the greatest love…

If memory serves me correctly, the Bible teaches that…”There is no greater love than that a man lay down his life for another.”

As Father’s Day approaches I can’t help but think of the men who have done just that for their loved ones…lay down their lives…in the process of providing for their families.

Cover of

Cover of Father’s Day

Women get much of the credit for raising our youngsters to be exemplary human beings. We dote upon them endlessly, instilling them with manners, compassion, self-confidence, skills for success. We are there to transport them…to volunteer on their behalf…to play hostess to their friends…to console or to celebrate, depending upon the circumstances.  

Mothering is hard work, for sure. However the rewards we reap are priceless, beginning with…an endless supply of hugs….and “I love you’s.” We don’t have to wait for a special occasion, like Mother’s Day.

My daughter and I begin and end our phone calls with “I love you.” And as though that weren’t enough…we manage to incorporate a few more into our conversation. When I’m searching for something else to say, I fill the void with…”I love you.”

By comparison, fathers often miss the small moments in their children’s lives. They’re on hand for the big occasions…birthdays, graduations, weddings. Fathers are lucky if they make the ball games, the recitals, the swim meets, opening nights. It’s more than likely when their jobs beckon…dads are off and running…whether they like it or not.

As a seasoned travel industry employee my husband hasn’t had the luxury of witnessing the minutiae of our daughter’s life. When she began focusing upon a dance career at age 14, their time together was  further impacted.  

When our daughter was 16, she and I relocated 3,000 miles from home so that she could train with a professional company. My husband remained behind working to support the venture on top of his other responsibilities.

As you can well imagine, parenting took on a whole, new twist. I was pretty much single-parenting a teenage-wannabe- ballerina in a strange environment…with dad a phone call and a plane ride…away.

I can’t say which of us fared better…or worse. The day my husband flew home after helping my daughter and me settle into our new lives…I shed a few tears. My best friend and soul mate was leaving .

We both had to hold up our end of the deal. Mom had to help make the dance dream come true…dad had to pay for it.

Like all fathers who love their children very much, my husband continues to give as completely of himself as he is physically able. Between his job and his duty to family, there is no gap…no doing just for himself.  His love for my daughter and me is…that great.

Since my father died when I was one, I cherish the relationship between my husband and my daughter. She and I agree…her dad’s the best.

every day’s father’s day…in our home…Imported Photos 00345



please…take care…

Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits

Saturday Morning: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s Saturday morning!

What got me out of bed so bright and early?

Another post…what else!

Before I go there however, I’d like to explain why my flaws are often the jumping off point for my writing.

It’s because I’d really like to help you learn from my mistakes or inaction…if possible.

So back to the story at hand.

My previous piece…“Wellness”…got me thinking about my mom.

Raising a large family as a widow meant we lived from paycheck to paycheck. As a result my mom’s needs came last.

I never remember her visiting the doctor. She could barely afford to take us. We were lucky to have a kind physician minister to our health problems. Dr. Fleming never pressed my mom for payment, allowing her to pay what she could…when she could.

My mom suffered greatly from arthritis, especially in her knees.

Her sorrowful groans would awaken me in the early morning hours. The floor boards creaked as she paced back and forth. Until the pain subsided, she could not sleep.

I’d lay quietly, praying for God’s help, tears streaming down my cheeks.

Not even her arthritis could keep my mom from going to work, an hour’s drive from home.

She was the laundress for a Catholic orphanage…The Children’s Home. She often helped in the kitchen, and sometimes chaperoned the older kids, driving them to school functions on the weekends.

It’s difficult to understand how my mom dealt with her health issues, including high blood pressure and diabetes, without the help of doctors. As sole breadwinner, she had no time for self-pity. My mom took care of herself, and us, as best she could.

Comparing our lives would be like comparing apples and oranges.

I’m extremely fortunate to have my husband of 42 years by my side. His generosity has been a blessing for my daughter and me. We are truly grateful for his loving care and support.

Whenever I think of my mom it is with deep regret that she could not have enjoyed a better life. One that included a lifelong companion.

Someone of her own to love…and love her.

Someone who would have helped shoulder the burdens…and kiss away her tears.

Someone with whom she might have shared secrets…and belly laughs.

My mom might have been spared much of the physical and mental anguish she suffered throughout her life…had she someone to help pay for her medical care.

Alzheimer’s stole whatever remained of my mom’s indomitable spirit…when she died at 86.IMG_4143

It’s never too late…

…to look to your own well-being…and that of a loved one…whatever their age…


whatever works…who am i to judge

I reiterated to my husband again last night…”Don’t touch that stack of Wall Street Journal papers!” Never mind that it’s taking up space in his home office.

