Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Beautiful.

Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Beautiful.

This is an old building (photo above) in a small town in Eastern North Carolina. I tend to look up when I am walking and I notice details like this on buildings. I get a little sad seeing beautiful old buildings left to rot. I love architecture too. I think about the stone mason and designer who created this ornate letter B. I think about the people who entered the building when the downtown was bustling and the place to be. Now it seems strip malls are where all the action is. I have never once stopped to take a photo of a building in a strip mall.

I live in a historic house so I tend to gravitate to all things vintage and antique.

Here’s an update on things going on in my life:

Be Bold.

I am getting ready to bring my mother’s ashes to Arlington National Cemetery to be reunited with my father who was inurned in 2004. He died in December of 2003, but it took a long time for his service to be scheduled.  I was not able to make it to his service. so this is the first time I will see his ashes in the  Columbarium. I am so proud of him.

This is going to be a very powerful experience for my family. I started a FundRazr page for my nephew so he could attend the service. I think it is important for him to be part of this ceremony. He was very close with his grandparents.  They were a big part of his life.

In a way, I envy my nephew because he was able to get to know them and grow up with them present in his life. I am sad that my son will never know his grandparents (my parents). My son (3 years old) did get to meet his Grandma Betty when he was 6 months old. My father passed away long before my son was born. But I am lucky and my son is lucky that my husband’s parents live in the same town as we do and are a big part of my son’s life.

Read this post for more details about the Fundraiser for my nephew as well learning more about my mom and dad and my dad’s service in the Korean War. He was a member of the Frozen Chosin at Inchon.

Be Brave.

I am preparing for the most intense emotional experience of my life. My mother’s funeral, where she will be inurned and reunited with my father’s ashes. It is a bit strange to think a box of ashes is anything more than that, but of course, it is symbolic.  I know my father was waiting for my mother and they are together now. 

My mom and dad at Mount Rushmore

My mom and dad at Mount Rushmore

My dad wrote this in my journal. He was a lefty. I love his curved handwriting.

My dad wrote this in my journal. He was a lefty. I love his curved handwriting.

"Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway." - John Wayne

“Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne

Be Beautiful.

I am being open and honest about my journey through the grief of my mother’s death. She passed away on Christmas Eve. Read this post if you are interested in more details. It was rather poetic — her passsing on the phone with me on her favorite night of the year. She loved Christmas Eve.  The grief ebbs and flows.  Peaks and valleys.  The pain is less acute and more obtuse now.

Today I was getting my nails done (for some reason going to my mom’s funeral feels like getting ready for the prom  — I have to have the perfect outfit. I wonder if this is normal. Please chime in if you worried about the outfit you wore to your mom’s funeral) and I was drying my nails under the light thingy.  There was a mother and daughter pair.  The daughter was a teenager and she was very sweet. The mom brought up how rushed the nail salon people were and that they rushed you in and out.  I said I felt like cattle being herded.  I then watched the mom and daughter interact and I wanted my mom so desperately. I wanted her to be alive. I wanted her right there with me.  I had to clamp the tears.  

I have had many moments like that where I almost burst into tears.  It happened when I was trying on black dresses yesterday.  I solicited opinions from the other women who were trying on dresses. There was a woman in the next fitting room and she was looking for a dress for her father-in-law’s funeral.  She said that he loved color so she was going to wear a brightly colored dress to his funeral. 

I settled on wearing this dress after trying on about 50 dresses.

A Dress Fit for Arlington

A Dress Fit for Arlington

I posted this photo on Facebook with the question, “Is this a good dress for my mothers funeral at Arlington?” and solicited social media help. Here are some of the comments my friends posted:

  • “Would she have liked to see you in it?” – Jed
  • “Yes. Add a splash of her favorite color somewhere.” – Britton
  •  “Anything you like, while you’re mourning her loss you are most certainly celebrating her life! You said she loved the flowers in the garden before her passing, give that some thought too!” – TJ
  •  ” Yes:)” – Stephanie
  • “Respectable Meggie – looks great. Betty’s proud.” – Liz
  •  “Betty, George Strait, your husband and Garth would all approve! That’s all that counts.  you look great!” – Sean
  •  “Yep.” – Renee
    This was my reply to their comments:

“Thanks for the feedback ya’ll. I ended up getting this one. I tried on about 50. I had a nice girl help me with zippers and feedback. Her name was Lateesha. I went up to her and bluntly said, “Look, I have a situation here. I need to find a dress for my mom’s funeral at Arlington Cemetery. I will need you to help me with zippers and solicit your opinion. Can you help me?” She said, “Yes.”

Then it was on. She was a sweetheart. She too was blunt which I appreciated. She asked me, “What happened to your mom?” Then she asked, “You’re not from around here, are you?” I said, “I live here now, but my accent is from Chicago.” Anyway, I bought three dresses because I could not narrow them down and choose just one. I checked out and then called for the manager to specifically compliment Lateesha on her customer service and help. That’s how Betty rolled. My mom was a stickler for customer service. If it was bad, God help you, she would let you know and your boss, and most likely create a scene. If it was good, she would let you know and your boss and create a scene (a good one). I used to get embarrassed by this sometimes (a lot), but one of things I love about my mom is how she didn’t put up with crap (in life, in customer service, in getting what she wanted). And somehow she did it with grace and humor and most people she interacted with always were laughing. Jeez, I need to take this ramble to a blog post or Microsoft Word.” – Megan (memomuse)

Anyway, it is time to wrap this post up as I have to dye my hair. I have been enjoying being a redhead. My mom was a natural redhead.

