Happy Birthday Mom, I Hope You’re Celebrating Wherever You Are, Without Dementia

mom-cardine   Birthday 86

Photos of Eleanor Van Meter: (1) Mom on her 86th birthday last year with her wonderful Home Aide, Cardine, January 22nd, (2) Mom, on birthday night, ready for bed after candles and cake

Hard for me to believe that a whole year has gone by since my Mom, Eleanor’s last birthday. Seems like yesterday really. I look at the photos above and can hardly believe how good she looked and feisty she was, as in comparison to the last few weeks last September. If she had been able to hang on for a few months longer, she would have been 87 today. She would be, what I believe, to be the oldest person from this side of the family. It would have been quite a milestone for her and for me, in knowing that we did it…but it was not to be.

Before she moved in with me, we would talk by phone every Sunday night about writing a children’s book together. It’s something that I have always wanted to do and together with her, we could have made a great team, if only her dementia could have been held at bay awhile longer. She had a way with words, and she loved them, writing and combining different words to suit what she was feeling at the time. She could be quite whimsical as well. I could have illustrated the book and she would be a major contributor of the writing…and there you have it, a mother and daughter production…but it was not meant to be…at that time at least. I still have intensions of writing this children’s book, but now, it will be a tribute to her rather than a collaboration. It’s okay…her influence will be obvious in spite of it all.

Mom also loved poetry. She loved reading it and she loved writing it. I have a whole folder of things that she has written, some of which came from her darker days after she had lost the love of her life, Dwight Van Meter. The poem that I cite here was an interesting and simplified look at what she was must have been thinking of her life in that particular year, with regards to how her life has changed over the years. I probably wouldn’t have understood her feelings when I was younger, but I certainly understand it now.

Mom_bch_102x102  Mom-babyme mom_young5

Photos of Eleanor Van Meter: (3) My favorite childhood photo of my mother, she was a cutie at the beach. (4) Mom with me, another favorite with her huge smile, (5) Mom looking great in her summer fashion.

How happy
as a child
I walked into the sun,
Squinting and laughing,
full of mirth,
Secure in a world of light,
The sun
now always at my back,
I turn to see once more
the shining past
Before the night
envelopes me at last,
I remember it was good,
I thank God,
and walk on,
Secure in a world of memories

Eleanor Van Meter

Mom was a very deep person with many feelings that she mostly kept tucked inside, but after reading some of her writings, I can see she let it all out in her poetry. I think that it gave her peace. I remember after she had moved in with me almost 7 years ago, her poetry folder was the most important thing to her. Nobody was allowed to see it and after the dementia started to take a hold, I would find her ripping up a few pages. I sensed that she probably didn’t want anyone knowing that part of her, or maybe, she possibly let out too much of what she was feeling at the time and wanted to keep it secret. It’s okay, I still have a few left that I can look through from time to time as a memory of her. I have a few of the poetry books that she particularly loved with pages earmarked and notes taken on some of the pages which can be very telling also. I think that there was so much more to her than what we saw. Like all of us, she was an original and I will always miss her. Happy Birthday Mom!


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Holidays, Mom and Thoughts on “As a Man Thinketh”

Eleanor-Xmas   Lillian-Bruno-Sarter

Photos: (1) Xmas day & dinner at my Grandparent’s house. Mom, her Father (also with dementia) and Lynn…a lot of clashing fabrics going on there, (2) My Grandparents, Mom’s Parents on Christmas day modeling a few gifts! I’m sure my grandmother was mortified. Below: As a Man Thinketh

During these “Holi-days”, I’ve been thinking of my Mom, Eleanor Sarter, Brophy, Van Meter, whose physical presence is missing, but her huge footprint has been left behind for me to observe, feel and ponder. She loved poetry of all kinds and had many books that she used to look at over and over throughout the years, while marking the pages of some of her favorites. There was a book called “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen, that she particularly loved. Years ago, before computers, she had typed up this one passage from the book that she obviously found great comfort in. She made hundreds of copies and shared them with everyone. I have many of them in my papers throughout the years and I had found numerous copies tucked away in her papers as well, after she passed away. It reads as follows:


As you think, you travel; as you love, you attract. You are today where your thoughts have brought you, and you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you. You cannot escape the result of your thoughts, but you can endure and learn, accept and be glad. You will realize the visions (not the idle wish) of your heart, be it base or beautiful, or a mixture of both, for you will always gravitate toward that which you, secretly, most love. Into your hands will be placed the exact result of your thoughts; you will receive that which you earn; no more, no less. Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain, or rise with your thoughts, your vision, your ideal. You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration.

James Allen

as a man thinkth

I’ve looked at it over the years and even put a copy up on my refrigerator…but I wonder if I ever really, truly read it as thoroughly as I have since her death. Of course I read it, but did I understand it from a deeper level? I’m not so sure. She was a very deep and pensive person in her day and loved to get involved in passages like this one by James Allen. When I read it now, I realize that I must take responsibility for where I am in life today, because it’s true that our thoughts lead us to where we are today. Our thoughts can be our greatest success or our worst failures in life. We often go through life not realizing that our thoughts can mold us into who we are or intend to be and lead us to the right way or the wrong way….so then who do we have to blame for a bad circumstance in life…yep, ourselves. Maybe if we picked our thoughts more carefully and intentionally, we could all be in a circumstance that could be embraced.

James Allen says that we will always gravitate towards the things that we most love which many of us never really pay attention to. We pick our college courses, career paths and jobs and then find ourselves in situations that are absolute drudgery, just to put a roof over our heads. We resent our alarm clocks that wake us up in the morning on Mondays, only to pray for Friday to come quickly. That’s a terrible way to go through life. We are wishing our lives away. Then, when we are on our personal time, we do what we love to do…or we get stuck doing what we must do in order to be ready to go back to work on Monday…therefore, the phrase Rat Race. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if we could all go through our lives consciously, wide awake, choosing how we spend our time, whether it be making a living or personal time or hobby. Using our thoughts to mold our lives into that wonderful place where we could both enjoy and support ourselves at the same time. As the saying goes…do what you love to do and the money will follow… but as we all know, it doesn’t always go that way. Some people have had it figured out from an early age…and some of us are slow…like myself!

Mom obviously saw herself somewhere in this passage and I try to think of exactly what she was thinking, with regards to herself. She had a very hard life with her OCD disorder from the age of 15, so it is my guess that she dreamed on how she could create a better life, or circumstance for herself with her thoughts. She was a good person with very good and pure thoughts, never being mean to anyone in her life…so why was her circumstances so difficult? Obvioulsy, in her late years, her thoughts were disintegrating rapidly from dementia, and she was quite aware of it, making her very sad. But, I wonder, was she able to use this passage to her advantage before her dementia took hold? I’d like to think that it gave her peace to think it was possible.

Thinking of you Mom, on this first Christmas day without you here. Merry Christmas wherever you are!

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