For Momma - Memorial Slide Show (Turn Playlist Music off before watching)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What to keep? - Part 7 Final - Amongst My Momma's Treasures

I am one of those people that don't have the heart to throw away cards. I have even made up rules for myself because of the volumes of them that I have. The rules for keeping cards are: 1) Never ever throw away a card from a grandchild. 2) Never ever throw away a card from my husband. 3) Cards that have letters either written on them or in them are saved. Why? I know my fellow genealogists will agree that those will one day be considered a historical record. So those must be kept for the future. 4) Hand made cards are also kept because the person that made them took their time to do it for me. When I follow my rules I eliminate a lot of my clutter. But, how do I apply this rule to the boxes of cards my Momma saved? Somehow the rules seemed to change for me as I started going through them. I actually felt physically ill at the thought of throwing away her memories. Not the memory of her, but her memories. As I went through them a conversation she and I had had about her photo albums came back to me. With tears in her eyes she told me to just dump them. That they wouldn't mean anything to anybody. It broke my heart to hear her talk this way, like her life experiences weren't important. Is that true? Do our memories only belong to us? I guess for me the pictures are a record of her life and the things that she did and enjoyed. I don't know that the occasional picture of a lion or giraffe hold a lot of significance to her life story, however, pictures that show the places she visited or people she shared her life with certainly do. The problem for me isn't so much keeping them, because believe me I can't part with them – at least not right now. The problem is where do I put them all? I have stacks and stacks of my own memorabilia and adding hers to mine is overwhelming. I'm seriously thinking that since I have a slide show business that I may take them and create a living history slide show with them in the future.

I think you can tell a lot about a persons thoughts and beliefs by the things they keep tucked in books. Of course there are always those things that you have no clue why they were saved. My Grandmother and my Momma were “clippers”. You know, people that clip things out of newspapers or magazines and put them inside their Bibles or a special book. They're usually something that they wanted to remember or that touched their hearts. I believe I could take all the clippings that were saved and make a road map of how to live a spirit filled life, one with purpose and meaning.
In the end it's not really about the things we have kept but how our lives were lived. We hold on to these small treasures not because they have value, but because they hold a memory of those special moments in our lives. And when that person is out of our reach it's a tangible thing we can touch, hold and remember. Will the next generation find the true value of these treasures? I can't answer that. I only hope that the next “keeper” of the treasure will know the stories behind them and find the value of them. Right now I don't know for sure who that “keeper” will be, but I'm sure one day my heart will tell me.

The only real treasure amongst my Momma's things was Momma herself. I only hope I told her often enough that she knew it.

In the memorial slide show that I created for Momma I included a prayer I found in the clippings that she had saved. I'll share it with you here as my final thought.
“I remember thee in this solemn hour, my dear Mother.
I remember the days when thou didst dwell on earth,
and thy tender love watched over me like a guardian angel.
Thou hast gone from me,
but the bond which unites our souls
can never be severed,
thine image lives within my heart.
May the merciful Father reward thee
for they faithfulness and kindness thou
hast ever shown me;
may he lift up the light of his countenance
upon thee and grant the eternal peace!”

Please click on this link to watch the slide show - click here - For Momma - Memorial Slide show - as with all slide shows they are best when viewed in full screen.  Don't forget to turn off the playlist music on the right hand side of this page.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Stay on your own side of the road! - Part 5 of Amongst Momma's Treasures

Bertus & Momma about 1925.

Momma was the second born and oldest daughter. Her brother was just two years older. When I look at the few pictures that we have of them as little kids, I can't get over how big he was compared to my tiny little Momma. He could talk her into anything and she believed everything he told her. One story I always loved to hear her tell was when she was three years old and he convinced her she could fly. Apparently they had a corn crib which from what I understand was kind of like a barn. Well the chickens would get up into the loft and peck up the loose corn kernels and then they would fly out of the loft (OK, I know chickens can't really fly.) He convinced her that she could fly like the chickens and it would be fun. She was just about to flap her little arms and jump when grandma saw her. (Thank goodness!)  Grandma didn't want to scare her and end up having her fall so she just talked to her softly and told her that she didn't want her jumping from there. Slowly she talked her back down the stairs. I can just picture this little pixie of a girl up in the loft flapping her arms. Both of Momma's brothers loved to tease and pull jokes on their sisters and scare off their dates with shotguns, it's just what brothers do.

I told her once that I thought she was awfully gullible, she laughed and stated I wasn't any different with my own brothers. I hate to admit it but she was right, I believed everything my brothers said too. I didn't eat tapioca for years because they told me it was really fish eggs. It's funny that no matter how much my Mom tried to convince me that they were teasing me, I still believed them instead of her.
When it was time for my Uncle to start school he refused to go unless his little sister went along. I'm not sure why, he surely was big enough to take care of himself, I guess there was security in numbers. Momma loved school and attended a one room school house from first grade through eighth.   She graduated from Wilcox High School in 1939, but she almost didn't get to go. My Grandpa could not see any need for her to go to school beyond the eighth grade, plus there was work on the farm that he needed her home for.  Grandpa grew up in Germany and formal education was completed at grade 8. After that they went on to a trade school. I'm sure arguing with my Grandpa had to be like pounding your head against a brick wall. And if I know my Grandpa you didn't argue with him for too long before all holly heck broke loose. But then there's always grandma and I believe she understood Momma's drive to go to school more than anyone did. She herself was denied an education because of work that had to be done on the farm. Grandma loved books but wasn't allowed time to read, so she would sneak her books into a closet and hide. Grandma's advise to Momma was that if she wanted it badly enough she would find a way to go. There was no money to pay for the school buses in those years. The bus driver felt bad for her and let her ride free at least for a time. I can just imagine how devastated she was the day he stopped and told her she could no longer ride because the school had found out that she was riding for free. That ended her high school days temporarily until one day fate stepped in. She had gone out to the mailbox and greeted the mailman. He asked her why she wasn't in school and she told him that she had no way to get there. So he told her if she would meet him at the section corner he would give her a ride into town and drop her off in the evening on his way home. In the last years of high school she lived and worked for one of her school teachers who lived in town. She took in boarders and cooked their meals, so Momma's job was to wash and clean-up all the dishes. She would have to get the morning dishes done before she could go to school. There were many mornings when she would have to run all the way to get there on time. During lunch she would go back to the house where she would wash all the lunch dishes. On Friday nights she would ride the train from Wilcox to Hildreth and spend the night at the Pastors home so she could go to confirmation class on Saturday.

I don't think I mentioned that my folks are the same age and knew each other their entire lives. My grandparents were good friends and spent a lot of time together. Saturday evening was town night. Everyone in the surrounding area would go into town on Saturday evenings to do their shopping and see their friends. After confirmation class Momma would walk to my Dad's house and Grandpa would pick her up there on the way into town. I asked her once if she and my Dad were sweethearts then. She said: “NO WAY! I thought he was terrible.” I said: “But, you walked to his house after class, didn't you?” She said: “Well sort of, he stayed on his side of the road and I stayed on mine.” I don't think I ever asked her how they ended up dating and falling in love – something I regret. I must remember to ask my Dad.

Isn't it funny how we think of our parents lives beginning the day we were born, as if everything in life centers around our being. I suppose it's because it's all we really understand and can comprehend. I love thinking about my Momma being a little girl with curly hair. Her Aunt Rosetta used to call her “poor little Lucille.” Momma hated that, she said there was nothing “poor” about her. They didn't have much, but in those days no one did, so they felt no different from each other. When I look at her pictures I can see that her clothes didn't fit and her coat had holes in it and sometimes she had no shoes on. It's only when you look past the clothing and into her eyes that you can see a child that was loved and that's where I see my Momma's riches.

Amongst my Momma's treasures were loving parents who cherished all their children.

To be continued.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Do What You Think is Right - Part 4 of Amongst My Momma's Treasures

Grandma & her girls - also known as "The Sisters."

If there was a book called “Parenting 101” my Momma could have written it. You see, my Momma was raised by an amazing woman herself. Grandma was one of those rare women who only comes along once in a lifetime. She saw everything in life through Jesus' eyes and she passed that along to all four of her daughters and of course her two sons as well. There are people who like to “brag” about how faithful they are, they go on and on about it to the point you wonder who they are trying to convince. It's kind of like the person who does a good deed for someone, but then has to make sure that everyone knows what a wonderful person they are for doing it. It makes you wonder what their real motive was for doing it. Grandma wasn't like that, she didn't wear her faith on her sleeve for everyone to see, she carried it in her heart where God dwelled.

Oops – got off track there – sometimes my mind gets sidetracked momentarily.

Momma had very expressive blue eyes and you knew immediately what her reaction was going to be by how they changed. There was nothing, I mean nothing worse than when she looked at me with disappointment because of something I had done wrong. It would have been less painful to have a beating (which she never did) than that look. It was a look that went right to the core where shame lives. I'd get mad at her for being mad at me. – After all I was 7 and should be able to do what I wanted. I would storm off to my room, lay on my bed and face the wall because I knew she would be coming up those stairs shortly. I'd hear her on the first step, then the second, now the third, with every step I got closer to the wall. I knew what was coming and it made me madder than a wet hen. She would sit on the edge of my bed and not say anything for a minute or two, all the while I pulled further away. She would finally break the silence with - “Terri – I have a little story here I want to read to you.” Oh man, I knew she would have one of those darn stories. We had a set of books called “Bedtime Stories for Children” and all the stories had some sort of message in them. Inch by inch, as she read the story, I would move away from the wall closer to her. By the time the story was coming to an end I was in her lap. She would explain to me why she got mad and tell me how much she loved me and all was well again. I don't know how she dealt with my brothers in similar situations because I was younger than they were, however, she certainly knew what worked with me. Momma said that when she was little and would get mad at her Mom that grandma would sing this silly song to her until she finally would laugh. It went like this:

Lucille is mad and I am glad
A bottle of ink to make her stink
And a little boy to squeeze her.

As I grew older I noticed that the look changed somehow. It went from disappointment to concerned understanding. All three of us kids went to Momma whenever we needed to make a decision or had a problem to work out. She would quietly listen to everything we had to say. She would help us weigh out the pros and cons. She might offer an opinion or give some advise, but never did she tell us what to do. That was something we had to decide for ourselves. Never once did she say “you'll be sorry if you do that.” But, at the same time we knew when she wasn't on board with what we decided by the dreaded comment: “Well, you have to do what you think is right.” She knew that in order for us to grow as individuals that we had to make our own choices in life because we were the ones that had to carry them through. Many was the time I had wished I had done what she thought was right instead of what I thought was right, but that's how we learn.
After Darrell died I went through a period of time when I couldn't seem to find any purpose in my life. I felt as though if I had never been born it wouldn't have changed anything in this world. I had so wrapped my life into his that I didn't know who I was. It's a terrible feeling to have when you think you are useless. I always turned to Momma in times like these. She knew me so well that she could pull me from the depths of sorrow with just a touch. When I poured my heart out to Momma she said to me: “How can you say that you have no purpose in life? I prayed for you to be born and God answered my prayer with you. You have so many gifts that you share so willingly with everyone – this alone is worth more precious than diamonds or gold.” It's difficult to think of life without her to talk to every day. No matter how old we get, we just don't outgrow our need for our Momma's. I don't know how she did it but she just always seemed to know what we needed at any given time in our lives. There is a quote from Winnie the Pooh that reminds me of something that Momma would say. It goes like this: 

"If ever there is a tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you should always remember.  You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.  But the most important thing is, even if we're apart, I'll always be with you."

There are so many things I could say about the kind of parent she was but there are not enough pages in a book to write them all.

