A MOTHER'S DIARY by Dede Ranahan MARCH 24, 2014 - APRIL 4, 2014

Thank You * Anytown, USA * Grandparent's Day * Love is Alive * Pacing Myself * Getting Ready * Life Goes On

To read "My Diary" from the beginning, go to "Scenes from the Trenches" June 14, 2017, in the Archives on the right hand side of the blog page. To continue reading, scroll up in the archives from June 14, 2017, and click on each individual diary post. If you have difficulty, message or email me and I'll walk you through it. I didn't know, as I was writing, that I was capturing the last year of my son's life. His voice comes through loud and clear. For me, in these pages, he'll always be alive.



Dear Lincoln Hills Foundation,

On behalf of the Lincoln Hills Family Mental Illness Support Group, thank you for your recent gift of $1,000.

The group is surprised and excited to have this kind of support. I've opened a checking account in the group name with an EIN. We have two signatures assigned to the account for control purposes. We are in the process of brainstorming a book list for a group library and a speaker list for upcoming meetings.

We will keep you apprised of our activities as you have requested and will acknowledge the Lincoln Hills Foundation at each opportunity.

Please extend our gratitude to the Board of Directors and to your Advisory Board.


Dede Ranahan
Group Moderator
Lincoln Hills Family Mental Illness Support Group



Back working the cash register in my favorite thrift store. Today, kids clothes are two items for $1.00. Long-sleeved tops are $1.00. Buy a pair of pants and get a second pair free. Repeat customers are beginning to rely on this shop. A regular wants to know, "Are shoes a dollar today?"

"Not today."

"I'll wait then. I'm a single mom. I have to watch my budget."

A woman plops six women's tank tops on the counter.

"Looks like you're getting ready for summer."

"No. I have MS and I spend most of my time at home in my pajamas."

Another woman has a question. "Do you have any long cigarette holders?"

"Not that I'm aware of."

"I'm looking for them and they're hard to find."

A woman buys some kitchenware and a plastic nose attached to Groucho Marx eyeglasses.

"Who's going to wear this nose?"

"I am. I teach a class for seniors at the community college. I'll wear this for one of my lectures and see if they notice."

"I'd love a picture of you teaching in your fake nose and glasses."

"Okay. I'll bring in a photo."

A man with long hair comes in every Tuesday. He walks around the store until he senses something calling out to him. Today, he buys a string of costume pearls. "My sister will use these for crafts. I have a room with boxes I'm filling up with the things I buy here. I used to buy and sell stuff. Now I'm stashing it away for my kids when I pass on."

A pregnant woman loads up on baby and toddler clothes. Another regular, a hispanic woman, returns a pair of black shoes with thick, rounded soles. We don't usually take returns. "The manager said I could return these if they didn't fit my son. They didn't fit."

"Do you have your receipt?"

"Yes, right here."

"Would you like to look around to see if you find something else?"

For 30 minutes the woman picks through clothes, shoes, kids clothing, pots, and pans. "I don't find anything today."

I process her $5 refund. I put the returned shoes back on the men's shoe rack. As the woman goes out the door, a man walks in. In short order, he stacks three men's tops on the counter and spies the newly returned shoes. "Those are really interesting shoes. Looks like you could rock back and forth in them."

"Would you like to try them on?"

"Yes, I would." The man walks around the store with his old shoe on the left foot and the new shoe on the right. "Yep. These are interesting shoes."

"Would you like to try on the other one and make sure they feel good?"

"No, I know I want these shoes."

He makes his purchase. Three winter shirts and one pair of shoes. $8.

Items of all sizes and shapes come in, go out, come in, go out. People of all sizes and shapes come in, go out, come in, go out. Another ordinary, extraordinary day in the thrift store.

PATRICK'S FACEBOOK POST: My dog just set the world record for most urgent shit ever taken.



Today is Thomas Jefferson Elementary School's 10th Annual Grandparent's Day. Regan's teacher says, "This kind of day is what makes me love teaching. Keep your fingers crossed, as we're losing other things to 'core' curriculum, that we don't lose this day."

I take a seat in the multi-purpose room. I'm getting teary perusing the program - Flag Salute and Pledge of Allegiance. Out of five classes of second graders, Regan's been selected to lead the 200 visiting grandparents and her classmates in this pledge. When it's finished, Regan, holding the microphone in hand, says, "Thank you. Please be seated."

Her little voice is clear and steady like she does this every day. Later, Kerry will tell me, "Do you know how much this means to me? I mean, she's shy and it's taken a long time to get her to this point."

Five second grade classes proceed to sing nine songs. My favorite song is from Sesame Street:


My hair is black and red
My hair is yellow.
My eyes are brown and green and blue.
My name is Jack and Fred
My name's Amanda Sue
I'm called Kareem Abdul
My name is you.

Click here to hear the entire song.

There's hope for all of us. The next generation, Regan's generation, will be fine. They have good parents and grandparents and teachers. Why shouldn't they be fine? Listening to these pure, sweet voices I'm coming undone.

Grandparent's Day continues. It's quite a production. We take a break and the kids serve the grandparents treats. Regan brings me a cup of strawberry lemonade. "Is this okay or would you rather have raspberry lemonade?"

"This is perfect."

She gets her own strawberry lemonade and a plate of cookies for us to share. I ask her how she was chosen to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. "Some of us tried out. I had the loudest voice."

Hmm. I suspect a wise, caring teacher here.

Back in the classroom, grandparents share stories of branding irons, sewing their own clothes, ice trucks, and war medals. The kids are attentive. The teacher asks the children what they've learned from their grandparents' stories. They all agree. Life is very different now. One little girls says, "I like hearing what grandparents have to say."

