The Kofford Family relocates to Colorado after 40 years as Californians. In December of 2007, Grandma Lorraine is diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. Sadly, she passed away on Dec. 26th, 2008 after a year long courageous battle. Follow our journey as we keep Lorraine's memory alive, and as we learn to appreciate that each day we are given, is a gift to be enjoyed!

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
~Maria Robertson

Friday, January 30, 2009

A lesson in spontaneity for a perpetual planner!

I am a planner by nature.

I don't do much without thinking it through and checking my calendar.

Living this way, life becomes rigid, and spontaneous moments never seem to happen without a day planner to dictate them.

So today, in the middle of phone calls, faxing death certificates, and being on hold for 20 min. trying to change my mom's name to mine so I can pay her utilities, I did something I have never done before.

I did something spontaneously.

I didn't plan it a week in advance. I didn't run errands first, or think through all the ramifications of leaving my many tasks undone...

I just stopped everything.

And, in the middle of the day, all by myself, I went to the movies!

I bought popcorn and a soda, and sat by myself right where I wanted.

I watched a movie I've been anxious to see, but have never found the time to find a sitter, or plan for it. I watched 3 hours of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" with only 8 other people in the theater!

And you know what? It was OK that I left my tasks undone. It was OK that the laundry sat, and that the dishes were left dirty in the sink. It was OK that the floor didn't get swept, and that I didn't get the closet cleaned that I intended.

There were decisions to be made, and phone calls to make, and e-mails to answer, and none of that got done. I let myself do something fun without feeling guilty that I wasn't grieving, or being productive, or doing something worthwhile with my time. I was just spontaneous, without a reason. And, it was OK. No, it was better than OK, it was good!

Today I lived fully. I savored the moment. And, I am glad! I hope YOU will find time to do the!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cheering UP!

Hello friends!

It has been a few days since I posted and there is much to share! It has been a good week and I am feeling cheery once again! I know that grief will come and go, but for now it feels good to be 'myself' again. No big decisions have been made on my parents home or their belongings...Tom and I both discussed that there is no hurry to rush on anything. So, I am going to take a litte longer to think things through so I can make smart decisions when the time comes. My parents would have wanted that too!

My mom and dad after 40 wonderful years of marriage! This is how I picture them right now in heaven, spending eternity together. This picture, and that image make me smile.

I've been busy working on a special blog for the scholarship fund, and hope to have it ready soon. I am anxious to see how the funds collected on behalf of my parents, will go to help other educators and students. I so want to make my parents proud by how the recipients chosen use their scholarships to help others. I will keep you posted!

In other news, Ashlyn auditioned for the children's "praise team" at church and was invited to participate, so she is thrilled to be able to sing and dance for an audience now! (Shhh, don't tell Ashlyn, but I mentioned to the leader up front that she had great enthusiasm for the Lord, but really couldn't carry a tune...that enthusiasm must have done the trick since she made the team! Ashlyn did say to me though, "Mom the music is so loud that I can't hear myself sing!" Hmmm...enough said... :-)

I worked in her 2nd grade classroom today and had a great time. There is nothing like spending time with kids to lift my mood and feed my love of teaching! Once I am in that setting I realize how much I love to teach, and how much I miss it. One parent saw me in the parking lot and asked when I would be resuming our "Enrichment Friday" class again. Up until today, with my mom's passing, I had been feeling sad, and not particulary cheerful or ready to jump back into a high energy class, but perhaps starting back up again with the kids would be the perfect medicine!

Kyle is working hard at school and music and we are anxious for our upcoming conferences. He missed the frog dissection in science since we were in CA for the funeral at that time...I'm trying to figure out how I can recreate the experiment for him as I didn't want him to have to miss out on such a neat experience. Do you think you can buy dead frogs and a lesson plan over the internet? On second thought, perhaps I will see if the science teacher has another solution!

Some happy news to girlfriend Sofia, who happens to be my friend and a decorator, is coming to visit me next week! We are going to visit and spend time together, but she is also coming to help me decorate! I love to find ways to make our home warm and inviting, but over the past year with my many distractions and worries, I didn't have much time to put into fabric, paint selections, etc...I will be sure and share with you our "before and after" photos during Sofia's visit!

