Thursday, January 31, 2013

January '13 Round-Up: What I Loved on OTHER People's Blogs

Across the ocean, New Zealand by Neil Kramer

My mother is gone... but life carries on... and thus...

Welcome to the January 2013 edition of my monthly "What I Loved on OTHER People's Blogs" feature! (The place where I share what has caught my eye (and brain, and heart) on the internet over the past month.

And with this post, begins my SECOND year of having this as a monthly feature on my blog. I feel it is chugging along quite nicely, as I really enjoy curating and doing my small part in maintaining the blogging community that I love so much.

Anglican Church in Rotorua, New Zealand by Neil Kramer

(Okay, I prepped this post, wrote those words at the very beginning of January, before everything all went wrong with my Mom. I'm sure they're still true, even though I am not exactly "feeling it" right now, so I'm leaving them in. Also the aforementioned "blogging community" has been so completely lovely to me in my worry and then grief, the kind of support that keeps me from sinking under. So this, my tiny give-back to the community is something I deeply want to carry on with, though it simultaneously feels odd to write about anything other than my grieving or my mother right now.  Back to the standard intro now...)

Also, as usual, I am featuring many photos from my friend and amazing intstagram photographer Neil Kramer - of the blog Citizen of the Month - who spent most of January on an extended sojourn in New Zealand, falling in love with a raven haired woman named Juli, who you will see depicted often among his photos this month. (That's her lovely back in the photo at the top.)

Taking a Walk, New Zealand by Neil Kramer

And so I bring you some lovely posts from January: 

The Supermom Myth by Jessica of Four plus an angel
There is No Such Thing as an Un-Natural Birth by Rebecca of Beccarama

Los Angeles. Dusk. by Neil Kramer

How We Do It: Part XXI in a series by Elizabeth of a moon, worn as if it had been a shell

Coming to Grips with the "Number"... by Diane of Our Adventures with Riley

Mt. Doom? New Zealand by Neil Kramer

If I Were You by Jen of Momalom

The Complexities of Coming Out – The Jodie Foster Edition by Vikki of Up Popped a Fox 

Juli in a cave, New Zealand by Neil Kramer

What We Don’t See While We Are Crying: Stray Thoughts on Les Miserables & Contemporary Society by Jane of Jane Devin

You Are Going to Pay for Our Kids by Adreinne of No Points for Style

People Driving Through Campsite, New Zealand by Neil Kramer

Basically, I'm Just Gonna Walk The Earth. by Eden of of Edenland

One Day More by Alicia of Lost in Holland

Train, New Zealand by Neil Kramer

Baby Fever  by Marinka of Motherhood in NYC

Fifty Shades of Humiliation Featuring a Guy in a Gray Suit by Renée of renée a. schuls-jacobson's blog 

Art Deco Hotel, New Zealand by Neil Kramer

With All The Love We Can Do It With by Maggie May of Flux Capacitor  
and also, if you will, these other 2 beautiful posts of Maggie's (it was SO hard to choose): Wabi Sabi {Scenes From A Marriage} and at night i listen for the wind outside my window

The Blurry Photo of J by Neil of Citizen of the Month

Rainy, New Zealand by Neil Kramer

And last but not least, once again, a Neil triptych:

photos from New Zealand by Neil Kramer

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pictures of my Mother: the final months

Mom, September 2012
Ever since my mother fell last May and entered the final phase of her life, the rapid decline that ultimately brought about her recent end, I have taken pictures of her nearly every time I have visited.

There was that constant feeling of "Maybe this is the last time..." and I wanted to document her final months, wanted to capture what was fleeting, what I knew would soon be gone.

I always had my phone with me, outfitted with intstagram, a documentary minded person's perfect tool these days. And thus I snapped away.

I captured her in her many moods: happy, sad, contemplative, playful, lost, loving, sleepy - often sleepy. But always beautiful. And always her own unique self, an iconoclast, not just another garden-variety old lady, for sure.

The folks who worked in the nursing home grew to love my mother, were deeply grieved to hear she was gone. "She was one of a kind" they said, and it's true.

