Archives for the month of: May, 2013

It’s been 49 years since I first saw Paul. I was a freshman in college and he and his friends in the band with the funny name, The Beatles, were on Ed Sullivan and we watched him on a small television hanging out the window of our dorm to get reception from Oklahoma City to Stillwater. He was the cute one, the one who has always looked so young. Their hair was longer than the preppy boys we knew and even longer than the real cowboys studying at Oklahoma State University. We loved them. We wanted to hold their hand, yes we did.

I love music – can’t sing at all but love to anyway. At that time in my life, I was equally divided between my love of folk music – Peter, Paul & Mary, Joan Baez, The Kingston Trio – and rock & roll. The Beatles came right after President Kennedy was assassinated, warping the innocent world we had lived in. They were fun, irreverent, witty, and talented beyond belief, a welcome respite from contemplating the horrors of the new real world. Their songs and the beat locked into our hearts. Love, love me do.

After college, The Beatles and I moved on. I started having kids and being a kind of grown-up. I still listened to their music, but it got lost in Sesame Street and Burl Ives sings for children. They married and had kids, too. We all went on with our lives, but they were always there. They were such a part of our times, our culture and we lived every dramatic event with them, watching their music evolve just as all our lives did. They broke up just as the first of our friends were getting divorced. Their drama was our drama on public stages. The Beatles were the background of our lives, our youth continuing as we got older.

Paul married Linda and lived and loved, just as many of us did. She got cancer, just as many of our friends did. She died exactly a month to the day after my husband died of cancer. Katie Couric’s husband died around then too…we all had the same sad bond. Life goes on and we all went with it.

Earlier this year, I happened on a PBS special, “Kisses on the Bottom,” with Paul McCartney in the old Capitol studio singing an intimate concert of the old standards that his parents, my parents too, had listened to and included one new song, “My Valentine,” that he wrote for his new wife. It was such a wonderful concert, showing the man at his best and most gracious with other great musicians. His generosity to other performers, his love of the music, his humor all showed in this wonderful hour. He sang my mother’s favorite song, “Always,” and touched my heart. I downloaded the album immediately and saved the program.

When the announcement was made that Paul was coming to Tulsa, I grabbed a friend, one I’ve known since we were 9, and got tickets. A splurge – they’re not cheap – but a kind of bucket list thing. We were going to see Paul, one of The Beatles, in person!

Last night was the concert. It was amazing, he was amazing. How many millions did it cost to design and create the incredible staging? Lights, video, photos, sound, a crew of hundreds. It took a long time to get in, we got a t-shirt because you had to do it, didn’t you? When he finally took the stage, it was instant rapport with the audience. He took a minute to drink it all in. The show was incredible…the music, the fun! I took pictures with my phone, fuzzy but proof that I was there, memories of the evening.


Here are my thoughts…

*Paul McCartney still looks like a kid. Granted, he looked older by the end of that incredible almost three hour show after never leaving the stage for over two hours and then returning for two long encores, but he looks terrific for 70.
*He still seems to genuinely appreciate what has happened to him, is still a little bit amused and honored by it. This doesn’t come off as fake at all. He is very personable.
*Paul is a fabulous musician, not to mention songwriter. Paul’s music is classic. He plays piano, lots of guitars, ukelele and plays them well.
*This is what rock & roll is all about. He is great, a real rock & roller – he can scream with the best of them. Woo!
*He appreciates his audience and never quits thanking them, acknowledging them. This is a sign of an accomplished pro who knows what it’s all about.
*The songs of our youth are locked in our brains and hearts. You may not have heard them for decades and all the words come back and you sing along. I can’t remember much of what I hear today – some is great, some just doesn’t stay with me.
*The concert was not just old people, but all ages. What fun to share with your kids and grandkids or with your parents and grandparents.
*Paul sang for his new wife, “My Valentine,” sang a song he wrote for Linda, sang for John and George. I was touched when he turned to look at photos of George while singing. He didn’t have to do that, but seemed to want to see his old friend, to remember.
*This concert was not an old man doing the music that made him famous. This was a concert that seemed new and fresh even with old songs. Music for the ages.
*You’re never too old to rock, apparent by the legions of white haired fans rocking the music. Cool! Still got some moves left…
*I had the feeling I was in the presence of greatness. He IS a legend after all.

