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?

http://www.keepingyourmemories.com

Practice Makes P-E-R-F-E-C-T

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My mother passed away eight years ago yesterday and my favorite memory of her concentrated on her love of words and the game of Scrabble. She often challenged family members and loved to win.

She enjoyed playing Scrabble and kept an “official” Scrabble dictionary to settle word challenges. She loved to be competitive and would challenge both her adult children and grandchildren. She often played competitively with many two letter words that would rake in high points.

After she died I found well worn papers with coffee cup stains on them showing at some time she had perused a dictionary and copied two to three letter words that she could use which proves she actually studied to win.

That was one of Mom’s life lessons that she taught us by example… If you want to be good at something, you have to work hard behind the scenes to learn how to accomplish the goal and continually practice to make yourself better.

This memory and others of my mother have been written and recorded for my children and grandchildren to read after I am gone. If I hadn’t preserved the memories of my mother, she would have been forgotten.

Preserving the legacies of your parents will prevent them from ever being forgotten and future descendants will be able to read these life stories and understand their family heritage. Pull out your laptop and grab paper and pen and start Keeping Your Memories of your parents starting with the following questions:

  • In what ways are you like your parent(s)?
  • What did you enjoy doing with your parent(s)?
  • What was your proudest moment of your parent(s)?
  • What was the most valuable lesson you learned from your parent(s)?
  • What is the one thing you most want people to remember about your parent(s)?

http://www.keepingyourmemories.com

My Dad – Forever He Will Be

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Today on Father’s Day memories of Dad flood my heart and soul:

I remember Dad as a gentle, patient man. By example he quietly taught me life skills. He taught me to have good character and work ethics. I watched him work responsibly and diligently in taking care of his home and property. I watched him rise early in the morning to get to work on time. I admired him for his patience and tolerance.

When I was a little girl, Dad worked long hours as a freight conductor on the Pennsylvania Railroad. I don’t remember him being home, but I never thought of him not being home. It was just that Dad worked and that was life.

Dad would send us across the street to DeLock’s, a small corner grocery store, to purchase the afternoon newspaper for him but did not always ask for the change back from the

Dad gave me the necklace that I wore in my kindergarten picture. He also gave me a little yellow ring with flowers printed on it which I wore every day in kindergarten. Every year he gave me a Valentine’s Day card and gift. I still have all the cards he gave me.

Dad was a handy man. He could fix anything. He would work on his cars. He would work on the yard. Anything that needed to be fixed, he could do it.

Instead of sending me to school for drivers ed, Dad taught me how to drive when I was sixteen years old. He was a patient man. Behind our house we had a field with an alley that circled it. He had me drive back there until I got used to the feel of driving. Then he took me out on the streets to drive.

Fortunately, he was a quiet person and didn’t anger easily. For the number of his cars that I, and some siblings, damaged he never yelled at us.

Dad always changed the oil in his car himself and when I was a teenager, I asked him to teach me to do the same. He was willing to show me, however, I did not have to change it often as he did it for me.

I remember Dad at the Indiana Dunes racing up and down the steep sand dunes faster than us.

Dad passed in February 2007 making this my tenth Father’s Day without him. He’s physically gone but my memories of him keeps him close to me

Preserving the legacies of your father will prevent him from ever being forgotten and future descendants will be able to read his life story and understand their family heritage. Grab your laptop or paper and pen and start Keeping Your Memories of your father starting with the following questions:

  • In what ways are you like your father? And not like your father?
  • What did you enjoy doing with your father?
  • What was your proudest moment of your father?
  • What was the most valuable lesson you learned from your father?
  • What is the one thing you most want people to remember about your father?

www.keepingyourmemories.com

 

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!  Missing my mother who has been gone for seven years now but so fortunate that I still have her close to me in my heart. And I will never forget her childhood and teenage stories with interviewing her in 1985 and my brother, Jacob, videotaping my parents narrating their family pictures and preserving the stories of their lives.

This year I have compiled the pictures of my mother and transcribed her narrations to create a coffee table book of the first quarter of my mother’s life.

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When my daughter reviewed the 77 pages of the final draft, she questioned me as to why I didn’t have any pictures of Papa in this book. She didn’t think it was complete without including pictures of him.

I explained this book depicted the first quarter of her life and even though it was just a short portion of her life span it was the foundation of her life before she met my dad.  It formed her into the woman, mother and grandmother she became. To include him I did add an epilogue of how she met Papa through her cousin and her cousin’s boyfriend who was a USS Anzio shipmate of Papa’s during World War II.

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Webb City, Missouri had been Mom’s home for twenty years and when she left in November 1948 to marry Dad she was never to live there again. She was embarking on a new chapter of her life. She married, had five children and brought her family back every year to this small town that would always remain home to her in her heart.