Mom, September
Out for a drive, October, 2012

This weekend it was very hard for me to look at pictures of my mother. They made me so sad. I kept thinking: "This is it. There will be no more photos" and, even, harder, "I will never see her again, except in these pictures and memory."

Mom, September 14th, 2012
But I wanted to finish this post, share these pictures of the last months of my mother's life. So I pushed past the wall of pain, late, middle of the night while the boys were sleeping so they wouldn't see me crying.

Mom in the hospital, June 2012
November, 2012
Mom on her 90th birthday, September, 2012
Fallen, August 2012
July, 2012

Telling mom not to pick the flowers just made her want to pick the more. She always loved to nick bits of plants - from woods, parks, neighbors, garden stores, botanical gardens - and bring them home to root and grow. She had a wonderful green thumb and nurturing living things made her happy.

July, 2012

Mom, Thanksgiving 2012

Even in pain, she always looked at me with such love, so much adoring in her eyes. No matter how terribly her mind was dissolving away, of this she was rock solid sure: we loved each other.

Mom, June 2012
This is the last picture I took of my mother, alive, the day before she died:

Mom, January 16th, 2013
She wouldn't open her eyes that day, or the next (her last).  She was becoming very sleepy; already starting to drift away, I believe.

Mom, January 3, 2013
But I'd rather remember her like this, the sparkle of love in her eyes, smiling for the camera, for me.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Nothing about this is easy

I am unlovely in my grief.

Underslept, rarely showered, breaking out. My face a blotchy patchwork of red and too pale. A total mess, ten days on now.

Wait, it's eleven. Soon it will be two weeks. Soon it will be the memorial service come upon us.

And I have a eulogy to write. Photos to dig up.

Mom's ashes to collect. (I got the call today, but I couldn't; I just... couldn't. Not yet. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe if Dan comes with me.)

I have so much to do; so much todotodotodotodoooooo.

And I want to do absolutely nothing.

To stand still, frozen, like a winter tree, just being for a moment; no leaves, no flowers, no pesky photons to synthesize from. Just standing; my roots dug in, holding me up. Life still flowing at my core, but you wouldn't know it from looking at me.

I flip, like a flopping, water starved fish on deck, back and forth back and forth: I want to be left alone / I have to be with people.  From minute to minute I never know what I'll need.

I go see friends then run away and hide in the bathroom. I banish everyone from the house, then frantically call my cousins to talk.

When my father died, I had to take care of my mother, to be there for her. I had her to mourn with; I had Bruce and Lois, my father's other children from his first marriage, by my side, making all these terrible arrangements together.

But I am my mother's only child, and she is the second parent gone. So there is no one else. Just me. I am the sole surviving member of the nuclear family of my birth.

(And yes, there is the family I chose, the family I made, and I thank the heavens every day for their existence. But it's still not the same.)

I feel greedy and selfish taking time away from my family to mourn, from my children who need me as much today as they did two weeks ago. And yet even here I am hardly here, translucent, worn thin as the cotton of my mother's ancient favorite nightgown.

(More sad tasks on my list: drive out to Long Island to retrieve her boxed-up final belongings from the nursing home. And then what do I do with her teeth? Her hearing aid? I can neither throw them into the trash nor keep them.)

I took her glasses from her face in the hospital ER, promised to give them back when she was up to the task of reading again. I carry them around still in my pocketbook, come upon them when fishing for change and keys.

I put them on though they blur my vision, not cure it.

I want to see through her eyes; I want to see her clearly.

I want the sadness of the last, broken, lonely months of her life to wash away in all my tears. I want to remember the woman who loved birds and cats and babies and champagne and modern art and handmade things and the Chrysler Building in all its art deco glory. The woman who reveled in the crystalline beauty of the natural world.

The woman who loved ME so deeply, so fiercely, so freely; who loved me as only a mother can love a child.

I whisper in my children's ears (now, mostly while they are asleep): "I will always be your mother, and I will always love you."

She taught me to love like that, my one and only mother.

Me, her one and only child.

Just Write

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ninety years, four months, fifteen days

Mom and me, August 1960

Ninety years, four months, fifteen days.

That was my mother's allotted time on this earth.

