Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

January 1, 2013

In years past, a few minutes after the ball dropped in New York City's Time Square I called my mom to wish her a happy new year. Last night was the first time in 55+ years that I have been unable to do so. All those wishes we shared for each other at 12:05 (after kissing our husbands and whatever friends we were partying with at the time) are now just memories. I have so much I still want to say to her but am unable to express.

In years past, I wished her another year of good health. While she has a strong will, each week that I visit I notice she is fading a little more, that muscles that once helped her sit up straight can no longer support her shoulders, that muscles that helped her smile are causing her mouth to droop. Thank goodness she can still express herself through her big, bright blue eyes. They light up when her grandchildren enter her room. They go large when there's something she agrees with, unable to voice the words. They cringe when she's in discomfort or doesn't like what she's being fed. I'm realistic enough to know that wishing her good health is fruitless; her health will not improve. But I wish her comfort and painlessness. I do not wish to see her suffer as she makes this final journey.

If my mother could speak, she would be wishing me good health as well. She would caution me about those extra pounds, about what I eat, about my much too sedentary lifestyle. So in her honor, I will try to be more mindful about my health, though red wine (supposedly good for the heart) will remain on my list!

In years past, I wished her another year of happiness. It was easy to make my mother happy—shopping, a visit with friends, an art show or trip to the museum, eating out or take-in Chinese, Scrabble games with anyone who would play with her (but especially with Marilyn), calls from her grandchildren, a good movie on tv, visits from her children, talking on the telephone with her friends, going to Florida in the winter, a whiskey sour. Unfortunately, her options are very limited these days. Partially deaf, bed bound and unable to speak, move, or eat anything but pureed food, she can't take pleasure in much. I know that she still enjoys hearing about the accomplishments of her children and grandchildren; she was always happy when we were happy. And I can bring her a whiskey sour the next time I visit!

If my mother could speak, she would be wishing me a year of happiness as well. She would tell me to look at the bright side and treasure the moment—the here-and-now. She would tell me to make more time for family and friends and to enjoy all the earthly things I can because our time here is so limited. She would tell me to travel, to read a good book, to go to a museum or ballet. So in her honor, I will live in the moment, cherish the rain as much as the sun, and even share that whiskey sour with her.

In years past, I wished her another year of dreams. My mother always said that being alive meant dreaming. It meant having a wish, a goal, something to strive for. It's what kept her going. A few years ago she shared some of her dreams—she wanted to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from the viewing stands and she wanted to go to a fancy cocktail party on a yacht. More recently, it was to drive again. My brother understood that and insisted on keeping her car in her driveway after her brain surgery three years ago because he knew that it gave her a goal, something to strive for. He knew that it gave her hope.

If my mother could speak, she would be wishing me a year of dreams. She would tell me to aim big, to do something different that I hadn't done before. She would also tell me to enjoy the small stuff, because it is those moments that daydreams emerge. So in her honor, I will dream large and in multi-color...including orange.

In her honor, I wish you a year of health, happiness and dreams!


  1. Beautifully stated, this brought tears to my eyes. This "end journey" is something we all will take and the more love and comfort we have at that time will make our transition peaceful. I watched both my parents pass and in looking back there were things I would have changed, but those things were not mine to change. We just might get lucky and get to make that transition on our terms, but I believe it will be my family that makes my journey easier (like you are doing for Garie). So, stay close to them and make every moment count. Happy New Year Niki and family!

  2. Nicole, I really acknowledge you for meeting your mother where she is. Like others, I watched my aging parent fade away - and believed til the end that my Dad was aware of our presence, our love, our shared memories and our honoring him and each other. I love the way you honor your mother. She know - she always knows. Happy New Year to the Millmans and Falks!

  3. I love hearing of the goodness and good times that filled you mom's life ...art, games, family, a good whiskey sour! I love the wishes and the wisdom she shared with you and that you have such a precious gift in those memories. And I love you, friend, for sharing them.
    Okay...rain as much as sun...snow too?? I'm in! (Meet you outside with our shovels!)
    Red wine in the evening goes well with green juice in the morning (okay..maybe orange)...think about it!
    And dreams, big and small! And time together over tea (green!) sharing them, as always.
    love love love