Mother’s Day

A slightly altered repeat from last year – I hope you don’t mind (too much!)

 

King James Version (KJV) Ps-16-6

The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places;

yea, I have a goodly heritage.

 

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Like many of you, I’m sure, there is some sadness and longing as I think of my mother. We celebrated our last Mother’s Day together in 1997, so today I will think about all of the good years we had as mother and daughter, and later as Grandmother and mother too.

I was lucky to have her for the first fifty years of my life, as I wasn’t born until after her 41st birthday. She was an older mom, but I like to think that she had worked out all of the kinks on her older children by the time she got to me!

My mother was an enthusiastic and hands-on grandmother. She loved children, and they loved her back.  I think a part of her never grew up. She taught one of my nephews to climb a tree, and my daughter to ride a two-wheeler. Cousin Kevin called her the “party maker.”

My daughter was the youngest grandchild, and very close to my mother from the day she was born until the day that her grandmother died. The year before, she and my son-in-law published a book in honor of her grandmother’s 90th birthday. We all contributed essays and tributes, but my daughter’s was the best:

When I was a teenager, I remember Grandma used to say “You never listen to me!” But Gram, you were wrong. I listened, and I watched and learned; and I believe that there’s a little magic piece of you inside me.

I know it’s that little piece that makes me stop on my walk to the train in the morning to watch the rest of the sunrise, or pull over to the side of the road to pick up a fall leaf or smell the lilacs in the spring.

Grandma used to cut fruit apart to show me the beautiful patterns inside. She watered the plants and told me to listen to them drink. She brushed the dirt off the vegetables in the garden and bit into them, telling me to taste their goodness.  She sees beauty and magic everywhere. I believe she sees God all the time, in all the good and lovely things of the earth.

Gram, I hope you know how rich my life is and what wonderful memories I have because you were there for me. What a lucky child I was to have a grandmother with an endless supply of “rainy day” projects and your bottomless scrap bags and boxes full of fabric, felt, sequins, buttons, construction paper, papier mache, modeling clay, paints and brushes! You were always thinking of Kevin [her cousin] and me, planning special treats and activities for us. And you always, always had time to listen to my childish thoughts and ideas. Maybe I was “spoiled” as a child, but I think it’s great that you made me feel like the most important person in the world.

Even now, I feel your unconditional love and your prayers for me every day. When I can’t sleep, I hear your voice: “Think quiet thoughts.”  When I’ve messed things up, I remember your wise, “What’s done is done.”  Most important I remember your “I love you.”

Thank you for all you have given to me.  Happy Birthday!

Grandma Jessie & Jen

Another birthday remembrance was written by “the pesky kid next door” (his description), which ends like this:

Jessie always gave me a tour of the garden, site of the old barnyard, the reason for the ease at which things grew, I was told. It was here where Jessie’s enthusiasm for the simple things in life made an impression on me.

It was early July, the second season for some new strawberry plants from Kraft’s Greenhouse. As we walked down the row, Jessie exclaimed, “Oooh Curtie, look! A berry!” And at that moment it seemed that I had caught the contagious joy of the first berry of the season.

That thought has always remained in my mind, and I retrieve it often. It reminds me that the important things in life are the simple things, and it reminds me of my friend, Jessie.

“Curtie” is a friend, who kind of “adopted” our family. He was a pall bearer at Jessie’s funeral, and I always get a nice note from him every Christmas. He has a knack for picking a beautiful and unique card. He is also an enthusiastic gardener!

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On Mother’s Day, I also think about the other women who encouraged and inspired me.

Among my earliest memories is Aunt Flossie, also my godmother, who had a house full of grown boys when I was born, and our next-door neighbor until I was nine. She said I was “my little petunia in the onion patch”, and spoiled me a bit! She also taught me about wild flowers in the woods, and made delicious pancakes, just for me, with warm syrup in a blue Shirley Temple pitcher.