Fifty two years, five months, seven days.

That was how long we had together.

And now... one week apart.

(And yes we have spent many, many days, months, years, separated in this time, sometimes by continents, sometimes by oceans, sometimes just by emotions - adolescence, anyone? - and yet... and yet... we were always, somehow, still THERE with each other, connected by that invisible, permanent, virtual umbilicus that binds mother to child; infinitely expandable, invincibly endurable.)

I remember the first time I truly contemplated the impact of my parents' demise. I was relatively young, still - my late twenties. No husband, no kids, a very different life.

I was in the midst of many exciting happenings - though for the life of me now I couldn't tell you what they all were. I dimly recall I was deep into rehearsing a play (as assistant director and stage manager) and being on my way home from a rehearsal up on the Columbia campus.

I was driving, flying down Riverside Drive and wanting to call and tell my folks about how well things were going, about plans that were afoot. And I couldn't.

They were traveling at the time, far, far away on the greatest adventure they had ever undertaken. They were in Bali, in a little village, inland, upland - Ubud I believe it was called. And there was no way to phone. I knew the name of the guest house they were staying at, and of the proprietor, but this would do me no good.

There was ONE telephone in the whole town, in the "telephone house" and it was only to be used in case of dire emergency, which this was not. And it was only available in the daytime hours between ten and six, which, with the fourteen hour time difference, this most certainly was not, either.

My parents had never been so completely inaccessible to me and for so long (it was nearly a month's trip) and I felt frustrated by my inability to speak with them.

And then my stomach dropped and I started to cry. Because this thought rang out in my head: "This is what it will be like when they are dead. Only it won't just be for a few weeks, it will be forever."

And as the feelings washed over me, I sobbed and sobbed, thankfully alone in my car, then pulled myself together, feeling grateful for the temporary nature of our separation.

And yes, we had many more years together, my parents and I.

And yes, by the end it was their diminished capacity for cognition that was keeping me from sharing all the ups and down of my life with them; the strong, care-taking parents of my twenties so long gone as to be nearly recognizable.

But still, through it all, we were connected; their love of me a constant, never-questioned core.

And now the umbilicus is sundered, existing only as a phantom limb, aching in spite of its absence.

And I can visit with my mother (and father) only in memory.

And dreams.

So perhaps, though it is 4AM and I will need to be up in two hours to care for my own children, I should try, once again, hopefully successfully this time, to sleep.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sylvia Steinhardt: September 2, 1922 - January 17, 2013

Mom & me, 1960

Just after 3 pm, on Thursday, January 17th, my mother, Sylvia Steinhardt, took her last breath on this earth.

In spite of her numbers "looking good," and her seeming stability, there had been a subtle shift: she was no longer truly present in the hospital room. She had been drifting all morning, not really speaking to me, but rather mumbling dream answers to questions only she could hear.

She would not open her eyes, and when she did they fluttered for a moment then clamped shut again.

After having spent nights in her room (or sofa surfing with nearby friends) when she was clearly in immanent danger, I had just begun returning home to sleep. On Thursday I had come early and was planning to leave early, too (in time to pick Ethan up from school) but some instinct, ineffable, tugged at the fringes of my mind, telling me to stay.

And thus it was that at three in the afternoon, when her heart could no longer keep up, I was there...

Oh, my mother...

Your eyes popped wide open. My face was right before you, but you were not seeing me. You felt your heart unwind.

I cried out, a sob torn from my chest, cast wildly about the room for someone to do something for just one beat of my own heart, then remembered there was nothing to be done, but bearing witness.

I turned back to you, held your hand tight as your grip went lax, eyes slammed shut, then sunk further inwards. I placed my right palm upon your forehead, but all the heat that had been there, bright your thoughts, your spirit, had already flashed away.

Your breathing slowed, caught, hitched, came as an afterthought.

You were leaving me. You were nearly gone.

I had told you it was okay to go, had whispered in your ear that I knew how tired you were, how in need of rest and cessation of pain, of peace. Had given you my permission to go.

I wanted to take it all back, to beg you to stay.

But it was too late.

