I studied Social Work and was/am particularly interested in Solution Focused Therapy and how a strengths-based approach translates into parenting, work and life in general. During college, my professor asked us to write about a traumatic event through a Solution Focused Framework. We were supposed to look for the change agents and the positive coping skills – not just the silver lining, but the grit and tenacity it takes to make it through a traumatic event and come out on the other side more resilient.

So this is part of my mom’s story. Not through the lens of gut wrenching sadness – believe me, it was and is there – but a series of memories of what got me through.

Mom Memory 1: Music

As a child music was a part of my life. I grew up on oldies, a little bit of county, and praise songs. Sometimes we would play a game where everything we said had to be in song form. And my parents would often sing me to sleep with songs such as “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and “All the Pretty Little Horses”.

From July 13th – 16th, music filled my mom’s hospital room. After she suffered a major stroke on July 12th, we were transferred to ICU. Throughout the next couple days she had a never ending line of friends who came singing hymns such as “Amazing Grace” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.

Being Moshers, we sang “I Like to Eat Apples and Bananas” on more than one occasion, trying to fill the room with laughter.

I spent the night at the hospital on Thursday, July 13th. My brother left the CD player on repeat when he left so there was music in the room for us. However, the only thing on the CD was Pachelbel’s Canon… all. night. long.¬†At first it was annoying, but I was too tired to get up out of the plastic hospital chair. It then became soothing and I kept it on repeat all morning too.

My mom’s brother had been practicing the Native American flute to play with my mom. When the room was quiet, he embraced this instrument and played for her with compassion and love.

As relatives came, we joined in song together. The longest rendition was by 4-year-old Niece Nora. No one is quite sure what she was singing, but it was a lovely song created in the moment just for Aunt Debby.

My Uncle Jim Mosher played his harp Thursday evening and all morning on Sunday, the day she died. His melodies were slow and familiar hymns mixed with long tones and the room’s tears. A peaceful comfort blanketed my mom, our visitors, and the nurses in the ICU.

My mom passed away the evening of Sunday, July 16th. The grief settled over us and we cried and embraced one another. We naturally formed a circle around my mom and shared stories and memories – and songs. Even in this time, we took turns playing songs that reminded us of mom.

“When words fail, music speaks.”

After her passing, my siblings and I divided up her Native American flutes and other instruments. And we have enjoyed playing them – definitely not doing them justice, but we think she would like it.

I continue to listen to songs that remind me of her. It helps me feel her and sense that she is here enjoying the music with me. Music has been and will be a cornerstone of our family. Thank you mom for creating this memory for me – this family value of music. I love you and look forward to feeling you in the next song I hear.

Cats, Kids, and Social Work

This is Ray.

He’s not too cuddly yet, prefers outdoors to indoors, and will need extra TLC. He’s a cat from a hard knock life that needs a home. I offered to provide that. We were supposed to get Ray last week, but it didn’t work out. He got a bit freaked out from the vet visit, the few minutes in the car, and the several attempts to catch him. So we let him be. No need to traumatize an already traumatized cat.

We are going to try again tomorrow. James and I will go up and spend some time with Ray, give him some food, and attempt to bring him home. I have my work cut out for me. Not sure he’s really house trained or will ever be really cuddly towards the kids. I already bought Resolve for the carpet and am prepared to search our house to figure out what corner of what closet he is hiding in.

Most people would take a cat who is cuddly, trained, and easy. I’m excited to get Ray. Every cat deserves a chance, right? I am looking forward to helping him, getting to know him and getting him used to cuddles and love. It may take a while, but I have a feeling he will get there.

I’ve always had the idyllic idea that all people – and animals – of all walks of life deserve a chance to be happy and understood. That’s why I love working with kids, to give them the best possible start in life. To provide them with opportunities for imagination, creativity and love. That’s why I’m a social worker, to empower people to speak up for themselves, to fight for what is right, and to advocate for those who can’t or don’t know how to do this. And that’s why I’m taking Ray.

Everyone deserves a chance. Especially Ray.