Posts filed under ‘Mothers’

Jan 3rd,2019- Mystic/Magic – Chris Ritchey

Another year dawns, this past one has not been pleasant for the most part. No further answers to  the question we all really  want to know what happens after our body  fails. Is there an “essence of life” that continues? The life “energy”  that makes us unique to  ourselves , can that be destroyed , gone, obliterated ?

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/energy-can-neither-be-created-nor-destroyed/

Questions that have been asked and answered in  various religious beliefs for a few thousand years. But , when you  get right down to  it you  won’t really  know till your own body  fails. YOU  KNOW,  my  darling Chris, my  mum –  now knows.

Mum and Balcony

Mum, who  lived a full 99 years, a voracious reader, travelled , lived in three different countries, met hundreds of people of varying walks of life. She would listen to  the religious leaders, watch them on the Sunday  shows, in her youth  questioned them at length.  In her last days she would talk to  the Hospice Nurses as to  their belief as to  what would happen but she had no  answers in even those last days .

As I  sat beside her , holding her hand , watching and trying to  ease her final “body life” moments , there was no  answer for me, she and her  life energy  slipped quietly  away.  The same with  you  -although hooked up  to  machines , but by  the time they  disconnected you  I already  knew you  had left hours before.  Somehow, a mother knows when her child is no  longer with  her, at least I  did.

We all so  need the mystic and magic, hope that there is more somehow to  our world, my  thoughts segued to  my  earliest beliefs and tiny  child’s  belief in fairies.

I lay  awake in today’s very  early  hours, wracking my  poor brain as to  who  first told me about magic and fairies and a world beyond that had nothing to  do  with  religion, that came later when my  mother would drag me to  church  in Canada.

I couldn’t for the life of me remember , it was as if I  had always known about the possibility  of a  “magical” realm I so  wanted to  believe in. As a tiny  tot I would play  for hours in the  garden rockery ( rock gardens were a staple part of the garden and the place where fairies loved to  dwell) building fairy  homes, looking for fairy  circles  in the morning dew, positive they  existed and wanting to  catch  a glimpse. I told my  children about fairies and then my  grandchildren ( before they  got to  the age when they  think I  am dotty).

 

I went back in my  mind , trying so  hard to  remember my  grandmothers telling me stories of fairies . No,  the one used to  recite romantic and adventurous poems  and tell stories of unrequited love. Mum’s mother , tired and worn from life, would tell me stories of the happenings of her children, my  father- science fiction, space aliens and travels to  the stars. My  mum never told me fairy  stories, so who? And then it dawned , my  reprobate of a “grandfather”. A memory  from the mist, taking down a saucer of milk   whilst everyone in the house was asleep, woken from my  tiny  bed, slipper-less feet, cold on the  tiled kitchen floor quietly  putting the saucer down for the hedgehogs  as they  carried the fairies to  dance in the moonlight.

I  realize now, he was drunk again probably , he was an inebriate that is for certain. I supposed going through  the trenches in France and being a professional soldier he may  have had some issues we would recognize today.

Fairies a gift from Chris

All I do  know , is that as angering and annoying he was to  the rest of the family  and his children- HE was the one who  came home with  kittens and the odd baby rabbit or two   in his pockets for me, flowers from his flowers shop , never were his pockets empty , little gifts.  He taught me to  love the flowers in the garden and only  pick certain ones  , to  leave the blue bells ( the fairy  flowers) in the woods.

As I  lay  there in the half light of a New year  my  mind  wandered to  when he was he was in hospital, I  had only  been married a few weeks, we went to  see him . He woke long enough  to  squeeze my  hand and say  ”

I  can go  now- “maggot” ( his nickname for me )  I  have seen you. 

We left the hospital and on the short ride home I could still feel the pressure of his hand  and I  knew before we got to  my  Aunt’s house he had gone without her having to  tell me.  He had said goodbye  and with  him went his “magic”, given to  me only ???  and a memory of an old man , not well loved who shared  a bit of the mystique of this world.

One memory  triggers another and I was back in your hospital room  your stats were fluctuating , nurses and techs adjusting machines and then your hand squeezed mine so  hard – I  didn’t know what you  were trying to  tell me but I think  I  do  now……. you  were saying goodbye ……..