"A woman whose smile is open and whose expression is glad has a kind of beauty no matter what she wears." - Anne Roiphe  Betty when she worked as the Activities Director at The King Home -- a retirement community for men in Evanston, Illinois.

My mom, Betty, when she worked as the Activities Director at The King Home — a retirement community for men in Evanston, Illinois.

“A woman whose smile is open and whose expression is glad has a kind of beauty no matter what she wears.” – Anne Roiphe

If you want to make a donation to my nephew’s FundRazr (to help pay for his airline ticket), go to this link. I wanted to share this comment that a woman I have never met, left on the Fundrazr page with her donation. Her comment is so eloquently written about the beauty and power of Arlington National Cemetery.  It made me cry.  It is so beautiful.

“My father just passed away 3-13-13 and he too was a Korean War veteran. He was SCARWAF (Special Category Army Reassigned with Air Force). His inspired me to join the service myself. I hope John enjoys the trip and learns a great deal by visiting Arlington. It is a humbling experience. A lot of his fellow country men and women have sacrificed much for this great nation’s freedoms. Not all laid down their lives during conflict and war, but all did sacrifice by spending time serving their country away from their family and friends. The things you miss holidays, weddings, births, birthdays, graduations, last days with loved ones who pass on, and then funerals; these are all things that veterans miss which leave a hollow place in one’s hearts. John, just pause and look around when you’re there, then smile, because you are part of a great nation where it’s citizens don’t hesitate to protect her; your grandfather included. May your grandparents forever lie in peace together.” – Lorraine, HMC/FMF USN Veteran

If you want to follow us on our journey to Arlington, I will be posting on my blog and other social media channels.

You can find me here at

Twitter: @memomuse1

Tumblr: memomuse

Instagram: memomuse

Facebook: memomuse and public posts on my personal FB page

mom's notes

This is what my mom wrote in my journal years ago. I love her handwriting. I love her and how she loved me my entire life. And although she is not here with me, I still hear her voice in my heart.

Here is a link to my mother’s obituary. She lived and we will celebrate her life and legacy.

Faith and Freedom. A black and white photo of an American flag with a church steeple in the background

Faith and Freedom. A black and white photo of an American flag with a church steeple in the background

This is my house not on Pinterest!

This is my house not on Pinterest!

Living room window. I love the late afternoon sun and how it makes the room light up with a soft pink glow.

Do you use Pinterest? Frankly, it annoys me. It is like a collection of what people like. I feel frustrated most of the time when I am on it. It makes me feel like I need to get busy cleaning or crafting or being inspirational.

My friend and I have thought about doing a Pinterest board of our messy homes. We are both moms to young children. At best, after my house has been thoroughly cleaned, it looks nothing like a Pinterest photo.

I guess I don’t like Pinterest because it induces so many feels of inadequacy in me. No thanks. I already am way too hard on myself as it is.
Anyway, it is a great place to get ideas. I always wonder who these people are that live the Pinterest life. Like who does their cleaning? Is it a maid? Housekeeper? Husband? And what motivates them to be so crafty? Are they distracting themselves from a real problem? Then I realize there is no way to really find out who is behind the pin that has me thinking all these deep thoughts because it is repinned so many times.

Anyway, sorry for the rant. I am distracting myself from grief. I recently had a birthday and instead of being happy on my birthday, I was incredibly sad. It took me the whole day to pinpoint exactly why. It was because this past birthday was the first birthday without my mother. She passed away on Christmas Eve. The reality of her death and the fact that she is really gone has hit me hard this month.

We shared a birthday (her a birth day) for almost four decades. I miss her so much and there is so much I want to know about her. So many stories I kick myself for not recording or writing down that she told over and over and I barely listened to them because she told them to me so many times.

This photo was taken in 2003 on Christmas Eve. My father passed away in December of 2003. This photo was taken at my best friend's house.

This photo was taken in 2003 on Christmas Eve. My father passed away in December of 2003. This photo was taken at my best friend’s house.

I’ve been looking out my windows a lot lately wondering where she is. Where can I access her? People are so kind to me about my grief. Sypathetic. Some empathetic. I know in my mind I am not the only woman who has lost her mother. But I feel very isolated in my pain.

I am thinking about starting a Pinterest board on death. Yes, seriously. I often post my blog posts to StumbleUpon and I always wonder why there is isn’t a topic for grief or death. I guess it is something people don’t classify easily. I still can not classify what I am feeling.

I am reading books with the theme of loss and death in them. They give me comfort. I recently read “Still Point of the Turning World” by Emily Rapp. This is what I wrote on Good Reads about it:

I was fortunate to read an ARC of this book. This book was beautiful. The author is a Wyoming native so I enjoyed reading about references to my home state. Her son, Rowan had Tay-Sachs disease. He recently passed away. She has a popular blog (Little Seal) about her journey with her son.This book came into my hands shortly before my mother passed away. It was a serendipitous gift. It provided me such comfort as I often read it under the covers with a flashlight in my own cocoon of grief. Emily Rapp is a talented writer who is able to immerse the reader into her story without being overly sentimental or completely grief stricken. I recommend it highly. It is not just a book about loss, in fact, it is quite the opposite; it is a book about love and life.

I also just finished “The Long Goodbye: A Memoir” by Meghan O’Rourke.  I enjoyed this book. The author’s name is Meghan and my name is Megan; her mother died on Christmas day and my mother died Christmas Eve. I would recommend this book as well.

I am currently reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.  I love this line in the book: “Just as I’d seemed to be doing okay after my mom died. Grief doesn’t have a face.”
I love this memoir. Cheryl Strayed makes writing a memoir look effortless. As a writer, I know it is not effortless, but a skill and a craft.

View from my living room of my porch

View from my living room of my porch