Two more thoughts

Utah and UW friends

My BFF from the University of Washington and me during one of her visits to our home.

Without my friends I would have been lost.

I’m talking about my recent visit with my mom. In case you missed it, I wrote about it HERE. It was difficult to find my mom in skilled nursing and to see how drastically she’s aged since my last visit.

I stayed with my best friend from college who lives six miles from my mom’s assisted living. Lots of times I stay in a small hotel close by. It’s not that nice, but affordable. It was so much better to come back each day to my friends’ comfy house and not be alone.

My BFF’s husband loves to cook and he shopped and prepared my favorite foods. The first night he made steamed clams, garlic bread and a delicious salad. Last time I visited, we went to Pike Place Market and I bought clams, which he cooked. They remembered how much I enjoyed them which was touching. I suppose they didn’t forget after I kept asking if they wanted the clams on their plates! They surrendered them to me.

steamed clams from Pike Place Market

It was so comforting to not stay by myself and to be able to relax and talk with close friends each day and tell them about my mom. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

The power of music.

One day my mom was kind of out of it. When I walked into her room, she was asleep. She woke up and said “Who are you and what do you want?” I was standing over her bed. To be fair, she didn’t have her glasses on and was groggy.

I got her out of bed and helped her sit in a chair while I sat on her walker. I turned on the TV, but she wasn’t interested and stared down at her hands.

I remembered my brother told me that she perked up listening to music. Mom was a coloratura soprano opera singer. My brother played her Joan Sutherland, a famous coloratura soprano, on his phone and he said Mom sang along with her. I played her favorite songs from Don McClean including Vincent, American Pie, And I Love You So, and Castles in the Air on my phone. She owned every one of McClean’s albums and played them over and over when I was a child.

After a few minutes of listening, my mom began to sing along. The music moved her and made her more alert. She focused on getting out of her chair to walk to her old room. I was amazed at the power of music and the effect it had on her.

“And I Love You So”

And I love you so
The people ask me how
How I’ve lived till now
I tell them “I don’t know”

I guess they understand
How lonely life has been
But life began again
The day you took my hand

And yes I know how lonely life can be
The shadows follow me
And the night won’t set me free
But I don’t let the evening get me down
Now that you’re around me

And you love me too
Your thoughts are just for me
You set my spirit free
I’m happy that you do

The book of life is brief
And once a page is read
All but love is dead
This is my belief

And yes I know how loveless life can be
The shadows follow me
And the night won’t set me free
But I don’t let the evening bring me down
Now that you’re around me

And I love you so
The people ask me how
How I’ve lived till now
I tell them “I don’t know”

One of my mom’s all time favorite artists and songs.

What are your thoughts about the power of friendships and the power of music? Do you have any examples of how they’ve added to your life?

Why was my daughter so annoyed with me?

My kids not wanting me to take their pic.
My kids not wanting me to take their pic.

I wrote this years ago, when I was visiting my mom in assisted living near Seattle. After visiting Mom last week, I wanted to repost this.

Why is my daughter so annoyed with me?

I understand how she feels. After all, I was once 19 years old. I remember it very clearly.

When I was that age, everything my mom did, I found unbelievably annoying.

I’ll never forget sitting with her in the car, getting ready to shop at Bellevue Square. She had parked the car. She was fumbling through her purse, making sure she had what she needed. She reapplied her lipstick. Dug through her purse for her wallet to look through credit cards. Searched several times to check where she placed the keys.

Mom and me in the early 90s, big perm.
Mom and me in the early ’90s Like my perm? My mom’s curls are natural.

Would we never leave the car? Would I be stuck all day? I must have said something to her quite snippy or flat out mean. A few tears rolled down her cheeks. Which made me more upset with her.

Isn’t it a sad feeling, transitioning from a mom who could do no wrong—from changing diapers, to cooking their favorite spaghetti, to taping treasured colorings on the fridge that were made just for you—to being the person of their abject disdain?

It’s a tough new role. Let me tell you.

But, having gone through these feelings myself, I understand. I’m visiting my mom this week in her assisted living center. I talked about it with her, what I’m going through now, and what I felt like when I was 19. Fortunately, she doesn’t remember me ever being a snarky 19-year-old.

For some reason, I’ve gained more patience throughout my life and that has been a blessing. I’ve also learned forgiveness.

Something else I’ve learned through years of parenting — this too shall pass.

It’s called independence and freedom. We want our children to grow and become separate human beings who can stand on their own. They need to separate from us. A good time to do that is during their senior year of high school, or their freshman year of college. They need to. I keep telling myself that.

However, we also want to be treated with respect, and once again—someday—to be cherished.

A beach day with my daughter.
A beach day with my daughter.

Have your children been annoyed with you? Do you remember being annoyed with your parents? What were the reasons why?

Day one of mom and grand-dog duties

Waffles at the ER vet
Waffles the pug not feeling so good.

I made it to the Bay Area to help my daughter who has COVID. I’ve been wondering how much help I can be, since I can’t be with her? If I can’t do much, I’m looking forward to quiet time alone writing.

So far, it turns out — more time than I thought.

I didn’t arrive until evening to my airbnb which is .2 miles from her apartment. The problem is she’s on quarantine and can’t leave her apartment. I’m not sure what the protocol is these days, but I can guarantee she hasn’t hit it yet.

She texted me a list of groceries. I asked if I could go to the Berkeley Bowl to get the items on her list. It’s one of my favorite places to go to when I visit the kids. This running errands will be a treat if it includes the Berkeley Bowl! I blogged about it HERE.

I picked up clam chowder and a salad for my own dinner and a few groceries for my airbnb mini-fridge along with her list. When I dropped off her groceries at her doorstep, we waved at each other through her window.

I walked back to the airbnb and sat to savor the Berkeley Bowl clam chowder. It’s so delicious. I called my son and we were talking about plans for tomorrow’s dinner. He may be recovering from foot surgery, but he doesn’t have COVID. We can be together in person.

That’s when I got a call from daughter asking me to take Waffles the pug to the ER. He’s been having issues with his tummy. I wrote about it HERE a few days ago. Waffles has been throwing up and hasn’t recovered from chicken bones. The animal ER won’t let my daughter with COVID inside.

I sat for more than two hours with Waffles in the waiting room. My daughter texted me the recent details since I was traveling from Arizona and not totally up to date. We — the vet, the vet’s assistant and my daughter on the phone — decided not to hospitalize Waffles last night, but to bring him back in the morning if he doesn’t improve.

I’m wondering what tomorrow’s role as mom and dog grandma will bring? What’s driving me crazy is to be so close to my daughter, but not being able to give her a hug.

Have you traveled to help your kids away from home? How have you helped? How have you helped family members with COVID?

Views from Christmas Week

sunrise over the Pacific
Sunrise view from the VRBO deck.

We spent Christmas together with our kids and our son’s girlfriend and family. This is our third Christmas together. We missed 2020 due to COVID — or it would be number four. This year, we rented a VRBO between our home and the Bay Area (where everyone but us lives). The house was amazing and it was a wonderful few days with family. My daughter and I had a mother-daughter day while the rest went to Solvang. I absolutely loved our time alone together. We spent so much time together while she was growing up that it was taken for granted. Now it’s a huge gift.

Christmas photo in Santa Barbara
The Christmas Crew
The Anderson Bakery in Santa Barbara
One of our musts in Santa Barbara for breakfast.
Statue at the marina in Santa Barbara
Statue at the marina.
Seawall at the Santa Barbara marina.
Seawall at the marina where the ocean and seaweed splashes over the wall.
selfie of mom and daughter
Mother daughter selfie on our much needed day together.
Path over the Santa Barbara marina barrier
At the end of the seawall you can walk the plank to a small beach.
On the Alley fish tacos
Fish tacos from On the Alley in the Santa Barbara marina. The best. I’m trying to find something close in AZ.

All of my son’s girlfriend’s family play stringed instruments. Two of the seven are professional musicians and we enjoyed Christmas Eve, Christmas and post Christmas concerts in our living room. Below are two samples of the amazing music we were treated to.

Christmas Eve concert snippet.

Sights from Pike Place Market

First thing this morning I rushed to see my mom. I called her last night to remind her I was here. The parking lot of her retirement community was cordoned off with yellow tape to force everyone to drive to the front entrance. I parked and got soaked in the pouring rain to get my temperature check for my one-hour appointment. Then I was instructed on how to drive around the complex to get to my mom’s assisted living building. They had installed barriers so nobody can access the community without first checking in at the main entrance.

View of rhododendrons out my mom’s window.

Mom was so excited to see me, but didn’t understand the one-hour rule. I told her it’s because they only allow two visitors in at once, and they want to make sure everyone has a turn. I explained that I’d be coming back each day to spend the hour with her and we could leave and go for a drive to anywhere she wants to go. Today was pouring down rain and cold. She wasn’t interested in going outside. She didn’t sound enthusiastic about the idea for tomorrow, either, but we’ll see. She looked good and it felt wonderful to be with her in person after missing her since before COVID. We were all worried about her because her home is located a few miles from the one in Kirkland, Wash. that had all the deaths early on. They had an outbreak in Mom’s home, too, but she stayed healthy through the entire year.

It’s very strange to have only one hour with her, but I’m here for several days.

Puget Sound view from the market
View of the Puget Sound from Pike Place Market when the rain stopped.

Pike Place Market is one of my favorite places to visit in Seattle. I’m thankful for the chance to go today. And for my friendship with my dear friend I met in college. It’s a treasure to have a friend you can trust, count on and share your deepest secrets. We may not talk to each other for a year or see each other for several, but once together, it’s like we’re still in our 20s and no time has passed at all.

Here are a few photos from Pike Place Market today — a day of rain, sunshine, hail and friendship:

selfies with masks
We decided to do a COVID selfie to remember this year.

La Panier Bakery, Pike Place Market
La Panier Bakery, now in its 38th year.

