Friday, January 19, 2018
Today, January 13, 2018, is a milestone birthday for our oldest son, a milestone for me too, that of the birth of my first child. I remember so well that cold morning in San Antonio when I was wakened in the early morning hours to realize this baby was on the way 2 weeks earlier than expected.
It is strange to me to consider the moments that stand out clearly - the way we closed the front door at 5139 Happiness Lane and stopped on the porch long enough for Joe to take a picture of me, grinning and wearing an ill fitting gray coat I had sewn for myself that winter. The front of the coat would no longer button. I remember the lining - jewel toned paisley, and the buttons - embossed antique silver. But I do not remember the drive, or what we said to each other although I can imagine our excited conversation. I do not remember going up to the 23rd floor of the Nix Hospital on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. After I was checked into a room, I was given Demerol and Scopolamine, a common practice in those days. So even though I had expressed a desire to be awake and aware for birthing, I remember nothing of the special moments mid afternoon when I gave birth. I do remember Joe telling me that we had a beautiful baby boy. Unlike today, when most couples know gender early, he announced that when he arrived. I remember the view from the end of the hall when I was allowed to walk there in the next days. The window looked out on the construction site of the World's Fair held in San Antonio beginning April 6 that year.
I remember the pride and joy we shared the day we brought our tiny baby boy home. And I remember the small nursery across from our bedroom. We bought a used crib and painted it creamy white. The only new furniture was a rocking chair my parents bought. It came unpainted; we painted it to match the crib. I made sheer yellow curtains and we hung a musical mobil over the crib which had a red rabbit among other animals. Sean loved that red rabbit!
Today, he is a fine man with a gray beard! He is a loving husband and father, brother and uncle. Little did I know pride and joy would multiply through the years, but they have. He is a man of integrity and honor and has weathered life storms with dignity. He works hard, reads, speaks Norwegian, and is a fine cook and gardener. Last night we gathered for a family meal and a loud Happy Birthday song from all of us. Happy Birthday, Sean!
Friday, September 29, 2017
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Monday, October 3, 2016
I am thinking of a brand new person who will soon be here to join our family. Oliver Hilton Parker is due to be born near the first of December! Every day brings us closer to that glad time and just as we prepare for those who temporarily join us, more importantly and thoughtfully we prepare to greet him with open arms. The crib is in place, dressed in soft cream linens. Colorful banners hang on the walls, and bright bins hold baby things and toys. The nursery is amazing and deserves its own blog post, so that will come later.
I am knitting a tiny newborn size sweater (above) that I know will only fit him briefly, and starting a small coverlet which will be like a Victorian crazy quilt, stitched with all the old-fashioned stitches taught me by Oliver's great, great grandmother Curley.
Friday, September 18, 2015
Last week Joe and I drove by the first house we bought after we were married. We would have had a hard time recognizing it if we had not known for certain its location and street number. But nearly 50 years later, It appears that another family lives there now who also loves plants! I smile as I think of the difference in the big truck parked there and our little green VW in the driveway!
In 1966 we bought our first house in a suburb of Houston. The address was 11827 South Little John Circle, in a neighborhood named Fondren Park. We had the house built for around $14,000, and not only picked the elevation style, the carpet (in the living room only - forest green) and tile (vinyl mosaic) and colors in the kitchen (yellow counters and appliances!)but we drove by to visit the progress almost everyday during the time it was under construction. Our combined salary was barely $700 with Joe working at a company called Independent Exploration and my working at the Hillcroft Medical clinic. We shared rides to work in our Volkswagen.
We moved in, started gardening, mowing, and meeting neighbors like Joan and Edgar Rust (Rusty) and Amon and Lucille White. We had an inexpensive bed, chest of drawers, and dresser purchased when we moved into our apartment in Houston the year before, gladly accepted the hand me downs of a wicker love seat and rocker from Mother and Daddy, and bought an unfinished round table we lovingly sanded and stained. Chairs from Mexico completed our dining area. We reupholstered a couch and chair that had been my grandmother Terrell's. We found red fabric at a discount store and painted the wood parts black. I made a wall hanging from burlap and a square of printed linen.
