Monthly Archives: April 2012

My Best Accomplishment are My Children

As I’ve written before, I have three children: one son and two daughters, and I’m proud of each and every one of them. I consider them to be my best accomplishment

Our son, Joe

Our son, Joe

Joe, our oldest, has long since left our family nest, and is doing well for himself out in this big, wide world. But that doesn’t mean that as his mother I don’t still worry about him. I don’t think a mother ever stops worrying about her children, no matter how old they become. However, I am secure in the knowledge that he’s okay, as evidenced by the fact that he’s made quite a life for himself. I do know, however, that if we asked him to move home just to help us out, he would do so in a heartbeat, and that’s proof enough of his love for his family. He is one of the most kind, warmhearted and caring people that I know. And family is the most important thing in the world to him. I know that whomever he chooses as his wife will be the luckiest woman in the world and some day he will be an amazing father.

MY OLDEST DAUGHTER SARAH

MY OLDEST DAUGHTER SARAH

Our oldest daughter Sarah is married to a wonderful man, Axel. They are just starting out in life, but I know that they will have carve out a wonderful life together because their love for each other is strong and true. Sarah is one of the most beautiful people I have ever known, and I’m not talking about her outside beauty (although I’ve always thought she’s been beautiful). No, I’m talking about her qualities of compassion, kindness, loyalty, and goodness. Sarah is the kind of person who will sacrifice something she has for whatever you need. She is loving and kind and I know that someday she will be the best mother ever.

MY YOUNGEST DAUGHTER STEPHANIE

MY YOUNGEST DAUGHTER STEPHANIE

That leaves our youngest daughter, Stephanie. Stephanie is a cellist and has a bachelor’s degree in music performance. She is now working on her master’s degree in music performance. And let me tell you, this young woman has talent! And I’m not just exaggerating because I’m her mother. She’s always been the first cellist in every orchestra she’s ever played in. Stephanie is sensitive, thoughtful, and kind. She’s always thinking of the other person first and is always careful not to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Though all of my children mean the world to me, and I would never be able to choose among them, I’m going to dedicate this post to my darling daughters, because there’s always been a special bond between the three of us as a mother and her daughters.

I’d like to share with you the following poem which I wrote for my daughters, and this quote by Robert Penn Warren best explains how I went about writing it: “How do poems grow? They grow out of your life.” I hope that you enjoy it.

Stephanie and Sarah as little girls

“My Little Blossom”

A daughter is a gift from God—
There cannot be a finer thing,
Than watching while she’s growing up;
Her growth reminds me of the Spring.

She’s just like a little blossom,
A tiny bud in bloom is she.
It seems she grows a bit each day,
Just like a flowering apple tree.

She’s such a darling little girl;
Her personality is sweet.
She can’t help but be so charming,
And when she smiles, it’s quite a treat.

In her world, her dolls are babies,
And all of her stuffed toys are real.
She plays her games of make-believe,
While playing dress-up with such zeal.

Her hugs and kisses are so precious,
I melt when she says, “I love you.”
She drapes her arms around my neck,
And then I know her love is true.

I wish that my little blossom
Could remain forever with me.
But I know that soon she must grow up
To become her own apple tree.

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:  “A mother’s treasure is her daughter.”               ~ Catherine Pulsifer ~

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A Simpler Life

I come from a family of seven children: six girls and one boy. We were born in this order: Theresa (Terri), followed a year later by Margaret (Marge), followed a year later by Leonard (Len), followed seven years later by Cynthia (Cindy) – that’s me, followed two years later by Diane, followed two years later by Rebecca (Becky), followed two years later by Janice (Jan). The six of us sisters are still very close, but sadly, our brother passed away at the age of 40 in 1989. Our parents are also deceased.

As you can well imagine, growing up with a family of seven children meant that we did not live in the lap of luxury. As a matter of fact, we spent most of our childhood living in a housing project in St. Paul, Minnesota due to the fact that our father was ill, and our mother not only had to take care of a sick husband,  but seven children as well. But when you grow up not knowing what you’re missing, wearing the hand-me-downs from two cousins and two sisters before you seemed to be a normal way of life, and you didn’t even mind it when your mother patched over the already-there patches on your favorite pair of jeans. It’s just the way life was. We made do with what we had, and if we went to bed with our tummies not quite full enough, we didn’t mind so much, because at least we had each other to commiserate with. Not that we ever starved—but let’s just say we never had leftovers!