So, after the pyrotechnics during “Live & Let Die,” the thrill of the crowd singing “Hey Jude” at the end before the two encores, we left the concert after 11:30 and headed home.

Thank you, Paul. You are just so dang cute! Maybe cuter than when we met when I was 18. 49 years ago.

I played with dolls a lot when I was little, was the oldest child, did a little bit of babysitting…but wasn’t thinking about being a mother at all. I married when I was barely 21 and wanted to live happily ever after. The craziness of birth control in the 1960s was supposed to be sure fire and make it so I didn’t have to think about it. I went on birth control pills, like we all did, and then found that the high strength of the ones they used then was making me gain weight and have migraines. Off of those and on to something else…and I got pregnant on that one. Hmmm. I’d only been married nine months and we’d even gotten a dog to keep us from thinking about having kids. Farthest thing from our minds.

When it was obvious that something was up, I went to the doctor – no home pregnancy tests in those days. They called to tell me that the test was positive. Positive what? Positive I am or positive I’m not? That’s how little I knew. My husband was so excited that he called all our friends and we had a party. They did…I remember sitting there by myself wondering what in the world this was going to be like…don’t remember if I was scared or it was just such an unknown.

Being in college, I immediately started reading what the doctor gave me and anything else I could find. My mother got me the newest edition of Better Homes & Gardens Baby Book, the instruction book she had used when she had me. How many times did I read that? I was in graduate school, so it was probably like studying for a final that was coming up months away, a long semester.


I threw up a lot, slept a lot, read the book to make sure I was doing it right. My mother took me shopping for maternity clothes, pretty hideous in those days, although I did have some cute mini-length dresses. My mother-in-law made me a couple of tops. I ate lots of ice cream – good excuse. I’d quit teaching, graduate assistant in Freshman comp, since the baby was due the first week in June, so I read a lot. The only book I can remember is Rosemary’s Baby, which was probably not the best choice. But humorous. My husband and I always joked about the chocolate mousse. You have to read the book or see the movie…

So, I lazied along, getting bigger, looking more and more like a knocked-up teenager, waddling along. We felt the baby kick, I began to feel like a turtle on its back when I laid down. I read the name books over and over, searching for the absolutely perfect name. I didn’t want something that could be a nickname, so I went with a cute name with a more traditional middle name, picking a name from one of my favorite childhood stories if this was a girl, something more Scottish sounding if it was a boy. No tests to see if it was a boy or a girl…waiting to see.

May 27 came along and I felt funny. My husband went to his part-time job at the pizza place, classes may have been over for the semester. I kept thinking this was really bad gas, getting up and going back to bed. Afternoon, he was home and we decided to call the doctor. They said to come over and checked me, saying I needed to get to the hospital, I was halfway there. See? What did I know? I said goodbye to my husband as he headed for the father’s waiting room. No fathers in the delivery back then. They prepped me and I waited. It never got too bad, or the drugs they gave me made me forget. I had a spinal, and then she was born…my first child, my first daughter. When I woke up, my husband was there, so excited. He could only see her through the nursery window and I only saw her at appointed times. When they brought her to me, I couldn’t believe it. She was so beautiful…love at first sight. I fell back asleep and woke to find my father sitting beside me. I asked him what he was doing…he’d driven to Stillwater from Tulsa and couldn’t see the baby this late. He had come to see his baby. On the way, he’d stopped and run into my father-in-law returning from seeing his baby, my husband. Our mothers thought it was the funniest thing…very sweet.

In a couple of days, we took her home. No car seat, no instructions. Off on our own. We took her to her room and put her in her crib, held our dog up to see who this newest member of the family was, and just stared. She stared back solemnly. She knew! She knew she had been born to the most ignorant parents in the world and there was no way they could get this right. Anyone who knows her today understands the look. We burst out laughing. Thank God for our senses of humor. And I marveled every day at this little perfect miracle of ours. Such a love as I had never known…

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My mother came over for a couple of days. I think she slept in a chair in our duplex or on the sofa. She was a big help…the two of us opened the baby book, propped it up on the changing table and followed the photo directions for changing, bathing, feeding. Awesome. We laughed a lot. After a couple of days, she started going home each night, 1 1/2 hour drive, and coming back in the morning. She wanted to be with my father and she didn’t want to intrude on my husband and me. Incredible mother! I learned to use the newest thing, Playtex bottles with disposable liners, boiling the nipples and lids every day as I made a refrigerator full of formula. Breast feeding was just beginning to make a comeback, which is an odd thing to say. Only a few hippies were doing it then. Regardless, the baby thrived, never had allergies, and grew very fast. We had a diaper service since we didn’t have a washer and dryer, used the new disposable diapers for trips. Very few gadgets actually. We didn’t need them.

We started taking her home to Tulsa in a couple of weeks and my mother would dress her up and we would drive around to show her off to her friends. I was one of my first friends to have a baby. Actually, at 22, I had been one of the oldest mothers in the hospital. I would have been a younger mother today.

It doesn’t suck to have the first grandchild on both sides. We got lots of help and lots of attention. Thank goodness! We didn’t need it later. The months went on and we got better and better at it. When she was about four months old, I got her to smile at us. We were driving and she was in her carrier in my lap…no car seats or seat belts, for this matter. I was reciting nursery rhymes to her while we ran errands and was saying, “Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?”…and she smiled. Miracle of all miracles. We were passing her test and making it as parents. She was beginning to think we might pull this off!

After she was born, I had an IUD inserted, thinking there were no hormones associated with this. A little over a year later, I felt like I had so much love overflowing from this baby that we should have another one. The IUD was removed and I got pregnant almost immediately. Getting pregnant was never my problem…wish I could have shared that ability with those who need it. Another girl. The pregnancy was very different but having another baby was a piece of cake. Two adorable little girls we loved with all our hearts.

A couple of years passed and we decided to go for another one…maybe we’d have a boy this time, not that it mattered. Pregnant quickly again. Easy pregnancy, third girl was born. We were done…three beautiful little girls. Motherhood was the best thing I’d ever done. My husband was a great father, we were enjoying it all, having so much fun watching them grow up. I loved it all, so surprised that this was where I found my joy.

A couple of years later, I was pregnant again…unplanned. Who plans their second and third children and has four? It was almost scandalous at the time. People were into zero population growth, only have two children to replace themselves, and here we were having four. Oh well. We made sure this would be our last…good grief…and waited for the next one. Amazingly, the last one was a boy! More joy for all of us, although four girls would have been precious. The story went on and on.

Some women are meant to be mothers, some aren’t, and some of us just get thrown into it like jumping off a cliff. It was the biggest blind leap I ever took. It’s been educational, thrilling, scary, emotional, frustrating, exasperating, fun, silly, sweet and loving. I wouldn’t ever trade this experience. My grandchildren are a joy, but it is even better to watch my children as parents, having the same journey I had. Forty-five years ago today, I stepped off the cliff and became a mother. It’s filled my heart ever since!

Not much is more exciting than the first trip to the pool in the summer! My friend in Montana is still battling snow and in Oklahoma we’re sunbathing. Like everything else, your excitement varies along with your age. Watching the pure joy in my 3 1/2 year old granddaughter’s face was priceless.


The older kids are a little more blasé, especially the ones who have their own pool at home, but they still look forward to it. For the moms and dads, it’s a signal for a break from the school year routine, a break before the new summer routine. For grandparents, it’s just pure fun to watch your kids and grandkids enjoy fun in the sun together, whether it’s the pool, the lake, the ocean.

