Yesterday I wrote about growing up in Michigan and how we spent most of our time outside.
I also mentioned because of that experience, I wanted to be sure my kids had the same opportunity.
When I got pregnant with our first son, my husband was still in school. We lived in a townhouse near campus and it was fine. By the time our boy was six months old, we’d moved back to Oregon and found a rental in town.
It wasn’t until after our second son was born that I started to remember my own childhood, and what it was like to grow up on a farm. I had married a city boy, and I wasn’t sure he would want to move into the country.
We played outside when I was a kid growing up in Michigan. It didn’t matter if it was winter or summer, we were outside most of the time.
In the summers we would play hide-and-seek until way after dark. There were a bunch of us and so many different places to hide that the game would go on for hours.
We also had a sandbox to play and dig in, though I do remember the cats liked “digging” in it too…which was a little gross.
We found things to do and explored beyond our farm too.
I remember from the time I was little the only thing I really wanted to be when I grew up was a Mom. Not very “progressive”, I know, but it’s the truth.
We were very poor growing up and rarely had any new toys. Instead they were passed down from one child to the next.
The neighbor girls I tried to hang out with had Barbie Dolls that came with different outfits you could dress them in.
I had one doll, and she wasn’t a petite little doll, but more of an old-fashioned Dolly with eyes that would close when you laid her down. And with one arm missing. Continue reading
We learn how to be women from our moms, or at least a mother figure.
So we watch them closely and subconsciously put each act or word into columns of either, “This is good advice to live by and pass on,” or “No way do I believe this and I am so not going to do this to my kids.”
There are probably a lot of other columns too, but those two stand out the most for me.
I learned how to be a woman by watching my mom. Which is probably why I’m not a girly girl. She didn’t wear makeup or dress in pretty clothes. And she lived in “practical shoes” and flip-flops.
I think she made most of her dresses. You’ll recall I said she only wore dresses, even as a farm-woman, right? I have to wonder if her mom wore dresses too. But I can’t recall much about my grandmother.
My mom learned how to be a woman from her mother too. It’s passed down from one generation to the next with varying degrees of changes for each of us. Continue reading
Do you ever wonder what it was like for your parents when they were kids? I don’t think about my dad’s youth as much as I do my mom’s. That’s probably because she was the rule-maker of our home.
And the enforcer too.
When I was a kid, I didn’t think about or care what made her the way she was, I was more concerned with ducking her flip-flop as she tried to swat me with it for not doing what I was told.
But as an adult, I have to wonder what it was like for her growing up in that little farmhouse in Michigan with four brothers and three sisters.
She was born in the spring of 1924, unless you go by what her headstone reads. Not sure how that happened, but it’s off by a year. She was the second child of eight, in a home that would soon be crowded. Continue reading
Tomorrow is a big day for me.
I don’t mean in the sense that something exciting is happening, or I’ve got a bunch of big plans. More in the way of it’s a calendar date that I never forget and always reflect on.
It was August 3, 1970 when the world changed for me. And for the last 48 years, it’s August 3rd that I still feel the pain of that day and our loss.
I know there are a whole lot of you reading this now, that know exactly how I feel. Losing a parent, especially when you are a child, is something you never fully “get over”. Continue reading
Did you ever spend summer vacations at your Grandparents house?
I never did. I mean, we went there to visit, but I don’t remember staying at their place for a week or even a few days without my parents.
We did, however, have fun during our summers growing up, and I loved it when we played Hide and Seek outside until way after sunset. And we always had a great time at the beach. Continue reading
John’s family in Northern Ireland loves it when he comes home. They don’t say he’s come to visit, to them John is home.
After our hike up to see Cloughmore Stone, and a bit of breakfast, we packed up and headed to Poyntzpass in County Armagh. I’ve been there once before, for John’s Uncle’s funeral service, and to lay some flowers on a grave.
When John and I were married, his sister told me of an Irish tradition of the bride placing her bouquet on the grave of a relative instead of throwing it to the single ladies.
Knowing we were going to Ireland a few months after our wedding, I saved part of my bouquet to lay upon John’s Father’s headstone in Poyntzpass. So we headed back to the little church and graveyard to pay our respects. Continue reading
I have been super busy with family needs these last five days, and haven’t found the time to write. I got back home last night and this morning I’m working on catching up with a few things.
It’s interesting how life is filled up with busy moments and I get caught up in it all. Then something happens to remind me that it’s all just little stuff. It’s okay that I haven’t written here in a few days. And it’s even okay if I’m behind on a few reports due.
It is also okay that I take some “me time” to regroup and replenish.
