Each purl stitch was interlaced with love from the touch of her gentle hands. She, the teacher, me, the student, as our bodies sank into the big sofa checkered in a seventy’s palette.
For a new teen, my love for her went unmeasured. Now, fully immersed in motherhood after three decades, the mom role is clear as plate glass, how heart and mind require flexibility, the juggling of many hats.
Her wisdom mingles with my thoughts so often that I whisper, “I get it, Mom.” Teardrops of love struggle for freedom, grief clutches at my heart.
Autumn browns, reds, yellows, and oranges from that afghan warmed memories over the years, but at some point, my novice knitwork must have slipped a stitch because those warm shades unraveled through the seasons, crafting a hole in the center that mirrors the chasm in my heart from missing her.
The kids are adults, living on their own. It’s just hubby and me at home.
Yes, I still make lunches. I have mastered “the sandwich.”
From turkey to tuna to egg salad or chicken, to this new veggie delight.
Suddenly, I’m standing in the kitchen, my kids are little, small shoe sizes by the door, Lego on the floor in his room, barbies scattered in hers, the days in the nineties when peanut butter and jelly ruled.
I should tally all the peanut butter jars, jelly flavors or jam, if you prefer, and slices of bread that were consumed back then.
The hustle and bustle of early hours on school-day mornings, kids tossing a coin for the shower.
Hair dryer working overtime with her long thick mane. He and I, donning various hats for our roles as cab driver, cook, teacher, counselor, hugger, father, mother.
I shake my head, smiling, in the presenton a workday. I reach for an apple.
Tomorrow, we buy!
Lauren Scott (c) 2022 Photo: Pixabay Some fun for a Saturday smile.
This holiday season is different for my husband and I, a bit quieter around the house because we became empty nesters several months ago. And I admit that with Christmas just around the corner, the quiet is a bit thunderous. I remember past holidays when our son and daughter were little; we’d keep the magic going and would look forward to witnessing their wonder of the season each day up until the morning when we watched them with delight open their gifts. They knew that just the night before, Santa had come down the chimney with the hefty pack of presents on his back.
Holiday baking is a tradition that I carried into my family from memories of my sisters and I baking with Mom. She was beautiful and festive, wearing her Christmas apron as she taught us how to make sugar cookies and her German Christmas Stollen – a delicious recipe that I’ve made only once in my life but will attempt again when I have the required energy in both mind and body. The recipe is complicated, involving yeast and bread rising and everything that I know very little about, hence, the need to muster up that energy! Baking with my young children was a time when their excitement and giggles bounced off the walls as they helped make sugar cookies in different shapes: bells, boots, Christmas trees, angels, stockings, candy canes, holly leaves, and more. Licking the beaters was a must, and no one ever got sick. Their tiny little hands had so much fun with the cookie dough as if they were creating with playdough. Christmas carols played in the background adding merriment to the mix.
I must have inherited my love of dressing festively for the holidays because when our children were little, I loved painting on t-shirts and sweatshirts for family and friends. I was no artist, but my daughter and son were thrilled to wear their white “Merry Christmas” sweatshirts with candy canes and Santa’s “Ho, Ho, Ho!” The grandparents wore their Santa Claus sweatshirts with pride, and they looked cute! My husband and I still wear ours and that paint has never peeled off, even after thirty years! Having fun was the main objective!
But this past Saturday a new tradition began when just the two of us drove to our most patronized grocery store to look for a live Christmas tree. He’s an Arborist and an avid tree hugger, so as long as the prepping of the tree – fitting it onto the stand and keeping it watered – doesn’t become physically challenging, a living tree will be our preference. For the first time, we brought home a beautiful Grand Fir. My husband prepped the tree outside, trimming the bottom branches, making sure the flush cut was level with the base of the tree, then drilling holes around the center hole to allow water to be soaked up. Inside the house, I rearranged furniture, vacuumed, and pulled the red festive tree skirt from the closet, prepping the perfect spot by the large window in the living room. When the tree was set up, I poured sugar water into the base and waited a half hour to ensure no water was seeping through.
