There's Nothing Harder
Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hey Internet! Long time, no see!


I needed that little break to repair my soul and also to do my laundry. But now, thankfully, things are back to normal or at least my definition of normal which is most certainly much different than yours. I mean, I bet you didn't interrupt a phone conversation yesterday to yell at your daughter as she was using the bathroom with the door open, since no one in this house of estrogen believes in modesty and say,"Hey, take off my thong!" 

You don't want my normal. 

And speaking of my normal, I wanted to tell you about one week in December, one week that has etched its passage into my heart. And when I tell you this story, know the irreverence and black humor I use to retell it is exactly what got us through that week. So when I joke, it is the part I like to remember, the part that knit us all closer together as we stumbled through the valley of the shadow of death. 

But before I tell my story, I need to back it up to October. October in Napa. Three words that are simply the essence of paradise.

We were in Napa and since we tend to pack lightly, my hubs was out of clean jeans. And since it was a Saturday, our hotel's cleaning service wouldn't be able to get his jeans back to him until Monday. And since he is what I like to call a Fancy Nancy, he couldn't handle the thought of re-wearing his jeans. Oh, the humanity! And since we know Napa like the back of our hands, we took our dirty things to the little laundromat in Yountville we'd passed by 100 times before. 

I left my hubs to do the laundry, because I'm nice like that, while I sat outside breathing in the beauty of Napa. Even in a laundromat, that land of milk and honey and wine is absolutely succulent. 

My hubs was taking great delight in holding up all my delicates, (that would be my lacy thongs), to the giant windows for all of the laundromat to see and yelling, "This is yours, right?"

I was doing my best to ignore him as I watched the little sparrows flitting in and out of the Clematis-covered arbor that hung over the laundromat entrance. And as I watched them, I noticed a sweet little Hispanic boy across from me, whose parents were busy with laundry, stealing shy glances my way. I smiled and gave him a little wave and pointed to the sparrows and said, "Aren't they beautiful?"

He didn't answer, but we flirted back and forth, exchanging fleeting smiles under lidded eyes. 

At one point, I was distracted by my hubs who was holding up another pair of my delicates for all the world to see. It is why I didn't notice my little friend suddenly standing right in front of me. 

He was saying, "Awwww, Awwww" over and over again like a song and it took me a second to realize he was holding his closed hands out to me, an offering of some sort. I looked in between his chubby hands and spotted tiny feathers, black pebble eyes and heard the panicked warbling of a captured sparrow.

I said to my little friend in wonder, "Did you catch this?" He nodded and nudged his closed hands closer to me, a gift. I stroked the dainty bird's chest and felt the tiny pit-pat of her heartbeat, reverberating through her like thunder, in her fright. 

I said to my new boyfriend, "She's beautiful. Thank you for letting me pet her. But I think we should let her go. Why don't you open up your hands, so we can watch her fly away."

And he did just that, opened his fingers, one by one and gave that tiny feathered girl back her freedom. We watched her flutter away. And as she sang her song, so full of joy for the simple gift of air on her wings, I was struck with this mix of beauty and sadness that comes in some of life's most extraordinary moments and how it seems that when life is raw and at its best, there cannot be one without the other. Beauty and sadness nestled into the corners of my soul on that ordinary afternoon. 

This is my friend. Guillermo. I won't forget him or his gift of a sparrow, if only for that infinitesimal second.

Fast Forward to an another day in early December. 

We got the call on a Monday afternoon. "It's time. You need to come quickly."

My mother-in-law had been admirably battling kidney cancer. Only one year ago, the doctors had discovered a recurrence after living cancer free for over ten years. They'd caught it quickly and were quite optimistic from that first biopsy up until just one month ago, when she'd been taken to the emergency room. She'd been "a mite dizzy" for the last few weeks and suddenly that little bit of dizziness had turned into incapacitating vertigo. 

Two days later, after opening her up, the doctors' optimism vanished when they found the cancer had morphed into an insipid army, terrorizing almost every part of her body. 

A few weeks later, we were here, my hubs and I driving that weary 7 hour drive up to the Panhandle, for a last goodbye.

