 

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