Happy Birthday Sister K

Today is Sister K’s 27th Birthday! I have been thinking a lot all day about Sister K and how she entered my life 27 years ago today. How before you know your sibling you don’t know them at all and after you meet them you can never again imagine your life without them. I think of us 27 years ago with Mom. I have no idea what those early days of a two year old and a baby were like but I imagine they were a combination of emotions. I have also been told that one day when Sister K wouldn’t stop crying I suggested we give her to Goodwill!

I have also been thinking a lot about Sister K because her friendship has become so important to me as we navigate our Mom’s health issues together. Together. Having a sister has become my greatest advantage in all of this and the major way I am able to make it through the tough moments. We both get it. We really get it because we are both experiencing it with the same person- our Mom. We laugh about it together, get sad about it together, and share stories together…but through it all we are handling it together.

On another note…For Sister K’s birthday this year I got her a shirt called The Home T. I thought they were cute because you can buy a shirt to represent the state you are from in a trendy way. But what I didn’t know is that a portion of the proceeds go to MS Research because of their own experience with people they know being impacted by MS. In case you haven’t heard I thought I would pass it along. I can also endorse that it’s a great gift! http://www.thehomet.com/about-us/

Have you ever thought about how thankful you are for a sibling or someone in your life? Do birthdays make you reflect about your family members and your relationships with them? Have you ever heard of the Home T? 

 

Moving Forward..Like It or Not

This whole “My Mom has MS thing” is not easy. I know nobody ever said it would be but it is seriously not easy. It’s not easy to think about. It’s not easy to talk about. It’s not easy.

I have hesitated to come here and write these thoughts down. I think I have mentioned this before but many times the act of writing down my thoughts about Mom’s MS makes it more real. It was one thing when her MS was secured in a tight neat little box that I felt we as a family had some control over. It is very different now that I feel we have no control over and sometimes I feel like we can’t even get a grip on it.

First Mom couldn’t walk. Now Mom can’t stand. Her handwriting seems to be slipping. I know this because I always loved her handwriting. She sent me a package in the mail and just getting the package out of my mailbox was emotional upon seeing the handwriting that had addressed it to me. I didn’t recognize it. Much like I am having trouble recognizing Mom.

It all goes back to writing things down. In this case receiving this package was a written statement to me that Mom is different. Our conversations on the phone…the lunchtime chats I have been having with her practically everyday on my lunch hour for the past five years are different. They are full of lots of the same conversations we have already had, simple thoughts, simple topics, nothing too complex and they are quick. They too make me sad.

None of this is easy and coming here to share it isn’t easy either. But I am because I think it’s important. This is part of my journey in dealing with Mom’s MS and unfortunately a lot of that involves the path Mom’s MS is taking compared to others. So I can’t promise I can talk openly about this everyday like I used to because part of my coping involves talking about it and the other part involves not talking about these changes and the evolution of our family with it. Sister K told me the other day on the phone: “I think we just have to accept Mom the way she is now and realize we are never going back.” It was profound and a simple thought but it was true. We are never going back- we are only going forward and that forward is into a place of unknown.

Thanks for reading as always. It means so much to have my space that is mine where I can come and share my thoughts.

The Importance of Good MOMents

It’s a big day so it deserves a big post- Sister K officially has a boyfriend! I realize some of you may think this is funny or not that eventful but in my silly family of girls, things like this are a big deal. It’s also a big deal because I actually like this guy….as opposed to Sister K’s other “ghosts of boyfriends past” who I was not the biggest fan. Husband told me last night that he thinks it’s funny guys worry about meeting the Dad because in my family they should really be more worried about meeting me. Probably not my greatest quality…ha.