My husband, who'd been spending most of his time with her, tried to brace me—about her feeding tube, her inability to swallow or speak above a whisper and her emaciated condition. 

But I was fine. I didn't need bracing. I was going to be the strong one for him. I might be a dramatic girl. I might cry at commercials. I might feel that I walk around the world with my skin inside out, my heart laid open, so vulnerable to the weight of everything. But I am strong when it comes to the big stuff. A woman's fortitude is something to be reckoned with. And I have fortitude in bunches. 

I was fine. Until we walked through her door. 

Until I stepped into her home where I have celebrated holidays and introduced babies and chased after toddlers and lectured teenagers to mind their manners, where I have spent most of my waking hours in the kitchen with my mother-in-law, as she made us feast after feast after feast. 

As soon as I walked in and saw the two recliners, his and hers empty—as soon as I stepped through the doorway of that familiar place, I broke down. My hubs family encircled me and brought me to the couch, telling me that it was okay to cry, but to get it all out before I went in to see her. 

I sat there on her pristine white couch, that couch that made me cringe every time we came to visit with toddlers and essentially, got my shit together. Saturday Night Fever was on the television, which struck me. A movie involving disco dancing and John Travolta in tight polyester pants, would have NEVER made air time in their house as they sat there in their matching recliners. The TV was always on and always blasting at my father-in-law's high volume, a strict regimen of war movies, cooking shows, The PTL club and Fox news.

I sat there and focused on John strutting and whirling and revolutionizing the way white people danced while the Bee Gee's nasally harmonized that I should be dancing, yeah.

After watching John's gyrations, I felt empowered enough to go join my hubs who had strode right in to see her because as it turns out, he is the strong one.

And as much as he'd tried to prepare me, I was shocked at this fragile creature before me. Just a few weeks before, I'd i-chatted with her and she'd been fine. Perfectly, perfectly fine. Not this frail woman in a hospital bed, who looked as if she would shatter into pieces if I touched her, her bones jutting out through her skin.

She never opened her eyes as we told her we were there, but she whispered something in my ear, the last words she would ever say to me.

Unfortunately, I have no idea what those words were. When someone can't speak above a whisper, it's rude to ask them to repeat themselves.

And besides,

I wasn't sure I wanted to hear what she had to say.

You see, there's this big hardy-har-har joke in the Mannix family.

My husband's Nana lived over 100 years.

She was a spritely, no-nonsense Italian woman who had no problem saying whatever came to her mind.

When we called to tell her that our third and final child was another girl, this Italian lady who'd been so focused on getting a grandson, said to us, "Oh, that's a shame. Well, what're you gonna do? Love her anyway."

Nana was always quite fond of me, even though I brought only girls to her Italian table. We had a great rapport. One time, I filmed her for hours, as she regaled me with tales of her family history. I was always the one most eager to hear her stories and she appreciated it.

Others were not as lucky to claim Nana's admiration. The unluckiest was her son's girlfriend, his girlfriend of 40 years to be exact.

I won't go into specifics, but Nana did not care for her son's girlfriend at all. And she made no secret of her contempt.

By the time Nana hit 100, she could no longer see very well due to macular degeneration. Her hearing was also kaput. She spent the last of her days in an assisted living facility.

On her 100th birthday, we had a party for her. As I bent down to give her a hug, she growled, "Get her the hell away from me. Get this she-devil the hell away from me!"

I was astonished. Of course, the family thought it was the most hilarious thing they'd ever witnessed.

My mother-in-law was the one who figured it out. The girlfriend had platinum hair, too. Granted, hers was a snappy bouffant, sprayed down with enough Aqua Net to smother the planet, but still . . .

It turned into this running joke in the family that Nana saw into my soul in her final days and what she saw was a she-devil.

So when my mother-in-law whispered whatever it is she whispered, I would like to believe it was words of love and not some new proclamation of the devil that may or may not be festering inside my soul, unbeknownst to me.