There are gems to be found in that mountain of treasure. Take for instance the article reprinted in my next post, “Letting Babies Cry a Bit is OK” by Andrea Petersen.

Of tremendous interest to “mwaaa”…me, that is, the information contained in Petersen’s writing reminded me of my husband’s least favorite bedtime story.

Our family had recently returned from visiting relatives in Hawaii. Our daughter, then a toddler, had difficulty returning to her routine of sleeping alone in her crib. Bunking with mom and dad while away from home was probably to blame. We had no choice in the matter since space was scarce in my mother-in-law’s already overcrowded home.

I’d read in a book that was my parenting bible at the time, that I shouldn’t remove my child from her crib when she cried, begging to sleep in mine. Rather, I should return to her side in 20-minute intervals to comfort her until she fell asleep. This had worked before our vacation; I was certain it would continue to work again.

My husband was not as convinced. In fact, he was adamant it wouldn’t.

That was one of the very few times I angered my husband.

In utter disgust and disbelief, he stormed off saying he’d rather sleep downstairs if I didn’t give in to our daughter’s pitiful cries. And they were pitiful. Trust me. They were.

However monstrous I might’ve seemed to my loved ones at the time, I knew the long-term result would benefit our child. And it has.

My daughter has confidently traveled the country and Canada since she was 14, pursuing the dance career she now enjoys. She slept in dorms with strangers as roommates. Since she was 18 she has lived on her own, 3,000 miles separating her from us.

She still dreams of living abroad some day.

And as for our relationship?

Our love for one another has grown exponentially over the years!!!

I don’t suggest it’s my way…or the highway. Parents need to do what feels instinctively right in their guts.

…and my instincts suit my guts…just fine…


warm and sunny…just like mama

It’s been awhile since I’ve bolted from bed, putting fingers to keyboard because  thoughts and words started assembling like soldiers in a military dress parade. But I was given my marching orders, so here I am, albeit a little bleary-eyed still.

All this to do about a holiday honoring women of the world, hell-bent on doing a great job. Whether charged with the care of one, 9, or however many, moms awake each day to the sounds of their offspring calling their generic name…mommy, ma, mama, mom, or mother. Can’t warm to that one myself; but to each her own.

Memories are unique, according to one’s own experiences and perceptions. Today I remember the warmth and sun…of my mom.

Mama wasn’t perfect…neither am I.

She gave away hugs…the same ones I now share…as “hugmamma.”

Though poor, she was always “dressed to the nines,” her hair coiffed in the style of the day. A habit I’ve acquired.

A quick smile, an infectious laugh, twinkling eyes as if to say…”Have your best day.” She left me that too…that which I give to you.

Sunday best required a hat. Mama bought me Easter ones…when she could. A new, store bought dress was included…if it didn’t “break the bank.”

A pot of soup for a sick friend or neighbor; a kindness returned when mama was “under the weather.” I helped transport the generous offering…both ways.

Mama left me her “green thumb” and passion for gardening. I love flowers, their colors, their fragrances, their attraction to birds, butterflies and bees. I can feel her beside me, when I’m pulling out weeds.

Each Christmas she handcrafted wreaths from evergreen branches we’d gathered, along with wire clothes hangers, newspaper strips and string. Mama’s strength and dexterity always amazed me. As did her gifting these homemade treasures to friends and relatives.

When I was sick she’d minister to my every need, lathering my chest and throat with Vicks to break up the congestion. Or massaging my upset tummy with warmed oil because she said I had “bush.” A Portuguese term for a “turned stomach,” according to mama. The onset of which probably occurred when I took a tumble.

She let me burn a small candle once when I was playing with my dolls. My brother complained, saying I’d start a fire. Mama defended my frivolity.

 Sundays at the beach, running its length, the warm Pacific waters our reward. Mama took time out of her busy week to ensure my siblings and I had fun.



Trudging through murky, muddy Taro patch waters, mama taught me to scour the bottom for “pupus.” Hawaiian relatives of the French escargot, the smell of pupus boiling on the stove was enough to send me running out to play.

Prying the meaty critter out of its shell with a safety pin and popping it into my mouth was not my fantasy snack. No amount of cajoling or pressure got me to down that nasty mollusk.

So how is it that I now relish the taste of escargot  bathed in garlic butter?

Mama cheered proudly when I stood before a basketball crowd as lead high-school cheerleader. 

She made my costumes for school plays.

Tänzerin beim Hula ʻauana im Wettbewerb

Tänzerin beim Hula ʻauana im Wettbewerb “Miss Aloha Hula”, Merrie Monarch Festival 2003, Hilo, Hawaiʻi, USA; Pentax Z 20, Tamron Zoom AF/MF 3,8-5,6/28-200 mm aspherical (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For Hawaiian dance recitals, she helped gather koa seeds for the leis we strung, and ti-leaves for the hula skirts she made.

