Moms and Bandages…Even in Spirit

1968 - Mom and Nancy in kitchen

Happy Mother’s Day! Today is a day to celebrate our mother, and we will celebrate her whether she is with us or not. Today is a day with mixed emotions spanning from my 25 year old daughter-in-law who has a fresh open wound of losing her mother only two weeks ago to me, a 57 year old who lost my mother eight years ago, to an 80 year old friend who lost her mother thirty years ago.

The 80 year old friend said she still misses her mother. When my mother passed, a co-worker told me that she had lost her mother years before. She said not a day will go by that I don’t think of her. She was right.

The first year that I was without her was difficult because I missed the daily chats we had in the past and the quick phone calls I would make to her when I had a cooking question. With time I became accustom to her being gone. Her spirit and teachings live in me, and I think of her daily and cherish the precious memories we shared together.

This picture of my mother and me in her domain…the kitchen…depicts her so well and everything in this picture stirs memories of the mother that I love dearly. My mother was happy to be a full-time housewife and mother. She spent hours and hours working in her kitchen using her Magic Chef oven to her electric Sunbeam mixer, to her metal flour and sugar canisters, to her coffee percolator, to her Sunbeam blender and to the knives she has hanging on her wall. She was also a seamstress and had sewn together the aprons that we have wrapped around us in this picture.

When I was young and had scraped, bloody knees my mom swept me up, cleaned the wound, bandaged it and then held me tight to ease the pain. I like to think that perhaps my mom continues to care for me like that even after she is gone. Her spirit dwells inside of me and continues to comfort. She eased my open wound and pain from losing her with a bandage of love that can still be felt. Every year the excruciating pain of loss lessened and the love increased.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom…Jean Belle! I’ll love you forever!

What memories of your mom come to mind when you think of her on this special day? Answering these questions below about your mother will be a start to Keeping Your Memories of her preserved in writing so that she will forever be remembered. If you’re fortunate that your mother is still with you, ask her to answer these questions about her mother also.

  • What do you remember most about your mother’s appearance?
  • What sounds do you associate with your mother?
  • What was your favorite food that your mother cooked for you?
  • What pleasant smells do you associate with your mother?
  • What special touch do you associate with your mother?

Mom – I’ll Love You Forever


My mom is gone but her memories are still with me. It was in 1985. I was at Mom’s home with the plan to record some of her stories using a cassette tape recorder. When I arrived, she was in her usual place…the kitchen. She was fixing lunch for dad and once all was prepared and Dad was settled, we went into the living room and Mom shared about her childhood in the 1930’s, her parents, her siblings and Dad.

In 1985 her mother…my grandmother…had been gone for seven years. And today, January 20, 2016 my mother has been gone for seven years. Just as my heart and writings are filled with memories of my mother, she too had her heart filled with memories of her mother. I now understand how my mother felt with the love she had for her mom. Today Grandma would be 118 years old and Mom would be 88 years old.

She shared, “Mom made our clothes and our coats.  She also worked and did housekeeping for the Elder’s and Smith’s in Webb City, Missouri.  And people would give her their old coats, and she would make them into coats for us.  And she made really nice coats.  She would use scraps to make quilts, and she would put them together with yarn…comforters.  She would use flannel sheeting for the underneath side.

She’d still be working when I got home from school.  I don’t know how old I was when she started working at the Miller Manufacturing Shirt Factory in Joplin, Missouri.  It might have been while I was in grade school.

When she came home from work, I didn’t often show her what I had done at school that day, but when I was in the fifth grade I started learning fractions.  Every night we’d sit down there, and I had to teach her what I learned.  I taught her how to use fractions because she had to use fractions at work, and she didn’t know them.

We did a lot of spelling too at home.  Mama liked words, and she needed to learn it for herself.  It wasn’t that she spent time with us, but she needed to learn it for herself; it was more for her sake.  She was only able to go to school through third grade. But it was good because we both learned more that way.  The spelling must have been just because she enjoyed it.  But maybe she was learning too.”

It is delightful to read how despite Grandma’s formal education ended when she was nine years old, it never stopped her desire to learn. And I’m delighted that my mother recorded these memories.  Now is the time to pull out your laptop or grab paper or pen and start Keeping Your Memories of your mother.

  • What are your earliest memories with your mother?
  • How much education did your mother complete and where did she attend?
  • Was she a stay-at-home mother or did she work outside the home?
  • Did your mother have a favorite saying you can remember him repeating?
  • What do you realize about your mother’s life that you didn’t understand when you were growing up?