Soon we felt our nest was feathered as we received the good news that we were expecting our first baby! We decided to wait to "tell" so that we could do that as a Christmas gift for our parents when we traveled home on Christmas eve. However on Christmas Eve, I had to have emergency surgery for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and spent Christmas week in the hospital.
Our friend, Pat Tarver came to stay with us for a few months while her husband was in basic training. Pat was our church secretary, in the choir with me, and my close friend. When her husband was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, we hugged her goodbye without realizing we would soon follow her. After only 10 months in our beautiful little house, Joe accepted a job in San Antonio so we quickly sold our first house, finding another home where we welcomed our beautiful baby son in 1968. There have been many homes and many good neighbors since but I still use Lucille's recipe for ginger cookies and Rusty's recipe for homemade vanilla ice cream.
When we drove into the much changed neighborhood last Friday, memories began to swirl and surface. Neighborhood potlucks, gathering friends and family around our little table. The time when I proudly put a sprig of my own garden mint in my brother in law's tea glass and he found a worm on it! Coming home without our much wanted first baby to finally open our Christmas gifts. Loving and supporting each other and learning how nice neighbors can be and how hard it is to say goodbye.
And today, looking at pictures of the house, thinking how very young we were and of all the years in between of faith and family, and our own action adventure! A few tears and plenty of laughter later, we feel so blessed.
Saturday, August 8, 2015
I remember the swing on my front porch when I was Maddie's age, and also the swings our little boys loved when they were growing up. There is magic in pumping your legs to swing higher and feeling the air rush past. There is such sweetness in remembering the calls to "Swing me higher, Daddy!" and "Please push me." I know our age is one of cell phones and tablets with online games and countless diversions that can be held in their hands, but I so want to offer our sweet girls the choices of spending time outdoors, finding beauty in nature, letting imaginations fill their stories with wonder. I want to encourage them to watch for the caterpillar and chrysalis and butterfly, and which plants are good for that. I hope they will make necklaces from 4 o'clock blooms, crowns from sticky weed, and make mud pies. I want them to love rubbing herbs in their fingers and knowing its name by the way it smells. I long for them to collect rocks and seeds, to feel the wonder of cool wet dew on bare feet, and listen for cicadas in the trees in summertime. I want to enjoy eating watermelon and popsicles on the back porch with them, watching for bird nests, listening to birdsong, planting Morning Glories and Moonflowers, using a watering can to give the flowers a "shower." And swinging.
Sunday, July 5, 2015
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Saturday, November 22, 2014
I am glad we have a day called Thanksgiving. I am blessed to gather family around our table to share prayers of gratitude and a meal we have prepared together. I am also glad to practice being grateful and saying thank you every day. As part of my early morning quiet time, I keep a gratitude journal where each day I write 5 things for which I am thankful I write down what comes to mind without editing or spending too much time trying to say it well! This has been a year full of paying attention to God's good gifts, being astonished at beauty and blessings, and wanting to tell about it.* As I look through the pages of that journal and browse all the photos, I have chosen a few things to share with you from these days of 2014. I chose the photo above for the way it shows being covered. I feel covered with the love of my family and God's good grace.
I am thankful for...
my forever friend, Joe
the miracle of new life: Nora Opal, arriving this Spring
my word for 2014: Release
healing for hurting hearts
knitting lace that I started in 1973!
winter garden harvest - cabbages, cauliflower, and a tree full of Meyer lemons
Skye's love of cooking and being with me in the kitchen
fragrance of a single gardenia
lessons from seeds
Grandma's rocker near the fireplace
March 16: Maddie's 8th birthday
March 19: Nora Opal arrives!
our rose arbor in full bloom (the survivor rose, Peggy Martin)
singing songs my mother and grandmother sang to me for Nora while I rock her
our back porch
dawn sky, peaches and spun sugar
old cookbooks, heirloom recipes
morning glory blooms at my kitchen window
August 19: Jordann and her birthday doll
the warmth of copper as it catches light
handwritten thank you notes
our porch swing
glimmers from the past - old family photos
November 19: Skye is 12!
*this refers to my favorite quotation from the poetry of Mary Oliver:
Tell about it."
