Losing Mom: The Second Year Anniversary


March 20 is my birthday. Cliff and I are headed off on a small adventure that I hope will end in cake with buttercream icing.

March 20 is also the day, two years ago, that my mother died. You don’t grow up thinking your mother will die on your birthday, but mine did (and it’s okay!)

Each death is different. Each grief is different, but active grieving helped me so much in the weeks after Mom died. Washing her punch glasses, ironing her linens, setting the table like she would, let me honor her legacy of whimsy and taste.

It was a year though until I really told the story of what happened on my birthday in 2015: Losing Mom: Happy Birthday to Me.

I was so relieved when my mother died. So happy that she was no longer suffering. While my mind still drifts to some regrets, to words not said, questions not asked, all in all, I’ve been surprised by how gentle my grief has been. Shocked, really.I’d dreaded my mother’s death since I first learned as a little girl that people die.

In the weeks before Mom died, I felt the deepest, most excruciating sadness I’ve ever experienced. The pain the cancer caused my mother broke my heart and not knowing how long she would suffer terrified me. Yet in her death, my overwhelming emotion has been peace.

But at the birth of my first granddaughter this year a new touch of grief set in. Not a deep sadness but a longing for my mother. I want to pick up the phone: “The baby is smiling!” If only I could print out the pictures and mail them to Mom: “Who do you think she looks like?”

As I said goodbye to Emerson last month in Dallas, I saw in a flash the faces of my mother, and my father too. They would be bonkers, as I am, over this little girl. If only they could see her.

But maybe they can. Maybe they do.

I’ve wondered where my parents went. I even have days when I think, bizarre as it sounds, that I can bring them back. I wrote about this idea in Bringing Back Dad. I sometimes ask myself:  Where are my parents? Deader than dead? In the ashes we’ve yet to sprinkle? Or are they in the clouds? In the treasures they left behind? In the habits and speech patterns I inherited? In heaven? (My first choice, of course.)

For years I’d observe people I knew whose parents were dead. They seemed fine. They laughed and went to work and traveled and celebrated holidays. If those people were fine, maybe I would be too.

And I am. For those of you who haven’t lost your parents yet, know there comes a grace in the loss. A peace in knowing your parent is not suffering. A rich contentment in the good memories. A fading of the bad ones. But most of all, there come flashes of longing for your mom and dad that feel like love in its purest form.

Just like looking into the face of a tiny baby who is looking right back at you.

Top photo: Mom smiles as I hold my oldest daughter Katherine.

Bottom photo: Laura holding Emerson at five months. Gosh, can this baby smile!

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Thirty-Two



From Candace, photos of toilets grace the wall inside the ladies room at Portage Bay in Seattle. (Candace reports the door itself was not exciting.) She saw the sign below at Brower’s Cafe in Seattle.


As a nice contrast to Candace’s toilet photos, I discovered a china cupboard in the ladies room at the Angus Barn in Raleigh, North Carolina. Elegance!


A WC sign Candace photographed at Stateside in Seattle.


She reports that inside the bathroom she discovered the “coolest black toilet & black tile with blue grout.”


From Lois, Zombie Burgers in downtown Des Moines, Iowa.

Zombie Burgers

Another from Lois, The Lucky Oyster at Virginia Beach.


Fr0m Judy, these tell-it-like-it-is doors at The Station in Carrboro, North Carolina.



The back of the bathroom door (or should I say barn door?) at Maple View Farm in Hillsborough, North Carolina.


I found this door at Snapper’s Waterfront Cafe and Tiki Bar in Cambridge, Maryland. The bottom of the door featured this Jamaican carving.

And above the carving, a much more demure sign.

From Judy, a public toilet near the Opera in Vienna.


The Starbucks in Vienna Town Center.


And the Shalimar Indian Restaurant in Vienna.



What a selection of creative doors in this, our thirty-second edition, of the Ladies Room Door Art Series. Thank you, potty goers!

Pants! Thank You, Hillary Matzinger



In tenth grade, Hillary Matzinger walked into my English class wearing jeans. No girl wore pants to Towson High School, much less jeans. Mrs. Rhydburg turned Hillary into the office. I’ve wondered to this day why our teacher, younger and a woman herself, felt the need to rat on Hillary.

I don’t remember what transpired next, but by the end of the week, more girls wore pants to school. Soon I did.Thanks to my mom for having no objections.  (Although she did finally hide the baggy blue work shirts I took to wearing with my jeans.)

Our bus stops in Baltimore were freezing cold in the winter. It’s shocking to me now that anyone forced girls to wait for the bus when they were wearing skirts. Even heavy tights couldn’t block the wind.


On to Helen Hulick, in the photo above. In 1938, Helen wore pants to court, was sent away, and returned another day wearing pants again. She was a 28-year-old kindergarten teacher who had witnessed a burglary. On her second court appearance, Helen was taken to jail and put in a prison dress. Although she was sentenced to a five day stay, she was released later that day.

Hundreds wrote letters in defense of Helen’s right to wear pants.  You can read more of the story here.

Thank you Hillary and thank you Helen, for giving a kick in the pants to the powers that be!

Thanks, too, to Amelia Bloomer, who gave  bloomer-like outfits attention in the press in the mid-1880s. Read about Amelia here.


What about you? When did you first wear pants to school?

Read more about the history of women and pants here.

Physicool Rapid Cooling Mist: A Giveaway!



Physicool Rapid Cooling Mist is offering a bottle of their refreshing spray to two lucky Friend for the Ride readers. Read how Phsyicool works to give you a blast of chill in the middle of a hot flash:

Physicool cooling mist uses the same concept of cooling by evaporation to provide cooling relief for menopausal hot flashes, sun burns, bug bites, or simple heat exhaustion.  The formula for the cooling spray has been slightly altered to give cooling relief without the use of a bandage.  Physicool cooling mist can provide relief for menopausal hot flashes by simply spraying the mist on your neck, chest, and/or face.

Physicool Coolant is a fluid made up of alcohols and oils which react to the bodies heat and this causes the alcohols to evaporate. This evaporative process draws heat out of the warmest source – local underlying tissue. Whilst the deep tissue is cooling down the compression will modify the inflammatory response, helping healing and recovery.

Physicool cooling mist is great for sunburns and bug bites, too, and relief starts with a simple spray to the affected area.

Giveaway: For a chance to win a bottle of Physicool Rapid Cooling Mist, enter a comment in the comments sections below before March 15. Thanks!

To Buy Physicool, visit their website here.