Guppy Talks Grief at WLP

As some of you may know, before mom died I had started reviewing contemporary romance books over at WickedLilPixie for my friend Nat. Nat and I lost our moms within days of each other. It’s amazing how something that traumatic could bring about such a wonderful source of comfort.

I wrote about our mutual grief and things people can do or say to help, and you can read my post HEREYou might want to grab a tissue. It seems I’ve made everyone cry. Not my intention! I swear! 

In the meantime, my dad came over for dinner last night and we talked about everything, as we usually do. This morning he called me and we had this conversation:

Dad: How are you doing today?

Me: I’m doing okay, I guesss.

Dad: I’m going to keep calling you every day until you answer “I’m doing GREAT!”

Best. Dad. Ever. He’s been my rock through this entire ordeal. One day I’ll tell the story about getting my mom Last Rites. LOL. Believe it or not, that’s a funny story. ESPECIALLY if you know my dad. 

Love,
Lynda the Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks
aka A Still-Grieving Guppy

Questions Without Answers

I’m sitting here on the sofa and I took a look around and thought…where do I start? This house is filled with my mother, and I don’t know what to do or where to begin. Yeah, I know where to take her clothes, and I can find a home for all her books, and she told me what to do with important things like her jewelry and certain family heirlooms, but…what about the rest of it?

What about the blue vases in the cabinet in the dining room? Should I get rid of those and put my cows in there? Or maybe my music box collection? Do I keep the porcelain cat which is by the stove because I bought it for her one year for Mother’s Day? Should I leave the copper molds hanging in the kitchen? Or find something to replace them with? 

Do I take down the antique mirror over the fireplace and put up an original piece of art of my own I’ve had for years? Can I replace the sheets for her bed? Her duvet covers? What about the opera glasses she bought herself after giving me my own pair for my 16th birthday, should I give them away? What do I do with her high school yearbooks? Her DVDs?  

What do I do with all her genealogy books? Her half-finished needlepoint canvases? Her purses? What about her christmas ornaments? What should I do about the fabric sample hanging over the kitchen sink that she put there 3 years ago to “live with” before she made a valance out of it? 

We had the same coloring and often bought the same makeup. Is it okay if I use hers? Or should I just toss it all? Can I wash the makeup brushes and use them? What about the carpet in the living room? The silver eyeglass case on her bedside table? The dresser in the entryway? Do I keep her dishes because they’re better than mine, even though I’m not crazy about the pattern? What do I do with the antique doilies she bought to make into pillows? The shawl I knit her which she never wore because it was too big? 

Do I keep these things? Do I give them away? To whom? Do I take them to Goodwill or The Salvation Army? Do I sell them on E-bay or take them to a consignment shop? Do I put all these things in one room and have family and friends come and take stuff?

Do I try and do a little each day? or try and cut swathes through this all in large chunks? Should I try and do some on my own? Should I call my friends or her friends and have them come help? 

How will I know what to keep and what to let go of? What to change and what to leave?

How do I get rid of all her things and not feel like I’m getting rid of her?

And how do I do it all without missing her so much it hurts to breathe?

Love,
Lynda the Guppy
aka A Grieving Guppy
aka A Fish With Sticks

Yesterday

Yesterday I buried my mother. She was 63.

Nearly 2 1/2 years ago, on February 12, 2010, the same evening as the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics my mother went to the emergency room.

And on July 27, 2012, the same evening as the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics, my mother took her last breath.

She went to the emergency room that long ago February for what she suspected was a hernia. “Oh, it’s nothing,” she told me. “I’ll be in and out in no time. Won’t even have to spend the night….Well, unless it’s cancer. Ha ha ha.”

It was cancer.

And it had metastasized.

By the time they caught it, her body was riddled with tumors and she had 8 POUNDS of tumors in her liver alone. And not one large tumor, but lots of little tiny inoperable tumors.

Did I mention my mother was a big muckety-muck at a major University and was Director of a world-renown cancer research network? And her boss was one of the top cancer researches in the WORLD. If you go to a cancer research lab and mention his name, they practically genuflect.  

And there was nothing they could do.

They tried everything. Her Oncologist was AMAZING. He was also my grandmother’s oncologist for many years, and he worked directly with mom professionally for nearly 13 years. He threw everything at this cancer. And I mean EVERYTHING. If he could get it for her, and if he thought it had even the tiniest chance of working, he gave it to her. And I know it wasn’t because of her connection to him. Cancer offends him, and I think he does that for all his patients. 

At her funeral yesterday, I told him that I thought he was incredible. I told him there was no way…NO WAY…she would have lasted as long as she did if it wasn’t for him. You know what he said to me?

“We didn’t do nearly enough. We should have been able to do more.”