Tony Bennett sang Christmas carols in the background while we strung the lights around the fragrant tree. As we picked up each ornament, precious memories flooded our minds. Most ornaments were handmade by our children as they were growing up, and many have photos of them from kindergarten, first, and second grades. Oh, the memories! Now our beautiful Grand Fir stands tall by the window adorned in red, green, and white lights, adding magic to the room. The tree topper is our very own precious angel that our daughter made when she was a little girl. She used a toilet paper roll. Hilarious, but clever, and so special that this angel will never be replaced.
I realized early that day, I didn’t feel the same excitement to put up the tree as I’ve felt in years past. But we had a great time, perusing the trees on the lot, then getting both tree and house ready. Feeling reminiscent of those years when our children were little invoked gratitude for the blessed Christmases we’ve had when we all lived together, or at least, when one child was home while the other was away at university. So, even though we missed the presence of our adult kids during this tradition, I’m grateful for my husband to share another holiday season with. Perspective is key: this is the next chapter for each of us, and it’s all good. Most importantly, we are healthy and safe.
Everyone has their own struggles and sorrow from various life events; some are just a matter of going along with the progression of natural changes like becoming empty nesters, and some events are so tragic that joy drifts far, far away. Hopefully, though, joy can be found wherever our hearts and minds may be this holiday season, even if only in tiny, fragile fragments.
And speaking of memories, if you’re looking for a holiday gift for family or friends, my memoir, More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose, is available on Amazon:
“More than Coffee is a heartwarming collection of memories and anecdotes in which the author reflects on her early life, her marriage, her love for family and friends, and her appreciation for the great outdoors. In poetry and prose she writes poignantly (and often humorously) of love, loss, sadness and joy, and I found myself relating to each section. The overall feeling I had after reading More than Coffee was one of optimism and upliftment. A wonderful book!“
I believe there is some meaningful discovery for each reader, or at least, this is my wish.
Sending you all hugs of joy during this holiday season. Lauren ❤️🎄
It was close to 7:30 am when she walked into his room, sitting down in front of him. She looked into his eyes with a combination of love and resolution, as if to say, “Don’t you know, too?” He looked at his adorable black lab and shook his head, thinking, this is a little odd. But the obligation of school called, so he patted her soft head, saying, “Love you, Girl, see you later!” And he finished tying his shoes before walking out the door, heading for the high school.
The rest of us also left for the day’s routine: work and school. Just the ordinary; it was to be an ordinary kind of day. She was curled up and content on her soft bed in the backyard where she liked to keep an eye on any trespassing critters.
But shortly after we all left, she cried out. Our good neighbor next door heard her high-pitched cries, so he called us on our cell phones, then he stayed with her. One significant glitch was that all our cell phones were turned off, which had never happened before, and which proved to be the conundrum on this tearful day. So, over an hour passed before I even listened to the urgent message; during this time, our neighbor waited patiently with Lucky Girl breathing her last breaths. The guilt from this unintentional blunder stayed with us for a very long time; we felt sick inside imagining that she was lying there waiting for one of us to come home to tell her that everything was going to be okay.
He got down to her level, parking himself on the cool November concrete, her head resting on his leg. He was not a dog person, but he was a dog person on this day, petting her with compassion. It was ironic that she had had an aversion to him for some unknown reason. But that morning, any dislike she had for this man faded into the uncertainty of what was happening.
I pulled into the driveway, eyes wet and puffy from the phone message, and this was only the beginning. Walking through the side gate, I spotted our neighbor sitting on the walkway, his back up against the house, legs stretched out with Lucky Girl lying beside him. She was barely there, though – her eyes revealing acceptance and sadness. I think she knew more than we did at that moment.