Home Sweet Home

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Growing up in the 1960’s in this industrial area of Northwest Indiana we were accustomed to living in the smaller homes that were built within close proximity to neighbors. The busy stay-at-home moms and hardworking dads worked daily on the upkeep of these homes along with their children who were assigned weekly indoor and outdoor chores to help maintain their homes.

Being from the generation of baby boomers it was not unusual for families in our area to have large families ranging from two to twelve children while the majority of families that I knew had at least five children. In these small homes multiple siblings shared bedrooms and one bathroom. It was a matter of taking turns or squabbling over who was in line next to use the bathroom.

The gray home – my home – had four bedrooms, one and a half baths, mom and dad, four brothers, one sister and two dogs. The white house – my best friend’s house where I spent many days and nights – had four bedrooms, two baths, mom and dad, four brothers, three sisters and one dog.

We often reminisce how back in those days after our chores were completed, we were not kept inside the house but expected to go outside. Reflecting on it I imagine it was for the sanity of the stay at home moms to have some peace and quiet!

We were sent outside and told to be back home in time for lunch. In the afternoon we met up with our friends again and rode our bikes, jumped rope, played Hopscotch, Hide and Seek or Simon Says. My brothers and their friends often knew where to meet up to play sandlot baseball or football.

We always knew when to come back home for dinner. And in the summertime we were back outside again until dusk catching fireflies and playing Ding Dong Ditch or Kick the Can.

Even though the home I grew up in was small, the good memories created there were immeasurable. What do you remember about your childhood home? Pull out your laptop or grab paper and pen and start Keeping Your Memories of the home or homes that you grew up in for your descendants to read of your childhood experiences.

  • What was the size of your home?
  • Did you have to share your bedroom?
  • Did you play at your homes, or mostly in the streets and playgrounds and fields?
  • Did you have chores around your house?
  • What was the proximity to your neighbors?

A Time I Can’t Remember


I have been an adult orphan for the past seven years. Yesterday Mom (who passed in January 2009) and Dad (who passed in 2007) were on my heart and in my thoughts while spending a wonderful day celebrating my birthday with my husband, daughter and sons. I especially missed my mom. Even yesterday, with her passing almost seven years ago, I cried and I missed her.

I was mulling over how Mom must have felt the day that she was in labor and gave birth to me. I wish she had recorded in writing when she started having her contractions and the entire experience. Was Dad home to take her to the hospital? What did it feel like at that time to give birth and not have Dad with her during the delivery as was the typical case at that time? How did she feel delivering her fifth child? I would have loved reading today what her dreams for me were that day.

As a mother myself, I can easily envision my thirty-one year old mother holding me, kissing me, and loving me. Being born two days after Christmas Mom always told me that I was the best Christmas present she ever received. They were delighted to have a daughter added to their family of four sons.

I do have pictures (and Dad bought colored film for these pictures) of Mom and Dad holding me when I was an infant fifty-six years ago. And I’m also fortunate to have a copy of our silent 8 mm home movie (converted to a DVD) that my dad taped on Christmas Eve of Mom when she was nine months pregnant with me. She looked young and slim, other than her stomach, and she was admiring the homemade gifts that her sons (ten, eight, six and three years old) had made for her.

With the holiday season we miss our loved ones even more. And I felt it yesterday on my birthday. But I still had a terrific day because I feel my mom is with me wherever I go. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. With the cycle of life I also had a new generation, my adult children, to spend time with and enjoy life.

Now is the time to start Keeping Your Memories of the day that your child was born because that is one day that he or she will not remember! Pull out your laptop or grab paper and pen and record in writing the emotional experience you had that day. One day your child and his or her descendants will cherish reading your memories you have on this special day.

  • When did you start having contractions?
  • Did you deliver the infant at home or at a hospital?
  • Who took you to the hospital and what was the story behind the transportation?
  • Share the emotional feelings you felt when you saw your infant for the first time.
  • What prayers or wishes did you have for this newborn child?



Balloons and Butterflies – A Tribute to Delainey Belle


It was October 16, 2012. I will never forget that day. I was at work and was rushing to wrap things up because I was leaving early to attend the Association of Personal Historian conference in St. Louis that week. Unexpectedly, I received the phone call from my nephew that afternoon that I will never forget.

