Waiting to Exhale

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.

Lauren Scott (c) 2021

Cake

I opened the oven door with my young children peeking around me and we all laughed! Instead of the meringue cascading in still perfection, cracks engulfed every inch as though an earthquake rumbled over the top. Through giggles, we yelled, “The Earthquake cake!” A Blitz Torte. It was my dad’s favorite, stemming from past generations of his German heritage.

The memories! There was Mom, standing in the kitchen of dark wood cabinets, hand mixer purring as she blended the magical ingredients for dad’s birthday each year. Mixing up this feather-light textured cake was no simple culinary experience; separating egg yolks from their counterparts, the egg whites, was a step mastered with practice over time. The meringue topping had to be whipped to precision like an image of still cascading waves in the ocean. Having only attempted this recipe once with the result resembling the earth riddled in quakes, Mom and Dad cracked up when they saw the cracked-up cake! Hilarious to the eyes, but the slight almond crunch of the meringue and creamy texture of the custard filling decadently pleased our palates.

And then one day I tasted carrot cake – the mixture of spicy cinnamon, tangy crushed pineapple, shredded carrots, and crunchy walnuts immediately deemed this cake my utmost favorite. Add the smooth, delectable cream cheese frosting (that I could eat by the spoonful) and you have life’s essentials on a plate! And it’s advantageous that carrot cake counts as a vegetable in my kitchen.

It was the day of my bridal shower. I walked into my maid of honor’s home, instantly inhaling the spicy scent. Carrot cake! She knew me too well, and her mother created the best recipe. Our moms and all the girls were in dessert heaven with each bite of that delicious piece of art. And so, the top of my 5-layer wedding cake was carrot – it had to be that way for my special day. Fortunately, my husband was a fan, too!

My two teenagers on a spring March day pulled on their carrot-shredding gloves and presented to me their creation while belting out, “Happy birthday to you...” With its two uneven layers, it wasn’t pretty, but it brought on the biggest smile. Their efforts earned them an A+, and when I treated myself to that first bite, I tasted spicy, creamy excellence. With their love and thoughtfulness stirred into the process, satisfaction was redefined!

I often delve into the carrot shredding and cream cheese whisking myself, watching my family revel in each forkful of the sinfully delicious dessert. This recipe has become a treasure in my collection evoking these precious memories. Whether it’s a Blitz Torte bringing to life images of my parents who have since left our physical world or a Carrot Cake from wedding and birthday celebrations, the stroll down memory lane becomes more poignant with each new bite.

Lauren Scott (c) 2021

Header: My birthday carrot cake this year that a wonderful friend made for me. 🧡🧡

A Very Special Letter

March 25, 2021

Dear Mom and Dad,

Guess what? Your baby girl turned 60! Can you believe it? 60 doesn’t feel different, but it sure has a more profound ring to it than 40 and 50 did. I suppose then it does feel different. It’s Thursday, and Matthew, Michael, and I took the day off. They surprised me with an adventure – a relaxing drive surrounded by lush rolling green hills, cows grazing, majestic redwoods, and the crashing waves and beauty of the Pacific. I loved sitting in the back of the Pilot, chauffeured, enjoying the gorgeous scenery. The weather couldn’t have been better – sun shining in all its glory and the sky blue as ever.

Lunch was enjoyed outdoors encircled by those redwoods. I splurged on a patty melt and thought of you, Dad. How you loved your patty melts and chocolate malts! Well, I skipped the malt and indulged in Chardonnay!

We stopped in Bodega Bay to browse a little, then we resumed on Highway 1 driving along the coast heading for home. A fabulous all-day adventure that continued into the evening with champagne and more surprises. Family and friends in TN. and So. Cal. celebrated via Facetime, phone calls, and text messages.

I’m sure you’re aware of the pandemic that has stricken the world for over a year now. Well, Matt and Michael wanted to throw a big party, but even though things have improved, a large gathering just wasn’t a good option this year. But for my second Covid birthday and this big milestone, my entire family and circle of friends made the day as special as perfection.

