Monday, March 5, 2018
Joe has been going through a great many old photos and recently chose this one to scan and post on his FaceBook page captioned "1964. . . . . Mary Ann graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University, BS in Nursing. Student Nurse of the Year in Oklahoma." Yes, there I am, 2nd from left, grinning. I am one of the few who seem to be looking at the camera. I think that is because they are all looking toward their own families who are capturing the moment. Joe was there - we married a few months before. My parents did not come because my sister was graduating from high school that May as well. I look at the picture and call almost all the names without hesitation. Barbara Nichols, on the end at the right, is the only one I am still in touch with after 54 years although I have not seen her since graduation.I know that at least 2 of the 10 women pictured have passed away.
I still have my diploma and worked at a number of different jobs after this date, moving many times for Joe's job.But I have used knowledge and experience gained from my time at Oklahoma Baptist University every day of my life. I am not sure that I was overwhelmed with gratitude that day (unless from relief that I had completed what I undertook) - but I am at this moment. In my 78th year I am keenly aware of the sacrifices of my parents, the amazing opportunities my education provided, the impact of friendships - and deeply thankful for it all.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Proud parents of the groom. Ben and Kristen's wedding 2008
Historical John Wesley Love home in Jacksonville, our home 1981-1982
Retirement for Joe after 52 years in the oil industry
Recipe box Joe made for me our first Christmas 1964, Corvallis, Oregon
Our 3 little boys and their Gingerbread House 1973
Reminders of our life in Jakarta, Indonesia (at my talk to the children at Shady Oak Christian School)
Angel and Bella
Our antique rose in the garden on Greenhaven. Getting ready to plant some here.
Tickets from so many performances, games, concerts.
Our wedding group. December 28, 1963
Our mission statement for our Sugar Land house, working on one for our home with B&K in Richmond.
Homeward Bound. A magnolia leaf.
Joe and me as Jacob and Rachel, innkeepers for so many years in Experiencing Christmas, FBC Richmond.
Snowflakes we cut for our first Christmas tree in Oregon.
So many happy times in the porch swing together and with our granddaughters.
Today, many lovely weddings are planned at least a year in advance, with many decisions and projects involved. The stress, as well as the cost, can rise to uncomfortable levels. Someone asked me just this week about the issues involved with having a Christmastime wedding, with so many other things on the calendar, and subsequent years when the anniversary might be eclipsed in all the Christmas celebration. It is true, our anniversary falls 3 days after Christmas and our celebrations have not been lavish (other than the beautiful 50th-anniversary dinner given to us by our family) - but I would not change anything. I love Christmas - the meaning, the music, the colors, the family gathering. That translates so very well into the marriage celebration. We decided to have our wedding in October, only a little over 2 months before it happened! We chose to keep costs to a minimum and meaning to maximum. I made my wedding gown, sewing in between studying for nursing finals, and bringing the last pearls to sew on the lace train for Mother to help. I laugh when I tell you I crafted my pillbox (a la Jacquelyn Kennedy) hat that held my veil from the end of an Oatmeal box, covered in satin and pearls and made a puffy muff to hold my small bouquet. Bridesmaids wore cranberry faille coat dresses with white organdy collars and carried a single candle with a tiny nosegay of white flowers. We used a bank of green magnolia leaves from a wedding held the day before instead of flower arrangements in the church, and our reception was in the fellowship hall where punch, cake, nuts, and buttermints were on the table. We had no honeymoon, choosing instead to drive back to Oklahoma City in a snow storm the day after a night in a motel in Dallas. We had school for me and a job hunt for Joe to get back to. And it was thrilling and wonderful and the most beautiful time and place and way to get married.
Yes, it makes me smile to think of the beginning, but oh, the memories all through these years. This is what makes me weep and smile at the same time. The years have brought so much happiness and fullness. Faith, yes. fLove, yes. Friendship, yes. Hard work, yes. Sad times, yes. Laughter, oh yes. Three of the finest sons any parents could possibly have. And now the women they chose who are our daughters. Grandchildren, and more love. Pride, yes. Loss, yes. Stretching, yes. Tragedy and pain, yes, that too. Perseverance, without doubt. Glorious joy, yes. Contentment, yes. Illness, yes. Hope, then, and now.
I chose a few random photos that are markers for me of a life and work together, of love.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Recently a group of friends gathered for a meal and story sharing. We each told a story of a Christmas remembered. How valuable it is to hear each others' stories! Most of the stories were fond memories of a childhood Christmas experience. So much of our family preparation for and pleasure in Christmas includes ways we have done it before - stockings, and where they are hung, manger scenes and where they are placed, tree decorations, taken out of the box one by one with memories of each, carols around the piano, lots of family around for help and hugs, and cookies baked from recipes so old they are spattered and yellow.