Mom did everything she could. Her tentative diagnosis was 6 weeks. Her confirmed diagnosis said 6 months. She lived 2 1/2 years. And I do mean LIVED.

We went on a month-long trip to Vermont last summer, and drove home back to California after making it through Hurricane Irene.

She saw Niagara Falls for the first time.

We went on an Alaskan cruise with the entire family.

She went and visited with friends more frequently.

She made time for everything she thought was important.

And she fought for her life. Every moment of every day.

A few weeks before she died she asked me if I resented having to take her to the doctor every week and spend so much time taking her here and there all the time, having to do everything because she was too weak to help. Did I wish it had been fast like her original diagnosis had suggested? 

I had to think about it for a minute. Not because I didn’t know my answer, but because I wanted to be sure to say it correctly. For her sake, and the amount of constant pain she was in? Yeah, I wish she hadn’t had to live through that. For me? I would do every day of those 2 1/2 years over and over and over again without complaint if it meant I could spend more time with her. Resent it? Not a second of it. I wish I still had to take her every Monday for treatment. But I’m so grateful she’s no longer suffering.

Watching her fade away these last few months has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to witness, and I’m so glad I was able to be there. It meant she never had to go into a facility. She was able to live at home the entire time. She could die at home with me and one of her best friends by her side. I was able to tell her I loved her one last time. I could kiss her and stroke her hair and tell her it was okay to let go. She had fought so hard and it was time for her to stop fighting.

I was there to hold her when she took her last breath.

Yesterday was a day to share my grief with those who loved us both. Yesterday was a day to wear the outfit she loved me in best. Yesterday was a day to wear her pearls so I could feel closer to her during one of the hardest days of my life.

Today is the day after. And it was a lonely day. Those who love me have checked in to see if I’m okay. Really I’m not, but I pretend I am, and they pretend I’m not pretending. I know eventually I will be okay, but not today. Today was a day to recover. Today was a day to really feel her loss. Today was a day to wander around and poke into closets and open drawers and touch the pieces of her life.

Today was a day for me to remember her. Privately.

I know it sounds like I just moped around the house, but really I didn’t. I slept and read and watched some Olympics, too. I just felt like today was a day I needed to be alone and take a break from everything going on “outside” and really just let myself feel what I needed to feel when and how I needed to, without worrying about anyone or anything else.

Tomorrow…Tomorrow will be better, or so I’ve been told. Maybe it will be. Maybe it won’t, but either way, eventually I’ll be okay.

After all, I’m my mother’s daughter.

I’m too strong not to be.

Love,
Lynda the Guppy
aka The Bear’s Daughter
aka A Grieving Guppy

I’m Late! I’m Late!

For a Very Important Date! No time to say “hello” Good bye! I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!

Well, no, not really, but it’s going to be a Very Close Thing. See, I have deadline knitting on the needles, and it’s all coming due in May.

Due Next Week:

I have a baby sweater I have to finish today so I can give it a wash and light block before I have to gift it Wednesday. It’s worsted so it’ll take a day or two to dry. There should have also been booties and a hat, too, but I doubt I’m going to make it. Well, the booties might make it. Maybe. We’ll see.

I have a Very Large Special Project which needs a lot of work done to it this week. And it’s being gifted on Thursday.

Due May 26:

I have a pair of fair isle mittens (my first colorwork ever) which need to be finished. I’ve knit the first and am about two-thirds of the way done with the second.

At least one cowl (hoping for 2, but it should be 3) out of worsted, but I don’t have a pattern for them. Might be winging this one. How hard could it be? Why are you laughing?

In my fantasy land, I’m also knitting 2 hats. Really. Stop laughing. It’s rude.

A Shaelyn shawl in black which also needs to be washed & blocked so it’s dry by the 26th. I have 1 1/2 more pattern repeats to do.

So the upshot is once I get through next Thursday, if I manage to get everything done I need done by then, I’m in good shape. The mittens will only take a few more days of concentrated knitting, and the Shaelyn is my purse project, so it will move forward steadily. The cowls & hats SHOULD only be about 2-4 days of knitting each, so…*fingers crossed*

And on top of all of this, I have school, appointments, and a number of books to review.

Of COURSE I’m not slipping into Holiday Knitting Delusions. What makes you think that? This is totally doable, right? 

Right???

*crickets*

Uh-oh.

Love,
Lynda the Guppy
aka Delusional Guppy

Day 4: Happy Birthday!

Today is my mother’s birthday. How did she celebrate? At home surrounded by family? No. Out with friends for a great party? No. Off to the spa for a relaxing massage? Nope.

She spent it leaving the house at the crack of dawn to catch an 8:00 a.m. flight to New York for business.

So here’s a long-distance Happy Birthday, Mom! Your presents are here waiting for you.

And so are your cats.