In the big picture, we’re all healthy and doing fine, so please don’t worry about us. I wish you had been here to join in the celebration, to enjoy some bubbly and that sinfully delicious carrot cake that a friend made for me – you know carrot cake’s my favorite and how it counts as a vegetable in my kitchen.

I just want you to know how much I miss you, how much we all miss you. And I knew you’d enjoy some snippets from my 60th. Mom, it’s okay to let those tears fall, and Dad, I can see you smiling. I know you’re happy to hear your family is ok! I’ll end this now before it becomes a novel, and before I liberate those tears, too.

Love you so much, Lauren (your baby girl) xoxo

Age is not important unless you’re a cheese.

I am still young at heart and happy to be alive!

And I am grateful for all of you! ❤️🎂🥂

A Silver Spoon and So Much More…

Matt and I pull into the parking stall of our camp sight, and our first task is to unload the car and dump our gear onto the picnic table. A slight breeze floats through the pine trees cooling us from the sun’s burning touch and the blue lake water invites us in for a swim. The invitation is tempting, but first the labor of setting up camp. I dig into the big green tub looking for kitchen stuff and my breath catches when my eyes focus on the old set of silverware. When I was a little girl, we had a cabin in Big Bear, California, which is where Mom used the silverware. After both of my parents had passed, the set came to me. It’s black and silver, service for six, a little faded, but I couldn’t believe how sturdy it was to have lasted over fifty years. At the time, I didn’t give it much thought, so I added it to our camping paraphernalia.

As Matt and I enjoy the stir fry dinner he prepares on the first night, the old silverware evokes fond memories. An image of our cabin on the corner lot enfolded by sugar pines comes to mind. I remind Matt of the time when our little brave dog, Duffy, climbed up the snow bank, standing on the roof as if to say, “I am King!” That cozy mountain retreat also held many kitchen-table conversations full of laughter. Although Matt never had the chance to see the cabin, he remembers Mom’s delicious cooking. We especially savored her lasagna that was contest-winner-worthy. I recall the aroma swirling around, enticing Dad, my sisters, and me as we were eager to capture it and dig into the mouth-watering dish. I line up evenly in my mind each nuance of those childhood memories with my parents – days of playing badminton under a cloudless sky and a blazing sun, and then tobogganing when the ground was blanketed in snow and the temperature was bitter cold.

I am wrapped in a sentimental blanket on this trip, thinking of Mom and Dad, wishing I could feel their hugs, hear their laughter, and listen to their advice one more time. But would one more time still be enough? I don’t wallow in sadness; instead, I revel in the good times letting the memories advance like pictures on a camera roll. Before Matt and I realize, the campfires, swimming, hiking, and reminiscing have catapulted time into lightning speed. Our trip has ended and in the blink of an eye, we’re home doing clean-up. It dawns on me that I don’t want this set stashed away again, hidden beneath pots and pans and forgotten until the next trip. These forks, knives, and spoons have their own stories to tell. I combine them with our sets and I’m not bothered that they don’t match our decor. Years ago, the difference would’ve mattered. Now, life is a far cry from when mom and dad were still with us, so as we sit at our table using this shiny silverware, the family tales continue. We smile, we laugh, and now and then, tears that we thought had dried up, slowly find their way down our cheeks again.

Maybe I didn’t see the true value when this set was given to me. Perhaps I was blinded by tears, existing in my world of grief where a dark cloud was parked above my head. It could be that I hadn’t processed the finality of their death. I would see them again, wouldn’t I? The phone will ring and I’ll listen to Mom’s, “I just wanted to hear your voice.” Or, they’ll be over for lunch next week. When enough time had passed, reality sank in: I acknowledged their passing for what it was and accepted the truth. So, the timing and how I stumbled upon this treasure was relevant. My grieving had ended, widening the gap for remembering all the good things that keep us moving forward when we lose a loved one. Even in this set’s simplicity, its silver clean lines prove to be a nostalgic gem never to be buried again.

