Category Archives: Family

Rita Cordeiro October 8, 1935 – April 11, 2015

May 13, 2012-249MothersDay2012

 

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that my dear mother-in law, my other mother, Rita Ouellette Cordeiro, passed away peacefully today. Words cannot express how deeply loved this woman was. She had touched so many lives and has spread her love so greatly for everyone. She raised 4 amazing children with her equally wonderful husband, Manny, and blessed the lives of her dear sister, as well as countless other friends and family. May the absolute, unconditional love, that she so graciously shared so freely, continue to shine on in all of us… for generations to come!

Happy 51 Years to Me?

201103-omag-aging-600x411

Today is my 51st birthday. Time to celebrate! 51! I really can’t believe it. I was the baby of the family, but I guess every baby grows up… if given the chance. I have had an amazing 51 years full of so many tragic and joyful events. The highs have been astronomical, and the lows, below the below. As I contemplate over the years on this day, I realize something about birthdays as we get older, they may not be as joyous as everyone thinks. I know, you are thinking it is tough to get old, and it really is an accomplishment that we actually survive another year. I am not  feeling sorry for myself that I am old, but something completely different. I realize today how many people who used to be around to celebrate my fantastic birth, are no longer having birthdays of their own. That is what is not so much fun. Yes, I am still here, and thankful for that, but I can’t help missing the two people who brought me into this world, my mother and father. In fact, when I really think about it, my birthday was probably much more important to them than I can ever imagine it will be to me. Today, 51 years ago, my parents welcomed a new member to the family. How intense that day must have been for them. A day that I actually have no recollection of, but I am supposed to remember to have a good time on its annual anniversary! All this time, I had birthdays wrong. It really isn’t about me getting another year older and how wonderful that is, it is about remembering an event where I changed a family, by expanding it. Now that both my parents, my only two brothers, as well as  grandparents, and many aunts and uncles are gone,  who I remember used to be a part of this “celebration,” birthdays just aren’t the same. Everyone who remembers my birth is not here. Woohoo …let’s eat cake! Somehow, I really am not that hungry.

Two Years

Mom and Me, March 2011
Two years? Can it be? Two years since my life changed forever and my mother died in my arms? It is so hard for me to comprehend. I still cry many mornings, but not every day now. I still ache deep inside for my loss of my dear, sweet, friend. I find Christmas especially hard, since she loved it so. Most Christmas songs can send me straight into a crying jag. I feel no Christmas spirit anymore and really can’t wait for the whole season to be over. Time has given me some perspective though, I can see how much pain my Mom was in over the last year of her life. I am glad that she is not around to endure any more pain. Life in pain, is not the way to live. I recently looked at a video taken about 2 weeks before she died and I can see that her end was closer than I could face at the time. I just couldn’t think of losing her then.
I miss her wit, her wisdom, and her smile. Each day, she lives on in me, but I am a poor imitation. I miss my friend.
Everyone has a different relationship with their mother. I certainly did. We were so much alike and we were always there for each other. We had lost so much together… My father to Alzheimer’s Disease, a sister-in-law to cancer, and my two brothers to suicide. With losses like that, it bonds the remaining family even tighter together, even if they were close to begin with. I find it difficult sometimes when I realize that I am the, “last one standing,” in my immediate family. I am moving forward… little by little, but today I step back more than a few steps. I miss my friend.

I can’t believe my mother wrote this. She basically set me up to think of her all the time! She wrote this years before she died, but you really can feel her life presence throughout.  My mother-in l–aw read it at Mom’s wake. I am so lucky to have so many wonderful writings that my mom left me….even if so many make me cry!

Most Dearly Beloved

Mourn me not when I have left this earthly place—for I have enjoyed each precious hour and day and season—the first sign of spring, summers’ warmth, birdsong, nighttime sounds, mourning awakenings, autumns’ glow, and winter sunsets, first snowfalls.

My riches were boundless. Beloved parents who gave me all that made me worthwhile—an undeserved, but patient, kind and noble man to be my spouse—a sweet and gentle brother to love, respect and cherish through all the years—three precious, honorable, stalwart, thoughtful and loving sons—each unique and marvelous—each God’s special gift to me from the day they were born. My fringe benefits along with all else—the loyal, loving, understanding, friends of youth and later years.

