March 3, 2015
When Justin was 1, I started doing daycare so I could be home with him. Every Friday evening, we would come and pick up mom and the three of us would go to the mall. She loved pushing the stroller around and showing off her cute grandson. She bought him a ton of stuff every week. We would sit in the food court and have our dinner, usually Chinese but if it was Lent, we would grab a baked potato. When Justin was about 3, he started to choke on a bit of cut up hot dog and proceeded to throw up all over his shirt. Well, thank goodness mom had just bought him a new Michael Jackson t-shirt! She popped that on and he was a happy camper after the trauma. (He loved Michael Jackson when he was little.) But the shopping is what mom loved. Mom loved to shop and buy for everyone else. She bought herself plenty but if the grand-kids were with her, we could not pass up KayBee toys or Mervyns for some new clothes. She bought all my pajamas because I have a thing for pajamas. My kids always had the cutest pajamas and I love comfy, cute pajamas. For some reason, she and I would always end up in the pajama section. I miss those shopping trips.
March 2, 2015
Today, it’s all about the boys. My nephews, like my nieces, are all very family oriented, just like their grandparents. I know all three of them would be there for me in an instant, if they could. I thought long about my nephew Willy. He keeps things close and doesn’t say a lot but when he does open up, you know how he feels. That is so like his grandmother! My mom would say nothing was wrong but you knew there was. She would be silent for a while until she would tell you what was bothering her. Willy is the same way. His little family has been through a lot in the past few years and he definitely appreciates family, so like his grandfather. James is exactly like grandma in the way he talks. He holds nothing back. If someone doesn’t look good, he says something, just like grandma. Not to be hurtful but to be honest. Poor James, he got a double dose because his Grandma Sharon was exactly the same way. James is someone you can go to with anything, just like his grandfather. He definitely looks like him too. James came around a lot when Grandma was sick so he and I got even closer. We have a special relationship. James is a stylist and he used to try to do Grandma’s hair for her. For a while, my mom would pass out if she sat for too long. She did that a few times for James and he and I would have to carry her to the couch. It was the funniest thing watching him try to straddle over her on the couch to trim her hair! Kyle has my mom’s athletic ability. He definitely is the one kid who got that bounty in the family! He also has that deep love of family from his grandpa. He talks so lovingly of his parents. Michael has that creativity from my dad that his sister also got. He can come up with the most amazing ideas and I think he definitely got mom’s irreverent sense of humor. (And where is my Lego Oscar?!) He is too funny. Some of the things that come out of his mouth are hilarious and shocking, just like his grandma. He loves his family and he is very loyal, so much like his grandfather. My dad would be proud of these boys. In fact, these kids all say I love you when they talk to you on the phone or when they are here and are leaving. My family has been blessed and I think we owe that to the love that our parents taught us.
March 1, 2015
Yesterday, I talked about my kids and my parents. Today, I am going to talk about my nieces and my parents. I’ve been blessed with wonderful nieces and nephews who are like my own children. When the cousins all get together, and that’s not often anymore, it’s like they have never been apart. It’s wonderful. The love of family that our dad taught us is very strong with my nieces. They all got his kindness and generosity. They would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. (Though my shy, sweet Taylor would be awfully embarrassed.) Ashley is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. She has my dad’s way with people. She’s a teacher, something he also did, and she is very generous with her time and with anything else you would need. Ashley and mom had a very special relationship. We joke that she was her favorite. (Not much of a joke) And I think she has mom’s love of family. I see a lot of mom in her when she’s with her baby Mickey. Courtney has mom’s no-filter way of talking. Courtney will tell you what she thinks, never meaning to be mean, just saying it like it is. Courtney also has that love of family that my dad instilled. I hear it when she talks about her daughter Madey. Taylor has inherited my dad’s (and her mom’s) creativity. She can draw like no one I know and she also is a talented writer. She has my mom’s sensitive heart. (a trait all we Rauch women have) She can cry with the best of us. My mom and I would watch movies and if she was crying, she would always look at me and say I know you’re crying too! I don’t know if that’s a blessing or a curse. But these three young women are very special and they will continue on the legacies of their grandparents. Auntie Mary loves you girls! Tomorrow, my nephews.
