From the Keyboard

This covers a lot of territory!

In the Media, Book Reviews, Articles & Recognitions... Jacqui's a prolific writer beyond her published books. Look here for some great short reads.

Let's start off with her latest article release

Alternate Perspective

Everyone has a mom, that is the truth. And as Paul McCartney once said “Place your bets. There’s no regrets...”
          My friend Anne had a mom, too. They lived together and I watched Anne’s all-consuming grief in the fall of 2017 as she received five days’ notice that her mom would not survive her heart condition. Anne took her home to die in her own bed. I was the back-up on that gig.
        Susan, my friend of 24 years, her mom’s heart attack came two months later. Her mom was her best friend. I lived some distance away so I helped by phone, text, and email. Back-up again, listening as my friend cried for what she lost. The flowers I sent, appreciated,  but did nothing to end the hurt.
        And then my turn came.
        November 26, 2018.
          “It’s harder to lose a parent that you didn’t get along with than a parent you were close to.”  Someone said that once.
And I do know about this subject. I’ve only lost parents who offered me a lifetime of mixed messages and doubt.
        With mom, things began to shift from mere grief to utter chaos a few weeks after the funeral. My sibling and I were working to place items. I have three kids who play piano and my dad’s broken and beat up, hardly standing piano was there. It was trashed but it was his and he wrote songs on it and his fingers made magic there.
        I wanted the piano for one of my kids.
        When I made the request to my sister, the executor, you could have witnessed the effects from space.
        And in that one request, I became an enemy, responsible for ills not mentioned. I was trying to get more than my share, I was told. I was stealing from the estate. The piano was *the* big ticket where we would make a profit when sold. 
        She wasn’t trying to be mean. She was fighting grief in her own way and hitting back on fate and life in general the same as I was.
        “Sell it,” I said. Only the damage was done, forgiveness was not offered and there was no going back.
        People handle grief differently. My sister and I were handling it very differently. Navigating the massive scope of executor took its toll on her and became difficult for her. Me? I tried to call my mom every day for four weeks. After that, I checked email. When there wasn’t a new one, I read the ones I saved. Mom was still annoying, but they were her words to me and I cherished them.
        My sister’s husband tried to pull her back into the program with care. I tried to talk to her.  Before we could we fix this problem, it was discovered my mom had never been cremated. She had been dead four weeks and she hadn’t been cremated. Funeral Home said payment had never been sent and they had ‘misplaced’. To make it worse, the money allotted to pay for the service was gone. It had been used to place another sibling into safety. And they were charging daily rent for Mom’s ‘storage’.
        Facing Nightmare #2 when Nightmare #1 was still active hurt everyone. A lot.
        Phone call. Phone call. Phone call. Each one asking if they had found a way for us to get our mom back.
        Arrangements were finally made.
        I had never been close to my sister. The weeks in handling Mom had bridged that gap. Now she was gone, too, and another piece of my heart broke away.
        Four weeks later she contacted me, offering the olive branch.
        I can stay mad. Or I can let go.
“Being positive doesn’t mean you don’t ever have negative thoughts. It just means you don’t let those thoughts control your life.”—Jay Shetty
Last weekend I stood shoulder to shoulder with my big sister in her kitchen as we packed the urn…first with some memorabilia the two of us thought mom and dad would like. Then we packed in my parents, reunited at last. My head was on my sister’s shoulder. Her arm held me.
        We finished and she gave me the piano.
        I am the only person I know who buried a parent she was estranged from. Only I didn’t bury them. I canceled the cemetery plot and my Mom and Dad sit where I can see them in my office in a beautiful red urn together after 21 years apart. Someone once said to me “I’m not ready to let go…” and I didn’t understand it then. I understand it now. I say good morning every day to both of them. I say goodnight. I finally have my folks as a captive audience where their dialogue—not always helpful—is muted and I can hear in my head the words they might have said to me.
        I’m not going to badmouth my parents. We had different values, different ideas. I can learn from their differences as well as their positives.
        There have been some problems in my personal household since that November day and I can honestly say I am half aware of what they are…when you lose a parent, I think part of your brain follows them into the grave and confusion is left behind for a while. I’m still waiting to think straight again. What I know for a fact is there is no reason for anger and mistrust. Anything that was my contribution really rested on facing the most devastating event I have ever faced—and I am counting the loss of homes, sick kids and two children I lost before they had a chance to meet me—and realizing I might not be thinking clearly.
        I’m grateful for the kids I did have.
        I’m grateful for their father.
        I’m just sorry I don’t have a mom to share that with. Losing this woman who drove me nuts, whose every phone call was an experience in patience…I would give up everything I had to have her here to annoy me once more.
        Place your bets. There’s no regrets…except I lost her. And where I called every day for ten years and I included her in my life even when duct tape sounded good…she left behind a great big hole and an element of sorrow so heavy and so deep inside me that it feels like I’m being crushed from the inside out.
        I haven’t been misbehaving. I’ve been crying softly to myself hoping people understand that when you play with fire, you will get burned. And I did lose my mom without realizing how severe that loss would take hold in me, how it would be my biggest battle to date in finding peace.
        If you still have your Mom, pick-up the communicator of your choice. If you both have pulses, it is a plus. You have the time to speak gently. Hear the words she says back with clarity and understanding. Because she’s your Mom. She loves you on that alone.
Just like mine did.  With all her disapproval and sneakiness, she loved me. Unfortunately, she had to die for me to realize that truth. And that’s just dumb. Shame on me.
        We all have parents and there will always be a battery that expires and then we do not get to pick that phone back up. Place your bets. And clear your debts. Regrets sound manageable on paper. They do not feel good in your real life.  
Dedicated to Neil and Suzanne Jacoby