The visible pulse jumping in your neck quieted, and quieted again.

Your last breath was so small, barely a breath at all.

And you were free.



from beautiful little girl...

Mom as a five year old flower girl at an Aunt's wedding, 1928

to beautiful old lady...

Mom, Thanksgiving 2012

you were always a class act, my dear darling mother, your own unique self.

Know that you live on now and forever in me and my sons.

Thank you for everything, Mom.

And rest in peace.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Mom & Me, Mothers Day, 2012

How could it be?

I woke up this morning and the world was still still here, popped into existence when I opened my eyes; the sun held high in the firmament, the bustling sounds of city life washing in through my air-cracked window.

How could it be?

The world in existence.

Yet diminished, greatly reduced, by one soul... gone.



How can the planet spin onward when she is no longer here?

And yet, it does.

Jake went to school. Ethan stayed home.

I am busy with a thousand phone calls I do not want to make, yet must.

Calls to tell people.

To make "arrangements."

Calls that involve the word "body."

(The husk that's all that's left.)

I shut down to do this. It's the only way.


I watched her go. I held her hand. I kissed her forehead, cooling.


I have mothered my mother for so long, it feels more like a child has died than a parent.

I keep thinking, routinely: "What do I have to do for her today, tomorrow, next week?"

And the blankness that comes back is cold and white with nothingness.

And the Kate Bush song echoes in my head: "All the things I should have done, that I never did."

Because even 52 years together are not enough when you want more.

And I am greedy.

I wanted more.

But there is no more.

She is done.

This last fight was beyond her.

The pain was too big.

Her heart valve too small.

She was tired, so very tired.

And now she is beyond the suffering.

(at peace.)

And I am motherless, forever more.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Small bites of happiness

Against all odds, my mother is still here, among the living.

She struggled through her touch and go night, and then swung more up than down throughout the few days since.

I have stayed at her side or close by, fearing a call saying "Hurry now, she's turned for the worst." But it has not come.

She is ill still; weak, and broken-boned. The heart still gallops, controlled by medicine's drip, drip, drip into her arm. Her blood is still hosting hostile invaders, though fewer, we believe, than in the depth of her illness.

And yet, she had returned from the brink. No longer at the precipice of "multi-organ failure" her liver and kidneys are back in the job; her lungs and heart, though diminished, have not thrown in the towel.

She gains strength slowly, minute by minute. I watch the clock tick by with her heartbeats, the monitor screen my Rosetta Stone, translating her complex body into simple numbers I can witness the rise and fall of.

With these I can infer trajectories; legitimize hope. When her O2 sats at 99, *I* breathe easier.

Everything in such a delicate equilibrium, we are all tiptoeing around her, afraid to do too much and send the scales wildly tilting again.

And yet things must be done: IVs changed, oxygen delivered, blood pressure measured, pain medicine given. Most painful of all: her position shifted, so as not to develop bedsores. With every move her unset bones dig into her flesh from the inside, scream warnings of pain the drugs can only dull, not eliminate.

Also? She must eat. Because if her body is going to repair itself, to heal? It must have fuel and the ingredients to do so with.

Yet finding foods she is inclined to swallow is a daunting task. Sedated, reclining, nauseated from medications, she would rather skip the whole affair.

So I am once again mothering my mother. Offering tiny tasty morsels on the tip of a spoon, coaxing and cajoling her to take "one more bite"of something "yummy" harkens back to the days of my boys' infancy.

We are most successful with the comfortest of foods: soft, sweet, easy to slide down her tired throat: soups, yogurts, puddings.

Yesterday, perusing the hospital's dining menu I noticed an item I had previously overlooked and inspiration struck: baked sweet potato, one of Mom's all-time favorite foods!

It came soft and well done... perfect for my plans. I cut it open, smelling the earthy sweetness rising up from the deep orange flesh, slipped it all out of its papery skin, then went to work.

I emptied the margarine pats deep into the mound and watched them swiftly melt. I took up the fork and mashed and smashed, tamed lumps of potato flesh into a smooth purée. To thin it out to a consistency that would slide right down, I slowly spooned about half the accompanying tomato bisque soup into the potato, blending and rendering it halfway between a thick soup and a mash.

