I have only been on this site for a few days. And I realize that I am an anonymous person to all of you. You are to me as well. Over time I hope to get to know many of you better, to find out your stories, who you lost, and why you loved them so much.

I don't want to be just a random name, or that kid who misses his mama. I want you to know who I am. The first and most important thing to know is that no one calls me Brett. My nickname is "Oatmeal." I have been called Oatmeal my entire life. When I was just a little toddler I remember watching, "Frosty the Snowman." When the children were trying to think of a name for Frosty, the first suggestion was, "Oatmeal." I said that I wanted to be Oatmeal. The rest is history.

I live in North Carolina. I have lived here my entire life. I did not have a dad. Well, I had one, he was just never in the picture. My mom (Martha) moved my two brothers and a sister (and Oatmeal) to Stanley North Carolina. That is where my mom was born and raised. There we were surrounded by lots of family and tremendous love. The greatest love coming from my mom herself. Stanley, NC is a wonderful place. It is Mayberry. We had the oldest police chief in the nation. He was nearly ninety before he retired. There was little crime. I was raised to say hello to everyone that I met. Everyone was a friend.

While I was in college my mom received a promotion in her job. She moved to Raleigh, NC. I followed her after college and started working for American Airlines. I worked there for many years until my mom became very sick, several forms of cancer, COPD, frequent Congestive Heart Failure. I left AA to be my mom's caretaker. I could not stand the idea of my mom living anywhere but the home that she had worked so hard for. Mom wanted to spend her last years here, and she did.

Being my mom's caretaker was the greatest experience of my life. We were side by side for four years, along with two little dogs (Krissy and Boo). I have never known so much love. Mom died on Christmas Eve, 2015. She didn't mean to but she took the best part of me with her. I still live here in mom's house. So many of her things are gone now, but I will always feel her presence here. She's gone but the memories remain.

My mom loved UNC basketball. So do I. Mom loved to watch football on Sundays. She loved to watch episodes on TV Land of, "Everybody Loves Raymond." She also loved HGTV. I wasn't crazy about that, but if it was god enough for my mom, I was going to sit next to her and watch it, too.

Mom didn't retire until she was 78. She only retired then because her illness became too much. Mom was proud of the fact that she started out as a single mom who raised her four children without the help of their dad, and that she became very successful. She took so much pride in being able to provide for her children. And Lord knows... am I ever proud of her.

If anything I loved my mom too much. She was my mom, my best friend and companion, and when she could no longer take care of herself, I even feel like she became my child. She would never agree with that. She was always the boss. Always my mom. She forever will be.

If you want to tell me a little about yourselves please do. I would love to know. We are all in this together. 

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Comment by Brett Bowman on August 11, 2017 at 10:23am

Leslie, just the words, "reach out" really touched me. I need for people to reach out. I want to reach out to you as well. I can tell that you loved your dad greatly. And the you still do.

Mom didn't give in to having a caretaker over night. She didn't retire until she was 78 and she did not want to retire then. Allowing me to be her caretaker to the extent that she needed took a while. But there came a day when she was just too tired to fight. She let me do the rest. I can't say that she grew to love having a caretaker, but she seemed to grow to love me more for doing it. I grew to love her even more (if possible) for letting me.

I feel your loss for your dad. If you ever want to talk about it, I promise you that I will be here for you. 

Comment by Leslie Jones on August 11, 2017 at 1:37am

Hello Oatmeal. I'm Leslie, I was very very close to my father, I am only child. He never remarried after my mother and was always clear I was his number one. Being close to our main parent is something we have in common. 

Unlike your mother, my father died unexpectedly, without any warning. It happened early Sept of last year. In many ways I'm still in shock. I always expected to take care of him when he got old, he never really got old. He went swimming the day he died, rode his bike around the day prior. He was very healthy seeming and active, but a massive heart attack took him away. I wish I'd had the time like you had to say goodbye, but I know he'd have struggled with having to be taken care of. That is the silver lining I have, that even though he died far too young, didn't get to enjoy his retirement, he didn't suffer with sickness. I love hearing about how you care taking your mother was the best years of your life, filled with love. I know my father would have continued to make me feel old, but I don't think he could handle being sick and cared for by his little girl. I'm glad your mother and you not only made the best of a terribly difficult situation, but spread so much love and found appreciation in it throughout it. 