Have you interviewed and recorded your mother’s childhood stories?  Now is the time to open up your laptop or grab paper and pen and start Keeping Your Memories of the stories your mother has shared with you.

http://www.keepingyourmemories.com

A Mother’s Graduation…

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Yesterday I watched my son (pictured on the right) receive his college diploma. All graduations are special but this one was extra special as it was a moment of completion, perhaps my graduation also, as now all three of my children have finished their college education and my mission of raising my three is fully complete.

As the noted speaker was giving her commencement speech, my mind wandered reflecting on my twenty-eight year journey raising my one daughter and two sons. I fell madly in love with my newborns, adored my toddlers, was delighted with my young children, annoyed with my middle schoolers, aggravated with my high schoolers, and today respect and love my adult children.

As infants, my children were completely dependent on me to feed them, clothe them and love them. I was in love with these angels and was full of joy with each accomplishment when they rolled over, sat up, crawled, cut their first tooth, walked, and spoke their first words. My heart was filled when my babies reached their little dimpled arms to me wanting to be held and snuggled to fall asleep in my arms.

1992-07 Joanna, Michael and Jeff

The first days of kindergarten came too quickly for each of them. I was excited for their milestone, but as I watched them board the school bus and see it pull away, they would look out the window and wave. I smiled back waving holding back my tears. And when each one arrived home from school they would jump off the bus and run into the house excited to tell me everything that happened that morning in their classroom.

I attended my children’s first school concert proudly watching them and snapping endless pictures. The next few years my children were away from home with their first sleepover with a friend and eagerly picked up in the morning. My children grew and were learning to be independent but even still were willing to curl up in my lap before bedtime. As I saw each one sleep, I could still see the baby in each of them.

Then came the first day of middle school, and I started to feel the sting as the apron string was being snipped. This time they got on the bus and still looked out the window, but only smiled discreetly and for sure wasn’t going to wave. The school day was over but not coming home on the bus due to after school activities and now needed various pick up times to be set. What hadn’t changed was that I still proudly watched my children participate in multiple sports and school choir events. At this point each was spending more time with friends and sleepovers turned into hanging out all day with their friends. Now I was given a quick kiss and hug as long as it was in the privacy of home and no one was watching.

The next phase was the toughest as the apron string was close to being completely cut. On the first day of high school my children were riding the bus and now not even looking my way to acknowledge me. They were coming home late from after school sports and activities but didn’t need a ride because they would find their own means. They now had their first job and activities were now scheduled around work and school. They earned their first driver’s license and now no longer needed me for transportation. I was no longer top priority nor the most important person to them on their list and they started having relationships with others, dates and proms.

They began looking at colleges, were excited for the future and gave minimal information. But it remained strong that I still proudly watched my teenagers play in their sports and sing in the school choir. And at this point, if it was necessary, they gave me a kiss.

There was a mix of sadness and excitement dropping my children off at college and an emptiness coming home to their empty bedrooms. There were no more bus rides, no after school activities, however, I did start to hear a little bit more from them as they adjusted being on their own. It was wonderful to see how their learned life skills helped them adjust to being independent. They met new friends and had new experiences. Now they kissed and hugged when we saw each other again and when going back to school.

Yesterday I cried and was extremely proud to see how my son has transformed into a handsome man shaking hands and accepting his degree. I had to wait until the formalities were done and the ceremony was complete before I could congratulate him. When we saw each other in a crowd of people, he reached down to me and gave me a hug and a kiss.

My mission is complete with my three adult children. I am looking forward to the next stages for my three adult children as they have begun their lives on their own and praying that it will be years of joy for them.

What memorable times do you have of raising your children or someone that you have mentored? Now is the time to open up your laptop or grab paper and pen and start Keeping Your Memories of the memorable times you have had with them.

http://www.keepingyourmemories.com

Write a Gift…It’s Priceless!

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Every Christmas I faithfully bake the fruitcake that Mom and Grandma baked. I religiously buy the ribbon candy and mixed nuts that were holiday treats for Mom and Dad. These traditional foods make us feel like Mom and Dad are still with us even though it has already been almost seven and nine years that they have been gone.

I am also fortunate to have the story of her childhood Christmas memories towards the end of the Great Depression that she wrote in 2001 for my son’s classroom project. To this day she feels close to me as I carry on some of these family traditions and read the story she wrote for my son:

“My mother was a great cook and everything always tasted good. When I was a young girl, many years ago, I remember the sight of beautiful deep red cranberries popping and spitting in a tall pan on a wood-burning stove. I can hear the popping of the cranberries as the hot syrup caused the berries to make small explosions that splattered and spit at us as I watched by the stove. I remember you had to jump back quickly. The burn from the cranberry syrup was tiny but intense. My memory of this is vivid to this day.