All the small and big things mama did for me…I do for my daughter. Some days joyfully; others, like a zombie.

I wouldn’t trade my memories for someonelse’s…nor my job as mom…for another.

Great days or less than…my heart overflows.

…mama wasn’t perfect…and neither am i…

…hugs of aloha…on mother’s day…and all days…


Happy..Happy.. Mother's Day :-)..


no greater love…than that of a mother for her child…

Mother holds Child

Mother holds Child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 A mom myself, I’m particularly sensitive to stories of moms and their offspring. I personally know many who continue to give of themselves in an effort to smoothe life’s path for their children. As much as is possible, that is. Yes, the umbilical cord is severed; but no, it is not.

Close friends Katy and Becky hover nearby as their children contend with life’s difficulties.

Katy’s son and daughter forge ahead in spite of illnesses that are disabling, physically and emotionally. Their spirits, however, continue to soar under the watchful eye of their mom whose generosity of spirit knows no bounds.

Three ballet dancers

Three ballet dancers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Becky has not allowed the naysayers to get in the way of her son’s desire to dance professionally. She has helped him wend his way through life’s ups and downs while managing ADHD and depression. That he graduated cum laude with a double major from Indiana’s Butler University and has been a member of a couple of ballet companies since, is in no small way owing to my friend’s perseverance on his behalf.

Friends Mary and Zorianna, she who keeps my tresses trimmed and colored, each have a daughter and a son. In their early 20s, they are still growing into adulthood. Not such an easy task in the current economy. College fees and lack of jobs are enough to have parents talking to themselves without letup. Better that my friends and I vent with one another, to let off steam. 

Skateboarder in Grants Pass, Oregon. Category:...

Skateboarder in Grants Pass, Oregon. Category:Skateboarding (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Exercise instructor and good friend Kristina parents with steadfast understanding. Her son, a professional skateboarder with a board named after him, has pursued his love of the sport since he was 16. Now in his early 20s, he proudly pays a monthly mortgage on a home in Oregon. And his mom is only too willing to make the 4 hour trek to help with household repairs that pop up. God bless her!

Kristina’s daughter graduated with a degree in theatre arts. Satisfied doing a stint with a traveling company that entertained school-age children and a year or so with local theatre groups, she redirected her focus to becoming a nutritionist. An extrovert by nature, Kristina’s daughter eventually opted out from behind textbooks to work full-time in a health food store. It’s for sure she’ll work her way up the corporate ladder for she’s got the ambition and the discipline to go after what she wants.

Of all the stories that touch my heart, my friend Barbara’s is the saddest. In her 70s, I’m not certain she will get the happy ending she so desires.


Jeogori (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barb and her husband, both Caucasian, cherish the Korean daughter they adopted as a baby. Enfolding her within their warm embrace, they gave themselves totally to raising their beloved child. They encouraged their daughter to learn about her own culture and were happy to welcome a Korean son-in-law into their family. As fate would have it, their daughter’s in-laws and college friends heavily influenced her withdrawal from her adoptive family.

Infrequent visits with her daughter, who resides out-of-state, and their 2 grandsons brings tears to Barb’s eyes. The boys had spent summers with their grandparents but no longer do so, because of the strained relationship between their mom and her adoptive parents.

Fortunately my friend and her husband have a son upon whom they dote, as well as his family. But they continue to hope their daughter might someday have a change of heart. They love her dearly. It’s evident each time Barb and I speak of our daughters. She always commends the closeness I share with mine.

Happy..Happy.. Mother's Day :-)..

…there’s no sacrifice too great or love too abundant…for a mom whose child is life’s greatest…reward…

………hugmamma.  🙂

building empires…

English: Photograph of a mural entitled Indian...

Image via Wikipedia

Like pioneers circling their wagons preparing against an Indian attack, my thoughts gathered round until, once in formation, the idea for this post was born. I only tell you this so that you understand…there is no let-up whatsoever for my weary brain. It’s working, nearly 24/7.

I’m not a builder of empires. Perhaps being the youngest of 9, there was no one whom I could lead. Remember, practice makes perfect. Obviously I wasn’t able to practice…at home.

Here and there, I did get to be a leader among friends and classmates. Being the youngest sibling, I had an uphill struggle. I wasn’t use to being at the front of the pack. When I was, I found it nice…yet somehow uncomfortable. Head alpha was not the skin into which I’d been born. Getting it to fit involved a lot of talking…to myself.