After we spent some time with my mother-in-law, we decided to all go out for a bite to eat. Which, at 9:00, in a tiny little town in the Panhandle, in the dead of winter is easier said than done. We were on the hunt for oysters because during certain months in the Panhandle, you can't get them any fresher unless you dig them out of the water yourself. But restaurant after restaurant had already closed for the night.

We finally ended up in a bar filled with men in camo ball caps who all had names like Tater and Cletus. And ladies who clearly considered scrunchies and stonewashed jeans as the height of fashion. There were no oysters, so we ordered pizza and vodka in plastic cups and tried to talk over the screaming guitars and badly-shouting lead singer of the 80s cover band.

And then, blessedly, there was a break and for a few minutes we caught up with each other and spoke about the unknown of the days to come. We'd barely started our conversations when there was an announcement, proclaiming a special treat—a group of ladies were going to entertain us all with their Zumba workout.

Now . . .

I have experienced a variety of wacky and wonderful things in my lifetime.

But a Zumba workout? In a bar? In Tater's bar?

These Panhandle people sure know how to party.

My sister-in-law and I rushed to the dance floor to watch this wondrous demonstration.

And the ladies did not disappoint.

After we finished up our pizza and Zumba, we headed over to the condo we had rented on the beach.

My sister-in-law, the bad ass, was planning on staying with us, since we had plenty of bedrooms and my mother-in-law's house was full with the rest of the family.

And as luck, or at least our luck when it comes to renting accommodations blindly, would have it, the place that looked so promising on the internet ended up being a dump. A dirty dump.

From the paint peeling front door

To the cracks and mold

To the mirrored bedroom of 1974, which sadly I did not take a picture of.

But trust me, it was Bow Chicka Wow Wow

To the vile bacteria that must have been everywhere, causing my sister-in-law to have this allergic reaction within two minutes of being there:

My hubs took one look and said, "We're out." And there at midnight, he called the owners, told them we were leaving and then said to me, "We're going to Jimmy's."

Whenever I think about that week, the brightest spot will always be Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Hotel.

I have always loved that hotel.

But now? After spending heart crushing days, watching my mother-in-law fade away, that hotel was the sweetest refuge in the world every night.

That downy bed and plump pillows as soft as a blanket of clouds.


Those wonderful peaceful colors, the colors of the Gulf, so serene.

The touches of Jimmy and his love for the Gulf everywhere

Our wraparound balcony overlooking the Gulf, so still and tranquil and beautifully desolate, almost wild-like as the icy winter winds blew over the barren beaches.

Every morning, as we prepped ourselves for another heart-breaking day, my hubs would turn on the Jimmy Buffet channel. It was video after video of Jimmy and all of his friends, making such joyful noise. There was even one video that played often featuring a sexy, long-haired, 80s Bono singing, "Please Come Home For Christmas." I'd break out in smiles and sigh my lustful Bono sigh every time it played.

I think Jimmy and Jesus just might have been watching out for me.

My favorite time throughout that week was always the end of the day, when we would return worn out and depleted. My hubs would open a bottle of wine and I would step out on the balcony as the duskiness of nightfall settled in and the light had turned that melancholy blue of winter. It was hauntingly beautiful.

My hubs asked me the other day, "Tell me the best part of that week."

And for both of us, it was the sanctuary of that hotel.

I have loved Jimmy Buffett since the days when I would spend countless hours in a certain boy's car and on his boat, with Jimmy, his favorite, as our background make-out music.

But now? I feel like Jimmy was this scruffy, tequila drenched angel who got us through that week and I will never skip over a Buffett song on my iPod ever again.

We inhabited my mother-in-law's house during the day, cooking and talking and drinking wine and laughing. A family reunited under the direst of circumstances.

There was the night we bought steaks and seafood from the big fish market and this family of cooks all gathered together to make a splendid feast as my mother-in-law drifted in and out in her bedroom right off the kitchen, somewhere between this world and the next.

We drank wine out of her favorite glasses and cooked together in her kitchen and laughed and cried and then laughed some more.

Afterwards, we went in to see her and asked her nurse, (a family friend), if perhaps we were being too loud. Her nurse said from the way she'd reacted, she knew she liked it, the sound of her family in her kitchen. What noise could be sweeter to woman who spent her lifetime creating delicacies for her loved ones?