And? It was perfect.

People? She ate THE WHOLE THING. And with gusto.

And in those few moments when I was scooping spoonful after spoonful of nutritious goodness into my mother, and I could see that eating this was something that was actually giving her pleasure, I was happier than I can ever remember being.

A very small, very brief bite of happiness, to be sure. But blinding in its intensity, and staving off the encroaching darkness, if just for a little while.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

That train is coming...

I am sitting by my mother's side. again.

Watching her breathe. again.

But not for very much longer.

She is dying.

It's not just a broken hip.

It's a broken heart. literally.

And an infection that has gone septic.

Blood that won't clot, or that may actually be forming tiny clots within itself, and therefore not where it is actually needed.

There are all kinds of official medical terms for these things, and I know them; have heard all sorts of acronyms flying about the ICU that will surely be the last room my mother occupies.

But is comes down to this: her body is worn out, as is her spirit.

There is no more fight left in either, only pain and suffering.

And it's soon time for that to come to an end.

I thought it would be last night, came barreling back to the hospital through rain and fog, having arrived home at dinnertime and stayed through putting the kids to bed; all while fielding phone calls from nurses, doctors and family members.

I walked into her room here in the ICU a shaggy mess, expecting to find her the same. But somehow in the hour since I'd last phoned in, her blood pressure had normalized and her heartbeat reigned in, no longer pulled by stallions, champing riotous at the bit.

"Your mother may not last the night" was still a possibilty, but no longer a softened, near certain prognosis.

And, indeed, she stayed the night.

This morning a nurse woke her up in the wee hours to administer another shot of vitamin K, attempting to stem the blood tide. "Thank you" my mother responded, astonishing the nurse who told me she had never been thanked for an injection before (more frequently cursed, I assume). That's my mother: gracious, grateful, full of love. And sorrow.

"Tough old bird" I whisper under my breath as I kiss her forehead once again.

How thing-like a body becomes when it is old and broken and clinging to life with tendrils weak and brittle as snow-scorched vine.

And yet my mother's hands are strong still, fingers wrapped, embracing mine, one of the few points of physical contact not obstructed by tubes and wires, her whole body a minefield of pain.

She looks like a fighter pilot: mask covering nose and mouth, offering air ever more oxygenized as her lungs are capable of absorbing less and less.

And fighter she is (tough old bird) clinging still to life, diminished now to this room, my hand, my voice, a cup offering ginger ale through a bendy straw.

She is still here.

I am here with her.

She knows I'm here.

And, for now, that's enough.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A matched set of broken hips

I got the phone call at 4 AM, either late Friday night or early Saturday morning, depending on how you count time.

The BEST news a 4 AM phone call can deliver is a drunken wrong number. NO Candice is NOT here and (to my knowledge) she did NOT steal your man.

But this wasn't that.

This was the other thing. 

The "your mom fell and is in a world of pain so we've called an ambulance and are sending her to the ER" thing.

And so it goes... again.

I did not see my children on Saturday, leaving long before they were up for the day and retuning home long after they were asleep; Ethan in my own bed, missing me.

By the time I arrived at the ER my mother had been to x-ray and returned with the tech's unofficial "broken hip" reading, that soon became official. Her right side, this time. So now she has a matched pair.

There will be days ahead of back and forth on trains and in cars. There will be packed bags and sleepovers on Long Island friends' and relatives' sofas.

There may be an operation, or there may not.

This will be swift or long and drawn out.

There is no way my mother is getting away clean, without pain and suffering.

And that sound you hear?

Like crystal, cracked; musical and violent all at once?

It's the sound of my heart breaking.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Time to Listen to Your Mother again!

Yes! It's true! 

New York City's Listen to Your Mother show will be back this May.

I will once again be producing, and working with a great team: returning Director Amy Wilson, and Associate Producer Holly Rosen Fink, and joined this year by two more wonderful writer/blogger/media gurus: Associate Producer Nancy Friedman and Assistant Director Shari Simpson.

