Remembering Mom

The correct term for today here is Mothering Sunday, but over the years and keeping up with their ex-colony, the U.K. has gradually adopted the broader Mother’s Day expression in its place. Mothering Sunday was originally the 4th Sunday in Lent, when one returned to ones mother or home church. However, as the term changed, so has its meaning and now it means the same as Mother’s Day around the world, a day to honour mothers.

I notice on Facebook, my main social base, that people remember to honour their mothers who have since died. Somehow I do not, at least not with any verbal tribute as some do.  And I began to wonder today why I don’t. I’m trying to remember if I ever have, and can’t. I think of my dad on Father’s Day, but I wonder if it isn’t because he didn’t play as prominent a role in my life. I am much more my mother’s daughter I think.

I never looked anything like her, to my regret. She was a real beauty, and tall and elegant, even in her later years. But she was my North Star, the voice I heard in my head, the voice I still hear. Even before either of us became Christians, her words provided my moral centre, one which I came to see very much lined up with the Word of God when we did.

I should miss her since she’s passed, and feel deep sadness, and yet I don’t, not in the normal ways.  I shed few tears when she died and I was with her; I haven’t cried missing her much since. In fact,  I don’t think about her all that often, and when I realize I don’t, it troubles me a little. Why don’t I? She was the most important person in my life for most of it. Her word was the one I most trusted.

The odd thing is I often dream of her, and Dad, too. I don’t dream about them, per se, but they are in my dreams as if they are alive in my life now. So, as I give time to think about all this, I am coming to the conclusion that because Mom was always so close to me in life, because I spent so much time with her in her latter years when she lived with me and my sister, and because I got to say all I wanted to while she was with me, she still is…right here with me. I know she’s in heaven with the Lord, but my heart behaves as if she’s here, too. When I was young, she used to say that our loved ones who pass on are kept alive in our hearts as we remember them, and I thought that’s what people say when they don’t really believe in eternal life, that the dead are only ‘kept alive’ by our memories.

But maybe she was on to something. Maybe it isn’t either or. Maybe because she and I were so close, not even death could make me feel apart from her, which would explain to me why I don’t miss her like I have felt I should. But, in case she’s listening:

Mom, I can’t ever thank you enough for your life, your example and your love. They gave me shelter when I needed it, wings when I needed them and an inner assurance that everything would turn out all right in the end!

All my family photos are packed away, so this is the best I can do at the moment…

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Inside my American Girl Doll

I hate it when a post goes half missing, like this one just did, 2 paragraphs worth! Hope I can remember what I wrote…

It all began when I began playing with my American Girl Hawaiian doll, Kanani. (I’ve had lots of opportunity to this winter since Abbey got Kirsten for Christmas. She is always up for playing dolls, even if Willow isn’t or can’t because of school work.)

I had noticed her legs were loose when I first got Kanani several years ago, but it seemed to have gotten worse as I’ve played with her, and those little legs knocked together when ever I moved her. She couldn’t stand on her own very well and it was disconcerting to say the least! Rather than invest in an expensive trip to the AG Doll Hospital in the US, (ha, like that was ever going to happen!), I felt sure there must be some sort of tutorial online for just this problem. Indeed I found about a dozen and fortunately chose wisely as it turned out to be the simplest method, involving only two elastic hair bands! Yay! I could do that! Nevertheless, I was a little nervous. It was my first such procedure. I took some deep breaths and performed the operation, by myself in the privacy of my own room, thusly…

First, I untied her ‘neck tie’ and removed her head. Check! A little unnerving to see her head rolling around on my bed, but there was no way to get to the offending legs. Fingers crossed I could get it back on properly at the end ⚔️ (Couldn’t find a crossed fingers emoji!)

Next, I removed all the stuffing. All of it. Really! Check!  There is more than one might think of the white cotton-like batting in these dolls, and I had been warned that I might not get it all back in. It took quite a bit of time to get it all out and I really wished I’d taken a photo of it. Finally the cloth body was empty enough to reach the legs.

Third,  I pulled up the leg sockets with their knotted elastics sticking out. Check! I had to pull out those elastics as tight as I could, then wrap a hair tie around and under the knot in her elastics, which secured the socket to the leg. Although the legs have always been loose, the original elastic didn’t seem stretched out. I carefully wrapped the hair tie around as much as I could as tightly as I could. I shook the legs and they seemed almost as wobbly, but I hadn’t restuffed her body yet.

Fourth, I had to restuff the body. I think this was the longest task. I later discovered one of the videos recommended stuffing with the aid of a chopstick! I actually had it all back in her now very stuffed body but couldn’t manage the fifth step. I unstuffed her a little and made a small tower of stuffing that could fit inside her head.

Finally, I reattached the head. Check! Hmm, more easily said than done. The head just seemed to sit atop the body but didn’t want to  fit inside. There was more stuffing down as far as my fingers could manage to free some room at the top. Finally, I managed to squeeze it in, tie up the neck opening and double knot it. Whew!

Well, that was a relief. But all in all, I was quite pleased with myself. And now, Kanani stands on her own! I’m including a photo of her, but she is borrowing Kirsten’s dress, courtesy of Abbey. Sadly most of Kanani’s limited wardrobe is in the garage…

And this is another thing retirees get to do…play with their dolls, I mean!😉

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Reflections on Retirement

Wow! It’s been a very, very long time since I have even visited my blog, let alone written anything in it! So here goes my first bit of writing in awhile!

I don’t count Facebook because so often I write there in reaction to something someone says or news of the day. But coming up with an original thought- it feels sort of awkward now, unsure how or where to start…

For one thing I’ve been sick with a bad cold and in bed for several days, and before that I’ve been in pain from arthritis and plantar fasciitis – I guess to both, this past year. I’m getting a MSK consult next week (muscular skeletal) to determine the cause of my pain, hopefully, and whether or not more physio is warranted.

So, aside from the always amusing and lovable antics of my three wonderful grandkids, apart from living in this green and pleasant land, known as England, in the bosom of my loving family, and notwithstanding my unlimited cinema pass (courtesy of my DD and DSIL) my retirement has been unremarkable.

I have to remind myself that I am retired because I am often busier now than I have ever been! For one thing I haven’t lived in a household with six people since I was a teenager. I was a lot younger then!  But there is so much to do and there is not quite enough space for everything to have its own place. Hopefully that won’t always be the case, but meantime six people create a certain amount of cosmic disturbance, chaos and laundry and have to be fed on a regular basis! So household needs keep us all busy, and frankly I do the least, and it still feels like lots!!😳

On the other hand I have never been in a position where I could be hugged by a little person (or three) at any moment, day or night, and that is no small advantage!  One night, I was dreaming that I was in a tight place. I awoke, startled by a little body and her doll squeezed in between me and the wall of my single bed!  Then I heard her whisper in my ear with a giggle, ‘I sneakily climbed into your bed! I got you, didn’t I?’ Indeed she did!

Nor have I ever been able, either financially or time wise, to go off and see a movie any time I wanted, as often as I want. And I love movies!  And with a free bus pass I can not only go to the movies but I can shop locally whenever the buses are running. We are only 25 minutes by car from the biggest mall around in Milton Keynes, and DD loves shopping too!😉 To top it off, we live 40 minutes from London. England! By train! Never in my life could I have had such a dream!

So many dreams have come true since moving here, including the way I moved here! Ok, I’m getting warmed up now…only it’s just gone on lunch.

So if I had to sum it up, I’d say being retired is like always being on vacation, except for the laundry! Yeah, I could get used to this life.👍🏻

next up…the calendar year of a retiree

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March Madness

Hello, again…By the way, my title has nothing to do with my post; I just like it.

This is the last day to complete my New Year’s vow – to write at least once a month about those remembrances I hold dear. Today I am remembering that one year ago today I was in Oxford to celebrate the 3rd birthday of my dear grandson (henceforth known as DGS). It was a surprise visit, one that I had such joy in creating and fulfilling. His birthday is actually in a couple of days, but I left Canada on the Friday and arrived in England the next day (Sat) so this is what I consider to be a year to the day since.

Anywho, if you’re still with me, and if you’ve read anything else on this blog, you know how much I love my grandkids. Never expected to, because I was never that crazy about kids in general. My own child I saw as a person from the minute they placed me in her arms and the children I taught over the years were also people, not kids, to me. But my DGS and my DGD are simply adorable kids right now. Yes they’re people to be sure, but I see them so seldom that I have to say I love the ‘kid’ness in them. I almost missed it in their mother (my own DD). Not quite but almost and probably for more of her childhood than I care to admit. So if my raving about them sounds overdone to you, like I’m making up for something, so what? I am, and I’m not even trying.

I can hardly put into words how very grateful I am to have grandchildren and that they are who they are. They are sweet-natured, funny, smart and beautiful, too.  (And thanks to the wise parenting they are receiving, I feel confident they are becoming who they should and will be.) But more than that (and that should be enough) is that they adore their parents and they seem to like me pretty well, too. It is more than wonderful when your grandchildren love you back, because they don’t have to.

Part of what makes this memory of that visit so very special to me, aside from the happy times spent with the kids, was the look of utter shock on my daughter’s face when she opened the door to me, the vice-like hug she gave me – as if she didn’t want to let go – and the tears she cried as we held each other. Apparently I came at a good time. And it’s not like she was lonely – her best friend was visiting from Canada at the time! Sometimes a girl just needs her mother and wasn’t I lucky to have picked the right time!!

I didn’t want to impinge on their time together, so I’d stayed in a little BnB nearby, and babysat while the two girls had a night out on their own before Em left a couple of days later. Those two girls women have been through so much in the past year that I marvel at their strength, which I’m sure comes by the grace of God.

Anyway, if it’s wonderful that your grandkids love you, it’s as wonderful or more, that your grownup children do. So today I am over-the-moon thankful for my precious daughter and her family. I love both grandchildren but today I am especially thankful for my dearest little boy who always has a smile for me, and when I come, loves to awaken me with a cuddle. Hopefully he will always have a smile for me, but I don’t know long those wake up cuddles will last, so it’s important to hold every expression of his affection in remembrance.

Happy Birthday, dear little Boy. I’ll see you all soon. XOXO

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Answers I will never forget…Part 1

The first answer to prayer I remember distinctly occurred while I was at Bible school in San Francisco. I had come to the college with only a small trunk, and believe it or not, very little clothing. I can’t remember what else could have filled it, but there it was. I had about five outfits, and we could only wear skirts or dresses around the campus so my wardrobe was quite limited. So limited that one of my new friends told me some of the students were thinking of taking an offering to help me. Imagining me destitute, they had taken pity on this strange Canadian who wore the same outfit three, four, even five days in a row.

Of course unbeknownst to me, I was actually creating the illusion of my dire straits by a terrible social faux pas: in the US one does NOT wear the same outfit two days in a row, let alone three or four.

I insisted that I had plenty of clothes, but that they had gotten lost on their way back from Chile, where I had been living for the previous two years with my family. Everyone’s things had arrived in Canada but mine and we were assured mine would make it eventually….unless it got lost for good. Great! But that’s how I went to school with so little to wear. That didn’t account for why I wore the same outfit every day, however. It never occurred to me, as a Canadian, that it spoke to anything other than my reluctance to waste money on laundry.
But after hearing of the pity my state had aroused among  my fellow students, I found myself praying for my clothes to get to me soon. However, nothing happened. Then one night I felt to pray specifically that my goods show up the next day.
I awoke feeling not that different, maybe a little expectant, but fortunately had classes all morning. Then when I was in the cafeteria having lunch I was told to report to the rotunda. When I got there, I understood the source of my curious  sense of anticipation that had been building all morning.
There stood a delivery man and a huge tea barrel, the tea barrel packed with most of my earthly goods. The man held out a paper for me to sign. “I thought it was lost,” I said staring at the barrel. “It was,” he said. “they found it in China.”
My mom had wanted to file a claim but I had kept putting her off. Now I knew why. Needless to say, after a couple of guys helped me get the barrel to my room, I opened it up. But getting all my clothes back, plus  some precious mementoes from my time in Chile, did not have my heart singing. It was that my Heavenly Father had regarded my lowly estate and returned to me that which was lost and had told me beforehand that He would do so the very next day.  It was an answer to prayer I will never forget. When I feel down and/or alone, this is one of my most easily recalled Stones of Remembrance, because it reminds me of my Father’s love for me.
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Remembering love…

Today I was thinking of my ex husband. According to Jane Wyman, the ex wife of the late Ronald Reagan, one shouldn’t speak of one’s exes. However, there is a sense in which they’re forever a part of your life, especially if you have children together, as we did: one very precious and special daughter..

So I wasn’t just thinking about him so much as remembering…

Remembering how it felt to love someone who was kind and gentle, who made me feel safe and cherished.

Remembering how it felt to be loved by someone who promised to take care of my mother should the need arise, who loved my parents and who shared my child rearing philosophy.

Remembering my struggle to help him see his kind and compassionate nature as a strength, not a weakness, and to see himself as I did.

Remembering how young we both were and wishing I knew then what I know now about trust and relationships and faith and love, and wishing I had been a better helpmeet for him on his journey.

Remembering how I felt the day he left to ‘find himself’, praying he would one day find his way home to us.

Remembering the day God told me he wouldn’t be back, leaving me free to love again.

Realizing that though love has eluded me -at least romantic love-it IS better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

So I am remembering today how grateful I am to the young man who loved me, however briefly, who gave me the greatest gift of all – our darling girl, and through her, our beloved grandchildren.

And how thankful I am to God for the gift of remembrance.

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Choices

Everytime I see a Sunlife commercial, I remember a choice I made long ago. It didn’t seem that significant at the time, but I was offered a job with that company to train for management. However, I was in ‘the move’ at the time and that wasn’t part of the program. Still, I sometimes wonder where I would be today had I taken that job…maybe no where, of course, or maybe in a place to retire with a very nice pension?? Who knows? Besides God, of course.

Being a Fringe fan, I can wonder whether my alternate self took that job and became a successful executive, but being a fan does not a believer make, so I am left to conclude that for whatever reason I made my choice, I can only live with and embrace it. For one thing, I might never have married my daughter’s father and then there would be no DD and that would have been a loss keenly felt across all universes. Add to that there would be no grandbabies, and that thought doesn’t bear entertaining.

So I began to think back on all the choices I’ve made over these many, many years and come to a conclusion. Although pop culture would have us believe we ‘always have a choice’, I am not so sure. From our perspective, sure, it appears that way. But things aren’t always as they appear. (Don’t you love that expression?) So, what if every choice were surrounded by invisible fences or hedges, as it were, all funneling us towards the choice we were supposed to take? I think that’s almost it, except I believe we are given the choice between right and wrong in a moral sense. I just don’t believe all choices are moral ones. At least I don’t think I do.

Well, the clock is counting down and I must away to work, amidst the cold and blustery weather. Choices…what think ye? Please feel free to comment. I’ll be back soon.

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