I recounted the tale of our first married Christmas, when Joe and I were far from family and were beginning our own Christmas traditions, starting from scratch for Christmas decorations. I told part of this story in a previous post. Our First Christmas
In our conversation and shared storytime that recent evening, I also told of disappointment (we would have to go back to Texas the first of the year), of grief due to the death of my beloved grandfather and the fact we could not leave in time to drive back to the funeral, of uncertainty for what the future held, and some of the ways those beginning traditions and stories have played out in our lives. Since that first Oregon Christmas, except for the Christmases we celebrated while living in Indonesia, we have always had some of the decorations for our tree that hung on it the year before. Those years from 1987 to 1991, all of our Christmas decorations including family stockings were mistakenly sent to storage when our overseas shipment was packed in California! That was one of the first boxes I looked for when we got the storage shipment back in 1992!
Even though the beginning Parker family Christmas may have seemed like starting from scratch, it was not entirely. We each brought to our marriage a faith that had been nurtured in our families of origin that was the reason for celebrating Christmas anywhere, at all. The trimmings for the tree, our handmade gifts, the clever folded angels Joe cut from paper for me - all of those were not just traditions carried on from the past, they signified the reason for those traditions: the coming of God to be with us in the form of a human baby, to show us how to live and love. Fifty one years and many many Christmas candles and carols, evergreen trees and manger scenes, stockings and presents, boy grins and grandgirl giggles later, the traditions are precious, and the Christmas Story remains the same.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Maddie and Jordann and their campfire
I love this photo our son Jeremy sent while he was camping out with his girls, who are 8 and 6 years old. They have always loved campouts, complete with tents and cooking over the fire. But recently they began what Jeremy termed "glamping" after their family acquired a travel trailer which allows them to have most of the comforts of home (indoor shower and bathroom, beds with mattresses, and a small kitchen.) They can enjoy being outdoors and still sleep cool and snug.
When they were here this past weekend, Maddie invited her Papa and me to come camping with them - and they would "give us the best bed!" I asked her if I had ever told her the story of when we camped out in a buffalo herd the first year we were married. Her eyes got big and she said no, I had not told her that story, and she was properly shocked as we told what had happened to us.
In July, 1964, (after our December 28,1963 wedding), Joe worked as a geophysicist on a seismic crew for Petty Geophysical. We lived that blistering hot summer in a small apartment in Duncan, Oklahoma. The crew received word of being moved to Sherman, Texas so we planned a weekend to go there to look for an apartment. We thought it would be fun to go camping at Lake Texoma, so we borrowed gear from another crew member. On that Friday, we had air mattresses and coolers already loaded into our tiny Karman Ghia, and I had already prepared food to pack at the last minute. At lunchtime, Joe came home and said the crew move had been delayed for several weeks. Crestfallen, we cancelled our camping plans since we couldn't afford to go find a place to live there and pay double rent for a month.
But when we were eating dinner after Joe got home that evening, we thought of a Plan B! Lawton, OK is only a little over 30 miles from Duncan, and northwest of Lawton is Mount Scott, a prominent mountain in the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. Why not drive over at there instead? So we rechecked our prepared gear and food and headed out.
The closest I had ever come to camping was a weiner roast with my best friend's family or sleeping in a bunk bed at church camp! So I wasn't much help other than being a good sandwich maker. Joe thought it would be a great geology field trip! Arriving after dark, as we entered the roads leading toward campsites, I did notice warning signs for wildlife, including some cautions about buffalo, longhorn cattle, and snakes. After all, it was a wildlife refuge! Evidently alot of other people had the same good idea about a weekend campout, because all the campsites in the common area were already occupied. Joe drove down to a grove of trees that looked perfect, we inflated our air mattresses and enjoyed the cool breeze, so different from our apartment that had no fan or air conditioner. We left the coolers in the car, and as I walked back to the car to get water, I looked out toward Mount Scott with a full moon rising over it and smiled. But as I stood there, I felt a twinge of uncertainty. There were what seemed to be round dark shadows moving in this landscape. I called Joe and pointed this out, but non-plussed, he said they were "just rocks," Quickly, I made up my mind - whatever this was, it was moving, and moving toward us. I told him I was getting in the car, and soon he joined me as the first large animals lumbered by. A small herd of buffalo thought our grove of trees looked inviting too! Or maybe they were just curious and wanted to investigate our presence. I remember laughing to the point of hysteria! If I had rolled down the car window, I could have scratched a hairy belly! And we couldn't just drive off and leave our borrowed gear on the ground! Joe discovered if he turned on the car's headlights, the animals moved away from the light. So he told me to move the car back and forth and he ran for the air mattresses. Unfortunately, inflated air mattresses do not fit well into Kharman Ghias, adding to our nervous hilarity. We drove around for an hour, but never found a spot we (mostly me) found acceptable, so we drove back to our hot apartment and finally went to bed.
Later we learned that the designated camp area was surrounded by a moat to protect campers from Buffalo visitors. We didn't stay in Duncan long enough to repeat our attempt to camp at Mount Scott, and years later when we finally did pitch a tent for a family camp out at Lake Texoma, Jeremy, who was then a small boy, had his own camping adventure when he picked up what he thought was a big ball on the trail and it turned out to be an armadillo!
Glamping might just be OK!