Friday, November 17, 2017

Navigating Terrain

I've been spending at lot of time recently navigating the "emotional terrain of our elders", and trying to help out my elderly aunt.  She's spry, healthy, happy, living independently, still driving, but she is 90.

When my own four children were still in high school, I traveled 1100 miles every six to eight weeks shoring up my parents who were trying to live as independently as possible. 

They had moved "south" to avoid the winters we have in the northeast.  They loved the ocean and white beaches.  Our family had vacationed for years on Hilton Head Island.  So it was a perfect choice for them.  They chose a lot and drew up building plans and their dream retirement house was built.

But they didn't live close to family.  And that became too difficult for all involved.

Now. it's only a six hour drive each way, to assist in some of the areas that need personal attention.

For the last few months I've had lunch and dinner with folks in their 80's and 90's in their assisted care facilities, and senior citizen housing.  I've visited with folks in the nursing home.   And I've rediscovered the importance of having a relationship with our elders.

But they all have reconfirmed for me, the importance of time, relationships, humor, family history, and gratitude.

They all said they couldn't believe they were in their 80's and 90's.  Time had passed too quickly.

Hopefully, I have learned some lessons and figured out some readjustments that I can make in my life.

 Lesson 1:  prioritize time and figure out what is important.  Life is a limited comodity

Lesson 2:  we undervalue the courage of the elderly. " How are you?", I would ask.   "Another day older, but I'm still here!"  he said with a smile on his face.  Ordinary healthy people whom this thing called "old age" has broken through on them, personally, and they can not do the things they routinely did.  A loss of power and status.  They all seemed very courageous to me.

Lesson 3:  if asked....they love to tell stories of their lives growing up.   Of their family, friends and neighbor, experiences.  One lady I ate with, grew up in an apartment right off Central Park in NYC.  Lots of stories I could visualize from her descriptions, being familiar with that area.  Another raised horses and was National Driving Champion.  She took me to her room to show me pictures of her and her horses and her awards.  Bill Moyers has said "Once in East Africa, on the shores of an ancient lake, I sat alone and suddenly it struck me what community is.  It is gathering around a fire and listening to someone tell us a story."

Lesson 4:  older people have a good sense of humor.  I never laughed so much as when I had dinner with those 90 years old folks.  For some reason, they don't seem to take themselves so seriously anymore.  And they have had lots of funny experiences, and don't mind "telling" on themselves.  Also, they all came from a time when conversational skills were highly valued and practiced so the "talk" was interesting, and inclusive.

Lesson 5:  the role of a grandparent is still vitally important.  But it's different now.  We all don't live in the same community as where we grew up.  In our family, our children and grandchildren are hundreds and hundreds of miles away.  They can't walk down the street for a cookie or a hug.  I know someone in the community that has made a commitment to see their granddaughters once a month.  For them it's just a three hour drive, but it's important!  I'm hoping I can make that a reality with our changing life circumstance.

Lesson 6.  our faith heritage is so important.  My great grandfather was an itinerant Methodist minister in Western NY.  I remember stories that my grandmother told me about his riding his horse to his different church communities each Sunday.   I have a box of his correspondence, from the late 1800's.     And the letter from my great grandmother in Norway, encouraging my grandmother and grandfather on their 25th wedding anniversary to keep always keep strong their faith in Jesus, through blessings and adversity.

Lesson 7:  I never put much stock in beauty but I did admire intelligence in people.  Now I'm more impressed with kindness, determination and creativity.

I'm sure there are a lot more lessons to learn as I travel myself down this road called Aging.


A little fixing of this room,

A big renovation in that room,

A pulling down of a dilapidated outside porch,

And wall to wall carpeting is removed, and drawers in dressers are emptied in anticipation of moving furniture.

And "things" are discovered because said drawers have not been opened in 16 years.

But they are open now and contents revealed.

And treasures found.

An 1995 A Beka Homeschooling catalog.....funny

Fun little pencil and pen tins that they kept on their desks

Reggie Jackson rookie baseball card, which if it wasn't wrinkled would be worth thousands......okay not really but.....

Books, and papers, a microscope, notebooks, and photos and hockey, riding and lacrosse trophies, and a lot of

fond memories of my four blessings and their years at 42 East Main!

Thursday, November 9, 2017


I promised myself I would write everyday.

Like a journal, keeping track of the days, weeks and times of my life. 

Simple as it might be.

But who knows.....maybe this will turn into something to do with family heritage, letters, relationship, businesses, faith or just living.

I have been "cleaning out".  Trying to organize and throw out, if not used.

But I have come across items that have been stored.  Because, previously I was busy with child care or community activities, or church responsibilities, or business endeavors.  I would put things away until I had time to really "look" at the item and decide what to do with it.

I don't know if this is really the time, but I'm going to try to keep an account of what I have and what I've found out about my family and it's history.  I think it is important for my children or perhaps I'm just getting old and do not want to be forgotten.

The written word keeps things forever. 

Maybe my grandchildren will read this with more interest then I had when I was younger.  I could have asked my grandparents so many questions about where they came from, what they did as children, memories about their parents and grandparents. 

But I was too busy with my own little life and subsequently my children's lives to have time, interest or ability to sit and engage with anyone about ancient history.

Now I'm going to write. 

About days. 

And times.

And loves.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


I had a grandmother.

Actually, I had two, as does everyone else I guess.

My maternal grandmother lived on in a large house on a small estate in Larchmont.

My paternal grandmother lived in a second floor apartment in Mount Vernon, the whole time I knew her.

They have both moved on to heaven.

I always thought I would be a mother.

And I am, to four absolutely fantastic, handsome, creative, children.

But I stood still once and turned around.......and now I am a grandmother.

I never thought about being a grandmother.  It seems that I'm way too young for the role.  Although most grandmothers I know are younger than I.  Sigh

But a couple of months ago my beautiful granddaughter turned one.

One whole year of her life already experienced in her amazing life.

She is really quite brilliant, as most grandmothers know about their grandchildren.

 She can point to her nose when asked where it is!!!  And if requested to clap her hands, she does so with a big smile.

Her mom puts her hair into the cutest waterfall pony tails.  And dresses her in pink!

And her Papa and I love her to pieces.

Proverbs 17:6  "Children's children are a crown to the aged."

Psalm 103:17  "But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Harper's Secret Garden

Someone once wrote "Heaven Is A Garden".

 I think that's probably true.

And yet we create magnificent gardens right down here on earth.

Formal gardens,

 Cottage gardens, Vegetable gardens, Kitchen gardens, Front yard gardens,

Rooftop gardens, Woodland gardens, Rock gardens, Wildflower gardens

English gardens.

A garden is a vision, a plan, a creation.


It's a path, leading to somewhere, or nowhere.


A garden is hard work,


Sometimes disappointment.

A garden is color,

Green, or white, yellow, or red, blue, orange or purple.

It's flowers, vegetables, trees, shrubs, boulders, fountains, worms, bees and birds.

But growth and quiet activity.

And this is my little granddaughter's garden.

Underneath the 80 year old maple tree,

 Three hollowed out tree stumps lay,

Filled with pink, and a small chair, and a basket of books.

I think, perhaps, when she Comes From Away,

We will be in the garden together.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Mother's Day

It was Mother's Day almost two months ago, and I've been meaning to "find time" to write this blog. To express my gratitude to both my mother and my mother-in-law. They both taught me so many things over the years. Things about being a mom, a mother-in-law, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a neighbor, and a grandmother. About the importance of time, grace, relationships, beauty, hard work, and gratitude. What I learned? We all only get a certain amount of time. Spend it with families! Rob and I lived in the same community as our folks for four years, but then we lived at least 6 hours apart from them. And both mothers were at my house frequently, when my children were born and after. They washed the bathrooms, cooked for the family, read books to the children, taught them Jesus. They were there at birthday's, Thanksgiving's, Christmas's, at the beach, grandparent's day, and dedications. Have family reunions frequently- especially now that everyone lives so far apart and weekly Sunday dinners are not in anyone's future. Go to Norway, if your family is having a world-wide reunion!! Keep the stories going! Ethan, stand out on the camp deck and tell the family stories from your're a very good storyteller! Unless we hear our family history, our children and grandchildren will not learn about their family lore. About grace and elegance. My mother had a nature elegance, even when she was hanging clothes on the line. She was from the era of house dresses. And she and my father danced. I never saw her in pants until we were older. After cleaning and cooking during the day I remember her changing into another dress and putting on lipstick for when my dad got home from the bank. Later I remember her in beautiful ball gowns going to bank functions in NYC. She made glamour look easy. I know now it isn't. My mother-in-law, Alma, was tall. She always looked beautiful in whatever she wore, even if it came from a bargain department store! She was always proud of her legs, even though being tall in her generation was not a thing to be envied. About hard work and patience. Both of our mother's worked hard at home and in the community. They both taught Sunday School for 30 years. Developing relationships with 4 and 5 year old's, that lasted a life time. For years I remember Alma's dining room table filled with bags for the girls in the prison near to where they lived. She would shop for items one would appreciate if spending Christmas in prison. For years my mom, with other community women would exercise a young boys limbs who was born with a spastic condition. They didn't see being a stay at home mom as not fulfilling. My mother made a budget, stuck to it, maintained the family checkbook for years, until my father retired. Alma grew magnificent flowers in her garden, bringing a florist worthy vase each week for the front of the pulpit. Alma taught me not to "camp out" in a pity party, her words. But they stuck. And I could see through her life that she never hung out there either! Both women went forward. And they were content. In the joys and tragedies that all families face. They showed me what I heard Daisy Obsborne, missionary to India, say years ago. "Surround yourself with beauty. God does!" It doesn't need to be expensive but beauty enhances life....our homes, places of work, outside and in. They made their homes beautiful with simplicity, design and a few nice inherited pieces of furniture. And they were so grateful for what they had; our visits, vacations, faithful friends, grandchildren, food, homes, our country. I hope I told them these things over the years, while they were still alive. Because they both showed me, with their lives, how to do think thing called womanhood in family, neighborhood, community, and church.