I liked the colors of Christmas. We went to the Nativity play at the First Baptist Church on the corner of Broad and Rhone in Webb City to see the Nativity play where the birth of Christ was retold. The children dressed in costumes and they used a doll for the Baby Jesus. I remember the pretty blue of Mary’s dress. Afterwards the children got paper sacks filled with colorful Christmas candy, an apple and an orange. This was a real treat. The colors were important for me. This was a time when we were all coming out of the Great Depression. Most of us had little and the items called for worn things and drab colors. You cannot imagine how brown everything was in our homes. At Christmas my world became brighter.

The colors made me feel thankful and there were so many colors to absorb. Christmas would not be Christmas without seeing lights on a fir tree in our house. We did not always have a tree each year because some years Pop couldn’t always afford one. One year when I was ten, my Mom let me have my heart’s desire having all blue lights on our Christmas tree. I think now she must have understood how much I loved the beauty of this holiday. This tree was my favorite. It calmed me and gave me peace. My appreciation and happiness of that moment has never been forgotten.

Christmas brings back memories of ribbon candy, the hard Christmas candy each with its own special flavor, and the candied orange peel my Aunt Jessie always made. She also brought minced meat pie. We were not crazy about the pie because it had real meat in it, but it was part of our Christmas tradition. I remember applesauce cake made from a seventy-five year old recipe. It was always so good. Mama only made her special cake twice a year – at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It had black walnuts in it – ones we gathered off the ground after the first frost in the fall.

I remember the fun of making paper chains, stringing popcorn and singing Christmas carols. We sang the same songs you sing today – “Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Deck the Halls.”

The stories, including “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” reading about Santa Claus and his reindeer filled my imagination. I remember laying in bed on Christmas Eve waiting to see him fly through the sky and land on the housetop. I always fell asleep before it happened. I wrote a letter to Santa Claus about my wish list. My brothers and sisters and I would go through Montgomery Ward and Sears catalogs to figure out what we wanted. My list was not so grand. Skates. Dolls. Play dishes. Yet we knew, and without resentment, there might not be any present waiting for us on Christmas morning. It did not matter because I loved the wonder of what might be. It’s like watching a Christmas parade. You’re not a part of it but you still find it enjoyable.”

This Christmas give your family members the priceless gift of sharing your Christmas childhood memories with your children or grandchildren. You can write about your most memorable Christmas and add some of your childhood pictures to your story. One day your descendants will enjoy reading how you and your family celebrated the holidays and will cherish the stories that you left them.

If you are blessed to be with your parents and/or grandparents this holiday season, sit down with them and use the voice memo on your cell phone to record their stories .

Today, grab a paper and pen or open up your laptop and start Keeping Your Memories of your traditions.

  • What Christmas decorations did you put up every year?
  • What did you do on Christmas Eve?
  • What was your Christmas dinner and whom did you share it with?
  • Describe your favorite Christmas present .
  • What did Christmas morning feel like when you were a child?

http://www.keepingyourmemories.com

 

 

My Dad…Boot Camp, German Measles, U.S.S. Coral Sea

2015-06-20

In honor of my father on this Father’s Day weekend I want to pay tribute to him with an excerpt from his story that took place seventy-one years ago. He wrote sharing his experiences as a 17-year-old enlistee in the Navy during World War II.

Reading his entire story shows me how Dad became the knowledgeable, discerning, patient and fearless man he was through the encounters he experienced on his own as a young man. Below is the beginning of his story:

“After graduating from Boot Camp we were allowed to leave the base and go into town. San Diego was a pretty town, and the weather was mild for wintertime. I enjoyed my first liberty in San Diego. I was like a child taking in all the new things.

I was asked if I wanted to train as an aerial gunner on airplanes or to serve on submarines. I chose to go into communications as a signalman and was assigned to a three-month signalman training class. After one month of training, I contacted German measles and was placed in the hospital for 11 days.

After departing the hospital, I was dropped from the class that I had been training with and had a month of leisure time waiting for the new class to be formed.

After going through three months of training as a signalman, I was sent to a receiving station to be assigned to a ship.  I was assigned to the U.S.S. Coral Sea CVE57.

When I saw the aircraft carrier that I was being assigned to, it looked so big, awesome and dangerous, and I realized for the first time what I had gotten myself into. This was real. The training and the fun I had been having was over, and I didn’t know what was ahead of me. As I walked up that gangplank with my sea bag on my shoulder (which I could hardly carry) for the first time it hit me, I was afraid.”

Dad passed eight years ago at the age of 80, but he is still with us because he recorded his life story that we can read again and again. On this Father’s Day weekend, pull out your laptop or grab a pen and paper and start Keeping Your Memories of your father. If he is still with you, start with asking him the questions below. You will definitely be glad you did.

  • Describe who you were as a little boy.
  • What is a favorite story from your childhood?
  • What did you learn from your parents?
  • How are you similar to and/or different from your Mother/Father?
  • As a young boy, what did you dream of being one day?

http://www.keepingyourmemories.com