Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Exhaustion of Grief

I can't remember when I have been so thoroughly exhausted.  For the last two
days I felt as though each move was almost impossible.  The tiniest of chores
sends me back to bed.  I don't remember feeling this way when my Daddy died.
I was so occupied looking after my newly widowed Mom that I did not have
time to grieve.  It has been as though I am grieving the loss of both of them
now at the same time.  

Early each morning David heads off to the gym before work.  The house
is dark and empty.  I wander into the kitchen, let Bentley out and make a
cup of tea.  Thank goodness for the instant hot tap because I have not had
the energy to heat up a kettle on the stove.  It takes me a couple of hours
to unload the dishwasher because I have to do it in stages.  First the plates,
and then sit down on the stool at the counter.  Then the flatware, another
break and on and on.  Who would think such a simple task could take such

Normally I look forward to my workouts every day.  I pop in a Pilates
dvd and enjoy every moment.  I am trying to keep up the workouts
because it's good for me, but my heart is just not into it.  I break it up into
15 minute segments to simplify it, but it's still such an effort.  This 
morning I did some Tai Chi.  That was a bit easier for me.  I keep 
wondering what has happened.  Normally I am like a racehorse.  Give
me a bowl of oats and I am ready to run.  Now I am dragging.  

I found a few things of Mom's to add to her room.  A couple of
things I want to paint and fix up.  I would like to get busy with that
and show you pictures, but I just don't have the energy to do it.  It's as
though I have the flu without the virus and without the temperature.
My  headache has lasted for two days and I very rarely ever have one.
My shoulders and neck ache.  David suggested I go have a massage
but I am too tired to hop in the shower, get dressed and go over to the
spa which is really close by.  Too much effort.

Yesterday I spent most of the day in my jammies looking at old
photograph albums.  One album I had not seen for years.  It contains
pictures of my Daddy when he was a little boy.  Grandma and 
Grandpa at the little summer cabin on Lake Erie.  Daddy with his
little sister Ruth.  Daddy with his favorite Uncle John.  Grandma and
her sister Twila (who looks like me).  I always wondered where I got
my nose.  My nose is upturned.  Daddy's was straight and fine.  Mom's 
was too.  I got a "little girl" type nose.  From who ~ from Great Aunt
Twila that's who.  Daddy's family loved to have fun.  Picnics, antics
always laughing and smiling with lots of family.  Grandma's brothers
all so blond and Swedish looking.  My Grandpa came from a family of
five brothers and they were all fun loving.  They all lead such happy and
family oriented lives.  Knowing this gives me some peace.

The day before my Mom died, my Aunt Susan slipped and fell in her
bathroom and broke her hip.  I have been worried about her.  She came
through the surgery just fine but is hard to have much of a 
conversation with her because she is a bit loopy from the pain meds.
Sometimes things just seem to happen all at once. 

Well, I am getting tired again.  It is time for me to take a nap.
Now that I have Mom's ashes back and the copies of the death
certificates, I will have so much paperwork to do and so many
phone calls to make.  I will only be able to accomplish a small
bit at a time.  The process of grief is exhausting.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dollhouses are Therapeutic ~ Really They Are!

Remember when I asked y'all which stove I should buy for my dollhouse?  If you 
have forgotten, you can read that post here.  After reading your comments I had to
agree and decided to order the 1920's style stove.   

I just love it!  While I love the Aga too, I agree with you that this one
has more space to display items (super important) and you just don't see this
one as often as the Aga.  I am glad that Mom got to see it.  We had so much
fun looking at dollhouse miniatures on the internet together.  She thought this
stove was really cute and we had lots of fun decorating the hutch.

I find decorating a dollhouse really soothing.  Let's me indulge my
inner child and I think that's a good thing to do once in a while.

What do you think about a name for the cottage dollhouse Bentley?
Since roses seem to be a continuing decorating theme, maybe I 
should name it ~ Texas Rosebud Cottage.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, February 24, 2014

After Mom

The last few days have been extremely difficult ones.  Such a wide range of
emotions ~ deep sadness, a bottomless sense of loss, fatigue and heartache.
I have roamed around the house with no sense of purpose.  I kept thinking what
could I do to find something to occupy the empty moments?  And I found the
answer ~ decorate my Mom's bedroom.