Last year’s show was such a resounding success (selling out weeks before the performance) that we needed a bigger venue for this year’s show – much, MUCH bigger…

And thus we are thrilled to announce that in 2013, New York City’s Listen to Your Mother show will be performed at:

Symphony Space

on Sunday, May 12th (Mother’s Day)

at 5 PM

So this year on Mother’s Day… spend the DAY with your family but the EVENING with your friends and us!

(Tickets are even already on sale, here!)

If you don't know what the Listen to Your Mother show is? It's a national series of original live readings by local writers in celebration of Mother's Day.

If you don’t know Symphony Space? Located at 2537 Broadway (at 95th St.) it is a pre-eminent multi-disciplinary performing arts center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, renowned for world-class music, film, stage, dance and literary productions and events.

We are thrilled to be bringing LTYM:NYC to a whole new level – and larger audience – here this May.

And if you’re interested in being in the show, come visit the LTYM:NYC website next week… where we’ll be announcing the call for auditions!

Also if you are not in the New York City tri-state area* and want to either BE in or SEE a Listen to Your Mother show, and you live in or near these other 23 places?

Austin . Boulder . Chicago . Denver . Eastern Iowa . Indianapolis . Kansas City . Madison . Milwaukee . New York City . Northern Utah . NW Arkansas . NW Indiana . Oklahoma City . Plumas County, CA . Providence . Raleigh-Durham . Sacramento . San Francisco . Spokane . St. Louis . Twin Cities, MN . Washington, DC . Wilmington

You're in luck! LTYM is coming to your town! So go to the LTYM national site, then find and click over to your city's site on the "Local Shows" pull-down list to see what's happening there. Many cities are already setting up auditions - so exciting!

*If you are like me you can nevermore read those words: "Tri-State Area" without hearing them in a funny-fakey German accent - thanks to Phineas & Ferb.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Good-bye to 2012: My year in pictures and posts

2012: can you say "Roller Coaster"?

I know, I know, I know! I'm supposed to be looking strictly forward, not backwards any more by now, nearly one full week into the new year.

But still... the other day, at the end of 2012, while putting up my annual "Best of Blog" post, I realized that while it may showcase my best writing of the year, it didn't really tell the story of how my LIFE went in 2012. I then had promised that post - this post - "tomorrow." But then life got... lifey, you know (kids home on school vacation! autism! ADD! my mother! blah, blah, blah...) and it didn't get finished.

So today I will remedy that, sharing with you the high- (and low-) lights of my 2012. In other words...

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

The year started off busy.

I was co-producing the first annual New York City Listen to Your Mother Show (working with a wonderful team of women), and we announced auditions in January, held them in February, finalized the cast in early March.  I wrote a bit about the process here: LTYM-NYC has made a busy bee out of me. 

There were also production logistics and sponsorship details. And oh, I was also the webmistress of the very active LTYM-NYC website. Busy, busy, busy.

Which was a good thing, as these last few years winter has been a very tough season for me, dragging me into the abyss, as it is now so psychically interwoven with my father's long drawn out death three years ago. That, however, was the impetus to begin my blog, and thus in February I had my 2 year blogaversary...

Which I completely failed to blog about as I was so busy with LTYM-NYC.

Dad & Me, Riverside Park, 1998
I did, however, blog about those other anniversaries: my father's passing on March 13th: Two Years and what would have been his 95th birthday on March 25th: Not my Father's 95th Birthday post

LTYM-NYC 2012 1st read-through

Also in March, however, LTYM came to the rescue and lifted me up out of my mourning with a wonderful rehearsal (so much talent!): Tales from the LTYM Rehearsal

Throughout this time, there were still, of course, the children.

Jake's drawing  of "a guy," 2012

Jake was drawing. A lot. And doing some pretty amazing work for a then not yet 10 year-old (with autism, no less). I shared quite a bit of his work in posts like these: Art and Autism and An Autist and an Artist  and More from Jacob's Batman files

Ethan looking very Dylan-esque, 2012

Ethan was... being Ethan. His usual combination of bright, delightful and exasperating. Also often sleepless, as documented here: Go (the F) to sleep, Ethan. (until we discovered the magic of melatonin, later in the year).