And as we stood there telling Mom about our evening, her daughter slid into bed with her and began to sing in her beautiful, smoky jazzy voice. Her other daughter took her hand and joined in, two girls singing to their momma, giving her the same comfort she had once given them. It was a sacred moment and I stayed for a little bit, but then tiptoed out. It was too sacred, too beautiful and I felt it was not mine to view.

The rest of the week was spent at her bedside, watching and waiting for the inevitable. I would often sit with her and as I watched her labored breathing, I wondered what was it like, this place where we will all eventually come to. Where was she? How did it feel to be in between worlds?

And as the days unfolded into one another, my mother-in-law held on. We weren't sure what was keeping her tied to the earth. Even the hospice nurses were surprised at her tenacity. My husband's godmother said to him in a conversation over the phone, "She's old school. Toughness is keeping her here." I thought there was nothing more apt.

Hospice had given us a book, a powder blue, cheery looking book. But the words behind that benign cover were not happily ever after kind of words. They were filled with information about the physical and emotional signs of pending death.

My sister-in-law, the bad-ass, constantly referred to it and constantly misplaced it. She spent the week saying, "Have you seen the Death Book?"

She'd read in the Death Book that it was important for each loved one to give the dying person permission to go.
And so we did. It was more difficult for some more than others, but as the days wore on and she fought for each breath, we all wanted her to take flight, to leave her broken body behind.

My sister-in-law told us that Mom had said she wanted to be with Jesus for Christmas. And as she continued to hold on, we joked about putting on Santa hats and proclaiming Merry Christmas to her.

Yes, we are a sordid lot.

It was the longest time of my life, of all of our lives.

And then finally after far too long, in a body ravaged by this horrid disease, she chose to go.

We got the phone call one morning, just as the sun was peeking out of that beautiful horizon.

We hurried over. Hospice was there, telling us there was no reason to take vitals any longer, that her meds except for pain could be stopped, that death was coming before nightfall.

We waited. We drifted in and out of her room watching her breaths grow further and further apart.

We were in the family room, talking and laughing at mindless things when my husband who'd gone into check on her, rushed out to say, "Right now. Come say goodbye."

We were all there, grouped around her as she sailed away, away from pain and sickness and into the arms of her husband and all the loved ones who'd been waiting for her.

One of the few movies I never grow tired of watching is "Terms of Endearment."

I love everything about that movie.

I watched it the other day while I was working out.

It always gets to me when Debra Winger dies, but this time when Shirley Maclaine said, "Oh God. I'm so stupid. So stupid . . . Somehow I thought when she finally went, that it would be a relief. Oh my sweet little darling! Oh dear. There's nothing harder. Nothing."

I stopped the treadmill, breathless at the reality in that truth.

When her last breath came and we realized that she had left us for good, it crushed us. There is nothing that can describe that moment. No words to describe how lamentable that exact moment of departure is. Even though we were ready, even though we'd read the Death Book cover to cover, even though we'd watched her fade away, even though the hospice nurses had told us that this was, indeed, the end—her leaving still took us by surprise with its stealthy punch.

There is nothing harder. Nothing.

After we said our goodbyes, we all scattered to do our duties. To make phone calls. To notify the funeral directors. To get our instructions from the wonderful hospice nurse who was there with us.

My husband ordered pizza for our empty stomachs and even though it was barely afternoon, I poured wine with shaking hands and we all drank, grateful for the fortification.

That night, my hubs and I and my sister-in-law, who also had a room back at Jimmy's, stopped to have a gourmet dinner on the way back to the hotel. My hubs ordered a bottle of champagne and we toasted my mother-in-law, the tiny bubbles tickling my nose. And we remembered her in the brightest moments. As it should be.

At her funeral, a dear friend of hers stood up and told us that when she sang, (she had a beautiful voice), you could see the Holy Spirit filling her up. And then he led us all in a hand clapping, boot stomping rendition of one of my mother-in-law's favorite songs,"I'll Fly Away."

It was the only time during her funeral that I wept.

