Thursday, December 17, 2009

Things that made me cry this week...

I finished 2 outfits for Christmas gifts. I tried a new pattern. It didn't turn out exactly like I thought it would, but they are very cute.

I wanted to call and tell mom about them...the issues I had and how they turned out.

I went to bed crying missing her.

Tonight we hosted a piano receital for D and N. They played on the piano some one in my family bought in NY around 1900. I usderstand that my great grandmother was an exceptional pianist. My grandmother I am sure had soem training. My mom knew enough to play the music she enjoyed, but would never perform for an audience. I didn't even learn enough to play more than a melody. As Brittany (the instructor) played I thought of how happy Mom and Grandma and even Great Grandmother would be to know that the piano is still being played. And I cried.

Taylor, Brittany (teacher) Paige, D and N

Christmas preparations are in full swing. School is done for the calendar year. The sewing of gifts certainly is not done, but fairly close. I am not giving anyone a box of fabric or an unfinished project...Mom would be proud of me and envious that there were very few years she could say that.

Tomorrow we wrap and bake and roll candies.

Friday, December 11, 2009


My brother, Greg and I each came up with a tribute to share at my mom's Memorial Service.

I introduced my reading with the thoughts that the biggest thing I valued and learned from my mom was the freedom we were given to follow whatever paths we desired. She supported us regardless of what direction those paths took big city or coutry, lots of children or not, religion or not. She loved us and encouraged us regardless of our choices. She didn't always agree or understand, but she did not judge and she did love.

I chose a song from an album I listened to over and over again as a child. I still can recite some of it from memory. I have sicne downloaded it and the tunes and skits are comforting. Free to Be You and Me from the album of the same name by Marlo Thomas and friends:
There's a land that I see where the children are free
And I say it ain't far to this land from where we are
Take my hand, come with me, where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we'll live

In a land where the river runs free
In a land through the green country
In a land to a shining sea
And you and me are free to be you and me

I see a land bright and clear, and the time's comin' near
When we'll live in this land, you and me, hand in hand
Take my hand, come along, lend your voice to my song
Come along, take my hand, sing a song

For a land where the river runs free
For a land through the green country
For a land to a shining sea
For a land where the horses run free
And you and me are free to be you and me

Every boy in this land grows to be his own man
In this land, every girl grows to be her own woman
Take my hand, come with me where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we'll run

To a land where the river runs free
To a land through the green country
To a land to a shining sea
To a land where the horses run free
To a land where the children are free
And you and me are free to be
And you and me are free to be
And you and me are free to be you and me

My brother was more original, but didn't read his tribute, my dad did (and got through it amazingly well).

What My Mom Taught Me

On December 2, 1971 My Mom went to the hospital to bring me into the world. I guess I wasn’t ready, because I didn’t make it easy on her. But I eventually emerged. On this day My Mom taught me how to breathe.

When I was 1 My Mom left me alone in the kitchen with my older sister. She painted my face purple. We My Mom came back, she took a picture before she cleaned my face and I’m sure she had a chuckle. On this day My Mom taught me how to laugh.

When I was 3 My Mom dropped me off at Habitat for my first day of pre-school. I’m sure I cried – didn’t we all. On this day My Mom taught me how to learn. When I was 4 My Mom and I played Monopoly. She let me be the banker. I’m pretty sure I didn’t cheat, she wouldn’t have let me. On this day My Mom taught me how to do math. When I was 5 we moved across town to a new neighborhood. Our new neighborhood was very diverse both racially and socio-economically. In this move My Mom taught me the value of diversity.

When I was 6 My Mom asked me if I wanted to skip kindergarten or not. I said no. I wasn’t ready. She may have disagreed, but thought it was my option. On this day My Mom taught me how to make decisions.

When I was 8 My Mom dropped me off at my first soccer practice. I’m not sure she knew what she was getting into. 8 years, 500 practices, 200 games later she may have regretted it, but on this day My Mom taught me how to compete.

When I was 10 My Mom was diagnosed with leukemia. I didn’t know what it was, but I was scared. I sent her a baboon so she would get well soon. I guess it worked because she beat it. On this day My Mom taught me how to fight.

When I was 11 My Mom drove me around in the car on the first day of my new paper route. From then on I road my bike – well, unless it was raining. On this day My Mom taught me how to work.

When I was 14 My Mom bought me my first guitar and sent me to guitar lessons. On this day My Mom taught me how to Rock…I since seem to have forgotten.

When I was 16 I wrecked my car. I wasn’t badly hurt, but the car that I had saved for for 3 years was totaled. My Mom was there to comfort me even though I had made some bad decisions. On that day My Mom taught me how to be understanding.

When I was 17 My Mom drove me to 15 different colleges in 10 different states from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Six months later, encouraged by her to take the leap, I dropped my acceptance letter to a California college into the mail. She new I’d be far away, but she knew it would be good for me. On this trip My Mom taught me how to dream.

When I was 18 I left Indianapolis for college and was on my own. I talked to My Mom by phone regularly over my college years. She was always there to support me in whatever I was doing. In these years My Mom taught me how to be an adult.

When I was 37 My Mom came out to California to see me get married. She said to me, “Your friends say such nice things about you. I must have done something right for the first 18 years”. She did. On this day My Mom knew she had taught me everything I needed to know.

Two months later my mom was in the hospital in critical condition and I came out to be with her. Shortly after, she passed away peacefully knowing she had raised her son to be the type of person she admired. On this day My Mom taught me how to say good bye.

We also sang 4 songs...darned if I can't remember them all. Mom would have enjoyed that the most. We sang Can't Keep From Singing by Pete Seger, Lean on Me, ______, and Simple Gifts, in a round even.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mom's 70th Birthday Party

Mom had dropped a big hint that something should be done to recognize her birthday this year. I told Greg and we figured out a plan. The weekend before her birthday we reserved a picnic shelter at Eagle Creek Park. I looked through her address book and made a list of invitees. I sent the invitations. Greg was in charge of food so I knew we'd eat well.

My family was in Indy for a few days before on the premise of seeing the display of King Tut's Treasures at the Children's Museum. We were to leave Saturday night. We told Mom that we were taking her out for dinner. Todd and the older girls left before us to..I don't remember what. When I stopped to get gas on the way Natalie asked Mom, "Have you ever been involved in a surprise party?" So Mom knew something was up. When we got to the shelter Mom put her hand to her face. I said, or rather choked, "Happy Birthday Mom." I think she recognized Greg from a distance before she got her seat belt off. She got out of the van very fast!Mom's cousin Sally came form Ohio. As did a very old friend from high school Sunny. (below)Greg leading a round of Happy Birthday Mary helping blow out candles.Dad sharing a slide show of old pictures he had just put on CD The kids.

The guest list included my Aunt and her husband, friends from Fellowship, Friends from IUPUI, my dad, my family, Greg and his fiance, a neighborhood friend with her granddaughter, and one of my best friends from high school and her son.

Mom talked and talked about the party. She was thrilled beyond words.


1939 – 2009

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth's lamentation
When friends rejoice both far and near
How can I keep from singing?

- Pete Seeger

Cindy Ellis, loving mother, grandmother, friend, neighbor and teacher peacefully passed away Monday. She lives on in the memories of her family, friends, colleagues, students and all others she touched in her wonderful 70 years of life.

Cindy was born in Salem in 1939 and grew up in Dayton. She graduated with a BSW from Ohio State in 1961 and a MS in teaching from Texas A&M in 1968. Throughout her life Cindy was a mother and a teacher - at home, at school, wherever she went. Her formal career spanned 39 years as an Associate Faculty member at IUPUI where she taught everything from basic math to calculus.

In addition to her devotion to her family and teaching, Cindy pursued a broad range of other interests. From her participation in the Civil Rights movement to organizing her kids’ sports teams and leagues to helping grow Circle Unitarian Fellowship, Cindy gave her all to everything she got involved in. She found rest and relaxation in rolling a strike, growing a garden, bidding for slam and falling asleep with a good mystery book on her nose.

Thank you for your love and support of our mother over the years.
- Becky and Greg

Memorial contributions may be made to:
The Lucinda Ellis Memorial Fund, I.U. Foundation,
950 N. Meridian, Suite 250, Indpls., IN 46204
or The American Lung Association

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I didn't realize that it has been since August that I have posted.

We have had a crazy fall. Before my mom left MI she told me that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Not a huge surprise since she has smoked for her entire adult life, but none the less it was very sad.

After the fair Todd went overseas for work. A 5 day trip ended up being a 8 day trip. With my mom's news and being an only parent, I didn't fair well.

The afternoon after he returned home we left for a trip to Indy. The public reason for the trip was to see the Treasures of King Tut's Tomb. The real reason was to help my brother host a surprise 70th birthday party for our mom. I have pictures to post. It was amazing how many different friends old and new were able to come.

In September my brother got married in California wine country. I took my oldest 2 children. It was a really neat trip. We did some sight seeing with my mom before the wedding. The wedding was beautiful.

After the wedding trip that she thoroughly enjoyed, My mom started intensely dealing with the medical community, which she loathed; and she worked on the remaining things on her bucket list. She got to work on her house, mostly just painting. And went on a canoe trip with my dad (they had been divorced for 15 years). The following Sunday she got sick with flu like symptoms. Tuesday I talked to her and she called "to complain about not feeling well." She did that often, just wanting someone to talk to.

Friday my cell rang while I was at our homeschool coop. My stomach sank when I recognized the phone number of my mom's neighbor. Another friend came Friday to pick my mom up for Radiation and Mom did not answer the door. She went to the neighbor got a key and they found her unresponsive. At the hospital she had a temp of 105, among other problems.

I made arrangement and arrived at the hospital Saturday at noon. She was transferred to ICU within hours of my arrival. My days of ICU nursing came back quickly. She remained unresponsive, except for a brief time when I was talking with her first ICU nurse who was from near my home in MI. Mom loved those small world meetings. She followed the conversation as we walked around the room. Then she gave me look that I took as" I am sorry, so this is the way it is going to be." She asked, "What day is this?" She seemed to understand the day and what had happened, but that was the last verbal response I got from her.

My brother got to the hospital Sunday. Things just weren't getting any better and actually Mom's body systems were slowly failing. The doctors didn't seem to be able to give us any definite answers...the antibiotics and antivirals seemed to to their job, but it wasn't clear what "bugs" were growing and why she had neurological symptoms. The spinal tap was abnormal, but not definitive. We finally had a sit down with the doctor and discussed his dismal prognosis for Mom.

That afternoon we had all the medications discontinued and Mom was transferred the the palliative care/hospice unit. I spent the night with her.

Shortly before Todd and the children and my sister-in-law arrived my mom peacefully breathed her last while listening to one of her friends tell a story. Mom was not alone and neither was I. The children got to say good-bye to her while she still looked kind of like herself.

The next week was a whirlwind of appointments and decisions. My brother and I seemed to be able to get the work done fairly well together. We met with the lawyer, the funeral home, various financial intuitions and tried to find the best place to have a memorial service. And less than 24 hours before the service we found some one to be the main speaker, Todd's Aunt's Sister-in-law who works as a Chaplin.

Mom would have loved the service. Friends from all parts of her life were there: Hoosier Canoe Club, Circle Unitarian Fellowship, IUPUI, the neighborhood association, and family. Friends and in-laws of mine and my brother's also came to show their respect and support. We sang some folk songs that my mom loved accompanied on the guitar by old friends. My brother even strummed for one. We shared out thoughts: I read the words to the song "Free to be You and Me" by Marlo Thomas (from an album many children of the 70s have memorized), Todd read memories that each of the children had shared, and my dad read a beautiful tribute my brother wrote about what Mom taught him through highlights of his growing up. Then we opened the floor for others to share. It was very meaningful for us to hear about all of her different worlds from those who were in them with her.

The next step was to get the house as ready to sell as soon as possible before my brother and I went home to our respective states. It happened amazingly fast. So now less than 3 weeks later the house is on the market with a fresh coat of paint and cleaner than it has been in 32 years.

Transitioning back to my real world has been challenging. About a week ago I got past just being numb. Then we moved the things I took form my mom's house to MI then it started to really hurt...a new reality. The piano that has been in my mom's family for 100+ years is in my living room. Her grandfather's clock is on my mantle, although I haven't wound it yet, I am not sure i am ready to hear it chime.

Then it was Thanksgiving. Mom had most of the Thanksgivings of our married life with us. It was hard.

I am sure there will be many things that are hard without her.

Not only am I dealing with my grief, but also that of my children. My mom was the grandparent who was the closest to my children. She tried to be there for performances and fairs and to just do life with us when she could. So the children each has a different way to grieve and I have to figure out how to love and support each one in their own way. Poor T, 3 yo, just doesn't seem to understand and continues to ask "why gramma sick?" "why her stuff here?" "What Gramma doing when she die" While it is adorable it almost breaks my heart every time I am asked.

Looking back the whole thing couldn't have gone any better for what it was. I knew what she wanted in terms of health care and I was there and able to make that happen. We knew what she wanted done with her ashes. We knew what she wanted done with the cats and the house and the stuff. Mostly she wanted us to not fight and for it to be peaceful deciding about the THINGS...they are just things.

Even so, one is never really ready to loose a parent.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The End of the Fair

These are way late, but I had just a few more Saginaw County Fair Pictures:

The End
(Leaving the fair Saturday night)

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Pictures I took around the yard on the first of September:
I love the Macro on my new camera.

This is one of Bobby's cooling/nap holes. He has a few, some are bigger and deeper than this. When we get around to getting his kennel we won't twist our ankles in the back yard any more.

Bobby's home. The Dog house is used, but was a gift. He does sleep in it when the cats aren't tormenting him.

The pond is even lower than this right now.
I was hoping to have a bunch of these gourds for birdhouse projects for the fair next year. This is the only one big enough.

So far we have had 2 edible watermelons. We should have one more. They aren't very bit, but they were yummy.

I planted sunflowers all over. They are beautiful right now. We are hoping to get enough seeds for a few snacks.

Here are the tallest on the south side of the house.

I got 3 pumpkins. They aren't huge, but they are almost perfectly round--just the way I like pumpkins short and plump.
A few of my delphiniums bloomed. They are beautiful, of course my favorite color. I will need to find a way to stake them next year.