Flossie & her grandchildren

Flossie & her grandchildren

My Aunt Verna was a missionary to the migrant workers in Florida in the 1950’s and 60’s, so kind, with a gentle voice. She was my mom’s youngest and closest sister, and they lived together for the last 10 years of my mother’s life.

Aunt Anna, widowed quite young in life, kept the family farmhouse open for many years, a fine Christian woman, and my mother’s oldest sister. She could be a bit stern, but had a soft heart under it all. If ever anyone in our family was in need, physically or spiritually, her home was open to them. You could always count on a chicken dinner with vegetables from the garden every Sunday after church, served to whomever appeared at the table!

I never knew my grandmother, but she raised five very fine women.

Sisters Anna, Sarah, Evelyn, Jessie & Verna, at the farm

I am thankful to have had these strong women in my life, and it is a pleasure to remember them particularly today.

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

Proverbs 31:10

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Now for something a little less serious. Those of you with sons will probably appreciate this.

Never having had boys, I can’t quite relate.

Please share your memories and stories about your mothers, grandmothers, and other women you honor!

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This entry was posted in Holidays, Nostalgia, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Mother’s Day

  1. texan59 says:

    Thank you for that tribute. I lost my mom nearly 25 years ago. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish to be able to have a talk with her about something. I would tell her that so many things we butted heads on were not really so important looking back on them. And that as I’ve gotten older, a number of things have become more “right” than they used to be. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mom’s out there, and to the Mom’s who are no longer with us. ❤️

    Liked by 8 people

  2. Wooly Phlox says:

    Wonderful post. Happy Mothers Day!

    Liked by 7 people

  3. ZurichMike says:

    This is a slightly updated version of something I had posted another Mother’s Day:

    My Italian grandmother would visit every other Thursday during the summer. I remember being in the car with my mother and then three other siblings to pick her up at the bus stop. Grandma would get off the bus, always wearing a hat, and carrying a big black purse. In that purse was a bag of plain M&M’s for each grandchild, or a Hershey’s bar with almonds — remember when it was 5 cents, marked on the wrapper?

    Grandma came over (1) to get out of the city where she lived and into the country for some fresh air, and (2) to help my mother with cooking and cleaning while she visited. Mom would do laundry and clean while grandma cooked, and in the afternoon grandma would iron clothes while watching her “stories” (soap operas) on TV while mom took a little nap.

    Grandma liked iced coffee in the afternoon. She would share it with us grandchildren, and would also give us little juice glasses of Asti Spumante at the holidays (we were sooooo grown up) — nowadays she’d probably be arrested for serving us caffeine and alcohol! Grandma cooked enough tomato sauce to float a battleship, enough fried meatballs and Italian sausage to feed an army, and in the evening she would boil a vat of pasta.

    Grandpa would join us after work, when my dad also got home, and we’d have this enormous pasta meal on Thursday evening. Occasionally grandma would stuff and fry squash flowers, or make eggplant parmesan, but mostly it was the sauce and meatballs and pasta I remember. Don’t get me started describing her homemade pasta, ravioli, lasagna, manicotti, gnocchi, pickled eggplant, or Easter pies (Italian cream, rice, wheat, and ham pies). Yum.

    I loved going to her house for any meal. My cousins lived next door to grandma and I was envious that they could always pop over to nosh on something at grandma’s house. At her house in the afternoon, if we were visiting, we kiddies had a special treat: fresh crusty bread with lots of butter from the “icebox” (or “frigidaire” but never called “the refrigerator”), and she would serve us boiled coffee with lots of sugar and milk in little demitasse cups. We thought we were have high tea at the Ritz.

    My Slovak grandmother would visit with grandpa on Friday evenings. She always brought a three-layer yellow cake with chocolate icing. All made from scratch — no such thing as box cakes for farmer immigrants to the US! While the grandparents were chatting with mom and dad at the dining room table, I would sit next to grandma and play “school”. She would tell me words to write down, and I would carefully print them on lined paper, and she would correct them.

