Tag Archives: Mom

Sometimes I still…

…check on my children when they are sleeping. It used to be that I had to creep quietly into my little girls’ rooms at night to check on them before I could go to bed. If I forgot, I would lie in bed and worry about them until I got out of bed, quietly tip-toed into their rooms, and made sure they were still breathing.

Now that Lily and Emmy are older, I don’t check on them as often as I used to. But tonight, Emmy was coughing a lot, so I checked on her to make sure she had fallen asleep and was resting well. I also checked on Lily, because I can’t check on one daughter without checking on the other. Lily, however, now that she is older, has more trouble falling asleep and said, “What?” when I crept by her bed. “I’m just checking on you,” I said. She is used to me, and barely opened her eyes.

I was an exhausted mommy!
Lily and Emmy sleeping on me!

How old will they have to be for me to stop checking on them? I suppose I’ll always want to, although when they are teenagers they might not want me to come into their rooms. My mom used to say that she was the happiest when all four of us children were under her roof, even when we were adults. I was 40 when she died, and she still wanted all four of us to be with her.

Thanksgiving week is a difficult week for us. Mom died early on Monday morning, November 23, and we had to wait until after Thanksgiving to have her funeral. A couple of church families provided our Thanksgiving dinner that year. We were so grateful to them. We didn’t have the energy or the motivation to prepare a turkey…or mashed potatoes, or anything else!

I am now closer to 50 than to 40 years old. Sometimes I still…miss my mother. I suppose I always will.

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Game Plan {Spin Cycle}

When I was about 5 years old, my mom would drive my sister and me 35 miles to Champaign-Urbana to see Frances. Frances was my mom’s voice teacher. Supplied with crayons and coloring books, my sister and I would sit under the grand piano while my mom sang and talked with her teacher. It wasn’t long, however, before two more babies came into our family, and Mom’s voice lessons were put on hold.

Even though Mom didn’t take voice lessons any more, she sang constantly. She sang to us, her children. She sang solos in church, at weddings and funerals. As the pastor’s family, we were also always singing. We would accompany our Dad to various nursing homes, and our family would sing hymns at the small chapel services or at someone’s bedside.

Once the four of us kids grew up, Mom went back to voice lessons. This time, she took the train downtown Chicago to study with a voice teacher. As she was practicing, Mom would tell me what her teacher told her to improve her singing, and I would tag along with her to various choir auditions and recitals for moral support.

I went to see her in concerts and even an opera, where she sang in the chorus. I talked on and off with Mom about taking voice lessons of my own. She coached me, and encouraged me to find a teacher, but I procrastinated. I was busy with work. I was going to school for my graduate degree. Then I got sick. Mono one summer, and cancer the next. Down the road a piece, I got married and had babies. There was no time for me to go to voice lessons, but I secretly made a game plan. I would go to voice lessons when my life was less crazy.

A couple of weeks ago, my church choir director announced that two members of our choir were starting a music studio and were teaching voice lessons. I sing constantly; I sing every morning to my preschool class, I sing in the summer when I’m leading Vacation Bible School, and I sing to Emmy at bedtime. I decided that now, when I only have a part time job and both girls are in school, would be the perfect time to take voice lessons. How could I pass up this opportunity?

I had my first voice lesson last night. I like the teacher, I have already learned some new things and am relearning some things I had forgotten. And I have two songs to sing! One in English and one in German!

My goal is not to become a soloist. I want to learn better techniques; how to breathe correctly, how to have a more even tone, even to increase my range with practice. These things will help me with my every day singing.

The voice lesson game plan is coming together!

Second Blooming

Do you have something you’ve always wanted to do? What’s your game plan?

Link up your Spins here!



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Scraps

As I was reading blogs the other day, I came across this saying on I Got Nothing by Janice that made me laugh.

fabric stash

I already have a large box full of fabric, which is threatening to overflow. I will need another box soon. I know, however, that my small stash of fabric is nothing compared to other sewists. I received most of my stash from my mom when she died. One of my sisters and I divided it between us.

Mom loved to browse in fabrics stores and buy all sorts of fabric for her quilting. My sisters and I knew exactly what type of fabric she was drawn to, having been to fabric stores with her on numerous occasions. She loved beautiful, colorful fabrics with traditional designs and intricate patterns. She didn’t like yellow or brown, although she used yellow in her latest quilts. She tried to buy some “ugly” fabrics to bring variety to her quilting, but could just never bring herself to do it.

During our visit with our Dad over Christmas, we were looking at a quilt on the guest bed, trying to decide if Mom had made it or bought it. We all pretty much decided that Mom had bought the quilt. My sister Meredith pointed out that several of the fabrics weren’t designs that Mom would have bought, and the stitching was sloppier than Mom’s sewing style of neat stitches.

