family · My Thoughts

A Mother-in-Law? Two I Cherished!

Grief at the loss my of my mother-in-law

During my life, I have not had the stereotypical mother-in-law. My two precious mothers-in-law have blessed me. My first, Lucy Prichard, became my spiritual mother, and my last one, Betty Daunt, healed not only my spirit but my body and soul. This tribute focuses on Betty because she died a couple of weeks ago.

I just attended the memorial service for Betty Daunt last Tuesday, January 18, 2022. I cried deeply that day, knowing I had such profound grief. At the service, one of her daughters hugged me, crying and said, “Mom thought of you like a daughter.” I knew that to be true, and I cried.

How Betty Affected Me

In 1993, I became deathly ill and doctors couldn’t explain what was wrong. After returning home after a ten-day stay in the hospital, Betty offered to do a weekly massage with no charge and I saw my brother-in-law’s partner for weekly acupuncture appointments. I left the hospital not able to go to the bathroom; after one week of these dual appointments I could go. Betty continued the weekly massages for months until I got on my feet again. I continued receiving massages from her for almost thirty years.

I divorced Betty’s son in 1994 and continued to see Betty monthly because she was my massage therapist. She handled the divorce admirably, seldom ever mentioning her son to me. And I continued to think of her as my mother-in-law. Because we had been close before the divorce, we kept up our relationship with my massage appointment and many dinners out and evenings at Popejoy Theater.

Betty filled every time out with her with lots of laughter and joy. I still hear her infectious giggle, which truly was a titter.

But Betty went beyond fun. She touched me deeply and respected my body in her massages, bringing new life to the wounded areas, especially focusing on the hurt little girl’s pain I had carried for my lifetime.

Massage by my mother-in-law

When she massaged me, I got to the point when Betty flipped me over on my stomach, I fell sleep, a deep renewing sleep and only woke when she finished.

Foot massage by my mother-in-law

Early in her treating me, I memorized all of her movements and areas she concentrated on—and yelped like a wounded pup when she did foot reflexology on my feet and hit one of my sensitive sinus points. Betty used a pencil to touch the various points on my feet, and I swore she dug into those areas until I watched her treat my ex-husband’s feet. She did not.

After every massage, Betty served me a cup of water and encouraged me to go home and not touch my computer. She knew I worked overtime on my computer.

With her hilarious sense of humor, Betty trained me to jiggle my breasts to avoid breast cancer. During each massage, she’d ask, “Have you jiggled her breasts today?” I laughed and promised her I had!

After Mom died in 2013, Betty consoled. She spent an hour before my treatment holding me and crying with me over my major loss. She loved my parents and enjoyed her trips to Branson, Colorado, and to our ranch. My favorite memory of her there: as Dad drove out of the canyon up a steep four-wheel-drive trail, Betty dove to the floor and said when we topped out, “Next time, I’m going to walk!”

During my massage and any time we were together, Betty shared her spiritual path and wisdom. She invited me to attend a conference in 1992 for Alternative Healers. We saw Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer. What a day that was for both of us, and we often talked about the influence that day had on our spiritual paths.

A few years ago, Betty stopped doing massages, and I tried other massage therapists, but they didn’t compare. I haven’t had a massage in a couple years, and interestingly, I’ve had major sinus and stomach issues since. I wonder???

Betty always challenged me in all my thinking about self-care and repeated each time as we grow older, we need to stretch daily. Then she would ask if I did. She stayed on top of my health in all ways.

For our last time together, I joined Betty and her daughter at Betty’s grandson’s baseball game in the spring of 2021. We laughed and caught up on each other’s lives. What a wonderful time we had together. After that, we only talked on the phone.

As I ponder Betty’s influence on me over the last thirty years, I realize how big it was—much bigger than a mother-in-law relationship. Because of her, I thought outside of the Western medical world and sought massage and acupuncture. I took herbs and additives she suggested. I witnessed a devote Catholic woman who spoke freely of her beliefs and her willingness to embrace a wide spiritual path.

Finally, I have spoken mostly about my mother-in-law, Betty Daunt. Lucy Prichard touched my life deeply too, but I needed to honor the place Betty played in my life. Thank you, Betty, for your deep love of life, health and me!


~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three Podcasts with my interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

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~Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

family · Grief · My Thoughts · poetry

Surprised by My Words: More Poems

Surprirsed

Surprised by wandering through my old sketch book/journal, I found a couple more poems to share. I captured my life in poetry in all its nuances—the sentimental and the grieving heart.