    At her house, we could sometimes have a “stay over” weekend to help grandpa cut the immense lawns on an old Coldwell lawn mower, help grandma weed her flower gardens, and then we would play croquet and drink orange soda. We thought we were at some fancy club.

    Being a Slovak farm girl, she could make light and fluffy dumplings for Sunday roast dinners as easily as most people boil water. She had a staccato laugh. She smoked, which at the time I thought was very elegant, but died of emphysema at 68. I wish she had been around to see us get older.

    My mom is more special with each passing year. I don’t know how she managed to raise 5 children on my dad’s salary before she went back to work as a teacher. We never felt like we were deprived, although I do remember dad wearing his suits probably a year or two after they should have been retired to the back of the closet.

    Mom was always home when we got back from school. She was the best room mother (every child thinks this, I believe). One of my classmates (we were in the same classes from kindergarten through senior year at high school) is diabetic, and I remember my mom, when she had to bring in Christmas goodies for our first grade Christmas party, made a layer cake with differently sized layers, and decorated it to look like a Christmas tree – and she made a little tiny diabetic version for my friend R____. I remember that to this day – as does R____.

    Mom was a den mother in Cub Scouts for us 4 boys, and supported us all through Boy Scouts, Little League, and school activities. Unlike modern “helicopter moms”, my mom never came to our events – not that she wasn’t interested, but she usually did not have the time, and it was considered odd at the time to have your parents show up for anything except graduation.

    Mom is very Catholic. If you looked up the definition of “devout Catholic” in a picture dictionary, you would see a photo of my mother. She has her little blue “Mother’s Manual” – well-thumbed – of daily and special prayers, a cardboard box of prayer cards, Mass cards, and funeral cards sorted by date (we kiddies irreverently called it “The Death Box”) and she would flip through them during the year and reminisce and say prayers for the deceased.

    No matter where we were on vacation, we would find a Catholic church to attend on Sunday. I remember one Mother’s Day when she and my father went to church and then out for breakfast alone and left my oldest brother in charge. When they returned, I remember my mother walking up the sidewalk in her nice blue coat, matching hat with veil, cat’s eye glasses, and white gloves – I thought she was a movie star.

    The most painful thing I remember was when I came out of the closet — I thought I had broken her heart forever. We did not speak for over a year. This is where it becomes very ironic. My mother is very devoted to the Blessed Mother – there is a lovely lithograph of her in my mother’s “study” (a corner of the TV room). During this rupture in our relationship, I remember sitting quietly in an empty church trying to figure things out, and my eyes were drawn to the statute of the Blessed Mother on the left side – and I started weeping and said out loud “please help me”. And I believe to this day that she did. As a result, I am also very devoted to the Blessed Mother (which partially explains all of my posts on feast days of the Virgin Mary!). It is difficult to reconcile who I am with what my mother believes, and what the Catholic church holds, yet since then our relationship has surpassed what it used to be.

    She is now recently a widow, and that is an enormous adjustment for her – 61 years married! We are all swooping around to support her, but it’s tough path that she had to take alone.

    A special prayer to bless and keep all mothers this day, and always.

    Liked by 10 people

    • lovely says:

      During this rupture in our relationship, I remember sitting quietly in an empty church trying to figure things out, and my eyes were drawn to the statute of the Blessed Mother on the left side – and I started weeping and said out loud “please help me”. And I believe to this day that she did. As a result, I am also very devoted to the Blessed Mother (which partially explains all of my posts on feast days of the Virgin Mary!).

      Mike, you may or may not know that I am a convert to the Catholic church. One of the hurdles for me was Mary and the reverence in which the Church holds Mary (I already understood that Catholics do not worship Mary). My godfather a devout Catholic priest told me to pray about it and to be so bold as to ask Mary to help me even though I didn’t truly feel right speaking in prayer to anyone except Jesus.

      The peace of truth came it came through Mary. My always wise friend/priest/godfather said “If God chose Jesus to come to mankind through Mary, how can you think it would offend God to go to Him through his chosen Mother? Jesus chose the flesh of Mary to become his own flesh, Mary was not our savior, she was a simple humble human, but her flesh was pierced for us in the body of her beloved son.”

