Clotheslines and Rain Barrels


We believe that a part of our downsized lifestyle is being more environmentally aware. Having used a rain barrel at our previous home, we knew the benefits. We used it to water the garden and only needed to use city water when we had a long dry spell.

We brought our rain barrel and stand with us when we moved. After we set up our garden here, we once again installed our rain barrel. We wanted to install it sooner, however, we had to wait due to the construction and landscaping changes that were needed in the backyard. When we installed new gutters and downspouts earlier this spring, we had the downspout placed in the same position as the original. However, instead of letting the water from that downspout flow into a drain tile out to the driveway, and into the storm sewer, we would be capturing it in a rain barrel.

Before rain barrel. Downspout goes into drain tile.

Andy leveled out the ground and placed the stand and rain barrel. Prior to that, he removed the bottom portion of the downspout. When the barrel was in place, he connected a flex hose to the opening in the top of the barrel and the upper portion of the downspout.
This is a 55 gallon barrel that we purchased about 4 years ago from the Habitat for Humanity Restore. It came with the spigot and the overflow pipe. We have replaced the spigot once.

Filling bucket for gareden.jpg
Rain barrel in place. We have a split on the spigot. Here we are filling a bucket to water the garden. There is a soaker hose on the other side of the split. 

Obviously, rainwater is better for our garden. It is highly oxygenated and free of the chlorine, salts and fluoride compounds found in most city water. If you don’t have a rain barrel, please consider one. By collecting this natural resource, you can redirect the water where you need it. You will also have your own water source for your garden or lawn in times of drought or watering restrictions. To increase the amount of water we are collecting, we are looking at adding a second barrel.

In addition to cutting down on our city water use and providing our garden and flowers with better water, the rain barrel is also helping to prevent erosion on that side of the house. The drain tile that was there carried rain water down into a part of the yard that is held in place by a retaining wall. The soil level in that area had been decreasing over the years and we needed to slow down the erosion. Eventually we will need to redo that area. Diverting the water to the rain barrel will allow us to put that project off for now.

Wanting to take energy conservation a bit further at this home, we decided to install a clothesline. One of the reasons we installed the clothesline is our dryer is old. Really old! We are not ready to purchase a new one and have struggled with it since our move. Large items take way too long to dry. A clothesline sounded like a good option to a new dryer. We did research into clotheslines to find the best type for our yard.

The research also confirmed our decision. Line drying saves money! Especially in the summer months when we want to cool our home with an air conditioner. Another benefit that I love is clothes hung out to dry smell fresher. No need for the chemicals and perfumes in dryer sheets or fabric softeners. It is also gentler on clothing. The tossing and tumbling in a dryer will cause wear and strain on the fabric.

The ultra-violet rays in sunlight help to bleach and disinfect laundry. This is good for white and light colored sheets and towels. However, not so good for the darker colored clothes. I am turning our jeans inside out when hanging them on the line. A portion of the clothesline is partially shaded, so I will put those darker colored clothes there.

We decided on an umbrella style clothesline. It is inserted into a socket that is cemented into the ground. The clothesline can be removed and put away when not in use. This eliminates the need to trim the grass around it. This style does not have as much room for large items, but it works for us.

We purchased an Everbilt Outdoor Clothes Dryer at The Home Depot. Andy dug the hole the required depth and width according to the instructions. The bottom portion was filled with 5 inches of gravel. He them added the concrete and let it set a bit.cementreadyforholder

When it was starting to set, he inserted the socket or base into the center of the concrete, being careful not let the cement touch the cap. We then placed the pole of the dryer into the socket and made sure it was level.liningupholder

He carefully removed the clothesline pole and closed the cap. We wanted it set up at least 24 hours before using it and we didn’t want dog prints in the cement. An upside-down bucket, topped with a half-bucket of water provided enough weight to keep them away.protectionforcement

Here is our backyard with the clothesline set up. On the left is our garden and compost barrel. It is a short trip from the rain barrel to the garden. The beautiful dog is our girl, Max.yard picture

Sheets on the line

Drying sheets. Just have to drape them over a bit. They smelled so fresh!