Mom lived with decorating indecision.  She wanted to decorate her room, but
she could never decide on what exactly she wanted.  She was always a very
formal person, but I think that she was discovering that formal rooms are not
necessarily inviting ones.  She wanted warm and inviting but was not sure how
to get it.  I would offer suggestions, but she was determined to blaze her own 
trail even if she was uncertain where that trail would take her.

She fell in love with a few things at Hobby Lobby when we went shopping there
so I bought them for her for Christmas.  This blue door/mirror was one purchase.

A few months ago we found a set of three nesting tables from Soft Surroundings.
The third table is at the other end of this love seat.   They are really quite
charming.  If you have not checked out Soft Surroundings Home, you should.
Lots of great furniture pieces and accessories.  A fun catalog to explore.

This clock was another gift to Mom from Hobby Lobby.  

It's a cloudy day, but this room has lots of windows and on a sunny day is 
delightful.  Mom purchased this bench from Ballard Designs before we moved to 
Texas.  Her bed is currently unmade.  I had to move the mattresses and bed frame
and bench off to the side of the room to allow for the hospital bed and oxygen.
It took me a while before I could even walk into this room without collapsing into tears.

But I am determined to make this room pretty to honor her memory.  I want to paint 
the walls (we talked about that) and either change out the carpet or just pull it up and
revert to the hardwoods.  Carpet can be nice in a bedroom though.  

Her room has French doors that open out to the garden.  

It's really a lovely view,  even in winter.

We discussed painting her vintage French Provincial furniture pieces several 
times.  She was struggling with the color options.  That mirror is an antique that
came from a big hotel in Chicago.  I won't be painting it.

I'll tell you something funny about my Mom.  She had a habit of changing
wall art weekly.  When I paint this room there will be lots of patching up to do.
We often laughed about her "Swiss Cheese" walls.

Please don't get me wrong,  I miss her so greatly and this is the only
way I know how to do something for her and to help ease my pain.
It will be a project that will give me a sense of connection.  A place to
honor her memory and a place to sit and look at old family pictures.
It may seem frivolous to some, but we all grieve in our own way.
I hope you will follow along with me on this path to making Mom's
room a pretty place.

I also want to take this time to thank all of you for your very kind
words of sympathy.  Your thoughts and prayers have kept me going
throughout this difficult time.

Please visit Brenda for
Tweak It Tuesday

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Mom Went To Heaven This Morning

Mom came home from the hospital yesterday afternoon.  It felt really good to have
her back here even though it would not be for long.  Shortly after she arrived one of the
hospice nurses stopped over to bring all of the meds she would need and instructed
me about my duties.  

As we were talking, Mom's breathing became a bit labored.  We administered
comfort measures and she relaxed a bit.  The trip from the hospital in the
ambulance back home must have been a bit disturbing for her.  Later in the
evening the labored breathing began again and this time I became alarmed.
The last thing I wanted was for her to suffer.  The nurse checked on her
and told me it may not be much longer.  

Mom passed at 4:38 this morning.  She left my arms into the arms of the
One who will provide her eternal comfort.  My husband told me that she was 
just waiting to come back home to her own room, her own family and to
Bentley too who stayed by her side before she felt free to let go.

My heartfelt thanks to all of you who left comments of support and prayers
for me.  Also to those of you who sent loving emails.  You all were so kind
to support me and provide the loving encouragement to help me get through
what has been a very tough week.  

My Mom and Daddy are back together once again.  There will never be
a day that goes by when I will not miss them both, yet I have comfort
knowing that their eternal life in His presence is their new home.

With Love,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Coming Home to Die

I think that most people want to die at home, in their own bed.  At least
that's what I often hear.  It would be my preference.

I met with a hospice director today and signed the paperwork to have in-home care
for my Mom.  I could have arranged to have her moved to a nursing home, but I
could not bring myself to do it.  She is not improving and will never be the same.
It's not what she wanted.  

So hopefully tomorrow she will be returning to the home she loved for what has
been sadly a short time.  We had so many plans to spend time tending the garden
and putting up the potting shed.  Doing things that Moms and daughters love
to share.  