Surprised by a sentimental heart

Vinyl record

Now, I’m That Generation

April 17, 2002

I’m that generation now,

The Oldies Station

I hear “Crystal Blue Persuasion”

And am transported back

            30 years or more!

Could it be—30 years!

An innocent teenager’s heart

Touched by this song,

Then and now

 I wandered down life’s path,

            Lost for so many years,

            Then recently re-found

 And the song has the same power.

            My heart softens

                        I cave in and wish

                                    For all that wasn’t!

I used to watch for all that could be!

 A song evokes that for me,

            Transportation back to the moment.


Surprised by my grieving heart

Ever since Dad died, I thought I hadn’t written a poem about him and his death, but I found this one, a treasure for sure! The memory I describe surprised me—yet I can feel the security I felt in his arms every night as he put me to bed.

Broken heart

I Knew Back Then

August 24, 2002

Every night as a child,

I clasped your neck,

Not wanting you to leave,

Desperate, frantic.

 The lump that’s in my throat tonight

            Has sat their deep in my throat

For nearly 50 years—

            Blocking my air, my thought, my life!

 I didn’t want you to go!

 I knew back then

            You’d leave.

 Your slipping through my bedroom door

Would eventually be slipping out of my life.

I didn’t want you to go.

 I knew back then

            I’d be left.

 The door that slam shut

            The hollow slam of the door

with me inside and you gone.

I knew back then

I’d lose you.

That I’d grow up—

You’d grow old.

Then you’d be gone.

 I didn’t want you to go.

But wanting didn’t stop it!

I lost you six years ago—

Death and cigarettes took you away,

Too early,

                                    Too quickly!

I wanted to share today

with you,

The laughter with mom

                        My place I’ve created

DAR 2003 (Dance-A-Rama, 2003, square dance festival I chaired)

                        This story that is me

And you.

 I didn’t want you to die.

            I wanted to clasp your neck

                        And beg you to sleep

with me,

To protect me and

                                    Hold me tight.

But you died,

And I have no one

to protect me

today—

                                    but me!


Finally

These two poems surprised me today. Just by chance, I grabbed my old sketchbook/journal and thumbed through. Do you have any surprises lurking in forgotten notebooks? Do you dare be surprised? Let me know what you find, if you dare!

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Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Coronavirus · Grief · My Thoughts · poetry · Spain

What Does a Month Bring in Our Unusual World?

The numbers increase daily. Today, Sunday, April 26, 2020, at 10:58 pm MST, the world has identified 2,994,349 coronavirus cases! Nearing three million!

World with Stay Home Yellow Sticky

One month ago, today, I did what I do when facing a problem in my world—I started writing poetry to defuse the feelings—to get a perspective. Also like during other tragedies I’ve faced in my life, I didn’t start immediately. I needed time to identify and process the feelings before I could look at a blank sheet of paper and commence! When the words came, again like so many times before, they tumbled out effortlessly, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Woman writing

I wrote the poem below two and a half weeks after returning home from Madrid, Spain and deciding to self-quarantine for two weeks, a month from today. We left Spain on March 8th, and the coronavirus exploded there on the 9th, so Lin and I felt uneasy about the possibilities of our exposure. If exposed, we wanted to be sure not to spread it.

Those two weeks, I didn’t write poetry, but I worked on my current book project. I focused and used this time provided to do various tasks I needed to do to finish the book. But I didn’t capture my feelings in words through poetry—I couldn’t yet. My world was spinning! A friend spoke the word “Fear.” I looked deep inside and realized, “Yeah, that’s it!” In stressful times, I do—whatever needs to be done, then I feel. Yes, I recognized fear as it coursed through my veins. My hands shook; my stomach hurt. My restless sleep left me tired and the repeated dark space during sleep I fell into each night didn’t refresh me. Yes, I dreamed, but no detail remained the next morning—only a feeling of despair and darkness.

Fear, okay, and what else? It took time for me to arrive at other feelings: faith, devastation, panic, empathy, and grief. As you can see, what a mixture I felt scattered wildly, but isn’t that being human? As complicated feeling human beings, we have the capacity to feel a wide range of feelings, and all at the same time!

So, in the coming weeks, I’m going to share my poetry with you. You may be saying to yourself, “Oh, no! I don’t do poetry!” Let me share a suggestion—look for the feeling conveyed then see if it resonates with you. Maybe yes, maybe no, but if you give just a chance, it just might get you!

