We found out yesterday that my mother is dying, she has suffered at least two heart attacks in the last couple of days, has several cancers (stage 4) and blockages to her heart, so it is a question of when, not if. 
There I said out loud, that was difficult for me. 
The way I was brought up, it was a sign of weakness to show or express  your emotions and those old ways are sometimes very hard to break.

My mom was always my biggest supporter and sharpest critic, telling me exactly what she thought of whatever was going on in my life — often bringing me back to reality — which I needed many times.  Mom was not a saint by any stretch of the imagination, she had her faults as we all do, but she had so many good traits that they more than outweigh those faults.

She was a pitbull when it came to her family, she would protect us in any way she could and help us kids even when dad didn’t want her too.  A couple of stories that come to mind for me are:

I was just beginning kindergarten and I came home and was writing with my right hand, she took me into school and “talked” with Mrs. Cummings – the teacher about how I was left-handed and that I would remain left-handed in school.  I don’t remember exactly what was said, but I do remember the voices were getting quite loud, I guess she won that one…I am still left-handed.

She worked as a waitress at the Log Cabin Restaurant in Newport and I remember her coming home at night and us kids sitting around and helping her count the tips, she had earned.

Toughness was one of her traits, we all kind of figured that something was wrong (for at least the last year and a half), but she refused to go to the doctor, that was her way.  Right up until last Wednesday she was still doing home care for an elderly widow, the same as she had for the past 11 years.  She didn’t let how bad she felt stop her from her responsibilities that she took on.  She was more worried about who was going to take care of the lady, than she was about what was happening to her.

It took my sister a long time to persuade her to go to the emergency room, she had refused everyone else’s effort to get her to go including my dad’s, but this week the pain had grown to great to bear.  Knowing what we know now, she must have been in incredible pain and I can’t begin to understand how she was able to continue doing as much as she did.

Most of the rest of the family is in Bangor at Eastern Maine Medical Center today, waiting for mom to die.  I am not – when I divorced my first wife Mom and I spent a lot of time talking and she told me back then to keep living, if anything ever happened to her and she was in the hospital not stay there and wait for her to die.

Yesterday when I was talking to her alone she reminded me of that conversation and told me “Harold, you have to keep living and I don’t want you at the hospital or hanging around waiting for me to die.”  I will go back and forth and spend time at the hospital or the house if they let her go home to die, but I just can’t participate in the “death watch” with the rest of the family, it just hurts way too much.  I guess I am weak this way. I am not good with the emotion thing. 

She still knows me too well.

Mom consciously made a decision on how she wanted to die.  She waited until she was end-stage before going to the Doctor.  Mom is still not telling the doctor’s everything, but she has made peace with her decision.  She is refusing any extra-ordinary treatment beyond pain-relief.

This is mom’s decision and we are respecting her right to make that choice. We don’t want to loose her for our own selfish reasons and the gaping hole it will leave in our hearts.  I have cried my tears and will cry more when she does die, at this point she is suffering terribly and it is time to say goodbye and I can only hope that she does not suffer much longer.

The tears are flowing pretty hard right now and this is the hardest thing I have ever written, but I needed to write it down to let others know that I really do care.

MOM I love you and always will.

A tough one to re-post.

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This was my last day at the Maine Commission for Community Service which is a part of the State Planning Office in Augusta.  Below is what I sent out as my goodbye message:
“Hi everyone
As another chapter turns in my life I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has worked with me during the past 15 months, I have been at the Maine Commission for Community Service.  
The AmeriCorps Grants Program Officer position is all about establishing strong relationships with the Commission’s partners in and out of government, interpreting/implementing and enforcing rules or regulationsand working as part of a team to increase what we might accomplish together.  I believe I was successful in my efforts to accomplish this, but I could not have done it without your assistance AND at times patience.  I want to thank you for both.
I am much more of a people person and really enjoyed the interpersonal side of being the Grants Program Officer.  I believe that returning to teaching will more fully utilize strengths that I have and will begin teaching at Lawrence Junior High Monday, October 5thNo vacation or rest for the weary.
So I wish you all the best!
For those who would like to stay in touch with me I can be reached at
See I am not really that old dour Grants Program Officer you all thought I was J, well maybe slightly old.  This is just the side that not many of you got to see…the teacher having some fun and showing the kids it is okay to be yourself.”

I know that I have used this picture a lot lately, but it really just fit this particular post.

I did learn a lot during the past 15 months I was at MCCS, but as I said in my message that my heart is in helping kids. So here is to my first day on Monday, I just hope that my first day there is as good as my last one here.

I wish the team at MCCS all the best and to everyone I worked with over the past 15 months, I have learned a lot about life and how hard working State Employees are and how the stereotype is not at all accurate.

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