The lights in the kitchen have been blinking lately. I count off each time it happens. Perhaps it’s my mom sending Morse code. I don’t know Morse code so that’s kind of a bummer. I’d hate to think my mom, who was never in the military, would choose to send me messages in a language that made no sense to both of us. Instead, I’ve come to interpret the speed and number of the blinks to reflect the intensity of the message. I have a feeling that ten blinks is something pretty important.
What is the message? According to the wisdom of Teresa Caputo and Tyler Henry, both celebrity mediums who channel the spirits of those who have passed, our loved ones may choose to show themselves in electrical systems: blinking lights, fans that go on and off, night lights that burn brighter. All these things have happened to me after losing a loved one. And no, my electrician doesn’t think I’m crazy. Confirming my sanity is the least he could do after finding nothing wrong and still charging me a service call fee.
I do believe that our loved ones watch over us, but at the same time I hope they don’t do it all the time. It concerns me if I’m being watched at the most “inopportune” times, aka sitting on the toilet, or shoving handfuls of popcorn in my mouth during my impromptu “Let’s see how much I can get in here” contests. Spirits must get bored or disgusted from watching us, right? I hope I’m right.
Guidance is something I seek and attain from many outlets. I’ve accepted jobs based on fortune cookies, and I’ve also ignored strong urging from friends back in the day who said, “DO NOT DATE THAT PERSON.” I never said I heed guidance 100% of the time. I have found whether it’s a Higher Power, a YouTube influencer or simply not replicating the errors of others, if we pay attention and listen to the guidance, life really improves. At minimum it becomes more logical and connected to whatever it is we’re supposed to be doing with our lives.
Loss has a way of casting a shadow to guide us. I put this quote on a meme a while back accompanied by a photo of a really cool leaf that had fallen off the tree in my yard. Although the stem of the leaf was curved, the shadow it cast was perfectly straight. Being a seeker of guidance in all forms, with a keen ability to make stuff up, I thought perhaps my mom was guiding me again, sans electrical currents. I’ll take it. Besides, each of these little interactions with my mom are affirmations that she is free from the horrors of the Alzheimer’s disease that killed her, slowly, and way before her cute, little physical body was ready to hang up her sneakers.
My mom was always a shoe-fan. In her early 20’s she would buy a new pair of shoes with each paycheck. By the time I knew her, when she was closing in on 40 with three other children and a demanding husband, her love of shoes had taken a back seat — the way back. Before she got married, traveling always included plenty of space in her suitcase for shoes. She would tell us shoe stories, which were always entertaining. My adult wisdom tells me that sharing those stories allowed her to virtually visit some of her favorite sling-backs, stiletto and kitten-heeled works of art. There was the time she wore a new pair of exquisite high-heeled shoes to San Francisco in the 1950s and spent a day walking backwards up the hills of the city because her feet hurt. Take her shoes off or find a more comfortable pair? Forget it! Fashion was painful, she knew it, and embraced it.
Later in life she satisfied that shoe-love vicariously through my sister Kathi who inherited the shoe-love gene. My sister of late has absconded her genetic enslavement for expensive shoes. Perhaps it’s my mom’s guidance from above trying to repent and make amends for all the money she spent on treats for her feet. Or, it could just be the fact that e-bay offers everyone the opportunity to hand down beautiful shoes to those discovering the breadth and width of their own personal shoe-love proclivities.
Being a dancer in her youth set my mom on the tracks of fitness for her entire life. She worked out before it was such a “thing,” bounced on her mini-trampoline most mornings before work, and in her 70s and 80s figured out that walking 65 loops in her backyard equaled a mile. She would practice the words she was having trouble remembering like computer, and Fullerton — the name of the city where I live, which she kept forgetting. Patricia Jen Kruse never gave up trying to fight for what brought her self-esteem and pride: her intellect.
Today, my mom would have been 91 years old and we are four weeks away from the second anniversary of her passing. I am certain that if my mom hadn’t been robbed of her mind by Alzheimer’s disease she would still be reliably and steadfastly making her rounds every morning in her backyard. She wouldn’t be wearing high heels though. Her Reeboks were her shoe of choice made evident by the numerous times they wore out and she would replace them with an exact pair.
I’m also certain she wouldn’t want every story I tell about her to include crap (her one and only favorite “kinda” cuss word) about the disease that took her down. I promise I won’t. Instead, allow me to share that I think mom is brokering some deals with the Universe. Based on the urgent blinking of my kitchen lights that occurred numerous times in the last year, she wants me to know she is the one responsible for bringing some great writing projects my way in 2018. I hear you Mom, and I’ll definitely keep the lights on.
For those of us who have been tasked with donating, disseminating or disposing of a loved one’s earthly belongings, we know it’s a series of gut-punches that can leave you queasy for days, months, or even years. With the help of my siblings and great friends who gave my mom’s domestic gems a new life, we made it through the plight of dissolving the items that inhabited mom’s life. A few items remained that seemed unready to go, or perhaps my heart had not healed enough to say good-bye.
Today, on her birthday, I saw this small collection of items, which include her legendary Reeboks now residing in a hamper inside my closet. I’m compelled to wish her happy birthday for the obvious reasons, but also because one year my dad and my fellow ungrateful siblings forgot to, which we never lived down. I would also tell her…
Mom, it’s not that I suddenly discovered my latent shoe-gene and an obsession for semi-used Reeboks. Those shoes will always symbolize your tenacious spirit that guides me from above. And for that simple fact I cannot, will not get rid of your shoes.
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