A Toast

Some of the peripheral events precipitated by The Bob can be amusing at times. Oh, I know the disease itself isn’t amusing, nor are the deaths stemming from it, but you have to admit, that being required to wear masks to a bank is amusing. And ironic. Until this time, wearing a mask was an occasion for panic for bank tellers. Now not wearing a mask is cause for panic.

Some things are only amusing on a personal level. I talked to my sister the other day, and in the course of the conversation, I told her I hadn’t gotten her anything for Christmas. Shopping is just too difficult, but even more difficult it getting the gifts through the post office. (I sent a package to Nevada, and after spending a week in Denver, it went to Tucson where it spent another week. Go figure.) I thought of sending her a bit of money, but that didn’t seem very festive.

She admitted to the same problem. She wanted to get me a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream. Not that I’m much of a drinker, but if we are together around the date of my mother’s death, we get a bottle and toast her. She did like the stuff, though seldom drank it, but Bailey’s is something that connects the three of us in a nebulous (dare I say “spirit”ual sort of way?)

Anyway, my sister found a company that would ship a bottle to me, but the cost was exorbitant. So we compromised. I bought a bottle and tagged it as coming from her, and she bought a bottle and tagged it as if coming from me.

Such a simple, and amusing solution.

I’m raising a glass and making a toast that all the problems stemming from The Bob will be as quickly and as easily resolved.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

A Toast to Mother

Today is the twelfth anniversary of my mother’s death. I have thought about her more since I moved here to my new home than in all the years I lived at her house.

Admittedly, by the time I got to her house to take care of my father, it wasn’t really her house any more. During the last nine months of her life, she’d cleared out all of her things, and returned all the presents we’d given her over the years. (As one sister said, “If I had known we’d get this stuff back, I’d have given her better gifts.”)

There were a few things left that reminded me of her, like the cupboard full of unmatched stemware. I kept those goblets, and so now I too, have a cupboard of unmatched stemware. I also kept a few interesting utensils, ones that I didn’t already have, and a tiny cutting board, just perfect for cutting an apple. Also a few bits of furniture.

Ah ha! Now I know why I think of her so much. After my father died, I’d packed away the gifts she’d returned to me along with the few pieces I kept when I closed out their house. Now those things are part of my daily life, and every one of them reminds me of her.

When I got my first apartment, I asked her for the recipes that I especially liked — things like pierogis, tuna roll with cheese sauce, and hamburger rolls (known to others as Runzas or bierocks). I found it interesting that I was the only one of my siblings who had those recipes, so several years ago, I made each of my siblings a “Taste of Childhood” recipe book, which included those recipes as well as a Friday staple of our youth: creamed tuna and peas on toast. (Sounds disgusting but was actually quite tasty.)

I didn’t copy all of her cookie recipes. Neither cherry winks nor date nut pinwheels were favorites of mine when I was young, but luckily, my sister kept them, thinking that mother’s treat recipes shouldn’t be thrown away so now I am collecting some of the recipes I didn’t back then. Also, I imagine that at the time I got that first bunch of recipes, I wasn’t considering the distant future when she’d be gone.

Well now, she is.

She wasn’t much of a drinker, though she did love Bailey’s Irish Cream, so in honor of her this day, I offer a toast — in a Bailey’s glass that once belonged to her!

Here’s to you, Mom. I hope your new life is what you’ve prayed for.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Invoking the Spirits

There is a restless spirit in my father’s house, where my sister and I are staying to care for him.

We think this spirit is my father’s. He doesn’t seem to have any interest in living, doesn’t particularly want to die. He is very agitated, doesn’t much want to do anything except sleep and drink Ensure, though he does get out of bed occasionally when a good golf game is on television.

This spirit could be our own spent spirits — taking care of someone who neither wants to live or die is exhausting, especially since he won’t do anything for himself, even though he is stronger than he thinks.

This spirit could even be my mother’s. My sister sometimes senses mother’s spirit here along with another ghost, though she doesn’t know who that other spirit is, perhaps someone from my father’s past. She wonders if the spirits are gathering in anticipation of my father’s end. Since I am not convinced anything conscious remains after we die, I don’t know what to think.

Still, tonight my sister and I did an invocation of the spirits — ours and our mother’s. Since she loved Bailey’s Irish Cream, we got a bottle in her honor, raised our glasses to her and asked her help in settling my father’s spirit.

(We only poured a little for her, but we told her if she drank it, we’d give her more.)

And if  this invocation doesn’t work, well, we have the rest of the bottle of Irish spirits to imbibe to bring peace of a sort to ourselves. I’m not much of a drinker, have had perhaps one drink in the past four or five years, but since this is a spiritual quest, I will do my part in finishing the bottle.

So, if you have any Bailey’s Irish Cream on hand (or if you need an excuse to buy a small bottle), please raise a glass in my parents’ honor.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.