But the day of the week we all lived for was Sunday because Sunday was the day that Grandma and Grandpa K. would visit. These were my mom’s parents, and they were German through and through. As a matter of fact, they had both immigrated from Germany, which I guess made my mom first generation German, right? Anyway, I remember how my Grandma and Grandpa would always speak a smattering of German words, and the only word I can remember my grandma calling me is “Liebchen.” There were other German words they used, but I can’t remember, for that was so very long ago. My grandpa was a trickster. He loved to chew snuff, and he would hold out his snuff box to us kids and say, “Want some? Here, it’s candy.” And then he would get this sly grin on his face, and if perchance one of the kids would actually try to take him up on his offer, he would pull the box away and say, “Too late, too late,” and then he’d shake his head and hobble away on his cane with a wicked grin on his face.

Grandma and Grandpa, 1944

Grandma and Grandpa, 1944

However, we kids loved Sunday the most because after Sunday dinner, when all the dishes were washed, dried, and put away, Grandpa would give each of kids a dime. Now I know that today a dime won’t buy much, but fifty years ago, it bought plenty. My mom and grandmother would take us children for a stroll down to the local candy store. It was then that we each were able to spend the precious money that Grandpa had given. I think my mom went just because she was happy to get out of the house, but we kids definitely went solely for the candy!

Grandpa and Grandma, 1957

When we would arrive at our destination, each of us would peruse all the candies displayed on the shelves lined behind the glass showcase they were in. There were so many choices, so many ways to mix and match! I was always very thrifty with my dime and tried to get the kinds of candy where you could buy two or three pieces for a penny, thereby ending up with more than just ten pieces of candy by the time I had spent the entire dime.

penny candy 1Remember the little sugary dots of candy that were stuck to the paper? That was one of my favorites. I also loved the root beer barrels and the sugar babies. And of course, anything chocolate! I was a chocolate fiend even back then! There were so many other kinds of candies that you could purchase for only one cent such as: bubble gum, licorice, pixie stix, sixlets,  candy cigarettes, jaw breakers, malted milk balls, peppermint sticks, tootsie rolls, lollipops, suckers, candy corn, red hots, candy necklaces, wax candy, sour balls, bit-o-honey, mary janes, and caramels. Then, when we each ordered which candies we wanted, the candy man (that’s what we called him) would pack up the goodies in a little paper sack, smaller than a regular lunch bag, and we would  hand over our dimes. We each had our own separate bag, which was a good thing, or else I’m sure many an argument would have occurred!

I think about those days often, and there are many times when I wish I could have them back again. Life was so much simpler back then. If only I had known then how precious those days would be to me now, I would have savored them even more. But I must say I will always be forever grateful that I come from a big family. Even though there has been some heartache, as there always will be, because with all those different personalities there are bound to be misunderstandings, underneath it all lies a deep abiding love which forever binds us together, for we are family.

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:  “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do.  Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.”  ~ Alex Haley ~

A Special Connection

A couple of months ago I received some very sad news about my Uncle Kris. I was told that he has lung cancer. He’s well into his eighties, and though he’s lived a long and prosperous life, it still saddens our family to think that it won’t be long before he won’t be with us anymore.

The other night, for the first time ever, I had a dream about my Uncle Kris. It was such a silly dream, but it was strange, because in my entire life he’s never been in my dreams. It gave me pause and has caused me to believe that the time has come for me to blog about him; for after all, he is someone who is dear to my heart, and I never before realized how much until I awakened from my dream.

My Uncle Kris was married to my Aunt Gert, who was the sister of my mother. My mother, my Aunt Gert, and my father are long gone now, all having departed to their heavenly reward years ago. But the memories I have of my parents and my aunt and uncle sitting on the porch watching while all of us cousins laughed and played together on my cousins’ swing set or played tag or kick ball are still vivid to me. Another memory I’ll always have is of my parents, grandparents, and Aunt Gert and Uncle Kris sitting around the table, drinking their beer, and playing cards. Oh, how they loved to play cards together!

