Daddy

Daddy

My Daddy was a “saver”.  A procurer of particulars…a frugal forager.  It was probably because he was a product of the Depression, but for whatever reason, if you needed ‘it’, he had it, at least one and perhaps an alternative.

However, when he died, I saw this tendency to save and how far reaching its depth.  When Daddy passed away we found many souvenirs, balls of twine, ink pens, jars of nails and business cards.  We found his report cards, measuring tapes, hundreds of bank statements and thousands of photographs labeled neatly into chronological albums.  There were boxes, bags and myriad other containers full of mementos of his life.   

My brother and I waded through his things sometimes laughing …sometimes crying.  Towards the end of our sorting, we bantered across to each other, “You take it!”  “No, YOU take it!”  Still, we filled large, black Hefty bags with things to give away or dispose of.  His obsessive ‘saving’ wore us out.  Sometimes, as we discarded, I whispered a prayer, “I’m sorry Daddy, we just have to let this go,” in hopes that he understood.

Last year I was going through a box of Daddy’s things that I had ‘saved’ seven years ago.  When I brought it home, I thought these were all things I would go through right away and look at often.  But, seven years had gone by and I had just found the strength to open the box.

Inside of this box were our report cards, Baptism announcements, college essay’s, school pictures and more.  I found an old, faded manila envelope, 8 ½ by 11, sealed with a piece of tape.  Enclosed, were letters and cards my brother and I had sent Daddy through the years; Father’s Day cards, poems, and notes we had written him and behind those were a clump of letters tied with a string….our letters to Santa Claus.

As I unfolded this one pristine piece of notebook paper, I was transported, as I read my childish handwriting proclaiming my goodness all year and a love for a certain red cowgirl outfit.  Not all of our letters to Santa were saved, but a few were obviously chosen to be put away and remembered.

My Dad wasn’t always good at saying he loved us.  He wasn’t the sentimental, huggy, mushy type.  But, after he was gone, I saw his tender side amongst the 14 retractable measuring tapes and boxes of Navy war memorabilia.

There were cards and notes his children had sent and precious letters to Santa that must have touched his heart.  Suddenly, all of this stuff he had ‘saved’, became a piece of him…a bridge to the other side, where he was standing, arms open wide, saying, “See?  I love you.  I always loved you.”  And my heart sang back, “I know.  Happy Father’s Day, daddy.   I love you, too.”

Martha Margaretha

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Martha Margaretha

Growing up, everything I knew about beauty I learned from my Grandma.  She was also my source of information on becoming a woman, wife, and mother.  Because my mother was deceased, I had no one to teach me the basics except Grandma and sometimes my Dad, which as you might expect, was not always on point.

My Grandma was raised on a dirt farm in Kansas.  They were very poor and she grew up working hard and only completing the 3rd grade.  Martha Margaretha, (her given name) although coming from humble beginnings, always wanted to look her best.  It was very important to her.

Grandma was a wonderfully accomplished seamstress and made all of her clothes, even slips, bathrobes, and nightgowns.  She also made all of my clothes until I was old enough to sew for myself.  She made my Barbies the most fabulous ensembles!  I distinctly remember Barbie having a dress out of the same fabric as Grandmas, and even a fully lined coat, complete with bound buttonholes.  Barbie never lacked for functional yet stylish outfits and neither did I.  Grandma had an eye for pattern, texture, design and she could easily visualize how our dresses would turn out while working tirelessly to make it come together.

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Martha had two main rules on beauty:  Always wear lipstick and always wear earbobs or ear screws, as she called them.  In my Grandma’s bedroom, on her dresser, was a tray that held her cherished personal items.  There was a comb, brush and mirror set that I always remember her using, and she had the most fabulous face powder in a box.  I think it was Coty Airspun loose face powder or maybe Lady Esther, I’m not sure.  But, what I am sure of is the sweet fragrance and the way my Grandma’s face felt so soft when I hugged her or kissed her.  She always smelled of this face powder and I think to this day I would know it if I were lucky enough to breathe in that precious scent.  The fluffy, round puff sat on top of this all important powder and next to it was her lipstick.

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The dresser top was balanced with a simple jewelry box.  The kind that opened up and the top folded back revealing a bottom section.  Grandma had a large collection of earbobs, necklaces, and broaches, most of which, came from us, for Christmas or birthdays.  She also had a small little Cameo that she pinned on for special occasions.  I would always ask to look through her jewelry box and try on these simple, yet oh so glamorous pieces.  Grandma truly believed in accessories!

With her beautiful silver gray hair, smart clothing, ear screws and lipstick, Martha always looked ‘put together’.  No matter how poor you are, you can be clean and neat...a Martha mantra for sure.  Everywhere she went, she would be complimented on her neat appearance, even winning Valentine Queen at her nursing home.  Grandma lived well into her 101st year on this earth.  I remember once while visiting her in ‘the home’, someone gave her a compliment, which made her proud, yet shy.  After they left, she turned to me and said, “It’s almost a curse to be so beautiful”, then she laughed and patted my hand.

Yes, Grandma, it is.  I know even now, as she sits playing Canasta in heaven, she’s looking all done up…lipstick, ear screws and that wonderful face powder.  Most of you that know me, know I usually adhere to Grandma’s two main beauty rules:  lipstick and earbobs!  Martha was true to herself and lived her life by her own rules, that’s for sure.  As CoCo Chanel once said, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”

I think Grandma knew that too.

 

 

I’m Okay

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“Why are you writing about this after all these years?”  “Isn’t it time to let it go and move on with your life?”  These are the thoughts and questions that others ask when “it” hasn’t happened to them. Don’t worry for me, that I am mired in depression just because I speak of unspeakable things.  I’m okay…truly.

