to your mother


Saturday, August 18, 2018

This One Goes Out To Sue

In Target last week I ran into Sue, a delightful, uplifting woman with whom I taught before moving to PA and having kids. Sue saw me through Mom having the stroke. She saw me through the raw beginning steps of the 11 year process of dealing with the ups and downs of life of a daughter of a stroke patient. We love Sue.

As we briefly talked, one of the first things Sue said was "I miss your Mom."

Now, Sue had never met Mom face to face. All of her knowledge came through lengthy emails and eventually through this blog. Early on Sue printed all my emails, placed them in a fun red folder, and said I needed to write a book about our family's experiences in dealing with a stroke in our family. That was close to 12 years ago. Sue misses my Mom because I haven't written about Mom since May and certainly not as often as I had since Mom died. Note taken.

I remember asking the social worker assigned to Mom while she did her initial physical, occupational and speech therapy at Chambersburg Hospital "Is there a book out there I can read, like My Mom Had a Stroke Now What Do I Do?'" He replied no and handed me all his pamphlets explaining how a stroke happens and treatment, nothing personalized. I vowed I would write a book to personalize the experience...and here I am 12 years later, no book.

Sue and I exchanged hugs and stories and went on our way. Remember Sue.

About  a  month ago a sweaty, well-dressed man knocked on my door and I actually answered it. Dave was going door-to-door because he is taking over the local Edward Jones office. He asked if I was interested in talking with him about our finances. I was interested and he took down my name and number. He called me last week and left a voicemail message. I called him back yesterday. John answered the phone, I explained why I was calling and he asked for my name. After spelling my last name for him he calmly said,

"Do you have any connections to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania?"
"Yes I do." My mind started to race.
"Do you have any connections to the St. Mary's County Public Schools?"
"Yes I do." My thoughts froze in my brain.
"My wife's name is Sue."

I was speechless. Right away I was grasping at the meaning behind this serendipitous moment. What was The Universe trying to convey by knocking me over the head with Sue and her missing Mom?

Time to update the blog.

Time to think about that book.

One step at a time, just doing the next right thing.

Here's Seven on Saturday, that's going to be my first step.

This one goes out to Sue and John, thanks for your support and encouragement.

We lived in a one bedroom apartment when we were between homes in the summer of 2015. Julie was 6 years old and getting ready to go to a party. Somehow she was on Youtube and saw the directions to make a Lady Gaga bow in her hair. I followed the directions and Julie was pleased. The pink dress was a birthday dress I had made for her. When all was said and done, that dress ended up having rips and tears and bicycle grease all over the bottom cause she wore the heck out of that thing. My girl was fancy and tough, still is.

Summer of 2015 I took Mom shopping at WalMart. She would wheel into the store in her own transport wheelchair then prop her feet up on the undercarriage of the store cart. I would precariously push Mom's chair while she pushed the cart. This is Mom's look for "I don't understand all you young people with taking all the pictures with your phone. Put that phone away cause we have some BUSINESS to take care of in this place."

Still in the one bedroom apartment in the summer of 2015. Joseph was 7 years old and figured out how to make certain musical sounds with his armpit. The pure joy he expressed over this feat caused my face to hurt, I was smiling so hard. Pure little boy joy.

Auntie Lisa took Julie to a festival at the local community college and texted me this pic. Look at those cheeks, my little girl.

Halloween 2015. Julie was Jasmine cause we found the high-end costume at the thrift store. Joe wanted to be Stampy Cat from a Minecrafter that they were obsessed with watching.

Mike created the costume to Joe's specifications. He used boxes from Radonworxs, the radon mitigation company that we rented our second story apartment from. Note the RadonAway box used for the head,

Since we lived above a business on a busy street, we went to my dear friend Kathy's neighborhood to trick or treat. Scroll back up top the first Halloween pic. Note the boxes on Joe's legs. They lasted to the end of Kathy's short driveway. Joe ended up ditching the whole costume except the head cause he kept falling. We adapted and Joe still got plenty of compliments.

Writing about this reminds me of past anxiety and how I dealt with it. I've gotten better about it over the past three years. Has it only been three years? Goodness that seems like 10 years ago. The days are long but the years are short, People.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

7 on Saturday

Truly I don't want to do a thing, but that's between me, my psychiatrist and my therapist.

I keep getting messages from The blog blog. I received another message today so I'm de-cloaking myself of blah for the next few moments and I'm taking action, People.