My mom and her sister, Gertrude, were very close, having been the only two children that my grandparents had. Our two families would always get together for the major holidays; as a matter of fact, our families were together even more often than that.

A good part of the time we had the gatherings at my Uncle Kris’ house because they were the only ones who had a large enough space to accommodate everyone. After all, with their four children, my parents’ seven children, plus my grandma and grandpa, it was quite a large gathering. Yes, even though it was a little crowded and somewhat noisy, we were always happy, as long as we were together.

     A family get-together when we were young (Uncle Kris took the picture)

Besides that, we loved going to Uncle Kris’ house because they had a swing set in their back yard. Not only that, but their basement was finished off, complete with a pool table and record player for the older kids. We thought it was the greatest place to be, and we were always sad to go home.

I loved my aunt and uncle like they were my second parents, and I still love my Uncle Kris in that way. When I was young, I used to stay overnight at my aunt and uncle’s house because their daughter, my cousin Sandy, was only two weeks younger than me. As a matter of fact, if she had been born before me, her name would have been Cindy and mine would have been Sandy, but that’s another story entirely.  I enjoyed staying overnight at their house. And I used to think that if I could live anywhere else in the world except at my own house, it would be at my Uncle Kris’ house. Uncle Kris always was and still is to this day my favorite uncle.

Let me tell you about him. To start off with, he is Norwegian. He even speaks with a bit of a Norwegian accent, especially when it comes to phrases like “Yah” instead of “Yes.” He was always a pretty soft-spoken man, especially if you compared him to my Aunt Gert, who was quite outspoken, to say the least. He’s also kind-hearted and generous. I remember when we were young kids, he’d always be the one to give us nickels and dimes when Aunt Gert wasn’t looking, and he’d say, “Now don’t tell anyone where you got this from, okay?” and then he’d give a wink and a smile. I even remember how he used to push me so high when I was young and swinging on their swing set in their back yard. And oh, how he loves to laugh! He’s always the first one to laugh at a good joke, and he loves to tell one, too. His favorite phrase is, “Is that right?”

My dear uncle doesn’t have long left in this world, or so the doctors say. It’s only going to be a matter of months, maybe even weeks, but only his Creator knows for certain. All we know for sure is that it will be a sad day for us when he leaves us all behind. I know that I will miss him very much because I love him.

Not only that, but he’s like a special connection to my mother and father—one more connection that I don’t want to let go of. And that may be the hardest part to bear . . .

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:  “An uncle is someone special to remember with warmth, think of with pride, and cherish with love.”  ~ Author Unknown~

Daughter Dear

Today’s blog entry is going to be about a subject that is dear to my heart: our oldest daughter Sarah.

The first wedding among our three children will take place when Sarah becomes a bride this summer. She and her fiance Axel will be married on August 3rd. At the present time, both of them are seniors at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls and will be graduating in just a few short weeks. They are both excited about the prospect of finally graduating and beginning their careers after what seemed to them like four long years at college.

Sarah and Axel met each other at the University while they were both sophomores. They became acquainted as friends and after a year or so, their casual friendship developed into a romantic relationship. Six months later, Axel proposed marriage to our daughter.

I’ll never forget the weekend when they came home to tell us about their engagement. Axel and Sarah arrived while I was still waiting for my husband Mike to return home after an errand. The four of us were dining out that evening.  While we were waiting on Mike’s return, I noticed that Sarah had a ring on her left ring finger, but it was turned so that the stone was on the inside of her hand, so I could only see a band. I asked her about the ring, and she made up some excuse about it being an old band that she’d always had and then quickly changed the subject. My mother’s intuition then told me that something was up. I had a sneaking suspicion what the kids were going to tell us.

When Mike returned home, Sarah said, “Before we go out to eat, let’s all sit down for a minute.” Then I knew I was right. “Mom and Dad,” she said, “we’re getting married.” A beautiful smile lit up her face as she held out her left hand, showing the small but lovely diamond ring that Axel had given to her. Poor Axel looked rather pale, but he had a smile on his face, too. He looked happy, though nervous. And for the first time ever, in the thirty-seven years I have known my husband, I saw tears fill his eyes. Even when his mother died, my husband did not cry. But when his daughter told him she was engaged, he looked like he was about to cry like a baby.