      Two short Mary stories.

      My mother-in-law had an elderly aunt who was dying, the aunt lived across the country and she called my MIL and told her how lonely she was and how much she needed a hug from her. My MIL prayed fervently that night that Mary hug her aunt and let her know how loved she was. The next morning her aunt called her with energy and joy in her voice, she said, “I felt you, I felt you come and hug me and fill me with love!”
      Of course my MIL knew it was Mary.

      I had a very rough pregnancy, had a second emergency c-section and almost died. I had a hernia because of my small frame and the kiddo expanding my stomach, my stomach muscles separated so about three months after the birth I had hernia surgery, about two weeks after the surgery the hernia stitches burst and I was bleeding, (Oh the joys of cauterization!) then I developed pleurisy.

      About 3 month later I took a deep breath and there was that terrible pain and sharpness in my lungs, I did it again and I knew the pleurisy was back. I sat down right there on the floor (did I mention I had an infant and a just under two year old and a husband who worked full time and was getting his masters?), anyhow I said “Mary I can’t do it, I just can’t be sick again, Mary Health of the Sick please through your Son who came to me through you, heal me.” I took a breath and I could breath just fine, no pain no pleurisy.

      Amen.

      Now here, I hope I do not overstep, you mentioned that you still struggle a bit with reconciling yourself to your beloved Church.

      Dr. Daniel Amen and others have done extensive work in the brain mapping field, I think it is absolutely fascinating.

      There are two different areas in our brain that become hot when we are 1) thinking private thoughts or 2) having a conversation with another person.

      In a schizophrenic’s brain the same area becomes active when they hear voices that are only in their head or when they are holding a conversion with a real person, the brain is literally telling them that a second person is talking to them when it is just their own thoughts. Will God condemn this person for the chemicals in his or her brain ? Was this person not formed in the image off God? Was God not intimately aware that this person would be born with less free will than a person with a brain that is chemically in balance?

      I’m not in anyway comparing homosexuality to schizophrenia I just think the field of brain mapping is amazing and the schizophrenic study is a an easy and short one to use as an example.

      You have the brain that God formed in you. You have the chemical, biological responses that God formed in you. Can God condemn you for that? You are in a loving and committed relationship, is that not more in line of Love than the festival of flesh that is today’s world?

      In your devotion to God and his Church remember the beautiful words of The Little Flower “Mary is more Mother than Queen. God is more mercy than justice.”

      What potter can condemn the pot for the clay, shape and purpose of his own creation?

      Be still for you were born of dust, be joyful for you were formed by God.

      Liked by 5 people

    • auscitizenmom says:

      {{hugs} ❤

      Liked by 4 people

  4. ZurichMike says:

    This is a euology I wrote for my favorite aunt, who died much too young back in May 2008. I think it’s suitable for a Mother’s Day remembrance:

    In 1958 the incomparable actress Rosalind Russell starred in the movie “Auntie Mame”, the story of a madcap aunt in New York teaching her orphaned nephew to live life to the hilt, always following her motivational quip “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.”

    Aunt JoAnn whisked me away to see New York for a weekend back in the early 1960’s. Seeing skyscrapers for the first time and eating crêpes Suzette in a fancy bistro with a really cool aunt was life’s banquet for this impressionable five year-old nephew. Not surprisingly, my love of new experiences and traveling comes from her.

    Like Auntie Mame, Aunt JoAnn moved rapidly, unpredictably, but steadfastly from one experience to the next. She was the carefree, pretty nurse in New York and Boston, zipping back to Connecticut in her white Ford Falcon to tell us breathlessly of the fun and excitement in her big-city career and travels to Europe or to play us a new album from “Peter, Paul & Mary.” Later she transitioned without missing a beat to handling the role of wife to handsome Uncle Tony, a widower with 5 children. She adopted them all and had a 6th child. She was then suddenly a single parent after the love of her life died. Who commands such emotional strength?