 

I may write of memories faded or worse, never made.  I may allude to sad times or lonely situations, but only because it was my reality, as bleak as it may seem.  I’m not lonely now or sad or swimming in negativity.   In fact, quite the opposite.  I’m okay…really.

 

I don’t have a monopoly on losing a parent at an early age.  There are many of us who faced childhood with a hole in our hearts and for many different reasons.  We may still need to talk about it.  Some may need to hear about it, just to know they will heal.  We’re okay…seriously.

 

However, just because you didn’t experience it doesn’t make it any less real.  Just because such honesty makes you uncomfortable doesn’t mean our honesty should not be expressed.  No one makes it out of this world alive.  No one escapes their time on earth without some type of pain or sadness.  No one.
Into every life a little rain must fall;  sometimes it’s a tsunami and sometimes it’s a steady, slow soak.  We can become okay, even joyful.  We can feel heart-overflowing gratitude.  There’s always a rainbow somewhere.  Don’t worry about me….I’m okay….really.

Thanksgiving Without You

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I’ve never known or remember experiencing a holiday with my mother.  I’ve never stood next to her in the kitchen, peeling potatoes or making a pie.

I’ve never sat next to her at a Thanksgiving dinner or sat on the floor going through albums of photographs.

I’ve never held her hand as we bowed our heads in prayer.

Too many “I’ve never”, not enough memories.

My 33rd Year

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I’ve read before, that motherless daughters often feel as if they will die at the same age their mothers were when they passed away.  For me, that age was 33.

 

At a time in my life when I should have been coming into my own, I was anything but… I never could visualize myself as a mother or even as I might be when “I grew up.”   I was frozen in limbo yet desperately wanting to know exactly when I would die during my 33rd year, for I knew it would happen.  Would it be on my birthday?  Would it happen in the middle of the year or cruelly on the day before I turned thirty-four?  Anxiously I approached that year and every day until it was over.  I lived in a constant state of uncertainty.

 

During my 33rd year I got divorced, changed careers, gave up sleeping and lost ten pounds.  Sadly, and now with compassion, I look back at my perplexing choices and addled behavior and wonder how I made it through.  I must forgive myself for not being totally present for my children, knowing now, that I was doing the best I could.  I must forgive myself for not being present for me.  My 33rd year was brutal and frightening and even now, brings me to tears.

 

I have lived 30 years past my mother’s age at the time of her death.  I slowly and methodically pulled out of that 33rd year and must say I’m finally growing into my own.  I am not without scars and memories of that time, but the intensity has lessened.
I truly am grateful for my extra years.  I think God knew I would need an extension to get it all together, in fact, I’m still getting it all together.  In the end, isn’t that what life’s all about?

Friendships

 

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There are so many different types of friendships.  Childhood friends; co-workers; acquaintances who upgrade to friend status for a specific purpose or activity, the list is endless.  But, to a motherless daughter, a true friendship is a healing balm, an anchor to this world that helps her stay grounded.

A girl who has lost her mother at an early age, lost her teacher, her road map as to how to have and be a ‘girl friend.’  Often there was no time spent on mother-daughter activities.  Shopping together or just hanging out is a foreign idea to the daughter who has no clue how to begin and sustain a friendship.  She has no idea what girls ‘do’ or how they act or think.  As is sometimes the case, the motherless daughter got her cues on how to ‘be’ from her father, sibling or another caregiver.  Her primary role model, her first friend is missing.

To the friend of a motherless daughter, you might not realize your importance…the value of your friendship is immeasurable.

You might not realize how much your consistency and trustworthiness is relied upon and what that safety means.

You might not realize how your love, laughter and advice provides  strength and support to walk through this life.

You might not realize these things, but they are real.  Your ability to be present is a gift from above, to be cherished more than silver or gold.

Maybe, just maybe, the mothers in heaven get a sayso in sending the perfect friendships to their daughters.  You might not realize it, but these true connections are divine.  And God said, “This is good.”

 

Desert Rose

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Parts of my childhood are shrouded in a thin veil of mist.  Of course there are the big things like school, vacations or birthdays, but many of my day to day memories are vacant.

For example, I never knew that my mother had chosen Desert Rose dishes when she and my dad married.  After she died, my dad packed them away.  It seems he couldn’t stand all of the memories and yet everything was a reminder.

When I got a little older, he finally showed me the dishes.  At first glance I thought how old fashioned they were.  I knew I wanted something more modern and less flowery.  I recall distinctly the look on his face when I muttered my displeasure.  Only now, looking back, do I see the whole story.  To my dad, these dishes symbolized my mother and the life they had had.  To me, at the time, they were just flowery dishes packed away in the garage.

I never remembered the dishes being used or a meal being prepared.  Years would come and go…husbands, moves, children etc, until I finally grew up.  Emotional immaturity seems to plague some of us motherless daughters, as we often freeze at the time of our loss.  The thawing out of feelings and emotions can take a long time.

My modern dishware changed through the years.  I was never satisfied with whatever type or pattern I chose.  Nothing was quite right until I saw those Desert Rose dishes again, when my Dad was moving to a retirement home.  I wanted those dishes and I knew in my heart I was ready for them.  Nothing else would do;  nothing else had stood the test of time and still maintained its classic status.

As if the universe was celebrating my maturity too, Auntie Sue called and offered me her set of Desert Rose dishes.  Now,  I have a large collection that I proudly use everyday.   Am I blessed?  Yes, beyond measure.  Am I grateful?  More than I can ever say.  I feel like a Desert Rose blooming for the first time.  The Desert Rose is slow growing, but it is also beautiful, classic and durable.  Amen.

 

 

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