Lastly, I wanted to extend a BIG thank you to Cheryl from "Peaceful Blessings" ( for her awesome "Very Vintage Valentine Swap" package! Cheryl knew I loved apples and roosters, so I received a wonderful care package of goodies...from candies, apple dishtowels, an apple pie plate, candle, beautiful notecards, etc...she sent me a full package of fun and love! Thank you so much Cheryl!!!!

Wishing you all a wonderful end to the week, and until next time, live life fully and savor every moment! :-)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wrapping up a life...

This has been such a time of growth for me, experiencing the deaths of both of my parents in such a short amount of time. It is so much easier when life goes along on it's day to day path uneventfully; but if it were to stay that way, I suppose we would never know what it is like to develop perseverance or strength when tragedy touches home.

I have been busy and overwhelmed with so many details now of finalizing my parents' lives. Canceling accounts, closing policies, taking care of insurance, car and home decisions, faxing documents, sending agencies death certificates, etc...So many decisions to be made, meetings to schedule, and a constant reminder that I want to make wise decisions that honor my parents and their wishes.

I think of my parents lovely home, and all the reminders of them that are contained within those walls. Now, each item in their home...every paper, letter, dish, spoon, and momento, require a decision. Keep, save, give, sell, toss... Where do I begin? How do I take two people's lives; their memories, their cherished things, and determine what is important? Many things have financial value, and some things hold only sentimental value to me.

How do I put a value on the measuring cups my mom used for 40 years? What about the colander we used to pick boysenberries year after year? My dad had special magic tricks that kept my friends and me mesmorized...he intended for Kyle to have them one day, but how will Kyle know how to perform them without Grandpa to show him? What will happen to the plants my mom lovingly nurtured in her home? Amazingly, some of the plants my mom had she had kept growing for over 40 years! She started new 'shoots' and gave them to friends, and still has bulbs in the garden that she dug up and moved from 3 homes! They have bloomed every spring for close to 45 I dig them up and bring them to Colorado? So many decisions...

How does one go about wrapping up the life of loved ones, when their memories are still living? I am trying to remember that their memories will never fade...their influence in my life will always be with me, and that things are just that, "things." Relationships...connecting with others...making a difference in the lives of children...loving life and savoring every moment...these are the legacies of my parents I will never part with, and really, they are the only ones that matter.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

LaZy or Efficient?

Thank you readers for commenting on the "lazy day" meal below. I hope you are able to create it for your family, and as some of you said, if it goes in the oven or on top of the stove, it IS homemade! :-)

I was invited to be a guest writer on two new blogs that embrace the concept of making life easier for ourselves, not because we are truly "lazy" but because there are so many more important things in our lives to focus on. If you click on the "Lazy Moms" button on the right side bar, the authors will be posting housekeeping, cooking tips, etc...that can streamline your life so that there is more time for the important things that REALLY matter. On "Project Create a Home" various writers will be posting entries on decorating your home, cooking and housekeeping, and ways to live a purposeful life. As much as I love a clean, orderly, and inviting home; my focus should not be on the things that make up my life, but on WHO is in my life....friends, family, and those we love!

So, in light of this, I say the meal in the post below wasn't for lazy moms, just efficient, time conscious women who know where their priorities are! :-)

Let's face it, things, papers, and stuff pile up quickly. Here's a quicky tip that I have used many times when someone unexpected calls and is coming over in a few minutes. Remember: Laundry baskets are your friend! You can never have too many for the following reason...when you need to pick up fast take all your piles of papers, kids' toys, shoes, etc... and stack them all in a laundry basket. Then your laundry basket can be stored in the laundry room or garage until you have time to sort all the stuff later. Here's how I use it when there is no time to sort and put away...

This mess...

Can be all contained here...

And doesn't this look much better?

It's Saturday! Do something meaningful with your family, and go use those laundry baskets! :-)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lazy Mother's Dinner! :-)

For those of you that are 'real' cooks, please do not take offense to this simple recipe that lazy moms like me enjoy. There is no 'real' cooking in this recipe, and don't let the title fool you, there is nothing "old fashioned" in it...only utilization of modern food conveniences for a night when you are tired, grumpy, and have no desire to wash a multitude of pots and pans. So, if you have not taken offense so far, read on!

"Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie" from the Gooseberry calendar...short cuts added by said lazy cook above...

