Category Archives: love

One Year Ago Today

  • I drove across the Washington State border from Idaho, 3 weeks after moving up from TX.
  • I arrived in Yakima, WA, my new home, that morning.
  • My then 71-year old sister discovered (on this same day) her (thankfully now-ex) husband of 21 years had stolen – over the course of 10 years – all but $31,000 of her $800,000 retirement fund. Had he not been found out, he would have probably totally emptied her account – HER personal account that was never his to begin with.

Not quite how I’d expected my move to the Pacific Northwest to end up, but I sure am happy I’m here. I live with my sister now, help with the yardwork (see photos below), help with the cooking, help with the errands, and help with the bills. I live in a valley with soil perfect for fruit orchards, vinyards, and vegetable farms, near wineries and whisky distilleries (Lake Chelan Blue Spirits bourbon is my fave). I don’t have to worry about tornados, hurricanes every 6 months, or flooding. I don’t have to deal with humidity, and there are actual real seasons over here, along with cool weather that occurs BEFORE late December and lasts longer than a month. I am within driving distance of three national parks and a plethora of other beautiful landscapes to photograph, from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The geology is pretty cool around here, too.

 

The year has gone by so fast, and it’s taken a little, but not much, adjustment on all our parts. I feel needed and am glad to be helping my sister – I feel like I am paying it forward for things I should have done for Mom but didn’t.

 

The House BEFOREBecky And The House

Before and After shots of the yard. Looks pretty nice, huh? This is what my sister and I, with help from her youngest son, did – something that should have been done by my sister’s ex, instead of what he really was doing, which was sitting in his office downstairs thinking up ways to continue stealing from her.

No, I haven’t won the lottery nor am I working for any high-powered company here. I’m definitely not independently wealthy, but I sure feel like I am finally living the dream. When my parents and I moved down South when I was 9 years old (my father had a better job offer in Kentucky), I watched the mountains of Montana (where I was born) recede behind me and vowed I would eventually return. It’s taken me 49 years to finally get back to the West, but better late than never. 😁

Anniversary Becky 2

Becky at Home

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Filed under Attitude, Life, love, National Parks, Photography, Washington State

Honoring My Photographer Father on Father’s Day

JohnLatson_The Photographer Himself

In honor of Father’s Day, which we celebrate here in the U.S.  I wrote an article about my photographer father and it was published in the National Parks Traveler.  Click on the photo if you are interested in reading the article.

 

 

 

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Filed under family, Father's Day, Life, love, National Parks Traveler, Photography

Distance (And Death) Don’t Matter – Closeness Is An Affair Of The Heart

After Babys Bath

I’ve been noticing my Facebook friends posting photos of their mothers as profile pics, and I just finished reading a blog post by Life In The Boomer Lane about LBL’s own mother.  This, in turn, brought up thoughts of my own mother, who recently passed away in mid-February of this year.

Here in the U.S., we celebrate a holiday (not one that companies give to their employees as a day off) known as Mother’s Day.  This year, Mother’s Day is going to be a little more difficult for my sister and I; we’ll remember Mom with much love and a little sadness.

Mom was one of the nicest people I ever knew.  She was nice to everybody – even those people whose foibles may have annoyed her a little (sometimes, that included me).  She was the eternal optimist.  She loved hugs, soothed over worries, cooked our favorite foods, and always tried to please.  She never ever complained – even during the dark days of Dad’s drinking and her final days laying ill in her hospice-provided hospital bed.  Her’s really was an unconditional love.

I always had flowers sent to Mom.  Because she’s not around this Mother’s Day, I’m having flowers sent to my sister instead – a mother, herself, of 4 boys who have grown up to be awesome men (although we all did wonder at times about the twins ever making it to their 21st birthday).

If you have a mother who is still alive, I urge you to reach out to her.  Call her.  Visit her. Do what you can for her while she is still living.  Don’t ever wait until she is gone and then have regrets.  Give her flowers now while she can enjoy their beauty and fragrance; don’t wait until she is dead and then put flowers on her grave or urn niche where she may or may not enjoy them (depending upon your religious and metaphysical belief system).

Wish your mother a happy Mother’s Day.  And remember:  no matter how far away you may be from your mother, closeness is an affair of the heart.

Mom-Kath-Becky-Hats_U9A4160

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Filed under holiday, Life, love

Feeling “Off”

MomWarPortrait_0002

Everything feels “off”.  By “off”, I mean not only as in “powered down” but also off as in “off kilter” or “askew”.  I go home to my apartment and it doesn’t look or feel the same.  Naturally, it wouldn’t look the same because it’s a total pig sty right now, complete with undusted surfaces, unwashed dishes in the sink and stacks of boxes filled with items taken from Mom’s home.  Those boxes are in every room of my 2-bed, 2-bath apartment.  I have no idea where I will put everything, but I’ll handle it because those items are now all that are left of my mother and father.  Those items are all that I wanted to keep. The rest have either gone to my sister or they are to be sold in the estate sale this coming week or will be donated to charity.