Fearful woman
Coronavirus Scares Me!

March 26, 2020

I sit here
            In quiet solitude
            A peaceful spring scene
                        Out my window
 
And the world falls apart!
            500,000 cases of the
                        coronavirus now!
 
Jesse, my elderly cat, snuggles close
            Nothing has changed
                        He eats, he pees, poos and
                                    sleeps
 
And the world falls apart!
 
Deaths—
            100’s of them
                        faces of pain fill my thoughts
                        faces of grief flood my heart
                                    Losses too sizeable to count!
 
A world turned upside down
            No, I haven’t lost someone
                        Yet!
 
Will I?
            Who might it be?
                        An elderly dancer?
                                    A young friend?
                                                A relative?
                                                            Me?
 
We all stand at the door
            Of this possibility
                        Who will it be?
                                    I dread that first!

How do you process stressful situations? Create a space place in your world? Share your remedies! Is it poetry? Walking? Artwork? Dancing? What do you do to deal?


~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  I HAVE 234 PRE-ORDERS!  Release date: mid-May! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

family · Grief · Life Lessons · Memoirs · Mom · My Thoughts · poetry

Does Your Heart Break on Mother’s Day?

Here it is six years after my Mom’s death and Mother’s Day smacks me in the face with fresh grief—I miss buying Mom a card and flowers and calling her up. I miss her infectious laughter and her practical jokes. The pain never goes away.

Many people face grief on this celebratory day—the graphic above shows those affected most. For many years before Mom died, I dreaded this day. Why? Because I am not a mother, and that hole in my heart pulsated to an overwhelming size on this annual day of remembrance.

I remember going to church one Mother’s Day many years ago (not to my present church for sure), and they had all the mothers present stand and gave them a flower. Again, I stifled tears being reminded of my lack.

Today my church gave every woman present a chrysanthemum and said a prayer for “Mothers, Potential Mothers, and Women Who ‘Mother’ in Any Way.” Today I stood, satisfied for sure.

Yes, I have mothered many people’s children. I was a middle school teacher for twenty years. My brother and his wife knew my deep longing for a child—I had a miscarriage about the time they got pregnant with the first of their three children. They share their children with me in a deep meaningful way, and I am close to them and their children.

After the miscarriage, my first husband and I sought help from a fertility specialist in Denver, Colorado—the famous Dr. Bradley who pioneered a natural child method. We started with fertility tests with my husband and went no further because he had aspermia, a disease of weak sperm.

So we thought about artificial insemination. The thought thrilled me because finally I could get pregnant, but my husband didn’t agree. So we planned to adopt a child and were within six months of getting our baby. I had knitted booties, baby blankets and put together a nursery. We went through Lutheran Social Services in Denver, Colorado, and they did the work-up on the couple a few months before placement instead of at the beginning. They felt if a couple lasted the four year wait; they were a sure bet. We had waited our four years to get our baby, but as the great day drew near, the tension in our marriage increased and he walked out. I later found out he had unsavory skeletons in his closet, and I was heartbroken in my double losses!

My mother especially grieved with me over the loss of a child—I had been raised to get married, live happily ever after and have 2.4 children. The Horner’s celebrated children and grandchildren. After my divorce, Mom talked about artificial insemination—she even offered to help me pay the hefty price of $10,000 for it! (Remember, this was in the early 1980s.)

The battle raged inside me—I could finally have the baby I always wanted, but I labored over the fact of being a single Mom. In the end, I chose not to do it which looking back; I realized was a wise decision for me.

The next few years I drank away, numbing my broken heart and acting out! God’s mercy won in the choice I made. I would have injured a child with my crazy lifestyle at that time.

The years have healed that profound ache, and I am satisfied with my childless life today, but I will always be indebted to my Mom and her undying support of the need she knew I had!

Here are two poems I wrote in 1996 and 2005 while I was still lamenting the lack of a child in my life:

Childless – 1996

The pain of being without a child!  Eternally alone!
No child has burst forth from my womb
nor sucked at my breast.
Barren cavity deep inside waiting to be filled with life.
Waiting, waiting, waiting!

I have no child to pass my stories on to, my history, our history,
how Grandad created our ranch,
how special Branson Christmas trees are
because we cut them down from our ranch, our land,
how to do the Jessie polka and waltz,
how I was almost named Jessie.

My name, Larada, that should pass on to my granddaughter,
like my grandmother passed it on to me, 
every other generation for 7 generations.

Cheated, robbed, failed!