2 pie crusts (Store bought pre-rolled dough tastes great and is EASY!)
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (If you have left overs great, and if not, buy the packaged grilled chicken breast strips in the lunch meat section. EASY and moist!)
1/2 onion, chopped (I have omitted this ingredient if I am too lazy to dirty a knife!)
10 3/4 oz. can cream of chicken soup
15 oz. can mixed vegetables, drained (I don't like canned vegetables so I use a small package of frozen veggies.)
1/2 c. sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Line a 9 in. pie plate with one crust; set aside second crust. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl; mix well and pour into pie plate. Top with remaining crust. Crimp crust to seal; cut several slits in top crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, until bubbly and crust is golden. Makes 6 servings, and only one bowl and one pie plate to wash! Enjoy!

Besides few dishes to wash, my kids said it was the best meal I ever made! Now that is success! :-)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Mourning...

My mom and me in 2006...mourning my dad, yet hopeful that we had one another. Little did we know how our lives would change in the year ahead.

Thank you so much friends for your encouraging comments on the post below! Your kind words were just the "pick me up" I needed! You have been so supportive and kind, I will indeed keep the blog going, and will continue to search for the right "voice" in the coming weeks. Knowing you will patiently read, and muddle through with me, gives me confidence to continue, and I thank you SO much for your gift of support!

Today the kids were off from school for "Martin Luther King, Jr. Day". He was also born on my mom's birthday, (Jan. 15th) and my mom was always pleased to know she was born on the same day as such a great man. Tom had to work, so the kids and I cleaned house, ran errands, took Ashlyn cookie-selling for Girl Scouts, and stopped by the "Hope Care Cancer Center" this afternoon. The staff was so wonderful to my mom last year, and I wanted to thank everyone, and let them know that she had passed away.

I remember the first time I visited the center. It was about this time a year ago and I DID NOT want to be there. I didn't want to read the helpful brochures, I didn't want to be friendly or smile...I didn't feel hopeful, optimistic, or cheerful. The receptionist was so kind, and I politely smiled back and scheduled my mom's appointments; but in my heart I was angry.

I was angry that my mom had cancer again, I was angry that our lives had been turned upside down, and angry that I was an only child. I was angry that my dad had passed, and questioned my ability to remain strong for my mom. How could I raise a family, and drive my mom to numerous appointments and get the kids to all their activities, help with homework, etc... Being back at the center today reminded me of all the anger I felt at that time. Anger is such an ugly emotion and one we don't care to reveal....being cheerful is so much easier. Sometimes life gives us cause to feel angry though, and I have learned that in those instances, it is better to deal with it, than to stuff those feelings deep in our souls where they will surface at some other time.

The interesting thing about life though, is that time can change our perspective, it can change how we look at unwelcome situations. After a few weeks of daily radiation visits to the cancer center with my mom, I started to look forward to visiting with the nurses and patients. Of course my mom went in the first day optimistic, and made friends instantly, but I was reluctant and still angry. What I realized during our daily trips, is that people are everything! If we met anger and bitterness, we too may have mirrored the same. The attitude and presence of the people there, made the entire experience bearable, and even pleasant. They took the time to talk with us, to explain every procedure, and to listen to my mom's concerns and my fears. There was no longer room for my anger, as each person we met, slowly erased my fear, uncertainty, and restored hope.

Did you know that local high school students knit caps for cancer patients? Did you know that there are computers, books, pamphlets, and folks available to answer questions for family members of cancer patients? I didn't know that there were daily massage therapists available for patients to enjoy massages after treatment...there are tropical island pictures on ceilings in treatment rooms, and snacks, drinks, and TV's to watch while you wait. There were nurses who actually sat down next to me each day and just visited. There were homemade blankets to take as needed, and plenty of love and understanding to go around for all. I thought a cancer center would be all doom and gloom...I didn't want to be around dying people, I didn't want to think about it, or see it. How very wrong I was a year ago. There were NO dying people in the cancer center, there were only people filled with hope, teaching everyone around them how to LIVE, while living with cancer.

At the end of treatment, there was a special ceremony my mom was given by the entire staff. There were balloons, cookies, bell ringing, clapping, and support from fellow patients and staff. I was no longer able to be angry. How could anyone be angry surrounded by so many people who cared?