I’ve not changed, even as an adult. I’ve a lot of great ideas…with an overworked brain like mine…I’ve no choice. But when I have the opportunity to get up on the box to expound about this, that and the other, I like to have others standing up there with me. Call it comfort, call it insane, call it whatever you like. I’ve never, ever enjoyed having the spotlight…all to myself.

Catholic Cross JesusThose who know me well can confirm that I will tout the virtues of my husband and daughter until the earth implodes…before I ever talk about my own. I couldn’t even tell you what my own virtues might be. I’ve never taken the time to think along those lines. I say that because I’ve never felt confident enough. Still don’t. Remember I’m Catholic-educated, having been taught to renounce false pride. And I had a mom who had her hands full to overflowing…without having to include boosting my ego to her “to do” list.

Baby-boomers understand. We knew to just get out there, suck it up, and do what we needed to do…to survive. Street smarts meant picking up whatever we needed, however we could, from whatever resources we found. Along with that, however, comes a lot of bad information…which, unfortunately, sticks…as friend and fellow blogger, jeanne, mentioned in a comment recently.

My own bad info led to my discomfort at being in charge of more than 1 or 2 people. I know I would’ve been a compassionate leader. I’ve had many an opportunity to manage in my career path but always failed to go the distance, because I felt insecure with power…and found it difficult to dictate to others. 

Instead I have delighted in managing my family of 3…with me at the helm in many ways…enabling my husband and daughter to be the natural-born leaders they were meant to be. And they do amazing jobs. Their bosses, peers and subordinates will testify to that.

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

Image via Wikipedia

While I may not relish physically sitting in a position of authority, I’m equally resistant to being led down a path I do not choose for myself. Very resistant. My mom was the last person to whom I ever relinquished the control panel…and I fought tooth and nail before I gave in. She was my mom, after all. And remember, I’m a Catholic. The fourth Commandment says “Honor thy father and thy mother.” I had a hard time getting around that one.

When my mom passed, I slowly began to find my own voice. I refused to succumb to any one’s demands anymore. It didn’t come easily. I spent many, many, many years arguing with myself. Still do on occasion. But my husband and daughter are my sounding boards, giving me the courage to believe in my own thoughts and perceptions and decisions.

Aristotle tutoring Alexander

Image via Wikipedia

There are those who are proficient as little emperors.” Napoleon was one; Hitler another. I’m sure there were others not as bombastic as these, who may even have done a world of good. I think Alexander the Great might have been one. I’d have to ask my husband; he watches the History Channel 24/7…except if there’s a football game he’s interested in seeing.

Amongst us peons, I’ve observed that there are those who engage in empire building. I don’t think they’re aware they’re doing it, it’s just that they’re born to lead and don’t mind doing so. They’ve strong personalities; they may not have a bottomless reservoir of patience; and they probably prefer getting things done, rather than waiting around for others. What makes them successful, is their unwavering self confidence. They know, without a doubt, that they’re right for the job. They don’t need to be convinced and they’re more than willing to lead others. More power to them. If they are compassionate leaders…I’ve no complaints.

I can’t build empires; I’ve not the stomach nor the stamina for it. In my own little queendom (new word?)…I rule with a lot of hugs and kisses…and tears. My daughter swears my tear ducts are directly tied to my heartstrings. Guess I’m a…


The Great Dictator

Image via Wikipedia

…mushy dictator………hugmamma.  😉




daily post challenge #345: am i good to people i don’t know?

One of the Golden Rules which, for me, has always remained sacrosanct is “Treat others as you would want them to treat you.” Harking back to my mom, as I am always wont to do it seems, calls forth images of others helping her.

As a young child I witnessed my mom begging others for…more time to pay her car note, even while they continued to perform services and repairs…mercy for errant brothers who had committed petty theft…medical services for which she had no money to pay.

Orphans by Thomas Kennington

Image via Wikipedia

I was sensitive to the gratitude and humility with which my mom accepted…second-hand clothing refused by the orphans at the orphanage where she worked…leftover food from the nuns who employed her…random offerings from friends and neighbors.

At my mother’s knee, I learned that I am no better than anyone else. And so in my daily dealings with…waiters, drycleaning assistants, store clerks, bank tellers, receptionists, grocery cashiers, box office attendants, vet assistants…I offer smiles, compliments, empathy, and gratitude, always gratitude.

If I can lift someone’s spirits, calm their nerves, even make their day with a heartfelt compliment…such as “You’re so beautiful!”…then why hesitate to do so? I am beyond embarrassment, it seems, when it means I can make someone feel better…whether she or he needs the boost or not. And hugs…no one escapes a huge hug.

Enveloping someone within my warm embrace is another of my own mom’s legacies to me. There is no more profound offering of one’s self than to press another to one’s own heart, letting them know that we are kindred spirits beneath the outer trappings of…age, gender, ethnicity, social class, sexual preference, and religious and political affiliation. It is true that…goodness and kindness…beget…goodness and kindness. But I never set out to beget…anything.

Hugging, and all it entails, is as natural to me…as breathing in…and breathing out. And I owe my lessons in the art of…to all those who gave of themselves to my mom…and what she gave…in return.

hugging you………hugmamma.  🙂 

how can i miss you…if you won’t go away…

One of the humorous sayings gracing a bottle cap in my new header. Funny…yes. But right now…bittersweet. For as I type…my daughter is making her way back east. Yes, I shed a few tears. Not alligator ones…never those. Only heartfelt…wrung from the depths of a mother’s soul.

We were like friends, the two of us. Laughing, teasing, following one another around…the house, the shops…always sharing thoughts, insight, reflections, advice. Yes, advice. My 25 year-old gave me great advice…on more than one occasion. And I gratefully accepted it…more than once.

How did she grow to be so wise? A young woman nearly 40 years my junior, counseling me on cutting myself some slack. That my perception of situations is as valid as anyone’s. Giving me the okay to put myself first, contrary to all the Catholic nuns from Boston instilled in me for 13 years, from kindergarten through high school. I guess my daughter’s public school education trumped mine. Or maybe not.

My Christian values, and my husband’s…especially his, considering he’d been studying to be a priest before we met…have contributed immeasureably to our daughter’s upbringing. No I didn’t lure him away; he quit of his own accord. Thank God…for letting me have him instead…my husband, my best friend.

Family values and personal experiences have substantively impacted my daughter’s maturation. She gives of herself unconditionally, but is learning to fight for her own soul’s preservation. No longer is she succumbing to the demands of others…or of situations over which she has no control. With guidance from many caring mentors, role models, peers and friends, my daughter has evolved…her spirit intact.

I’ll miss her physical presence, for my daughter always did for me before I had to ask…pour my cup of tea…walk and feed Mocha…prop a pillow behind my lumbar for support…offer a hug, several in fact…making decisions which could befuddle…covering my head with the hood of my jacket…holding my elbow, my hand as we crossed the street…

So many gifts…too many to count.
From daughter to mother.
Offered in love…
Without reserve…without conditions…without hesitation.
My cup is never half-empty…
Only always half-full.
When God calls me home…
My life will have wanted for nothing…
Except maybe a few more precious moments…
With what He gifted me…
The loves of my life…
…my beloved husband…and most cherished daughter.

…i truly couldn’t want for more…


self-nurturing…positive reinforcement


Something I’ve been practicing all my life, as I’m sure most of us do, either sporadically or consistently. I guess it depends on the need…and one’s personal baggage.

12 26 09 Bearman Cartoon Moms Christmas Gift My mom was a single parent who had her hands full with 9 children, so I think she’d run out of steam by the time I accidentally happened along a year before my father died. While she did the best she could looking after the family’s wants, at 30, my mom had barely seen her own needs met.

Get Away From My Mom

Image via Wikipedia

Because I was the last sibling under my mom’s care after the others left home, she and I seemed to have a “love ’em or leave ’em” relationship. We loved one another, out of necessity, but we both probably wished we could up and go…somewhere else…separately. But we were stuck like glue, and we made the best of it.

And so I learned to self-nurture. Or at least I tried. Growing up with low self-esteem, however confident I seemed outwardly, made it very difficult to care for myself emotionally. Without parents to show the way, children tend to wander like nomads in the desert. But the one legacy left me by my mom was the will to survive.

Survive I have. Fortunately I also became an expert at self-nurturing, however late in life. With the help of two very important people, my husband and my daughter, as well as others, I “turned the corner,” and gradually began to learn to love myself…


Image via Wikipedia

…warts…beauty spots…and all…

………hugmamma.  😉

moms…more than…just

From Sylvia… me… you………………………………………………….

Happy Mother’s Day

A woman, renewing her driver’s license at the County Clerk ‘s office,
was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation. She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.  

‘What I mean is, ‘ explained the recorder,  
‘do you have a job or are you just a …?’

‘Of course I have a job,’ snapped the woman.

‘I’m a Mom.’

‘We don’t list ‘Mom’ as an occupation, ‘housewife’ covers it,’
Said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation,

this time at our own Town Hall.  
The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised,
efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like,
‘Official Interrogator’ or ‘Town Registrar.’ ‘What is your occupation?’ she probed.

What made me say it?  I do not know.  
The words simply popped out.  
‘I’m a Research Associate in the field of
Child Development and Human Relations.’

The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair and
looked up as though she had not heard right.  

I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words.
Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written,
in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

‘Might I ask,’ said the clerk with new interest,
‘just what you do in your field?’