Regan and I leave for a quick lunch off campus. She orders a cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate milkshake. I seem to make a good grandma move when I say "yes" to the milkshake.

I drop Regan back at the school office. Later today, I'll pick her and Ayla up at their house for an overnight at my house. Stay tuned...


MARCH 28/29, 2014: LOVE IS ALIVE

I'm not in charge of this overnight. Two little redheads outline the program. It's non-stop activity from drawing, to picking out the right color jelly beans, to dressing up, and dancing to made-up songs and cheers.

In the kitchen, Regan's wearing her mother's high school cheerleading outfit and brandishing ostrich feathers for pompoms. Ayla's twirling in a pink princess dress from the thrift store. The floor is littered with discarded clothes.

"We are the feather eggs."
"We are the feather eggs."
"We will beat the dogs."

Ayla shakes plastic eggs, filled with pebbles, to Regan's beat. At the end of their cheer, they both take a bow. Of course, Grandma Mim applauds with wild enthusiasm. 

We're hungry now and we chow down boxed macaroni and cheese shaped like Sponge Bob characters, and a couple of strawberries. We settle in on my red sofa, under my red blanket to watch Frozen. Regan and Ayla have seen it three times. It's their favorite movie.

I say, "I'm excited. I haven't seen it yet."

Ayla assures me, "Mim, if you need something, we'll get it for you because we've seen the movie before and you haven't."

We enjoy the voices, the heroines, the animation. When all seems lost, as it always does somewhere in a Disney movie, the heroines discover that "love is the answer." We like Elsa because she has magic powers. We like Anna because she's spunky and has red hair.

It's time for vanilla ice cream drumsticks with caramel centers and chocolate on top. Regan picked them out at the store. "They're the best."

In the pull-down wall bed, the three of us snuggle together for bedtime reading. One of the books is When Did I meet you Grandma? The last page is to be filled in.


"I call my Grandma, 'Mim.'"

"My favorite thing about my Grandma is..."

I'm holding my breath.

"She gives us candy."

"My Grandma is wonderful because...she gives us candy."

"I love my Grandma because...she gives us candy."

Every question ends with the same answer. This is very funny. So much for my dreams of "wonderfulness." Ayla asks, "When did I meet you, Mim?"

"We met each other in the hospital when you were born."

"Can we have another jelly bean?"

"Umm, no, you've brushed your teeth. Good night, Regan. Goodnight, Ayla."

I'm writing this down, hoping that sometime Regan and Ayla might remember this day. And this overnight.

PATRICK'S FACEBOOK POST: For those of you who don't believe in love, love is the sound of a man tightening his lug nuts on his wheels with a drill before heading off on a long journey with his wife and child. Love is alive.



I'm gearing up for the big 96th birthday dinner this Saturday. Today, after my workout with Deanne, I vacuum, change the beds, wash two loads of clothes, pay some bills, and make a to-do list for the rest of the week.

I promised myself, when I began writing about this year, my subject matter would be organic — my recordings would spring up from real events, not from contrived drama. My premise was most any day, and most anything, could be interesting. Sometimes, in describing a quotidian event, I find a gem. Like watching a lowly corn kernel transform itself when it pops.

When I was in high school, I collected an anthology of poems about little things. I wish I could find that anthology now. I had an early intuition about what's important and I want to nourish that intuition again.

In this week that will be one of busyness, I'll factor in time to reflect. In the moments between doing and doing more, I'll listen for the cadences, the sound track that would rise and fall, if my life were a movie.

This is one of the gifts of aging. Things don't have to be as exciting as they used to be. I'm pacing myself.

PATRICK'S FACEBOOK POST: Lunch has become my favorite word.



I'm cleaning toilets, cutting dead leaves off plants in the outside entryway, and grating lemon peel for the cake I'm baking tomorrow. Michael's package of French sausages and duck legs arrived and I've put them in the fridge, along with three batches of homemade Irish cream I blended this afternoon.

I'm nervous about the lemon layer cake since I've never made it before. If it looks like a flop, I'll call Kerry and ask her to pick up a cake at the market. I'm hoping my cake will come through, though.

My to-do list, in addition to the cake, includes clean the litter box and make Saturday's prepare-ahead breakfast. Probably, clean the litter box is the most important. Don't want the house reeking. Ah, the things we wind ourselves up about.

PATRICKS' FACEBOOK POST: People playing music together is the polar opposite of people fighting. I know I posted this photo a while ago, right around the time it happened. Wanted to revisit this remarkable luncheon hosted by Michael Bayard celebrating a recent healing journey I made. This is the group of sound healing musicians who became a pivotal support group in a time of great distress. Thanks again!



My Kansas City cousin calls. She wants to know what time to send two dozen roses for GG to my house on Saturday. She also wants to let me know she has a blind date coming up.

"How old is he?"

"He's 82. His wife died a year ago."

"Where are you going?"

"He's taking me to dinner and picking me up at my house. I want him to see who I am and where I live."

"Please call and let me know how it goes."

"I will. Danny told me, 'Have fun, Mom.'"

Yes, have fun and go find a person who needs to find you. This is not always easy to do. May the force be with you, my Kansas City Cuz.

PATRICK'S FACEBOOK POST: This whole missing Malaysian jetliner thing just goes to show that, though we claim to be highly evolved, we really have no idea what we are doing.


April 7, 2018 - April 20, 2018: 96th Birthday * Yay for Our Team * Let the Celebration Begin * Thelma and Louise * On the Road Again * Hell-o-oh * 70th Birthday Party * A Wonderful Adventure * The Tree Guy * Easter

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