February 28, 2015
I was thinking last night about how we all live on in our children and our grandchildren and our great grandchildren, etc. We never truly are gone when we are remembered by our loved ones and are such a part of our loved ones. My parents live on in the Rauch grandchildren, that’s for sure. Today, I am going to talk about my parents and my kids. My son Justin looks just like my dad. There is no two ways about it. He’s had strangers ask him if his grandfather was Bill Rauch and then go on to tell him what a great man he was. My father never met any of his grandchildren and yet they all know him so well. Justin has my dad’s generous spirit and his compassion. He has become involved in many kids’ lives and made a difference. He is such a loving, kind person, just like his grandfather. He has gotten his love of family from both of his grandparents. There is nothing he would not do for a member of our family. They come first. He’s definitely the most Hawaiian, like my mom. He could eat rice and Hawaiian food every day and be very happy. Mom and Justin had a very special relationship. He was the first grandchild and came at a time when she was still mourning the loss of my dad. She was a wonderful grandmother. My daughter Elizabeth got her grandfather’s talent for writing. He used to be a reporter and a columnist until life and kids became a reality. He still wrote all the time, cards for us and mom, Christmas stories every year for family and friends. Elizabeth is a brilliant writer. You will all be reading her best sellers one day. She has a wonderful way with words. She definitely got her stubbornness from her grandma! But that stubbornness has taken her far. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. Don’t tell her no. (We really never could hold that one down!) So, life goes on. And they can pass those traits on to their kids and tell them about their great grandpa and great grandma and my grandchildren will know and love them too.
February 27, 2015
We moved in with mom two years ago. She was living at our house for about two years and was deathly afraid of coming back home. It took us a while to be able to get her to come back home, a little at a time. She was better because we were with her and she wasn’t alone. It’s hard for me sometimes being here now because she’s not here. I have all her things still around. I am taking my time with them all. I always close her door at night and say good night mommy. She wanted us to live here and have the house. I’m hoping that her wishes work out with reality. I like the continuity of having my kids and grand-kids be a part of the house that built me. I know that she would be happy with that. She will always be a part of this house too, in our pictures, in our memories. I was a daddy’s girl and losing him was very hard but losing your mother is a whole other thing.
February 26, 2015
My mom loved her soaps. She was a CBS soap fan. She never wandered to any other channel. I remember watching All My Children when it first started, many moons ago, but not mom. She might check it out but she had her own shows. It would start with The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, As the World Turns and then Guiding Light. A few of those have gone by the wayside but she still watched Y&R and B&B. I started watching Y&R with her and I still do watch it without her and think about her when I do. She would call me and start talking about somebody getting a divorce or someone having a baby and I would not know who she was talking about. Then it would dawn on me, her soap characters. They were like real people to her. I think it confused her at the end because there were too many characters for her mind to grasp and she forgot a lot of them but never Victor Newman! (Who I still cannot watch without thinking of Michael Keaton as Mr. Mom saying “It didn’t take!”)
February 24, 2015
My mom loved to work in her garden. I can’t say she was the best gardener in the world, she was rather willy nilly with her planting, but she loved to work in the yard. Up until the dementia got to her, she would be out there everyday, picking up the leaves from the magnolia tree in the front yard. She would pick them up and then be upset when afternoon hit and there were five leaves on the grass. We’ve had many people that live on the street talk about seeing the little old woman out everyday, raking her leaves. She loved when we moved in here and Kelly planted a vegetable garden in the backyard. He would bring in his crop everyday and she would marvel at how many tasty treats there would be. She, like me, loved the fresh green beans. She would joke that we had tomatoes coming out of our ears. You really can eat only so many tomatoes. And she loved the fresh broccoli. It won’t be the same this year when Kelly picks the veggies. I’ll miss the smile on her face and her asking at dinner if the vegetables are the fresh ones from the garden.
