Saying goodbye to my Mamaw

I’m struggling to blog these days, even though I have a lot of words in my head and things I want to get typed out and posted. I’m in the middle of yet another Rheumatoid Arthritis flare and am struggling to walk – for the second time this year – so I’m not in the best headspace. BUT it’s Christmastime (specifically, it’s Christmas Eve by the time I’m getting this posted), and I will always seek to find the joy in this beautiful season.


First and foremost, though, I’m mourning my wonderful grandmother, Lila, who passed away on Sunday, December 4, at 88 years old. I was able to finally go home to Indiana in mid-November (more on that later), and I got to see Mamaw while I was there. She was almost immobile, struggling to walk, and was so frail and weak, but her dementia allowed her to have a “good” day and she knew who I was, which was a blessing. She went into the hospital the day after I flew home, and then she moved into hospice a week later due to renal failure. She passed away peacefully with my mom, grandfather, and uncle by her side. I was able to attend her funeral via livestream, which I appreciated. Mamaw was from a different generation – deferring to my grandpa for decisions and going along with them even if she disagreed – but she was a model of the kind of person to be. Kind. Caring. Loving. Gentle. Addicted to Dairy Queen ice cream 😄. A excellent cook. A woman of deep. Deep faith. She was a lovely human, and I will miss her forever. I also can’t stop thinking about my grandfather, who is now alone for the first time in almost seven decades. They would’ve celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in late January.

Second, I’m thinking a lot about how my grandparents were so influential, even without my realizing it, in choosing the Church of the Nazarene as our denomination. My grandparents were Baptists when my mom was a kid and even when I was born, but they joined the Nazarene church well over 30 years ago now. I remember it causing a minor scandal in the family at the time since nobody really knew what the Nazarenes believed and assumed they were “holy rollers,” but my grandparents found happiness and spiritual support at their Nazarene church. Part of the reason I explored the denomination was due to their influence. So now that Mamaw is gone, I’m feeling blessed and honored that this, too, is my denomination and where we’ve found happiness with deep spiritual support.

Finally – it’s Christmas Eve! Here’s this year’s Christmas tree (pretty similar to last year). Despite our sadness, I still very much love this holiday and the beauty of the season!

I have some exciting news to share, and lots of thoughts stored up, so I hope to blog more in 2023, although I’m about to get A LOT busier (more to come!)

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL WHO READ THIS!

Our tree – 2022

Coming clean

On this final day of 2021 (while mourning the loss of Betty White), I’m posting for the first time in months. Why? This is my post to finally “come clean.”

You see, we celebrated our first Christmas in six years just a few days ago. 

Our first Christmas tree in six years!
Continue reading

Grief and the holiday season (2020 edition)

Due to the fact that I’m a Jew, and I am still coping with grief, I have an incredibly complicated relationship with this time of year. Last year, the holiday season was horrible. I was bombarded with Christmas greetings and music and messages and, more than once, I ended up in a puddle of tears because of the memories of my childhood and the people – my brother, my father, my paternal grandparents, my mother-in-law – that have all died in the past four years. Add to that that I literally had a Salvation Army bell ringer yell at me because I didn’t wish her a “Merry Christmas” back, and I simply couldn’t handled it. I made a vow that in 2020, I would not be subjected to the onslaught of Christmas cheer and memories that were too painful to enjoy. For months now, I’ve been making plans to ensure that I didn’t have to get anywhere near a store between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

The thing I hadn’t planned on, though, was that in a year, I would change. I would heal. I would feel better.

Continue reading

On grief and Jewishness during the holiday season

I’m not going to lie – this Christmas season was hellish for me.  For one, I obviously don’t celebrate the holiday and when it’s shoved down my throat everywhere, I get irritated. Anyone who says there’s a “war on Christmas” and that people don’t say “Merry Christmas”  anymore has never been a Jew in December. I used to respond with, “Thanks, I don’t celebrate it,” but now I just smile, nod, and walk away. It’s not my holiday, it’s not something I believe in, but I know people are just trying to be kind and spread holiday cheer so I move on. It’s not a battle I feel like fighting. 

But mostly, this season was horrendous because I used to celebrate Christmas and so many of my childhood memories are wrapped up in the holiday. Now, when I think about those memories, I think of my father and my younger brother and the spike of pain that stabs me through the heart is almost unbearable. At every turn, I’m reminded of loss this time of year. It makes for dark times during a dark period on the calendar (at least in the Pacific Northwest!) Continue reading

Leaking roofs, leaking eyes, and Christmas annoyances

We discovered a minor leak inside the Winnebago the day after Thanksgiving. It’s in the spot where the coach and the cab meet and it’s midway down in a corner area. Since we’ve only owned it for a month, even though it’s 12 years old, I was fairly dramatic about it. (“I can’t believe she’s leaking! I hope it’s okay! What if they can’t fix it? What if we’re left with nothing but a pile of rust and mold? Did we buy a lemon?!”) Continue reading

Becoming Jewish: the Christmas conundrum

Me + Christmas tree, 1981

Me + Christmas tree, 1981

Lately, my conversations with my mom have gone a little like this:

Mom: “I sure would love to come out and visit again.”

Me: “I’d love for you to see western Washington in the fall.”

Mom: “I’d really love to come out and celebrate Christmas with you.”

Me: “No more Christmases for me, remember?”

Mom: *sounds of crying into her iPhone*

OR

Mom: “I saw the cutest thing I wanted to buy you for Christmas, and then I remembered that I couldn’t…”

Me: “Hanukkah starts on Christmas Eve this year, Mom. You can buy gifts if you want.”

Mom: *cheerfully* Okay!

Continue reading

Why I’m hitting the “pause” button on my involvement in Christianity

This post is hard for me to write, but it’s a long time coming.

I’ve spent the last several years on a spiritual journey, and I’ve ended up in a lot of dark corners, dead ends, and places that feel suspiciously like Knockturn Alley (from the Harry Potter universe.) I always enter a new part of my journey hoping with a sincere heart that, this time, I might find the answers I seek. So far, though, I only end up with more questions or, as I’m facing now, total disgust in the journey itself.

I’ve made many posts about my spiritual journey (here, here, here, and here just to select a few) so I’m not going to rehash all of it. To boil where I’ve been so far down to a single sentence, let me just say that I’ve been from one end of Christianity to another and, through all of it, I have continued to try to be a good Christian because that’s what’s expected of me. I’m from the Midwest, where conversations about Jesus flow as frequently as discussions on corn prices and the state of the summer crops. Being a Christian is expected. Asking someone where they go to church is as normal as asking about the weather. However, the reality is that I’ve reached the end of the line now and it’s time to make some changes. To put it simply: I’m out.

Continue reading