Thursday, July 26, 2018

Little Disney girls

Last week we had the pleasure of going on vacation with our little girls to Disneyland and to see family in California and Las Vegas. We had a wonderful time with them and their parents and the little ones were real troopers.

I was able to visit in Downtown Disney with my sweet friend Janell, who I worked with about 36 years ago and have been friends with ever sense. After a wonderful family dinner with my husband's great Aunt Helen, and several cousins on Friday evening, we headed out for two days at Disneyland and California Adventure.

The first morning, we went to the "Character Breakfast" and the girls got to meet some of their favorite Disney characters right off the bat. We rode a lot of rides that day, and took them to see a live "Frozen" show, which they loved. The second day, Rosemary went to the Bippity Boppity Bootique and got a Tinkerbell makeover. It touched me a great deal, as Tinker Bell was Lauren's favorite Disney character. Even though Rosemary did not know that, she was drawn to Tinker Bell after watching "Peter Pan" just like her aunt was as a little one! Vivian was not old enough to do the BBB, but Mimi and Grandpa bought her a Minnie Mouse dress anyway.

We saw the Pixar Parade, and rode as many rides as we could. The girls had a blast and the tired Tallo family drove across the desert to Las Vegas to meet family.

I met my husband's aunt and uncle from Rhode Island for the first time in my 36 years of marriage. They are wonderful folks and we instantly bonded in our Catholic faith. We had a great time and the girls saw most of their relatives. So glad we got to do it.

Here are some pictures from our West Coast adventures. 

Janell and me
Happy Disney Family
My husband and his siblings

Our Tinker Bell and Minnie Mouse




Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Just been out of sorts a bit lately

Getting old is the pits. There I have gone and said it. And not only getting old, but struggling with my new found friend Hashimoto's has made me feel out of sorts for the last few months. I have had hypothyrodism for several years, and have now been diagnosed with Hash'is. I also have another "friend" who causes me a bit of aggravation, and that is my elevated left  hemi-diaphragm.

This whole mess started when I went to a "wellness" visit last December. They saw something on my chest X-Ray that caused them to pull me aside and put me in a room where being frightened out of my wits, I thought I must be dying. I have been to a pulmonologist (lungs are fine) who sent me to a bariatric surgeon, because she was convinced I had a hiatal hernia and my intestines were stuck up in my diaphragm. The bariatric surgeon sent me for some (awful) tests which determined I had no hiatal hernia, but I do have moderate acid reflux (which I knew and was being treated for already). Now the bariatric surgeon has sent me to a thoracic surgeon, who I will see at the beginning of August. He'll talk to me about my elevated diaphragm and what can or cannot be done about it. The diaphragm causes me to be short of breath a lot of the time, and I am even prepared to tell him when I think it happened. In the midst of all of this my endocrinologist is monitoring my thyroid, which has some small nodules on it apparently. And to think, I knew none of this until I went to a wellness visit. SIGH.

I have been trying to keep my head up and ask God for grace, wisdom and understanding (not patience) throughout this whole ordeal. I could be a lot worse off, and I know that. The Hashi's makes me hyper-sensitive at times, where I get my feelings hurt easily or get angry about stupid things very  quickly. One Facebook group I am in has helped me tremendously - I hear other people relate the same things. I am trying to maintain my diet and exercise regimen. I don't get too caught up in all of the different diets and do and don’ts because it stresses me out too much. Since I was diagnosed with Hashi's I have cut back on gluten and carbs, and have lost about 12 lbs. 

Being hypersensitive is not good for grieving mothers. I have cried more in the last 6 months than I have in forever. Most days, I feel like I cannot express myself without making someone mad, or hurting someone's feelings or just feeling like it is the end of the world. I am not depressed, I just feel overly sensitive most of the time. For me, this is really hard, because I have always been sensitive, especially if I thought I hurt someone. I worry about that more than just about anything. I have always hated conflict, and I think I always will. 

I recognize my own ability to overcome that feeling by focusing on the positive, praying and getting up and out of my routine. Walking and praying seems to be a good cure. I think I have prayed the Our Father, Hail Mary and the Fatima Prayer more in the last six months than I ever have. 

I am hoping to get the diaphragm issue resolved one way or the other in August. I'll either get it fixed (if it is not too invasive) or live with it. The Hashi's is here to stay. You just have to manage it. 

"Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD is your strength!”

Monday, June 18, 2018

My tears were for her, too

Father's Day dinner 
We've been a bit distracted for the past couple of weeks with doctor's appointments and a rotator cuff surgery for my husband. I've been trying to take care of him the best I can and work at the same time. He is a real trooper and has been very patient with me, and together we have gotten him back on the road to recovery. He's pretty athletic and very strong and that does help in a situation like this.

The granddaughters have been really concerned that Grandpa (Pacca) is ok and through a couple of FaceTime visits, I think they are reassured that his "boo boo" is getting better.

We went on Saturday to the Baddour Center, a wonderful place in our community. It is a home for adults with special needs. They have a great nursery where we always try to buy flowers to plant around our home each spring. We are a bit behind due to the above-mentioned surgery, so it was great to get over there for some petunias that we put out on Saturday (My husband used his good arm to plant).

Jennifer, a casual friend of mine that I know from our small town, works there in the nursery. She and her husband have a boy and a girl just like us. Their children are a bit younger than ours, so we did not really know them as school friends. I met her several years ago when she worked at a favorite shop of mine. She helped us when my daughter-in -law Anna picked out items for her bridal register in that shop.

She was there on Saturday and came out to help us. She said, "I've been thinking of you guys lately." She went on to tell us that her 28-year-old son had passed away on Thanksgiving last year. I was shocked to my very core. He had only been married for 7 weeks, and he succumbed to a massive heart attack.

My heart shattered for her at that moment. I could see the pain in her eyes. Pain that I know first hand radiated from her. I wept right there in the middle of all of those flowers. My tears were for that young widow, his sister and father and most of all for Jennifer. I know her journey all too well. I had no words to say to comfort her, because there are none.

So I listened to her. Richard and I just listened to her and let her tell us how she was coping and what she was doing, and how things were going. That is all anyone can do. We talked about our experiences and she related that she had just moved to our town and it was her first Sunday at her church the day Lauren died. She told us how many people in that church were openly praying for us. She didn't know us then, but she prayed for us too. I have prayed for her every day since then.

I only had one piece of advice I could give her: "Don't let anyone tell you how to grieve."

That is the worst thing you can do to a parent who has lost a child. Just listen and let them go through the process. Don't tell them it will be ok, because it really won't. Not really, ever again. It is just a new normal. That is all.

Our true comfort comes from God.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. 


To find out more about The Baddour Center visit www.baddour.org

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A pot full of love

Mother’s Day has come and gone again. We did something a little different this year, and traveled to my son’s house. Our little grand daughter Rosemary had a couple of “programs” that we needed to be there for. Her T.O.T. (Teams of Tomorrow) ball demonstration was on Saturday. She was super cute doing her dribbling and bouncing, and was genuinely happy to get her little trophy.  Sunday, she sang at church with her little choir. Both times, she did great!

She was surrounded by family who love her. I couldn’t help but think how proud Lauren would have been to see Rosie up there, looking like her daddy and participating in these little events.

Both of our girls were precious and we are so blessed to have them in our lives. I pray for them every night and thank God for them every day.

We will plug along as best we can and make the best of the days we have with these girls. Here are some weekend memories and a sweet gift from my girls.







Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A thought for grieving parents as we approach Year 14


Our Lauren will be gone 14 years tomorrow. This time of year is tough for me. She was getting ready to graduate from high school in 2004, and had done all the work for college at Ole Miss. She was so excited to be over there with her brother. But that was not to be. The three of us, her dad, her brother and I suffered that loss together, and still to this day, the pain is always there in our family. We will go to our son's house this weekend and celebrate Mother's Day with our little grand daughters who never had the chance to meet their lovely aunt, but she will be present in my heart and in my thoughts, as she always is. 

The song, "I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow" has been my theme song these past few days. 

Rest well, my sweet girl, and know that your mama remembers and loves you every minute of every day. 



Friday, April 27, 2018

The hope that we cling to

When First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush passed away, many of those who remembered this gracious lady were saddened for her husband and the rest of their big family. Mrs. Bush was a personal hero of mine. I admired her wittiness, her devotion to her family and her fierce support of her husband. She truly embodied what I always thought a wife and mother should be.

“Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people - your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way,” she once said. I fall short of this every day, but I try. I equate this with the kind of love we as Christians are supposed to exhibit. 

While Mrs. Bush could wax philosophical, she could also get straight to the point: “People who worry about their hair all the time, frankly, are boring.” A lady after my own heart. 

She and I had something in common that made me look up to her and I will venture to say to love her. She knew what it was to lose a child. She faced the same struggles that I and other grieving parents have faced. She never forgot her Robin- all of the fame, fortune and political success could not change the love she had for her little girl and the grief that she lived with from that loss. 

A wonderful cartoonist here in Mississippi, Marshall Ramsey, has captured the hope that we as grieving parents feel - the hope that we will be reunited with our beloved children. I have had the honor to meet Marshall and to hear him speak at a couple of events I have been at. He has a penchant for getting to the heart of the matter. His cartoons capture things right where they are. 

This particular cartoon has gone viral, and even members of Mrs. Bush’s family have seen it and commented on it, thanks to social media. So kudos to you, Marshall! And thank you. 



Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The things that are seemingly insignificant can be the worst

Last week, my husband and I went to buy a new washer and dryer, since our washer had gone kaput.

We were driving around and we drove by the  the Old Navy where Lauren had gone that last week. It was a weird thing. She had a little job and wanted to go and buy some things for the summer. I offered to go with her and she said that was ok, she just wanted to go alone. That hurt me a little then, because my girl was growing up, but if someone had shot me in the heart with an arrow the other day when I saw that Old Navy, it would not have hurt any less than the pain I felt right at that moment.

It's crazy how something that insignificant can tear your heart into, even after all these years. I feel like I keep repeating this over and over on this blog, but I feel like it is a way for people to understand the pain that losing your child can bring.

It is unlike any pain we might endure - labor pain, losing your parents and/or siblings, having a cut finger, having someone deceive you, losing in love... It seems none of that compares to this, in my mind.

It's a sharp pain, that causes you to double over, like your heart has broken literally. The tears jump to your eyes, and you cannot breathe. The worst part is, you know other people never understand it. They think you should be better by now. Not gonna happen, I guess.

What to do? I hang on to my faith for dear life. I try to keep my head up. I think of my son, daughter-in- law and my grandchildren, and how blessed I am to have them. I think of how I may be hurting my husband when I fall apart. I chastise myself for not being stronger. All of that happens in a matter of seconds.

It is coming on to May, and this year it will be 14 years. 14 years of pain. It is almost too hard to bear sometimes.

I will not give up, though. That pain means she is still in my heart and with me all the time.  I will embrace it, as surely as I would embrace her if she were here. I will love her dad and her brother and his family like she would have. I can do that for her, and for myself.