Posts Tagged ‘memories’


May 7, 2010

Yesterday morning I walked around the front corner of my house, past the “Cousin It” tree (my descriptive name for our Weeping Fruitless Mulberry), under the red plum tree and over to the water spigot.  As I reached down to turn on the water, my eyes beheld a nearly hidden treasure.

Several slender stalks bent by the weight of tiny white bells had emerged from the green undergrowth beneath the red plum tree. I quietly gasped at their beauty and instantly thought of my mother.

Lily of the Valley was her favorite flower. She carried a bouquet of them in her wedding. These particular flowers under our tree, Les had carefully dug up and placed in plastic containers for us to transport all the way from my parents’ cabin in northern Michigan to our home here in Omaha, NE. We wanted a tangible memory of her and our times spent together up at Hubbard Lake. That was 17 years ago this August.

Yesterday, May 6, was my mother’s birthday. She would have been 77. Of course that wasn’t on my mind when I went walking across the front yard to turn on the water. But that visual instantly brought her to mind. I decided to take a photo of the little flower and as I went into the house to get my camera, a song my mother used to sing popped into my head.

My mother was an elementary school music teacher and she knew every song that was ever written, it seemed to me! We’d be having a conversation while driving in the car and she’d start singing a song with lyrics that matched the topic! We’d pass a train and hear “Little Red Caboose” with chug chugs and all!

That was fun when we were little, but fell into the ‘most embarrassing’ category once we were a bit older!

I smile as I recall her sense of humor and teasing delight as she knew it horrified us to have her sing that way, especially if our friends were around! She didn’t let us squelch her fun! She just chuckled and sang louder!

I could still hear my mother’s lovely voice in my mind singing this song to me, and now I was singing the song with her under my breath as I took the pictures posted here.

“White coral bells, upon a slender stalk

Lilies-of-the-Valley deck my garden walk.

Oh, don’t you wish, that you could hear them ring?

That can happen only when the fairies sing.”

I don’t believe in fairies any more than I believe in the Easter Bunny, but I do love this song and the magical feeling it stirs in me. For to look at the tender little shoots laden with delicate bells is to look at beauty perfected. It is to see the hand of God, who created the universe, yet took the time to determine every minute detail, down to the tiny scalloped edges.

I don’t believe in coincidences either. I woke up yesterday knowing that it was my mother’s birthday. I honored her in my heart by thinking about her and savoring memories of her beautiful life and her legacy that lives on in me. It wasn’t a coincidence that I’d notice these lilies and be blessed with another treasured memory of her on the day of her birth, in May. Memories of my mother line the walk of the garden in my mind. They are the lilies in my life. The song in my heart.


April 18, 2010

afternoon phone call
“Our dear daddy has died…”
“Yes…” silence

I’ll never hug him again
never smell his neck
never feel his enveloping hug, my face pressed in his chest
I’ll never hear his voice say my name

I have memories though
sweet treasures of time spent together
quotidian moments have suddenly become golden
‘still-framed’ forever in my mind

his huge hand envelopes my tiny one
his giant stride forces me to hop, skip, jump to keep his pace
I watch in wonder as he directs the marching band
I beam in pride because he is my dad!

we plant tulips together in our triangle garden
we clean the attic together, sorting through boxes, the air hot and stuffy
I learn stories from his life as we work side by side
going out for ice cream later to reward our hard work

early mornings I wake and wander
down to where I see lamplight
he sits, the Bible open on his knee
my heart is imprinted early to the importance of reading God’s word every day

Saturday morning errands include a trip to Ace Hardware
and culminate in a much anticipated trip to the bakery
the treat, a small white nickel-bag of brownie crusts
which we share on the way home, our little secret

he studies music with deep concentration
inhaling sharply at certain points of intensity or change
he helps with my instrument practice, whistling the correct note from the other room
he sees it as helpful, I see it as annoying!

we work together at the music camp he pioneered
helping kids become better at their passion
the real reward comes later in the week
eyes teary at the mention of a child giving his life to Christ

he works diligently at several jobs to pay for 3 weddings in 9 months’ time
college profs aren’t paid much, yet he earns his Doctorate of Fine Arts
Dr. Joseph Parker, perfectionist, hard to please
when you hit the mark it is bliss

Saturday mornings he sits at the kitchen table, shoe box out, paying bills
“Sylvia, have you been writing checks and not recording them?”
“They’re recorded . . . on the back of the check pad . . .” Sigh
money was never his strong suit, but he tried

wheelbarrow rides at the cabin
running around the yard carrying us on his shoulders
and years later he lifts our kids
“Oh no! Where’d you go? As he holds our ankles and drops us head first behind his back
giggles abound as we yell, “Do it again, do it again, Dad!”

he sings Pony Boy and Pony Girl to his grandchildren
bouncing them on his crossed leg, ending with a “giddy-up whoa!”
delight dances from their eyes
his sparkle as they laugh together

installing a garage door opener at our very first home
he runs to Kmart for parts
gets locked out of our old beat-up blue Horizon in the day before cell phones
his 6’6″ frame presses through the hatch back and wrestles into the driver’s seat

I don’t know how he manages that!
he tells the story after his frustration has partially waned
his mussed hair draped over an eye tells all
exasperation mixed with humor and we share a laugh

trips to Hubbard Lake
deer rides, trips to the dump
we beg for him to stop at Gillard’s store for penny candy
happily he always acquiesced

he anguished while our mother suffered
dying his own death as he watched her go
experiencing a depth of soul-sorrow none of us could know
just wishing it was a bad dream

he meets a lovely woman
she brings laughter and sunshine back into his world
he loves her deeply and is so grateful
he has a friend who brings zest to his life and revives his soul

phone calls span the miles, making them disappear
how are the grand kids?
I can see his eyes shine as I tell him their latest accomplishments
he’s so proud of who they’ve become

there are many more memories bubbling up in my heart
treasures to savor in the days ahead
there will be tears and longing and aching to come
but such is the bitter-sweet nature of life and of love

who really knew the man we knew as dad,
husband, father,
co-worker, friend?
I know I tried

to me he was a good dad
the perfectionist who was far from perfect
but he was my dad
and I love him still