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Christmas Holiday in California

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Christmas with family is always a joy, but this year was mixed with some sadness. My mom is much more frail and forgetful, she has lost interest in eating, she is noticeably deteriorated from 2 weeks ago when I last visited. In addition she was unhappy and feeling neglected by certain family members. I LOVED seeing her and loved seeing my other family members. But my goodness they could have spent more time with mom.

I arrived in California on 12/23; I drove from Oregon. My younger sister flew in from Pittsburgh PA that morning; my younger brother said he would come to visit mom and have dinner with my sister that night. I called my sister around 4:30 p.m. to let them know that I had hit San Francisco rush hour traffic and I would probably go directly to see mom and would not join them for dinner. My sister told me that my brother had turned back because the traffic was so bad. My mom was really upset that my brother didn’t come; she blamed his partner who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and is quite demanding. I told mom that my brother is grown up at age 59 and responsible for his own decisions. And mom said she feels really unhappy that he doesn’t call her or visit. (Mom cannot get out of bed or travel).

My sister told me later that she did not blame my brother for turning back in bad traffic; I told her that I just drove 500 miles and THEN drove all the way through the identical additional 60 miles of bad traffic where my brother turned back (his total journey would be 120 miles). I’m not “blaming” him but he made a decision and mom felt very hurt.

My sister and I spent a very pleasant Christmas eve with mom. The retirement home televised the Christmas service that the residents put on so all the nursing home residents can watch it. We sang along with the carols. Mom was still teary and upset with my brother. My sister and I joined her for supper on Christmas day and exchanged gifts. On Christmas day, younger brother called mom twice and she would not pick up his calls. My sister asked mom to talk to him, and to be a forgiving person. Mom burst into tears and said she feels this is her last Christmas and she feels he ignores her. Of her 5 kids and 3 grandkids, only my younger sister and I were there with mom on Christmas day or Christmas eve. She was distraught and sad. Really all she wants is all her family around her. My younger brother (who still had no clue that mom was upset with him) called me on my cell phone to make sure mom was okay when she didn’t answer his calls, and I wished him merry Christmas. Mom DID eventually call him back, and they had a pleasant conversation. So far as I know she has not told him how hurt and upset she was.

Christmas evening, my younger sister and I joined Pam’s family for an evening Christmas dinner. I baked a buche de noel (chocolate roulade frosted and decorated like a log for Christmas); I froze it and brought it with me from Oregon. I think it was successful; I particularly enjoyed making the decorations.

For the mushrooms, I made meringue with cocoa powder, glued together with melted chocolate. The holly leaves and berries are marzipan colored with food coloring and rolled out and shaped. I of course brought some to mom, but she has lost interest in food (my sister told me that mom gave it away and hid the evidence).

My younger brother, older sister, and younger sister and I all met again at mom’s for my sister’s birthday on December 28. Mom seemed very happy that everyone showed up. She was much more relaxed and peaceful for the rest of the visit.

I drove home yesterday (12/31). I was surprised at how little snow is in the mountains. There was NO roadside snow; usually there is quite a bit. I enjoyed the clear views of Mt Shasta. Shastina is in front and has only a few wisps of snow; it’s over 12,000 foot elevation. The main cinder cone of Mount Shasta is the snow covered peak at over 14,000 foot.

(Although I usually post a few family photos I did not take any this visit at mom's request. She makes a real effort to look elegant and put on makeup and jewelry, but she knows she looks very ill)

Happy New Year to all! and I hope you had a blessed and happy Christmas. I DO feel blessed to have spent time with mom AND my family, and I know that my visit helped lighten mom's days.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thanks for sharing this. That's great that you were able to make the drive to see your Mom. Your bouche looks AMAZE ~ gosh you worked that one!

    So happy that you are able to do lots of hiking, and starting this year off with a hike!

    Hugs to you for 2014.
    1514 days ago
    I'm glad you were able to make the trip down to see your mom and that the roads were clear. I'm sorry for your mom's sadness and disappointment, but I'm glad you had more family for the birthday celebration. Your bouche de noel turned out so beautiful! Isn't the lack of snow here in the Siskiyous a little surprising? My husband and son are headed your way tomorrow to go to Mt. Bachelor since Mt. Ashland is not open. You got some nice photos of Mt. Shasta and Shastina~thanks for sharing. Happy New Year, Alison!
    1515 days ago
    I felt so sad for your dear mom that she didn't have all her family around her for Christmas when she is so ill. Your love for her and all your efforts to be there as often as possible are a blessing for her I am sure. I am glad one of your sisters was also there even though she also had to come from far away (I am wondering whether sometimes people who live closer make less efforts, thinking they can always go later? but Christmas is so special!!!).
    I loved the pictures you posted at the end... beautiful! Thank you Alison for all your wonderful blogs this year, and all the pictures of your mountains hikes which are so different from mine!
    Happy New Year dear friend! emoticon
    1515 days ago
  • DR1939
    Some people cannot deal with death and dying. My brother is this way, and he avoided visiting my parents. He has skipped several family funerals and/or avoided wakes where he could have comforted others. I am sorry it was so distressing to your mother and pleased that he made it for the birthday. emoticon

    And on a happier note emoticon Happy New Year!
    1515 days ago
  • ALICIA214

    A Very Happy New Year to you and yours ... emoticon
    1515 days ago
    Hi Alison,
    I wondered if you might have driven on this trip. I'm glad your drive went well and that you didn't run into bad storms.

    What a shame that your brother didn't push on through the heavy traffic. Whatever his reason, i think that he may regret his decision. At least he was there on the 28th. What a shame, too, that none of the younger generation took the time to visit. I've heard the arguments about wanting to remember people when they were healthy, etc etc, but that doesn't take into account how important it is for the older person to see that they are loved and not forgotten. Or the importance of saying good-bye.

    Your bouchée de noel looks fabulous... I cheat and buy one. Perhaps next year I will be inspired to make one.

    Glad that you are home safely and hiking with your friends.

    Hugs and best wishes for 2014,
    Gail emoticon

    1515 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/1/2014 12:45:32 PM
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