Recently I have sadly felt that anger parents are could they leave me and their grandchildren? It wasn't their choice, nor did they lead lives that would lead to this outcome. They were good people, loving people, but cancer and death do not discriminate.

My parents loved our kids as well as their lovely exchange student Steffi who became a part of our family. Steffi loved and adored them, and my folks even visited Steffi in Germany where her family welcomed my parents! Why did they have to leave us all?

Here are the kids, Steffi, and myself in Maui on a family vacation with my parents in 2005.

My parents won't be able to take the trip to Portugal they planned with Steffi and her family...they won't see our children graduate, or get married. They won't be at recitals and birthday parties. They will no longer be able to give me advice and guidance if the children misbehave or meet inevitable life challenges. What if cancer finds me again? I won't have parents there to support me...these have all been selfish awful feelings, but feelings I must address, and perhaps are feelings others have experienced as well.

I miss my parents...

My dad's funeral...2006. My mom said at the time how much she missed and loved my dad, but she wasn't ready to join him. Just last week, we were back at this same grave site, to bury her...much too soon.

Grief takes on many emotions, and today I felt some of the ugly ones I had hoped were put to rest. I know that hope and faith will always return, and today during our visit to the cancer center,I felt that comfort once again that my mom and I both felt during our 6 weeks of visits. On this Monday of mourning, I let myself feel all those emotions once again... anger, sadness, and again...hope. Just like the patients we saw today, everyone was busy living...I too need to focus on the act of living. Sure, cancer may find us once again, or some other disaster or unknown..but in the end, there are kind, caring, and loving people to support us, to offer hope, and remind us that there is no time for dying...only living fully today!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Finding Meaning...

Where do we go from here? When we first started blogging, we posted photos of our little family playing in the snow, and documented all the "firsts" of living in a new state. The "Koffords in Colorado" was our focus.

Then, my mom got sick. The blog changed into sharing updates on her health and keeping everyone informed. As her life grew closer to the end, I started posting about life lessons I had learned from my mom, and how that legacy will always inspire me to live life more fully.

Now that my mom has passed, I am "lost" in many ways. Her presence and influence will always be with me, but since she is no longer on this earth to 'teach' me, I am lost as to how the blog should develop, or should it just end? What do readers want to read? What keeps someone coming back? Will there no longer be any interest, now that my mom is no longer here? The posts that seem to generate comments are not about our silly kiddo stories, but are the posts that share about life lessons learned, about being inspired by those around us, and living life fully.

I'm not sure how many of you will keep reading, or how many of you will still find an interest in our small corner of northern Colorado. I am still pondering what direction the blog should go from here, and how to find meaning and purpose in this "blogger" world. I would welcome your input on what subjects you would return to read, and if you will indeed return. Please share your thoughts and ideas, they will be so helpful to me in determining, where do we go from here?

Thank you friends!

It's that time of the year again...

Our "Brownie" Ashlyn!

Cookies...cookies, cookies! You all so kindly supported us last year during this wonderful time of year...I know you are on cookie overload, and if you were like my mom, you may still have cookies in your freezer from last year! Perhaps, you have started a New Year's Resolution and are off cookies for good, or perhaps...just maybe, you may still have room in your cupboards and tummy for another box of Girl Scout cookies! :-)

Ashlyn's Brownie Troop is once again participating in the number one fundraiser for Girl Scouts; cookies sales! The cookies are $3.25 per box, and if you would be so kind as to purchase a box or two, we will ship them to you for FREE! :-) If you would like to support Girl Scouts, but do not care for any cookies, another option her troop is offering, would be to purchase a box or two which would be donated to the homeless shelter, and single mom's organizations around the community.

Ashlyn has worked hard to earn all the badges on her vest...she is off to sell cookies in a few minutes, but since we were out of town during the selling week, all of our neighbors have already purchased! She is not giving up though, it just means Ashlyn will have to work harder and walk further to find neighborhoods in need of cookies! :-) If you are interested in supporting Girl Scouts through cookie sales, please leave a comment or e-mail us at We will be sure that your cookies are delivered directly to you, or donated to a worthy cause. Thank you!

Varieties of cookies available:

Lemon Chalet Cremes: Cinnamon ginger spice and a refreshing zesty lemon creme filling. (Ashlyn's favorite!)

Sugar Free Chocolate Chip: A classic favorite now sugar free!