More photos:

Public Market sign at PIke Place
Red Snapper surrounded by salmon
Dungeness crabs at Pike Place
I have a painting of my favorite food that from 35 years ago of this fishmonger’s unique display of Dungeness crabs. My friend gave it to me when I left Seattle for Palm Springs.
Flowers at Pike Place Market

Back in the thick of things

Mother and me in the 1990s.
Mom and me in the early 90s.

For Mother’s Day I’m visiting Mom. My daughter gave me the plane ticket as a Mother’s Day present. She remembered I said I wanted to visit my mom after this COVID thing allowed me to. My mom is in assisted living in a Seattle suburb. Since they only allow two people in assisted living at once, I had to make reservations each day visit Mom.

My daughter called me yesterday and asked for my schedule of visits. I asked her why? She said, “I know your mom is gong to be sad when you leave, so I’m going to call her when your visit is up.”

I got choked up. How thoughtful is that of a 25-year-old to think about her 89-year-old grandma in such a caring way.’

Today, my husband drove me to the airport. I was overwhelmed with the traffic there. Then the serpentine lines through security and marching orders being barked. It was almost overwhelming to me after a year of quiet solitude. My nerves calmed, I found my gate, and here I sit catching up on my blogging. I feel like things are back to normal, except for wearing a mask for hours on end.

I’m truly back in the thick of things.

mother and daughter at Pike Place Market Seattle
My daughter and me on our last trip to Seattle to visit my mom in 2019 pre COVID.

Have you traveled or done something “normal” at last? How did you feel?

It’s a special Wednesday

pug face
This is Waffles snuggling my daughter.

Today is Wednesday. I’ve been waiting patiently for today to arrive for several weeks. My daughter is coming to visit. She is driving from the Bay Area and should be here within the hour. This is the first time anyone from our family will see our new home. We moved in December.

When we announced to our kids that we were selling our home, they were furious. They were so angry with us that we’d consider selling the only home they ever knew. All the memories of their lifetimes were wrapped up in our 1930’s old Spanish home. Birthday parties, sleepovers, hanging out with friends between swim practices. Christmas, Easter egg hunts, spaghetti feeds for the team. Playdates at the neighborhood park. They were born in the hospital a few blocks away.

old spanish style house
Our home of 28 years.

So today, I get to see my daughter. It took several months for our kids to get over their sadness. They were never coming to Arizona to see us, they told us. But now we get the first visit.

It’s been a tough year for a lot of us. The shut down for two weeks to flatten the curve turned into a long year with people suffering from lost jobs, lost wages, isolation, depression and anxiety. My daughter lost her job due to COVID around 10 or 11 months ago. We told her she’d be fine with the enhanced unemployment. But the state of California couldn’t get that right. She was one of approximately 1.13 million people who are in unemployment limbo.

She got a few checks and then they stopped. They owe her thousands of dollars from summer through today. Nobody answers the phone. She calls and calls. When she was lucky to get through after weeks of calling, the person on the other end of the line said they couldn’t see anything wrong with her file. Finally, after writing to her Assemblywoman and Congressmen, she got through a second time. She was told she was going to receive all her back unemployment. She was thrilled. A week later she was told she’s back on hold and they were investigating her account for fraud. She was crushed. And she continues on in limbo.

Here’s an excerpt of an article that explains the ongoing problems with California unemployment:

With an added emphasis on fraud, the EDD spent the remainder of December locating unemployment benefit cases that were ‘potentially fraudulent’, eventually find around 3.5 million cases that fit that description by late December. Two million of the cases were immediately disqualified, such as those sent to inmates and some registered to deceased people, leaving 1.4 million to be suspended in January while the EDD takes a closer look at them.

The suspension of the accounts led over a million unemployed Californians to learn of the situation in the last week. Many found out from communication with the EDD, being told that “Your claim is suspended because it may be tied to fraudulent activity.” Others received notices in the mail reading “You have been receiving unemployment benefits, but we have temporarily suspended your claim because it may be tied to fraudulent activity. You will receive further instruction from EDD on how to verify your identity beginning Jan. 6, 2021.”

While initially silent, the furor of unemployment beneficiaries, who rely on the money to tide them over during the pandemic while they find another job or wait until their business reopens, led the EDD to make a statement during the weekend, days before the full number of beneficiaries in limbo was known.

“As part of ongoing efforts to fight fraud, EDD has suspended payment on claims considered high risk and is informing those affected that their identity will need to be verified starting this week before payments can resume,” tweeted the EDD. “More details on the EDD website in the days ahead.”

What a nightmare! It’s hard enough to lose your job. But then California can’t do what it’s promised to do to help. It’s been hard for her to stay positive. She’s been locked down in a tiny apartment for months on end and is suffering from depression. The Bay Area has some of the strictest restrictions of the state. Good news is on the way with vaccines. We’ve all had shots. Now that businesses are beginning to open she has found a job and starts next week. She decided to make the trip to see us before her life gets back to normal. I’m so thankful I get to see her!

selfie in front of the Public Market sign downtown Seattle
This was two years ago in Seattle on a mother-daughter trip.