We’ve always been happy for Sarah and Axel. Axel loves Sarah and Sarah loves Axel. You can see it just by the way they look at each other. We know that Axel would do anything for our daughter, even die for her if he had to. And that’s what true love is. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. They’re meant for each other. We know they’ll be happy together.

But . . . I wasn’t happy during the Christmas holidays when Axel came to stay at our home. And I will admit that it’s entirely selfish on my part. Let me explain.

He and Sarah began the process of applying for jobs, which is a good thing. It’s the responsible thing to do. And I was happy that they were doing the responsible thing . . . until I found out that they were applying for jobs out of state—on purpose. They were talking about applying for jobs in Vermont and New York and Boston. We live in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. When I asked Sarah why they were applying for jobs so far away, she stated that they wanted to get away and “see the world.” “But what about your family?” I asked. She never did give me an answer.

I was puzzled and hurt. Empty nest syndrome—I know. I guess I just never imagined that any of my children would want to move so far away from their family. My husband and I never wanted to do that; we had always felt that family was so important and wanted to be near our family. I guess I couldn’t understand why she didn’t feel the same. But eventually I had to let go of it. I decided that whatever made her happy would make me happy, and I became resolved to the idea.

Then one night last week she called me. It was approximately nine o’clock in the evening when the phone rang. I remember because Mike had just returned home from working his part-time job at Target. This is how the conversation went:

Me:  “Hello.”

Sarah: “Hello, Mother.” (Sarah always calls me Mother in a formal way when she phones—it’s our private joke)

Me: “Hello, Daughter.” (And I reply by calling her Daughter in a formal way when she phones)

Sarah:  “What are you  doing?”

Me:  “Just watching some T.V. I thought you’d be sleeping by now. Don’t you have to get up early to go to work in the morning?”

Sarah:  “Yes, but I needed to call you first.”

Me:  “Why? What earth-shaking news do you have to tell me now?”

Sarah:  “Oh, Mom, you know me too well.” (She laughed) “You’re right, I do have something to tell you.”

Me:  “I knew it!” (I sat up straighter in my chair) “Well, what is it?”

Sarah:  “You’re gonna love it!” (She said this teasingly)

Me:  “C’mon, now. Don’t keep your poor mother in suspense.” (I pleaded)

Sarah:  “Okay, I’ll tell you. Axel and I’ve been discussing it, and we’ve decided to narrow our job search to the Twin Cities. We’re not going to move out of state anymore.”

Me:  “Oh, Annie-Girl!” (This is my special nickname for Sarah—her middle name is Ann) “I’m so glad!” (Tears filled my eyes with this unexpected good news).

Sarah:  “I knew you would be.”

Me:  “What made you change your minds?” (Naturally, I was curious, like any mother would be, of course!)

Sarah:  “Well, Axel has a lot more contacts in the Twin Cites than anywhere else, and so do I, so our chances of getting jobs there are better. Besides that, we really do need to be close to our families because family support is important. (She paused)  You know I love you, Mom.”

Me:  “I love you, too, Sweetie.”

Those words made my heart sing. The knowledge that even though my daughter would soon be a wife, she would still be nearby, was music to my ears. I know, I know, I know—empty nest syndrome—I’ve got it bad. But what is the cure?

Maybe when I see her walking down the aisle on the arm of her father, I’ll finally realize that it’s time to let go—for good.  But maybe I shouldn’t let go all the way. What do you think?

At any rate,  we have the whole summer to get in those last mother-daughter moments that we need to get in before she gets married. And I’m going to cherish every moment.

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:  “A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart.”  ~ Author Unknown ~

I Remember You, Daddy

Last night I suffered through another bout of insomnia, a malady to which I’m no stranger. It seems the older I get, the more often I have to face this troublesome foe which robs me of precious hours of sleep, and last night was no different. Thus, the reason for my ability to rise and write today’s blog so early.