Trefoils: Delicate tasting shortbread cookies

Do-Si-Dos: Crisp and crunchy oatmeal cookies with a creamy peanut butter filling.

Somoas: Tender vanilla cookies covered with caramel, rolled in otasted coconut, and striped with a rich chocolatey coating.

Dulce De Leche: Sweet, indulgent, Latin American inspired cookies are rich with milk caramel chips and stripes.

Tagalongs: Tastey cookies with creamy peanut butter and covered with a luscious chocolatey coating. (Denise's favorite!)

Thin Mints: Classic thin wafer covered with a smooth chocolatey coating made with natural pepppermint. (These were Grandma Lorraine's favorite...she bought 20 boxes last year, and still had one in her freezer last week when we were there!)

Each box is $3.25 and we will ship to you for FREE! BIG THANKS from Ashlyn, and for helping support Troop #710 in Colorado! :-)

P.S. I am still working on posting the eulogy...if it cannot be condensed to fit on the blog, you can always e-mail me and I will gladly send it to you! My mom was always so tickled to hear about the readers who were following her story, and I just wanted to tell you again how much she appreciated your support, prayers and encouragement!

Diamond woes...

Diamond Update...Thanks readers for the great tips about returning to the store where we purchased the ring from the post below. Unfortunately, we bought both the center diamond and the setting at the "San Francisco Gift Mart" where there are fabulous prices on diamonds at their many jewelry stores, but to keep prices down, perks like no cost replacements aren't available!

Bummer, so it will cost $287 for a new small stone, plus another $200 to add more prongs to the existing stones as they too were loose! Then, to really top it off, the jeweler discovered my center stone now has 3 chips! How I did this to it, I do not know! Well, that will be another cost to have the stone re-cut and polished. The jeweler also said that it would be wise to put the center stone in 6 prongs, (vs. the 4 I have now because I thought the stone looked bigger with only 4 prongs!) I also chose to have the center stone sit up high, because I liked that look, but then that may have contributed to it getting chipped. So, all my vanity will end up costing me a small fortune! What do you think, maybe I should just trade the whole thing in and get cubic zirconias?!? :-) (Or maybe put the money toward Girl Scout cookies! :-) HA

Friday, January 16, 2009

Missing diamond...

At some point during the funeral on Monday, I lost one of my small side diamonds from my wedding ring. It's a tiny square shaped stone, and most likely recovering it will be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Thank goodness it wasn't the center stone, although finding that would have been easier I'm sure. Thank you Gayle and Mike for going out to the cemetery, at night no less, with flash light and glasses trying to find the stone! I can't thank you both enough! Since it is so small, it will probably not be found, but if any Red Bluff readers who attended the funeral may be crossing the same routes we followed, keep your eyes out for a loose, run away diamond! I'd be so grateful if it were found! Thank you readers!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Remembering...Jan. 15th, 2009

Today would have been my mom's 68th birthday. This photo was taken in 2005 at our home in Dublin before me moved, before my dad passed away, before life changed in so many different ways.

But life changes, and so must we.

My mom's memory lives on at the school where she taught for 28 years. My dad's memory is honored there too for his service on the school board. My mom's caregiver, Gayle, who has become a BIG part of our family, took Ashlyn and her granddaughter to see the plaques that the school has displayed with their names and years of service.

It's so important to me that our children know what an impact their grandparents had on the community they loved.

We arrived back in Colorado last night, and boy, were we all tired this morning! It has been quite a week! Here's a brief...uh no, long, recap of the week!

I flew out last Wed. to have a few week days to take care of funeral arrangements, cemetery arrangments, meetings, etc...I didn't want the kids to miss too much school, so Tom and the kids came to CA on Sat. as well as several friends who were all such a huge help to me! I said I had an "entourage" and they kept me going through all the events of the weekend through the funeral.

My 3rd grade teacher, who was also a dear friend of my mom's, flew up from southern CA, my mom's brother, my dad's sisters, my uncle, and cousin all came from far away. My cousin David flew in from Boston, and I so appreciated the presence of all these wonderful people! Three of my girlfriends from our old community of Dublin, packed up and drove to Red Bluff to be with me, which was truly a priceless gift! They took the kids for ice cream, they stayed with me through the visitation, rosary, made sure I was fed, they decorated at the luncheon hall, etc...etc...I could not have gotten through the weekend's events without them! Thank you Charlene, Sofia, and Judy!!!!