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice,
I heard myself reply,
‘I have a continuing program of research,
(what mother doesn’t)
In the laboratory and in the field,
(normally I would have said indoors and out).  
I’m working for my Masters, (first the Lord and then the whole family)
and already have four credits (all daughters). 
Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities,
(any mother care to disagree?)
and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it).  
But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money.’

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk’s voice as she
completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career,
I was greeted by my lab assistants — ages 13, 7, and 3. 
Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model,
(a 6 month old baby) in the child development program,
testing out a new vocal pattern.  
I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! 
And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than ‘just another Mom.’  

Motherhood!   What a glorious career!  
Especially when there’s a title on the door.


Does this make grandmothers
‘Senior Research Associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations’

And great grandmothers
‘Executive Senior Research Associates?’  
I think so!!!
  I also think it makes Aunts   ‘AssociateResearchAssistants.’


Please send this to another Mom,
Aunt, And other friends you know. 

May your troubles be less,
Your blessing be more,
And nothing but happiness come through your door!   


‘Do what you can to show you care about other people, and you will make our world a better place.’ — Rosalynn Carter

creation of the world according…to sylvia

Here’s a springtime fable from my good friend Sylvia. It’s probably one of the better ones out there, so be sure to pass it along. It should be the one we hand down from generation to generation as it’s so worth retelling. I’m sure the women of humankind will agree that it’s “the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help us God.” Especially since it was She who created us all, the best among us in her image.

A little girl asked her Mom, “How did the human race appear?”
The Mom answered, “God made Adam and Eve and they had children,
and so was all mankind made..”

 Domenico Zampieri, Adam and Eve (1623-25) (Wikipedia)


Two days later the girl asked her Dad the same question.
The Dad answered,
“Many years ago there were monkeys from which the human race evolved.”


The confused girl returned to her mother and said,
“Mom, how is it possible that you told me the human race was created by God,
and Dad said they developed from monkeys?”
The mother answered,
“Well, Dear, it’s very simple. I told you about my side of the family
and your father told you about his..”

need we say more…except…amen, amen, amen…hugmamma.

365 photo challenge: valuable

Have signed on to My Life in Photos – 365 Challenge. The blog’s owner has invited readers to post a picture a day in correlation to a given word. Today’s word is valuable. I might have cheated, combining my previous post with this one, for my daughter is priceless. Instead, I’ll shine the spotlight upon another who has immeasurable influence upon those fortunate enough to call her mom…my beloved mother-in-law. In her mid-eighties, she celebrated her birthday last week.

A loving woman, my husband‘s mom, whom I also call mom, has taught her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and her daughters-in-law and sons-in-law, about generosity, compassion, faith, humility, acceptance, and joy. She has a wonderful sense of humor, laughter coming easily. And she withholds judgment, preferring to think kind thoughts about others.  My husband, the eldest of 12, was blest with the best parenting money could not buy. My husband and I have learned by osmosis, he from his mom, and me from both my husband and my mother-inlaw.


best gift…ever!

Twenty-five years ago today, my husband and I were blest with the perfect gift, our daughter. Without child for 16 years, we’ve counted our blessings every day since her miracle birth. Because of her we know the joy of celebrating holidays, especially Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Because of her we know what it means to love without conditions, and to sacrifice without expectations. Because of her we’ve come to accept who we are, with our own idiosyncrasies and human failings. And because of her, my husband and I have found a deeper love for one another.

Holy Family: Mary, Joseph and child Jesus

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Life isn’t perfect, it wasn’t meant to be. But being gifted with a child surely put us on a direct path to God, not always an easy one. On-the-job training, trial and error, challenges, compromises, and blending individual personalities into one smoothe-running household, was probably not even easy for Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Holy Family. But look where they are. Sitting at the right-hand of God.

But I don’t need to look that far ahead to know that I wouldn’t trade being a mom for any other gift in the universe. My precious daughter has brought me to where I belong…to my own, true self. Twenty-five years ago, today, I began my journey “home”…

and i owe it all to my daughter…hugmamma.

mothers, compassion for

Cast of Family Ties from a later season. (From...

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Through the first three-quarters of Meredith Baxter‘s autobiography, Untied, I found myself extremely frustrated. Here was an actress whom I thought had everything going for her. She was best known as Elyse Keaton, Michael J. Fox’s TV mom on “Family Ties, an 80s sitcom. But sometime before that she had been one-half of the handsome couple in Bridget Loves Bernie.” David Birney played her spouse, and became the real thing after the show ended.

What was disappointing about Baxter’s real life story is that through 3 failed marriages, she was always the victim of her husbands’ verbal, emotional, mental and in Birney’s case, physical abuse. Where she might have projected a woman-in-control on the small screen, she was anything but, in her personal life. Yet in one important area she was in charge. Able to get regular acting gigs, Baxter became the “bread-winner,” and wound up paying alimony to her ex-husbands.

The source of Baxter’s inability to be an equal partner in heterosexual relationships, for she did recently out herself as a lesbian, was because her mother had opted out of that role when Baxter was very young. 


Craftsman-style bungalow in North Park, San Di...

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I can remember coming home from first grade, walking through the front door of our little white Craftsman-style house on Indiana Avenue in South Pasadena, and calling out, “Mommy, I”m home!” 

No answer. I was confused; her car was out front. I stood very still.

“Mommy, I’m home!”

Still nothing. Then I remembered.


“Yes, dear?” her musical voice rang out from the middle bedroom, where she kept a vanity table at which she’d do her makeup.

Although I believe she had no idea about the psychological impact this might have on her children, now that I’m older I realize that Whitney was probably just giving us what she got. Whitney’s mother was born Martha Mae Wilkerson–my brothers and I called her Memaw. She was a scrappy, tough, smart, and wily survivor. She wasn’t the soft, fuzzy type; she didn’t coddle Whitney and she didn’t coddle me. …married five times…Memaw would leave her kids behind, once with a couple of former missionaries and another time with her elementary school teacher. …It wasn’t until the fifth grade that Whitney discovered drama class…From that day forward, Whitney realized that no matter what school she was in, the drama department would become home…(and) that the nearest thing she had to a real family when she was growing up were the casts of the plays that she appeared in.

AA meeting sign

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It took Meredith Baxter the better part of her life to sort through the mess it had become. Having drifted into alcoholism, she eventually sought help from Alcoholics Anonymous upon the urging of the producers of a particular TV show she’d been working on. But even after attending the group’s meetings for 10 years, Baxter hadn’t engaged in the self-examination process recommended by the program, until a good friend intervened.

Carla noted that…I’d not laid to rest many of the issues that brought me into the program in the first place ten years before, the primary issue being my mother! Drinking had been but a symptom of my alcoholism; I used drinking to solve my problems, but my problems were caused by my thinking, my selfish, self-centered, self-seeking, self-pitying thinking, and the destructive feelings and resentments that resulted. This way, I developed and preserved a belief system that filtered all information through a warped prism of being unwanted, unloved and unlovable.

Baxter set about replacing her old belief system with a new one. She found clarity in acknowledging that she deeply resented having to call her mother by her stage name instead of mom or mommy, and that she didn’t acknowledge her children as hers for a long time, and that she left them in the care of their stepfather while she pursued her acting career.

In order to help herself heal, Baxter decided that she needed to understand her mother.

…figure out who she was, learn what kind of mothering/role modeling she received, what did she want that she didn’t get, what were her disappointmens in life and how did she deal with them? And why did she make the choices with her children that she made? 

After answering all of these questions for herself, Baxter found great relevance in the words of someone speaking at an AA meeting.

A woman was talking about our parents as wells and that we were wired to go to our parent-wells for nurturing and sustenance. Many of us found our parent-wells were empty, but they weren’t empty at us. They were just empty.

Meredith decided that while she felt she was the target of her mother’s empty well, there was no basis in fact to support it. Instead, the supposition was based upon personal feelings.

As a followup to her discovery, Baxter needed “to learn to have compassion for (her) mother’s empty well, to accept (her) mother’s limitations and forgive her.”

Well, as soon as I started thinking of ways I had disappointed my own children, I quickly had a much better perspective. I thought about being too fearful to protect them from David, times when I traveled and worked when they probably needed me, times I left them with nannies, times I, like Whitney, had chosen work over my kids, times when I’d had too much to drink to be useful to them in any way–the list is endless. I could honestly say, however, that I did the best I could given the tools and information I had at the time, and therefore I had to allow the same for Whitney.

What I came away with was a sense of understanding Whitney and appreciating her in ways I wouldn’t allow myself to before. In truth, she gave me the very best she had. What I thought of it at the time is not important because I wasn’t in a position to know.

Finally, Meredith Baxter enumerates the ways in which she has been a better parent as a result of her own mother’s failures. “Many of what I think are my best traits as a mother were developed as a protest to what I had experienced with her.” Where Whitney never spent time with her children, Meredith was sure to be with her own youngsters when she wasn’t working, “making breakfasts, packing lunches, doing carpool, play dates, homework, projects, school breakfasts, soccer games and practice, gymnastics, baseball games and practice, swim meets, piano, violin, track meets, open houses, teacher meetings, performances.” And she was thankful that she loved being a mother, who loved doing it all. For that Baxter credited her mother for leaving a legacy, of which she had no knowledge. 

