Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Daffodils And Roses.
Richard Foster compares a mother thrilled to get a wilted bouquet of dandelions from her child, to God celebrating our feeble expressions of gratitude.

When I read Mr. Foster's quote, at first all I thought about was flowers, but I believe he may have been talking about more than pretty bouquets.

In our country The floral industry is huge. Other cultures don't understand why and when we send flowers. I don't understand why more flowers are sent to dead people, than to live ones.

Flowers mean many things to me, daffodils I saw at Grand Pa's back door, and the absence of them where Mom and Dad lived. Except for flowers growing near our outhouse, I didn't understand why some grew, and others didn't.

Although I'd love a suprise bouquet, I realize the best ones may not be beautiful or wrapped so lovely. Sometimes dandelions will do.

When our marriage was dead but not yet buried, one morning I woke up and saw a single long stem yellow rose on my dresser. It wasn't like him to send flowers, and he hadn't.

I never understood why, but a young son had left the rose. Hoping to hold us together? I'll never know. He shouldn't have had to feel so concerned.

That was so long ago, but what I remember most is the rose.

Other bouquets may be more disquised, a caring nurse washing my face with a cool wet cloth, after I had a baby.

My cleaning up a patient when she couldn't toilet herself. Not all of life, maybe not even much of it, is under the fingernails clear and sanitary.

Like some who wish their lives had been better, and they had had indoor plumbing, God doesn't expect rigid and extreme perfection. Sometimes love will do, but

at least their flowers flourished. I can't help hoping some of them were roses, even if daffodils would do.

  posted at 5:38 PM  

Children, Children
Of The best laid plans, I've suddenly changed mine. At work yesterday, when things seemed to press, I'd think, "tomorrow's going to be much more fun".

Even though we work with very slow people in the nursing home, we still have to rush sometimes. So when I had to pause a bit to bring me down to their speed, I'd think of what I wanted to write about next in my life story.

But like my daughter, Bev, at Blessed Beyond Measure, I sometimes quickly change my mind, too. This post also includes daughter, Barb, at A Chelsea Morning, and may include Bev and Barb's brothers.

Yesterday I longed for a day off, for unrushed time wearing my favorite old gown, and the only work, refilling the coffee cup.

That's exacly how this day's unfolding. I had planned to write #3 of my life story, but first had to check the bloglines, and today's story just stood out from there.

Blessed Beyond Measure is doing the usual several things all at once. What's amazing is how well she does them, all at the same time. Her deciding to create and run the chuch book store is so like her. Anything less than a challenge is so unfulfilling it borders on boring, almost an insult.

So if you haven't read about Bev's latest multiple endeavor, check out Blessed Beyond Measure. From the opening "I've found my twin", to her "That's the way I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh", although Bev's too modest to agree, it is sheer creativity.

She's probably already making serious spread sheets (although I don't really know exactly what a spread sheet is), she's making them, about choosing books for the store, and how to create displays. Did you notice she's already thinking about background music for customers to enjoy?

While Bev's doing all that, big sister, Barb, at A Chelsea Morning is making numerous holiday things. The most recent one is a table center piece, of glitter gourds.

For years I've been telling Barb she's very creative. She's so good at knowing what goes well together, and doesn't. To me, that is creativity. Some day she may share about the miniature houses she designed. To say they're just doll houses, or only built, wouldn't do them justice. But Barb doesn't think she's creative. She just replies that she's good at following directions. She's wrong about this, of course. I'm her mother, and I know.

Barb and Bev had four brothers. Jerry, at least for a little while, liked doing drawings, but he seemed more interested in photography. Like anybody first starting out, he needed more practice. His son got most of what he tried to capture on camera.

I managed to get one that he did, and although his life wasn't pretty, so unpretty that he chose to end it, can you imagine how much I treasure this one thing he saw through a camera lense, a very beautiful rose.

I'm getting too serious here. When I began this, this morning, I just wanted to tell you about my children's talents.

By the world's measuring stick, son Gary isn't at all successful. He's barely getting by. But he has qualities rich men could envy, forgiving tremendous hurts, accepting how his life is, and in all of it, seeing some beauty, and humor.