We recently received the catalog we requested from the Antique Rose Emporium.
We had marked the roses we wanted to order.  Then the stroke.  And all those
plans have been shoved aside.

Sometimes life can change in an instant and the hopes and dreams that were shared
may never be realized.  

But I never will give up on a miracle happening.  So I will keep her 
comfortable and stay by her side.   I will fill her room with flowers and 
play her favorite music.  Bentley can snuggle next to her and I will read
her stories.  And I will love her deeply each precious moment we have
left together.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Remaining Hopeful When It Appears All Hope Is Lost

The doctors are convinced that all hope is lost.  They keep
reminding me that Mom is never going to recover.  I sit by her
bedside each day.  I assure her that I am with her, that I love her
and chat about everything as though it was any normal and 
healthy day for her.

But I do not give up hope.  

They tell me how lucky she is and that she has lived a long full
life.  I nod my head because I know that they are trying to
justify their position and in their own way attempting to comfort me.

But I do not give up hope.

Miracles do happen.  I know and believe it.  
Although my Mom is in a hospital receiving good care
from doctors, nurses and other staff, I know that they
are expecting her to die soon.

But I do not give up hope.

Because I love her,  I have put her life into God's hands.
If He has plans for her life here on earth to continue, then it will.
Until He decides, I will sit by her bedside and talk to her and make
sure she is comfortable and I will remain hopeful.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Mom Had a Stroke

My Mom had a stroke last night.  I just came back from the hospital and
from visiting her doctor.  The prognosis is not good.  Fourteen hours into
the stroke she is still unresponsive.  The will do a full stroke workup and
we are all praying for the best, but he told me to prepare for the worst.

This is her favorite spot in the garden.  I hope she will be able to sit 
there once again.  While the doctor believes she will not, I am not
going to stop hoping that she will.

This all happened so suddenly.  One moment she was fine and the next
one she was not.  The other day I posted about how my life had changed so
drastically in the past few months never thinking that in a couple of
days it would go through yet another drastic change.

I am feeling very numb.  It's hard for me to be home right now because 
every room reminds me of her.  Since she is in ICU, the visiting hours
are very limited so I will live in limbo until I can see her again.

I know I may have to let her go and that if I do I hope she will be
with my Daddy once again.  I know that she has missed him so much
these past three plus years.  But I just don't feel ready for this.  I doubt
that there is a way to be ready.  

I will let you know what happens.  Until then I will not be posting.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Valentine Love Letter

Happy Valentine's Day from Bentley and Me.
We are so lucky to have such wonderful friends like you.
You put smiles on our faces every day.

Reading the posts on your lovely blogs and reading the
lovely comments you leave here bring happy cheer into every day.

My life and Bentley's too have been greatly improved by
knowing each of you.  

There is such strength, love, creativity, wisdom and talent
among all of you.  I am so honored to be a part of this
blogging community.  

There are so many wonderful things I have learned from you~

Creative Crafting Ideas
Terrific Tablescapes
Clever Cloches (I have always been cloche challenged)
The Very Best Decorating Tips
How to Stretch a Dollar
Delicious Recipes
and more!

Honestly ~ visiting you all is better than the latest magazine
on the rack.

It was you who carried me through the dark days after my
Daddy's death.  

It was you who prayed for both my Mom and for my Aunt Susan during
their health crises.  I believe in prayer because even though they passed
through some tough days, they are still here with me.  You lifted them up
in prayer and I am forever thankful to you.

It was you who kept me invited me into your world to share
your lives.  I have been able to share in milestone birthdays,
anniversaries, graduations, the birth of new babies.  You have
shared the sad events too which has drawn me closer.

You have made me giggle.  
You have taught me new things.
You warmed my soul with beautiful photos,
and so much more.

Thank you for letting us be part of your life.
Bentley and I have loved every moment and

We Love You!