Amongst Momma's treasures there was love and understanding. Next to that was a box filled with wisdom, strength and perseverance.

To be continued.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chocolate Covered Peanuts & Gumdrops - Part 3 of Amongst My Momma's Treasures

When I started doing holiday dinners at my house I think I really pushed the limits of my husbands patience with me. I wanted every corner of the house scrubbed and polished so it shined when our guest arrived. Each picture that hung on the wall was removed so that I could clean the glass and polish the frame. Every little tchotchke was placed on the counter for a good washing. My normal laid back attitude changed to one of a woman crazed, obsessive and cranky to boot! Honestly sometimes I wonder how he put up with me at times. He would remind me that the ones coming were family and that they were not going to look under the beds to see if I had run the vacuum under them. What he didn't understand was that I wanted everything to be special and that for me that it was in the details.

Momma seemed to do all this so effortlessly through the years. I remember her being teased about how clean her home was by my Uncle Leon, he would reach up to the top of the kitchen cupboards and wipe his hand along the edge and tell her that he found a spot she missed. She would laugh at him and give him a little smack on the arm. The next day though she would be on the stepping stool wiping it down. Such a silly little memory, I know.

Everything Momma did was done with a servants heart. So many times she would offer to help me with whatever I was doing and I would refuse. It wasn't because I didn't want her help, it was because I let my pride get in my way. Gosh darn it – it was my dirt and I didn't think it was right to have anyone else have to deal with it. I'm still that way now, but I am trying to work on the pride thing. One time in particular that I'll never forget took place not long after I had had a major heart attack. I had been complaining to her about how difficult it was for me to do things because I would get worn out so fast. When she offered to help me I refused once again. Even today, 10 years later, her words to me that day ring in my head: “Terri – did you every consider that by letting me help you, you are giving me a gift?” - Whoa – my brain went numb for a moment at her words, I responded with: “But, it's not right for you to feel you have to come do this for me – you have so much of your own to do.” In her calm, but strong voice she responded: “But, Terri, by refusing me you are denying me the joy of giving my time to you. You complain to me all the time about the kids not letting you help them when you offer, but you do the same thing.” Well what could I say – she was right.

After Momma's memorial service so many people came over to me and expressed how she had “stood in the gap” for them or for a family member. One lady told me how my folks would go out of the way to pick up her mother and take her places when she no longer could drive. Over and over I heard these remarks. They were things that I did not know about, but, were not a surprise. Many people say - “If you need anything just let me know” - My Momma never waited to be asked she was just there doing whatever needed to be done and always with a joyful heart.

There are little things we do that seem insignificant to us at the time, but we do them to please the ones we love. Momma kept a bowl of gumdrops on the coffee table. She bought them in 5# bags because we would gobble them up when we visited. We laughed about how even the hospice nurses would sit and talk with her and munch on gumdrops. So of course we kept the bowl full. We take so many things for granted thinking they will always be there for us.

In spite of my obsessive behavior in preparing for company I was not the only one in the house that paid attention to the details. Darrell had gone to the store and when he returned he had a big grin on his face. One large bag was filled with an assortment of candies, just like Momma always did. He pulled out a bag of chocolate cover peanuts and declared: “Mom always has chocolate covered peanuts and we're going to do that too!”

I learned a great deal from Momma without even knowing I was being taught. After
that first big meal at my house she handed me the Bible and told me to read this story from Luke 10:38-42. Uggg I thought – she always does this to me and the part that gets me is that it always works.
At the Home of Martha and Mary 
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Momma in her own special way helped me to understand that all my distress in the preparations was not necessary, but rather, the time we would be sharing was all that matter. How fortunate I was to have such a woman in my life.

Amongst my Momma's treasures was a loving, giving and joyful heart.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stories & Pretty Things – Part 2 of Amongst My Momma's Treasures

Momma's Baby Book

I couldn't even begin to count the number of times Momma and I went through the treasures in her hope chest. The chest held only special memories of her life and of course my fathers too. Oh my, how I loved touching her pretty things and listening to her stories. There were letters tied with ribbons, some filled with sadness and others with joy. Old pictures of family filled my head with questions that could not be answered. One small box held my baptism dress, bonnet and pink booties. The tiniest red rose with a white ribbon was perfectly dried and kept as a remembrance of that day. I wonder if she ever tired of telling me about the day I was born. Gosh, it seems like yesterday that I was that wide eyed little girl sitting on the floor with Momma. Isn't it wonderful that we can hit the rewind button in our heads to these precious memories and revisit them anytime we want to.

Momma was born in south central Nebraska in 1922 in an area primarily made up of German immigrants. There were a few Swed's in the mix for fun. Her father had emigrated from Germany in 1906.  Her Mother was 1st generation American, whose parents had emigrated from an area known as Ostfriesland, Germany.  Grandma's parents were farmers going back for generations, but Grandpa was a city boy who grew up in Hamburg.  I wonder now how hard it had been for him to adapt to such a change.

She was the second born of six children and the oldest daughter. By the time her twin sisters were born in the thirties Momma was 12. Two years later another little sister arrived. Growing up in a big family on the farm meant everyone from the youngest to the oldest had to pitch in and help. Since Grandma was busy with cooking for her big family, and also helping out in the fields, meant Momma was in charge of taking care of the girls. She often referred to herself as their “second mother”, something she seemed to take great pride in. Every Saturday night she would curl the girls hair for church on Sunday. Remember this was before the day of curling irons, she would take candles and roll their hair around them and the girls would have to hold them until it was dry. When Momma would tell these stories there always seemed to be a little glint in her eyes. I think her love for them went beyond the love of sister to sister.

Going through Momma's hope chest after she died brought a lot of sweet memories back of the times we looked at them together. I thought I knew every little thing in it by heart, but when I found her Baby Book I was taken aback. I don't recall ever seeing it before, surely I would remember something so precious. The handwriting in the book was so familiar and I recognized it immediately as my Grandmas. As I went through the pages and read the things my grandma had written about her little girl I couldn't help but smile. Oh, how I wish I would have seen it when I could have shared it with her. But, you know something? Maybe it was a treasure meant to be found today – a small connection to the past. Something to warm a broken heart.........

To be continued.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Just the other side of the bridge - Part 1 of Amongst My Momma's Treasures

A long time ago I received this Thomas Kinkade picture in an email and fell in love with its peacefulness. I so can picture myself spending eternity there.

After my husband, Darrell, died I would imagine him living there with our Kallie Dog. He would be “putzying” with something and Kallie would be swimming in the stream or chasing a ball.

After loosing my Mom last month, I again have found comfort in this Kinkade painting. I imagine her cottage is just on the other side of the bridge. Darrell and Mom get together for coffee and she bakes him one of her yummy banana cream pies. Occasionally my grandparents stop by and they all have a grand time. They chat about the day we will all be together again and pray that those of us still here on earth are doing well.

I know what you are thinking right now. You're thinking – WOW this lady has quite the imagination. And you would be right.

Amongst my Momma's treasures was a small *book I had given her in hopes that it would bring her some comfort as she struggled with cancer. I was drawn to the book shortly after Darrell died. I would read a few pages every night to help my mind settle into sleep. When I found the book next to her chair there were several pages marked. The first page marked read: “I have loved you....fear not, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 43:4-5) and “He humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on the cross.” (Philippians 2:8). One of Mom's treasures was the powerful faith that she had in God. It was so precious to her that she taught it to her children, so that we too could receive the joy of knowing our Saviour and the blessing of eternal life with Him.

One day I will walk across the bridge where my husband waits for me at the foot of the bridge and he will say: “Welcome home sweetheart – what kept you so long.” Oh, and I can't wait to have a piece of my Mom's delicious banana cream pie. For now God has work for me to do here, but one day.........

To be continued.......
(*book: Fear Not – The Promise book by Max Lucado)


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