Inspiring Moment: Glorious Gazpacho

Written by Braiden

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Inspiring Moment: Happy 89th Birthday

Written by Braiden



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Lost Love: Ode to Laura

Written by Sandy on November 28, 2011

Twenty-six years old, eyes closed, unable to move or talk, but I could feel her need to tell me how much she loved us.

I took her beautiful hand, that once was was as tiny as can be, and said to her, “We know you love us Laura.”

When I looked down, her eyes still closed, a large, lone tear streamed out from the corner of her eye toward her ear. She died a couple hours later.

My youngest child, my daughter.

I don’t just wish for five more minutes, I wish for a lifetime.

But if all I had right now was five minutes with her, I would ask these questions: Are you happy Laura?

Do you know how much I love you?

Nothing you ever did caused me to love you any less, do you realize that?

Was there anything that I did that made you sad? If so, will you forgive me?

How do you want me to live now that you are no longer here?

Those questions would probably exceed five minutes, but those questions would address two of the most important lessons of this life, forgiveness and love.

Time doesn’t heal, but it provides you with the opportunity to learn to live with the pain.

Inspiring Moment: Marina

Written by Braiden


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Blood Families Vs. Chosen Families

Written by Braiden on November 24, 2011

Inspiring Photo of Carmel, CA for  Five More MInutes With

Happy Thanksgiving! With many of us huddled around the dining-room table or television set with family and friends from afar to celebrate the holidays, here’s a thought-provoking blog post about “real” versus chosen families that’s reposted from last year.

Although I don’t always put a lot of faith in them, I must admit that I read my horoscope every week in Seattle’s two alternative papers, the Seattle Weekly and The Stranger. This week’s Weekly prediction really got me to thinking, because it has such relevance for the Five More Minutes With community.

Here’s the Libran horoscope for May 26-June 2, courtesy of Caeriel Crestin:

Blood family does not trump chosen family unless you decide it does. Wouldn’t you agree that someone’s adoptive father who raised them from infancy to adulthood has more of a claim to the “Dad” title than the guy who originally provided the sperm? The same goes for the people you’ve chosen in your life. They get to keep being in your life, and those bonds can be just as strong and valuable as any of those dictated by genetics—as long as you deem it so. Don’t let the world’s rules be your rules, not when you have the absolute power (at least in this case) to make your own.

Is your blood family your chosen family? If not, have you thought about who your “real” family is?

I urge you to think of the people who are closest to you and mean the most in your life. . .and don’t waste a moment. . .tell them so today!

And for a related story with this theme, don’t miss reading An Allegiance with Al, an adopted daughter’s love letter to her adoptive father.

Inspiring Moment: Lobster Remains

Written by Braiden

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Inspiring Moment: Lobster

Written by Braiden


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My Final Moments with My Mother

Written by Braiden on November 21, 2011

Mom (right) holding my little brother, Brad; Braiden; and Granddaddy Looper, Mom’s father

My mother died from a “catastrophic event,” when her defective heart defibrillator blew up in her chest.

Despite a hurried ambulance trip to the hospital, she survived only a few hours, then was gone.

Luckily, I had talked to my mother earlier that day (we live in Seattle and she and Dad lived in Austin, Texas, at the time). We chatted about how she was feeling (not well) and I urged her to try to drink one of her favorite beverages–vanilla malt powder stirred into a mug of hot milk.

When the conversation began to wane and we were about to sign off, she said in a very chipper voice, “Love you, baby.”

After she was pronounced dead and my brother and I received the news, we both boarded red-eye flights to Texas to comfort Dad and prepare her memorial service.

Mom never wanted any “doings” after she was gone, so we knew she wouldn’t approve of anything that resembled a formal funeral. So instead, we decided instead to throw a life-celebration party, something like a sedate Irish wake, and invite Mom and Dad’s neighbors and friends.

The wake/party turned out wonderfully well with my brother and me sharing our thoughts with the small group of people who huddled in Mom and Dad’s living room.

Meanwhile, Mom’s body was at a local funeral home waiting for cremation. The funeral director asked if any of us wanted to see her one last time.

Both my brother and father declined.

Me? I wanted to see my mother and say goodbye to her one last time.

My caring and most supportive husband drove us to the funeral home. It was in a nice wooded part of town, with a residential feel, almost.

Together we walked into the dimly lit parlor.

Mom was on a gurney covered by a sheet. The funeral director pulled the stiff cloth away from her face to neck level. We could see her hands as well but that was all.

She looked surprisingly young–not a wrinkle in her face–and totally at peace. I was so happy to see her that way, especially after the horrific circumstances of her death.

I had wanted to place something in her hand before she was cremated. . .sort of a token of her life on earth that she could carry into the great beyond.

So, while still in her bedroom back at the house, I’d cast about for something meaningful. First I thought of an artificial amethyst ring she loved to wear (born in February, amethyst was her birthstone) but thought that seemed somehow too crass and materialistic.

Then, sitting right on her bedside table, where she would have seen it each and every day, I noticed a set of miniature porcelain cats that included a mother cat and four kittens. They were painted in pale blue against white, sort of like Delft ware, but in a more Asian style.

I immediately loved them.

I took one of the kitten statues, wrapped it in a tissue, and thrust it into my pocket.

Back at the funeral parlor, the funeral director asked if I would like a few minutes alone with Mom. I nodded my head and he and Spencer stepped outside.

I took her cold hand, placed the little kitty in her palm, and closed her fingers around it.

My parting words to my mother began to spill out unchecked.

I told her how much I loved her and how I was happy to be her daughter, much like the little kitty who was now cuddled in her hand. I hoped she’d have a good journey and would end up in a better place, back with all the cats we’d had during childhood, as well as all her relatives and friends who had gone before her.

I pulled the sheet back over her face, went back into the somber parlor, and fell into Spencer’s strong and waiting arms.

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Mom

Inspiring Moment: Fish Remains

Written by Braiden




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Written by Braiden on November 17, 2011

The children in my junior-high-school classes were divided into 10 sections: S-T-U-D-Y and L-E-A-R-N.

“S” and “L” were the highest sections. . .reserved for the “smart” kids. . .those with the highest grades and test scores.

I was lucky enough to be an “L” (although “luck” may be a misleading word, since I loved school and was always a dedicated student and hard worker, although very shy and insecure).

In the “S” section was a young man named Brad Sachs who was infinitely smarter, more vocal, and confident than I could ever hope to be.

In high school I continued to watch Brad mature and prosper. He struck up a particularly strong relationship with the school’s resident psychology teacher, Doc Copeland (a fixture on campus and a friend to many of his students).

And so it was no surprise when, in 2001 (30 years later), a mutual high-school friend alerted me that DR. Brad Sachs–a clinical psychologist and founder and director of The Father Center–would appear on the “Today Show” to tout his latest book, “The Good Enough Child: How to Have an Imperfect Family and Be Perfectly Satisfied.”

I tuned in that morning and guess what? The Brad of my high-school memory was all grown up! I was so proud to know the slim, good-looking, knowledgeable man who spoke with such ease during the interview. And I felt a particular kinship since we had both written several books.

I e-mailed him to congratulate him on his impressive television performance, and we chit-chatted electronically about the old ‘hood, our lives, and families.

In March 2010, right after the launch of FMMW, I got back into contact with Brad to update him on my “encore career” and find out his reaction to the new site.

Here’s what Dr. Brad Sachs was kind enough to say to me:

“It’s always nice to hear from you, but it was particularly nice to hear from you in the context of FiveMoreMinutesWith…

“I think this is a lovely and poignant idea, and I was very touched to read your description of how you and Spencer conceived of the project.

“From my personal and clinical perspective, our culture does not provide much support when it comes to learning to speak and listen to the language of grief, and endeavors such as this one remind us that mortality is our most common aspect of humanity, and that finding ways to come to terms with it, and to grow closer to each other as a result, is the best route towards a life of connection and meaning.”

So thanks, Dr. Brad, for this validation. I am glad we are back in each other’s lives.

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