He helped me lift her, gently laying her in the back of the car so she could lie on her side with plenty of room. As much as I wanted her in the front seat where I could see her, I knew she wouldn’t be comfortable. It wasn’t until I pulled out of the driveway that I realized the inevitable was drawing closer. She was eleven years old, but until today, she still seemed so full of life.
With tearful eyes, I drove, feeling grateful the freeway wasn’t a necessary route. Half-way to the vet, I knew. My heart felt the crossing. I pulled over to the side, got out of the car, and walked to the back, lifting the car door. I saw that my Lucky Girl had crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. I sobbed again, knowing more tears would follow.
I kissed her on her nose then managed to get back into the driver’s seat, continuing for another ten minutes to the vet. When I arrived, frantically entering the building, I shared my devastating news with the girl at the counter who acted amazingly aloof for my untamed emotions. But two vet techs wearing light blue medical jackets carried Lucky Girl from the car into a private room. I asked for a few moments alone with my girl. There she was lying on the silver table, where I’m sure many furry family members have done the same. I bent over, laying my head on her soft black fur, gently petting her, and whispering on behalf of her family, “We love you, Lucky Girl.” More tears slid down my face as I was unable to comprehend that this was it…
No more walks together, no more cuddles on the bed, no more tossing of the ball, watching her chase that silly round toy with the excitement of a toddler. No more playing tug-o-war with her favorite rope toy, entertained by her incredible strength and admirable effort. No more watching TV with her lying at our feet as though she’s enjoying the show as much as we are.
When we were all home later that day – the news weighing heavy on our hearts and minds – we huddled in a strong embrace, emotions running wild. This unforgettable chapter was part of life, part of owning a pet, allowing their unconditional love to wrap around our hearts. But this chapter was also about learning how to say good-bye.
The strange thing was Lucky Girl had never indicated that something was off kilter…except, perhaps, when she walked into his room that morning. She looked at him with knowledge we couldn’t possibly have been privy to. Even though her behavior was unusual, she was quiet, not crying or whining, so it didn’t propel us into worrying.
Hindsight is twenty-twenty. If we only would have known. It just happened so fast.
Remembering Lucky Girl who received her angel wings on November 11, 2011. ❤️
The calendar showed October 4th, 2012. She and I sat in the sterile office surrounded by semi-gloss light blue walls, our hearts thumping, hands like ice. We waited for the man who wore a white coat to join us, hoping he would provide gentle answers to appease our questions.
The matter was serious, but when I first saw his face, I thought of Santa, stark white hair and fluffy beard, red, rosy cheeks good for pinching. The only thing missing was the apple red hat, and though he would bear dreadful news, his smile was welcoming, as if the three of us were meeting for a stroll in the park on a lovely spring afternoon.
It was amazing how a tiny scope could be guided through the mouth and throat then down the esophagus. CT scans, lab work, MRIs, and a needle too long to discuss occupied her hours for over 1,000 days. Still, we craved clarity. Our world was hazy like thick fog a driver would endure crossing the Golden Gate Bridge during summer in the wee hours of the morning. And we waited – a necessary evil that all people grapple with too often to count the times on their hands.
Then on that autumn day came words we would have liked to have hurled back to Santa. We had hoped for gentle. Instead… “All tests point to this auto immune disease, and there is no cause or cure,” he told us with a touch of remorse. The future would necessitate a transplant. It was not cancer, but this finding should not be shunned. She was twenty years old, like a sunflower of friendliness and optimism. He added, “Just live your life.”
I felt her physical pain rip through each atrium and ventricle – my most excruciating moments of being a parent. But her strength embraced and consoled me, her mother, of all things. Life pulled us through each season.
The calendar now presents the year 2021: She is a lovely, young woman – a wedding band adorns her left ring finger, and geography has changed along with a new insurance card. She meets with another man who wears a similar white coat. X-rays and jabs repeat. “All of your tests are normal,” he affirms. All is normal. Words we had hoped to hear from this new expert. “I don’t see a reason to keep you in the same box,” he confirms.