Here 'tis, as Granny Katherine used to say, 7 on Saturday. Those of you not familiar, I ditched my archaic slide phone ( it had a TYPEWRITER on it when you slid it open) and I didn't want to lose my pictures so I emailed them to myself and slowly but slowly I'm posting them here with frivolous  witty captions that keep me busy and off the streets.

Now back to it...

 In October of 2015 cousin Chase had his birthday party at St. Mary's College of Maryland's rec center. Most were too afraid to try the rock climbing wall.

 My baby, 6 years old at the time, climbed to the top. I don't know what happened, but now that she's 9 she won't go up 5 steps to enter the bathroom on her own. Go figure.

 This was taken in May of 2016, Mom had recently moved into the Manor.

 She was a little disgruntled about moving in, truly she knew a move was best for her but didn't want to do it.

 I had a heart to heart with her. "Mom. No one wants you to move out. No one. But sometimes we have to do what's best, and it may not be what we want." She lowered her head and nodded.

 It was an important moment for us. One that is inscribed on my brain.

It all worked out well, just the way it was suppose to. 

Hugs and kisses, People.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

6 on Sunday...This One Goes Out to Jessie

Saw cousin Jessie today at Myron and Maxine's kick-off to Thanksgiving week party. She mentioned my last blog update. She said something to the effect of "That was pretty a good way, but not something to read while waiting for friends for dinner."

This caused me to reflect upon the responses that I got from that update. People traditionally respond right away, encouragement, good wishes, laughter through words. Not so much for the last one. This last one had a lag time. People had to digest it, perhaps not even read it until they were mentally able, people shared with me their own experiences, how reading about my experience reminded me of their own.

Now's about time for something completely different.

I'm reviving my 5 on Friday but it's Sunday so it's 6. I'm posting 6 pics from my old cell phone since that phone is long dead and I want to be able to treasure these cell phone moments.

Here 'tis , People .

More swinging pics. These first few times that my minions swung themselves is momentous for this Mama. The joy on their faces, the sense of freedom. Love it. (Note Julie's kitten heels and Easter dress made by Mom for Rachel and passed down to her. Kitten heels scream LET'S GO TO THE PLAYGROUND!)

Joe is much more serious about his swinging. I betcha he is contemplating the velocity of the swing times the force of gravity to ensure when he jumps off he will perfectly land on his feet. No joke, this boy THINKS.

Joe used to love to put his head out the window. He literally looked like a joyous dog each time. LOVE that boy.

Ellen King is our dear friend. She has seen our family through much more than words can convey. She sold our house on Duvall Road in a few short days. BOOM. Ellen doesn't play around. Now, there is so much more to this story about how we got from this day to where we are today. That really doesn't matter today. What does matter is that Ellen helped our family every step of the way to get us where we are today. We believe we are exactly where we are suppose to be today and we wouldn't be here without Ellen King. Ellen is our angel on Earth. Thank you Ellen for everything that you have done for our family. (She even came to the kids' Halloween parade at would have thought Taylor Swift was attending with the way the kids reacted when they saw her).

Oh how I wish I knew for whom those azaleas were picked but it was probably just another day in paradise (and apparently a day to wear fake glasses). This picture was taken at least three years ago...Julie was still wearing this dress this past summer.

Julie is a Pieces, literally a fish and I believe it. She loooooooooves the water. I believe this picture was taken at the apartment complex that we stayed in for a bit in 2015. Ellen King gave us towels and pool toys to support our water-ness. I told you Ellen is our angel.

Stay tuned for more old cell phone pics, I still got a bunch to post.

Here's to a great week People, there's lots for which to be thankful.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dear God, My Mom Died ( A Prayer Not A Swear)

NOTE: Pictures are from June 2016, trying to lighten a heavy post, People.

When I see the quilt I made for Mom in 1997, my first quilt, that when I gifted it to her Mom said she'd take it to the home with her and indeed she did just that 19 years later,  the quilt she slept under for the last year and a half of her life while living at The Manor, Lord I just THINK of that quilt that now lays on the end of my bed and I feel a slap across my face...Dear God, my mom died.

When I'm sitting in Julie's darkened room at night, listening for her rhythmed breathing, I can feel the pressure of a thousand sand bags over my entire body...Dear God, my mom died.

Each morning as I drive to school, a time when I called Mom each day to connect with her, to hear her say "Lo!" as she answered the phone, to tell her stories to make her laugh, to let her know our daily antics from 3 hours away, my chest tightens as if I've been pierced with a knife...Dear God, my mom died.

