Sunday, August 11, 2013


First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone for your thoughts and kindness on my Mom's passing.  In the midst of the sadness and upheaval of losing someone who was such a foundation, a huge comfort has been the support of friends and family.

Another huge comfort has been the dogs. Fozzie is sensitive to every shift in emotion. He knows the moment I have a sad thought, and is lying on top of me, pawing me and resting his head on me, before the thought is even fully-formed. 

Lamar has been a sweet goof-man. Lifting his paws at me and wagging whenever I come near, smiling a huge wet happy smile, coming close right along with Fozzie whenever I need a therapeutic dose of dog.

Lady has been her usual happy, loving, sweet self. The very night before my Mom died, an adopter came over who was all ready to take Lady home, and changed her mind when she got here as she realized Lady was probably a bit too much of a barker. 

I was not too bummed out, as I hadn't had quite enough of Lady's sweet kisses. 

Actually, I thought my Mom would really like to meet Lady. Since the plan was for Mom to come down here with my sister that weekend and look around at places to live, I thought it was perfect that I would still have Lady.

When things didn't turn out that way, I couldn't even think about letting go of Lady for a while. I needed all of my fuzzy, licking, wagging, loving therapists around me. 

Now, I am still in disbelief that my Mom is gone, still miss her unbearably, but there are days when I almost feel normal. Days when the crushing guilt dissipates into a more healthy sense of perspective. Days when I remember that my Mom was sick for a while, and that even if I had bought her an air conditioner or called an ambulance when she wouldn't come to the phone her last few days or insisted that she come down to Maryland sooner, there was nothing anyone could have done to prolong her life for very long. 

Maybe she would have died in a hospital, where she didn't want to go, or maybe she would have had a prolonged period of suffering, instead of living in relative vigor right up until her final few days. 

And no sooner had this clearer sense of perspective come, than Lady's true adopter came along as well. 

My neighbor had met Lady right after the other adoption didn't work out, and I was going to speak to her more the next day. Then disaster struck, and I didn't see my neighbor for a few weeks. Then just the other night, Florian and I were coming back from my sister's house where we've been spending a lot of time with my Dad who is going to be moving close by. My neighbor drove by, we talked, I went over the next day to see how Lady liked her house, and now Lady is in her new home!

I think she will be happy there. She has a big yard she can relax in and won't be alone much during the day. My neighbor adores dogs and her last three lived to their teens and passed away within the past year. I'll try not to go by for a while so she can settle in, but my neighbor says I have visitation rights so if I ever need a thorough facial scrub/wet tongue spa treatment, I won't have far to go. 

Florian and I are going to New York this week to help my Dad move out of the apartment I grew up in. It is going to be hard to see the familiar place, and feel my Mom there, and know I won't visit anymore. The good thing is, we get to come home with things of my Mom's so that we'll have her with us even more, and we get to bring my Dad back with us too.

And my two Wet Tongue Therapy practitioners will be with us the whole time. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dolly Stade, December 5, 1934 - July 19, 2013

My Mom passed away early the morning of Friday, July 19, 2013.

Although it was not unexpected, when the news came it hit hard. My dad, my brothers, my sister and Florian--none of us could really imagine life without my mom's irreverent sense of humor, her unconditional support, her overwhelmingly generous love and her uninhibited affection. 

So we told ourselves that she was doing well, and in some ways she was--right until the end.

Right up until the end, my mom embodied vibrant joy, intense love, and razor-sharp intelligence that made it easy to hold on to the hope that she would hold on. 

My mom could bring out in me a feeling of wild, raucous joy blasting out in all directions. 

I don't think I know anyone who is so completely, thoroughly loving, who lived so completely for the sake of giving. Maybe that is why she brought out in me a sensation of being thoroughly, joyously alive and a compulsion to sing, skip, and clap my hands. 

I do believe that there is a current of joy running through the universe, and I think the love I felt with my Mom set me free to tap into it. 

I think her extraordinary love for animals, for her family, for plants and her garden and kids and babies and the world, just made it OK to be who I was, uninhibited. 

I think that maybe the natural state of things is for people to go around singing and skipping and clapping their hands and saying HI MUM HI MUM HI MUM HI MUM HI MUM, and my mom's acceptance and love and bemused, exasperated acceptance made it OK to lapse into that natural state of things.

I know that I owe some essential things to my Mom. 

My love of nature, and my feeling of kinship with trees and plants and green things that grow.

My love of animals, and my propensity to talk with them as if they understand every word. 

My belief that derision is the surest sign of affection. 

And there are other things that I will never be able to do like my Mom did. 

Her culinary talent and her knack for entertaining

Her creativity and artistry with all the things she made, the mosaics, 

the Christmas angels and ornaments, the beautiful drawings that decorated every card she sent.

I am still not sure how to go on without all that. I guess you do it by being thankful for what we had, like that one week in the Adirondacks just two weeks before she died, when she got to be in the only place she wanted to be. I am so glad I spent time with her just sitting in her garden, sitting at the kitchen table, going for short walks, driving and talking.

And I guess you do it by keeping alive all the things she represented, the irreverence, the humor, the love of family and animals and nature, and the wild, unfettered, ridiculous blast of joy. 

My Mom was this blog's most devoted reader, and she loved it when I wrote a post that celebrated her and celebrated our family. She was moved when my blog friends said nice things in response to my posts about her and about my childhood. My Mom sometimes felt unappreciated, and those posts were a way to try to fix that. 

My family has started a blog devoted entirely to her life, where my sister, my aunt, and others will post our stories, memories, and celebrations of my Mom.

Mom, we will miss having you here with us but will think of you as a bright stream of laughter coursing through the universe, a blast of energy bringing your vitality to all living things and nourishing gardens of green growing life as you did when you were here.