When Gary was about ten years old, he really got into the Christmas season that year. When I pulled into the drivay, I knew something was up. A big mass of green trees, and saw horses, those things carpenters use, had become a nativity scene.

From somewhere in the house, Gary strung lights out to it. A bright one dangled over Joseph and Mary, and Barb or Bev's baby doll was infant Jesus. The girls were probably upset that Gary used their doll without asking. But except for worrying about the electrical cords, I would have kept Gary's manger scene up til New Year's day. His father made him take it all down.

You'd think his father and I were looking at the world through different windows. We didn't see many things from the same viewpoint. Gary had been sent to bed for some offense four year old boys commit, and couldn't tolerate the boredom of having nothing to do.

He found a crayola, a blue one, and drew a long train on the wall. His father wanted it removed. I couldn't see that it mattered if it stayed there. The wall was only unpainted sheetrock, and I felt that Gary's train added something to it, but mostly was glad he drew so well, for a four year old.

Childhood development is measured by how much detail they're aware of. Gary's train had long puffs of smoke going up and out from it. The wheels showed several parts, also the train tracks. Box cars were strung out, but connected, and were going uphill. When we sold that house a few years later, the blue train was still on the wall.

Son Dwain, you could not ignore. Some even get irritated with him. Sometimes I do too. If only one word could describe him, that word would be "extreme". Like all of us, what wasn't supplied in his childhood development, he's still trying to create.

While Barb must have order, and things be exactly so, and Bev functions better if she's mentally challenged, and Gary decides he'll have peace and serenity whichever way he can, Dwain makes it happen, usually in a big way.

An example of this was how he helped me move to the other side of our mountains in Colorado. He got a U-haul trailer big enough to bring along his motorcycle, and after we got the move done, rode it the two hundred miles or more back to Denver.
I love his ability to capture something of the moment, and his positive "can do" attitude.

Son, Derrell, the one we called "baby" until the day he stood up as tall as he could and announced: "When you're this big, you're not a baby anymore". That clues you to his personality. At reasoning, he's adept. he's also more patient than most. Like his mother, he talks too much sometimes. To him it's just explaining necessary details, many details.

I realize since I'm his mother, I cannot be very objective. Still, I don't think I'm giving Derrell undue credit for his qualities. He's very fair minded, and so faithful to others. When he says he will do something, you can count on it.

I don't know why I'm remembering all this today. Something about Autumn seems to encourage it. Will get back to my own life story soon, but maybe this is part of it too.

Hope you've enjoyed what I've told you about my half dozen. I am their mother, so I'm right, or as Barb would say, "Sigh!"

  posted at 2:05 PM  

Friday, October 27, 2006
# 2, Carefree Days
I'm trying to keep the time sequences after my cloud watching days straight. Because I didn't live in the same place all the time, it's a little confusing. Sometimes I'd be with Mom and Dad. Other times, back with Grand Pa, or maybe with the other grand Ma, my Mom's Mom. Wherever I was, I usually found something to do.

If I was with my parents, if Dad could afford the quarter for it, it was allright to walk to town and take in a movie. If I was at Grand Pa's, I knew to not ask.
Methodists were more strict about things like that back then. Movies were sinful, and would put bad ideas in our head. It was more sinful to watch one on a Sunday.

I couldn't see what was wrong or awful about Hopalong Cassidy catching
bad guys, But the look on Grand Ma and Grand Pa's faces told me I couldn't go.

Skating wasn't considered bad, and there was a skating rink, but it cost more, so I hardly ever went there.

In my home town. it gets awfully hot. I loved going to the creek, but none of the grownups wanted me to go, even if I was with other kids. When you know the answer's already "no", what do you do?

We'd head out like we were going to town, get down the road a ways, and double back, and head straight to that cool, soothing creek. To get there, we had to go beyond the train tracks, but that wasn't a problem. We just crawled under the box cars, and kept on walking, fast.

Except for being dishonest about going to the creek, I wasn't a bad child. The only time I came close to getting into trouble was when I picked flowers from somebody's yard, to take to my teacher. Even if I had been caught, it would have been worth it. I needed my teacher to like me.

I needed something prettier than what I saw at home, and in our flowerless yard.