Not woman, not mom, nothing!  Does a child define woman? 
Does the lack of them define me?

Names and faces dance in circles in my mind
Lael Marie
Patrick Lawrence
Curly blond hair, blue inquisitive eyes.
Bright red hair, changeable hazel eyes.
A mixture of him and me.

I have no daughter that has my smile nor a son with my Dad’s red hair.
No one to call me, “Mommy.”

The empty cavity waiting to be filled has grown larger
no longer just my womb,
but now my whole being,
my every thought,
ME!

Aching, lonely, pulsating to the beat of life
missing what never was!

****************

Childless at 51 – 2005

I am childless
51
single!
Reality hit yesterday as life in
My 50’s sheds light on my life’s fact.

Who will carry on the stories I have –
A lifetime full of
Traditions?

Who will recall that
Grandma Horner demanded
I have a set of sheets
With yellow roses?
Her mark of innocence for me, her namesake.

Who will name their child Larada?
Will that meaningful name
Die with me?

Who will remember that Dad
Called me Shorty?
Who will share my travel escapades?
My love for the Mayas!

Who will know the story behind
Each Christmas decoration
Hanging on my tree?

Who will understand the
Spiritual voyage I took
By looking through my
Personal library of life?
Will you be able to stitch together
The words that formed the
Frame that I draped
My life over?

That gave me closure to
The search through
The pages, the beliefs,
The heart-wrenching self
That examined herself
Through various beliefs
and concepts.

Who will look at all
My belongings
And be able to define
The complex mystery
Of Larada?
No one, but me!


Are you sad this Mother’s Day? If so, tell me your pain so I can share it and lessen your burden.


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL UNTIL MAY 14, 2019: 25% off of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir—digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada‘s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

family · Grief · My Thoughts · poetry

How Do You Mourn the Loss of A Loved One?

Program

Grief is a topic that many people turn their backs on–I challenge you to answer the question because I will!

My Aunt Willie Urbanoski died on Friday, October 12, 2018, and because of family circumstances, we didn’t have her memorial service until yesterday, November 10. We did have a private family burial on Thursday, October 18, 2018.

Yesterday, the service was full of stories, pictures, laughter and tears–a real celebration of a woman who lived to be 98 years old–almost 99 because her birthday was Wednesday, November 7.

A second cousin stationed in England couldn’t attend to service, so her sisters did a live feed to her, so she and her husband could attend virtually–a 21st century way to handle loss.

How do YOU mourn the dead? For family? For friends? We all do it differently. My Mom’s sage advice: do it your way. I have a strong need to attend the memorial, view the body and get closure to the relationship. My best friend, Candy, died in 2012, and I was sick and couldn’t attend her service, and I have regretted it for years–no closure for me.

I wrote my aunt a poem for Christmas, 2012, and a week after my Mom died in March, 2013, Aunt Willie asked me if I would read that poem at her funeral. I said I would, but I’d cry all the way through it. She said she didn’t care because she wouldn’t be there!

So yesterday, I mustered my strength and read it–I got almost to the end before the tears came. Here’s the poem–I hope you enjoy it!

La's Poem & John
Presenting My Poem–Some Humor for Sure

My Aunt Wee Wee

By: Larada Horner-Miller

December 25, 2012

Revised: November 9, 2018

You will always be Aunt Wee Wee!

As a child, Bub couldn’t pronounce “Aunt Willie,” so it came out

“Aunt Wee Wee,” and it stuck.

As I look back through my life,

You have always been there,

Aunt Wee Wee!

When I became an Aunt,

I followed your lead!

I wanted to touch my

nieces and nephews’ lives

the way you touched mine!

I have valued all the wonderful times

we spent together over the years.

You grace so many

of my memories!

As a toddler

I can remember

when I looked into your eyes, I saw a playful sparkle

saying,

“Yeah, Larada,

I love you!”

In my childhood,

at Branson dances,

I remember watching

you and Uncle Hughie dance,

and the fun you had.

I remember 4th of July picnics and fireworks

Bub and I couldn’t wait until you arrived with Black Cats!

You came all the way from Albuquerque!

As a family, we went to Albuquerque.

You shared your beautifully decorated cakes.

We went on shopping sprees to the mall.

Delicious Thanksgiving dinners shared!

Our fishing trips

Our time together at Springer lake

You sat religiously by the lake, pole in hand.

While Uncle Hughie and I set up our poles

and roamed!