Mom saved the smallest scraps of fabric. She saved scraps with holes in them from where she had ripped out seams. Worthless scraps. Right? What can you do with a bunch of scraps?

I have those scraps now. My sister has some scraps. We are incorporating those fabric scraps in quilts of our own. Those worthless scraps are turning out to be quite beautiful.

My quilts are more modest than my sister’s. I’m still in the process of making a throw quilt, with a backing and batting, which I hope to be able to throw on my lap this winter as I sit in front of the TV watching Big Bang Theory.Scrappy Dresden Plate

Heather’s quilts are of the artist variety. Her quilts stretch long and tall with intricate designs sewn on the front. Scraps of Mom’s fabric are incorporated into her quilts as well.

Heather's quilt displayed at the Peoria Art Guild in August, 2012
Heather’s quilt displayed at the Peoria Art Guild in August, 2012

Not all scraps are tangible. My sister Meredith’s quilting consists of beautiful phrases of music.

Circle of Geese block (click the picture to hear Meredith's composition "Flock of Geese")
Circle of Geese block (click the picture to hear Meredith’s composition “Flock of Geese”)

We leave intangible scraps of ourselves all over the place. How often has someone told you, “I was thinking about you the other day!” because of something they saw or did that reminded them of you? Or perhaps you smell a certain scent in the air that reminds you of someone you love. (Cinnamon rolls equals Grandma!) Whenever I hear a Def Leppard song, I instantly think of my husband, who has every single album they ever recorded.

Little scraps of us. Not worthless, but meaningful.

(Leave a scrap of yourself below…write a comment!)

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The Twenty-Third of the Month

On the thirteenth of that month Farmer Cotton found Frodo lying on his bed; he was clutching a white gem that hung on a chain about his neck and he seemed half in a dream.

‘It is gone for ever,’ he said, ‘and now all is dark and empty.’     ~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Today, on the twenty-third of this month, I had originally planned to publish The Hair on my Chinny Chin Chin. Today, on the twenty-third of this month, it seems like I should crawl into bed and mourn the whole day long.

But I didn’t.

This is the third anniversary of my mom’s death. I miss her greatly. I still grieve. But my grief has lessened, and that is a relief. There’s no way I could feel the level of grief I felt the day she died and go on living.

Instead of telling me that you’re sorry for my loss, tell me something about your mom. Something happy; something you love, something you share with your mom. Or something you miss about your mom.

I want to read it.

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The Hair on my Chinny Chin Chin

Looking in the mirror, I gasped. Under my chin was a long, dark hair. I reached for my tweezers.

As I tried to get the fine, single hair in a metallic pincer grasp, I remembered a phone conversation I once had with my mother.

My ninety-year old Grandma lived in an assisted living apartment, but she insisted she did not need any assistance. She wanted to be self-sufficient, just as she had always been. Her eyesight, however, was not cooperating. Her washed dishes were not as clean as they used to be. Dust, which never would have been tolerated in her younger years, collected on the antique furniture. She couldn’t see the fine, white hairs on her chin. “I want to pluck them for her!” Mom told me. Such a simple thing, and yet so difficult to bring up to Grandma.

Grandma was a stoic woman. She did not express emotions easily. When I saw her, I would hug her bony frame gently and tell her I loved her. “Mmm-hmmm,” she would say. As the family gathered around my dying grandfather’s bedside, tears flowed freely–except from Grandma. She wanted to explain herself. “I do feel sad, I just don’t cry,” she told me.

Grandma

Growing up with stiff, seemingly unloving parents had been difficult for Mom. In her sixties, she was still intimidated by her own mother. But those long, white hairs on my grandmother’s chin bothered her. Every time Mom drove Grandma to get her hair done, or to the acupuncturist, or to buy groceries, she just wanted to pluck out them out! She was afraid, however, that she would offend Grandma if she brought it up.

A couple of days later, I heard from Mom again. “I did it!” she said.

“What did Grandma say?” I asked.

“She told me to never let her go out with chin hairs again!” Mom was relieved that Grandma had accepted her help.

Three years ago, just a couple of days after Thanksgiving, Grandma sat stoically in a chair. Her back was as straight as usual, her hands were folded in her lap. Staring at the casket in front of her, she did not have a tear in her eye. We all knew she was mourning her daughter in her own way.

Just three months later, we were saying goodbye to Grandma, each in our own way.

I stared in the mirror, wishing Mom had grown old. Wishing her eyesight had failed, her hands had grown shaky, so that I could pluck out her chin hairs for her.

I plucked; tears filled my eyes at the sudden pain. Too many tears for such a small, errant hair.

Mom, my sister, and Lily–Mom was laughing because she thought Lily was feeling her “chin whiskers.”
VOTY 2013
I’m honored that this essay was chosen as a Voice of the Year by BlogHer in 2013.

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