Big Texas Valentine Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

PS: You still have time to enter the Suave giveaway on my previous
post.  Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Beauty Secret to Share With You

Come step inside my dressing room.  I have a beauty secret to share with you...
I was recently given the opportunity to try the new Suave Professionals®
line of Moroccan Infusion Lotion.  Wow is it ever luxurious!  Even in
the humid climate of the Texas Gulf Coast, our central heating in winter
can play havoc with my skin, leaving it dry and itchy.  But ...
one application of this luxurious lotion left my skin feeling soft and
hydrated for the entire day!  It is not greasy and it absorbs into my
skin instantly.  This lotion is infused with authentic Moroccan argan oil.
Argan oil as you may know is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants
that nourish the skin.  Any opportunity I have to feed my skin with
antioxidants I accept gladly.  
And not only does the Suave Professionals® line have a body lotion,
they have a Dry Body Oil Spray as well!  Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Dry Body Oil Spray is giving me happy feet and legs.  One try and I was hooked.
This oil was instantly absorbed into the dry and cracked heels of my
feet.  Trust me, my heels needed help!  


I am attending a big birthday bash honoring a friend of mine and I am
planning to wear these strappy heels.  I want my feet to look their best.
With Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Dry Body Oil my feet look 
soooo much better!  All I did was apply some to my feet before I went
to bed and when I woke up in the morning my feet were baby soft and 
So now these tootsies are ready to be seen.  The Dry Body Oil also gives a healthy 
non greasy sheen to your legs and arms as well.  This is a bonus for me because I 
also plan to wear a sleeveless silk top to the party and I want all the definition I
have gained from my Pilates arm workouts to really show up!
So for radiant glowing skin use them both every day.  I love these two
products so much I use them twice per day, once after my morning shower
and again before I put on my jammies and climb into bed.  It's so
relaxing and luxurious.  Don't forget to use the Dry Body Oil on your
heels so your feet will be pretty too.
You will be glad you did.  One more thing though, once the other
members of your household try these you may have to stock up.  
They are a big hit in my house.  Now if Suave® would just come up
with a Moroccan Infusion pet grooming line.  Bentley needs some
non greasy hydration too!
For a chance to win a $1,000 Visa gift card,  just let me know which
of the Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion products you would most like
to try.
And don't forget to visit their
to learn more about the Suave Professionals® Body Care line.
Sweepstakes Rules
No duplicate comments.
You may leave (2) total entries by electing from the following
entry methods:
  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstake on this post.
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion including exactly the unique term in your tweet message: "#Sweepstakes Entry"; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post.
  3. Blog about the promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post.
  4. For those with no Twitter of blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternative form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US residents age 18 or older.  Winners will be selected via random draw and will be notified by mail.  The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 2/7/2014-2/28/2014.

Be sure to visit the Suave Professionals® brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

I know Bentley ~ I will contact Suave® and see if they have a
doggie grooming care line in the works.
Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, February 10, 2014

Changes For My Blog?

I have been thinking a lot about my blog recently.  Where do I want it to go?
How should it change to reflect the person I am now?  Because I have 
changed significantly.

I now live 1800 miles away from where I lived when I started writing
Ash Tree Cottage.  My life has changed in so many ways.  A new state,
a new city, a new house.  My husband and I sold our business and he 
started a new career and now I am without one.   My Daddy died three
years (closing in on four now) and my Mom moved down to Texas with
us and is now living with us.

Life altering changes.

Yet despite those changes there are some aspects of our lives that share
common threads.  My husband is now working with a friend he has 
known since childhood.  Texas is the place where my husband and I met
and were married.  Although I am not a native Texan, this move has been a
type of homecoming.

But now that the dust is finally settling on our move, I can't help but think what is
next for me?  Anything that I do will have to take my elderly mother into 
consideration.  She has become more frail and needs more assistance, so launching
a career outside of my home does not seem to be very feasible now.

The one constant for the past few years has been my blog.  Throughout the 
upheaval of the move, my blog has been my grounding.  It has been a 
sanctuary where I have been able to connect the loose threads of my life.

I have thought of the cosmetic changes.  A new blog background perhaps?
Will that be enough?  

More craft projects, recipes?  

Gardening tips?


However these changes express themselves, there will be changes.
And change can be a good thing.  I think I am ready for it.
It will be an new adventure and I hope you will come along with me.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley


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