This is amazing news! But abdominal stabs and pruritus from the past were as tangible as a twisted knife to the gut. How can we negate that agony? What is the deeper meaning? Should we get the champagne flutes out, give them a quick wash? Has this nightmare finally ended? She chooses to live in the here and now. Life continues to draw us forward to witness each sunrise and sunset, although we are still waiting to exhale.
The year was 1978. It was my best friend’s father’s birthday, and I was invited to go out to dinner with the family to celebrate. When we arrived at the popular restaurant, we had to wait for a table – it was crowded even for a weeknight. But the lobby was decorated in reds, oranges, golds, and greens – a warm atmosphere, inviting us to sit down while we waited. Most of the group found seats, including me. I sat on the edge of a comfy sofa. One you can sink right into and wonder how on earth you’ll get out of. On my right side was an end table with a slim glass vase holding one single red rose.Very dainty and pretty.
My friend’s father – the man of the hour chose to sit next to me. I scooted to my right a couple of inches to give him a little more room. What I didn’t realize was the comfy sofa had no arm and the end table was so close that this fact was camouflaged. Before I knew it, before I could shift the direction of my body, I slid off that sofa, landing on the hardwood floor! What seemed like slow motion, that beautiful end table skidded a foot across the smooth surface, prompting that dainty, pretty vase and rose to tumble off into a dramatic crash! Footsteps of restaurant patrons dodged scattered rose petals, shards of glass, and tiny puddles of water. And there I laid, stunned, wanting to melt into that hardwood and disappear for a few months. Long enough for everyone watching to forget about this mortifying moment.
Mel, my friend, offered me a hand. I must’ve stood up, accepting her help, but what actually happened honestly remains a blur. That event, though, from over forty years ago, stays vivid in my camera roll of memories. The difference between then and now is that I can laugh about it.To just laugh and let those silly giggles escape with delight is always a great solution!
Thank you for reading and remember to give those giggles some freedom! Do you have an embarrassing moment to share? 🙂
Lauren Scott (c) 2021 ❤️❤️❤️ Vase photo: Google “Just laugh” photo: dry erase board on my fridge. 🙂
Built with tender hands and love for his daughter, she happily rocked through childhood. Then with tiny fingers wrapped around books, they rocked like her – smiles spreading across their soft cheeks. Adorable animals enhanced the white finish – charm never to be erased. As memories of her father flooded her mind like a scrapbook of Polaroids, Grandma watched her grandchildren with a full heart, for that special rocker embraced new generations with the gentlest rhythm of love.
Since the empty nester phase has arrived, my husband and I have been flipping through old photo albums. Remember those? Not a folder on a computer, but good old albums where memories come alive on each page.We ran across this article I wrote in the year 2000 that was published in our local newspaper.Talk about memories!
“San Anselmo Memorial Park: Where the fun never sets!“
It’s a beautiful summer day in the low 80s. My husband is at work and I’m the designated recreation director for our son and daughter. There aren’t any play dates scheduled today, so what would be a fun way to entertain them?
I’m a stay-at-home mom and have met many people since we moved to San Anselmo, mainly through school and extracurricular activities. One of the most popular pastimes for parents and their children is going to the park. I have never seen so many beautiful parks to choose from.
Memorial Park is the hot spot in this quaint little town. Although the equipment was old when we first visited, it was a great destination for our children to expel their energy. Then, about a year later, I heard talk of a possible renovation, making it more desirable for children to play.
Talk soon turned into a dream come true. With the help of community volunteers and hired architects, Memorial Park was remodeled in one week! I knew if I didn’t volunteer to help, I’d feel guilty for a long time. This park and our children had already established a close bond and would be seeing a lot more of each other.
