Category Archives: Family

Missing My Mom

Today is my Mother’s birthday.

She lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. I live in Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania, USA.  According to Mapquest it would take 33 hours  and 25 minutes to drive to her house. She is 2058.21 miles away.  It would cost four hundred and eighty-six dollars and two cents to drive there.

Once upon a time I lived in the same house as my mother.  I woke up and walked down the hall past her bedroom and went into the kitchen and had a bowl of shredded wheat and half an orange for breakfast.  She was there in the morning when I walked to high school, and she was there when I walked home from high school.  She was there when I drove eight hours away to college, and she was there when I came home to visit.  She was there when I married. She has been there for me through miscarriages, and babies and sadness and joy and rage and despair and rain and sunshine.

If my life is a circle, my mother is the center, the focus.  I am safe to walk away from the center knowing that my mother loves me.  It was easy for me to hitchhike through Israel,  live on a Kibbutz and   fly to Japan on a one way ticket to Bangkok.  Well, not really easy, but I wasn’t scared to have an adventure.  I knew I could come home again.

Now when I wake up in the morning I walk past the bedrooms of my children.  I walk downstairs to the kitchen and eat a hard-boiled egg and half an orange for breakfast.    I have my own home.  I have a husband and children to take care of.  I will be the center of a circle for my children, the focus.  They can leave the house and have adventures, and I will be here for them when they come home.  One day, I will see them every few years, and they will have their own circles.  They will be the focus for their children.

Mom,

Look at the moon tonight at 8:00 o’clock your time, and I will look at the moon at the same time.  I will blow you a kiss, and sing Happy Birthday to you.  Close your eyes and listen.  You will hear me.

I love you.

Don’t Leave The Water Running.

Today I was focused on writing  The End of The Year School Reports.  I took a break at lunch to take the sheets off the bed and put them in the washing machine. Always trying to multi-task, (or maybe I was trying to avoid writing The End of The Year School Reports). While I was upstairs I saw the bathtub, and thought how nice it would be to have a nice relaxing warm bath on a cold rainy day, ( Or  maybe I was trying to avoid writing The End of The Year School Reports. )  I pushed down the plug in the bottom of the tub and turned on the hot and cold taps.

While the water was running I came downstairs to put the sheets in the washing machine.  It takes awhile for the tub to fill, so I thought I would take advantage of the extra few minutes.  After I put the sheets in the washer, I  thought maybe I should stop avoiding writing The End of The Year School Reports.  I sat down and started to write The End of School Reports on the computer.

About fifteen minutes later I decided I was thirsty and went into the kitchen.  I heard water running. I wondered what the sound was, as no one was taking a shower. My oldest child was at work, and the other two were in the kitchen.

I ran up the stairs to my bathroom yelling, “Grab towels. Come and help Mama!”  There was no time to photograph the water running over the tub, for a good image for a story. I turned off the water, and pushed the plug in the bottom of the tub to drain the water.  The water had spilled over the tub and completely covered the entire floor. I put the bathroom scale, garbage can,  toilet plunger and toilet brush in the sink.  I threw towels, bath mats and laundry at the base of the wall to prevent water from seeping through the cracks to the floor below.

I left the towels, bath mats and laundry on the floor. I left the bathroom scale, garbage can,  toilet plunger and toilet brush in the sink and came back downstairs and worked on The End of The Year School Reports. A few minutes later I took my youngest to her softball game.

At 6:07 I received a text from my husband. ” What happened in our bathroom?”

At 6:21 I replied, “The tub overflowed.”

The moral to the story is;  If you avoid writing The End of The Year School Reports, you may have to wash a lot of towels.

Eating For Comfort

Late at night when the children are in bed, asleep. I want to eat.

I may have a bowl of cereal that reminds me of shared cereal bowls with my brother as a child.  I may make a batch of buttered popcorn that reminds me of eating popcorn with my family on Sunday nights watching The Ed Sullivan Show. I may eat a bowl of strawberries with whipped cream that reminds me of living in the Santa Cruz mountains in California.

Emotional eating.

I am not really hungry. Okay, I am not hungry at all. But, I want to eat something. I want to remind myself of someone I love. I want to remind myself of a happy time before my parents lived in separate houses and my mom had  a new last name. I want to remember a place that I lived  with a creek in the backyard and a best friend an eight minute walk away up a steep hill.

Tonight when the lights are turned out and the house is asleep I will  remember that whoever comes to Him will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Him will never go thirsty.  The empty place I try to fill with food can only be filled with Him.

The ground is hard and full of rocks. Squishing wasps.