I told you, I am strong when it counts. And I held it together, except as we raised our voices in that righteous, rollicking, Go-To-Jesus tune.

I thought of that little sparrow, so joyful to be free. I thought of my mother-in-law who most certainly felt the same way. I thought of beauty and sadness and how life is an unending circle of these and a thousand other sensibilities. I thought of blue evenings and a family who had now buried both parents in less than a year's time. I thought of my girls and how we would go on and on and on. All of us, side by side. Beauty and Sadness, side by side.

Rest in Sweet Peace, Marie. I'll see you on the other side. Hopefully. If I'm not a she-devil in disguise.

P.S: A promise. No more sadness after this post. I'll bring the funny with me next time I see you. And it might just be about arrests over my hair. That's all I'm sayin'.

Today's Definite Download: Of course-"I'll Fly Away." I went to youtube to find a rendition that would give that great song justice and I sure found it, alright. "I'll Fly Away" by the incomparable Johnny Cash, his wife June, The Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins and the Carter Family.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah.





Joann




36 comments:

TesoriTrovati said...

I have been praying for you and your family every day since you mentioned that the end was near for sweet Marie. You have me in tears her at work, so I look like a crazy fool that gets upset when the toner doesn't print on the page. That was a beautiful, blessed story of life and love and the power of faith. Thank you for sharing this story. I hope that you can find peace in her passing. It reminded me very much of my father-in-law's final days, but we were in a hospital. And the eagle is the bird that reminds me of him, as we saw one soaring the day that he died, and have seen them since on the farm where he lived. So glad that Marie could be at home surrounded by all of you doing what you all do best - being a family. Much love to you as you continue on, Miss Joann.

Find your 'something good' every day.

Enjoy the day.
Erin

deb colarossi said...

well, I'm in tears.
So sorry for all of you , but what a legacy , what honour.
( my mother passed away on Boxing Day... so this was hard to read, but beautiful too, thank you Joann. and I can't watch/listen to the song. not yet )

Lisa said...

Oh Joann. I don't know what to say. I am, literally, sobbing. This post was so filled with love and honesty and poignancy.

Marie must have been a special, special woman to have inspired such love and devotion - which shines through in every word you wrote.

Peace be with you, my friend.

From Tracie said...

I'm crying so hard reading this. Partly because it hits so close to home for me...but also because of the beauty you have shared of these final days.

Praying hard for your family.

twelvedaysold said...

This was beautiful. I keep writing and deleting, because I just can't find the words to say. I think you said them all.

Mama Insomnia said...

Your words are too beautiful, even as they describe death. This post touched me deeply as my godmother also just sucummbed to cancer. Like your mother in law, she was tougher than most anyone I know. She fought breast cancer since her mid-forties and kept fighting right up until her last breath.
Maybe my godmother and your mother in law will find each other in heaven and enjoy a drink together!Hugs and prayers to you and your family!

Heather H said...

I always love your posts, but this is especially beautiful to me.

My grandfather died rather unexpectedly right before Christmas five years ago. We were fortunate enough that the hospital realized what was coming and called us to his bedside early that morning, and we got one final day with him - even if he had no clue we were there. After 12 hours at someone's side waiting for them to die, you think you're ready, but when I realized he had stopped breathing, it was so hard. So, so hard. I might have lost it a bit. It was definitely a punch to the gut.

But he got to spend Christmas with Jesus, and there's nowhere else he would have wanted to be.

Even five years later, and having lost the rest of my grandparents during that time, I have to agree with what you said - there is nothing harder.

I'm so glad you and your husband and his family were all there for her at the end - twisted senses of humor and all. Lots of love to you!

The Furry Godmother said...

What a poignant, graceful end to a wonderful life. Like when Brian Andreas wrote about his grandmother's death? He opened a window and the room swirled with a thousand purple butterflies...

Alice said...

Well I made it pretty far down your post before the tears came. It was the part about spending Christmas with Jesus that did me in. After my own mother died this year, my sister sent me this poem:

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below,
With tiny lights like Heaven's stars reflecting in the snow.
The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away the tear,
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.