February 23, 2015
I got my love for old movies from my mom. I would sit with her starting at a young age and watch all the great oldies. I fell in love with Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Rock Hudson and Doris Day, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner, Montgomery Clift, and so on and so on. I still can curl up with an old movie any day. My mom loved the movie Giant. My mom had a thing for Rock Hudson. She used to say that he could put his shoes under her bed any day. I later told her that his shoes would be the only thing by her bed. She did find that funny later. Though I was told by my best friend in high school Mike that Rock Hudson was gay and I didn’t believe him. He had an uncle who was in the movie business and had been at parties with Rock and he told me some stories. But anyway, one of our favorites to watch was Imitation of Life. I don’t know if you have ever seen it or not but it’s a tearjerker! When Susan runs after that casket, crying I didn’t mean it Mama, killer. I don’t know if I can watch it now. Might be too hard. But we loved watching it. When she was sick, there were a few times that we could sit and watch old movies and she would recognize the actors. That made me smile. We were watching Gone With the Wind and she told me that it was Clark Gable and this was at a time when she was starting to go downhill a little quicker. Oh, the movies are magical, aren’t they? Mom and I went to see Gone With the Wind in the theater and if you haven’t, you really should. Amazing ! I would not watch it for years on TV but with the invention of big screens and HD, it’s fun to watch now. A couple of funny movie stories with mom. We went to see The Other Side of the Mountain, which had me sobbing. Loud sobbing. Mom told me to shut up because people were looking. Thanks mom but how could you not sob, she’s a paraplegic and then she falls in love with Beau Bridges and then he dies! Good Lord! The second story is when we went to see Fatal Attraction on the opening night. We were standing in line in the theater waiting to go in and you could hear people screaming inside the theater. Mom says “maybe we shouldn’t see this movie” but we did and we were screaming with our crowd. Good times. Mom walked out saying “that lady was crazy!”
February 22, 2015
The daily dose today will be part one of two. Don’t you love a cliffhanger?! I realized that I got my deep love of movies from both of my parents and today, I’m going to talk about my dad. Saturdays and Sundays were the best because after cartoons and church, we had movies. There was Ma and Pa Kettle, Abbot and Costello, The Bowery Boys, Little Rascals. These were movies that we would watch with dad. Mom would be busy cleaning and my dad would sit with us and laugh and laugh. I loved those mornings. He also took us to the drive-in. Mom went a few times at first but then it was just dad and us four kids. Come to think of it, mom was probably relishing the time alone in the house! We would pop a couple Jiffy Pops. (Was there anything more exciting than waiting for that foil to rise?) And there was always candy. My dad had a major sweet tooth. I don’t remember what we took to drink. I only know that I never wanted to drink much because A. we were always in our pajamas and B. my dad brought a coffee can for us to pee in, which was fine for the boys but not so much for us girls. (You get the picture.) We would load into the back of the station wagon, seats down, and head off to the drive-in. Back in the “olden” days, Disney produced a lot of family movies so there was always some great double feature. The best was when you got to sit up front with dad. He’d have his cigarette hanging out of his mouth (as all you who knew him know he always did) and he would laugh and enjoy the movies even more than we did. Such great memories. One little added drive-in memory involves mom. We were super into roller derby and the LA T-Birds. We would go every weekend and watch it with grandma and grandpa. We were so excited when Kansas City Bomber with Raquel Welch came out because we would know a lot of the skaters in the movie. Mom went to that one too. Well, on an adjacent screen, the first X-rated cartoon, Fritz the Cat was playing. So what are curious kids going to do? We’d peek over and I swear my mom had eyes in the back of her head because we’d hear “Keep your eyes on this screen!” I never did see anything. I might have to look that movie up now and see what all the fuss was about.
February 21, 2015
Daily dose of mom:
I have been fighting this cold thing off and on for over three weeks now and I miss my mommy! I know I said before that my dad was the one we turned to when we were sick as little kids but when I was older, my dad was gone. But mom was always there for me when I was feeling under the weather. (Probably because we could handle our own vomit and she didn’t have to deal with it.) Whenever I was feeling sick, my mom would either come over or have me come to her house and she would tuck me in bed and watch my kids for me. She would bring me 7UP and soup. She would clean the house and feed everyone else. I don’t have that now and I think we all need our mommies when we are sick, don’t we? When I had Justin, she would come everyday for a week. She would cook and clean and tell me to sleep and she would hold him and take care of me. And she would go home every evening so we could be a family. When I had Elizabeth, she had colic and wasn’t sleeping at night at all. But mom was there every day, cleaning, cooking, doing things with Justin like taking him to the park or baking with him or playing with him. She’d take Elizabeth for me so I could try and sleep. What a blessing! I think every woman wants her mother with her after she’s had a baby. Nothing like a mom because not only is she loving her grandchild, she loves you like only a mom can. No one ever loves you like your mom. I could really go for a pot of her Portuguese soup with linguica, chicken, cabbage and potatoes right now or her saimin. That would make me feel all better.
