My Mother’s House


Thinking of my mother…a post written long ago in 2013

Yesterday, I said, “Good-Bye,” to my mother’s house. The one she and my father shared for over twenty years. Made of white stucco with a red tile roof, and a lovely front portico hovering over the dual wooden door. To all others, it’s a typical ‘Arizona’ house, but to me, it will forever remain my mother’s house.

My parents moved to this home sometime in 1989. I was a proud realtor back then and sold it to them. It wasn’t far from where I lived, just around the corner. My little family of three lived close enough to see. My parents followed us from their home in Michigan to escape the cold and the poor economy at the time. There were other reasons too. They had relatives who lived there, my mother’s sisters and an aunt, and my younger brother too.

I knew this day would come, and it’s time for it now. My mother’s been gone over three years. My father didn’t rush, he grieved as he should. Sand passed through the hour-glass, and things settled down as I knew they would. This is the last step in the order of things. My dad is ready now. He has moved on with his life and has a new place to go. I am happy for him. My siblings are too. He is 81 years old. What a treat it is to see him laugh and play, to sing and dance his early night away!

There is a sign in my mother’s front yard that says, “For Sale.” An offer to buy is being negotiated today. I may never step inside my mother’s house again on any given day. I knew it yesterday. I walked slowly through each and every room, soaking up memories of the past. Glancing up and down, brushing floors with fingers, tenderly touching walls with warm cheeks, and gazing at mirrors with pictures only I can see.  Memories everywhere….  The food she cooked, the holidays we spent, our children who slept on the floor in front of the fireplace. Oh, the fun we had!  The lemon pie she baked from scratch, the bird bath in the back, the wind chimes singing on the patio, and the blooming yellow roses planted everywhere.  They were her favorites flowers you know.  And, if I close my eyes ever so tight, I can almost see her there. She’s bending down to smell a new bloom or nipping a fresh bud to place in her favorite aqua-blue vase. She’s truly beautiful looking this way.  Always smiling at her carefully tended roses with the sun warming her precious porcelain face.

Memories everywhere….Sights and scents. The food she cooked, the holidays we spent, my children together with cousins who slept on the floor in front of a roaring holiday fireplace. Oh, the fun we had! The lemon pie she baked from scratch, the bird bath in the back, wind chimes singing on the patio, and the blooming yellow roses planted everywhere. They were her favorites flowers you know.  And, if I close my eyes ever so tight, I can almost see her there. Mother is kneeling down to smell a new bloom or nipping a fresh bud to place in her favorite aqua-blue vase. She’s truly beautiful. Always smiling at her carefully tended roses with the sun warming her precious porcelain face.

The big front door is closing now. As the old bronze lock clicks tight, I  shall forever be at my mother’s house, surrounded by yellow roses, soaking up the smile on her beautiful porcelain face…………

The Perfect Rose

Penny For Your Thoughts?


Long before I knew what growing up ever meant, I had two maternal aunts who were never far from my side, always ready to show me the way. My mother was one of four sisters, one slightly older followed by two younger half-sisters, several years younger. There was never any deviation between the four girls. They loved and fought with the gusto of any sisters, full blood or not.

Upon my birth, my mother’s little sisters, suddenly aunts of mine were only five and seven years of age. Throughout the years, we more or less grew up together, and I often thought of them as big sisters, more friends than relatives. We had a bond, often whispering to each other our innermost secrets and dreams, or wishes for the future which of course changed as the years went by.

When my little brother was three, he needed open heart surgery, one of the first to be performed at U of M Children’s Hospital https://kimgosselinblog.com/2013/10/30/loving-mother-infant-heart-surgery/. I went to stay with my grandparents during this precarious time, including several visits afterward whenever extended follow-up was needed. My aunts made my life magical during a stage in my life that could have easily turned traumatic. They took me under their wings, played with me like a baby doll, and made me feel safe and secure. I remember sharing a room with them, where we slept together in bunks of two while listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks, on their phonograph over and over again. One of my aunts had to climb down the ladder to move the needle over every time the 45 record ended. Up and down, down and up. And, every afternoon, as soon as the two stepped off a giant yellow school bus, another of them would scoop me up before plopping me inside the front of rattan bicycle basket where the three of us rode off into the woods. There, we often sat on the rough of a fallen log where they made up stories while braiding my hair. Sometimes a snack or two was shared while we hunted for woodland treasures, caught frogs or waded in the clear of a bright blue stream among slippery silver minnows. 

The Chipmunks, as seen in the live-action/CGI ...

My aunts, of course, grew older before I did until one day, both of them had boyfriends. By then, I was simply a pest they wanted to swat away. Their sweethearts used to pay me to run across the street where an old neighborhood store sat on the corner. “Buy yourself anything you want,” they said. Suddenly, a shiny silver quarter was stuffed into my pocket, allowing me to purchase handfuls of penny candy. “Take your time.” Far too soon, I was back in front of them carrying a little white paper bag. Bazooka bubbles of gum smiled and popped directly in front of their boyfriend’s faces!

Bins of candy on display at Murphy's Candy and...

When my parents traveled for work, one or the other aunt would often babysit, staying for a weekend or more to wrangle me and my four younger siblings. They attended high school by this time, and I thought they were so cool. One day, I wanted to be just like them! We often shared my mom and dad’s king-sized bed, where I listened to whispered worries in the light of the moon. Treasured secrets never to tell….

Years later, when I married, one aunt was a bridesmaid, while the daughter of the other was my flower girl. Tragedy struck on one of the happiest days of my life. The aunt of my little flower girl had a seizure at the reception and was quickly taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. She adored children, especially babies, and rooted me on during my monthly struggle with infertility. Nearing her end, she said, “Come’on, Kimmy. Hurry up and get pregnant! I want to hear the good news before anyone else. Promise me!!”