Love,
Your Lady Jane,
aka Lynda the Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks

Choose, Matey, Or It’s Walkin’ The Plank!

Straight vs. Circular…
Metal vs. Bamboo…
Knitpicks vs. Addi…

Personally, I prefer Circular, Metal, and Knitpicks, but, frankly, I’m always puzzled by the people who say “I ONLY knit using X.” How can they say that? I find that it depends on what I’m making and what yarn I’m using. And WHY, pray tell, would I want to choose only ONE type of needle when I can have all the needles in all the land! ARRRRR!

What brought this on? I just finished a shawl using size 13 Clover circulars. And now I’ve gone back to knitting on my cousin’s pink ruffle scarf on size 6 Knitpicks options metal circulars. I had forgotten how much I love the Knitpicks Options needles. Don’t get me wrong. I started on the Clovers and for anything slippery, they’re the first thing I reach for. But the Options…Oh, my, the Options.

They’re smoother, faster, pointer, and bendier. The cable join is smoother, the finish is slicker than the Addis, and the point can put an eye out if you’re not careful. I really, REALLY need to purchase more of these.

I know a lot of it is going from a large project with bumpy yarn on huge needles to something small with alpaca and smaller needles, but these needles just feel great. Has anyone tried the Harmony needles yet? I’ve got a few of the tips in my shopping cart waiting for payday.

On to other things…

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. So be sure to say an Argh, Matey, and perhaps a Shiver Me Timbers today and confuse the heck out of your friends and coworkers.

My most exciting news so far? I’m on the Yarn Harlot’s blog!!!! OMG!!!! It was a thrill enough when I met her and introduced myself and she said “Oh, I know who you are!” And I know it was the sock that did it. LOLOL But still…I’m there! And I’m about 2 seconds away from turning into FanGrrl. Somebody stop me. *ahem* Moving on.

I’ve ordered the pattern for Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Baby Surprise Jacket. Does anyone out there have any suggestions for yarns? I want something superwash, as both parents work and they don’t need to be worrying about handwashing anything. Too bad Noro doesn’t do superwash. That would be perfect.

My mom is going to England in a few weeks. She’s visiting cousins of mine. The cousin I’m related to, Jeanne, is a knitter and my family is from a part of England where all the woolen mills were. Unfortunately, I can’t make it this trip, but Jeanne and my mom said they’d go shopping for me. When I told them I didn’t want to load down my mom’s suitcase, Jeanne replied with “Don’t worry. I’ll ship it.”

This is going to be so bad. LOLOL.

Jeanne sent me the link to a store and asked me to let her know “how I get on” there. Oh, my. My, my, my. I think I’ll get on just fine! I’ve been trying to figure out what to get, and here’s what I decided. Nothing commercial.

I see all the name brand yarns, and if there’s something REALLY spectacular, my mom will grab it for me. Between Jeanne knowing how something would knit up, and my mom knowing my tastes, I’m in good hands there. But if they’re going to the actual mills, I’d much rather have the raw yarn. I’d rather have the natural, undyed yarn that comes on cones. That way I can experiment with dying all on my own and truly have one-of-a-kind yarn. Bought where my family is from, by my cousin and mother, and dyed by me. Trully a family project. Plus all the commercial yarns will be very similar to what’s already available here.

Although if some Cashmere or Silk were to fall into someone’s suitcase I wouldn’t object.

Just sayin’.

Lynda the Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks

Look! A Finished Object!

…And, once again, something for my mom. LOL To be fair, I bought this yarn way back in September (I think) and I promised her a scarf with it. As soon as I saw this yarn, I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to do with it. And it took less yarn than I thought.

(Click to see the full image)

Mom's Diagonal Scarf

Yarn: Less than 2 balls of…ummm…I’m going to have to edit that later. Not sure.
Pattern: Karen Baumer’s Multi-directional Diagonal Scarf.
Needle: Ummm….Again, I’ll have to get back to you.

Next up…An Arizona Yarn Crawl.

Lynda the Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy Birthday to the one who taught me to needlepoint.

And when that didn’t stick, taught me to cross-stitch.
And even though I enjoyed that, she tried to get me to quilt.
And when all else failed to make me truly passionate
about needlework of some kind…ANY kind…

She took me to my first (and her last) knitting class.

So happy birthday to one of the few people in my family
who truly understands and appreciates the time and effort and love
that goes into a hand-made gift.


(Note the scarf. See! I DO finish things!)

And as hard as I tried, other things got in the way, so she knows there’s another scarf coming. Made with Rowan Tapestry and it’s FABULOUS. I’m so glad I ended up with some of this yarn for me, too. So more pics of that soon.

And a HUGE thank you to mom for not only allowing her picture to be taken, but graciously allowing me to post it here.

Love you, Mom!

The Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks