Tag Archives: #survivingloss

Happy Mother’s Day?

Mother’s day…

I’m not going to lie. This has been the hardest day of my life to date.

In 62 years I’ve lived through a lot.

A lot.

So that’s saying something about the agony of today.

Chronic pain; numerous surgeries; life-changing accidents; rejection; multiple types of skin cancer with subsequent disfiguring surgeries.

It’s a lot.

But it’s all paled in comparison to the unstoppable ache in my soul today.

This is the first Mother’s Day I’ve ever had without my mother.

The sadness surrounding me is like a cloak made of a heavy black depression that weighs more than anyone should bear.

Even during the times our relationship wasn’t perfect, Mother’s Day was always something I never forgot. Cards, small tokens, even just a phone call was all she ever wanted, just a reminder from me that she was my mother and I loved her.

My mother wasn’t one of those moms who demanded and expected hearts, flowers, and expensive gifts.

She was a simple woman with simple tastes and desires.

One of her favorite gifts, and the one she commented on every year on Mother’s Day, was a ceramic house I made her in third-grade arts and crafts class in school. I’ve looked at this item over the years and have always wondered, why the hell did she love it so much?

I know the answer now.
At least, I think I do.

We lived in apartments from the time I was born until I was in the sixth grade. That year, my mother and stepfather bought their first home. It was a tiny one-bedroom bungalow in a beach community on Staten Island. Low rent district, because it was in a flood zone, but a real house nonetheless.

And yes, I said one bedroom. They slept in it, I slept in the living room on an old Castro convertible – remember them?

The entire house couldn’t have been more than 750 square feet. It had a small fenced-in backyard that abutted a wooded area. The houses were separated from each other by three feet ( 1.5 feet on either side), which meant you could hear and see everything going on in the next house. Railroad track houses they were called. One room falling into the next.

I don’t know how much the house cost in 1971 but they had a sizable mortgage for the time. That, I do remember because money was really tight during those years. Those were the times when we didn’t eat vegetables because we couldn’t afford them, powdered milk was the only kind they could buy because of the cheap price, and we ate boiled potatoes five times a week and plain macaroni as our main meal on the weekends.

My mother loved that house.

Why? I think because it was the first real one she ever lived in. Her entire life until that moment had been spent in apartments. First as a child, then as an adult.

This was the first home that was truly hers and not owned by someone else.

I’m not gonna lie and say everything was honky dory in that house. It wasn’t.

The water pressure was practically nil, which meant taking a shower and actually getting soap and shampoo off you took five times longer than it should have. And the water was never really…hot.

The stove was an old burner flame one and the pilot light went out routinely 3-4 times a week. I learned how to light an oven at an age no child should. And with matches, not an electric lighter.

The walls were paper thin which mean no privacy. In the bathroom…in the bedroom.

You get the idea.

There was one thermostat to control the heat and it was in the living room so that meant in order for heat to register in the bedroom the temp had to be turned up high. I never went to bed without sweating.

And forget air conditioning. They couldn’t afford one. Summers were…difficult.

But my mother loved that house, despite all the issues.

And I think that’s why she loved that ceramic house I made her so much.

At the time I made it, we were still living in apartments where roaches were our roommates, junkies looking for a fix roamed outside the front doors, and crime lived in the lobbies.

That little ceramic house was my mother’s hope for the future; her dream where we would live one day. Safe, sound, and far from crime and urban squalor.

The funny thing is, that very first home in the beach looked an awful lot like the ceramic one.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, moms-to-be, aunties, sisters, and step-moms. If you’ve still got your mom with you, call her, give her a hug, tell her you love her.

Thank her.

I wish I could do every one of those things…


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I’m not the only one suffering…

So, it’s been 5 weeks since my mother died.

She passed on a Saturday and the very next day my stepfather fell again at the nursing home. He was so distraught about my moms’ death that when he tried to get up from his wheelchair to go to the bathroom, he forgot to lock the wheels and the chair slipped out from under him when he stood. This caused him to fall to the ground and he landed – hard – on his freshly postop left hip. The one that had necessitated this entire lifestyle change for both my parents barely 2 weeks prior.

The nursing home called me to tell me he fell and they were sending him back to the hospital for xrays. He was filmed, then sent home.

For the next two days, he lay in bed, alternating between crying about my mother’s loss and the pain in his hip. They finally sent him back to the emergency room, and a CAT scan was done. Long story short, he’d broken the rod holding his leg to his hip and shattered the ball joint.

The surgeon who performed the first surgery did not want to repair it because the repair was too involved, so my dad was shipped to the nearest tertiary care hospital in Hartford, CT.

Can you imagine what it was like for him? Already infirm due to the first hip break, he’s just lost his wife, very unexpectedly, and now he’s heading to a strange environment for another major surgery, less than 2 weeks after the first one.

The poor man was so despondent, especially because he was all alone in the hospital, with no family, no one who knew him. I drove four hours every day for a week while he was there ( 2 going, 2 coming back)just so he wouldn’t feel so alone.

All he did was cry.

In pain. In grief. In loss.

Once the leg was finally repaired and he was sent back to the nursing home, his depression was stark on his face and in his voice.

Whenever I visit him or talk to him on the phone, he cries about my mom. More than once he’s said, “I just want to hold her one more time.”

My heart breaks anew every time. Every. Time.

In the span of two weeks, this poor man lost his physical independence, his home, his wife of 57 years, and his way of life.

I’d cry too.


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1 month…

Today marks 4 weeks since my mother died.

People keep telling me the pain, the sorrow, the shock, will fade.


When will I wake up and immediately not remember she’s gone? When will I stop crying at the most inopportune times? When will I be able to feel like myself – whole – again?

No answers come back. I understand that. Grieving is different for every person.

I was thinking last night about the differences in how my mother and I were raised.

My mother was the middle child of three girls. The oldest was the shining star of both her parents. Smart, Dependable. Independent. Loyal.

The youngest was my grandmother’s favorite. Why? Only the old woman knew, but after my grandfather died, it was the youngest upon whom she bestowed her smothering love.

My mother, the middle, was her least favorite, something my grandmother told her – actually spoke words to her about – often after her husband passed on. I think I can answer this one with ease: Why did the old lady dislike her so much? Because my mother was my grandfather’s favorite and he made no secret about it. From everyone I ever talked to back then who knew them all – namely the old aunts and uncles in the family when they were all still alive – my mother was the apple of his eye.

She wasn’t smart like her older sister.

She wasn’t as pretty as the youngest.

What she was, was funny, outgoing, sang like an angel – just like him – and thought the man hung the moon.

Apparently, my grandmother was jealous.

I can’t conceive of how a wife would be jealous of a child, but the old lady was, and kept being so, until her dying day. Which, was when she was 86, exactly 53 years after he died. Yup, she was 33 years old when he had a major heart attack and died on his way to work.

Since my mother was raised with the knowledge she wasn’t loved by her own mother, and basically ignored, my mother raised me in the exact opposite way. My grandmother’s way certainly wasn’t healthy for a child’s psyche.

But my mother’s tendency toward her own version of smother love wasn’t either.

She went out of her way, every single day when I was under her roof, to – in her words – protect me from the world. That meant I wasn’t allowed to bring any friends I may have made home after school because she didn’t want other kids corrupting what she was trying to teach me.

Subsequently, I never invited anyone over to our house, even as a teen and then as an adult. I had no close friends, no boyfriend, never had a sleepover at my house and didn’t attend my very first one with a “friend” until I was a senior in high school.

She called the friend’s house three times the first night and then bright and early the next morning to find out when I was coming home.

As a seventeen-year-old, I was mortified, and believe me – a huge fight ensued once I’d gotten home about how embarrassed I was. My mother counter-attacked with the “I’m trying to keep you safe” argument. Like my friends were dope fiends, or thieves, or something equally as nefarious. Which they weren’t. They also weren’t my friends for very long because they thought my mother was crazy and their mothers thought she was rude.

With the advent of maturity and age, I can understand why she acted this way. I still don’t agree with it, but I get it now that I’ve had my own child.

And I bet if you ask my daughter, there were more than a few occasions where I performed my own version of smother love.

Truer words were never written than we are all products of our upbringings, whether good or bad, abusive, or apathetic.

I tried to break the cycle when I had my child. Apparently, it’s harder to break than I realized because there are still some days when I hear my mother’s voice and words blow between my lips – as my daughter is quick to point out. LOL.

Mothers and daughters. Thousands of years of evolution haven’t changed them much, has it?

I miss you, Mommy. Every hour of every day…


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Today marks two weeks since my mother passed away.

I’m still in the shock phase, to be honest.

How could I see her one day, and she be laughing, joking, and wishing everyone well, and the next, within twelve hours after being admitted to the hospital, be dead?

Right now that’s too much to think about, so I’m putting it someplace else. I will get back to it…someday. But not today.

Today I am remembering all the times she made me crazy in the ways only a mother can.

For instance, my mother was like that proverbial dog with a bone when a thought came into her head. The example I think about was when she’d call me in college and tell me to make sure I locked my dorm room door before heading out to class. She was always worried about people sneaking into my room to harm me. I could never understand why she thought this because I lived in a protected dorm. You had to sign in and sign out and approve all visitors. But she’d say it to me two or three times with every call and it made me nuts.

When I was in my forties I learned why.

My mother had been left alone one day when she was about eight or nine. My grandmother was out with my younger aunt and my older aunt wasn’t home. Someone knocked on the door – a neighbor man they all knew. Since he was well known to her, she let him in. I don’t really have to go into detail about what happened, do I? Suffice it to say, while she wasn’t raped, she was molested…something that gave her the greatest of shame in her young life and that she carried with her the rest of her life.

Knowing this explained her behavior, and I feel deep shame that I let her persistent worry bother me so much. She had a good reason to be worried – in her mind, at least.

Another thing she always did that drove me insane was ask a question of me and then immediately answer it. For instance, “How are you doing today? I bet you’re good.” Like that. Then she’d immediately go off on a ten-minute diatribe about the weather or any other topic she’d called me about. Drove me to distraction because you could never get a word in. One day a few months ago my daughter pointed out that I was getting like grandma. I asked how? And she said you just asked me a question and then answered it. We laughed about it, but in reality I was a little flustered.

Again, knowing why she did this explained so much to me. My stepfather is not and has never been what you’d call a talkative man. He is deeply quiet to the point you think he is mute if you don’t know him. Underlying depression had always been my diagnosis, but what do I know? I’m not a shrink. My mother was the alpha in the relationship. She would ask him questions or try to engage him in conversation, but most of the time he gave non-verbal answers. When I lived at home I didn’t notice this as much because she had me to talk to – or talk at, as the case is. But once they were empty nesters, his silence became obvious so it was up to my mother to keep the conversation going.

One of the nurses in the nursing home said she was a chatty Cathy. Well, here’s the reason why.

Today, I’m thinking of all the times I was short with my mother, lost my temper, or said things I really should have thought about before speaking. Guilt doesn’t come close to what I’m feeling right now.

I could have been such a better daughter. I could have listened more; not judged; been more tolerant.

I could have been…nicer.

I could have been…more loving.

Even saying all this I know my mother loved me above all else. She told me every single time she spoke with me.

Every. Single. Time.

One last thing that used to drive me cray-cray was that she never said Goodbye. At the end of every phone call or personal visit, she would say, “My love to you all.” I don’t know why it bothered me, but it did, so one day, about a year ago, I asked her why she always ended a conversation with me like that.

Her answer was, again, very enlightening.

My grandfather died, suddenly, of a heart attack when my mother was 9. He went off to work after kissing his girls goodbye and saying “goodbye” and then never came back home. Doesn’t take a genius or a psychiatrist to understand why the word was one she couldn’t bear to use.

There’s still so much about my mother and her life and her thoughts I don’t know. I’ll never get the answers now… I’m putting that one away someplace, too. It truly is too much to bear right now…


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My mother died, unexpectedly, last night.

And I didn’t make it in time to say goodbye.

Measure of grief? Inconsolable.

Measure of guilt? Incalculable.

She just turned 87 last week and joked many times in the past few years that she never expected to live “this long.”

I always quipped back, “I didn’t either.” The first time I said it she got mad. Every time after that she laughed.

My mother was a severely complicated, emotional, mentally broken woman.

She was also the strongest person I’ve ever known.

She survived the sudden death of her father when she was nine years old, leaving a crater in her heart that never healed. She barreled through the suicide of her oldest sister when life became too much for the woman, and the death of her own mother 29 years ago, a woman who admitted she neither loved nor liked her middle daughter. Just a few months ago she suffered the loss of her youngest sister.

She lived through a World War and three other wars that saw her lose childhood friends, the tale end of a depression, numerous stock market crashes and recoveries.

She survived a mentally abusive first marriage to my father, and the censure of the Catholic Church when they excommunicated her for leaving him. This was prior to Vatican II before things get a bit laxer. Mother Church refused her petition of an annulment and her second marriage was then “tainted” by her strict family who saw it as her basically living in sin with my stepfather, even though they were legally married.

My mother was the most devout woman I’ve ever known. She lived her life with her faith even though the practice of it was denied to her.

She never graduated from High School because she had to drop-out to help support her ailing mother and her younger sister. She never got her GED, either. And despite the lack of education, she had extremely important jobs in her lifetime.

She worked on Wall Street as a stock transfer manager in a time when there weren’t many women in the job. And she made 45 cents to every dollar the men in the same position made.

During the financial crisis of the 1980s she was let go ( women were fired first) and subsequently changed career paths. She cleaned houses for very wealthy people for a while to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. She babysat for several couples who absolutely adored the way she cared for their children. Then, at the age of 54, she became a licensed home health aide. She went into the homes of the people she’d cleaned for, now relegated to sick beds, and cared for them until the died.

During her 87 years, she suffered a miscarriage, two emotional breakdowns that left her anxious and paranoid, two broken hips and the subsequent surgeries to repair them, and broke with her husband’s family when they accused her of a crime she didn’t commit. They, like my grandmother’s family, felt she was living in sin with their brother and wanted her out of the family.

She was a gregarious person – right up until the end – and I can’t remember the number of times I asked her to stop speaking so I could tell her something important.

Today I wish I’d never tried to silence her.

It’s a complicated relationship between a mother and daughter, especially when the daughter has lived through the highs and despairs of the parent. My mother was not what anyone would call a book-smart woman, but she was the wisest person in my life, and no matter how many arguments we had, or tears we shed over fights, she always ALWAYS had my back.

I’ve written that I had to recently place her and my stepfather in a nursing care facility because they just couldn’t care for themselves anymore. This was – at the time – the most painful decision I’d ever made. My, mother, though, in typical fashion, told me to feel no guilt. She and her hubby had warm beds and a safe place to lay their heads down at night, 3 hot meals a day, and people to talk to. Although, I bet she was the one who did most of the talking.

I went to visit them on Thursday right before I went to visit my grandson for the weekend in New Jersey. She was alert, oriented, and chipper because the next day was St. Paddy’s day and they were being served corn beef and cabbage for dinner – her personal favorite. I kissed her goodbye when I left and her typical, “my love to the kids, Larry, and Maple,” rang in my ears.

Friday night she felt queasy in the nursing home, vomited, and then aspirated. She began having chest pain and shortness of breath. They transported her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia. During her admission, they believe she also suffered a heart attack. I was called and updated and told they were going to keep her for a few days to give her IV antibiotics. She was alert, short of breath, but joking with staff – one who told me she was gregarious.


Saturday afternoon I received a call from the hospital doctor telling me they did a repeat chest x-ray and the pneumonia was progressing and they were upping her antibiotics.

Saturday at suppertime I was called again and told her condition had worsened from severe to grave. My daughter convinced me to let my son-in-law drive me back to Vermont since the doctor was fearful she wouldn’t survive the night. My husband went to be with my mother, and I had the nursing home bring my stepfather over. They made it in time to see her take her last breath on this earth.

I did not.

My one consolation is that my mother died surrounded by the man I love most in the world, and the one she did.

She didn’t die alone.

Today I have to do the one thing I have always dreaded: make parting arrangements. The one thing that is getting me through that horrible event is that she was very specific in what she wanted and what she didn’t.

And because I love her so much, I am obeying every wish she has.

It amazes me how, in just 24 hours, a single day, your life as you know it can change forever

As I grieve the loss of the woman who gave me life I am remembering the last time I saw her – barely 3 days ago. Her smile and her positive attitude are what I am carrying with me into the future, along with her absolute faith.

~ Peg


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Release day for THE SHERIFF & THE PSYCHIC #PNR #westernromance #psychic #alphahero

It pays to get out of bed somedays, LOL.

THE SHERIFF & THE PSYCHIC, my very first Western romance, released today. Reviews have been wonderful and I’m so glad readers are liking Silvestra and Cal’s love story.

Police Psychic Silvestra Coeltrain comes to Renewal, OK to visit with old friends and to heal. After a year in which she was tested physically, mentally, and psychically, all she wants to do is sleep, fish, and bask in the tranquility of the sleepy town.

Sheriff Caleb Blackbear doesn’t understand the feelings he’s quickly developing for Renewal’s newest visitor. She responds to his kisses with a passion that equals his own. But she’s an enigma, filled with secrets and evasions, and he’s a suspicious man.

When several of the local ranches begin losing cattle to a mysterious illness, it’s Silvestra who claims the animals are being methodically targeted and killed. As Cal’s investigation zeros in on who and what could be slaying the animals, the murder of a prominent rancher’s daughter – and Cal’s former lover – complicates things. With Silvestra’s life now in danger, Cal is determined to keep her safe at any cost.

But can he?

SO, why a western romance when I’m usually either a small-town storyteller or an NYCromance writer?

The easy answer? Why not a western?


Seriously, I wanted to write something out of my wheelhouse and wound up writing two things in one: a paranormal of sorts – a psychic heroine – and a not smalltown or NYC romance. The west seemed…right, somehow!

And based on a few reviews so far, I’ve done good with the storytelling:

“Once again Peggy Jaeger has written a book that will have you wanting to finish to find the answers but on the flip side, you want to savor it as you read and take your time. I love the characters and you find yourself rooting for them from the start. Storyline grabs you as you try to figure out who or what is killing the cattle.”

“This one’s got romance, mystery, tragedy, a murder, and a really hot sheriff. What more could you want. I couldn’t put it down.”

Words to make the writer in me sing with joy!

#happyBookBirthday to me! LOL


Add it to your GOODREADS TBR list

review it on BOOKBUB


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#BacklistThursday 3.18.2021

So, sticking with the San Valentino theme, this week’s #backlistthursday selection is from the Uncle Sonny side of the family and featured his only daughter, Regina, in CHRISTMAS & CANNOLIS.

With Christmas season in full swing, baker Regina San Valentino is up to her elbows in cake batter and cookie dough. Between running her own business, filling her bursting holiday order book, and managing her crazy Italian family, she’s got no time to relax, no room for more custom cake orders, and no desire to find love. A failed marriage and a personal tragedy have convinced her she’s better off alone. Then a handsome stranger enters her bakery begging for help. Regina can’t find it in her heart to refuse him.

Connor Gilhooly is in a bind. He needs a specialty cake for an upcoming fundraiser and puts himself—and his company’s reputation—in Regina’s capable hands. What he doesn’t plan on is falling for a woman with heartbreak in her eyes or dealing with a wise-guy father and a disapproving family.

Can Regina lay her past to rest and trust the man who’s awoken her heart?


from Regina San Valentino ~

“It had been a long, long time since a guy’s hands had been on me in anything resembling a carnal way. My ex had decamped to parts unknown five years ago after signing the divorce papers, and I’d been so busy rebuilding my life that adding any kind of relationship to it wasn’t even a notion.

Besides, with my hovering parents, one of whom worked for me while the other popped in daily to check up on their only daughter, I had enough on my plate fending off the men they wanted to introduce me to. Guys who, for the most part, had shady lifestyles, carried concealed, and owed my father innumerable favors. And by favors, I mean the kind that usually get signed for in blood and paid back the same way.

Welcome to mia famiglia.”

Also available in audio, here: Audible // and on Itunes under the title.

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#backListThursday 1.28.2021

SO, here we are at another Backlist Thursday post, and I’m STILL on the MacQuire Women series, hee hee!

Today’s entry is THE VOICES OF ANGELS and it was such a labor of love to bring Carly and Mike’s story to the page. A second chance, a bit older folks, romance, this book hit so many emotional highs for me, I cried when I finished it. Okay…that may have been the menopause hormones,…but still!!! It’s an emotional ride, to be sure.

Love is the last thing Carly Lennox is looking for when she sets out on her new book tour. The independent, widowed author is content with a life spent writing and in raising her daughter. When newscaster Mike Woodard suggests they work on a television magazine profile based on her book, Carly’s thrilled, but guarded. His obvious desire to turn their relationship into something other than just a working one is more than she bargained for.

Mike Woodard is ambitious, and not only in his chosen profession. He wants Carly, maybe more than he’s ever wanted anything or anyone else. As he tells her, he’s a patient man. But the more they’re together, Mike realizes it isn’t simply desire beating within him. Carly Lennox is the missing piece in his life. Getting her to accept it-and him-may just be the toughest assignment he’s ever taken on.

Here’s a little snippet from these two…..

“I…” Carly began, then stopped.

“Oh, hell. I’m not good with words in situations like this.”

His laugh came quick, charmed by her nerves. “Pretty pathetic declaration for a writer.”

Carly stuck out her bottom lip in a very alluring pout. He was tempted to stop and take her mouth with his again.

“Don’t mock me. When it’s on paper I can get it right. Real-life has no re-writes, no editing.”

“Granted.” The sunlight played with the alternating auburn and fire-red highlights in her hair as they began to walk again. He was convinced no color had ever been so alive.

Carly squared her shoulders. “I don’t want you to get the wrong impression about me. Concerning men.”

When he didn’t comment, she continued. “It’s only, well…I haven’t been involved with anyone since my husband died. I’ve been busy with my daughter and my writing. I haven’t met anyone I’ve been interested in, I guess.”

“Until now.”

Carly turned to look at him. Irritation crossed in her narrowed eyes. “You’re pretty sure of yourself.”

“No,” he replied. “I’m more sure of you, though.”

“Excuse me?”

Mike laughed again. He stopped and cupped her cheeks. “You’re even more beautiful when you’re angry. Your left eyebrow arches ever so slightly and your eyes turn the most incredible forest green.” He kissed her and felt her pulse trip again under his fingers.

Intrigued? I love their story because neither of these two were looking for love and yet….

THE VOICES OF ANGELS is available in print, digital, and Audio.

Until next time, peeps. Happy reading ~ Peg

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25 Days of Holiday Romance day # 25 – Christmas & Cannolis

is it a bad thing that I put my own Holiday books up on this list?


Today, I’ve got my second San Valentino Christmas book, CHRISTMAS & CANNOLIS for you.



Can a second chance at love heal a broken heart? 

With Christmas season in full swing, baker Regina San Valentino is up to her elbows in cake batter and cookie dough. Between running her own business, filling her bursting holiday order book, and managing her crazy Italian family, she’s got no time to relax, no room for more custom cake orders, and no desire to find love. A failed marriage and a personal tragedy have convinced her she’s better off alone. Then a handsome stranger enters her bakery begging for help. Regina can’t find it in her heart to refuse him.
Connor Gilhooly is in a bind. He needs a specialty cake for an upcoming fundraiser and puts himself–and his company’s reputation–in Regina’s capable hands. What he doesn’t plan on is falling for a woman with heartbreak in her eyes or dealing with a wise-guy father and a disapproving family.

Can Regina lay her past to rest and trust the man who’s awoken her heart? Readers who enjoy the following kinds of stories will love CHRISTMAS & CANNOLIS: big families, Holiday romance, RomCom, surviving loss, moving on, foodies, bakers, Christmas

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About the author: me!!

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