I too now live in my father's house. It's a floating home and is lovely in the summer. Most his things are still here. I've been grieving and handling the probate and legal stuff all on my own, which has been very difficult. It helps to talk to others who are grieving, and empathize with their unique situations which can also be so similar. 

I think a lot of the reason I wanted to reach out to you was because I feel a connection in the way we feel about our parent. 

Comment by Brett Bowman on August 1, 2017 at 10:00pm

John, that someone would be put off by your loss of sight hurts me very much. I can see, but I tell you what... I feel like I am blind now. My mom was my guide. I don't have her anymore. I am so sorry for the many losses that you have had to cope with. Four years doesn't seem like that long of a time to me. Not for grieving. I am a Stephen Minister. You may not be familiar with that. We are trained to walk beside people in their grief. After my mom died, in my training, we were presented with a scenario. A man had lost his wife. It was a year and a half later and he was still grieving. The question for the class was... does this man need professional help? Has his grieving gone on too long? Is this natural grief or something more. I was the only person in the class who thought that the man was grieving naturally. It's been a year and seven months for me and I feel like I am just getting warmed up. Not that I enjoy this. It's all too much.

I had a dream shortly after my mom died. I was walking alone on a highway at night. I kept seeing signs for far away cities. I was lost and I was scared. I thought to myself, "I'll call mom.  She will get me home." And then I remembered that my mom was gone. I am still out on that highway. I still can't find my way home.

You are in my heart my friend. Thank you for your words. You have a brother now.

Joy, well, people do call me Oatmeal. In fact, it is weird to see my name written on here as, Brett. Originally my name was supposed to be Elizabeth. Back in those days people would look at the way a woman was carrying a baby and they could usually tell if it would be a boy or a girl. Mom was convinced that I was going to be a girl. She never even considered a male name. when I was born, mom and dad got a big surprise. They got the name Brett from a book in the gift shop. I have always been Oatmeal. I was Oatmeal on Facebook for years. They actually made me change my name on there to Brett. There is a little known Facebook rule that your name has to be the same as it would appear on your credit card. That still tees me off. I know many people who use an alias on Facebook.

Yes. I have always tried to bring humor into every situation. After my mom started chemo  therapy, her doctor asked if she could talk to me. She asked me how I was coping with everything that my mom was going through. I told her, "Just fine. Except the quality of the meals has really gone down hill. I use to get a meat, two sides, and a melon of some kind. Now I'm lucky if mom even gives me a meat and one side item. And forget Parker House rolls." The doctor stared at me in disbelief. She looked at my mom. Mom rolled her eyes and said, "He does this stuff." I was joking. That had always been my coping mechanism. I'm not laughing now. I think that many of my friends are kind of wary of me because I cannot always (rarely now) entertain them. I just don't have it in me anymore. They no why. I didn't want to lose myself. I'm out on a highway.

I was reluctant to join this site at first. It is as though we are all random people, but Joy, you were the first person to respond to my discussion. It made me feel welcome. I think you for that. I have noticed that there are so many discussions on this site. Many people have written their story and no one has replied. That is very sad. I imagine everyone on this site needs a listening, sympathetic ear. May God Bless each of us that.

In many ways it's easier to tell complete strangers here our stories. That is a shame.

Comment by Billy Jo Colt on August 1, 2017 at 5:06pm

Hi Oatmeal, welcome to the web site. Thanks for a beautiful and heart warming story. There is nothing wrong in loving someone too much and you certainly did your Mom proud, very proud. My name is John and I live in Scotland. I'm totally blind which puts a lot of people off talking to me. It hurts but its all part of this rich tapestry of life. I've lost all of my family and just over 4 years ago, my girlfriend who lived in ~Canada died. We were in a relationship for 11 years. It was the worst pain, I have ever felt and still do. Just over 4 years on and I miss her more than I did. I remember when my Mom died in 1992 from Cancer, then my younger brother and then my Dad some years later. Although death is part of life. It affects everyone differently but very similarly. Please feel free to add me as a friend if you wish. I have also just written a song about going through the grieving process. I'm still perfecting it for recording soon and I will post a link for everyone to download it and listen to it.

Comment by Joy on August 1, 2017 at 3:00pm

Brett, thanks for sharing some info about yourself. I'll get around to doing something like this at some point. Just to invoke a little light humor should we refer to you only as Oatmeal from now on?

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