February 20, 2015
Daily dose of mom:
My mom never drove a car. She did actually drive a truck once in Kauai but we won’t count that really. She was too nervous to drive and she was the worst backseat/shotgun driver ever! Once, we were leaving her house and driving down the street and she screams “There’s a car behind you!” Well, that scared the crap out of me. I hit the breaks and then it dawns on me what she said. Then I had to laugh. She was constantly pushing her foot into the floor like she was breaking. (And I am a super-safe driver) She would make gasping sounds a lot if there was a car even 10 feet away. It was actually quite funny. I would ask her if she wanted to drive and she would tell me not to be stupid. It made it hard because I was the one who would have to take her wherever she wanted to go and she always wanted to go somewhere. I asked her if she was sorry that she never drove and she said no. Well of course not! She had me! The world was probably a safer place because of it too.
February 19, 2015
Daily dose of mom:
I miss her. I sign on to my Facebook and see that beautiful picture of mom and Elizabeth and my heart hurts. That day was so very special. She was so into the whole day, so alert. She wanted to witness her granddaughter get married and I could tell at times it was a struggle for her but that stubbornness prevailed for good. (And boy was she stubborn!) The drive was long and she kept asking when it would be over. Watching my nephew James and I get her into the bathroom when we stopped for her was probably like watching an old Keystone Kops movie! We were laughing and she was telling us that this trip was hell! But she made it. James even did her hair up for her and she looked beautiful. She hadn’t really gotten made up for a long time. I’m just happy that she was there, present and could feel the love all around her. It will always be one of my most cherished memories.
February 18, 2015
Daily dose of mom:
Since it’s Ash Wednesday, I thought I would write about Mom’s abiding Catholic faith. She continued to pray her rosary every day until those last final weeks. She would always want it nearby and now my son keeps it nearby to him. I had a baby monitor next to my side of the bed for the last year and I would hear her praying the Hail Mary many times when she was not feeling right. Nighttime was when she would become very agitated. Dementia is not a disease for sissies. But she always prayed. Before she was ill, she went every Sunday morning to 7:15 mass with her wonderful friends. Mrs. Graf picked her up faithfully and they would go to mass and then all go to breakfast afterward. Both my mom and my dad were very devoted Catholics and when most of us stopped going to church, that was not a good thing. My mom would always tell me how they paid good money for us to have a Catholic education and none of us went to church! When I had my babies, I didn’t baptize Justin until he was three months old and that was waiting too long for mom. She would baptize him herself in the kitchen sink. You can’t be too safe! But she was faithful and I think her faith kept her strong through a lot of things, the death of my father, her surgeries, her dementia, the feeling of being forgotten. I know that the faith in God helps me get through not having her here. I know she’s with my dad and that makes me smile.
