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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Day Date to Lilly Dale ~ part four

It was shortly after listening to the woman in the yellow shirt be given a message, that a new medium was brought up. She said to Mark ~ "You, in the brown shirt." I'm sure our surprise was apparent, it had so been my dream he would get a message today. Mark is kind and caring to me, he brought me here today, even though the drive was a bit daunting and I'm sure he would have been happy to kayak or do something else, closer to home. I can't explain the pull, but I needed to fulfill this longtime desire to go to Lilly Dale, so although I wanted to say to him, as we were discussing our Day Date ~ "That's ok, we can go another time." I bit my tongue and hoped for the best. This was the best I was hoping for. You know that old adage about loving someone so much, you wish happiness on them, more than on yourself? I can't come up with the wording, but that is how I felt, it was fine if I didn't receive a message at Lilly Dale that day, but boy did I want Mark to receive one! When he was called out, my heart skipped a beat, would it be a message from his Mom or his Dad or both? I was hoping for both. Mark turned fifty this past Summer and he had reflected much on his life, on our life. He had lost his Dad suddenly to a heart attack, brought on by damage to his heart from a childhood illness of rheumatic fever. Mark was only two years old on that fateful day when his Dad dropped at a NYSMA conference, he was a music teacher and was out of town with his students. Mark has always wondered what his life would have been, had his Dad lived, he has always wondered what his Dad thought of him. His Mom on the other hand, adored Mark. After all, what isn't there to love? Mark had been a caring, devoted son, he and I had taken Mom into our home for most of her last years of life. In those years, her dementia got worse, but our love got stronger as we cared for her together. So a message from her would be nice too, we miss her and wonder about how she felt about her passing. We let her go, as a family, a decision I have no regrets about, but a small part of you always wonders how your loved one felt about your decision. We had done it once before, my Mom had had a severe stroke in 2006 and my family chose to let her go. With both our Mom's the decision seemed fairly easy. They had both been very independent, strong woman, neither would want to go on in a helpless state, needing constant care. Mark and I had been privileged to both be at our Mother's passings. It is something so surreal, so indescribable, that I truly can't explain how honored and blessed I felt to be with each of them and my dear Mark, by my side. There is much to both those stories, but back to Lilly Dale. The medium began her message to Mark ~ "As you walked in there was a Mother figure with you." I think my tears began immediately, we have felt both our Mom's with us much since their passings. Mark and I are very similar in our beliefs about after life, God and spirits. We both believe in a heaven, in a God and in our loved ones who have passed "looking after us." The message wasn't long and some of the images the medium brought up seemed "off," but some, some were so perfect and only things his Mom would know. The tears ran down my face as the medium spoke, I could barely look at Mark's face, for fear I would completely start blubbering. It is tough to put into words, but I'll try. First of all, "Mom was very surprised that Mark came to Lilly Dale." That seemed very Mom~ish, she was probably my polar opposite in many ways. Never in life would I remember her believing in things like mediums and if she did, she certainly would not have admitted it! That made me laugh out loud, I had pushed Mark, that is why he was there that day. The medium went on to talk about animals and the source of laughter it brought on the other side. Another thing Mom and I did not share, I love animals and have never lived without some, she ignored them, even when living with us and our sweet cats, she never enjoyed their company. Apparently on the other side three animals (the medium said small dogs, Mark and I think it is cats, as we lost 3 cats in our marriage) follow her. I can totally see my Mom's laughter in this irony, my love of animals is from her and I know my MIL not liking animals always seemed strange to my family. The medium went on to talk about Mark's driving and his need to be careful. She would say, it's not like something bad is coming, but you need to slow down, there was a message about a stop sign and paying attention. Like I said, the messages come at you quickly and the wording is tough to recall. But I found this as humorous as the animals following her, because if anything, Mark is a slow driver and it drives me a bit batty! He became an old man driver long before he became an old man, is one of our inside jokes. Then she talked about his not filling the gas tank, leaving it to do another time and his "pushing this often." This is SO TRUE! I will often get in a car and find it on empty, frustrated because I didn't know I needed gas and I am always running. We have never been a couple that sticks to driving "our own car," we switch around much. So it is common for us to switch cars for the weekend, depending upon who is driving the most or the least, as we have a large conversion van and a small four door. Anyway, Mark has left me and himself, on empty many times and then realized it when there is not much time to get gas, let's just say, he pushes it often! A funny thing to latch onto and not something I would have thought his Mom knew about him. She also talked about Mark being a good son, about him giving to others much and not taking enough time for himself. The message went on to say something about Mom going quickly at the end and wanting it that way. She had been hurting and wanted the pain to end. At the end of the message Mom left us with a whopper, a sign it was really her delivering the message through this random stranger we were listening to... 

Some background may help you to see the significance of the final message. When I married Mark, I soon realized that The Bradley clan would be pretty easy to work with when it came to sharing holidays. They had very few traditions around the "three holidays, that I would consider the big three family times;" i.e. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. They only had a strong tradition around Thanksgiving as a family. It was spent with out of town relatives coming in from Florida and from MA. Mark's Mom's side of the family would come into Rochester to be together. She is one of five siblings and back in the day, all of them would gather at my Mother in law's home. I had missed the bigger Thanksgivings because Mom's Dad had passed just a few years prior to our marriage and Mom's sister, Ramona and her husband, Gene, hardly ever came anymore from Florida. Her brother Bob and his wife, Joyce had stopped "religiously" making the trek too, but did come a few times. Still, early in our marriage, we generally started the weekend of the Bradley family on the Wednesday night of Thanksgiving weekend. The arrival of Aunt Dee and Uncle Richie (Mom's younger brother) with "kids in tow," Debi & Randy, (Mark's older cousins, neither of which were married or had kids of their own) would drive in from MA and the festivities would begin. Mark and I would at least go greet them at Mom's on Wednesday night, after closing up our daycare. We may share dinner or a couple "fingers" of wine. (Another Mom~ism, she would ask for more wine, but almost always say, "just a couple fingers," holding her fingers sideways and showing just a few.) Mark, Randy and Mark's brothers would sometimes go out, it's a big night for music in bars. Thanksgiving weekend, back in those days, started on Wednesday and ended on Sunday. After all the festivities of Thanksgiving Day, Friday would be another big gathering of leftovers and family. Saturday might include shopping or a craft fair outing.  Of course there was also music, lots and lots of music would be played on the weekend. All of Mark's family is musically talented and would gather together to share their passion for music. Football was played if the weather cooperated, walks and intimate talks amongst each other would take place. In general it was a catch up weekend, to learn more about each other and our lives as the fast pace of daily living was stopped to gather together. There was a final goodbye, with a cup of coffee and bagels on Sunday morning at Mom's house. Bradley goodbyes are long and the standing joke is to start your goodbyes at the beginning to get out in a timely manner. We would gather to sing a goodbye song and stand outside waving as Uncle Richie drove away, tooting his horn playfully.
So, as you can see, Thanksgiving was and still is, the big Bradley gathering. The demands on other holidays have never been there. We have spent all 25 years of our marriage with Mark's family on Thanksgiving. I believe I have only missed one time, because Gwenn was quite sick. I stayed home with her, so Mark could still be with his family.  Thanksgivings have changed over the many years. Aunt Dee passed and Uncle Richie remarried, Jackie, a wonderful person, who has embraced the holiday also. All of Mark's siblings married and had children, our kids have grown and a few now live in other towns, attending colleges or in careers and are not always able to come home on Thanksgiving. Cousin Randy married and hasn't made the trek every year because of other commitments with his wife, Tammy. Uncle Bob and Aunt Joyce find travel in the Winter difficult as they age. We have held Thanksgiving at a variety of places over the years, as our crew got bigger and Mom's house got smaller. My family (siblings, nieces, nephew, etc) has joined us upon occasion, as have other in laws, but the core of the holiday is still the same, the Bradleys and the Valles (Mark's Mom's maiden name) gather together for at least a part of the Thanksgiving weekend. Much food is eaten, music is played and bonding happens.

Mom passed on December 13th, of 2013, just after celebrating her last Thanksgiving with us.
The message from her was simple, she told Mark ~ "life is short, eat pie for breakfast and on Thanksgiving have a piece of pie for me."

~to be continued....

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