My 89-year old mother passed away in early-mid February, a little less than 5 years after my 86-year old father died.  She was in the hospital for a week and then I and my sister took her home to care for her with the help of Hospice.  After Mom’s death, my sister flew back to her home and family in the Pacific Northwest and I began the duties as Executrix for my mother’s estate.

This has been one of the hardest, most physically- and emotionally-draining things I have ever done in my entire 53 (almost 54) years of life.

In addition to my full-time job, I am handling Mom’s estate.  All by myself (ok, I have the attorney working on probating the will, but you know what I mean).  And my sister and I are sooo very thankful that Mom had the means to pay for everything and that she had the foresight to put me as a signer (signor?) on her checking account.

You see, here in the U.S., you can’t die for free.  Not unless you are totally indigent, I guess.  Mom was not indigent, so of course there was a fee for the cremation, and another fee for interring her ashes in a little niche at the local cemetery.  Then, there’s the filing of the income taxes.  And the costs for probating her will.  Plus, I can’t do much of anything without the Letters of Testamentary (part of the probate process) but that will only occur after the 10-14 day waiting period while the Court publishes notice of the probate in the local paper to let any creditors know of Mom’s demise.  Luckily, Mom’s house and car and everything else were all paid for.  Nonetheless, I can’t sell her car or the house or get the taxes done or do any other of the myriad tasks dealing with Mom’s death without those Letters.

I wrote the obituary.

I informed people and agencies of Mom’s death.

Everything I have done is a reminder of the demise of her existence.

I talk to my sister on a daily basis – sometimes more than once – particularly if there is some sort of emergency (which there usually is).  I, who never wanted any more responsibility than that of work (which is why I have not yet ever remarried, why I never wanted to buy a house or why I don’t even own a pet) now shoulder more responsibility than I sometimes feel I can handle (but I’m an Aries, so you can damned well be sure I will handle the responsibility and I’ll handle it successfully).

I have very little vacation time left for this year, and it’s only March.  Most of my free days were spent caring for Mom or attending to her estate matters.  I will have to take a day off to attend court in order to get the Letters Testamentary.  I will have to take a day off to go to the local Social Security Office in order to inform them of Mom’s death and get a tax form to take to Mom’s accountant for taxes.  I’m sure I’ll have to take another 2 or 3 days off regarding other estate issues, as well.  I *am* taking a couple of 3-day trips during national holidays (Memorial Day and Thanksgiving) to spend time with my sister and her family; which reminds me, I still need to find out if United Airlines will allow me to carry the cremated remains of my father in checked luggage since I want to leave them with my sister for a future trip with her to Montana to spread Dad’s ashes over his favorite place there.  Thankfully (right now, anyway), I also have enough time left to take a 10-day trip (including weekends and holidays) to London in December to see the Christmas lights and to watch the New Year’s fireworks over the London Eye and to just escape from everything I will have had to deal with over the year.  I want to recharge my photography (’cause I haven’t felt like taking photos at all and still don’t feel like it) and I want to explore that wonderful city.  Who knows – maybe I’ll meet an awesome Brit of my dreams there …. Stranger things have happened, right?

In the meantime, though, I feel sad and lonely and a little out of place.  I get teary often; I was never one of those sentimental, sappy kind of people, so this teary thing is a nuisance and an emotional drain all at the same time.  I miss Mom.  I keep feeling like I should have / could have done more.  I’m always exhausted.  I’m still sick with a lingering cold.  I’m now dealing with the wet carpet in the sunken living room all by myself; heavy rains and a crack (or two) in the foundation slab contributed to the issue and the house now smells while the carpet dries. I need a hug and there is nobody here to give me one; actually, I could use lots of hugs.

Everything just feels off.

I walk through Mom’s house, checking on the damp living room carpet to see how much more it has dried, looking at all the things set up by the estate sales agent in preparation for this weekend’s sale.  It doesn’t feel like Mom’s house anymore because Mom’s not there any longer.  It’s just a house now filled with loads of stuff collected over a lifetime of 89 years for Mom, and 86 years for Dad.  And I feel empty.  I know things must be “off” if I feel like going in to work is the same thing as taking a vacation.

I guess the best thing that can be said is that I am busy.  I am busy with work (bless my co-workers for being so patient while I take off days here and there to handle this stuff), I am busy with the estate, and once all of this is over with and done, I will be handling my own messy apartment and initiating the process of researching places to live around and within Houston, much closer than where I currently reside (moving won’t happen until 2016).

Before all of this occurred, I was rather emotionally detached.  Now, I find that I am sympathizing more with people and their situations – especially if they are going through similar experiences.

Right now, it all sucks but I know that this, too, shall pass.  I know that somewhere at the end of this long, narrow tunnel there is a pinpoint of light; I don’t see it yet, but I know that it’s there.

Mom-Kath-Becky-Hats_U9A4160

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Filed under Attitude, death, family, Life, love