The Fine Art of Misery Series: Introduction
Emotional First Aid: How to Keep it Together When You Are Falling Apart

"The First Eighty Years are the Hardest: Feeling, Dealing, Healing" - Mary Roush

Mary RoushMy mom, Mary Roush died on the evening of August 27, 2012. On the morning of August 28, 2012, I awoke a motherless daughter. That was seven weeks ago and that's why I haven't published a post in awhile. There was the drop-everything-race-to-Tucson drive to the hospital and then the flying-back-and-forth-to-start-the-Fall-semester, and then the funeral service, and then flying back the next weekend to be with my now-all-alone dad, and then all the usual life demands continued, unwilling to even pause a moment while I sat and cried and grieved and rocked myself on the couch, clutching the pillow, or the dog, or anything at all that might fill my now motherless arms. It has been a time, it has.

My mother was 81. She had survived hip replacement surgeries (one was botched and had to be re-done), back surgery, pneumonia, thrush, MRSA, bladder cancer, and finally bladder removal surgery because the immunotherapy destroyed her bladder. She was finally pain free, cane free, and happily care free. She was volunteering; she performed in a talent show, and she was sponsoring several women through her 12-Step program. She had 44 years as an actively recovering alcoholic. Ten days later, she would have celebrated 61 years of marriage with her husband, my dad, Skip.

Mary Roush Performing One Woman Skit
"Growing Old Disgracefully" Skit

How fitting that she was at her usual Saturday morning 12-Step meeting when she experienced sudden severe abdominal pain, passed out and later that afternoon barely survived (flat-lined twice) emergency surgery to repair a perforated bowel. She never awakened - at least not until she reached the Other Side on Monday night.  I was with her in the hospital. I held her hand and kissed her forehead and rubbed her feet and stroked her hair. I talked to her, assuring her that everything was fine, that dad was OK, and that what came next was up to whatever she and God decided.  I thanked her for being my mom and for teaching me so much about love, spirituality, acceptance, and living in this moment. Many of the posts on this blog include references to my relationship with my mom. Aware that the other kids may not have this blessed chance to be with her, I went down the line in their stead. "Kathy loves you." long pause... "Kim loves you." long pause... "Mike loves you." long pause... "Kay loves you." long pause... "And dad adores you." I went on to include the in-laws, the grandchildren, mom's best friend, Carole, and ended with the two dogs, Fannie and Foxy.

My mom had just finished her autobiography, the title of this post, "The First Eighty Years are the Hardest: Feeling, Dealing, Healing." For many years, her friends and family implored her to write her story and she finally did. I am now in the process of copy editing and working with her self-publishing consultant in Green Valley, AZ trying to get it formatted (she picked out way too many pictures!) and printed. Her goal was to have it done by Thanksgiving and then have at least five copies made for the kids as Christmas presents this year. By the way, if anyone who is reading this can offer some direction about how to get from the completed manuscript stage to the printed self-published book stage, I welcome your help. Someone in Albuquerque would be great. We need to insert the pictures and then we're done.



Mary Roush in Academy Awards Dress
Mary Being Fitted with her Academy Awards Gown
Many years ago, during the years of her psychotherapy private practice in Denver, my mom was contemplating the AA motto, "Think, Think, Think." She said she appreciated the spirit of the message, - and - she realized she had often abused the privilege a bit too much in order to avoid feeling her feelings. And so, she invented a new AA motto: "Feel, Deal, Heal." Hence, the tag line of her book title.

I am including the obituary that I wrote here,  Download Obituary for Mary Roush if you would like to read it.

I plan to share with you in my next post a bit of what I've experienced around grieving. I teach a class at CNM called Death and Dying. While I learned alot through my sister's death seven years ago, this experience is quite different. I hope I might have something to offer you for when you go through this process. A friend of mine texted, "Thinking of you. How are you doing?" I texted back, "I am flowing along with the process. The process sucks." And while that is true, the process is amazing; it is huge, and it can be done. Until then, I will open another box of Kleenex, go through some more pictures and drag the dog up onto the couch with me.

Mary Roush with Daughter, Kris
Mary Roush with her daughter, Kris


Megaphone with Words Special Announcements

Make this easy for yourself! Let me come to you!

It's FREE!

When you become a Subscriber, you will get an e-mail from me a couple times a week when I publish a new post. The link will bring you right back here with one click. Just fill in your e-mail address over there >>> on the right side bar where it says, Subscribe.



Patricia Fleming

Kris, I have thought of you so often in recent weeks, especially when I drive past La Posada...hoping you are all right in "the process" and hoping you know or sense how many of us here in Green Valley admired and respected your mother, and you as well. Sending a big hug, lots of light, and love...Patricia Fleming

Kristin L. Roush, Ph.D.

Hi Patricia,
Yes, thank you so much. The love that all of mom's friends in Green Valley shared was and is so healing for me. Your outpouring of support was humbling. Please let everyone know that our family is hanging in there and that you all hold a special place in our hearts.

Rodolfo Espindola

Ms. Roush, I am sorry about your loss; it did strike me and made me realize that my mom won't be around too long, due to her many illnesses. My dad has followed the 12 Step program for 36 years already. He is a warrior just like I assume your mom was. You can count on my prayers. I know you will feel the comfort of the good Lord in this sad event.

Rodolfo Espindola, your student forever...

Kristin L. Roush, Ph.D.

Dear Rodolfo,
Thank you so very much for taking the time to share your thoughts and kind words. I hope your mother's final months or years are full of ease and gentleness. I am sure she adores you; what a kind man you are. Your dad's 36 years are an incredible achievement; you must be very proud of him and grateful for his recovery. I wish you the best. Please do keep in touch and know that I remember you fondly, with best wishes for your son as well.
In peace,

Leah Peters

I am so very, very sorry to hear about your mother. What a tremendous blessing that you were able to be there with her. Thinking of you and your family during this time...keep the dog and kleenex close.

Kristin L. Roush, Ph.D.

Hi Leah,
You are very sweet to write and share your thoughts. I appreciate your kindness. Yes, I will continue in this process wherever it leads, dog and kleenex in hand. :)


Hi Kris,
I took your Death & Dying class at CNM two Springs ago (You had me go down and rewind a movie and the VCR ate the movie). I wanted to say thank you for what you taught me. It has allowed me to be the strong one when it comes to death. From December 19, 2011 to May 16, 2012, I have lost three grandparents (one was on my birthday), an aunt, and my sister-in-law. I learned to take it one day at a time; some days are good and others are not. Most importantly, you showed me the importance of death and how to plan my own. Again, thank you! Keep your head up. Smile through the bad and remember the good.

Kristin L. Roush, Ph.D.

Hi Amber,
I remember you. Thank you so much for stopping your busy world for a moment to share what's been going on for you. I can't imagine five family deaths in six months. I am struck by your strength and resilience and humbled that our class might have played a role in your ability to take such loss in relative stride. And thank you for your encouragement as I follow your lead.

The comments to this entry are closed.