On Sunday, we had the family viewing, public visitation, and rosary. It was a long 4 hour event, but so good to visit with many people who wouldn't be able to attend the funeral. A small group of hard workers all decorated the hall in beautiful Hawaiian colors and flowers which I know my mom would have loved! At the chapel, we had beautiful standing sprays and a casket spray of Hawaiian flowers that included orchids, antheriums, ginger, ti leaves, and ferns. I also brought my mom's ukelele, polynesian dance implements, big shells, etc...that the florist incorporated into the florals. I know my mom would have loved it, and how it honored her heritage and culture she loved!

We had about 15 of us that all went out to dinner afterwards, and it was wonderful to visit and reconnect with old friends and family we don't see near as often as I would like. I am committed this year to getting together more regularly and not just at funerals as it seems to be lately. I felt surrounded by so many people who cared, and that was such a comfort throughout the entire weekend!

My mom's closest friends, Annette and Fred Null.

My mom's caregiver Gayle and her husband Mike.

Annette and Fred's son "Freddie" and his lovely wife Crystal.

My Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Jerry who drove 10 hours from southern CA!

3 generations...Kyle, Tom, and Papa Ron!

Tom's mother Billie and our sister in law Tami!

Me and my dear friend Kim!

Sofia and Judy drove 3 hours from Dublin to help and give support!

My Aunt Beth, and my 3rd grade teacher/dear friend to my mom, "Georgia!"

My mentor and friend Charlene with Ashlyn!

My dear friend Charlene stayed up late with me helping me rework my eulogy and her patience was never ending. She would time me, help me with the wording, delivery, etc...and I was so grateful for her time and patience! She stayed with me at my mom's house and just took over all the "jobs" that I was too flustered to complete. Charlene prepared food, made breakfast, dressed Ashlyn, loaded cars, carried my bags, made sure I had water, kleenex, etc...etc...Sofia stayed by my side throughout the visitation, Judy took the kids to have fun in the midst of sadness, and everyone was just such a huge help!

The weather on the day of the funeral was just the way my mom would have liked....sunny and warm! My friend Lisa drove up from Sacramento, and my good friend Kim F. came as well as her son to support Kyle, and 3 blogging friends from Redding! I had wished there was more time to visit with these special people and all that came to remember my mother! I ordered leis which family and the pall bearers wore, and it was another neat way we could honor my mom. Kyle did a New Testament reading during the service. He was so nervous beforehand, but stood at the lecturn and delivered a beautiful reading that I know my parents would have been so proud of.

I gave the eulogy, and despite my nerves and fear, it couldn't have gone any smoother! As I walked up toward the alter, I just thought of my parents looking down on me, at how my dad used to encourage me to be confident before speaking, and as I turned to adjust the microphone, I saw so many friendly faces. This was my one opportunity to speak on my memories of my mom publically, and honor her by how I handled myself. So, I tried my best to be strong and speak confidently despite my own fears and nervousness. As I was speaking, I saw all the beautiful stained glass windows around the church, and so many events passed before own wedding in this church, Kyle's baptism, and now the funerals of both of my parents. As I spoke, I found my rhythm, and felt good that my parents would have been pleased.

We all drove to the cemetery for a brief service, and then I aksed everyone to take a loose orchid and place it on the casket with a silent prayer or blessing. It was very windy at that point, but luckily the casket spray was attached to the casket and everyone could tuck their orchids into it. I didn't watch my dad's casket be lowered into the grave, but decided I wanted to watch this time. So after everyone left, Tom stood with me as we watched the entire process that took 4 men to complete. We scattered all the flowers on the casket as it was lowered, and stayed until the final piece of grass was laid back on top. My parents are buried under a pretty tree in a small cemetery and it is a very peaceful setting.

These photos are from the following day when we took all the sprays and arrangements back to the cemetery. Kyle is standing near the standing arrangement on the left.

After Tom and I watched the casket be lowered, we drove out to the hall where the luncheon was being held, and enjoyed visiting with so many family and friends that came to honor my mom. After we thanked everyone for coming, we had an open microphone time, and Ashlyn gave a beautiful tribute to my mom that was sweet, pure, and captured her memories from birthday parties to reading stories with grandma. We were so proud of her, and the grace with which this little 7 year old shared her memories.