I ask only happy memories that all of us have shared—and that a prayer be said for me in springtime—near flowing brooks and frothy streams—at sunsets, at moonrise—when lilacs bloom after summer rainfall—now and then at eventide when daily tasks are done—on Christmas Eve perhaps—on Easter moon—whenever soft winds rustle the leaves-when stars come out and always when church bells ring—when trees grow tall and nearly touch the clouds.

Contentment, peace and happiness have been mine and God has been so good to me with joy and laughter in greater measure than tears.

Love each of you ad infinitum.

Betty Ann Fisher

Two Poems my Mom wrote about her Mom, yet they are true about how I feel as well.

My Truly Special Mom

by Betty Ann Fisher

And when she smiled—
‘Twas as if the world was new,
And when she laughed
Our troubles all seemed few.

She cried but seldom
And ah, she hid the tears
Or wiped them quickly
That none would know her fears.

If steep her path,
She wore no outward sorrow
But kept the ache within herself
Not bitter on the morrow.

She’d never stoop to deed unkind
Nor would she hurt another
Nor hold a grudge within her heart
My sweet and gentle Mother.

IN MEMORY OF MOM

by Betty Ann Fisher

A fitting tribute to her memory—a statue struck in bronze? An impressive gravestone in the churchyard? Which of these shall I choose?

I think that I shall always remember her in the first bright flush of dawn, whenever I see a clump of Lilies of the Valley in a quiet glade, when the first Crocus peeks above the ground, in the scent of early Lilacs, when the first Robin makes his appearance, when the earth smells sweet after a summer shower, when the trees swish in a gentle breeze, when I hear a Bob White call.

When the smell of autumn is in the air, when the first frost sets the leaves aflame, when snowflakes fall from Heaven, and when the sunset comes. I’ll remember her when I hear the laughter of children at play or see nuns at prayer. When I hear a lullabye, when a music box tinkles a merry tune. Whenever I smell Violets, I’ll feel that she is near. And when the thaw sets free the mountain brooks and streams, I’ll think of her.

When church bells ring at Easter-tide, when Christmas carols are sung, when I see a cozy kitchen or a warm and glowing hearth, when a kettle sings on a stove, when the crickets chirp and when the stars come out.

Whenever I’m happy I’ll wish that she could share, and when I’m sad I’ll long for the comfort that only she could give. For my triumphs—if only she might prideful be and my faults could help correct. When someone else says, “Mother” I’ll remember mine.

Almost One Year Ago

One week from today marks the death of my best friend, my protector, my fountain of wisdom, my champion… my Mom. I find it hard to believe that it has been a year. I still cry every morning… I call it my, “Mom Time.” I have adapted to my new daily routine as a non caregiver. My life does not revolve around doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, meal planning, and helping with dressing and bathing. I sleep through the night without having to help anyone to the bathroom. I have a full time job now that pays the bills and do not worry about how long I can go without bringing money in to pay for home health aides and medical supplies. I do not have the nagging feeling when I am out that I must get home soon, because my mother needs me to make a meal or help her get into bed. My back does not hurt, as it did from transferring someone from recliner to wheelchair, wheelchair to chairlift, chairlift to wheelchair, wheelchair to toilet,  toilet to wheelchair, wheelchair to bed. I do not have the many arguments, about the least important things, that my mom and I would inevitably have. Wow! Sounds like my life is so much better now… it isn’t. I miss each and every worry, pain in my back, financial woe, and what I wouldn’t give again to have a full blown argument again with her. I would do anything if I could just see her infectious smile, hear her joyful laughter, or feel her tender touch again. We were always close, but our family triumphs, tragedies, and losses that we experienced together created an unusually strong bond. While I am stronger because of her, I am also weaker without her. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss her. She was a survivor, I am a survivor. The world is just not quite as sunny, or funny, or loving, or tender, or poetic, or special since she left us… almost one year ago.

