Tag Archives: mother’s wisdom

Lost in the Fire, Stimulus for Understanding


Another task in my recent writing class was to imagine a character who had lost everything in a fire.  All people and animals are fine, but the belongings, the “stuff” of their life is gone.  I did not need a moment.  My hand flew across the page and by the end of the short assignment, I came to a startling realization about my mother.  My sister and I have spent the past two years creating time together to look through all of my mother’s memories beginning with clothing and continuing with personal letters and important papers.  Over and over again we exclaim, “Why did she save everything?”  I have come to a happy conclusion and am once again in awe of my mother’s ability to transcend time and space to visit us and remain an active part of our lives.

Lost in the Fire

She slowly sat down on the curb, letting the officers words sink in, “There is nothing left,” what did that mean?  She mentally walked through the small house, one room at a time, (there were only three) and now somehow, what had seemed so small, suddenly seemed filled with so much.  Each closet had held years worth of memories organized on shelves; those that no one knew of, others she didn’t even remember, and now, without the visual reminders and tactile images, those memories would be lost forever.

There had been boxes of family photos dating back to the 1870’s sealed with ancient tape, and too many albums, the oldest photos pasted on black paper with curly script descriptions and names of unfamiliar people who had immigrated, leaving all of their belongings behind, she was not so different from them now.  All of the lovely cards from her father’s train travels as a salesman for women blouses written in flowery prose to her sister, her mother and to the child she once was, were lost along with the Western Union Telegrams with short messages stating safe arrivals in other states. There had been collections of timeless watches, cuff links now obsolete, tiepins from her father and embroidered handkerchiefs from her mother.  Memories no longer relevant in today’s disposable world, yet cherished objects that had been held in the hands of her loved ones.  She had everything.  She was the last in line and as loved ones departed, their precious mementos became hers.  Three sets of china and crystal wine glasses that had toasted happier times could not withstand the intense heat and flames and the silver whose patterns had been carefully selected and listed on wedding registries were molten globs of useless metal.

The books, there had been hundreds carefully organized by genre, favorite short story collections, architecture, poetry and the history of the city she loved.  There were picture books, the most special and those signed by authors reflecting a second career managing a children’s bookstore. The books were gone too, and in a sense, part of her that was irreplaceable.  She was older now and her memory lapsed when trying to conjure up titles and authors.  Files of papers she wanted to save, to refer to and relive another day were ashes now.  The years she had spent teaching had been housed in one file box including letters of admiration from former students and the most precious, the certificates, accommodations and articles about her innovative teaching style in the educational journals.

Who would remember now?  How would her family know who she was, who she had been, after she was gone?  The mementos were really not for her, after all, but for her daughters, so they would know who she really was, for she was far too shy to boast and thought they would be bored hearing about those long deceased relatives-people they had never known. She had always meant to write things down, to create a family history, a journal but life had been busy and the later years consisted of medical appointments, senior classes at the Community College and occasional lunches with the ladies (her posse of four).  Suddenly she noticed that reading with fading eyes was strained and writing with stiff hands became a challenge she was too tired to tackle.  The memories were the links to the past and now that past was gone.  She sat wondering, imagining a journey, slowly fading, becoming lighter, paler, quieter, ceasing to move and even a drop of water on the tongue became too much to bear.

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Filed under creative writing, Family, Life thoughts, Mothers

Day 2-B-Well 21 Day Detox Cleanse: Focus!

What a perfect word for today:  focus.  There are new things to focus on and some old friends that hang around daily, such as my morning workout.  Today was Curves as I am alternating between the Curves workout and my Couch to 5k training at the gym.  Walks usually come in the evening but today I had the pleasure of taking Charlie on a short walk through the park too!  Have you ever noticed how dogs are so good at living in the moment and totally focusing on whatever they are doing, even if that means sleeping or staring in the distance?  Charlie focuses on every smell and sound on our walk and he takes his time, walking slowly, enjoying the moment.  He is a great teacher!

I started off the day with my glass of water with the juice of 1/2 a lemon and came back from Curves and made a bowl of oatmeal (with a little Almond Milk), coffee and strange as it sounds, I grabbed a slice of smoked organic turkey for my protein.  I took my vitamins, including a pro-biotic, and felt great!

I had two doctors appointments and got my vision checked.  It is strange that as I age, I find that I am repeating my mother’s life.  She always had multiple doctors appointments and went prepared for a few hours of waiting in various areas of Kaiser.  Today I followed in her foot steps, bringing my lunch bag with extra water, almonds and a green apple.  I am focusing on being prepared and it worked.  My mom was a smart lady!  I used to think her habits were a bit silly, but now I realize how wise she was.

A Few Habits of my mothers:

Two drawers for socks ( white socks and black socks)

Reading the paper every morning

Watching the Tony Awards

Reading

Sending interesting articles to her children

Always bringing a water bottle with her  Why is it that we think our mother’s habits are silly until we are their age?

New prescriptions, new medications to read about and new glasses ordered, I stopped at Whole Foods Market on the way home to pick up a few items on the B-Well shopping list that I hadn’t found the day before.  Now I am completely “stocked” for the week.

I came home, made a quick lunch of salad and grilled chicken and then proceeded to swim and float in the pool, it is summer after all and I must have a little fun and relaxation.  I am finishing up a fun mystery book:  The Writing Class, by Jincy Willett and taking care of a few odds and ends.

So, my pictures, are lacking because Charlie, my dog, is terrified of the camera.  At first we just thought it was the flash, but now if he sees the camera, he wants to run out of the room.  I will work on this, I promise, but honestly my meals have not been that exciting yet.  On the positive side, I am feeling great with plenty of energy and not too hungry or filled with cravings.  I do have a challenge tonight because we are going to see Toy Story 3 and I will need a big bottle of water to keep me from temptation.  19 days to go!  Focus!

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Filed under Focus, Life thoughts, Power Words

Mother Knows Best

Mom would be glad I realized this and it's not too late for you!

It is pouring today, and I don’t mean just pouring in California terms, but actual buckets of rain pouring down causing trees to fall and rivers to form in the streets.  The water is trickling down the beams in the living room and waterfalling down the fireplace.  As I got ready to venture out for an early appointment, I prepared by covering my cast with my Seal-Tight giant protector, wearing my mother’s calf-length London Fog raincoat and a cute knit cap that my daughter’s friend made for me, I looked like a taller version of my mother albeit with a gimpy leg.  My husband Gary said, “Your mom is still taking care of you.” and I realized that it is true, for as much as I resented her constant over-preparedness I have now come to appreciate it.  As Mark Twain said, “The older I get the smarter my father seems to get.”  In my case, it is my mother’s wisdom that I now cherish.

Hopefully it won’t take my own daughters quite as long to realize that I too have some words of wisdom to impart and each of them, in their own way are beginning to realize that.  So in the tradition of the many notes and reminders I leave my family, here is a short list of rainy day musings:

1.  Dress for the rain.  You really will feel better if you stay dry.

2.  Make your bed every morning.  You will feel like you are beginning your day and will be happy to come home to a neat room.

3.  Clean up as you go and absolutely before you go to bed.  No one really likes to wake up to a mess and it won’t look better in the morning.

4.  Take time to spend with those you love (including pets) because the memories will stay with you forever.

5.  Listen more, talk less.

6.  Expect the best but prepare for the worst, and that includes rain, earthquakes, fires and other impending disasters.  Oy!

Some of these I learned from my mother, and others are things I have learned from my own experience.  Wisdom can be compiled and gathered from many sources, but mothers are stronger than we look and know more than we are given credit for.

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Filed under Family, Life thoughts, Mothers, Rain