Not like flu sick, more of just a chest/head cold. It’s not too bad, and I’m able to function well enough to take care of myself. But chores like laundry and dishes or cooking are a strain.
I’m even struggling to write, which is why I missed my post yesterday. Instead, I posted a picture on Instagram and Facebook. I put up a photo of me on my bike and asked a question: Do you workout if you’re feeling sick?
The other day I was desperately looking for a specific photo I wanted for one of my blog posts. If you’ve been following along, you know I use my own photos for my posts.
It was written and ready to publish, but I was determined to find that one photo, so I kept digging. I was pretty sure it was on an old hard drive of mine, so I plugged it into my laptop and poked around.
I didn’t find it there, but I did find something else.
It is something I wrote years ago, when I was trying to sort out some emotions I was going through. Wait, let me stop right here and find my courage.
Deep breath in.
…continued from Pieces of the Puzzle
After yesterdays post it took three siblings and me to piece together the sequence of events from that time. I was off by a year. The years following our mother’s death was a blur of disappointment.
But it was 3am Christmas morning, 1971 that our father called my sister Janet downstairs to take him to the hospital. She was just 16 and the only one at home with a driver’s license. Continue reading
I’m learning that my life is analogous to a big jigsaw puzzle. All of the pieces are there, but not together. And to make it even more difficult, I don’t have a picture to go off.
Photo courtesy of Hans Peter Gauster
You are helping me find the picture. Continue reading
I absolutely loved every minute of being pregnant. It helped being 24, fit and in great health. I was ready to be a mom, and when the test came back positive, I was overjoyed.
A few people told me I was too young, but in my heart I was ready. I’d read all of the books and followed every instruction to take excellent care of my body.
The due date was set for January 10, 1984, but my little one was ready early. On the morning of December 30th, I knew I was going to meet my first child that day. As it turned out, my husband and I had sold a home two years prior and our taxes would be due in 1983 on the sale. Our son showed up in the nick of time for us to declare him as a dependent for that year, essentially cancelling out any owed taxes.
And that pretty much sums up our first son. He’s a bit of a rescuer. But I’m getting ahead of myself; let me back up a bit.
Apparently I left a few people wondering what Fireball is, from my post about my boys growing up on a farm. I may have even left the impression that they were sweet little boys.
Let me set the record straight.
Even before moving to the farm, those two boys of mine kept me on my toes. They were curious about everything. One time my youngest tried to electrocute himself with the Christmas tree lights. That was after he fell in the river and almost drowned. But moving to the farm was an open door to explore nature and the world around them.
When you experience a death of a parent at a young age, your life gets measured into two pieces. You see your life before the event, and then after. It’s like there’s a crack in your personal timeline that you have to hop over each time you recall memories.
At least it’s that way for me. When I look at my life and think about my past everything is measured as either Before Mom Died, or After Mom Died.
I am very honored that this story was published in Better After 50.
I had to edit the original post to meet the word count of under 750, so I hope you enjoy this version.
I am very proud of this one…
The Day My World Changed
I’ve loved cherry pie every since the first one my mom made for me. We picked sour cherries each summer in Michigan and mom would make the best pies from those cherries. The funny thing is, I can’t seem to find one that tastes like hers. And I’ve searched, believe me, and so has my family.
Last year I finally went back to Michigan to see my family. We tend to see each other during times of stress or for funerals and I needed this visit to just be about spending time with them. I’m pretty sure it had been twenty years since I’d been back and I was excited to see my sisters at the airport waiting for me.
It’s Friday, September 1st…the beginning of Labor Day weekend, and the beginning of the end of summer.
We’ve had a lovely summer and I am looking forward to fall. Autumn is my favorite time of year. I think it comes from growing up in Michigan. You can feel the change in the air, and there is something magical about that for me.
This was the time of year the grapes that grew just up the hill from our garden were ripe. I would run up there each morning and pick a fat bunch so Mom could put them in my lunchbox.
I remember riding the bus to school in the fall, looking out the window and counting the buckets that were hanging from the maple trees. The mornings were crisp and cool and the afternoons were so warm we would be dragging our coats home with us.
Taking the bus home from school, my brothers and I would get off at the farm that was over the hill and through the woods behind our place. It was so fun running through those cool dark woods towards home. Sometimes we would stop to look for the last morel mushrooms that would be growing under the damp leaves.
I think the other reason I loved autumn so much was because it was also the end of summer work. There were no more cherries to pick, the garden had been harvested, and we could spend the early evenings outside playing hide and go seek.
It was the best time of year. And it still is for me.
Go enjoy your long weekend…because after autumn, winter is coming.