But today at lunch Sister K called me and we three-way called Mom. As I walked around on my lunch break we were listening to Sister K’s story, full of excitement, telling us about her new boyfriend, how much she likes him- lots of gushing and lots of happiness. I sat down on a bench and was listening to both of them in my ear, my best friends…and I listened as we all tried to take turns chiming in and catching up. I looked out at a tree and felt the crispness of the winter day and for a moment I wanted to freeze time. I wanted to freeze it because this moment- this is my life. It was a moment where we weren’t discussing MS. Mom’s MS hadn’t affected her mood. She was joyful and happy- allowing herself to be absorbed and wrapped up in her youngest daughter’s story. I could feel the love we have for each other while I sat on that phone. I realized that is what makes us so strong and our bond so unbreakable in the really tough moments. It’s these moments of pure bliss that build us up so we are able to fight hard in the tough moments. And as I have been trying hard to do lately, I paused for a moment and allowed myself to embrace and cherish this moment. It was a good one.

Have you ever thought about the importance of the good moments in life to form the bonds that help us get through the tough ones? When was the last time you wanted to freeze time? Does your family make a big deal about silly things? What do you think of the phrase “MOMents”?

The Magic of a Snow Village

Christmas is Mom’s favorite time of year. She has always loved Christmas, loved decorating for it, loved everything about it. Unfortunately, Christmas decorating also makes Christmas a very labor intensive holiday and with a Mom who has MS that can be challenging.

Sister K was home with Mom and Dad the week before and week of Thanksgiving. She stayed with Mom one week while Dad was out of town and the other week Dad had knee surgery for his torn meniscus. While she was home she basically did all the Christmas decorating for Mom. She set up the tree, put up the stockings, displayed Christmas pictures on the wall, the list goes on. One thing she did this year that we haven’t done in awhile is set up the pieces of Mom’s snow village.

Some people can really go all out with a snow village. I have always dreamed of being one of those people someday. But while Mom has her pieces, we don’t traditionally set them up every year. It is a hassle and can be kind of a pain when you get down to it. But this year Sister K got them all out of the box and had them sitting out on the dining room table ready to be placed and assembled. So Sunday evening before she and Husband headed back, Sister K and I worked on the snow village. The pieces included “The Flamingo Hotel”, “Dick Clark’s Band Stand studio”, “Santa’s work shop”, a school, a toy shop, a house and restaurant. We had people, trees, bridges, walkways and signs. We created our own little world on the dining room table. But more importantly, I felt like this was a very special way for us to brighten up the holidays for Mom.

Mom walks slow and to get from her bedroom to the kitchen she pretty much walks through the dining room everyday. The snow village gives her a fun decoration to look at while she walks through in what is sometimes a tough process for her. It gives her a reminder of her daughters who set it all up. It also puts a different spin on Christmas in another room of the house.

As I sat there and looked at the snow village all lit up Sunday evening (praying Sister K and I didn’t start a fire with all the things we have plugged into two surge protectors), I just felt overwhelmed with happiness and love. As you stare at a snow village your imagination can take over. Looking at the places and the people. Imagining what life would be like there. I was happy we had this world of happiness and perfection to give us a moment to forget about any issues within our family- a moment to just reflect and feel the love of each other, the love of an imaginary community and the love of the holidays.

Did you put up your holiday decorations over Thanksgiving? Do you have a snow village inside of your own house? Do you believe in the power of imagining and reflecting on something imaginary to change your mood or help you to appreciate the wonderful things in your life?

Fighting for MS

I have readers that have shared with me the impact of MS on their lives- those with MS, those with family members and friends with MS, those who have parents with MS. After Mom was diagnosed I immediately went to the MS Society website to begin to learn how I could get more involved in their efforts for a disease that now personally impacted me.

Sister K and I did the MS Walk one year and we really enjoyed it. It was after Mom was newly diagnosed and we wanted to participate. We coordinated our outfits with pink and purple shirts, our official “best friend’s uniform” and then showed up to discover most people were in orange as it is one of the main colors for the MS Society. I found it comical. We were so new to the impact of MS on our lives that it had never occurred to us there would be a unifying color we needed to coordinate with- now we know better.  

It was a powerful experience though. As Sister K and I drove up to see all the people out there to support those with MS, Sister K got tears in her eyes. We were filled with a rush of different emotions because we had never experienced anything like this before. We want to do more and are seeing what else is out there. Maybe someday the MS 150 but that requires quite a bit of committment and training, plus it requires the purchase of a bike.  

I am curious if you have ever participated in fundraising efforts for any purpose, MS related or for any other cause? Did you learn things after the first time you did it? Have you ever done it again?

Best Friend Uniform

I love the color purple. It is and always has been my favorite color. I remember when I got engaged one of my friend’s responded and said “time to order my purple party dress.” Yes, I had purple bridesmaid dresses. The specific color was plum. My wedding colors were plum and sage…also known as purple and green. Mom wouldn’t let me say purple and green and it reminded me of the famous scene from Steel Magnolias when Shelby says her colors are “blush and bashful” and M’Lynn responds by saying “her colors are pink and pink.”

Sister K’s favorite color actually is pink. And this has played a big role in our entire lives. Easter egg hunting- my eggs were always purple and Sister K’s were always pink. Picking out tops- Sister K would get pink and I would get purple. Birthday gift wrapping- Sister K’s was pink and mine was purple. You get the picture. And today Sister K and I have decided to embrace the silliness involved with each having a favorite color and try to wear similar outfits for certain occasions in these colors. We call it our best friend uniform. And the fact that bright colors have been so trendy has assisted us in this. Purple shorts/pink shorts, purple pants/pink pants, purple purses/pink purses. It is silly but it is fun for us.

It also brings a little bit of laughter to some otherwise tense situations. We may be struggling to get Mom in and our of the car but we are wearing our purple and pink shorts which lightens the mood or takes the attention off Mom. Our “best friend uniforms.” Outfits and colors Mom associated with each of us and continues to associate with us everyday. The best part of them is it is something Mom began when we were little kids and now we enjoy embracing it to bring back a sense of being Mom’s little girls once again. It’s a mother/daughter thing at its simplest.

Do you have a favorite color? Are you ever drawn to certain colors over others? Did your parents use your favorite colors throughout your childhood? Did you ever wear matching outfits with your siblings?

10 Pages of Fun

7.30.12

Me. Last night. Approximately 10pm at my kitchen table.
Staring into Sister K’s computer.

Sister K has just about finished her Masters degree. Today all that stands between her and the total bliss of being finished is a take home final. Last night all that stood between her and total bliss was a 10 page paper and a take home final. Together we finished that 10 page paper. At approximately midnight.

As I think about last night I am not filled with any feelings of being annoyed that somehow I drew the short end of the family stick. I am more filled with happiness and love. Sister K and I don’t keep score. I know that if I needed her in a bind she would be there in the exact same way. But it’s these moments that strengthen our bond so when bigger issues come along we can handle them together.

It’s nothing new here that we feel a bit overwhelmed by life right now. In a way the above picture sums that up as well. We were discussing this overwhelmed feeling over Chipotle burrito bowls earlier in the evening. Then we shifted to working on a 10 page paper. I feel this is how we cope. This is how we are going to cope. We are going to talk about it, come to no conclusion then we are going to move on to something else. Then we may shift back. The topic of Mom’s MS is going to be intertwined in our lives but we have to manage it in a way that does not allow it to take control of our lives. Last night it was intertwined with a 10 page paper and watching some Olympic races. A frustratingly complex 10 page paper that I was actually thankful for because it took my mind off another frustratingly complex issue that can’t be solved with a paper. I never thought I’d say it but last night I let the thoughts of a 10 page paper take over my mind and I enjoyed every minute of it.

When was the last time you wrote a 10 page paper? How do you prevent your mind from being consumed by complex issues that don’t have a clear solution? Do you love Chipotle burrito bowls as much as Sister K and me?