Of course, there’s the flood of memories that come with age…mental pictures of yourself as a child, your own children splashing in the water, the cries of “Mommy, Mommy, watch me,” repeated so many times that I still turn when I hear any child saying those words. Automatically. Strong conditioned reflex.

Today, my youngest grandchild is tall enough to go down the big slide…she ran to the measuring stick first thing. At 3 she remembered that from last summer. She’s tall, so she made it! I told her she had to wait for me to be at the bottom to catch her since she can’t swim yet. I forced myself into the icy water…it may be hot out, but the water hasn’t caught up yet…and stood there, waiting. A dad asked me if it wasn’t freezing in there and I told him I would only do this for a grandchild. YIKES! The look on her face as she approached the end of the slide will be etched in my heart forever. She did it!

But…dang it…that’s another milestone passed. They grow up so so fast! She’s be racing through each step of growing up at a pace I want to keep up with. I’m grateful for each step I get to share with these kids and their parents. Here’s to the fun times of summer and making memories for them to remember as they watch their own children and grandchildren. That’s how we roll…

Being a true Okie girl and proud of it doesn’t mean I’m an expert on our beautiful state. Like most people I know, I don’t always visit the places closest to me. I know people who’ve lived in California for most of their lives and never been to Yosemite, which is hard to imagine. We take things and people close to us for granted. It’s like the old saying that an expert is someone from 50 miles away. If we do venture out of our hometowns, it’s usually to the nearest lake or to the bigger city or to see relatives. Exploring is going out of state, out of the country. And look at all we miss…

I’ve been to all but a handful of our 50 states and I’ve traveled out of the country to various places. Each has its own beauty, history, enchanting stories, individual people. Each is unique in its own way. I treasure my time everywhere but I’m always glad to get home. In our family, we used to sing “Oklahoma” as we crossed the state line. Home is home, even if it’s not where you grew up.

Anyway, I’m sort of retired and want to see all I’ve missed and overlooked in the world around me…at least as much as I can. I’d always wanted to see more of the southeast corner of Oklahoma, intrigued by photos of cypress trees, having seen the lush forests, so I started digging around on the internet. Broken Bow Lake is supposed to be gorgeous with Beaver’s Bend State Park at the southern end, so that’s where I started. While looking for places to stay, I found there were places on the river…who doesn’t love a river or creek running by?

South and east from Tulsa is a beautiful drive, especially in the spring when we’ve had a lot of rain and everything in the countryside is lush and green. The Indian Paintbrush and other wildflowers were blooming along the highway, spreading across fields in some places. You begin to forget whatever you had been focusing on at home…just enjoying the view. The further south you go, the lusher it gets. You’re also headed for the area called Little Dixie due to the southerners who moved there after the Civil War. I didn’t see any Confederate flags, but there were signs that make you smile…



Oklahoma is a conservative state, to say the least, although there are plenty of opinions to go around on any political issue. I wasn’t here for politics, just to enjoy the beauty. The road stretched before my friend and me as I tried to capture some of what I was enjoying through my dashboard pictures. You’ll get the idea, even with windshield glare and bug splatters…


For those who don’t know Oklahoma, we have hills and valleys, pine forests, blackjack oaks with their twisted strong limbs, greenery everywhere. That’s just one of the many ecosystems in our state, which has more than any other. If you only picture tallgrass prairie or the plains or the flatness of western Oklahoma, then you have a limited view. I just learned that the Kiamichi Mountains in southeast Oklahoma, mountains probably named by the French traders and not the Indians as you would think, are older than the Rockies, which is why they are smaller, smoother. The Rockies are jagged and younger. But that’s another geology lesson…

This trip, we didn’t take the Talimena Scenic Drive, a gorgeous loop drive between Oklahoma and Arkansas, although I’ve been before and will go again. We were in the Ouachita National Forest (promounced Wash-i-ta), making me so grateful for the National Parks System which protects and manages our natural resources. We started to see the pine trees, the pine forests, and signs of logging in the area to provide for the paper industry.




It’s a fer piece to get to where were going, as we say around here. We really don’t say that, but I like the phrase. It was a 3 1/2 hour drive. We took the loop through Beaver’s Bend State Park, stopping to see the Broken Bow Lake, one of Oklahoma’s many.


The park was beautiful with creeks and activities, campgrounds and beautiful cabins to rent. I can only anticipate the activity as summer begins…we ventured on south to Mountain Fork River and the cabin we had rented. It was a pleasant experience from the time I first found it. A call to the owners, a deposit on a credit card. That was it. Off the highway, down the roads, down country roads…


When we arrived, we stopped at their home, greeted by smiling dogs, gave them cash for the balance and went on down the road. Not a form to fill out or anything. Just folks.

The cabin was delightful. We had picked the one closest to the water and it was perfect. I’d pictured something more rustic, but it was lovely…could sleep 1-6 easily. One of the reasons this one had stood out was the fact that there were boats included in the reasonable price. We could have and might have gone on a longer float trip, but there were canoes, kayaks and flatbottom boats right there for us to use. Just pick one out and go…no hassle, no making reservations, nothing. Easy…


One surprise was how much cane or bamboo was around our cabin and the area. I thought they must have brought it in, but it has been there for a long time I found out later. The great treat was the cypress trees all around. I thought there might be a few, but they were everywhere along the river. I fell in love with them, just like I did the giant Sequoias in California. It was like being transported to another place, a quiet place…I snapped pictures right from the area around the cabin…




…ending with this gorgeous picture right beside us, taken as a film began to cover the water at the end of the afternoon, right before sunset…


An early morning boat ride, taking the flat bottom boat with the trolling motor, which let me take pictures more easily if I didn’t have to paddle, was tranquil and lovely.



…enjoying the cane and cypress, cool and lush in the morning…


…smelling the honeysuckle that covered the trees from the middle of the river…


Up river, we could have taken a wilder float trip with white water fun, but this was a nice morning start with reflections in the water to calm the soul…


At the end, looping around the islands that were in front of our cabin, we looked both ways on the river…




and turned at the tattered flag that waved us back to our landing.



You can tell by the photos that the weather was changing from the bright clear skies of the day before. Ugly storms were predicted, so we went into Broken Bow and then did some other exploring…another blog…before coming back in time to watch the horror of the tornado that hit Moore, OK that day. The weather changed and rain came in, rustling the cane and cypress around us. The trip was cut a little short as we took another route home the next day to drive through the least of the storms we could. It was all beautiful and peaceful, a lovely adventure into southeastern Oklahoma to places I had only heard about and wanted to visit. I can’t do the beauty of the area justice…there’s just so much.

It’s time we should all make and take…time to explore around us. There is so much history, so much natural wonder. It perks your brain to learn new things, warms your heart and restores your soul, brings you peace within. And, it’s great fun! I recommend you find adventure…sooner than later…

As a life-long Oklahoman, I know about tornadoes. Not that I’ve ever seen one, but I know a lot about them. Our weather forecasts are intense during the season with everyone looking for the red on the radar maps, recognizing the appearance of a hook showing circulation, just like we’re experts.

I was trying to remember tornadoes as a child in the 50s & 60s in Tulsa. We hadn’t seen The Wizard of Oz until it became an annual event on television. There were no videos or DVDs to play. The weathercasts on television were relatively new and showed maps with vague forecasts. In grade school, I don’t remember doing tornado drills, but I remember bomb drills. I think we got under our desks, a big deal in the 50s. We also did fire drills. Tornado drills? Not that I remember. There was a time we began to go to the hallways…when was that? I’m sure that was a tornado drill.

In 8th grade, we had a unit on weather and learned to identify all the clouds. Part of the assignment was watching the weather on television and learning to follow what they were talking about. Still not a lot on tornadoes. Isn’t that strange? I know we must have had them. My parents never talked about them or acted scared, but we also didn’t have 24/7 weather and news.

In college, I was in Stillwater at Oklahoma State University, where the wind whips across the plains and the campus. I remember tornadoes then for sure. We knew to go to the basement. During my first year of marriage, we had to evacuate to a local funeral home, crammed in with other people in a building built of solid walls. After we moved back to Tulsa, there was a time when my husband, children, the dog and I huddled under a mattress in our hallway while a tornado roared overhead close to us. Then we lived in a house with a basement and took refuge there on occasion. The day of my middle daughter’s wedding, we were sitting on the basement stairs, away from the basement windows, waiting out a storm.

Tulsa hasn’t had as many tornadoes as other parts of the state for whatever reason you want to hang on it. The older parts of town are supposedly protected by the river and by the advice of the Indians to build the city there where it wouldn’t be hit. That doesn’t help the people who live in the expanded city limits away from that legendary protection, of course. At one time, I volunteered for and then worked for the American Red Cross, teaching disaster preparedness, trained in disaster response. Shoes, flashlights, blankets, radios, a communications plan, and all the things you should know for any type of disaster. I bombarded my grown children with information to keep their families safe. It’s still my number one place to send funds in a disaster because I know they will get the money to the victims and back into the communities.


For people who don’t live in tornado-prone areas, let me tell you that we do take them seriously. Our weather experts are the best and we listen and watch intently. It’s a great way to learn your state’s geography as you watch a storm move through tiny towns you’ve never heard of. But, there are all kinds of disasters in life and each is as tragic or life-changing as the others to the people who are in it. Floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, ice storms…I’ve been through all of those and they are pretty horrific. Man-made disasters are even more frightening in these days of terrorists and shooters and bombs.

In Oklahoma, we’ve had our share of tough times. Try the Dust Bowl for starters…there’s a disaster that went on for a decade! We are a stoic people, people of the land that is grand! We stand up to all the troubles that are blown our way with a sense of responsibility to each other, to help each other get back up. We’re awfully good at hugs. We care about each other. Today, I was driving home from a quick vacation in the south eastern part of the state. The trip was cut a few hours short in order to get home the safest way possible with the storms. When I saw clouds like these…


…I knew that a tornado could drop out at any time, whirling right at me. I wasn’t particularly worried, although I did look for a bar ditch to lay flat in for a worst case solution. There was something majestic about the storm clouds…you have to respect them. And be so very thankful that you and your family are safe for another day.

Tears and prayers and hugs for the victims of our latest storms…in Shawnee and Moore this week. Stay safe Oklahoma!

Cars are one of those things I need and I need them to work. The last car I bought was selected to not have too many gadgets to break or things to go wrong. Right now I’m sitting in the Customer Lounge at the dealership, waiting to get the thing you plug your phone charger, a gadget I do need, fixed. Really.

What more can I say? Everything is built for planned obsolescence these days. I have replaced a fancy coffee pot after a year or so of medium use. We replace our phones, our computers. Of course we do. The new ones work better, faster, do more cool things.

My grandmother must be laughing right now. Once my mother bought a nice new arm chair on sale for $200. My grandmother, who never had much & raised three kids alone in the depression, heard my mother and said, “I thought you said you got it on sale.” The three of us looked at each other and burst out laughing. We recognized the difference in generations, life experiences.

Anyway, the dealership is nice. Everything is fine. I just want everything to work so I don’t have these little annoyances in life. Just dream in’…Life is made up of little annoyances to test us for the big ones!

Mother’s Day is over and it reminded me of the days when I owned a gift shop. Mother’s Day weekend was always a more than usual number of men, usually late in the day on Saturday, rushing in to get a card for their mother or wife. It was the same on Valentine’s Day. They grabbed a card and were out of there, not taking a lot of time other than to make sure it said something. At least they were making an effort to do something on a holiday that was obviously forced on them by the gift industry, the flower industry, society.

Some people are just better at acknowledging how they feel than others. Some don’t like being told to do something just because it’s a declared holiday. Some don’t like to be told to do anything. Some just don’t know how to do it. It’s nice to have specified days to remember our mothers, fathers, veterans, whoever. It seems like it got out of hand when we started having days for secretaries, grandparents, teachers, bosses, and anybody else the card companies could think to honor.

Starting when I was a little girl, I always – well, always may be a bit strong – but almost always as I remember, gave or sent my grandparents and parents cards and presents on the holidays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, their birthdays, Christmas. It made me feel good to do it, to let them know I loved them.

Today, there are even more, even more convenient, ways to keep in touch…text, Facebook, Twitter, old-fashioned email, and there are still phones. In fact, now we have phones with us all the time, some with FaceTime. And there’s Skype. It would be nice to think that people were using them to communicate more often, with more love, from the heart. That’s what the ads show, after all. And there are always handmade cards and gifts that fill the bill. Here’s one my son made for me…I wish I’d dated it, but it looks like he was about 10 or so.

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Anyway, my point is that people need to tell the people they love how they feel while they can. If it takes a manufactured day to remind them, then that’s ok. If they could do it all the time, it’s even better. Don’t assume that your actions, although also important, speak louder than words. Everybody needs the words. Everybody. Nobody likes to feel taken for granted. Those manufactured holidays are a double-edged sword. They are a good reminder to acknowledge how you feel. For those who don’t receive anything on those days, it’s another kind of reminder and a different kind of loneliness and isolation. Some people are surrounded by loved ones who take it lightly. Some have nobody to remember them. It can be the happiest of days or the saddest or somewhere in-between (I know they love me, but it hurts that they forgot this day, even though I know it’s just a Hallmark Holiday). You know what I mean.

I’ve been lucky all my life. I have people who remember me on the days they are assigned to do so and I have people who tell me all the time. My husband and son were the best at bringing me surprises for no particular reason on top of the other holidays. They both started as little boys, doing sweet things for their mothers. Girls seem to be a little better at it…maybe it’s that shopping thing or that showing your emotions thing. Are the exceptions to those gender expectations born or taught by their parents? Hmmmm…

In the best of worlds, we tell each other how we feel in so many ways. We tell them out loud, we whisper it to them, we tell them with printed words, we acknowledge them to others. However you do it, just don’t forget how important it is to everyone…everyone. Thank them, tell them you love them, hug them. While you still have the time. Because none of us ever knows how much time we have.

The only things that prepared me for being a Mommy were my own terrific mother and grandmothers and my ability to read anything I could on the subject. And my friends as we shared parenthood and its adventures together. I was one of the first of my friends to have a baby and I was still in college, graduate school, so I hadn’t been around any babies. I was the oldest child in my family, but we were close enough together that I didn’t remember anything about taking care of them.

I was a novice with a Better Homes & Gardens Baby Book propped open on the changing table to show me what to do. I was a good student, so I guess I approached it that same way. It was funny at the time and funnier now that I’ve had four children and eight grandchildren. That’s the first thing you’d better learn – to laugh at yourself. My husband and I often would look at each other and burst out laughing at the absurdity of it all.

A fantasy book I wanted to write while in the thick of motherhood was going to start “I had no idea how much shit I was going to handle in my lifetime…” I meant that literally and figuratively. To be more polite, let’s change that to messes of one sort or another. There’s the messy bottoms, faces, and vomit at the bottom of that mess pile. We can throw in the pet messes along with that – dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, chameleons. What else did we have? Then there are just messes that kids make. How many Legos have I picked up in my lifetime? Star Wars characters with their itsy bitsy guns? Blocks, books, balls of all kinds, shoes, socks…it goes on and on. Some of my kids were neat and some were messy. A couple lived their teen years in rooms so bad that we just closed the door – I’d learned not to pick up for them by then. There were cooking messes…

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and dirt and mud, especially when I had a soccer goalie daughter who didn’t mind wallowing in the muddy goal. I never seemed to have towels in the car to get her home.

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And then there were life messes to clean up. Hurt feelings, anger, bad tempers, broken hearts, disappointments. You grit your teeth and pick up the physical messes. You gird your heart to take care of life’s breaks and falls.

Being a Mommy was the best thing that ever happened to me…still. I’ve been through the worst of it and the best of it and would do it all again. That would be in another lifetime…I’ve earned my stripes in this one. My son called me Mom and my girls call me Mommy. My daughter-in-law calls me Karen. They’ve grown up to be wonderful adults and parents and I’m so proud of them and for them.

Being a Mommy is a great class that never stops teaching you about yourself. You learn how far you can be pushed before you break into anger, laughter, or tears. You laugh a lot at the adorable things your children and grandchildren do and say and at yourself along the way. You are angry at yourself, at them, at others when they do the wrong thing or someone wrongs them. You learn that life isn’t fair, your children aren’t perfect, you can take on way more than you think. You learn that you cry for them, with them, and when they accomplish something big or small. I’ve cried through some pretty silly school programs. It could be that the most uncontrollable tears of all are the ones of pride.

Most of all you learn that your heart is way bigger than before they came into it. You learn that it swells with pride and a love you never understood before. You learn that it can be broken and that they help it heal.

This Mother’s Day weekend, I rejoice in the lessons this Mommy has learned. I remember with gratitude the love that I was surrounded with from my own Mommy and grandmothers and aunts. I send much love to the precious Mommies in my family who make me so proud of them and their children.

And love to all Mommies out there. Have fun, be proud of what you do and laugh at yourself with joy! Happy Mother’s Day!

As a mother, I kept a lot of the kids’ things…pictures, notes, cards. Things that are precious to me. My mother kept a paper carnation I made in preschool or kindergarten, made out of kleenex or something that couldn’t possibly hold up, but she had that poor little limp treasure until she died. Most mothers I know understand the simple sentence in the Bible, speaking of Mary remembering events with her son, “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

My son was one of those kids that kept you hopping. You had to keep up with him both physically and mentally from day one. Maybe he was born knowing his time would be short, so he had to live fast. Or he was just a funny kid, testing your patience, making you laugh, making you worry, making you smile and love him.

I found his Me Doll the other day. It was a project at pre-school, making a doll that looked like you. Something only a mother would ooh and ahh over. This one had a lot of personality, says the mother. I had to run an errand after I picked him up from school the day he brought it home. We were walking up some stairs and he spotted a mailbox and dropped the doll in the slot. Come on, mothers, you know how you feel. I gritted my teeth and checked the pickup times, finished my errand and sat to wait for the mailman. Fortunately, it wasn’t too long. He retrieved it for us and that was that.


I always think of that story when I look at the funny Me Doll with his stick out hair, his crooked face, the three dots for the private parts. Oh my. These are the things that make you love being a mother – once you get the doll out of the mailbox. These are the things that a mother ponders in her heart. And smiles…

One of my favorite all-time movies is “Giant” – maybe my number one. It’s right up there. I saw it for the first time in 1956 when I was 11 years old. My memory is taking my friends to see it for my birthday. Whatever, I loved it then and I love it now. There are movies that begin to seem dated or aren’t as good when you see them years later. This one holds up for me. When it comes on, I can’t stop watching, even though I know it so well.


Edna Ferber wrote the book, creating the characters that told a 25 year story of Texas…cattle…oil…immigration…prejudice…love…family. Bick Benedict, Leslie Benedict, Jett Rink. Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean. No wonder they’ve never had to do it again – they were all magnificent. Great love story, great saga, one of the greatest fight scenes on film. Big vistas, big characters, big story.

The movie was on TV recently and I watched it, even though I have a copy to watch anytime, remembering things I’d forgotten, discovering new moments that mean more to me now than when I was 11. I’ve got the book here to read. Written in 1952, the story covers subjects that I wish weren’t as current as they are. The book has its variations from the movie, but I’m ok with that, even though I hate when movies mess too much with a story.

When it comes on or you get a chance, spend an evening with “Giant.” It sticks with you.