Caring for a parent, Death & Dying, moving an elderly parent, Retrospective


Trying to break something loose to write about this week, I read my post from the first week of April last year. When taken day by day—even week by week—life can seem monotonous in its sameness. But looking back over 12 months there is a different perspective. Especially this past year.


Lent was past and we were more than a week into the season of Easter this time last year. New life was springing up all around.

“The rhubarb and the peas are up; and carrots, spinach, chard, and lettuce are planted. This weekend the beets and broccoli go in….The hosta shoots have poked through the ground, the bleeding heart is in its fullness.” (2016)



This year we are still in waiting for the resurrection. Nothing is planted in the garden. The Farmer’s Almanac says wait, so I’m waiting. The hostas have not broken ground and the bleeding heart just barely. The soil has not yet warmed, rain is drumming on the roof—again— as I sit in the early morning darkness writing. But the promise is still with us. The sun shone on Monday, and one day last week. Spring always comes. Some years require more patience.

A baby was born last May, and now I am in my eighth month of caring for him two days a week. I will be sad when the end of June comes and these two school years (separated by a year) of regular time with my littles and their moms ends. I will have to put forth effort not to let too much time lapse between visits. I need to find ways to stay in touch with my big littles in North Carolina too. As with the garden, nothing takes care of itself.



We celebrated Mama’s 100th birthday in June with over 100 guests at the festivities. Although Mama enjoyed her party, it took its toll on her vitality. Three months later she had suffered two hospitalizations and a fall with her first broken bones that precipitated a slide into the change of season, and a change in our lives. It was a sadness for all of us as we decided I could no longer sustain keeping her at home as her current care needs and the likelihood of further decline without notice increased. As the season slid into dark winter, we moved her into a care facility.

With Mama’s move, I have found rejuvenation in the freedom to plan for my future and more flexibility to engage in life in the moment. The house is finding new life too, as I relocate to storage things in the house that had become unseen in their familiarity and disuse, and discover hidden treasures to bring out into the light. There is more spring in my step these days.

My mother’s typewriter and etchings my father bought from a traveling artist when he was stationed in France.


A year ago this week my beloved daughter-in-love’s mother left us. A few months later my aunt died. A few months after that loss my last aunt died, quickly followed by my last uncle. And as we entered the spring cycle, our beloved neighbor let go of this life. It’s been a lot of ending. But in death there is release, and in release there is resurrection. Some of these dear ones left too soon, some were very old. All of them had lived for a long time in declining physical health. We miss them as they return to the earth in the unending circle of life.


Mama has found new life in her new home; but with change—especially for the elderly—comes a kind of death. The death of what was, of all that is familiar, of physical connection to the past her home of 56 years brought. It has had a difficult winter for all of us as we grieve the losses that inevitably come for those who live long lives.

The new political season has brought the death, such as we have never seen, of national morality, kindness, justice, and compassion. Many of us are finding it difficult to unearth glimmers of hope for the future as this land of the free and the brave begins building walls—both literal and figurative—to shut people out, and cowardice rears its head in misplaced loyalty to a mad man. But there is light, as millions of citizens begin to pay attention to our responsibility for a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. There will be resurrection, but it is still Lent, with the darkest days yet to come.

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” MLK

As reluctant spring finally seems to thinking about seeping in through cracks and crevices, Mama seems to be coming out of her own annual winter slump, worse this year with her move from her beloved home and the events that precipitated it. She shows signs of adjusting. When I visit, she tells me more stories of conversations with people and fewer tales of dining room disappointment. She is too healthy for Hospice for the second time. She has, in spite of our initial skepticism, learned to walk the halls unaccompanied and find her room again. Visitors, caregivers, and daughters have taken her outside to walk on the rare dry hours and that has made her brighter.

The dogwood—Mama’s favorite tree—in the courtyard below her window is full of buds. I’m hopeful that she will be able to see their bright white abundance, and feel the joy of the season. Meanwhile, we all look forward to spring, whenever it bursts forth. I’m trying to be patient with all that I cannot control.


5 thoughts on “Cycles”

  1. As I told you privately, this offering felt like a long-simmered stew with the potatoes and carrots done to perfection !
    Lovely recollections from last year and how change has appeared slowly over the months. I’m reminded that despite the changes, most all of what you mentioned happened without any real intervention. I’ve been thinking a lot about leaving things to ” be as they are “. Spring always comes, people inevitably age and relationships evolve. Your story this week reminds me that our job is not to alter but to observe. Sometimes your blog is my favorite classroom. Thank you, Gretchen. Happy Spring ♡


    1. I did think later that I contradicted myself, at least in my head. The hostas and bleeding heart don’t require my attention. Yes! Not to alter, but to observe. I like that. On the other hand, the vegetable garden won’t come up until I plant it, and water it–not that it needs that now. And the grandkids won’t stay in touch unless I make it happen. I guess we just have to know when to touch and when to watch. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you are equating this political season with Lent, and the waiting for the resurrection. It may not end with Easter, but I am holding out hope that it will come. I feel like I missed Advent and Christmas this year – emotionally and politically it was too soon after November 9th. For me Lent began then and I have wandered in the valley of the shadow. Hope began to come with the Women’s March, and is growing in me as the evil seems to be collapsing of its own weight. I wait in anticipation and hope, reassured by remembrance of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

    Liked by 1 person

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