The painting of our cabin was done by a friend in Big Bear and my sister has it in her house – a treasure to keep forever.

Lauren Scott (c) 2020


Letters in the Sky

A loving marriage lasting over six decades is as awe-inspiring as a star-filled night sky. I never grew tired of hearing my parents talk about how they met. Each detail was infused with love that put a twinkle in their eyes as they grew older.

It was springtime in Milwaukee when the city began to thaw and patio furniture came out of hibernation. Locals, excited for warmer temperatures, bid their parkas farewell and reached for shorts and sandals. It did not matter if the weather was only in the fifties; it was still much warmer than living through winter’s aggression. World War II had already begun. The atmosphere was unsettling.

The writing of my parents’ story would not have transpired without Dad’s friend, George. Dad was in the U.S. Army Air Force at the time but home on a 3-day pass. He happened to visit George at work one day at the bank, and walking into the bank’s entry, he noticed a beautiful gal with gorgeous legs sitting behind a desk. He was captivated.

mom

George managed to talk Mom into a blind date with Dad, but the condition was for George and his girlfriend to join in. And so, a double date was set. The beautiful young woman with the nice legs was nineteen and the handsome young gentleman was twenty-one when they met on June 29, 1941. The two couples enjoyed good conversation, laughter, dinner at Wegerman’s Resort at Pewaukee Lake, and dancing to the tunes of Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller. This evening proved to be the spark that ignited my parent’s love for each other.

Do you believe in love at first sight? They did. Early the following year, Dad was informed that his squadron was to be dispatched to the European Theater. This news and the fact that he was in love with Mom complicated matters. He did not want to lose her, so he proposed, hoping with all his heart her answer would be yes. Her feelings matched his, but she declined Dad’s proposal because of the imminent uncertainty. Mom had never been impulsive, so had she left the decision up to her heart, she would have married him immediately. Dad was disappointed but respected her wishes. However, I should tell you that persistence turned into his new middle name.

Some time passed and while they were out for dinner one night, Dad asked Mom to marry him again. He felt a second try was worthwhile because she was the only woman who held his heart. In the restaurant, they sat on red velvet chairs and their table was dressed in a silky white tablecloth. Twinkle lights glistened above as Dad proposed in the glow of the soft-lit candle on their table. Restaurant patrons nearby witnessed this occasion, clapping when they heard her say, “Yes!” Mom offered her left hand as Dad slipped the solitaire on her ring finger. Its sparkle matched the tears of joy in her eyes. She loved him without a doubt and realized life will always be full of unknowns.

Dad was then stationed overseas for three years – a long time for them to be apart. They stayed in touch by old-fashioned letter writing, which enabled them to learn more about each other and grow closer while separated by an ocean and war. I imagine them holding the precious envelope to their cheek as though it was the cheek of their beloved. They professed their love as their letters flew back and forth among the cotton ball clouds in the sky, befitting as the glue in their long-distance relationship.

The year was 1945 and the weather was frosty in early February. Dad was fortunate to return to America on a “rotation plan,” meaning thirty days at home then returning to Italy. After taking a quick two weeks to plan their wedding, the aisle of the church sanctuary gracefully carried Mom towards her future husband on February 24th as he waited at the altar. She wore an ivory satin wedding gown that cost $39.95 and she looked as elegant and classy as Rita Hayworth. Dad looked handsome as ever in his Air Force Uniform. Following their honeymoon in Chicago at The Edgewater Beach Hotel on Lake Michigan, he returned to Europe and the ink on the stationery kept the fires burning until he was honorably discharged in September.

Mom and Dad wedding 1945

Over the years, their faces lit up when they told of those early memories. Their romance, love, and excitement danced in every sentence. Now that they have both passed, I miss the story-telling. I miss the animation in Dad’s voice and facial expressions, how Mom filled in the gaps where Dad left blank spaces, or how she fine-tuned his recollections. Their marriage was not devoid of struggles, but it was one of commitment and everlasting love. They were “attached at the hip.” He was her best friend and she was his.