This morning  I started to dig a hole for the  cherry tree I bought on May 14, 2012  at Colonial Gardens in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. The ground is hard and full of rocks. I thought I would never be able to plant trees in my yard. The task seemed impossible.  When I had tried to put the shovel in the ground last week only the tip went in.  For the past two days I have been soaking the area with the garden hose to moisten the soil. This morning as the sun rose I dug out the top layer of grass.  I placed the clumps of grass to the side and soaked the soil again.

During the heat of the day, I went with friends to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Betsy Ross’s House  and  Benjamin Franklin’s gravesite.  After pizza in my backyard in  the cool of the evening I went back to the hole. The shovel only went in a few inches when I put my foot to the back of the shovels blade. I used a pitchfork to loosen the stones cemented in the clay. I put the hose back in the hole and dug around with the spokes of the pitchfork until the soil was softened.

The cherry tree will go in the ground tomorrow. There are only a few more inches to dig. The sun was already on its way to China, and I couldn’t see to finish digging.  When I put the shovel and pitchfork in the garage, I remembered the wasp nest under the rain gutter.  I extended my telescoping painting roller handle to twelve feet and knocked down the wasp nest from the rain gutter.  As soon as the wasp nest landed on the ground I  stomped on it and several wasps with my boot.

I put on my vibram five-finger walking shoes and put a leash on Martha, my dog.  The tree will wait until tomorrow, only one more day to live in a black pot.  I didn’t want to quit digging.  I wanted to put the cherry tree in the ground today.  But I did promise Martha a walk tonight.

The wasp nest  needed to be knocked down before the wasps  build too many rooms and had too many tenants. The nest I stepped on was the size of an apricot. It was small enough to fit under my boot.  When I catch bad attitudes in my life, I need to get rid of them before they take root and I become permanently crabby.  Bad attitudes the size of an apricot are easier to get rid of.  Watermelon bad attitudes  are harder to step on.

Mud on my knees, dirt under my fingernails, and a plastic bag for the dog.

Living life a little dirty,  digging holes a little bit at a time,  stomping  wasps before they bite.

Living life imperfectly.  Mud is only wet dirt. Never too busy to walk the dog.

My Grandmother’s Name Is Grace

On January 8, 1933, Grace Oliver wrote a letter to her friend Edna, addressed Dear Old Pal. In the letter she wrote,

“Berdeane is coming along fine. She was born on (June 3rd). She can almost sit up alone now. I suppose she too will be running around before I know it.  That’s what Mother says. She says she doesn’t know where the time has gone.”

Grace Oliver is my Grandmother.  Berdeane is my mother.  I enjoy reading in my Grandmother’s handwriting that my mother can almost sit up alone now.  Grace Oliver died when my mother was three.

I  imagine my Grandmother Grace standing in the doorway on the back porch of a farm-house. She sees us drive into the farmyard in our brown station wagon, dust flying as we pull in to the yard. My brother, me, and my mom and dad. A dog is barking at the back tires. Grace wipes her hands on her apron. She runs out to meet  us.   I hear the screen door  slam. When I open the car door Grandmother Grace hugs me and kisses the top of my head. I can hear her voice.

I think about Grace on Mother’s day. I think about my mother as a child sitting in church on Mother’s Day with her brothers, Leroy and Charles holding  white carnations while the other children are  holding red carnations.

The paper that Grace wrote the letters to Edna on feels smooth. I can touch the same paper that Grace touched. In the basement  in the filing cabinet I have a folder full of letters that my mother has written to me. On the bookcase beside me  I have a letter that my mother wrote to me. It has cartoon clippings in it. I haven’t opened it yet. I like having a letter from my mother waiting for me.

At the end of the church service today the Pastor asked if anyone wanted to come forward for prayer. She asked if anyone  wanted to be prayed for.  I felt fine. I felt fine. I wasn’t going to go forward for prayer.  I was about to walk out when I saw an older woman with her daughter. I sat down and cried. And cried. And cried. My mother lives 2058.63 miles away from me in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. I live in Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania. It would take me 33 hours and 18 minutes to drive there.  I missed my mom. I missed my Grandmother Grace.  I went forward and asked for prayer.

Grace is my Grandmothers name. Grace means unmerited favour.  God gives us unconditional love, despite all we do to him or each other.  I am thankful when God made me in my mother’s womb, he chose Berdeane Oliver Fernuik to be my mother. I am grateful for her unconditional love. I am thankful that my mother has always loved me.  She loved me when  I didn’t listen, when  I was mad at her, and when I was naughty.

I look like my mother. My mother looks like her mother. I look like Grace.