When I lived with grand Pa, looking at daffodils and searching beyond the clouds for Heaven, filled my need for beauty and awe. Each year I seemed to need more. Very soon, I would need more than that.

  posted at 1:00 PM  

Wednesday, October 25, 2006
# 1, The Beginning
Someone said I should tell my life story, for my family. I won't be throwing many exact dates your way. I'm not big on numbers. I'm more interested in people and places, than exact years and days.

On a red clay hill, not far from town, my grand father built his house. Sandy roads led to smaller houses, where my Dad's brothers and their families lived. In a poorer section of town GrandPa had rent houses. I was born in one of them, about four years after the Great Depression began.

It ravaged America. Few jobs existed. Produce was dumped at the train station, where people brought tubs and other containers they filled and took home. The WPA handed out dark flour and prunes and other staples. I thought I would never eat another prune, or dark biscuit again.

Some wore surviving the Depression like it was a badge of courage, but Grand Pa didn't. He just got up every day, and worked his gardens and fields and patches. Grand Ma worked hard, too. She sewed, she cooked, she slopped the hogs. She sold butter and eggs to those who could afford them. Until you ate her biscuits and home made preserves, you didn't know what good eating was.

Their yard seemed so big, and the barn did too. Grandma milked her cows there. For some reason they were considered hers. Hog pens housed little creatures that would become bacon and ham. There was a chicken house, too.

Over and across a road, a ways from the house, was a fenced pasture for the cows, and one old work horse. Maybe it was a mule. Sometimes Grand Pa let me ride it. He led it of course, but I thought I told it which way to go. Grand Pa tried explaining what gee and haw meant, but I understood about as much about that as I did numbers. I was still a little kid.

Near the front entrance to the house a staircase went far up a ways, then turned, and went farther, to the bedrooms. Quilts Grand Ma made were so heavy. She and Grand Pa had six sons, so she made many pairs of trousers, and didn't waste much of anything, certainly not wool material.

As I recall these memories, I want to tell you so much. I want you to see the fruit trees, and peanuts drying in the barn loft, still on their plants that looked like big globs of vines.

I could write a separate chapter about Grand Ma's sewing room, and Grand Pa's carpentry shed. My favorite place was the back porch. Outside a little ways from it, daffodils grew. A little farther than that, sand and sand burs waited for my bare feet. Until then, my childhood seemed safe.

In the front yard I would lie on the grass, and look up at the clouds. Grand Pa had taken me to church, where they talked about Heaven being in some far off place. If I could only look far enough I thought, I could see it. If I could have reasoned like an adult, I would have looked at those clouds and the daffodils longer.

  posted at 4:17 PM  

Monday, October 23, 2006
The Life I Planned (from Beth Moor's poem)
When I saw this week's quote to write on, didn't even have to think whether I would. How do we figure out who we are, and what our life will be?

My life began in southeast Texas, where I lived the first 36 years of it. I loved southern cooking, and thought the Dallas Cowboys ranked right up there with pastors and doctors. No, that's not exactly true. What is true is that I hadn't yet eaten other foods, or learned about other sports.

Had I been born in China, or Japan, I might like squid more than Texas Roadhouse steak, and think men wearing only loin cloths while wrestling was more sport than football. As I grew older, I also changed my opinion somewhat about clergy and medical people. But for thirty six years I absorbed the culture I was in. I still walk and talk a lot like I did back then.

Until I married when fifteen, I learned only bits and pieces of my people's culture. Sometimes we don't, we can't know how important some of those pieces are. In my older years I wonder if my grandpa realized what he gave me, when he told me bedtime stories of his childhood on a South Carolina plantation.

Some things we learn more from example than from being told. My favorite grandma taught me more without words. Her getting up every day and building a fire in the stove, and later sweeping the porch, while dinner slowly simmered, her courage, her never complaining about how poorly she lived didn't seem like life changing examples at the time.

When I learned about her life, that she was widowed very young, left alone to raise four children, I treasured each sweep of her broom, and time spent helping her snap dried peas.

Many times, in the Old Testament when families traveled to foreign lands, it seemed to me that wives left their people, and went with their husbands. In a way, that's what happened to me, even though we stayed in the same town. Early on in marriage, almost all family gatherings, interactions were almost always with his people.

Holidays, special occasions, all our Kodak moments and pictures were made there. At fifteen you're probably not that aware of how much you need to be with family, how much you need their influence and support. All that was taken from me, all but a few bits and pieces. Sometimes I felt like a stranger in a strange land.

I don't know, maybe it's passed on in bloodlines, but even when I was a little girl I loved learning. Hardly anybody emphasized it. It was just in me, and I had to do it. I could write a whole other story about how I got educated, but am trying hard to stick to the subject here.

If I had planned my life, my parents would have had a a nice home, like my grandpa did, and they would have got along and raised me and my brothers and sisters, instead of us all being sent in different directions, and not growing up together. If life had been anything like ideal, pretty flowers would have grown in our yard, instead of sand and sandburs.

My children would have had much better childhoods, and school days, and enjoyed Christmases sometimes at Grandpa's, and been amazed at the huge holly tree he put up each year. One child wouldn't be an alcoholic, and one would not have killed himself, but life isn't always pretty. Like the Christmas tree, sometimes we have to decorate it ourselves.

Do I wish my growing up years had been different? oh yes, but I may as well complain about the wind and rain.

My years were not all bad. Many people helped. A teacher, someone I met somewhere would say a few things that stuck with me, help me begin to believe in myself, or show me a new trail to check out, and it's still happening today.

A few months ago I began what would be a huge change. I thought it was all about where I lived, and what job I had. It was much more important than that.

I had sunk into a deep rut, that while comfortable at first, eventually wasn't. Without challenges, without something interesting going on, life was getting duller almost every day.

When I was a child, someone would decide where I would go, and how my life would be.
I think I've discovered a new definition of freedom. It's me deciding where to take me.

So I moved to the other side of a mountain, and took on challenges my rut style of life didn't require. This morning I looked out my window, at the part of Colorado I'm in. October's ending, but Autumn's still around. My God, it's so beautiful here!

I read somewhere until you embrace your past, you cannot love your today. I was hanging on to the wrong part of my life, betrayal, the hurt, the anger. I didn't understand that doing that kept me from knowing and loving myself.

When I thought of me as a little girl, I didn't think about being almost beautiful, and very smart. I pictured the wrongs done to me, and felt very sad.

After I gave myself permission to take me where I want to, I decided to do something else. I remembered the little girl I used to be, and what it was like to be her, and smiled as I left her back there, then picked up my treasured bits and pieces of family history, and reached out for a new day, and me.

  posted at 9:02 AM  

Thursday, October 19, 2006
Thursday Thirteen--- things you may not know about me
Daughter, Barb, at A Chelsea Morning, began her "Thursday Thirteen " today by telling her age.

#1. I don't mention my age much, because it's kind of personal. Our country is much too obsessed with youth and beauty and speed, which leaves me somewhat behind. I'm the lady ahead of you at the check out stand, ever so slowly digging in my purse for check book and pen.

Wrinkles and "jello" upper arms, calendar dates, and occasional senior moments will not define me.

#2. According to family history there's a royal bloodline, French, no less. Information about it arrived one day, along with a utility cut off notice.

#3. I'm easy going, and quickly adjust to changing priorities, but I take life much too seriously. One of my new years resolutions for 2006 was to lighten up, and have more fun. But that's the problem. Fun should not be work.

#4. Daughter, Barb, at A Chelsea Morning, said she would live on veggies, that it wouldn't bother her if she never ate meat again. I grew up just so glad we had food. We didn't know we had choices. One Grand Ma's purple hull peas and cornbread was an everyday feast. At Christmas, her syrup cake made the day special.

There's hardly any food I don't like. When I chomp into a very juicy pink medium rare prime cut of beef, unlike my daughter, I do not think of cow's eyes. I think "bring on the right kind of baked potato with all the toppings, and a salad to die for, to go with the steak".

#5. Life's much too complicated now. I'm sure we'll never go back to a more simple way. The computer, and learning about DNA and RNA revolutinized medical care and crime solving.

#6. Did you ever cheat on a test? I did, one time only, I copied the class room
brains's answer, and he was wrong.

#7 Instead of telling you about the worst job I ever had (it really was very dull and boring, but paid twice as much as nursing). One day I couldn't stand the repetitive assembly lineness of it any longer, and went back to nursing. That was the best decision I've ever made.

I've never looked back, and don't regret it. I am truly blessed that I could be a part of so many patients lives. How do you put a dollar value on that.

#7. Life isn't all seriousness, even though I tend to make it so.
When I was about 14 years old I somehow ended up in Minnesota, and for a short while worked in a shoe factory. I think they're still making work boots there, Red Wing work boots.

#8. Would I change anything about my life? Although how I lived might seem hard to others, and it was, I wouldn't change a thing. I read something somewhere sometime, about being strong in the broken places.

#9. I couldn't understand it then, but do now. The challenges, especially the ones I thought I couldn't overcome, made me stronger. and more able to deal with today.

#10. I don't mean to brag, but I've driven through several Colorado blizzards, and spent a few nights on nursing home couches.

#11. Once in Englewood I fought off a would be attacker, and won.

#12. Id still rather not tell you my age, for it doesn't reflect the real me.

#13 I haven't broken laws, but am not real big on society's fancy rules. Like my pen name's namesake, Molly Brown, I am quite happy to still be afloat.

  posted at 7:20 PM  

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Along The Way...........
Unlike my daughter, Bev, at "Blessed Beyond Measure" I'm having a difficult time with the quote, "It doesn't matter what is behind you, as much as it matters who is beside you". When Bev needed him most, God sent a wonderful and outstanding man to share life with. Surely they were destined to be together.

My story's nothing like hers. It was the people God put in my past who molded and strengthened me. It is impossible to choose only one person out of the many, who made the difference for me.

The first one I can remember was my Grandpa. As we walked along his garden rows, my short little legs could hardly keep up with his long ones.

It was fun finding ripe tomatoes with him, and pulling ears of corn, Sometimes we'd pick plums, or check out his peanut patch, but it wasn't just fresh vegetables or fruit that Grand Pa gave me.

Some of the most important things we learn, we sometimes get in round about ways. I was a little kid, and being with Grand Pa was just fun. Much later I realized how much he gave me.

Never did I hear him curse, or say anything bad, even if it was true, about anybody. We lived only about one generation after the Civil war, and racism still reigned. When poor people, black or white, needed food, milk, eggs, Grandpa gave them plenty. If he could, he found work for them to do.

He was a carpenter. One day he built a long skinny wooden box. While he worked on it, Grand Ma was busy at the sewing machine, making a silk like lining for it. Somebody's small child, or baby had died.

I realize I've mentioned this in previous posts, but hope you don't mind my repeating it. I learned a lot just trailing along behind my tall grand Pa, but the most important thing he passed on to me was when he bowed his lowest, kneeling at the church altar, with me right at his side. I was so little then. It would be years before I realized what treasures he gave, honesty and respect for others, no matter what their race.

Quite a few people influenced my religous beliefs. Well meaning neighbors, and a relative showed me about Christianity more by how they they lived, than what they said.

Over time I would understand that Jesus is Jesus, whether His likeness hangs from a Catholic cross or a Baptist or Methodist one, or any of several other denominations, or even a nondenominational church. I don't have to adopt a particular group of people's religious beliefs, but I'm real big on loving God's Son, and treating my neighbor like I'd like to be regarded.

As a child I often felt like an orphan, but knew when God adopted me, not without faults, but because of them. When I read about all that in the Bible, I feel somewhat like royalty.

My mother's sister taught me just as much as Grand Pa did. Her life style was much different than his. While he taught about growing food and farm animals, and the importance of faith and honesty, and helping your fellow man, Auntie taught me that sometimes women have to make a life without a man.

While working as a nurse's aide, she became involved with a married doctor, and that tragic mistake just about branded a Scarlet letter on her the rest of her life, and caused the daughter she bore to be branded as even worse.

When World War 11 happened, and nurses were desperately needed, Auntie became one. I lived with her a lot then. I'd see her in her sterile looking white uniform, and white shoes that seemed just as pure. Was there something symbolic about her choosing work that required such whiteness? While fastening a long row of pearl looking buttons, she would smile. This lady had made a terrible mistake, but she knew how to persevere.

Forty years later, I'm in nurses training one day as they're handing out awards. Guess which one they gave me. They called it the Golden Stethoscope Award, "for the student who, (that's right) most persevered.

What I learned most from her was that no matter how troublesome or difficult life might be, if I chose to, I could still be good natured, and happy. She taught me other things, important things, like learning to read, but it was her good natured disposition that she passed on to me, that I value most.

Several people encouraged or helped me believe I could be more educated. One who stands out more than others was a college instructor I somehow met. Please understand I had barely finished grade school.

This lady, who had taught so many students, would read my fledgling writing efforts, and not point out incorrect grammar or misspelled words, but encouraged me to take college courses.

Because she did that I signed up and took the entrance exam. When the college sent word it was time to enroll, I was stunned, but not too stunned to seize the opportunity.

My aunt taught me well about that, too. Once in a while we may be given a sweet serendipity. I realize I'm digressing here, but I love that word. The dictionary says it means a seeming gift for finding good things accidentally. I don't believe it's that, not at all. I believe whatever good lands in our path comes to us straight from God, but it's up to us what we do with it.

My aunt's huge personal mistake, her circumstances, or the time in which she lived did not define her, and mine haven't me.

She just kept putting that white starched and ironed uniform on, and going to work, and did the best she could with what she messed up, or life handed her, and I do, too. She taught me well.

She died in the sixties, and here I am now, still putting my uniform on, and going to work. Thank goodness they aren't starched and ironed anymore, and don't have all those little buttons to fasten.

I've been blessed more than many people I know. When I'm taking care of patients, some who have diseases that will eventually kill them, I think how fortunate I am that I only have to work. Every day they must deal with much worse.

I'm not eager for unexpected challenges, but my past ones have made me strong. I cannot imagine what or how I'd be, if my grand pa and aunt hadn't helped me form some life values, and the college instructor hadn't cared enough to see my capabilities, instead of my uneducated efforts to write. Many others helped, and I appreciate them all, but these stand out the most along a way, even today, I would not change.

  posted at 3:15 PM  

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Cyber Space And Cybernetics
Sometimes I'm just not paying attention. When the electric alarm clock came on the market, I learned how to set it without too much trouble, and remembered to make it a.m. or p.m. The first time I used a pop machine that made change, I thought that was amazing. When I worked as a secretry, I learned how to use the dictaphone, and the electric typewriter. Using the microwave was a bit of a challenge, but went allright after I learned to not put eggs with shells still on them in it.

During the last presidential election I used modernized voting equipment. At the airport I dealt with some kind of screen to check myself in for flight.

I still ignore self serve checkout aisles at supermarkets, but it's not from fear of using them. I just feel it's not right to replace hardworking store clerks with machines. The same thing goes for using a computer to check on mail and package deliveries.

I realize I'm in the minority about this. My son and a daughter got airline tickets for me on the p.c. When I was called up for jury duty, one son showed me how I could find out if I even needed to report for duty, by checking it on the computer.

I remember being so frightened when I went to the college to register for classes, and those monster looking machines silently waited for me to be brave enough to deal with them. Nowadays, students grades and school records are at parents' fingertips, on the keyboard.

I do understand we've been living in a cyber space world a long, long time, and didn't complain when I learned it was possible to email a soldier grandson in faraway Iraq. I never did learn how to do Instant messaging, though.

A year or so ago I decided I would learn how to use a computer, and I've made some progress, but lately am almost overwhelmed. I've been doing nursing almost 25 years. The paper work it requires ranks right up there with about as much as monks in monasteries do.

I'm trying to hold on to a good attitude about this historical change, but when I deal with laptops on my medicine cart, and compete with other nurses for better places to plug the laptop into, so it doesn't just get started, and then crash, I so wish I didn't have to learn this new system.

I understand the advantages of recording and transmitting information on computers. I admit I've complained about the pen and paper method, for years. The cybernetics part of all this is not just my thoughts on it, but my frazzled feelings.

I know I must get good at using the program in those silly looking laptops, and somehow, I will. But what I want to do is find a nice little nursing home in some remote village that still does nurses' charting the old fashioned way.

Often we had to work over to complete it, but at least could sit down and rest our backs, while charting.

  posted at 1:12 PM  

About Me
Name: Judith

Location: Colorado

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