2018 was a very long, tiring and extremely difficult year for our family.
I wouldn’t want to go into too much detail about the specifics, but I felt that I wanted to share something today. Especially today.
We lost our Mom/Grandma on December 26th, 2018.
Lorna Evelynne Rodger was born in Toronto, Ontario on the 29th of March 1945 to Robert Ramsay Rodger and Norma Evelyne Carr. She was their second child and only daughter. Something tells me that Lorna must have been a feisty and determined child. She openly admitted that she and her mother did not always see eye to eye.
She and my father-in-law were married at a young age (19 & 20 respectively). Together they had 4 children (the second eldest being my husband).
Grandma had a liver transplant back in 1999 and I believe had just passed her 20th “transplant-iversary”. If that fact alone isn’t a sign of her strong will and stubbornness I don’t know what is. For obvious reasons she was very passionate about organ donation. I think it’s appropriate to include links where, if you so choose, you can find out more information about organ donation in Canada and the USA.
Don’t take your organs to Heaven, Heaven knows we need them here.
Lorna was unlike any woman I had ever met. She was fiercely determined, which was quite helpful if you ever found yourself in need of an advocate for any reason – she would be the one I would want on my side. I wouldn’t want to argue with her mind you (this is my polite way of saying that she could be quite difficult).
Back in 1995 when we first took the drive out to Ontario to “meet the parents” as it were, my boyfriend/future-hubby told me with no uncertain terms to mentally prepare myself. He told me “She won’t like you, she hasn’t liked anyone.” Gulp. I am very happy to say that we got along quite well, even if we didn’t see eye to eye on every single thing, we found that we had a lot in common.
She adored her 6 grandchildren. Often spoiling them with gifts, oh boy did she did like to shop! Thinking about it terms of the “5 Love Languages” hers would most certainly be “Gift Giving”.
Looking back, I think that if we lived closer I would have spent quite a lot of time having tea on the terrace with my mother-in-law, perhaps while reading a magazine or a cookbook from her vast collection. In fact a lot of our family vacations over the last 25 years have been just that, trips to Toronto which always included some special homemade popcorn (secret recipe) and of course our ritual of swooning over Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing together.
She’s been on my mind a lot lately, maybe because we’re coming up on a year since she passed away (although she had been unwell for some time). Alzheimer’s/Dementia can be a very difficult thing to deal with for a family. To be honest I’m not sure we handled it in the best way possible, it was THE most difficult time, especially when your loved one refuses the help.
We knew with confidence that our hearts were in the right place – mostly wanting her to be safe, keep her dignity and to make sure that she would be receiving the proper care that she needed all the while trying to keep our sanity and our marriage, run a business and a household, have a guest in our house for 3 months, a surgery and time to grieve our mom’s illness and eventual loss. Hey, let’s throw a couple of struggling teenagers into the mix. Sure, why not. It was an emotionally trying time for all of us. Everyone in the family struggled.
When I look back, I think I’m most proud (and I think Mom would have been as well) that when we all got together at the end of December for her service there was plenty of love, there were plenty of tears, there was connection, there was laughter and there was a start to the healing process.
On the plane ride home I was reading “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown. One quote really got me. These difficult stories are part of us.
It is my opinion that things do not get better by not talking about them, but I can respect that not everyone feels the same. You need to do what’s best for yourself to heal. We don’t need to dwell. We don’t need to re-hash every conversation. But we do need to stick together as a family in these difficult times, that’s what a family is for isn’t it? The people who will love you at your very best and your very worst? Flaws and all. We all have good days and bad. The things that we say that hurt each other – well, they wouldn’t hurt so bad if we didn’t care…but in the end there is an abundance of love. There is family.
Time heals. So, I am finding that as time passes it is often the little things throughout my day that can bring the memories flooding in. As time ticks along I remember that healing is a process and that you can’t fit it into a perfect time frame. Or expect another person to deal with it the same way you would. I have spent a lot of time sifting through the memories and I make a conscious effort to focus my energy on the good stuff.
I love you Lorna.
Anytime I walk past someone who is wearing “Estee Lauder – Beautiful” perfume OR when I hear a song from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack OR anytime I find myself looking through a new cookbook at Chapter’s or Costco.
Newsflash – Lorna was not a perfect person (who is? certainly NOT me) but she was/is family, one of my bonus moms and I sincerely hope that the message that comes through here on this rambling blog post is one of love. Now please excuse me while I go indulge in some Dad’s oatmeal cookies and some tea in a proper china tea cup.