My twenty-three month old grandniece had left us. Christy and Tim’s daughter, Delainey Belle, was born on November 15, 2010 with Trisomy 18.  This chromosomal condition was diagnosed before her birth. They were told that it is a fatal condition with most of the babies dying before birth and those who do make it to birth typically live only a few days. And less than ten percent of babies with Trisomy 18 live at least one year.

Delainey Belle had been defying the odds given her. As time passed and her extensive care had all been put in place, her mom eventually returned to work. But fortunately on this day her mom was scheduled off. She loved Delainey Belle to the moon and back and was with her from her first breath to her last.

That day I went on to the conference and while hearing the importance of preserving priceless life stories, I was inspired to create a memorial book for Delainey’s short life. At dinner that night I shared with fellow personal historians about this precious child and was given suggestions on how to create it. I left the conference early to attend the wake and funeral.

The tributes started pouring in from family and friends. It was amazing to read the tributes of how Delainey Belle touched so many lives. The most common words used in everyone’s writings were: love, thankful, blessing, smiles, hope, and inspiration. We easily found pictures of everyone holding Delainey and smiling at her and was able to match them with their tribute. The love was shown in those pictures with the eye contact Delainey shared with all who met her.

Christy wrote this poem and read it at the funeral:

Delainey Speaks

Even though you think you shouldn’t,

Laugh anyway, it makes me smile.

Even though you can’t carry a tune,

Sing anyway, it calms me.

Even though you think you can’t,

Try anyway, I always did.

Even though people say you won’t,

Do anyway, I proved them wrong.

Even though you may have obstacles,

Overcome them, I was able.

Even though you have tears,

Shed them anyway, I had to.

Even though you think you can’t,

Live anyway, I did.

She Had Strength and Determination…

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Visiting my aunt in Missouri stirs memories of the annual trips we took to this small town to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins when I was a child. Now we drive past my grandmother’s home and each time I take a long look at it since it has been sold numerous times since she died. Every time we pass the alley that runs behind my grandmother’s home on that block, I think of my dear cousin, Susie, who amazingly could walk barefoot down that alley to her home.

Susie passed away seven years ago on July 3, 2008. Today, September 26, she would have turned 56 years old. When she was given the diagnosis of terminal cancer, she fought it with a positive outlook. And with determination she reached her goal to watch her daughter graduate from high school in May 2008.

Susie was more than my cousin. She was also a good friend and sister to me.  Growing up I would see her only one week out of the year during the family trips to visit my grandparents.  I loved going to see my grandma, but what I really enjoyed was having the chance to reunite with Susie as she lived within walking distance from my grandma’s home.

Back then we didn’t have e-mails or Facebook, and we were charged for long distance calls so the only way we did keep in touch would be through mailing letters, however, we didn’t write to each other often. But every year that we reunited we picked up immediately from where we left off the previous year.

My grandmother passed away when we were 18 years old and after that we didn’t visit as often. In time we both were married and had children. The peculiar thing is that we didn’t stand up in each other’s wedding nor did we even attend. We only kept in touch with one another through our moms as they would make their long distance telephone calls on Saturday mornings when it was the cheapest time to call.

Time passed and she and her husband settled near Kansas City. We now had cell phones and were able to keep in touch with each other more often. When I heard that she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy, I called her.  When she heard I was getting divorced, she called me. When I heard her cancer had spread and was terminal, I traveled to visit her.

With our special visits for the next four years we grew closer to one another, and we wished we had been back in touch sooner. The last visit I had with her was Memorial Day 2008 about one month before she died. We had gone out to eat before I had to go to the airport to fly home. It was a drab, cloudy raining day and she didn’t eat much because she no longer had an appetite. We drove home from the restaurant and pulled onto her seven acre lot viewing rows and rows of corn.

As the rain hit heavily against the windshield, we sat inside her car warm and dry and finished talking about everything that we have ever discussed previously in our 48 years we had known each other. We discussed our dreams, mothers, grandmother, husbands, children, faith, and our love for one another. That afternoon Bart, her husband, and Susie drove me to the airport. It was extremely sad to give her a hug for the last time. She died six weeks later.

I have precious memories with Susie as she had the will and spirit to keep going. She has shown me the importance of strength and determination when confronted with obstacles. Who do you have in your life that has withstood obstacles and was an example to you? Pull out your laptop or grab a pen and paper and start Keeping Your Memories of this special person whose life should be honored by recording his or her life story.