I found this portion of the book the most befitting my own experience. Like Baxter I had to let go of painful occurrences with my mom as I was growing up. What I didn’t understand as a youngster, I understood only too well when I became a wife and mother. Furthermore I’ve had the love and support of my husband for 40 years, and counting. While my mom never remarried after becoming a widow at age 30, pretty much shouldering her burdens alone. I had only one child for whom to care, my mom had nine. She had serious health issues all of her life, like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis. And they only worsened as she got older, added to which she also developed Alzheimer’s. I’m able to see to my health on a regular basis, because I have a spouse who provides a comfortable life.

Parents do the best they can with what tools they’ve been given. Rather than find fault, we can try to do better with what we’ve been given. But if at times we fail, and we will, we should be prepared to forgive, ourselves and others, and show compassion, knowing that we can always try again.

for moms…huge hugs…hugmamma.

a tribute to my mom…ironing

Ironing board

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Do you iron what you wear? With drycleaners popping up on every corner, and the grunge look being in fashion, and ripped jeans looking cool, why bother to get the wrinkles out of everyday wear? I’ve got a small stack of shirts and jeans, both mine and my husbands, sitting atop the dryer waiting to be ironed. Sometimes I pull an item or 2 from the pile and give it a quick press when I’m in a hurry to wear it then and there. But most of the items have been patiently waiting their turn, collecting dust. Literally. It’s kind of an “out of sight, out of mind” thing.

When “the mood” hits me, I’ll gather the load of folded, by now very wrinkled items in my arms, bring them upstairs in front of the TV, and plop them down on a chair. Then I’ll ask my hubby to drag the ironing board up as well. He’ll usually go the whole “nine yards,” situating it in its usual spot, plug an extension cord into the nearby wall socket, plug the iron into that, and voila! I’m good to go. I’ll find a good show to watch on TV, and start ironing away. Once I get started, I can hardly wait to see the pile of clothes get smaller. It’s like a competition with myself, but also against the clothes. Will I get through all of them, or will I get pooped first?

Toritama produces 15% of the Brazilian jeans

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Because my husband’s clothes are larger per square inch than mine, ironing them seems to take twice as long. But I muddle through, knowing I’m being a good, no great, wife! Truthfully, I think he’d probably wear his clothes wrinkled. In fact, he’s tried that. Upon closer inspection I’ll give him the thumbs up, or thumbs down. The older I get, sometimes I’ll just squint and give a quick thumbs up.

How my mom ever managed to work for years as a laundress for a Catholic orphanage, I’ll never know. She spent 8 hours standing on her feet, ironing, ironing, ironing. In between that she’d put loads of wash on, and then hang them out to dry. She dealt with pieces of clothing that ran the gamut from kids’ play clothes to nuns’ habits, including their head gear. Starching items was a biggie in those days. For those not familiar with that term, select types of clothing were doused in thick liquid, that really seemed like glue. I don’t remember if it was then lightly rinsed, or just wrung out and hung to dry. What puzzles me to this day is how my mom managed to get the nuns’ heavy, black, woolen uniforms, and head pieces, looking like they’d been drycleaned? She should have gotten an award or something. I imagine her pay was even paltry, given the orphanage was run on a dime and lots of prayers.

Needless to say my mom taught my siblings and me to iron correctly. On a shirt or blouse, we learned to iron the collar first, then the upper neck area along the back, then each sleeve, then the front of one side, moving around the back of the shirt or blouse, to the remaining front. On a pair of slacks, we would iron the front, then the back, then fold the legs together so that we could iron one side at a time, being certain to iron the inside of each leg as well. It was expected that when we opened the pants up again, there would be creases down the fronts of each leg.

Image by me. Larger version available on Flickr.

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Talk about learning to iron as if we were artists, or scientists. My mom took great pride in not only mastering the technique, but having each item of clothing looking a thousand times better than when she got it. And that skirt or overall may have passed through her hands a gazillion times! No matter, my mom washed it, dried it, and ironed it as if for the very first time…and never complained. Even when she developed varicose veins as a result of working barefoot on concrete floors. The sight of her calves marred by streaks of blue bumps, were a constant reminder to me of how my mom sacrificed her own comfort to keep us kids fed, and clothed, with a roof over our heads.

Being widowed at such a young age, 30, my mom was immensely grateful to be working. And the Maryknoll nuns were like guardian angels always hovering to make certain we had enough food and clothing, even if both were surplus from the orphanage’s own stockpile.

So yes I still iron, however minimally, in memory of my mom who made the task monumentally important. Such a small, everyday occurrence, that for her meant all the world.

i try not to underestimate the small…for they are usually larger than they seem…hugmamma.