I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,
But the sounds of music can't compare with the Christmas choir up here.I have no words to tell you the joy their voices bring,
For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.


I know how much you miss me; I see the pain within your heart.
But I am not so far away; we really aren't apart.
So be happy for me, dear ones, you know I hold you dear,And be glad I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I send you each a special gift from my heavenly home above;
I sent you each a memory of my undying love.For love's a gift more precious even than pure gold.
It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other as my Father said to do,
For I can't count the blessings He has for each of you.
So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear.
Remember, I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

Thank you for sharing your touching story with us. You've got some wonderful memories to keep in your heart.

Pat said...

You described losing someone who has been sick to a "T". Even though this is what everyone is expecting and waiting for, that feeling of loss hits you right in the stomach AND heart.

I am sorry for your loss.

Suniverse said...

Oh, honey.

You had me weeping, and I am the strong one.

[My mom and her sisters just left this past week to the old country to see their mother who is deteriorating fast. It's never easy.]

HEATHER said...

Oh Joann, this is such a beautiful post! Hugs & love!

Gigi said...

I'm so very sorry for your family's loss (it seems such a trite thing to say - but I really am). You documented it beautifully and I've had tears for you all.

Livin' In Duckville said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I've been praying for you all. As I read through your post I kept thinking how blessed you are... how amazing your family is... Hugs...

Heather said...

I am so sorry for your family's loss, but so grateful that you have shared this beautiful story with us.

Kate said...

Aw, hey, if you need to be sad here, be sad. You do it so beautifully. I was in tears again.

But remind me never to let you guys make my hotel reservations. :)

karen said...

This really hit me. We lost my grandmother last April. She was a few months shy of 100, but she was a tough woman and it was hard for her to leave. (Probably afraid she's miss a party!) Hospice led us all through the process, we whispered our love for her in her ear, and finally (when we'd all gone for the night) she slipped away to meet her husband and 8 sisters. At the funeral I slipped her little white Keds into the casket with her. I know she'll want them. I can only imagine how light she is on her feet now and how good she feels. But it's still hard. Your story was beautiful because it was a story told with great love. It brought back a hard time, but it also made me realize how important a loving family is when you're on life's final journey. It's important for them to be on both sides. And I believe for your mother in law - and my grandma - they were. Thanks for sharing - very sweet.

LisaPie said...

Oh Joann, honey I am just so proud of the beautiful job you did. Tell your sweet husband his mama gorgeous on her wedding day. I am sure that whatever she wanted you to know was not about you being a she-devil, more likely about what a wonderful wife, mother and daughter you are.

Lady Jennie said...

I cried when her daughters sang to her.

I'm so so grateful you guys had Jimmy.

And sending you loads of love, hugs and affection.

The Woven Moments said...

This was so beautifully written. I'm sorry for your loss - your MIL sounds like a wonderful lady.

The daughters singing had me reaching for the tissues but my FAVORITE line has to be, "I think Jimmy and Jesus just might have been watching out for me."

If only we were all that lucky!

Kimberly said...

What noise could be sweeter to woman who spent her lifetime creating delicacies for her loved ones.....
This? is beautiful and so true.
This reminded me so much of my grandma's passing. We all gathered around her bed and sang the most ridiculous songs. It made us all laugh. She hung in for such a long time. We even joked with her saying that I (being a nurse) was going to shoot the rest of her pain meds in if she didn't die soon...cause we were tired...we all have a sick sense of humour.
Once she woke up from a deep sleep and she looked around and said "Ugh, you're all still here? I'm not dead yet?"
She killed me.
Also, she was Italian.
I'm so so so so SO sorry for your loss. She sounded like an amazing woman.
Sending lots of prayers and love.
Welcome back thong wearing sparrow petting you.

Diane LeBleu said...

Wow - what am amazing story. I'm speechless and that is not a common occurrence. Peace to your family - you sound like an amazing group of people.

Judie said...

I am overwhelmed. I have to come back and give you a comment that this post deserves after I collect myself, Joann.

Alyson -- Common Sense, Dancing said...