Ethan + melatonin = falls asleep before midnight - yay!

April was, as always, Autism Awareness month. So I wrote a lot about autism, and my wonderful autistic son Jacob, including: My 1 in 88 and Still Aware and Still Accepting

Jake 2012 from

One Face of Autism

And then there was May....

May 2012 was a watershed month for me. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

The high?

Cast of 2012 Listen to Your Mother Show

New York City's Listen to Your Mother show was performed on May 5th: Listen to Your Mother - an amazing ride!

I was the producer and I read my piece: "Holding Hands" - about a quiet moment with my elderly mother. (See the video here: "Holding Hands")

It was a wonderful experience, deeply fulfilling.

AND? I published a post about my experience in... THE NEW YORK TIMES Motherlode blog: A ‘Sandwich Generation’ Caregiver Heads Back to Work

But then, at the end of the month?

My mother in the ICU, May 2012

On May 25th life changed irreparably in the opposite direction: my mother fell, broke her hip,  had surgery. She nearly died, went through various rehabs, but never fully recovered.

My life became about taking care of her and figuring out how and where she was going to live out the rest of her life, and since then supporting her in the Long Island nursing home she became a permanent resident of in August.

Oh, and continuing to be a mother to my own kids throughout this all, too, of course.

Well, summer wasn't all doom & gloom. In the middle of all this I had a funny guest post published: I am Aiming Low today!

Also in July? My sons, they turned... TEN!!!!!!

E & J at 10 - & impossible to get them in one photo together!

And, yeah, I wrote about that: Last Day of Nine and Counting up to TEN!

August was BlogHer, once again in NYC - thank goodness because i could not possibly have traveled away from my mother this year.

Me reading "Holding Hands" as a VOTY at BlogHer12
And I was honored by being one of the "Voices of the Year" keynote speakers at BlogHer: Listen to the Voices. An AMAZING experience: First Thoughts on BlogHer '12

And then it was Vacation and camps and "adventures" (If it's not one thing, it's a flat tire and 103 fever.) including lots and lots of driving -- all the late summer madness.

Plus, my mother?

She FELL and landed in the hospital. Right in the middle of all of this. Of course.

September saw the return to school (there IS a god) for Ethan (First Day of Fifth Grade) and Jacob (Hopeful about the New School Year), my mother's 90th birthday, and I was on Huffpost Live! talking about Sandwich Generation issues, naturally.

The rest of the fall was more Sandwich Generation juggle...

Getting a call while I was with my family at The Harlem Globetrotters that my mother was being shipped off for observation at a mental hospital for threatening to kill herself with a butter knife. (You just can't make this stuff up, people!)

Katie and me

But also I was an invited guest blogger at The Katie Couric Show (Sandwich Generation topic, of course): Amy Grant talks (and sings) about Caring for Aging Parents on Katie Couric, and I was there...   And wrote a guest post for Katie's blog: Caring For My Aging Parents

October was also NY Comic Con and Halloween and, of course The Hurricane (Running before the storm) which left us unscathed but me feeling Survivor Guilt.

I blog-yelled at Ann Coulter for using the "R-word": Dear Ann Coulter: This is who you insult with your...

And then in November, Obama got reelected, which mattered to me a great deal: A Democratic Process

Mom and her brother, my Uncle Walter
And I was able to spring my mother from the home & bring her out to my Aunt & Uncle's house for (day after) Thanksgiving, which was wonderful: Second Thanksgiving 

In December I struggled.

But there WAS Hanukkah!

Ethan chanting the candle-lighting blessing (Hebrew School paying off)
And then Newtown happened, and I came a bit undone. But then the amazing Autism Shines movement sprang up to counteract the media distortions depicting autism as "dangerous" and autistics as potential violent killers.

I am proud to say my friends put this together and I was a part of spreading the word, with my posts This is Jacob. This is autism. and Autism Shines On.

Oh, one final thing I am happy and proud of... throughout this year I have done a regular monthly feature - a Round-Up of What I Loved on OTHER People's Blogs. I love curating and helping to create community.

And now? Now? It's a New Year! Looking forward at last. (Whew!)