Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Poetry Jamboree

Today: Poetry Jamboree! Unfortunately Rose #1 had stomach flu (in my defense: I THOUGHT SHE HAD NERVOUS STOMACH) but she insisted on going to school for Poetry Jamboree. Her entire class made poetry books. I may be biased but I thought her poems were wonderful. The picture below is a partial shot of her whole class reading from their poetry books:

Between the photo above and the one below, we had to dash to the girls' bathroom to, er, "worship the porcelain god." Poor soul wanted to go back and do her reading...
I was very proud of Rose #1. She really wanted to read her poetry and she got up with her group to do their group reading. (I also want to stress that we hightailed it on out of there right after her reading, and she spent the rest of the day on the couch.)

In the same vein as poetry, tonight we started journaling as a group. I got each Rose a composition book and we all sat down to draw pictures or write about our days. There aren't many rules - you have to date each page, you have to write something about your picture or your day (or have something written), you have to use the pages sequentially, and you can only write in your journal at journal time. The Roses loved it.

It was such a nice evening with no TV. I sure do hate TV.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Helping Kids With Grief

I am no expert on this topic, but I would like to remember how the Roses have been during the first weeks after their Guppy passed away. For maximum blogging impact, I have helpfully included a picture of Guppy with each child on their first day on earth!

Rose #1: Detached. Loves talking about Guppy memories; she has the most and she has the best developed verbal skills (of course) so she can talk the longest.
Rose #2: Sad. Sobs uncontrollably for 30 seconds, then blinks the tears off her eyelashes in a surprised manner, as if she can't remember why it was that she was crying. LOVES the ritual of talking about Guppy memories.

Rose #3: Mad. Sad. Naughty. Endless repetition about what happened to Guppy. Did she take her last breath? Yes. Did her soul go into my heart? Yes. Are you mad Mommy? Yes. When will she come back alive? She will always be alive in our heart, but her body can never come back alive. Why? (Arrrgh! Good question!)

It is hard to grieve and to help your kids with grief; maybe I should say that it is hard for ME to grieve and also to help my kids with their grief. We'll see how this goes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reason #8 We Miss Guppy

Tonight Rose #3 and I biked to church to sign the Roses up for religious education for the 2010-2011 school year. Inevitably someone from church sees me biking up and says, "That is SO GREAT that you biked here!"

Guppy would understand why that is funny. It is SO TOTALLY UNFAIR that I can't share this funny joke with my mom anymore. Guppy, I miss you.

(For my dear readers, all two of you, I promise to get back to posting about the Roses...soon...soonish anyway.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Three Cute Girls

Our nanny went back to college last week, but before she left, she took the Roses out for dinner (which meant, by the way, that H and I got to go rollerblading by the Mississippi river!). This is a picture of the Roses from her camera:

And, the inevitable funny faces picture:

We have started a new tradition of saying our memories about Guppy right before bed. Tonight we remembered mini golfing with Guppy (Guppy wanted to win!), a trip to a park where Guppy caught the Roses as they went down the twirly slide, and an occasion where Guppy had to shake Rose #1 awake in the car after they arrived home from picking Rose #1 up from kindergarten.

My memory about Guppy is that she disliked men with "needy chests." (I have noticed that as a result of Guppy's memorial service, everyone is talking about her like she was perfect and a saint. While I would do almost anything to have her back and healthy and with us, she was certainly not perfect! I want to remember her how she was, warts and all. That's what made her human and made her our own unique Guppy.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mama, Your Name is Armpit

Tonight I was helping the Roses with their showers. Rose #3 needs the most help (obviously) and I was washing her hair when she asked me my name. I said, "Your Mother the Magnificent," and she paused - this is rare for Rose #3 - and said "No, Your Name is Armpit."


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Guppy's Memorial Service

Yesterday was a dark day - the day of Guppy's memorial service. It was packed - standing room only - about 420 people. It was a total blur; we walked in after the congregation was assembled and standing. I couldn't bring myself to look all the way back in the church, but I heard that people were spilling out the back and sitting in the hall, listening to the service on the loudspeakers. Seriously, it seemed like it was all happening to someone else. Still does, actually; I feel like my mom will call any minute to get the latest update on her grandgirls.

After the service we had a reception line. It took at least an hour to greet everyone. Four or five people told me that I look just like Guppy (which is a beautiful compliment). All the good appetizers were gone by the time we were done, though (bummer).

Luckily my mom's BFF had an "after party." We had delicious pizza and salad and wine, until Rose #3 was so desperate to leave we just had to go. (Turns out Rose #3 has a viral cold with wheezing and a fever; she is on nebs and steroid. I just want to say: bad night to have to stay up with a sick baby.)

As humans are wont to do, I am looking for a teeny tiny silver lining in this terrible hole that has been left in our life. One is that we put together a fabulous slide show with pictures of Mom. Some of these pictures I had never seen before; others, I hadn't seen in a long time. I picked a few of the pictures from her early life to include in this post.

Here's mom when she was pretty little, maybe 6, enjoying flowers as she did her entire life:

Here's Mom with her mom, Grandma Dawkins, for whom I am named:

Here's Mom when she was in high school at St. Mary's:

And here is Mom with her sister-in-law (whose daughter, my cousin, is her spitting image):

And here is a recent one; this is SO Guppy. She loved fireworks. Being outside. Being with her family. The look on her face is classic. Oh, I miss her:

Rest in peace, Guppy. How will we ever get over missing you?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Guppy's Obituary

Here's the Pioneer Press obituary, and here's the Star Tribune obituary.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Rest In Peace Guppy

The Roses' grandmother, my mother, "Guppy," died at 1:24 this morning. Here is the story. Guppy had a hospice appointment on Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. At about 9:12 a.m., my sister sent me a text (I was in a meeting, in which I had warned the people I was meeting with that I would maybe need to leave) that hospice had said she could go at any minute, so we needed to come right away.

H and I sped over to St. Paul; we arrived about 9:47 a.m. Guppy had not really been awake for a couple of days, and she was breathing in a more labored way. Her entire family gathered around - all of my sisters and brothers, their wives and husbands and partners, and all of her grandchildren. Her brother and sister-in-law were there, and her best friend Ginny. We sang songs (Row, Row, Row Your Boat - in a round!, "It's Time to Say Hello Now," which is borrowed from Sunday School, You Are My Sunshine, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, and others), held her hand, read memories from the memory jar. Laughed and cried. Said goodbye.

Friends cooked dinner and we had a big dinner. Slowly, people started to drift away, until only my sister Bridget and I were left, sitting on either side of Guppy's bed, uholding her hand. We gossiped, chatted, told her about how sad we would be when she left us, but that we would be OK. We read the letters we had both written to her a couple of months ago. We both were really tired, and left after my brother Andy and sister-in-law Tonya got up from their brief nap to sit with Guppy.

I got home and went to bed, after fetching Rose #3 to sleep with me. I was afraid that I might get a middle of the night visit from Guppy's spirit, and I thought that if I had Rose #3 with me, I wouldn't be so afraid. (Logic was not my strong suit at that point.) But the phone rang at 1:20; it was another sister telling me that I needed to come back to Guppy's house because her breathing had changed. So, I did - got up and got into our minivan. I was so tired, everything looked like it was passing in front of my eyes in a series of pictures. I got to Guppy's house and parked the car, and stumbled up the sidewalk. I saw my brother on the porch, and asked him if she was still with us. He shook his head sadly, and said she had passed.

We stayed with her and with my dad while my dad called hospice to report that she had died. My mom is being cremated, and the hospice nurse called the cremation service to come and pick her up. They waited until those of us that wanted to said goodbye. I chose to spend a little time alone with my mom's body. It was the first time I have ever done something like that; I'm glad that I did even though it was scary and sad. I stroked her hand and kissed her head before I left the room. A short while later the cremation service arrived and took care of her body; they removed it on a pallet and then wheeled it to the hearse on a gurney. After that I went home, and cuddled down into my bed with Rose #3 and H.

Yesterday and today were long days, and it is almost time for bed. It is going to be hard to recover from this loss. But we know Guppy is at peace, and she is watching over us. Certainly she is still with us, because we know that this love never dies.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


After church we took photos in Guppy's backyard. Here is Baby Kate and Rose #3. This is an action shot of Baby Kate falling backwards:

This is the whole crew. Note Rose #3's model pose, and Rose #2's new shoes:
It is a beautiful day in Minnesota, so we walked to church. I do not look fat from the back.
And here are buddies, Rose #3 and baby Kate. Rose #3 looks mischevious.
Happy new life, world!