So, I volunteered to get my hands dirty and to participate in the camaraderie. Hammering, painting, lifting, cleaning, whatever it took, the work got done. The newly improved Memorial Park is even more magical than before. I haven’t visited once when it wasn’t filled with happy, giggly children creating their own adventures, whether in the mystical castles, climbing on the long-neck dinosaur, or building sandcastles in the big sand box.
Now, instead of wondering how I will entertain our son and daughter, I choose the best time to leave for the park. Usually, our children meet up with friends they’ve already made, which adds more dimension to the fun. While they’re playing, I share in adult conversation with other parents, flip through a magazine, continue where I left off in a good book, or simply enjoy the relaxation on a splendid summer day.What better music to our ears than the giggles of our happy children!
I truly appreciate the many volunteers and their working hands who conceived the renovation, thought it doable, making it reality!
Lauren Scott (c) 2000
I don’t have photos of the park during that time because I probably didn’t carry my camera on me. My bag was most likely filled with lots of water and snacks. And those were the days before smart phones existed where a simple tap, tap, tap could create 1000 photos in 5 seconds.
So, the photos I’m sharing are from the current website, along with the picture of my children that was included with the article. Now they’re 29 and 26! How is this even possible?!
Are you about to embark on the same life chapter of becoming empty nesters…or, perhaps, do my memories evoke special memories of your own? If you’re inclined to share, I’d love to read.
And thank you for joining me on this day at the park!
~Lauren ❤️💙💜 All park photos: Memorial Park website
Family will always mean the most to me. But as I ride the waves of life, there are many things, and I use that word broadly, that have been significant throughout the years. These are just a few…
Those camping trips when the kids were young: swimming in sapphire-colored lakes and cooling off in sparkling rivers, listening to the them play in the tent – their imaginations leading the way. Sitting around the campfire: singing, laughing, roasting marshmallows. Not just college, but all graduations were joyful events. The dogs that became special family members. Patio time – the talking, the reading, the wine – the outdoor living. Happy blooms in the garden and the hummingbirds flitting about. Walking among Redwoods and the sound of ocean waves. Pinecrest for our 30th, Bodega Bay getaways, and backpacking into serenity. The most loyal friends. Relaxing motorcycle rides. Winter’s coziness: a crackling fire and glowing candles. Chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven and homemade carrot cake (a veggie in our home). Kissing and hugging. Songs that resonate.Acts of kindness.
And the list goes on… Isn’t it wonderful that the list goes on?
Though we live under gloomy skies at times, there is always sunshine waiting to peek through…
What would I read on your list?
Lauren ❤️❤️❤️ Carrot cake photos: My son Lantana: Our garden Gratitude stone: Google
Another dog, that’s what I needed back then when our Black lab, Lucky Girl, on that gray November day Crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Then Mom, Doris to those who knew her well, gracefully entered her Eternal home a few months later. I honestly Felt empty inside – all enthusiasm drained, Grasping for unreachable acceptance through the tears. Handling the loss of our sweet furry family member Involved revisiting those memories of the love she gave Joyfully to her four adopted humans. Keeping emotions intact, yet missing Mom – her voice, Laughter, funny off-key singing, and mouth-watering cooking Made greeting each sunrise challenging. Naturally with active emotions, our family felt Overwhelmed. Dad was devastated, losing his Gal of sixty-seven Precious years that began in days of World War II. Mom was the Queen. Another memory was her unequivocal love for dogs. Riley was one of many canines she and Dad loved over the years. So, amid these painful losses came Copper, our lab. The Time was right, and I felt Mom’s otherworldly approval because Underneath Copper’s quirkiness lies his loyalty, cuddliness, and Vigilance in holding the guard dog role. He’ll be at our feet When we call him, shake a paw when he sees our hand. Xenial describes our friendly lab when anyone visits. Even at the not so Youthful age of ten, Copper carries an abundance of Zest for bounding through life, for loving his humans – reminding us that love carries on.