Grandma Lorraine's two grandchildren, Kyle and Ashlyn.

After the luncheon ended, we came back to my mom's house where about a dozen of us stayed and visited. Then we went out to dinner later in the evening with two of my parents friends that they had known for over 40 years!

The following day, Tom and I ran errands from meetings, to forwarding mail, banking, etc...there is much to be accomplished, but the most urgent needs were taken care of until our next return. Tom's family was such a huge help to me, and we had so many people who cared for us and the kids in the midst of 'to-do' lists a mile long! We flew home yeterday, and now the next phase of life begins. I need to get started on laundry, groceries, the kids activities, etc...but for now, I may take some quiet time to reflect, and mourn. With so much activity, grief takes a back seat, and I know that it will find me through-out the coming weeks.

I look forward to catching up with all of your e-mails, phone calls, and blogs this week. I can't thank all of you enough, for your blog comments, your prayers, and support during this year of change. May we all move forward in 2009 with hope, good health, and faith in all that the year holds for each of us!

With love,
P.S. Yes, I will find a way to post the eulogy if you are interested in reading it. It was 10 min. long though, so I need to find a way to condense it, so it will fit here!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Grandma Lorraine laid to rest...

Today I buried my mother.

There is such finality to that sentence, and unchangeable reality.

As my lovely 3rd grade teacher said to me last night, there is only one time in your entire life, when that will happen.

It is a once in a lifetime event that is unwelcome, but inevitable.

So much to say,
So many thoughts swirling through my head,
So many people to thank,
So many thoughts to share.

But for now,
I must sleep.

I just wanted you to know that it was a beautiful day that honored her spirit and her love for all! More soon...

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Arriving home...

I arrived in Sacramento safely last night. My mom's good friend Toni, graciously picked me up at the airport late at night, and she was wonderful company on the 2 hour foggy drive home. She waited with me at my folks house until I felt comfortable, and then when she went home...for the first time, in 42 years, I was truly alone, for good, in my parents home. I didn't have to be, several people, including Toni, offered me rooms if I was uncomfortable, but I wanted to stay.

I didn't sleep well, (which should have been expected) and woke up this morning with a strange sensation. I didn't open my eyes right away, and just for a moment...I waited.

I was waiting to hear the sound of my mom unloading the dishwasher as she once did before brain cancer took away that ability. I waited to smell breakfast cooking. I waited to hear my dad's deep voice talking about the events of the day. I waited to hear him talk about what he would do with his airplanes, and where he would fly that day, just as he did everyday until Oct. 2006. I waited to hear doors opening and closing as someone took out the trash or watered plants. I wished for a moment, that everything was the way it once was a few short years ago.

But that didn't happen.

Instead, I opened my eyes, and there was only one sound present...the sound of silence.


Let me show you what it looks like...

Driving up a driveway, but no one is home. Nor are they ever coming home again.

Opening the front door, but no one is there to welcome me.

A beautiful walkway, and no father to walk beside me carrying luggage.

A quiet kitchen, and no mother behind the sink.

Two empty chairs, and no parents sitting in them.

And then, I found this poem in an old autograph book from 1955 that belonged to my mom. It went like this...

"I met you as a stranger,
I leave you as a friend,
I hope we meet in heaven,
Where friendship never ends."

The house is empty. My parents are gone. There is no changing that, yet there is hope. For one day... "We'll meet in heaven, where friendship never ends."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lorraine's Obituary

My mom, a native of Maui, Hawaii enjoying her "Celebration of Life Luau" Feb. 2008.

Isn't she lovely? This is my mom in college doing a hula demonstration for the local paper. :-)

The obituary will run in the "Red Bluff Daily News" today and Thurs. Since my link feature is not working, I will copy and paste it here.

Lorraine Marie DeCambra Johnson, 67 of Red Bluff, CA passed from this life on December 26, 2008 following a year-long battle with brain cancer. She passed away in the comfort of her home in Red Bluff, California.

Lorraine was a devoted and respected wife, mother, grandmother, friend and teacher. She was born in Puunene, Maui, Hawaii on January 15, 1941. She attended elementary and high school on Maui before moving to Iowa and Missouri to attend Ottumwa Heights College and Webster University. She earned her teaching credential and taught in St. Louis, Missouri before moving to Whittier, California where she taught for ten years at Sorensen and North Whittier Schools.