As Dad once said, “That blind date blossomed into sixty-seven years of marriage, three lovely daughters, seven grandchildren, and thirteen great-grandchildren. So, I am very grateful to my friend, George!” To fall in love on a blind date, to hug good-bye in distressing war times, to stay in touch through handwritten letters, and to share seventy years is my parents’ story. Dad is not around to tell their tale anymore, nor is Mom to chime in when she should, but the memories stay vivid and their story is ageless. What a journey they traveled together through rainbows and rainstorms.

 

mom and baby lauren

Mom and guess who?

family

My family…
I have older sisters who are almost two years apart.
Then I came ten years later. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed my parent’s love story. ❤

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

 

 

 

 

Anticipation

The day is approaching
when I’ll be left
standing on the sidewalk
watching your car
become smaller and smaller
as the distance between us
grows wider

Your dream has been patient
for a lifetime, it seems
It’s been eager to be set free
So I’m glad the time has come
for you to chase it

When you reach that state,
Capture it, Hold it tightly
as if it’s a new puppy
wiggling excitedly
to jump out of your arms
Feel the joy I feel for you –
know how proud I am

Oh, yes, I’ll shed
a few…
in fact, the rain
may linger
for a day or two

But remember
to live your dream
knowing my love for you
stays in your heart
wherever you may travel

Lauren Scott © 2018
(To my daughter) ❤

Five O’clock

The table was always
beautifully adorned
with pretty linen and
mouthwatering aromas

three sets of pigtails
never starved
for love and care

ashtrays were fixtures,
but laps in the pool
would offset inhaling –
years later, those clear-
colored decorations
would disappear

they loved and laughed
into their ninth decade,

but the secret remained
a mystery, until…

with a wink and a smile,
it was said to be
the olive in the martini

Lauren Scott © 2018

The Right Time

Within the four walls
memories stir, the smell
of cologne remains
poignant, the sound of
laughter echoes a favorite
tune, tears struggle to
be set free.

The closet’s belly stays 
nearly full after six months’
worth 
of grieving. Clothes
hang 
proudly as if he’ll
search 
for the right shirt
and matching 
pants for the
day’s 
activities, all hoping
to be 
chosen for the outing.
Shoes sit tightly for their
next walk like dogs eagerly
awaiting their master’s call.

Some belongings have
warmed 
the backs of those
in need. But 
emotion’s pull is
firm, so to surrender
 all
feels like a balloon slipping
through fingers, escaping
into the big blue, slowly
fading away…

Lauren Scott © 2018

 

29 Years and Counting!

In honor of our 29th wedding anniversary, here is a poem I wrote years ago for my husband. Some of you may remember it…

box-with-red-bow

The Box

You placed it in my hands, adorned with a red bow
only a short clip of time had passed by our window

After pulling out tissue paper of white
I was entranced by the amazing sight

For inside was a lifetime together and
a house to be filled by the love we would gather

The walls stood bare waiting for memories to dress
showing reasons for us feeling truly blessed

The best gift of all, though, I am thrilled to say
was your heart at the bottom, committed to stay

Lauren Scott © 2018
Photo: Google

our wedding jan 21 18989

(Over the years, some things have changed besides us getting older :). God Bless my husband’s mom and both of my parents as they rest in Heaven. And we hope for  another 29 years, so we can continue growing old together.) 💕

Dear Dad,

family

daughters

Your beloved wife has been with the angels
Your time has now come, our hearts ever faithful

For you wear your wings now, as you soar beside Mom
Two more angels in Heaven, as we play your song

Swaying to the oldies, you both loved to dance
The timing is now for your second chance

Lauren Scott 2017
(Today is the two-month anniversary of my Dad’s death. The
grieving process shifts from one stage to another. It’s still with us –
we miss our parents, but knowing they’re together again grants us
comfort and peace. These are just two photos of many more that
will be cherished forever.) 💕