If you have experienced the death of a parent, you may understand the feeling. For those who don't understand this crushing blow, this is how it feels for me. For 46 years I have walked this Earth and my mom has existed somewhere here too, walking this same Earth. No matter where I was, what I was doing, if I thought of Mom I felt reassured that I knew where she was, perhaps not the direct coordinates but a simple phone call could reconnect us, grounding me to this life I live. She was always here. With every breath I took.

People, my foundation of life feels like it has shifted. I'm still grounded to this Earth, but I feel like I've shifted a bit to the right and that doesn't feel right. When I feel the slap, the sandbags, the knife...that shift comes and creates an earthquake in my core. I feel horribly off balance. This life doesn't feel right without my mom walking this Earth, it can actually feel downright horrific.

I'm starting to feel the fog of grief lifting a little these days. I'm becoming more tolerant of life each day. I have laughed in recent days. I can look at my husband and kids and actually see them. I'm beginning to live again.

Nothing can change the fact that my mom died, but perhaps I will get more tolerant of this sudden shift to the right.  Perhaps stringing some more days together will make being to the right almost alright.

The following are actual quotes said as I took these pictures a year and a half ago... trying to engage Mom in some fun cause it seemed as if the girl was wearing her out.

"Mom, show me your Grumpy Cat face"

"Mom, show me your confused face"

"Mom, show me your surprised face"

"Mom, show me your mad face"

I can almost hear her saying "Mr. McGee don't make me angry. You would't like me when I'm angry."

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Gathering

Well here we are People, the 11th crapiversary of Mom's stroke.

Traditionally I write about Mom's milestones, accomplishments, miracles, joy, struggles on this day.

But not this year. Today I will share about her gathering. Her celebration of life. And yes, no joke, it truly was a celebration.

NOTE: As I write this I grieve the pictures of which I didn't take. I just didn't have the chutzpah to run around capturing moments. I was truly trying to be part of the moments. At times I thought "I should get a picture of that" and anxiety would run over me with "Will I miss a picture moment? Will I be able to capture it all?" and I just surrendered. I got pictures here and there but not the breadth of what I wanted. And that's okay. Jim Parker said he would send me copies of the pictures he took, I'll share those later.


Mom's gathering was celebrated in the upper room of Paul's Country Market, owned by Paul and Mary Hess, beloved members of the generous German Baptist community that has so loving enveloped Mom and Dad over the last 11 years. We decided upon a small variety of finger foods to keep things simple. We decided upon no table clothes. We decided where the pictures, guest book, food and drinks, and video screen would be placed. And then the preparations began.

Paul prepared by scanning a gazillion pictures of Mom throughout her adult life to create a slide show to share. 

Dad prepared by airing out his "uniform" in which he wears for any occasion other than everyday life; grey slacks, soft blue shirt that makes you compelled to say "ooooooooooooo" and his everyday blue suspenders. 

I prepared by washing, drying and matching 50 pairs of Mom's crazy socks to be given out as favors at the gathering. I was uneasy about this decision until Paul and someone else mentioned giving away Mom's socks to the people who loved her. And you know what? Most people could be seen with a pair of socks hanging out of a pocket or purse, most people enjoyed looking through the bin to find just the right pair for them, most people had a smile on their face when discussing the socks. This is exactly why Mom wore crazy socks, to make people smile. And Mom purposefully wore mismatched socks long before it was trendy. I believe it was to make people stop and think "Is she really crazy or did she plan that?"

Mary Hess prepared by labeling the serving dishes of what food would be placed in them. This is something Mom did when she was having a gathering so when it was time to get all the food out at once, she didn't have to worry about in which bowl to put it. Even better, she could task me to do the job cause the labels would lead the way. Mary Hess's labels warmed my heart.

Doris, Elaine, and Jennifer prepared by creating crazy hats to wear. Mom had a vast collection of hats, so well known that Sheila, Mom's oncology nurse, once gave Mom a hat she had bought saying "I saw this and thought 'Peggy would love this'". (NOTE: I called Doris, Mom's beloved chauffeur and friend from the Manor, the evening Mom was dying and asked her to come. She came. She brought tea and water and a bible. She helped me. I am forever grateful for Doris.) Nothing says "A Celebration of Life" than a bunch of ladies wearing crazy hats. 

Paul Hess prepared by making sure everyone knew where to park. Nothing says "A Celebration of Life" like a spray painted cardboard sign, People.

Family came from Roanoke, Virginia,

and friends from Woodbine.

I've been to a German Baptist funeral. It was very reverent, beautiful, holy and peaceful. I was not sure how this community would react to our version of grieving, our rendition of respecting and celebrating the life of a loved one whom has died.