Little Boy Gone From My Sight by Betty Ann Fisher

Little Boy Gone From My Sight

There’s no sound of laughter hereabouts without you. The sunrise is less spectacular because you are no longer here to share. The new buds on the trees at spring bring less rejoicing as did winter’s first snow blanket. There is no mirth nor wit nor wisdom in the stories others tell, because they lack the spontaneity that was so specially yours.

I miss you all the days of my life – waking, sleeping, walking, running, at ease, at work – whatever I do, no matter where or when, until the day I die, you’ll be in my thoughts and mind and heart.

You should have asked before you took leave of life if I could bear the loss. I wish I could have told you – and I though you knew – that you were the essence of my existence. Your dad and brothers counted, as they still do; but having come so close to losing you, I clung more desperately to keep you here that I might bask in the glory and brightness of your sweet and wonderful character, (so foreign to your contemporaries), your appreciation of nature and love of art, your tolerance and love of your fellow man.

We could have talked, I know, and spent more hours together. But I feared intrusion on the little free time you found for yourself. I held you close whenever I could, but was concerned lest you thought I was too possessive.

We should have talked more – oh God I wish we had. I thought wrong all the way – You were my gift from God, the most wonderful thing that I could ever have dear, blessed Little Boy Gone.

Betty Ann Fisher

6 Months Since Mom Died

Sunday marked the 6 month anniversary of my mom’s death. I find it hard to believe that it was that long ago now. I still think and cry about her every day, although it is for a shorter time. The feelings of sadness are now hit with an overlay of disbelief.  I find it so had to accept that I will never talk to her again. There are so many things that I really would like to ask her. It is so hard when something interesting in my life happens now and I am not able to share it with her. She was always there for each “triumph and tragedy!”  While we changed the house and have packed up much of her stuff, there is still much to do. I just don’t have the motivation right now to do it. What I find hard to deal with is all the knowledge, stories, and history that are now forever lost because she is not here. Thank God she wrote so many wonderful poems about her life that I can go to whenever I miss her. It is just that it is an incomplete picture, and I long for more. I think that is what my grief has turned into…a longing and ache for more that I know in my heart I can never have. The best two words to describe the feeling would be, “it sucks!” My friends and family have been so supportive and I am so grateful for that. I have had a lot of loss in my life and have managed to get to the other side of it. This one has been the most difficult, and while I am moving forward, the process is extremely painful and challenging.

In Memory of Mom

In Memory of Mom
by

Betty Ann Fisher

A fitting tribute to her memory—a statue struck in bronze? An impressive gravestone in the churchyard? Which of these shall I choose?

I think that I shall always remember her in the first bright flush of dawn, whenever I see a clump of Lilies of the Valley in a quiet glade, when the first Crocus peeks above the ground, in the scent of early Lilacs, when the first Robin makes his appearance, when the earth smells sweet after a summer shower, when the trees swish in a gentle breeze, when I hear a Bob White call.

When the smell of autumn is in the air, when the first frost sets the leaves aflame, when snowflakes fall from Heaven, and when the sunset comes. I’ll remember her when I hear the laughter of children at play or see nuns at prayer. When I hear a lullabye, when a music box tinkles a merry tune. Whenever I smell Violets, I’ll feel that she is near. And when the thaw sets free the mountain brooks and streams, I’ll think of her.

When church bells ring at Easter-tide, when Christmas carols are sung, when I see a cozy kitchen or a warm and glowing hearth, when a kettle sings on a stove, when the crickets chirp and when the stars come out.

Whenever I’m happy I’ll wish that she could share, and when I’m sad I’ll long for the comfort that only she could give. For my triumphs—if only she might prideful be and my faults could help correct. When someone else says, “Mother” I’ll remember mine.

