Saturday, November 1, 2014


All Saints Day

As has become my custom, I always put pumpkins on Mom and Dad and Grandmother's graves for Halloween.  It lends a bit of the spirit of the season in the cold and wet cemetery.

Today is All Saints Day, a Catholic holy day to honor the dead.  When I moved to France I learned just how important this day was to people all over France.  In Paris, it is the custom to pack a lunch and your grave cleaning supplies and go spend part of the day with your deceased friends and relatives.  Fair from being morbid, I found it to be a warm and wonderful custom that involves whole families.

While I didn't do that much at the actual grave, I did bring the pumpkins and talk with Mom and Dad as I do every time I visit them.  It never seems like much, but I am not really sure what else I can do.  What I did for them, I did while they were still alive.  After their deaths, I buried them with the ringing of a Tibetan Bell and words from the Bible and other traditions.

It has been 2 years since Mom's death and 7 years since Dad's death.  Still, many times, I long to speak to them both if only for a few precious minutes.  The other day I was driving my car to work listening to a father talk about his 27 year old daughter's battle with breast cancer.  He is at every appointment and takes care of her as only a parent can take care of a child.  He closed by playing a song called "Daddy's Girl" and suddenly I found myself sobbing at a red light.  Grief sneaks up on me in ways that I can never anticipate. Crying was a good release in that moment...because it reminded me that I am and always have been Daddy's girl.

I miss them both, I love them both.  As All Saint's Day comes to a close I remember them and honor them now and forever.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

7 years


7 years ago today my Dad, Robert T. Corliss died. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him and wish that I could have another chance to talk with him.  Instead, I bought flowers and arranged them at the grave he shares with my Mom....always remembering to leave some flowers at my grandmother Lydia's grave which is right next to Mom and Dad.

Walking the dogs tonight I looked up in the sky and saw a big hole with shafts of sunlight coming through the clouds.  I have always associated this sight as Dad looking down on me.  Whether it is true is of no importance.  It is one more way I remember and honor his presence in my life.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Oh, Dad...



Oh, Dad, you have been on my mind throughout today...the 6th Father's Day without you.  I finally had time tonight to go to the store to get some flowers for the grave...but everything looked a little spent.  I could hear your voice in my ear..."Don't waste money on these old flowers".  So I left and came home to write you this letter.

Thanks for all the times you had my back.
Thanks for all the times you listened and then listened some more.
Thanks for always believing in me and cheering me on.
Thanks for always believing anything I wanted to do could be done.
Thanks for telling me about drinking and giving me that great advice...Moderation in all things.
Thanks for being there when I fell down...for picking me up gently and with love.
Thanks for all you taught me to do...ride a bike...ski...believe in God...and too many things to list.

Your sister Josephine told me after your death that you adored me.  Well, Dad...the feeling is mutual.
I am still a little lost without you..without your constant loving voice.
I am trying to be the parent to Haven that you were to me.
I guess that is my greatest tribute to you.

I love you, Dad.  Always have, always will.
Happy Father's Day

Monday, January 27, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dad

January 27, 2014 would have been Dad's 94th birthday.  He always hoped to live to be at least 95, but that didn't happen.  Still, Dad had a wonderful attitude at the end of his life.  He was so accepting and funny about his death.  I remember him saying to me "No one has ever come back complaining".  I think that was also the way Dad lived his life...never complaining...just getting on with it as best he could in good times and in bad times.  I miss him every day.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December 2013 - Forest Lawn Cemetery, Seattle


It has been cold this past week.  The wreath on Mom and Dad's grave has frost on it .  It has been hard the last few weeks.  I have been missing them a lot.  I had a dream about them this morning.  We were going to have lunch together.  Then I woke up and laid there is the dark realizing that it had just been a dream.  At least I got to see them for awhile in my dream.  Maybe their spirits know that I have been missing them and not doing too well recently.  It was nice of them to visit.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Almost one year later

Mom and Dad are much on my mind these days.  We are approaching the one year anniversary of Mom's death on October 3.  I am approaching my 59th birthday on Oct 2nd.  My birthdays were always a special time with Mom and Dad.  There were always cards and gifts.  When I was a kid I got to select the menu for my birthday dinner.  Most of all, I always felt special on my birthday.

I remember that Mom was upset that she had not gotten me a card last year.  I went out and bought one that she could sign and give to me.  She held onto life through my birthday and finally let go the next day.  Her death and my birth will always be linked in my mind now.

I was born on a day much like today...warm, sunny...a beautiful autumn day.  Mom used to tell me the story of my birth every year.  Now I pay it forward with our daughter Haven.  I tell her the story of her birth.  Paying it forward....that is how I hang onto to life these days.  I have to say that I am struggling with sadness, a loneliness like I have never experienced before.  Mom and Dad had such a big presence in my life..now they are both gone.  I am struggling with the loss of them every single day.

Monday, June 24, 2013

This is the day...

"This is the day that the Lord has made...this is the day"

This is also the 6th anniversary of Dad's death and he and Mom are much on my mind.  I miss them both...but most especially Dad.  He was such a calm and motivating presence in my life.  No one has yet emerged who can take his place.

The way I try and pay it forward is by being calm and positive with my daughter Haven.  She is three now and a bunch of contradictions...sweet one moment, putting her finger up her nose and licking it the next.  She can be challenging at bedtime because it appears that she is a night owl.  By that I mean we can't get her to sleep sometimes before midnight.  So...when faced with this situation, I channel Dad.  Breathe, be calm, set boundaries...breathe some more.

I can remember so many times in my life when Dad acted as mediator between me and Mom.  So many times where he appreciated what I was doing in school...from kindergarten through both rounds of graduate school.  How supportive he was when we had In Bloom Home and Garden.  He just always had something positive to say despite the challenges, despite the problems with Mom's state of mind....despite everything.  He was a glass overflowing kind of guy.

I wish I could spend even one hour talking with him....to hear his voice...to soak up his wisdom  Now I think of him and stand at his grave talking to him...but that does not make me sad.  It gives me a tangible place to spend time with him and with Mom.

A life coach I was seeing during the time right around Dad's death wrote this in a card to me:
"I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your father.  And so grateful for the love and devotion
he poured into you throughout your life.  He leaves a wise and good woman as a legacy."

My job now is to continue to live up to that legacy and pass it onto Haven every day.  I wish Dad had met Haven...he would have loved her so.  Sometimes when I talk to her I feel his voice coming through me.  I guess that is the way it works in life.