The room was filled with white bonnets and black suits. There was laughter, crazy socks, and cookies passed around and placed into purses. The German Baptist friends most near and dear to us wanted to meet extended family, wanted to grow in knowing who Mom and Dad where before the stroke, as most of them came into our lives after 9/30 11 years ago. It was a glorious time.

I was tickled that Mom's close friends from the Manor could come to celebrate Mom's life...and choose some beloved socks.

Paul and Mary Hess live right next door to their market.  They have a fun playground that the grand kids and cousins, who along with my in-laws rode 6 hours round trip to support us, enjoyed romping on.

We grew up just a quick walk through the woods from the Thomas family. I could start a whole new blog about the Thomas/Loyd adventures through the years. They drove 3 hours to celebrate Mom's life.

Rob Thomas, far right, flew from Colorado for the day. To celebrate Mom's life. That's some powerful love, right there.

My best friend from high school flew in from California. My friend of 35 years and his wife, and now my dearest friend, (and Mom and Dad for that matter) showed up to celebrate Mom's life.

Elaine, sweet Elaine. I'm gonna say Mom's best friend from the Manor. Elaine sat next to Mom at meals. She would cut her food, laugh with her, cry with her, watch TV with her, be silly with her. Mom would make this grumpy cat face to communicate, well, a variety of feelings. Elaine has been perfecting it, I'd say successfully. I could leave the Manor to travel home with a lighter heart knowing that Elaine was there with Mom. God bless Elaine.

Here's Elaine with Paula to the left, she used to sit on the other side of Mom at meals. Between them is Jennifer, truly one of God's angels on earth. Jennifer, a care provider at the Manor, loved Mom like she was her own mother. Jennifer is near and dear to my heart.  I could leave the Manor to travel home with a lighter heart knowing that Elaine was there with Mom. God bless Jennifer.

This is where I struggle without the pictures. I want to name each person that was there. I want to tell the story behind each relationship. I want to convey to the world how special Mom was to so many people. I was completely overwhelmed with the crowd that showed up that Saturday. As I expressed this to Don while standing under a tree out back, he put my overwhelmedness into perspective. "That room isn't just filled with people, it's filled with love," is what Don said to me. Completely changed my outlook. The day was crushing and glorious and filled with love and joy and crazy socks for all. Cause nothing says "A Celebration of Life" like 50 pairs of crazy socks.

On our ride home that evening, the rainbow appear once again, letting me know, all will be well.

And you know what? All WILL be well. cause people are out there, wearing their crazy socks and bringing some joy to themselves and the world.

All WILL be well. Cause I printed up a gazillion of these pictures of Mom in lieu of prayer cards that the funeral home would give out and a bunch of people took them. And I will never know where all those pictures may land, but I feel confident that people will laugh a little when they see it.

God bless you, Mom, for bring such joy and love to so many.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Mom's Obituary

This will be posted in the two local papers up near Dad, wanted to pass it along to you all.

Peggy A. Loyd, age 82, of Chambersburg, PA, passed away on Sunday, September 3, 2017, at Michaux Manor. Born in Roanoke, VA on January 13, 1935, she was the daughter of the late John Robert and Glenna MacDonald Brunk Brooks.

Peggy was a 1957 graduate of Virginia Tech with a degree in Home Economics. She worked as a teacher for 13 years, retiring in   2000.  Most notably, Peggy was the examiner of the pop top beverage can for the patent office. Artistic in nature, Peggy enjoyed quilting, crocheting, and cooking. She enjoyed hearing other people laugh.

Surviving is her husband, Patrick "Pat" Loyd, whom she married on February 20, 1965 ; three children, Patrick Loyd, Jr. of Ashburn, VA, Paul Loyd of Bethesda, MD, and Peggy Anne McAloon of Leonardtown, MD; and four grandchildren.

A gathering to celebrate Peggy's life will be held on  Saturday, September 16, 2017  from 12:00 - 3:00 PM  in the upper room at Paul's Country Market, 6374 Nunnery Rd Waynesboro, PA 17268    Please park in the back.
Arrangements are entrusted to the Thomas L. Geisel Funeral Home and Cremation Center, Chambersburg, PA. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Peggy's name to the charity of one's choice. Online condolences may be offered on her Book of Memories page at

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A gathering to celebrate Mom's life will be held on 

Saturday, September 16, 2017 
from 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
in the upper room at 
Paul's Country Market
6374 Nunnery Road
Waynesboro, PA 17268

Please park in the back.
Light refreshments will be served.

Click on the arrow to hear On the Sunny Side of the Street by Louis Armstrong
performed and recorded by Brian Simms
Solar kitschy things from Mom's sunny window,
she was an avid collector.