4 Months

It has been over four months since my mother and best friend died. I miss her terribly, but I am getting on with my life. For some reason, the last two days I have been missing her more than ever and feeling a little blue. Blame it on the rainy weather I guess. I feel her presence fading from the house. I really don’t like it. Time is moving forward so fast and yet I would give anything to go back to my old life. My whole day was scheduled around her as her caregiver and it is so weird to not have that responsibility. I know I am starting to move on, and I only cry every other day now, but I have to fight wanting to live in a world that can never be… now that she is gone. She was the last member of my immediate family and I can’t believe sometimes that I am the only one left. I have always been a “big kid,” and even though I have taken on big responsibilities in life, I could still feel like a child while my mother was alive. It is time to grow up, and I fight that with all my being. I know I will always be a “kid at heart,” but I am the oldest person now in my family. I miss my daily interaction with her the most. While my partner is so loving, he just doesn’t talk much! Even after Mom suffered a stroke she was always going on about something, or getting into some project around the house. The house is so quiet now. I don’t like being here that much now. It is hard to believe how much one person could actually do to fill a house. She filled it. We were so close and we had been through so much together. I talk to other friends and they just didn’t end up having the relationship that I had with my parents. I think that we were just a little different than most. It must be the caregiver aspect that somehow changes your relationship forever. I think I feel perhaps a little how a parent might feel when they lose a child. I don’t know how my mother survived losing two of her three sons to suicide. I know it broke her heart, and her death has broken mine. Time is healing…I can feel it, but I carry an ache with me that I think will never go away. She touched so many while she was here, and I wish that everyone could have met her. She knew how to brighten a rainy day. It is raining now, and she is not here.

Two Months Since Mom Died

It has been a little over two months since my Mom died while I was holding her hand. In some respects I am feeling better, but in other respects I am feeling much worse.  As the time passes I become aware of the distance in time since she was alive on the earth. As I get further away from her death, I feel myself not wanting to move on. If  I couldn’t keep her here alive, I almost want to keep the sadness then of her not being here. I cry every day, especially in the morning hours as I spent each day doing something with her. I miss her home health aides that would come on Mondays and Thursdays, both of whom have been coming to help out with my Dad or Mom since the mid 1990’s. I am sure my mother’s death has left a hole in their week as well. Since I live in her house, there are constant memories of  her everywhere. We have started to change things a bit to make the house our own, but it is difficult. No matter what we change, it is still the house that my parents picked out for retirement and still the house that held so many memories of happiness and tragedy. I am not sure if any amount of new furniture or coat of paint can ever change that. I am not sure if I want to live in a place that forever will keep me locked inside with those constant memories.The house is comforting in some ways as it was the second home I ever knew, but can I truly ever go forward with a house that is so full of echoes of the past? Time and decorating will tell, and it is far too soon to even think of moving at this point, but I do wonder. I wish I could say that it was only the house that was full of memories. I pass a restaurant she liked, a doctor’s office we frequented in later years, or some beautiful landscape that she commented on, and I am missing her again. She was such a part of my life and daily routine that I would have to move from the area to not have constant reminders. I  hope that in time, these “triggers” will not have the power over me as they do now. I think that I will probably be desensitized to them, or at least I hope my reaction will be one of fond remembrance, rather than intense sadness. Since my life was really about being my parents caregivers for 24 hours a day and seven days a week for the past 19 years or so, I have not been prepared for what a life changing event the loss of that role would be to me. I have been doing it for so long that I stopped imagining what a different life would be. When my Mom died on that dark day of December, my whole life, routine, and identity died as well. I think that I am not only mourning the loss of my Mom, but the life that I had and knew how to maneuver. Now that both my parents have died I must plan a new life for myself. I think that I might have been overwhelmed at the thought of it all in these past few weeks. I hope that in time I can see this as a time to really grow into new directions, rather than a time of mourning the loss of an old life. Everything good or positive in me is because of my wonderful loving, nurturing parents. I know that they would want me to shine and brighten up the world as they did to me and so many others. While I am having a tough time right now, I hope that as I move forward I can make better sense of it all and enjoy the precious life that they gave me.