We believe that our rain barrel and clothesline are great investments that will have positive impacts on our home, our money and the environment. We are curious if our readers also have rain barrels or clotheslines. Leave a comment and let us know.


Posted in Changing landscape, Conservation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Dad has Alzheimer’s

This has been a hard post to write. I thought about different ways to tell it. I even thought I would not mention it and write about our latest remodeling or landscaping project. But I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t let Father’s Day go by without writing about my dad.

Having a father with Alzheimer’s puts a different twist on Father’s Day. If you don’t get him a card or gift, he won’t know. If you call to wish him a happy day, he won’t remember as soon as you hang up. And during that call, he will ask you several times who you are and how old you are and tell you he is doing fine. Having a father with Alzheimer’s is hard.

Dad was diagnosed in 2009, at the age of 84. We had suspected something was going on for a few years before the official diagnosis. Every year, he slowly gets worse. He only recognizes my step-mother now, but lately, he has been forgetting who she is. He still lives at home and requires constant care. He cannot be left alone.

When I visited him earlier this year, he talked about being in the war. He talked about shooting, being shot at and doing what he was told so he wouldn’t die. He talked about landing in Okinawa and seeing heads blown. He mentioned Iwo Jima. This was not a conversation. He was sitting in his chair, repeating over and over the same several sentences about the war. Many times he would ask himself a question about the war, and then answer it. The same questions and answers over and over. I was sitting across the room from him and when I tried to ask different questions, he didn’t answer them. I took notes on what he was saying and I believe these events happened to him, even though his discharge papers indicate his principal duty was mechanic air 747.

Having Alzheimer’s has removed his filters. When I was a child, he would never talk about being in the war. My siblings and I knew he had been a Marine because we saw the pictures of him in his uniform. He would only say he worked on airplanes and wouldn’t answer questions.

He also never talked much about his life growing up. Dad was born in 1925. When he was only 7, his father died in an industrial accident. At the age of 14, his mother could no longer handle him. With no husband and 3 other children to care for, she placed him in a work camp for boys. He was living there, going to school and learning a trade, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered WWII. The home was closed and all the boys old enough enlisted. Dad was 16. He found work and a place to stay with a mechanic until he could enlist. He went into the Marines August 16, 1943 and served until July 1946.

Other than the part about his father’s passing, we didn’t know any of this. We were adults when our grandmother passed. That is when he told us about her dropping him off at the home and leaving him there. We also learned that he did not reconcile with her until he was discharged from the service.

He is not the same man I have known all my life. That man was intelligent. He went to college after the war and became a chemical engineer. He was mechanically inclined and could fix things around the house. He could use tools and finish basements and fix leaking sinks. That man was confident. That man was funny. That man was strict and we often feared him. That man was not perfect and he made mistakes.

I wasn’t really close to my dad before or after my parent’s divorce. He intimidated me and I knew not to make him angry. He would take my younger brothers on weekends, but I never went. I saw him maybe once a month. After I graduated high school, I saw him less and less. As an adult, there were years I saw him only on holidays. So you see, this won’t be about how close we were and how much I miss that or how inspiring he was.

I admit I was influenced by his work ethic and his drive. I know I got my analytical way of thinking and approaching life from him. I also got his dry sense of humor.

I wish I could talk to him now and he would know me. I wish I could ask him all the questions I have about his life and his decisions – good and bad. I wish I would have had the courage to do that before Alzheimer’s took him away and left this dad shell in his place.

The last time I saw him, I got angry. Just the two of us were in the house. My step-mom had gone out for lunch with a friend – a much needed break. We were sitting at the kitchen table eating lunch. He was repeatedly asking me my name and when he found out I was his daughter, he would say, “I remember you when you were a little girl. You were a tough little thing.” After several times of this same conversation, I raised my voice and said, “Dad, Look at me. Look at me. I am Peggy. Don’t remember me as a little girl. Remember now. Remember who I am NOW.” He looked at me confused. I said, “I love you, Dad.” He said, “Dad? Am I your father?” “Yes, Dad, you are. I’m Peggy”. I got up and cleared the dishes. “Let’s go watch TV, Dad. Lunch is done.”

I called Dad today. After catching up with my step-mom, I asked her to put him on the phone for a Father’s Day chat. It was the same as always. He asked me who I was. How old I was. How old he was. He said my step-mom was taking good care of him and he was fine. Then, we had the same conversation over again. After a few minutes I said, “I love you, Dad. I got to go.”

This is the best I can do. This is the best I can be for him. This disease has taken him away already.Dad

If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you may be able to relate. If not, please don’t judge me.

Please support the Alzheimer’s Association.

Posted in Decision making, Loss, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to Move a Carport – Take 2

In our post, How to Move a Carport, we explained how the two of us moved a carport onto a flatbed trailer and parked it in the yard until mid-February. As promised, here is how we moved it again and reassembled it in the yard.

We would be placing it in an area that was not level, so Andy made concrete pylons of varying heights to support it. After the pylons were set, we waited for a nice day when we had nothing else to do to make the move. That didn’t happen until February. We had some unseasonably warm weather on Saturday, February 18th and decided to just do it! We really wanted to get the carport off the borrowed trailer so we could return it to our neighbor.

The easiest part was backing the trailer into position. From there we had to raise it up, put the poles back in place and get it secured on the top of the pylons.  Because we were figuring it out as we went, I didn’t get many pictures until we had it raised up and the support poles in place. Again, Andy used the engine hoist to raise it and I ran around sticking the poles back into the roof supports.


Setting the engin hoist to raise the carport

After getting the poles into the ground level supports we realized this was not the way to do it. We would NOT be able lift the carport to the top of the pylons.carportup3

carportup5These two pictures show how high we needed to lift it on both sides to do it this way.

We decided to start over and fasten the supports to the pylons first, then attached the poles. 🙂

The supports are now fastened to the pylons and we slowly raised the roof  to fasten the poles to the supports.carportup2


This process took much longer than anticipated. We really had to raise the roof! After getting the poles attached to the supports, the carport was not square and needed a bit of adjustment. The lowest corner needed a tug.


Andy using the ‘come-along’ to coax the poles through the bracket for a final adjustment.


The carport in it’s new home. In the background is the trailer on the edge of the neighbor’s yard. In the foreground is our first firepit, made from landscaping blocks.

carport upJune

The carport today. In the foreground is our new firepit, built into the ground.

We will be putting blocks into the spaces between the ground and the carport supports. This will provide more support and give it the pavillion look that we are wanting. Eventually we will place a picnic table and some benches up there.

This is one project that we are glad to have done. I don’t believe we ever plan to attempt moving a carport again!

Posted in Changing landscape, Decision making, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Best Things in Life

The best things in life aren’t things. This is the tagline for our blog. We really believe that, however, there are times when we don’t actually live as though we believe it. There are times we hesitate to let go of things even though they don’t fit in our smaller home. There are times when we go to a store and end up with more things in our shopping cart than we ever planned to buy. We are trying to ask the “Do we really need this” question, but that doesn’t always work.

This past week, we made a list of the best things in life that aren’t things. The event that prompted this was having to take our 8 month old puppy to the animal emergency hospital on the Saturday of Memorial Weekend.

Sadie had been throwing up since Wednesday. When it started, the food was mostly undigested and we thought it was related to transitioning her to a new food. On Thursday, she received less of the new food in her kibble mix and she vomited less. We thought we had determined the cause. However, the vomiting continued Friday, even though we had given her only small amounts of her old food and had completely eliminated the new food.

Saturday morning we gave her a very small amount of white rice and waited to see what would happen. By now you may be asking yourself why we didn’t take her to the vet when she was getting sick every day. We honestly thought she was sensitive to something in the new food and other than the quick regurgitation of the food, she was acting normal.

Well, the white rice came up too. That was when we saw things other than food. Stuff like tiny pieces of an eggshell and little wooden splinters in the vomit. And a tiny bit of blood.

Unfortunately our vet closed at noon on Saturday and they were not able to get us in and suggested we go to the animal emergency clinic. The emergency clinic hydrated her, gave her a shot for nausea and sent us home with the instructions to have her fast for 24 hours, give her a small amount of food and see if it stays down. If not, bring her back for an x-ray.

Sunday evening we were back at the emergency clinic. The x-ray showed a white mass taking up about two thirds of her little puppy tummy. She had exploratory surgery Sunday evening around 9 pm. No blockage was found in stomach or intestines. No sock or anything in her stomach. Just a greenish fluid and bits of plant material. She spent a couple nights in doctor’s care and came home Wednesday afternoon. She is recovering and back to her normal self. We are watching her very carefully when she is out in the yard.

In the clinic

In the hospital

Happy at home

Happy at home

Total cost for our Memorial Weekend pet emergency was $1,724.42. We never thought we would spend that kind of money on a vet bill. We spend that amount on a refrigerator or leather furniture. But on a pet? What was our top dollar?

We didn’t have to ask the “Do we really need this” question. Our pets are one of the best things in our life. And they are NOT things. They are part of us. A part of our family. This experience forced us to put more value on the things that are not things. Because of this emergency, some of the other things that we may want to buy will just have to wait. Because of this, we made of list of what is really important to us. The best things that really count. Not material things. We listed seven things, one each day of the week. They are not in any order. All are what we believe to be our top best things that aren’t things.

Best things

The best things in life that are not things

What are your best things in life? Share some of them in the comments.

Here are a couple of ours.Buddies

Posted in Decision making, Pets, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Our Budget Friendly Headboard

When we moved into our downsized home, our bedframe did not fit in the smaller bedroom. Sadly, we broke up our bedroom suite, and donated the frame. We wrote about this in a previous post, Making Room.

headboard footboard

Our donated bedframe

No headboard

Bed on plain frame

We didn’t like the bare wall look and started to look for headboard ideas. After MANY pins were added to our Pinterest board, we decided that a wall mounted headboard would work best because we did not want to take away floor space by attaching a headboard to the frame. We went to one of our favorite places to shop, Habitat for Humanity Restore. We also wanted to spend as little as possible on the headboard and their prices are very reasonable. We started out looking for a door to convert to a headboard when we found a great deal on wall mounted headboards. They had a large number of them that we believed came from a hotel. We picked through them, purchased our selection, brought it home and put it in the garage with our project supplies. We didn’t like the color and wanted to paint it to match our bedroom furniture. We would do that when we had our ‘in progress’ projects done.

before painting

62″x41″ Wall hung headboard before painting

We had no headboard for almost a year. Seriously. It took that long for this project to get to the top of the very long project list. When we started on it, it only took about 3 days.

The first step was to clean the headboard, as it had gotten a bit dusty waiting it’s turn. It was dusted off first with a microfiber cloth and then vacuumed to get the louvers clean. Then a light sanding with a fine sanding block, followed by extra fine steel wool. We wanted to get it as smooth as possible and remove some of the sheen from the existing finish. Another round of dusting and vacuuming followed, and it was ready for the paint.

We selected Rust-oleum Forged Hammered Paint and Primer in One in Chestnut for the center and Burnished Amber for the frame. We really liked the texture.the paint colors

We masked off the frame with paper and tape and applied the first coat of paint. After it started drying, we could see that the texture was not as prominent as we had hoped. Andy applied a second, heavier coat and we let it dry overnight. The instructions said it would be dry in 30 minutes, but it was still tacky.

base painted

Center painted 

The next day, we removed the mask from the frame. After noticing a few spots that had not received paint due to the mask, Andy sprayed again in those areas. A small amount of paint got on the frame, but because the frame paint was a step darker than the center, we were not concerned.

After giving the center paint a good drying time, we carefully masked it off. We used a sheet to mask it because we did not have any newspaper or other wide paper. After giving the frame one heavy coat, it was done. We let it dry over 24 hours before hanging it.

close up of painted headboard

Close up to show texture

We needed to determine the height to hang the headboard and where to attach the hardware to the wall. We pulled the mattress back about 6 inches and set the headboard on the box springs. We were happy to see that this placement would work and we would not need to raise or lower it. Andy marked the wall at the 38 inches for the hardware.

We used a French cleat that would support 200 lbs. to hang the headboard. The back of the headboard already had the hanger so we only needed to use the part that attaches to the wall.bracket on headboard

Because the headboard is 62 inches wide and the cleat we purchased was 18 inches long, Andy cut it in half. He then attached it to the studs at the determined height.brackets on wall

We rested the headboard on the box springs and carefully lifted it high enough to clear the cleat on the wall and slowly lowered it into place. And our headboard project was done!New Headboard Done

Here is the breakdown of costs:

Wall hung headboard from Habitat for Humanity Restore – $20.

3 cans spray paint @ $6.48 ea – $19.50

French Cleat – $14.97

Total cost – approx. $54.50

Handy husband: PRICELESS!handy Andy

Posted in Decision making, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Upsizing Our Downsize

The back porch/deck on the house was in bad shape. We knew when we first looked at the house that we would have to replace it. It became a matter of when we could do it and what we would replace it with. As the weather warmed up, the decision of what became easier. It was the when that kept getting pushed back.

We moved in the first of April. The previous owners had left a large sun umbrella on the porch.  The stand was bolted down but still, I was not expecting them to leave it. When we asked them if they had intended to leave it, we were told we would need it.

The back of the house faces east. As the month progressed, the morning sun became more intense on the glass patio doors. At that point, I had a ‘curtain’ over the door made from a sheet and safety pins and held up with a shower curtain tension rod. It provided privacy and some relief from the warming sun.

When the back porch became too hot for barefeet, we opened the umbrella. It was a bit difficult to turn the crank to open it, but once it was up, we saw that it perfectly shaded the patio door and a good portion of the porch from the sun. However, as the days progressed and the sun moved over a bit in the sky, mid-afternoon had the porch in direct sun and the umbrella no longer helped as much. We brought out our smaller umbrella that we had used at the previous house to provide privacy from our neighbors while we were on our deck. We weren’t using the porch for sitting and relaxing. We were in and out that door quite a bit as we worked various projects. We wanted shade when we needed to be on it. We also needed shade on the glass doors since they would get so hot, we couldn’t touch them!20160716_104245Here is a picture of the back of the house on the day we removed the original patio door and installed the french doors. You can see the opened umbrella. The smaller one is not open because it was in the way. It was usually positioned to the left of the back door. You can also see patio blocks on both sides and in the front of the porch. More about those later.

We talked about making it into a screen porch. We had done that to our back deck in our Iowa home and we loved it. However, the longer we lived here, we realized we needed a larger porch and more protection from the sun if we wanted to enjoy that space. We decided our best option would be to tear it all out, extend the size to the corner of the house on the north side, and have an enclosed sun porch built. That decision sounds a lot easier when putting it in writing! We also knew we wanted to wait until the kitchen remodel was complete before starting the next big project.

We had worked with a builder who did some deck repairs at our last home and in August we contacted him for an estimate. We wanted to work with someone that understood we would be doing as much of the work as we could and needed him to do what we couldn’t. He was agreeable to that and very flexible on the timing. He had large project in the works and we would be next on the list. The target date for him to start was the end of September.

A couple things had to happen before the porch could be built. The first was move all the patio blocks out of the way. We also needed to do some landscaping on the south side, bringing in fill dirt to level it out a bit. This picture shows the beginnings of the new retaining wall with some fill dirt. In the background you can see some of the patio blocks stacked up. These are the ones that were around the air conditioner. We moved those first because we were getting some water into the garage in that location and needed to determine what was causing it. After that was fixed (a septic pipe issue that was covered under home warranty), we moved the blocks to the opposite side of the yard, stacking them up to be out of the way.20161004_171504

We also heard from our contractor. Due to all the rain we had been having, the work on his current project had been delayed, which in turn delayed ours. Our new target was mid October. We were actually ok with that because all the prep work was not quite done. The old porch had to be torn out and all the blocks moved.

Here is the porch tear out in progress.20161009_173723

You can see we still have plenty of patio blocks to move. Andy had to leave a small portion of the porch so we could still use the door to get in and out. This picture also shows the outside faucet that we had to relocate around the corner because it was going to be under the new sun porch.20161023_150021

On October 24th, our contractor came out to take final measurements and discuss exactly what we were needing again. It had been awhile since he had been there.

That is when we talked about the air conditioner. It was a bit close to the porch and we thought it may cause an issue when the sun porch was built. Yes, we needed to move it over a few feet because it was going to be difficult to walk between the porch and the air conditioner when the walls were built.

We called a company we had worked with in the past, R-Mech and they sent a technician out to do an estimate for moving it. Since I really disliked that air conditioner (it was extremely noisy and had already been serviced once under the home warranty), I asked for an estimate for a new unit. So instead of just moving the existing one, we purchased a new high efficiency one and had it located farther away from the porch, to allow plenty of room for walking on that side of the porch and some landscaping. It was installed on November 1st.

The porch was started on November 8th. Later than we had originally thought, but it all worked out with everything we had to do before it could be started.


Concrete work done and floor started


The new air conditioner


Walls going up!


Retaining wall finished and ready for the new fence

Roof going up. Few different views.20161114_16152420161114_16161120161114_161647

They put in the windows and door and finished on November 18th. We took it from there. It needed insulation in the walls and ceiling, sheet rock and trim around the windows.20161120_153034

Insulation and drywall going up

With the exception of the ceiling, we had it done in time for a family dinner over Thanksgiving weekend. Then we took out the tables and set up to work on the barn door. See the picture of the door in the  Our Bedroom Barn Door  post. We stained it on the new porch.

We cleaned it up again for Christmas dinner.20161224_15533420161224_083804

Here are the patio blocks now. They are the temporary porch and steps. Last month, we put down straw and pampas grass clippings to cover the mud.20170403_181009

We recently painted the outside of the porch, as it was only primed. We still have to install the beadboard on the ceiling. The windows need to be trimmed out and the walls finished. But, it is usable. We have had several meals there when we can’t all fit in the kitchen. Outside projects have taken our time lately, but we will get back to this one later this summer. Excited to show you the finished product!

Posted in Changing landscape, Decision making, home, Remodeling, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Second Sunday in May

This post is not about downsizing our home, or remodeling, or getting rid of stuff. It is about loss of a different kind.

It usually starts the first week of May. The Mother’s Day ads. You can’t watch TV or listen to the radio without seeing or hearing them. And the emails start. Promotional emails for finding the perfect Mother’s Day gift.

And that is when I start to miss her more. It happens every year when the ads start. Sure, I miss her all the time, but it intensifies this time of year. And the sadness lasts longer and the tears flow more.

I miss her on her birthday, but that is just one day and I am not constantly reminded of it. I miss her on the anniversary of her death, but it is private and I do not like to recall that day. It is not my day to remember and celebrate her. Mother’s Day is that day.

When I was younger, I spent the time leading up to Mother’s Day trying to find that special gift that would let her know how much I loved her. As I grew older and had children of my own, I began to realize that a present I purchased was not the best gift. I realized that the best gift I could give her was to be present. Give her my time. Be present and listen.

Mom lived 3 hours away and didn’t make the trip to visit us very often. And after my stepdad passed in 1991, she never made the drive alone. As a family, we drove to visit her every few months or so. But, as my kids got older and had more activities, those family visits didn’t happen as often. But I made it a point to see her, either over Mother’s Day weekend or the next. I don’t recall exactly when I bought her the half whiskey barrel, but every year when I visited, I would bring bedding plants to fill it. I would plant the flowers, and she would sit on the porch and watch and we would chat. We usually went to dinner and we would chat. We would sit around in the family room and we would chat. Lots of that time, I would listen. She would talk about how she missed my stepdad and catch me up on her siblings and my cousins.

She would also talk about her life growing up. Mom was born in Wheeling, West Virginia in 1931, the youngest of 5 children. Her family struggled there, and when she was still a young child, they moved to the suburbs of Detroit. She told tell me about the first Halloween after they moved to Michigan. Children came to the door and her dad thought they were begging for food, so he invited them in for a meal. He didn’t know they were wanting candy because trick or treating was not done in their previous neighborhood. She told how her dad would come home and ask what was for dinner. He would look in the pot on the stove and see potatoes and say, “Potatoes! My favorite.” When I asked her why that memory stuck with her she said they were poor and ate a lot of potatoes, but he made it fun. Her father died when she was 15 years old. He had been sick and was in his bed. Her mother asked her to go in and check on him to see if he wanted something to eat. He was dead when she found him. I heard this story many times growing up. When I had asked her more about it when I was an adult, she said she wasn’t sure what the illness was and never really wanted to talk about it, so I didn’t push. I always had the feeling she was Daddy’s little girl and his death was something she never really got over.

She would also talk about her mistakes and the family dirt. Mom was not perfect and I never pretended to believe she was. She gave birth to 9 children, said goodbye to 2 that never came home, and did her best with the rest. My parents divorced after 20 years of marriage. Mom had to go to work for the first time since she was married at age 18. She worked several jobs until she eventually went to school to learn key punch and did that job until she retired. She struggled with her addictions, but she eventually won. Mom was a recovering alcoholic and a longtime smoker.

Mom had poor health for as long as I can remember. But she always recovered, she always got better. She had emphysema. She had triple by-pass surgery in 1977. She had colon cancer that was discovered when she was having bowel resection surgery. In April 2003 she got pneumonia, and shortly before Easter she went into the hospital when she got worse.

When I talked to her, she said not to come, she would only be there a few days. Since Mother’s Day was 3 weeks away and I thought she would be going home soon, I decided to wait. My brother that lived in town called Monday after Easter and said she was getting worse and I should come sooner than later. After work that day, I drove down to see her. I wasn’t feeling rushed or worried. She had been in and out of hospitals for most of my life and it was something I was used to. I just felt certain that this was not her time, she would recover and life would go on as normal.

The traffic getting out of town was horrible. For some reason, I got lost finding the hospital when I got to town. It was after 9 PM when I arrived. She was hooked up to monitors and was sleeping. I talked to her and gave her a kiss but she didn’t respond. I called my brother to let him know I had arrived. He said he had just left a bit before I got there and that he would be over tomorrow. I pulled up a chair next to the bed and held her hand. I thought she would wake up. A nurse came in and checked on her. I watched TV and listened to her breath. Then it got quiet. I looked at her, got up and leaned over towards her face. Suddenly nurses came running into the room and I heard the Code Blue call over the intercom. CPR was started. They told me to leave.

The rest of the night, and into the next morning, she was on life support and we waited for all the family to come. Mom passed on the morning of April 22th, 2003. She was 72.

But, this post is not about her death. It is about Mother’s Day. It is about Mother’s Day without a mom to celebrate. Don’t get me wrong, I am a mother and I appreciate and love the time my children and grandchildren spend with me. But for me, Mother’s Day was my opportunity to celebrate my mom, not to be celebrated. I want to visit her and listen to her and hug her and not think about her being gone. She wasn’t perfect, but she was mine and she loved me unconditionally. And I still cry on the days leading up to Mother’s Day 14 years after her death.

Love you, Mom. This is for you.

Dottie in 1980s

One of my favorite pictures of Mom


Posted in Loss | Tagged , | 2 Comments