February 17, 2015
Daily dose of mom:
My mom didn’t like animals. I don’t know if she really disliked them as much as she disliked the mess. When we were young, my dad brought home an albino parakeet that we named Heather. (Heather, Heather with the white feathers) Mom would not let us keep her in the house so my dad made a cage and we put her in the garage. Well, sadly, she froze to death that night. We were heartbroken and angry at mom. That evening, my dad drove home and sitting on his shoulder was a matching white parakeet! He told us that it had flown into his office window and perched on his shoulder all day. (I believed that story for a long time and in my heart, I still do) Mom did let us keep her in the house and she lived a long time. We had a pet rabbit that I was told ran away. My mom revealed, when I was in my 40s, that she gave it to my uncle to cook! I am still highly traumatized by that. It was miracle that we were able to get a dog from the Leal family but we did love Maltsie, even if mom just tolerated him. She used to tell me that when I moved in with her that I could not bring my two cats. I told her that they would be coming with me. When things got bad and we moved her back home, she, I think anyway, got attached to Leo. She would ask were “she” was and I would tell her that Leo was a boy. Leo would lie by her door towards the end of her life. He would hear me crying and I think he knew he was needed. He often lies by her door now, with her gone. But really all this leads up to something that my mom said that always made me laugh. One day she said if a cat comes to your door when I die, open up and let it in because it will probably be me reincarnated. I love that considering her love of animals 🙂
February 16, 2015
My daily daily dose of mom:
My mom was born and raised on the island of Kauai. She was the 10th of 11 kids. She lived through Pearl Harbor, through not having a lot of money, to being a great help for her mother. Her older brother and sisters had gotten married and had children while my mom was still living at home with her mother. Most of my first cousins are a lot older than I am. Mom left Kauai when she was 28 and moved to California to live with one of her sisters. It was shortly after this that she met my father. My cousin was dating my dad’s foster brother and thought that they should introduce them. They married very quickly afterward. My mom was 30. She had me when she was 32. I told her she started the trend of being an older mother way back in the day. She had my two brothers in between and then finally my sister at 40. My mom lived in California for over 59 years and she never lost the pigeon English. Oh she didn’t sound as strong as if she was in Kauai but if my aunties came over to visit, it came back a lot stronger. My nephew James is always trying to sound like her but for some reason he makes her sound like some old Russian woman.
February 14, 2015
I skipped yesterday but my daily dose today will be about my dad. Happy Valentine’s day! That’s why this is about my dad. My mom was not a lovey-dovey, hugging kind of person. That was my dad. My dad made the holidays very special. He did not have a wonderful childhood. He went from foster home to foster home. And home isn’t even the word for how he was treated. These people were obviously just in it for the money, how they treated the kids was inconsequential to them. There are some wonderful foster parents out there, who are doing it for all the right reasons, but unfortunately, my dad did not get them in his childhood. He lived that way until into his teens where he then lived with the McNulty family, who we called grandma and grandpa. So needless to say, my dad lived his childhood vicariously through us. We were going to know we were loved. We were going to be happy. And we were. Every Valentine’s Day until he died, we would wake up to a little heart-shaped box of candy and a Valentine card from our dad. He was the one who filled our Easter baskets and our Christmas stockings. He was the one who would hug you and tell you he loved you. He was the one who would carry us around like “a sack of potatoes” even when we had gotten too big for that. (As my mom yelled, Bill, you are going to hurt your back! Put them down!) He was the one who would sit on our beds with us and read to us nightly. He was the one we called when we were sick because he was the one who would make it all better. As all of St. Edward’s people know, he was Santa Claus every year and Willie the Clown at the festival. He is the best man I’ve ever known and I was blessed to call him my dad. So as Aianna says “Happy times day”. I hope everyone is blessed to know someone like my dad.
February 12, 2015
Daily dose of mom:
Mom’s cooking. Those two words alone can stir up so many memories for all of us. It always tasted better when mom made it. And make it she did. She would create these feasts for family dinners, making up the things that everyone loved. She could take anything and make a good meal out of it. She told me that she was embarrassed when my dad told is family that they should see what she could do with a can of Spam but she really could do a lot with it. (That’s the Hawaii in her) Her potato salad is still the recipe of legend and yet it is so simple. She would call me and tell me that she had roasted two chickens and to come and pick one up for our dinner. Her stuffing was my favorite. It was super spicy with chopped chili peppers. The “pica” stuffing was the best. And I am going to so miss her liver, bacon and onions because I won’t touch those slimy things but I did love when she would make them. The family was split in who loved it and who didn’t. She knew how to pick out the perfect mango and then we would sit together and she would peel it and slice it for the two of us. I guess I will be slicing my own mangoes now. And though I am a pretty good second in making her recipes, they will never be mom’s. A little side note with dad, he would make hot chocolate with just milk and Nestle’s Quik and I can still not make it taste the same as his. How I would love to open my thermos at school (Barbie or Partridge Family lunchbox thermos) and smell that wonderful hot chocolate. One sip and everything was right in my day. I could use a cup about right now.
February 11, 2015
Daily dose of mom:
My mom used to sew and embroider beautifully. My cousin told me the other day that my aunt said that mom could embroider circles around all of them. She embroidered all her dish towels when she got married and she embroidered some for me as well. When I was pregnant with Justin, she even embroidered sheets for his crib. I remember her sitting with that embroidery circle rack thing (as you can tell, that’s another talent I did not inherit from her) and I would just watch her sew until she would shoo me away. In high school, she embroidered blue work shirts for me and all my friends. She put a lot of love into those.
She sewed most of our clothes when we were young. I remember thinking that I could not wait to be able to buy my own clothes so I wouldn’t have to wear homemade ones but oh what I wouldn’t give to have something homemade. I asked her to sew for my kids but she couldn’t at that point anymore. I would watch her at that Singer sewing machine, foot on the pedal, sewing away at some new pattern. I know that sewing was bred from necessity in her family of 11 kids. She told me that they would sew dresses out of the potato sacks and whatever they could get their hands on.
And the Barbie clothes! As anyone from Edith Street or our close friends will tell you, she made hundreds of Barbie clothes. She would put such loving detail into bric-a-brac or buttons on each outfit. I remember asking her how hard it was to sew such small things and she had me try to sew a snap on an outfit. Forget it! Thank goodness I had her for that! My big fat fingers (another lovely inheritance from my dad) did not have the touch of her long slim ones. She made the clothes with remnants from whatever she had sewn for us so I had matching Barbie pajamas with mine smile emoticon
February 10, 2015
Daily dose of mom:
My mom was impatient. If she wanted you to do something, she wanted it done yesterday. If she wanted to go somewhere, she wanted to be teleported there that second. My dad, on the other hand, was super laid back. They definitely were yin and yang and that’s probably why it worked so well. Every Sunday, we would be getting into the car to head off to church for whatever mass dad was leading the singing for. (He had a beautiful voice and everyone was happy when they went to mass and saw dad up at the lectern.) But every Sunday, my dad would grab the funnies and head off to the “library”, right before we were leaving. My mom would yell at him and tell us we were going to be late but we were never late. She would cook a family dinner at 9 in the morning and go crazy that no one was there until 5 or 6. (People did have to work.) She would tell us that she was going to just shut our bedroom door and leave the clothes on the ground, how shameful! But we knew that would never happen. It would drive her insane. Towards the end, she was a bit more patient, though she still had her moments. I would ask her if she wanted a shower that day and she would say okay and then that meant, do it now. “Aren’t you going to give me a shower?” (At 7 in the morning) Thank goodness I took after my dad smile emoticon
February 9, 2015
Daily dose of mom:
My mom loved country music. We grew up listening to Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell. As she got older, her attention turned to one singer in particular, Mr. Alan Jackson. How she loved him! There was a shrine to him in her room too. (And you wonder where I get my idol worship from!) I bought her the plates from Bradford Exchange and they were hung around a big drawing of him that my niece Ashley Peterson bought her. We scoured his fan site every year for gifts for her. My sister Lisa Rauch Kruger bought her the yearly calendar. She had all his cds and even when she was very low and not quite keeping her thoughts straight on a certain day, she would know exactly who he was when he came on tv. We saw him in concert many times and one time, my sister, mom and I were in the second row. I thought mom might just have a coronary! Great memories. George Strait did run a close second but I think Blake Shelton might have been closing in on him. She thought he was a tall drink of water.
February 8, 2015
As I was remembering my mom last night, amid the tears, I thought about how you all here had been such a support to me throughout the four years of me taking care of her. But you knew that part of mom, not all the good bits. Some of you did know her well but for the others, I am going to give my daily dose of mom. (and dad)
My mom was very athletic. She could shoot a basketball and hit a baseball like a pro. My dad, not so much. (And thank you dad for endowing me with your non-athletic ability.) She didn’t love watching sports unless it was her beloved Oakland A’s. My mom never missed a game on tv. She loved actually going to a game, which was a rare outing but one she enjoyed. She would call to ask Kelly why someone was on the bench or who was traded where. Her very favorite player of all-time was Eric Chavez. Oh she loved him. She did watch a game if it was a team he was on after the A’s. There is a mini shrine to him in her bedroom. Kelly would bring her all the giveaways from the coliseum. I was so hoping that they would have made it to the World Series this past year. I knew she wouldn’t be here this year to watch them and wouldn’t that be going out with a bang?!