Grieving Mom

It was a month ago on December 10th that my Mom died holding my hand at home. I find words unable to express the hole that has been left in my soul. She was my best friend, protector, confidant, and fountain of wisdom for my entire life. We have been through so much together and the knowledge that I will not have her for the rest of my life seems so unbearable. We have been through so much together… the death of my brother to suicide when I was 16, the near fatal car accident in 1992 that my father was in and the home care we administered to him for 12 years after the accident while he suffered dementia until his death in 2003, Moms’s stroke in 2003 which left her weak on the right side and  unable to write or speak very well, the death of my sister-in-law to breast cancer,  the death of my dear Aunts Gloria and Gen, and finally the death of my oldest brother to suicide in 2010. And that is just the bad stuff! She was there for every play I ever appeared in when I was an actor, every graduation from college, every birthday, every holiday, anything positive in our lives we always shared together. She always knew how to cheer me up when I was down, always had the right things to say, or give a much needed hug, even after she suffered her stroke.

We lived together in the same house and it is so eerie here without her. The house is so quiet without her. She was such a presence and that has been silenced now. Because it was her house, there are reminders of her everywhere, and each one I encounter can send me off into a deep crying jag. Since her stroke she was my main concern, and my whole life was geared to making sure she was happy. The days were filled with helping her dress, doctor’s appointments, home health aides, physical therapy, and assisting her with whatever she needed. My daily routine, or should I say lack of one now has left me utterly confused and bewildered. So much of my identity for almost 20 years has been caregiver to one or both of my parents.

I realize that in the plan of things we are all to lose our parents when we are alive, but when you live with someone almost your whole life and they are no longer in your living space it really hits you hard. When my brother died two years ago in Maine, it was easy to think we just haven’t seen him in a while. Yes I knew he was dead as I attended the wake and funeral, but his death did not affect my daily routine. Also, of course, I was not as close to him as I was to my Mom so that is probably why I am affected so deeply.

It is also a revelation that I am now the last remaining member of our family unit. I am not only mourning the loss of my Mom, but my whole family. There is now no one alive who remembers me as a young child. I am the keeper of my childhood now, and I can only remember so much myself! It is of no comfort to know that I am the next to die as well!

While I have mourned all my losses deeply, I was not as deeply connected to any who I have lost as I was to my Mom. We had this connection that was almost psychic and we complimented each other well. People who saw us together always commented on our unique relationship, as it was so obvious to those who met us together. With her death, it literally feels like I have lost a body part. I yearn to be whole again, but feel like I never will be now. When she died, I felt a part of me die that instant and while I can go on, I know that I will always be missing an important piece of me.

My partner,  friends, and family have been wonderful through this ordeal. They know how deeply close my mother and I were, and have been great checking in and up on me.  I can see they feel so helpless at times, as there really is no way to make me whole again. I cherish their love and their care that they give me at this time. Unfortunately for me I am no longer a religious person. I find no comfort when people tell me she is “in a better place,” “God needed her more,” “she is looking down on you,” or “she is reunited with your dad and brothers.” I believe she is dead and I will never see her again. These platitudes only help those who believe exactly as you do, and I find them more distressing than comforting. I also don’t appreciate when I tell you that she was 87, and I am told that “she lived a good life.” Yes she did, but she didn’t want to die and just because I had her for a long time doesn’t mean that it should be easier to deal with her loss…it makes it harder. Yes, I know I was lucky to have her for so long, but when someone dies you are missing them and not thinking how lucky you were. I am not angry or upset with anyone who expresses their concern for me and my loss. I know it is difficult to find the right words to express to someone when they suffer the death of a loved one, and I appreciate all who have made an effort who have done so. I am just amazed on how the words affect me.

I know I will go on, if there is one thing I learned from Mom it was how to endure tragedy. I feel sad when I want to, and happy when I can. At one month out though, I can see that this will be a long, slow process.

I am changed forever and I miss my Mom.

 

Happy Birthday Mom and Dad!

Today was my mother and father’s birthday. They were both born on the 29th of December, although 9 years apart. Mom just missed her 88th birthday. Here is another poem from her book, Please Delay Departure by Betty Ann Fisher.

The Joke’s on Me

Each new day arising

is a thrill beyond compare.

I woke up this morning

and found I’m losing hair.

 Wrinkles are appearing

where dimples use to be,

and I found that squinting

makes it easier to see.

 Bloom on cheek is fading,

and my gait is getting slow.

A little hard of hearing,

just slightly deaf, you know.

 Could be I’ve started aging,

but I feel young inside,

still I could wake some morning,

and find that I have died!