But then the magic of you  continues……….

 

 

January 3, 2019 at 10:29 am 2 comments

Dec 3rd- crumbling walls- Chris Ritchey

Although  I  write about you  every  3rd day  of every  month as a way  to  release my  grief, love of you and so  you  are not forgotten, December 3rd is looming. The dying days that start at Thanksgiving – the day  I sat alone in the waiting room as you  were put on the vent.  I  relive that day  and that intensive care waiting room  every  year  dreading I won’t be able to  hold myself together amidst all the joy  of turkey , pumpkins, pies and laughter.

The circus that ensued  that terrible Thanksgiving Day  at the Cleveland Clinic thanks to “those others” (Lombardi)  who  finally  came to “wait”, share  dry  turkey  and cold mashed potatoes and discuss recipes whilst you  were fighting for your life  sickens me still. I  could never understand their reactions of party hearty   , picnic time- it is a wonder they  didn’t bring celebratory  wine. Respect and kindness to  your family as we tried to  deal with the losing of you   certainly  wasn’t on their menu .

artwork Chris Ritchey

It starts with  Thanksgiving  , the defense walls are reinforced , more to  protect others from the volatile emotions that are churning within me. They  deserve and need their happiness, they need not be reminded of dying days. I so  wish I  was  strong, I  am not.

These days leading up  to  the day  you  died leave me , even after the years of trying to  train myself to  avoid the trigger moments, weak and bereft of control.  I had a relative who  used to  take to  their bed when there were situations they  couldn’t handle. There is no  respite for me  there in amongst the down pillows. I lay  awake fighting down the  emotional agony  of remembrance of those days .Finally  exhaustion will bring sleep  but the mind  continues and all the building of walls to  keep my  emotions and thoughts in check are breached. Down pillows  become wet with tears.

Honestly  I  don’t know how my  heart has kept beating, there are times choking back sobs I can’t breathe.  but your  beautiful sister and two  little boys  whose excitement  at the season acts as an antidote  enabling me once again to bear the unbearable.

 

Your Chris Miss presents to  Gavin and Braedyn will once again be delivered  and I will reinforce the walls ….. I love and miss you  every  day  but  December 3rd will find the walls tumbled into  nothing and I will hide from the world until I  can function again.

Artwork Chris Ritchey

“Heartbreak is a heavy  burden to carry as a soul weakens”  I  love you  Chris

December 3, 2018 at 12:29 am 1 comment

The Dance ended- the room emptied- Mum 2018

 

Will you  write about me? What will you  say? You  won’t forget me ?

Yes mum I will write about you , but not an obituary  after all how could I put into  200 or at the most 450  words the life lived for 99 years ?  I could fill that space with  just the last 5 months.  I did write a special post on your 97th  birthday  which  covered some highlights  of your  life

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/in-the-pink-97-years-and-counting-mum/

My mum is gentle , sweet, never sees the bad in people ( sometimes a failing), can bake for Britain, loves people with a depth beyond knowing, always makes excuses for their not so nice behavior, and has a strength to her that has sustained her for 97 years.

I don’t know what I  will say  I never know until I sit down at the keyboard  but I  am sure  nothing I  can write can do  you  justice to  people who  do  not know you  or know you  well.

You  won’t write the bad bits will you? I  didn’t put the bad bits in my  book

Cover Design Chris Ritchey

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/long-time-passing-gone-to-fighting-everyone/

“ROY (  my  father)  was on leave from the Navy for 4 days. He phoned on the Sunday and we were to be married by special license in the little church on the Ridgeway , Mill Hill on the Monday.
What a day for a wedding France had surrendered and our guests were more concerned with the war news”
SOURCE
After the reception we left Roy’s home to “go away” Where? we had no idea . Uncle Jack had kindly lent us the Humber. As he stood at the door waving us off he said: “You look such a couple of kids no one will take you in” I was silent as we sped along the great North Way – this was June and the last time I had seen Roy was the previous Christmas when we became engaged”

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/long-time-passing-gone-to-fighting-everyone-part-three/

I promise  I won’t add to  what I have already  written and you  have already   seen and read. I have written reams about you  every  birthday for the past 10 years, your life with  us, I will not add to  what has already  been written of those times .   BUT  mum those bad bits and terrible times were your finest hours the adversity  and pain you  faced  showed your absolute courage and strength of purpose.

