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fall fruit and a visit with mom

September 28, 2011

I just returned home after visiting with my mommy and stepdad for a couple of days.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to see my mom because of an acute health issue that has been plaguing her.  This post is dedicated to other people, like me, who have aging parents. 

On Monday morning after breakfast, mommy was feeling well enough to go shopping, so we popped into our favorite decorative shop in her hometown.  Where I found this group of jumbo-sized basket-weave apples and pears. $12 for the set of 5 pieces?  Sold!

Mommy recommended that I get a few sprigs of pyrachantha to go with them.  (Those little orange straw pumpkins are only standing in temporarily.) She told me that my daddy’s mom used to always have blooming pyracantha in the fall along her fence. 

We talked about a lot of things, as we usually do when we’re together.  But her illness prompted me to verbally enter a territory that I previously had not ventured.  I asked whether her will specified her particular wishes for burial or cremation when she died.  The meandering conversation that followed left me feeling that this question, among many others of vital importance, was not completely resolved in her mind.

About a month ago, I read this article by Adolph G. Gundersen, published in the Washington Post:  Siblings Joined Forces to Help Their Parents Celebrate Life and Plan for Death.

I highly highly highly recommend this article.  It’s a compassionate and common sense approach to conducting a family meeting and finding ways to realistically support the wishes of parents concerning living arrangements in their later years and the distribution of their assets after they die.  In families like mine, where my brother and I live 500 miles away from our mom, thinking through logistics and reaching agreement with each other, and our mom on how to best support her wishes would be better accomplished in a forum described in the Gundersen article, rather than over the telephone with doctors and on plane trips to Oklahoma during a stressful episode.

Occasionally, my mom will give me something from her home.  Something that has been in our family for a while.  She’s not really ready to give much away right now, although she frequently suggests that she is.  But again, the dichotomy of our perspectives.  The things to which she attaches value and the things to which I attach value, are much different.  I attach value to the things that remind me of my own childhood. 

On this visit however, she gave me a pink depression glass bowl. 

I have vivid memories of the dish holding candy-cinnamon poached apples on our family’s Thanksgiving dinner table.  What I didn’t know about this pink bowl, is that my grandmother started the tradition of using it to serve her candy-cinnamon poached apples.  Later, she gave the dish to my mom.  While I don’t honor the family tradition for making candy-cinnamon poached apples, I do like to make merlot poached pears for Thanksgiving. 

And this, my dear friends, is my circle back to the basket-weave fruit at the beginning of this post.  The natural association of apples and pears in the season of autumn helps me reach across two generations to keep my grandmother’s tradition alive in my own home.  Happily, after being absent from the family table for nearly 20 years, the pink dish will again adorn the tabletop.

Thank you for reading.

In this season of thoughtful reflection, may we find ways to heal, to understand and to give.  Give even more than we think we should.




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8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2011 6:40 pm

    Being “an aging parent”, I know how important this subject is. Your post is very nice.
    Mr. Sweet and I have made our parting-from-this-Earth arrangements and both our children are well aware of them. I know it gives US peace of mind that they are in agreement with our wishes…and it makes them feel better, knowing what to do.
    Great post…
    xo bj

  2. September 28, 2011 7:28 pm

    I’m glad you had a good visit with your mom. The bowl is beautiful! I have a soft spot for pink depression glass.
    It’s so hard to watch parents age. I see it more in my mom than my dad and it’s heartbreaking. When my mother in law died, we were at such a loss when we were planning her funeral. My dad asked if there was anything he could do to help us. I told him I’d love it if he would just write down the hymns he’d like played at his funeral, and some ideas of who he’d want to speak. I said if he’d do that, and get my mom to do the same, it would be a huge help. He said “Anything but that!”

  3. September 28, 2011 8:24 pm

    What a beautiful dish from your grandmother!

  4. September 28, 2011 11:45 pm

    “But her illness prompted me to verbally enter a territory that I previously had not ventured.”

    I know exactly what you mean, Diane, because before my father passed away my family and I went through the same thing. It’s uncomfortable to talk about these things, but it’s necesssary. Like your mother, things were not completely resolved in his mind. My father was a wonderful man, however he didn’t like talking about things that made him feel uncomfortable. But my stepmother gradually and gently talked him into discussing it.

    What a beautiful glass bowl! As well as the basket.

    “I have vivid memories of the dish holding candy-cinnamon poached apples on our family’s Thanksgiving dinner table. What I didn’t know about this pink bowl, is that my grandmother started the tradition of using it to serve her candy-cinnamon poached apples.”

    How wonderful! Isn’t it something how certain objects will instantly transport us to a vivid childhood memory?

    After my father passed away, my stepmother gave me several pieces of his clothing (a sports coat, a rain coat, and the barbering tools he used when he was a barber). And even to this day, whenever I wear the sports coat and rain coat, I think of him!

    Touching post, my dear friend. Thank you for sharing it.

    ((((( Diane ))))))

    Much X to you and Cristybella!

  5. Mel permalink
    September 29, 2011 1:22 am

    Boy…….tough times, tough conversations, even in the best of circumstances.

    I lost my parents when I was young–we never got to have conversations about their wishes and desires. I did the best I could do. I wish we would have had the opportunity to have the tough conversations, just the same. I’m glad you had that opportunity.

    And the depression glass–made me smile. Mostly because there was a house full of it when my last ‘parent’ (step-mother) went home to G-d. I left with the one piece that was actually used and not just tucked away in the cupboard. I’ve gifted it forward–circumstances have already dictated that ‘tough conversation’ with my little family and I opted to pass it forward to enjoy watching that little glass bowl be handled with great love. I suspect your mother finds joy in this as well.

    I adore the woven pears and apples! $12 for the set of 5?! Wow–what a deal!!

  6. Mel permalink
    September 29, 2011 1:23 am

    P.S. BUT–what did she think about that pretty package with the gorgeous earrings inside?! THAT’S what inquiring minds wanna know! 😉

  7. September 30, 2011 2:32 am

    Beautiful post Diane. So glad you had such a lovely visit with your mom.

  8. September 30, 2011 5:58 am

    Way to bring to light such an untouched topic! I’m referring this to my mother – be kind. 😉

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