Joann, so sorry for your family's loss -- your writing clearly told the story of a woman who loved, and was loved by, a wonderful family.

I have an aunt who has just entered hospice care for the later stages of ALS (Lou Gehrig's) and we as an extended family have begun to experience the same kinds of things about death and dying, the power of love and the importance of family.

Thanks for this post.

Julie said...

I know you know how lucky you were to have this beautiful woman as your mother-in-law; to watch her strength and joy as her family grew and gathered; to have learned from her and loved her; to see the best parts of her in your husband and children.

But let me also say how lucky she was to have you.

Because you are extraordinary, Joann. And your words here are a lovely, permanent tribute to life-well-lived.

There is nothing harder, I'm sure that's true.

And also nothing more wonderful than your love.

Cari from Bubble Gum on my Shoe said...

My sympathies, JoAnn. She was breathtaking. Aren't those old pictures just amazing?

My Uncle passed away over the holiday as well. The funeral was on New Year's Eve. He was such a vibrant, jolly man that it seemed appropriate. I loved having my family all there and the laughter, that is the best medicine.

Lastly, I have extreme-roach-motel-aphobia, and that would've had me running too! Jimmy's looked divine, and I do like his songs too:)

Rae said...

Hugs to you...I have missed you...You never fail to bring me that twinge of tears- right along with a belly laugh or two. Your talent is amazing and I would read you everyday if I could. Stay with us here in Blogland. I promise we'll listen to Jimmy Buffet, watch the birds, and exorcise any she-devils! Keep it up!

Two Normal Moms said...

My heart is so full of memories and love and sadness right now. I swear I memorized that damn death book when my MIL was losing her battle to cancer.

This was a really beautiful post Joann. You nailed the feelings, the humor, the closeness, the happy and the sad. She'd be pleased, I'm sure.

Meg at the Members Lounge said...

What a great way to celebrate Marie's life! I'm glad you posted that photo of her; she sure was a pretty bride. Your tribute just took me on quite a ride this morning - beautiful!

Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal said...

What a beautiful post. I absolutely love that wedding photo of her. I hope my last days are filled with laughter and celebration all around me. Not celebration that I am dying but you know, of my life. Which gets me to thinking, I really should start doing more now that can be remembered when I am dying!

What Nana said when your last daughter was born sounds just like something my Gram would have said. Luckily I had boys. But still, when I named the last one Aaron she said, Ohhhh, another Jewish name.

And Terms of Endearment is one movie that turns me into a blubbering mess!

You're hair huh?

Dawn in D.C. said...

Joann,I know this couldn't have easy for you to share, but I'm glad you did.

You said all the things I couldn't when my won sweet mom passed away last year. She too, said somethig to me that I didn't understand. Even now, I think she told me she was ready to go and she did.

Thank you for wrapping me up in your family, as I can feel the love there, as we could in our family.

Bless you all.

Rebecca Grace said...

I'm such a dork at this -- I've tried at least 6 times to write this comment and it always comes out awkward and empty and odd. I wish I could fit words together to send you a little comfort and make you feel freshly hugged. So please ignore or excuse my inadequate words, and know that I have to comment despite having nothing to say. I think we all just wanted to let you know that all your bloggy friends are there for you as much as we can be, that we love you just as much when you make us cry as we do when you make us laugh so hard we blow snot bubbles in our coffee.

Anonymous said...

I was moved to tears by your beautiful story. Thank you for writing from the deepest places in your heart.
Sincerely, A New Fan

Sparkling said...

What a great way to remember her final week with you. I'm sorry for your loss and the sadness with which you were hit when the "relief" wasn't quite the relief you thought it would be.

And seriously, a group doing ZUMBA in a bar??? Only you could find that hot mess!

Baby Sister said...

What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful woman. I'm so sorry for your loss. Losing someone so close to you is always so difficult. My prayers are with you and your family.

Millie said...

I've had a 12 month break from the blogging world. Yours was always one of my favourites, making me cry with laughter every post. This post made me cry too, but not with laughter. Thankyou for sharing such a personal time in such a moving, beautiful way.

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