Friday, August 15, 2014
Opal was my mother, making her Nora's great grandmother. The butterfly quilt was made as a gift for Opal on her 17th birthday in 1931, a common pattern choice in those depression years that so needed the butterfly's symbolism of hope. The women who chose these colors and patterns and stitched every tiny, even stitch were Opal's mother and grandmother, making them Nora Opal's great-great grandmother and great-great-great grandmother. I stood as I watched Nora admire their handwork, thinking of their stories and hers. They could not have known that almost a century later, a beautiful little girl would so love what they made. But I am confident they know now. Opal herself did not know when she passed the quilt on to me how I would keep it and love it and give it again. But I know she joins Clyde and Earnestine in blessing Nora and returning the admiration. Hope is a wonderful gift to pass on.
Friday, August 8, 2014
Mary Ann, 1940
Many things are very different now- early pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, disposable diapers, washers and dryers that are marvels, air conditioned homes and automobiles, car seats, and Mp3 lullabies! I am thankful for every convenience that helps to keep babies safe and provides help for parents, but there is no replacement or upgrade for the calming reassurance of human voice and the comfort of loving arms.
Friday, August 1, 2014
Among my favorite photos of my sons are three separate pictures when they were babies. They are lined up in a small frame that holds the images of each of the three dressed in the same navy blue suit, evidence of the way we passed down clothing from boy to boy. These two photos will join those as pictures that make me happier every single time I look at them. Eleven years ago, our granddaughter Skye wore a sweet dress that I had given her, and smiled sunshine into my heart. The dress has been passed down through 2 more granddaughters (I am still looking to see if we have any pictures where they wear the dress) - and now, Nora is wearing the same dress and gracing us with her own happy smiles. She wore the dress recently on the day we celebrated Joe's 77th birthday. Skye is now almost as tall as I am, and loves her baby cousin. When I saw the two of them smiling at each other while the one who wore the dress first cradled the one it now fits while she fed her, there was a lump in my throat and a few happy tears. Shared dresses don't tell the story, but they do help remind us of shared joy and love passed on and on. Family hand me downs!
Thursday, July 24, 2014
When our sons started their years in Davis Elementary School in Plano, TX in the 1970's, lunch room prices had increased considerably, and most of the time they still had homemade lunches. They just carried them to school in cartoon character or superhero embellished metal lunch boxes which had their names marked with indelible markers. Since plastic sandwich bags had been introduced in the late 1950's, their sandwiches most often were snugly enclosed in a baggie (no zipper on top), a Ziploc bag, or Tupperware! If I stopped to do the math X 3 boys for making sandwiches, bagging them and assembling said sandwich, some fruit, chips, and a cookie or three into the corners of those rattly dented lunch boxes, it might make me feel tired, so I will just propose that over those years that happened thousands of times. Often I tucked a note inside to send a little love along with lunch. I am pretty sure by first grade they did not let their friends see those notes.
In May, I started going to our youngest son's home to take care of my newest granddaughter. Her other grandma and I are sharing time, so I go every third week for my days with Nora, now 4 months old. On the first Monday, I arrived at 6:00 a.m. to give them time for departure for their jobs by 6:15. As they kissed their little one goodbye, picked up their things and started to leave, Ben turned around and said. "Oh, Mom...I made your sandwich for lunch. It is in the frig." As my eyes filled with tears and memories, I gave him a hug and thanked him before holding his daughter a little closer and breathing her sweet baby scent.
I am keeping that sandwich bag.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
She doesn't mind my crackly voice singing "A, You're Adorable." We make it through that song every diaper change. If there is an entire clothing change, we sometimes get through several songs from The Sound of Music! She talks to me with her eyes to say thank you, and flashes a coquettish grin when I brush her hair.
Yesterday we walked outside to catch a raindrop and she smelled a basil leaf when I made my lunch. She likes dots and patterns so I choose the blouse I will wear for her. We play peek a boo and pat a cake and chant nursery rhymes. When I rock her to sleep, I sing many of the same old hyms that my mother and grandmother sang to me. We have discovered that Christmas carols are wonderful lullabies!
Our other granddaughters are a joy to me and teach me just like she does that there is so much to look forward to. They help me remember some favorite lines from a poem by Mary Oliver: "Pay attention.
Tell about it."
- all so much more fun when we do it together!
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Mother sewed new dresses for my sister and me, which inevitably wound up being hidden under coats as we made our way to the Sunrise Service held. in our hometown. This service was early, and happened at a place called Love's Lookout where there was a large ampitheatre formed from red rock, a WPA project. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Depression-era Works Progress Administration came to the hill in the 1930s and, using red rock mined from Cherokee County, built a park, picnic grounds and an amphitheater used for these sunrise services, plays and other events.
The scenic bluff which was the location of the ampitheatre was named to honor Wesley Love who in 1904 bought much of the surrounding area and planted a 600-acre peach farm. After Love's death in 1925, his wife donated 22 acres to the state for a state park. The state, however, failed to create the park and in 1934 the City of Jacksonville purchased an additional 20 acres and developed the two tracts as a city park. That's when the Works Progress Administration began its project.
In the Spring, dogwoods and other spring flowers are in bloom, making the setting even more beautiful. I remember shivering on the cold hard semicircle of rock on which we sat, but I loved this sunrise service, with its gathering of Christians from many area churches, the joy of singing "Christ Arose" and Alleluia, the feelings of newness and festivity in our Easter clothes, and our family traditions that would follow: church services at First Baptist Church, Easter Sunday dinner which would included having grandparents at our house or going to theirs. There was baked ham, potato salad, new potatoes with green beans put up in Mason jars, Jello salads and sometimes Coconut cake or pie - all homemade and delicious. I can almost smell the vinegar we used for die to color boiled eggs the day before so that we could hide them over and over again on Sunday afternoon.
Today our family includes some version of many of the same traditions as those I loved 70 years ago, but
we have added to these a deeper awareness of the season of Lent, and more intentional observance of Holy Week. Our church for 22 years now, First Baptist Church in Richmond, Texas is where we gather for services such as one we attended last night, Tenebrae. The church has a prayer garden with a small labyrinth where chairs will be set up for a Sonrise service tomorrow morning followed by breakfast with our church family served from dishes made with eggs and sausage made at home and brought as families arrive. There will be an egg hunt for children. I will sing in the choir and ring with the handbell choir as we express joy and praise with some of the same hymns I sang with my family all those years ago. Then we come back here to our house with all of our sons and their wives and children who can be here. That will include our newest granddaughter, sweet Nora Opal, who is exactly one month old and celebrating her very first Easter.
Friday, March 28, 2014
In the days just over a week ago when they knew their baby would soon be born, I told my son that giving birth was hard work, yes, but that it was the most exquisite thing that ever happened to me. The beauty of welcoming a grandchild is another layer of that kind of breathtaking awe and wonder. Part of this is being privileged to see that amazing awareness and tenderness in my son and his wife as they experience all it means to be a parent. Part is the hope, knowing, newness, and wonder in my granddaughter's eyes. Thank you, Ben and Kristen, and Nora!
"To have grandchildren is not only to be given something but to be given something back.
You are given back something of your children's childhood all those years ago. You are given back something of what it was like to be a young parent. You are given back something of your own childhood even, as on creaking knees you get down on the floor to play tiddlywinks, or sing about Old MacDonald and his farm, or watch Saturday morning cartoons till you're cross-eyed.
It is not only your own genes that are part of your grandchildren but the genes of all sorts of people they never knew but who, through them, will play some part in times and places they never dreamed of. And of course along with your genes, they will also carry their memories of you into those times and places too—the afternoon you lay in the hammock with them watching the breezes blow, the face you made when one of them stuck out a tongue dyed Popsicle blue at you, the time you got a splinter out for one of them with the tweezers of your Swiss army knife. On some distant day they will hold grandchildren of their own with the same hands you once held them by as you searched the beach at low tide for Spanish gold.
In the meantime, they are the freshest and fairest you have. After you're gone, it is mainly because of them that the earth will not be as if you never walked on it.
Frederick Buechner on Grandchildren. originally published in Beyond Words