    But like Auntie Mame’s somewhat unconventional ways, Aunt JoAnn’s habits were puzzling for us mere mortals. Sometimes she would just show up late for a dinner invitation, or not at all if she found a better offer. Not necessarily a better offer for dinner, just something else to do, such as being sidetracked at a sale at the Christmas Tree Store or a winning slot machine at the casino. Like Auntie Mame, Aunt JoAnn didn’t live for the moment; she lived in the moment. We learned to “go with the flood.”

    A fond memory I have was when Aunt JoAnn and I were neighbors in the same condo complex. It was not unusual for her to call me and have a conversation like this:
    “Hey, d’j eat?” she would ask.
    “Why?” I would reply.
    “Because I just took a turkey out of the oven.”
    “But Auntie, it’s 10 o’clock at night. On Tuesday. In August.”
    “Yeah, but I felt like cooking — come on over.”

    I am sure all of you have similar fond memories of Aunt JoAnn. Cherish them as you cherished her during her 70 years on earth.

    Lastly, when we speculate about Aunt JoAnn’s recent medical issues, we could remember an old saying that “life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ‘Wow, what a ride!’”

    Aunt JoAnn had a great ride through life. We just wish it had lasted a bit longer.

    Liked by 8 people

  5. tessa50 says:

    Happy Mother’s Day to all our mothers here and to the guys here who love their moms!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Thank you for sharing your story, Stella. Your mother, grandmother, and aunts were very special ladies. Such a blessing.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and grandmothers here. I’m very blessed to still have my mother and she is a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and above all else, a strong faithful Christian woman. I love her dearly and love that our relationship is one of friendship as well as mother/daughter, which is a wonderful thing. I was not the easiest kid to raise, but she has long since forgiven me for giving her much grief through the years. 😊

    My grandmother was such an amazing woman. I truly felt like she’d hung the moon. Spending time with her was my favorite thing to do. She taught my Sunday school class, I sat next to her at church, and spent many many nights at her house. We would go on long long walks through her neighborhood and talk endlessly about everything. Some mornings after I’d spent the night, she’d take me to Dunkin’ Donuts and let me pick out whatever I wanted and then we’d sit at the counter and enjoy breakfast together, fun times! Grandmother had an ancient Singer sewing machine that had a foot pedal on it and she loved to make things for people. When I had my girls, she made them beautiful quilts to mark their birth and she made tiny little dresses that I still have and she did most of it by hand with tiny little stitches. She loved us all so much and so well. She raised 6 children and had 13 grandchildren and now has countless great-grandchildren. I don’t know how she did everything she did, because not only did grandmother love her family so well, but she was fully involved in church activities and caring for the sick at church, bringing them food and visiting them, along with taking care of her ailing father until he passed away. I loved her dearly. This passage in the Bible exemplifies my grandmother:

    Proverbs 31:10-31King James Version (KJV)

    10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

    11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

    12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

    13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

    14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

    15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

    16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

    17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

    18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

    19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

    20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

    21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

    22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

    23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

    24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

    25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

    26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

    27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

    28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

    29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

    30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.

    31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. lovely says:

    I remember this from last year and how impressed I was with the love that is your family and the beautiful writing skill that has not skipped a generation. Thank you Stella. It was an honor to be let into your world and to read it again.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. joshua says:

    I believe loving mothers have a very special place in Heaven from which they get to continue to watch and champion their still living children and grandchildren. Somehow we think that life was hard for them while they were with us, but that was part of what they were modeling for us as we grew up…that like her, we could fix things and it would get all better if we kept trying and stopped crying. A Mother’s Love is impossible to understand fully unless you are a mother yourself and I am not one, but had a saint for my own, and married a warrior and tenderhearted one myself. Thank you Mothers everywhere, and bless you.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Menagerie says:

    Happy Mothers Day to all our mothers and grandmothers. Stella, you know how much I love the Jessie stories. There are several and a poem or two of hers that I have saved because I love them so much. I sure wish I could have known her.

    Liked by 2 people

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