Lorraine married a fellow teacher, Harry Johnson, in 1965. They were married for 41 years until Harry’s passing in 2006, a commitment that their daughter Denise is very proud of and thankful for. In 1975 Lorraine and her family moved to Red Bluff, where she resided for 33 years.

She taught at Antelope School for 28 years before retiring in 2003. She was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma (society of women educators), Sacred Heart Parish Church, and Women’s Guild. She was active in AAUW, Crafty Ladies, Kelly Griggs Museum and Red Hat Society. She enjoyed scrapbooking, card making, reading and Bunco.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Harry Johnson and her parents Raymond and Mary DeCambra. She is survived by daughter Denise (Tom) Kofford and grandchildren Kyle and Ashlyn Kofford, all of Longmont, Colorado; brother Edward (Maria) DeCambra of Garden Grove, CA; sisters-in-law Beth Johnson of Azusa, CA; Sylvia (Jerry) Barrett of Glendora,CA; nephews Michael (Paula) Barrett , great neice and great nephew Abigail and Andrew Barrett of Upland, CA; David (Fernie) Barrett, and great niece and nephew Emily and Christopher Barrett of Hudson, MA. She was loved and cared for by dearest friends Annette and Fred Null, and her caregivers Gayle Oelrichs, Sande Keller and Sharon Gilmore. She is also survived by countless dear friends and former students throughout the community who embraced her as part of their families or circle of friends.

Lorraine will always be remembered for her gregarious personality and her great love for life, family, friends, students and community. She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

Visitation will be held at Hoyt Cole Chapel of the Flowers on Sunday, January 11th, 2009 from 2-5PM, with a rosary at 4PM. A Mass of Christian burial will be held on Monday, January 12th, 2009 at 10AM at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

Memorial contributions may be made to, “The Apple Tree Scholarship Fund in memory of Harry and Lorraine Johsnon” at Wells Fargo Bank or P.O. Box 627, Red Bluff, CA. The fund will benefit future teachers pursuing a degree in education, as well as existing teachers in Tehama County; a cause Harry and Lorraine were both passionate about

Thank you again readers for your prayers and kind words of sympathy. I so appreciate your support during this difficult time. Remember to live life fully and savor every day, especially today!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Beginnings and Peace in 2009

What a year it has been for us all. Perhaps for you, 2008 was filled with many happy memories, or perhaps you too experienced extreme sadness, or most likely 2008 was filld with a mix of both, and a splash of the mundane mixed in. I know there are many personal stories that each of you have to share, and I hope that one day I may be privileged to hear them.

Since my mom's passing, I have wondered many times, "Where do I go now? What am I supposed to do?" There are so many funeral details, and I often feel lost without her help and guidance. I think about these things, yet I know she is not far away as I feel reminders of her everywhere. She has left me with a feeling of peace when I see the vibrant setting sun...I am filled with peace when songs play on the radio that were her favorites...I feel her peace when Hawaiian reminders pop up on TV, in magazines, and in stores...I feel her presence, and a sense that she is indeed in "perfect peace."

Other times over the past week, I have felt lost. I wandered around the store the other day pushing my grocery cart feeling like a lost little girl with no parents. I realized that at times I am a "lost little girl" who is an orphan at 42 years old. After I allow myself a brief "pity party" (as my mother would say), I pull myself up and realize that my parents have taught me all the life lessons I need to know to move forward.

2009 represents a new beginning...a new chance to move forward in faith that I will figure things out, that I won't be "lost", but strengthened by those around me. My husband has been such a source of strength and understanding. The children have reminded me several times, "Mom, you're not alone, you have US!" As an only child, a sense of loneliness always surrounded me; but not any longer. No more pity parties, no more, "Why did my parents pass away on holidays?", no more thoughts of "What will I do now?" No more questioning.

I am going to move forward in 2009 with a sense of hope, joy, and faith in the future. We do not know what the new year may bring...most likely it will be a mix of many happy and sad moments, with a splash of the mundane mixed in for good measure. Whatever the future holds, may each of you be blessed in 2009 with appreciation for every moment... May each of us have confidence and faith that we can handle whatever comes our way...and may each of you be blessed with peace in many new beginnings to come!