My week stay with you in Albuquerque-

A visit to Old Town

The Tram and dinner on the top! I felt like a princess!

As a young adult

You attended all of my major life events:

My 8th grade graduation

Princess at the TSJC tournament

My high school graduation

My TSJC graduation

We’ve continued that

precious relationship into my adulthood.

My weddings

You attended my first 2 weddings.

No one attended the third.

Lin and I knew you were with us in spirit at ours.

As our second anniversary approached, Aunt Willie repeated often,

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?

Yes, Lin and I celebrated our second anniversary

with you in Pueblo— pictures, cake, laughter and love abounded.

I had several special visits while you

were in Logan, UT and now in Pueblo.

Some people I’ve known for a short time

and they only know me one dimensionally.

You have known me forever, and you know the many

sides of me.

You smile, and

you make me smile.

You know all about me,

and you make me feel good

about being me.

You love to laugh and enjoy life.

Often you catch me by surprise

with your witty humor, and we share a belly laugh.

In that laughter

I am no longer 59; You are no longer 93.

We are young again, frolicking on the floor.

My Aunt Wee Wee!

That’s the power you have always had–to make me smile

To make me laugh and

To make me feel good about myself!

What a gift!

I haven’t called you

“Aunt Wee Wee” for years,

but you always will be — my Aunt Wee Wee!

Copyright © 2018 Larada Horner-Miller


How do you mourn the loss of a family member? A friend? I’d love to see your comments. Remember–there’s no right or wrong way to do it!

Visit my web site:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Visit my Etsy Shop for holiday specials: Larada’s Reading Loft

Grief · Memoirs · My Thoughts

Excerpt from my book – A Time to Grow Up

A Time to Grow Up FINAL COVER

Check out Appendix D in my grief memoir, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir for healing activities and ideas.

APPENDIX D –  Workbook

Healing from grief requires active participation if you want to get past the pain and the loss to the other side—to thrive more than just survive. Here are a few questions and activities to get the juices flowing after reading this book.

1. List the key people you have lost in your life and write out a short description of your relationship besides the name of each person. How did that loss affect you? How old were you? How did you handle your grief at the time? What did you learn about your grief process?

2. How do you feel about grief after reading this book? What do you know about grief? Where could you find more information about grief?

3. If applicable: how did your mother grieve the loss of her parents? How did your father grieve the loss of his parents? Which one are you more like? Write down three take-aways you learned from your parents about how to grieve.

 4. What resources do you have available when you lose a loved one? (Example: Friends, church, social support group, etc.) Write down names, phone numbers,and email addresses to have available.

 5. Be diligent about the following areas of your life because grief affects the whole person. Identify one activity you can do to take care of yourself in each of these areas:

         Physical —

         Emotional

         Spiritual —

 6. Buy a journal and/or adult coloring book and colored pencils/crayons and draw your feelings. Use this as a journal and dedicate time often to color and then describe the drawing.

 7. Buy a journal and write three pages (“Morning Pages” from Julia Cameron’s The Artist‘sWayevery morning. Just start writing and see what comes up.

 8. Create a sacred time and place every day to cry. Mark it on your calendar: when and where, and be dedicated about keeping that time.

 9. Get involved in a grief support group in your area. Examples: GriefShare, hospice, religious groups, Yoga, etc.

10. Look at Appendix A and start a “God Things” list for what you are going through right now. Be sure not to leave out what seems small and insignificant.

11. Look at Appendix B and identify the normal activities you do that soothe your soul and then add activities to support your grief process.

12. Look at Appendix C and select one book to add to your library and read it. Search the topic “grief” online and add any titles below that appeal to you.

 13. On the first anniversary of your loved one’s death, plan ahead to be prepared and make it a special day for you.

Share below activities/ideas that worked for you. We’re all different, and I’d love to know what you have done to heal after a major loss in your life.

Healing for the Broken Hearted

Larada’s web site : https://www.laradasbooks.com

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Mom · My Thoughts · Writing

A Mother’s Day Tribute!

mom&me copy 3.jpeg

I am veering off Lin and my trip to Ireland and England for one week and sharing a poem I wrote for my Mom for Christmas in 2003. Enjoy and hug your mother real close today! My Mom has been gone for five years and this Mother’s Day has been one of the hardest! This poem celebrates the place she had in my life.

Mom & FragrantLilac.jpg

Have you ever written a poem or story about your Mom? Share it here! I would love to read it.

My Web Site:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

My Etsy Shop–Larada’s Reading Loft: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft