Remembering Mom – Part 1

Less than a month ago, my precious mother passed away. She had a long, healthy and independent life, having celebrated her 91st birthday in January. Of course, that doesn’t take away any of the sadness of having her gone. Even though our personalities were quite different, we had many things in common…talents, interests, love of travel, etc. In honor of her on Mother’s Day, I thought I’d take some time to remember some of the things that I cherish most about our 50 plus years together. She was an amazing woman and a true friend and encourager to me, while still being my mom.

Janice Perkins and Grumpy at Disneyland
Even Grumpy couldn’t stay that way for long with Mom around.

Let me start by saying that Mom’s primary love language was gift giving.  Even though she was constantly on a limited budget, her favorite thing to do was find reasons to buy us special treats and take us special places.

  1. She was always quick to offer a cool washcloth on my forehead when I had a fever
  2. Hot tea with lemon to drink when I had a sore throat
  3. Campbell’s Cream of Tomato soup with oyster crackers always hit the spot when I had a cold
  4. I always loved staying home from school and watching TV, reading books and coloring in my cozy spot on the coach when I was ill. Partially because it gave me a chance to have 1-on-1 time with Mom when all the other siblings were at school, but also because she always made me feel so loved and cared for.
  5. For many years, Mom made it a point to buy each of us an entirely new outfit for Easter Sunday. For the girls it wasn’t just a new dress, but matching socks, shoes, purse, gloves and even a hat! This special day of getting all decked out to attend church and then attend big family potlucks and Easter egg hunts was so much fun! It was even more special because we only got new clothes a few times a year.
  6. 1965 All Dressed up for Easter Easter morning was also filled with sweets and treats of all kinds. Another chance for Mom to show us how much she loved us and how she wanted to spoil us.  I’m sure her sparse childhood during the Great Depression motivated her to try to make up for it in our young lives.1965.04 Easter Perkins kitchen table
  7. She was also our biggest helper with school projects. Mostly she would brainstorm with me about supplies and ideas, then was my cheerleader rather than hands-on helper, so I could work through it and have success on my own merits. I’m so thankful that she didn’t feel the need to do most of it herself. What’s the point in that?
  8. The aroma of big pots of spaghetti, slumgullion or one of my favorites, Pot roast on Sundays wafting through the house welcomed us home!  I learned to cook from her without using recipes.  Now I’m not intimidated if I don’t have all the exact ingredients for a new dish.  I just see what’s in the cupboards and improvise something similar. Thanks Mom.
  9. Occasionally Mom made Liver and onions, which I hated. She always made me eat a few tiny bites, which I reluctantly gagged down with huge gulps of milk. She said it was good for me, but it always tasted like I was eating a vitamin pill for dinner. Ugh!  Guess what dish she taught me how to make first?  Maybe she thought if I cooked it I’d eat it more. Oh well.
  10. A little thing like Mom’s button tin brings back so many memories too.  Take a look at more about that here.Mom's Button Tin

And this is just the beginning of my list.  If you want to read more, visit Part 2 here.

Stop by again to see the rest in the coming days.

What a Way to Start the Year!

I can’t believe that my last post was on January 1st.  Wow! So much has happened in the last few months. Some good, some sad. I’ll try to catch you up on a little bit of it.

In the beginning of the year I was winding down after the holidays and very focused on developing my website, Traveling With Purpose. Things were going along swimmingly and we were inching closer to launching the next phase of the site when things hit the proverbial fan.

At the end of January my husband’s mother was admitted to the hospital. It’s a long complex story, but the final result was that she has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.  It’s called a low grade glioma and is rare in people her age. It’s much more common in children and teenagers. She was in and out of the hospital for over a week while they did tests and a biopsy to determine the diagnosis. Then due to the fact that she was showing signs of confusion, difficulty communicating and had not been cooking for herself, the family and medical team determined that it wouldn’t be wise for her to go home to Prescott by herself.

Since I was the only one in the immediate family (in Arizona) that wasn’t working and we have a guest room, we decided that she would come home with us for the time being.  We realized that it would be best to have someone with her during the days and she has been with us since that time.

She is such a sweet woman and has always been so kind to me. It’s an honor to have her here.

This is Carole and her oldest son (my husband) on a Skype call with her sisters back east on Saint Patrick’s Day. We’re realizing that she understands a lot more visually than by talking on the phone or hearing someone talk.  She sometimes doesn’t know who we’re talking about when we mention a name, but if we show her a photo she understands, so Skype is better than a phone call. We need to do more of it.

2013.03.17 St. Patrick's Day 013 (800x530)

Mom is Irish through and through and she loves celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. So much so, that she requested that we bring down her decorations from her house so we could use them here. I don’t have a lot of St. Paddy’s decor, so it was fun to have her items to scatter around the house. As you can see she was dressed for the day as well, with her Snoopy sweatshirt and Leprechaun socks.

St. Patrick's Day socks

And of course we had corned beef and cabbage, even though it’s really an American Irish tradition.  We all love it. I always cook it in the crock pot, which makes it so easy. For the first batch, I added chicken broth to the water, and for the second I added Guinness Black Lager (brewed in Dublin). Mmmm, both were very tasty. I cooked the 2nd one a week or so later to go with the potatoes and carrots that we had leftover from the first batch. Let me know if you want the recipe.
Corned Beef and CabbageSo since the end of January we have all been busy with doctors and more tests, discussions about treatment options and how to best care for her in the coming months/years. They have a big family, so we’ve had lots of visitors to the house.  She really enjoys her visitors for the most part. She’s been eating much better and has good times and bad when it comes to understanding all that’s happening around her. She will be starting radiation treatments next week…once a day, five days a week for 6 weeks.  We’re praying that the side effects will be minimal, but we’ll see how she does with it all. The difficulty will be in explaining any side effects in a way that she can understand so that she wants to keep going with it.

Please keep her in your prayers. There is a very slim chance for improvement in her condition with the radiation, but mostly it’s just to slow down the growth of the tumor.

So this is just a part of what’s been going on since the first of the year. Am I forgiven for being away so long? What has your new year brought?

More to come on everything else…and there’s a LOT more.

I’m Going to Florida!

I just confirmed that I will be going to Florida in early February with my mom and sisters.  I found a great rate for airfare (thank you Southwest Airlines!) and we’re looking into getting a timeshare there too!  Woohoo!

We’re going to visit my mom’s step-sister, Alice.  She is really closer to the age of my oldest sister, Diane, so I’ve never really called her “Aunt” Alice.

We’re going to the Fort Myers area, which is on the Gulf Coast in the southern part of the state.  Alice has lived there for a long time and will be our companion and tour guide.  It will just be a quick trip.  Arriving on a Thursday and leaving the following Tuesday.  Since both those days are essentially travel days, we’ll really only have 4 days there.  That will be plenty for my mom, but will make me just want to come back to Florida again soon. 

Over the last few years, my sisters and I have been trying to do some kind of trip with my mom each year and we weren’t able to go anywhere in 2009.  At 85, we never know how many more of these excursions she’ll be able to do with us.  She has always loved to travel, and now of course, she doesn’t want to go  alone.

I’m so glad that we have the chance to do this with her once in a while.  It’s a gift for all of us to be able to share the uninterrupted time together. (Thanks Terry for letting me go.)

The only time I’ve ever been in Florida is when Terry and I went on a Caribbean cruise and flew into Fort Lauderdale to board the ship.  We were there long enough to go from the airport to the ship and back and that was it.  We’ve talked often about vacationing there, but just haven’t made it yet.  Maybe someday soon we’ll get to go together…

Mother’s Day
Well, I still have a lot to backtrack on to cover the last few weeks of events.

Here are some pics from the time that we spent at Hope & Steve’s on Mother’s Day. Thanks for hosting guys, even though it would have been nice for Hope to have the day off too. It was so sweet of you to sacrifice your time for us.

Isn’t Kassidy’s haircut so cute? She’s such an adorable little lady. And of course, my nieces Hope and Lisa look gorgeous too. O.k., let’s not play favorites. Its a pretty nice looking family overall.

We went over mid-afternoon, shared some lunch and then played Wii bowling together. I’d love to look for a used Wii game someday so we can have one at home. The nice thing about it is that virtually any age or physical abilities can play. The range of ages on Sunday was about 5 to 85…not bad and I think everyone had a good time.

I love the shot below of the Betty Crocker cookbook with takeout containers sitting in front of it. Good news was that no mothers had to do any cooking on Mother’s Day. All in all it was a good day!

I am so thankful for every day that I get to spend with my mom. At 85 we know that she may not be around too long, although she seems to be doing very well so far.

I know this is already a lot of photos, but for those (family members, mostly) that want to see more pics, you can see them here.

Prescott Weekend:

We enjoyed a nice relaxing time in Prescott this past weekend with some old and new friends. You’ll see a post from Linda about the trip too.

We’ve known Randy & Linda for about 30 years and they are some of our most comfortable friends. We can be ourselves with them…we laugh and cry, share, encourage, process and dream with them. We enjoyed that this weekend. We’ve only known Marshall & Cathy for about a year, but we already know that they are a precious couple with kindred spirits. It was so much fun to have some extended time together to get to know them better. We are looking forward to more time with them all.
For any who haven’t visited there, Prescott is a town with a character all it’s own. The area is busting at the seams with development, but the roots go deep into Arizona history where cowboys and miners once roamed. The cowboy with his dog and the old fashioned lampposts are just a few snapshots of the personality you’ll find there. The Tiffany style lamp sits in the lobby of the Hassayampa Inn, established in 1927. We relaxed on their patio and listened to the sound of the fountain (pictured above too).
On Saturday, we walked a few trails at Lynx Lake and although we didn’t have a tripod, Marshall and Linda found ways to get group photos.

This amazing bed was at Van Gogh’s Ear Gallery… a strange name, but an awesome place. We saw some gorgeous pieces of
art! I was trying to figure out a way to get the bed to our backyard. Can’t you just imagine laying out under the stars on a cool evening in the comfort of your own dreamy bed. Ahhhh…what treat that would be.

On Monday we had a chance to take Terry’s mom to lunch and a movie too which was wonderful.

We really enjoyed our time up there…so many special memories.

Phoenix Suns with the Family!

Merry Christmas to Mom and Happy Birthday to Amy – and a great excuse for Terry and I to go to a Suns game!!!

It’s so fortunate for us that so many of our family members are Phoenix Suns fans because then we get to find reasons to go to games. This year for Christmas we gave Terry’s mom a personal gift certificate to either go on a weekend trip with us or to go to some kind of show or event and we would pay for it. After several months of debate, she decided that she wanted to go to a Suns game. What an awesome grandma is that, huh? It turns out that she had NEVER been to a regular season game even though she has been in the Valley since the franchise started!!! Can you believe it? We couldn’t either. So we were very excited to fulfill her request. Also, since Amy’s birthday was this week and she’s moving to L.A. and won’t have a chance to see her “Sunnies” very much any more, we asked her if she’d like to go to the game with us as her birthday present and, of course she said yes.

So, off we went to see them play. We were in for some extra treats as well! First of all they won by a huge margin. Then we got there early and were able to see Amare, Boris and Gordon Giricek warming up. And while we were wandering around before the game we walked by the stage where they tape the pre-game show and got to see some of the announcers doing the show. We also got to see my all-time favorite player, Kevin Johnson who just happened to be in town for a fund-raiser for his campaign for mayor of Sacramento. Awesome!

We all had a great time and got to see ALL the players contribute, which is amazing since they don’t always get to play.

By the way, I started my “Bucket List” and one of the things that I want to do before I kick the bucket is see a Suns game from seats on the floor. Can anyone help with that?

Just realized that I never posted that my mom came home and is doing very well! Thanks all for your prayers.

I’m working on my 6 unusual things…I’m finding that I’m not that unusual.