Tag Archives: Memories

Mondays are for Memories – of Mom

Yesterday would’ve been my Mom’s 97th birthday. She’s been gone  26 years, but nowhere does does she seem closer than here at the cabin. From the ‘silver’ platter hanging on the wall – a wedding present back in 1947 –
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to the reminder on our ancient refrigerator about what settings to use when,
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to the “please remove spike shoes’ sign (from a short stint working at a country club) to the handmade Indian doll sitting on the neighboring shelf –
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my Mom’s remembrances are all around us.
Earlier this year I wrote a bit about Mom for the Storyworth project our kids gave us for Christmas. (Yes, as Gary said – a Christmas present with homework!).
“What was your Mom like when you were a child?”
My goodness, what a BIG question!
In some ways, Mom was a superhero. When I was not quite two and she was pregnant with my brother, my oldest sister was diagnosed with Polio. Elna was whisked away to spend months and months in the hospital while the rest of the household was placed in strict quarantine. I was too young to remember any of that of course, but when I became a Mom and would become overwhelmed with my life, I would think of her managing the two of us girls at home, getting ready to deliver baby #4, all the while her first precious daughter was in the hospital. Somehow that always managed to help me get my life back in perspective.
She was a Musician. One of my favorite childhood memories is falling asleep while she practiced her cello down in her music studio (aka the dining room!). She loved her cello, played in several area orchestras and ensembles, and even began taking lessons (again!) when she was in her 60’s. While cello was her first love, she was also an accomplished pianist. Most afternoons neighborhood kids would come to our house for their lessons, and while I don’t recall her actually giving me lessons, somehow I learned how to read music and play sorta-kinda. She would come and help, but never insisted that I learn. She taught piano and played her cello right up until her death in 1996.
She was a Seamstress.
UntitledI think she made most of our clothes growing up – I especially remember one Christmas when I got the softest furry bathrobe that she had secretly worked on while we were in school. There were many a photo of the three of us girls in matching outfits, and sometimes ones that even matched hers. She made wedding dresses for my sisters, along with the bridesmaid dresses too! When I wanted to learn how to sew and my home ec teacher wanted me to start with an A-line skirt, I remember saying to Mom – “Can I make a lined cape instead ?” “Sure” was her easy reply!
She was Athletic. She loved to ski (she was the Snow Queen for one of the Snow Festivals in Vermont during her college days) and play tennis. I think  she would often outplay my Dad on the courts! I know she always beat me! She had a degree in both Music and PE from Ithaca College in NY so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

She was a Great Cook. Although my dad took over the gourmet cooking in the 60’s, Mom was always ready with a good home cooked meal. Her mac and cheese was legendary and I think my favorite was the classic 1960 chuck roast in foil with onion soup and cream of mushroom. She did hold to the logic that having liver once in a while was beneficial (all that iron, I guess), but I still loved her (and her cooking) regardless!

She was Fun and Funny!
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She’d take us ice skating at a local lake ( we even had a small rink in our back yard when we lived in Willow Grove), she’d help us build snow tunnels when the drifts in the driveway were too high to even shovel, and she had a great sense of humor. We laughed a lot around the dinner table.

 

She was an Encourager. I don’t recall ever hearing her say – “Don’t try that, it’s too hard.”  When I wanted to sew my wedding gown – she helped me shop for fabric. She was always on my side.

Maybe this question was geared more to my younger childhood. And the memories I shared above are from when I was a bit older. I honestly don’t remember lots of warm and fuzzy moments with Mom when I was younger – but I certainly don’t have any cold and harsh memories either. Did she tuck me in each night when I was younger? I’m sure she did. Do I remember those moments? I do not. She was always there for us. Strong and steady, putting her family first and encouraging each of us to be the best that we could be.

And sending us off to dreamland with Pachelbel’s Canon in D.
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Miss you especially these days, Mom! So thankful for the promise of eternity in heaven with you!

Hometown Rewind

What a special time we had last week as we journeyed back to our “Hometown” for a lovely long weekend. Since we don’t have any immediate family back in Doylestown (PA) or even its close-by neighbors, we just don’t get back that way as often as we like. I can’t remember the last time we were both there, and I know it’d been almost 4 years since I made the trip. So there was a lot of catching up to do! We only had four days and there was a lot to cram in! Quilting friends, birthday buddies (sadly, no photo), high school friends, church friends…..

Every visit was a delight. Every visit a treasured memory.

But the initial reason for our jaunt into the Philadelphia suburbs was to attend the memorial service of a dear couple who had been a big part of our teenage years. Not only were they pillars in the church we attended, Leslie and Shirley Cruise were also the parents of some of our very best high school friends. Mr. & Mrs. Cruise (as we called them back then) passed away within days of each other earlier this year. She was 98 and he was 97 and they had been married over 75 years. Although we never knew  it when we were being crazy teenagers at their house, Les was part of the 82nd Airborne Division that parachuted behind enemy lines on D-Day. Prior to his death, he was one of the last surviving members of that WWII division. As we learned of his story over the years, we remained in awe of this humble, Godly man. This was a service we were thankful to be able to attend. It was  full of military honor  – 21 gun salute, members of the current 82nd Airborne Division standing at attention during the ceremony,
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and the presentation of the flag to the family.
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The very plane that he jumped from on D-Day flew over the cemetery –
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and then it was available for tours and rides later in the day at a nearby airport.
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It was such a memorable day, from reconnecting with high school friends to paying tribute to one of the last of the “Greatest Generation”. What a legacy they leave behind!

Hometown Weekends! I think we need to schedule these a little more often!
Thanks for coming along for this little trip down memory lane!
Steph

 

 

PS – If you’d like to learn more about this remarkable man and his life and legacy, here is an article written about his service and a video done several years ago.

One more thing – the house in the header photo is the house I lived in before I got married. I think it needs a good power washing, don’t you?  Still, it was fun to drive through that old neighborhood!

Walking Elna Home

Last Saturday (4/30) my sister Elna slipped into heaven to meet her Savior whom she had loved since her early teens. As she left this life behind, she was surrounded by her two daughters and husband of 50 years. The room was filled with love. And tears.
Such sweet memories we have of those last weeks with Elna. Some of the sweetest center around her quick wit that continued to surface even as her body weakened.
One evening, before she moved to the hospital bed in the living room, we (Heather, Bethany, Chris, Joie & I (aka the Team)) were gathered around the bed peppering her with questions.
“Do you need another pillow?”
“Do you want to get up to use the bedside commode?”
“Do you want to put your brace on (per the previous question)?”
“Do you want another sip of juice?”
“Do you think you might want to poop?” (Yes, there were a fair number of body function questions being asked.)
Finally there was a pause. She looked at us and said – “I think I need to “Phone a Friend”! Call Dr. Mike – maybe he knows the answer!” Took us a while to stop giggling over that one.

When the day came to move her down the hall to her ‘new digs’ – the hospital bed in the back of the living room – she looked up at Beth (who was gently explaining the move as she pushed the wheelchair) and said with a straight face – “Does everyone have my forwarding address?”

UntitledEncouraging her to eat brought another slew of questions.
“How about a bagel this morning?”
“Maybe some chicken?”
“How about a bite of this brownie?”
“Lora brought some homemade tapioca? Does that sound good?”
When we finally got around to offering her a Pringle potato chip, her face would break into a grin- “I thought you’d never ask!” she’d say in her quiet sweet voice.  More chuckling ensued!

And just in those last quiet days while I was trying to entice her with one of her long-time favorites, a soft boiled egg with buttery toast, the questions came again –
“Are you ready for another bite?”
“Do you want a bite with toast?”
“This bite has lots of yolk. Does that sound good?”
Finally she looked at me – “Are you egging me on?”

Many more memories – and many more tears and smiles – will be recorded here in the coming days. But for now I just want to remember the sweetest sound of her joining us in our hymn sing each night.
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Precious Elna – you were the best of us! We’re so happy for your official New Address, but oh how our hearts are aching!

Backtracking Part II

It wasn’t all work, my friends. Not at all!  We filled these Florida months with lots of special people!
The first weekend we were in Lake Wales we took a mini road trip to see our friends Jim and Sue Taylor in Ft. Myers. We’d been friends with Jim and Sue BK (before kids) and kept loosely in touch with them over the years since Gary’s mom had also lived in Ft. Myers. It’s been so lovely these last three winters in Florida to reconnect and spend time with them!

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Yes, they are still trying to teach me the finer points of Pinochle!
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Sure do love these guys! Now we just have to get them to the cabin, right?
As we headed back to the rig that weekend, we made another stop to see a high school friend that I don’t believe I’ve seen probably since 1969. OK, maybe at a random reunion, but I can’t be sure. Any who, through the miracle of Facebook, we’d reconnected several years ago and it was great fun to see Gary and his wife at their new digs in Port Charlotte.
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Untitled(I actually grew up in the same neighborhood as Gary until halfway through third grade. He had this picture of he and his brother and dad- and my house in the one on the right behind them. (or the one next to it. It was very long ago, and they look pretty similar!))

What a fun weekend of connections!

We also connected with area SOWER friends during March too! Once for ice cream
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and once for a picnic at the park which included not only working SOWERS but also 3 Alumni couples and a single Alumni.
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Green Isle GroupFor Gary and I it was very special because one of those alumni couples was our group leader at our third project way back in January of 2006. What a blessing to reconnect with them again!

Connecting with friends – old and new! It’s one of the best parts of this crazy life of ours!

Stay tuned for the next installment of my backtracking tomorrow!

 

Mondays are for Memories – Critters 2

Last week when I did a post about the critters that we’d spotted while we were in Florida, I realized I had done another blog post using the same title. I checked back to see just what that post was about, and it turned out that it was written just about the same time of year, but all the way across the country in Arizona. So, since it’s about time I did one of those “Mondays are for Memories” posts, here you go!

April 19, 2010 – Prescott Pines Conference Center, Prescott, AZ

Critters

Being parked in the forest (more or less) has brought lots of opportunities to observe the local critters. 🙂
We’ve seen a lovely selection of birds –
Western Bluebird-1
Western Bluebird
acorn woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker (love his eyes!)
Redbacked Junco
Redbacked Junco
Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
And even though this wasn’t in our backyard (it was at one of those little lakes we visited over the weekend)-
Blue Heron at Granite Basin Lake
A Blue Heron in a tree!
But we also enjoyed the occasional mule deer wandering around –
Mule deer at Camp
And even though we see squirrels just about everywhere, we really had never seen any that looked like this –
Abert Squirrel
abert squirrel
Catch those ears! Turns out this is a Abert Squirrel. You wanted to know, right?
Just today I spotted this little guy –
Horned Lizard
A Greater Short Horned Lizard.
And trust me, if he hadn’t moved, I wouldn’t have spotted him! He stayed pretty still and without hardly moving snagged an ant that walked just a little too close. Ah, nature in action!
We certainly have enjoyed our backyard this month!

Thanks for coming along for this little memory!
Steph