As the date on the computer screen popped up this morning, the jarring realization of the anniversary it marked surfaced in my memory. Today is the forty-first anniversary of my father’s death. I have not marked this occasion for many years, and why it is any different this year is beyond explanation, but for some reason, I feel compelled to write about my father today.

I grew up as the middle child of seven siblings – six girls and one boy. Ours was a very noisy household.  Sometimes I don’t know how my mother and father survived without going crazy. But we all loved each other, even though there were many arguments and disagreements; and we always reconciled in the end.

My father was not a tall man; he was quite short in stature. I remember his piercing blue eyes and his shiny bald head. He was a strict disciplinarian, and perhaps that trait was necessary, being the father of seven children. But even in spite of this, my father did love his children. At times you could see the loving side of his personality peek out from behind his tough exterior. My father also spent time having fun with us, and he could be generous and kind.

My Dad at Christmas time

My Dad at Christmas time

My father had a hobby that he enjoyed immensely. He raised parakeets. One by one he would train each bird to do special tricks and to talk. There was one parakeet in particular that was special. Her name was Baby, and she could talk up a storm. Baby was truly an amazing bird. My father had trained her well. She knew my dad was her master. Whenever my father walked into the room where she was located,  she would go crazy by squawking and ruffling her feathers. She just would not calm down until Dad took her out of the cage and let her sit on his shoulder. My father loved this bird and I think she loved him in return.

By the time I was fifteen, my two older sisters and brother had married, and I was now the oldest child at home, along with my three younger sisters. Then something happened that changed our lives forever. Our father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Within six months our father lost his struggle with cancer and died, and we were left with our mother as our only parent.

Then something strange happened to me that I will never forget. It was the third night after the funeral, and as I laid in bed that night, memories of my father swirled around in my head. For some reason, Baby, our parakeet, was staying in her birdcage in my room, with her covered cage on top of my dresser. After tossing about for what seemed to me like hours, I finally fell asleep. I was deep in my slumber when suddenly I awoke to the sound of the parakeet squawking and flapping her wings. She was having an absolute fit and would not be quiet. This was really odd, because usually once the cover was placed over her cage for the night, she was quiet until the next morning when the cover was removed. I was really puzzled.

At the time this happened, I was lying in my bed facing the wall. Suddenly I could feel a presence in the room, but for some reason I was not frightened. Then I could feel the sensation of being held in someone’s arms. I did not roll over to see who it was; I thought it was my mother. I called out my mother’s name and she answered me – but she was down the hallway in her own bedroom. I called her again and this time I could hear her footsteps as she walked down the hallway towards my room. When she entered my room, she turned on the light, and the parakeet finally became quiet. Then, just as suddenly as they had come, the arms that had been holding me were gone.

After my mother reassured me, she turned out the light and left my room. Then I remembered something my father had once told me long ago. He said, “I will always be your father and I will always take care of you, no matter what.”

It was then I knew I had been in my father’s arms.

And so, Daddy, I want you to know that today, I remember you. I will always love you.

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:  “Death ends a life, not a relationship.” ~ Robert Benchley ~

First, But Certainly Not Last

Hello, bloggers everywhere!

This is my first official post here. It is something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time now, but have always been delayed by one reason or another. But now the time is right, and I’ve finally begun what I set out to do so many months ago.

Actually, I’ve done blogging before at Writing.Com, but I’m no longer a member there and have decided to blog exclusively here at WordPress. It is my hope that my readers will find my particular brand of writing at times useful, at other times humorous, and hopefully entertaining at those times in between.

And what, may you ask, will the subject of my blog be? That’s a great question, and to tell you the truth, I’m still in the developmental stages of the answer for that question, which, as you may have figured out by now means: I’m not really sure yet. But I’m leaning towards just plain old simple LIFE.

Don’t worry—I’ll try to make it interesting so you won’t nod off into your coffee mug while reading mid-sentence. I’ve got some interesting stories to tell, and there are also some exciting events coming up in my life that I know will make compelling and captivating material for my blog followers. At least, I hope so.

So, stick around, dear readers. The best is yet to come . . .

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:  “One step must start each journey.”  ~ Author Unknown ~