‘No  , not the bad bits that only  you  know…

Ok mum  but what about the artist that wanted to  paint you  nude?

NO certainly  not I only  found out in time he wanted to  paint my  breasts as a back splash for the hot and cold taps in his kitchen .

There are hundreds of people all over this world whose lives you  touched in your 99 years.  You  always found the good in even those that hurt you and caused life changes , you  were  so  different from myself. I could never forgive those that caused you  pain. I  did put up  with at least one of them for your sake, you  never made or wanted fuss and confrontation.

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/what-are-they-thinking-the-thought-process-stops-here/

 

The only  people you  never forgave was the Tim and Sue Lombardi  clan and their offspring ( Angela Lombardi ( Ritchey) Murphy, ( she has a steel rod up  her back were your words just a few days ago , very  cold)  so  unlike you but they  caused this family  great hurt and in your words were unconscionably cruel to  your loved ones  in the passing of your long-awaited grandson Chris .

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/an-open-letter-mama-sue-lombardi/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/dec-4th-how-cold-is-cold-lombardi/

It was the only time you  didn’t tell me to  “forget and forgive”, probably  knowing as well that is never going to  happen.

No  mum we will never forget you , you  were a stabilizing force in all our lives, kind to  a fault, funny  even in those last days trying to  bring a smile to  those having to  watch  the Danse Macabre  .

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2018/10/03/oct-3rd-danse-macabre-chris-ritchey/

You  were always so  worried that you  would have to  go  into  a home,

“I am not afraid of dying  it is what you  have to  die with  that worries me”

She hated the thought of a long drawn out death  that she would not be in her own bed. and would be surrounded by  strangers . I promised her that she would remain with  us in this house, in her own bed and she would always be clean and her bedding fresh  but there was nothing I could do  about the months it took for her to  slowly  disappear . She hated the loss of her independence , such  an independent  little soul, not to  be able to  contribute to  the work load around here  but was adding to  it .

Mum tried every  day  to  “help” even when her little body  was less than 60  lbs.

Finally came the days when she was bedridden and needed help  to  do  the simplest task such  as eat or drink, no  longer having the strength . No  longer could she sit among the flowers on her balcony , only  viewing through  the window in her bedroom.  She did not deserve to  have to  wait for her death this way and I  am angry  that she lost the things in dying what she so  treasured in life, privacy, independence  but I  tried my  utmost to  give her the dignity  she so  deserved that was denied my  son, in that at least Nikki  and I  succeeded.

“I am so  tired, exhausted, I know I  won’t see those little boys grow up , I  love them so  much  they  are held in my  heart , make sure you tell them. Make sure they  always have a Christmas present from me.

My  mum  made her arrangements in 1992- and nothing changed -she once again thought of others even those long years ago  , just as she had made life easier for me as her daughter in life , she did so as she passed.  I got to  hold her hand , sing her the songs of my  childhood , songs she sang to  me to  quiet my  bad dreams or pain hoping that it would help calm her journey and take away  the fear we all must face. She slipped past me quietly without fuss or drama , her granddaughters words of love bringing a quiet smile.

No  mum we won’t forget you , how could we you are in your granddaughter’s eyes, Braedyn’s laugh  and Gavin’s kind heart……………..You  are in the collective memory of nieces nephews, some of whom are in their 70’s and 80’s whom you  knew and held as babies, who  came to  stay  with  you  over the years, of friends who became family……  as for me I  cherish your spirit and always will……. til we meet again……..

A mother understands what her child does NOT say

 

 

October 18, 2018 at 5:30 pm 13 comments

Oct. 3rd -Danse Macabre- Chris Ritchey

 

Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin /Source 

Once again,  I am locked into  a performance with  death. I am exhausted and angry  as I  watch  this thief of life steal everything that is and was your Nana and my mum, just as I  stood helpless as you  too  were locked into  this grim  dance of reality  that faces us all.

The purloiner  of life has taken the light from her blue eyes, made them red ringed and pale, her smile just a memory ,  as she waits , she has disappeared within her own body  as it stubbornly  clings to  life and the loved ones around her . She is  caught between the notes as the music of death  is played, no  longer having the strength to walk , sit or feed herself  without help , her pride of independence, privacy, modesty  gone , slowly drained buy the vampiric interloper and yet it seems that is not enough-  still the dance partner of death  continues the performance, sapping her of what is left of her , cruel in its movements  as the tune reels and swirls, no  respite or quarter given.

 

The difference with  you, my  darling son  there  was another dance partner , who  lent strength  to  my  body  and soul- that of HOPE.  Hope was my  partner,  the hours of driving, the meals, the days and nights of  care, the medicines  , doctors and trials  would work . Parallel days with  the dance I am  once again intertwined , unable to   find escape cold grasping fingers refusing to  let  me go, crushing my  heart. Another August, September , October and the dance continues , the music raucous and disjointed – a cacophony  of jarring notes , breaking the peace.

October 3rd , the last time you  were home  with  your family, filled with  hope that Houston  would be the answer to  stopping the dance, but hope, although strong in our hearts, was not enough to  combat the “danse macabre” …… and now once again the robber of life  has entered our home and our very  beings..

and ripped from us joy , hope and laughter.  I love you  Chris  and I  know you  will be here for your  Nana  as this final  dance ends…………

Chris Ritchey Source

October 3, 2018 at 10:38 am 4 comments

August 3rd- continuation- Chris Ritchey

You  would think after all this time I would run out of things to  share about you  and the fact you  lived but as life “continues” I find, far from being at a loss to find subject matter  , everyday  continues with  you .

Recently,  another mother wondered about whether people  felt she should be “over her grief by  now”  another  if there is a time limit to  being broken?

Because we are broken, and the pieces of us are held together with  a very tenuous glue.  The slightest “wobble of a memory “ entering into  one’s day  can see us picking up  the pieces and trying to  put ourselves back  together in order to  be on “life’s display”, hoping those we meet , work and socialize with  will not notice the cracks. Broken can make people uncomfortable, because  they too are not immune from losing a son or a daughter and we  are constant reminders that can happen.

As your  Nana is “transitioning” and I  am once again “caring” with cooking special foods, diets, changing sheets every  couple of days and giving medications ( you  too were prescribed) the glue is hardly  doing its job most days. It is probably  a good thing I  am not interacting with  people at the moment because  I am not handling  being  broken in “two” .

What little patience and tolerance I  had before this latest life event has disappeared. I have become selfish  with  my  time and energy. Telemarketers have found that to  call me subjects them to a tirade of “language” not generally  associated with  one of my  age and upbringing. They  have become my  relief valve, something I  need,  so  I  don’t shatter   altogether.

As I  looked on your Nana’s face this morning I was reminded of the charcoal drawing you  made of her when she was 85 looking out of a window. She was quite annoyed. “Chris you  made me look 95 not 85” but your artwork prophesied the future as today the portrait is a true likeness as she continues and slowly disappears from this world.

Loving you  continues- being broken continues ….

photo -self -Chris Ritchey

August 2, 2018 at 10:58 pm 2 comments

July 3rd – Life Changes- Chris Ritchey

Regular readers will notice that for the past weeks the only posts have been my  promised ” I  will write as best I  can your  story , Chris” until  there is a closure…..…

Oh!  there have been plenty  of things happening in this neighborhood, this  city , the state and country  and even the world  that would set my  fingers flying in years and months gone by.

I have reached a place of “sigh” everything seems to be too much  to  bear, too much  to  handle  and  apathy  has set in. One of the reasons is life changes ,here in this house and the losing of a wonderful friend, Paula Tobias. Death  and dying – I  am so  tired of watching those I  love die by  increments with  nothing I  can do  or say to  make a difference.

I  am at war with death  in the form of  a bird- a huge Blue Heron  who  found the pond.

He has become my angel of death  silently  swooping down , waiting , watching  to  strike. As beautiful as he is , he is now the enemy . I wait for him in the mornings and late evening  since I  first saw him a month  ago. He has no  fear,  intent on reigning havoc upon the habitat in the pond whether it is fish or frogs .

The pond where you  put my  Mother’s Day  present –  the “Ghost Koi “ that very  last time .

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/the-ghost-in-the-pond/

The koi  is huge, a good 24 inches , he glides stealth like through  the water. I was surprised this Ghost Koi , no  larger than the span of my  hand when you  released that May  day,  has become the size he has . I guess I  should have researched him – As I  read about this Ghost Koi, I had a funny  feeling YOU  did research  his characteristics  and thought it would be funny  to  land your mother with  a giant fish, somehow it fitted with  your sense of humour. Big fish   little pond !

Jumbo sized Koi grow up to 34 to 36 inches long and 40Lbs . Does the size of the pond hinder a Koi’s growth? The size of a pond will not stop a Koi from growing. The size of the pond, along with other factors like health, feeding, water temperature and water quality affect the speed of their growth.

https://www.koiacres.com/koi/faq.html

The Heron killed at least two  of the large gold-fish before I  could act.

I quickly  purchased a Heron net to  put over the  pond, in the 4 decades we have had the pond  we never had a problem , it was intentionally built deep with  steep sides to  keep away  the critters. This latest pond you  dug for me , moaning all the time as I remember.

I have watched, as this beautiful angel of death  circles , lands  silently , he and I  watching the other , the net raised higher , road blocks of obstacles put in   so  he can’t find a place to  “fish”. He has gotten through  the net , knocked down the supports , there is no  giving up  with  this bird.

He adjusts  his flight path  and landings, picks his moment .

He waits in the early  mornings on the roof of the surrounding garages and homes, leaving his calling card , looking for a way  through  the netting and me.

He was here at 5:30 am this morning, this bringer of death, haughty  and proud but like death  I  too  can wait , a Mothers’ Day  Koi  has become more than just another fish………

I would like to  think your “Ghost Koi” will continue and I  can at least do  something to  save it from this particular ‘Angel  of Death”- our love of you  never fades or dies…….

 

July 2, 2018 at 9:51 pm 2 comments

May 3rd- Words are all I have- Chris Ritchey

Words- text- communication through  a written language. Reading was always difficult for you  as a little boy you were at the beginning of a local failing school system. A system that had to  show progress, so  although  you  had the extra classes , they  passed you  through as completing their  grant driven reading programs. It wasn’t until the 5th  grade we found out , when I  had you  privately  tested, just how bad the problem was. Three years of catch-up and a change to  private education.

Those years were hard for you , you  thought you  must be “stupid”.  However, you  also  developed a skill of  communicating “visually” . Eventually  reading caught up  with  your ability  to  use your art to  communicate.  You  found a niche for your talent at Lorain County  Community  College https://www.lorainccc.edu/

and on the advice of the college you transferred to  Cleveland Institute of Art

http://www.cia.edu/

artwork Chris Ritchey

It was at the students art show at Cleveland Institute of Art , I  was looking at some of your designs etc. I noticed a couple of mistakes in the text. I spoke to  the your instructor that evening about the  mistakes in the text.  He looked at me and said :

“that is not a problem , we can teach  and correct  spelling  etc. what I  can’t teach  is what your son has, his ability  , creativity  and talent. I will give a an assignment  to  the group – “come   up  with  three different  advertising concepts  on a given product/ client  within a week” – Chris, will come back  within two  days with  10  entirely  different takes.  I can’t teach  that……

 

Eventually  you  gained a  position as Art Director for  Wyse Advertising .

http://www.wyseadv.com/

Apparently , according to  your boss at the time, you were poised to do  great things in advertising … we will never know…. but Wyse  were wonderful to  you during that terrible time of your illness.

I do  remember that first year  you worked for Wyse  you  were asked to  do  the ad for them in the annual “Torchlight” Membership  Directory

The monthly AAF-Cleveland Portfolio features the latest in industry development and trends, association insights and updates, and achievements of local members. “Torchlight,” our annual membership directory, is an invaluable “Who’s Who” reference manual of members, agencies, and services in Cleveland advertising.

The directory  was in your portfolio   and the ad………. text, words …….. “scan of the full-page ad that appeared in the Torchlight”

Artwork Christopher Ritchey

 

But there aren’t any  words  that were  so  important as the last words you  wrote to  me – even with  the spelling mistake…….I carry  them with  me every  day

 

Mother’s Day  is coming, once again tinged with  tears and bitter-sweet  ———– I love you…………I need to  finish writing  the book  if I can find the words

 

May 3, 2018 at 11:19 am Leave a comment

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