My aunt passed away in February of 1986 at the age of 34. Three months later, when my EPT tested positive, I dried my tears, hopped into my coveted canary yellow Chevette and drove to the cemetery. There at her gravesite, I bawled my eyes out while sharing my blessing. Yes, she was the first one to hear.

Penny for your thoughts?

A Few of My Favorite Things


There’s something to be said about downsizing. Purging through all worldly goods in order to make room for a smaller space. Not long ago, I went through it, and although not easy, it actually felt good in the end. If I didn’t absolutely love something or need it, PLOP, it was dropped into one of three boxes: selldonate or garbage.

This morning, I sipped a warm café latte from a painted cup of cream decorated in dusty roses woven in stems with muted green leaves. A matching bread plate sat in front of me holding a freshly toasted English muffin that called my name. “Come closer…nibble away….” Nearby, a shiny teaspoon of silver rested upon the cup’s saucer, while a butter knife in a flowered pattern of the same shined in rays of early morning sun.

The dishes were my mother’s, passed down to me after she died nearly six years ago. Afterward, I proudly displayed them in a packed china cabinet where they were used only once or twice a year during the holiday seasons. The silver was a wedding gift, over thirty years ago. I’ve used it perhaps twice a year, again, during the holidays.

In sorting through my life, I found a few of my favorite things simply put away, or saved… having chosen other items to use in their place. Why? What was I saving them for? When was the right time, if not now? Prior to my move, an estate sale was held where everything imaginable was sold, except a few of my favorite things…those that I had been saving. Downsizing opened my eyes to using and enjoying my favorite things. No longer do I save them for someday in the future that may never come to be.

Now in my smaller home, I use my mother’s dishes each and every day, including my wedding gift of good silverware. I’m creating new memories while bringing back some of the old. My mother’s dishes will forever trigger warm and loving thoughts of food and family around her Arizona table of solid oak. One day, my grand-babies will learn about their great-grandmother, of how much she would have loved them, and about the dishes they are spooning from. And too, about the very spoons themselves, those that are now clutched in chubby hands while dropping green peas or dribbling applesauce down wee chins.

Yes, there’s something to be said about downsizing. Use and enjoy your favorite things today, don’t save them for tomorrow.

 

moms-dishes

Celebrating Mother


rose black good

 

Five years forever whispers in my ear.  Five…five….five…five.  Warm breaths with tender lips barely brushing cheeks.  Last kisses of inevitable goodbyes.

Life-time sentiments of love between a mother and daughter.  I remember gently climbing into her over-sized bed to fluff pillows of down.  Wanting to snuggle close.  Careful now. Fragility.  With every movement of the mattress her body cried out in pain.  An agony of my own if you will yet one I prayed to never know.

Clasping hands, hers was tiny.  Blue-white from lack of oxygen, but soft and smooth. The feeling of velvet with a faint hint of lavender lotion.  I held fingers to the rose-colored lamp under the tip of my nose to breathe in the scent of her, wanting to remember it always and forever.

Looking around the room, Mother reminded me of one of her treasured porcelain baby dolls protected behind doors of glass.  So infantile she was lying in a near fetal position in order to be comfortable.  If only I could do the same for her, much like her beloved cabinet full of heart, http://wp.me/p41md8-14b.

Still, we were awarded brief moments of heartfelt joy.  Memories of thankfulness never to be replaced.   Mother’s head resting upon my shoulder while movies of color played before our eyes of four.  Laughter.  Sharing cookies and cocoa.  Crumbs in the bed.  Warm, labored breaths upon my neck.  Closeness and bonding came full circle.  Sheets of cool cotton beneath chins of two.  Understanding. ComfortAcceptanceLovePeace.  We had it all during that those last few days before she was ready to go.

When lids opened from brief respite, it was a time for conversations in the shadows of the night.  Insignificant at first, we danced around the truth before the music stopped.  “Take care of Daddy…”  Near the end of my mother’s life this was her main concern.  She feared the love of her own would be left alone.  Squeezing her hand lightly, no more words were needed.  She had her answer then.  She rested.

Prologue:

It’s ironic that today, five years after my mother’s passing my husband and I are attending a neighborhood potluck of Thanksgiving.  Before realizing the date, I searched for a special recipe to cook, one that I knew my friends would enjoy.  Digging into mother’s mixed box of handwritten 3X5 cards, I finally discovered exactly what was meant to be.  Pulling the recipe from a clear plastic container, there was her familiar handwriting, scripted in wooden pencil.   Now faded, the yellowed index card is curled in the left hand corner where it’s nearly torn.  Splashed upon it are droplets of tomato sauce, dried from my mother’s days of cooking long ago.

I’m celebrating Mother today by sharing her recipe with all of you.  An unusual one perhaps, but delicious!

Wieners in Tomato Sauce (I think my mother simply made up a name)

1 lb. wieners

1 large can diced tomatoes

2 slices of chopped sweet onion

1 large chopped green pepper

½ c sugar

Dash of salt & pepper

Bring all of the above to boil-then turn down flame & thicken with 2 T mixed flour & water.  Simmer approximately two hours, covered. *Serves 4-6

**I tend to cook in larger quantities, doubling or tripling the recipe (except for the sugar) and putting it in my crock pot to cook the whole day through.

Recipe

 

Lost and Found


The last weekend of long was filled with anticipation for me.  I was off to visit my elderly father in Phoenix, Arizona.  I use the term elderly in a loose manner as he doesn’t look elderly to me, nor does he behave as such.  A boy’s brain in an aging body it seems.  I thank God for that.

I met my sisters at the airport and immediately our togetherness could have become a pilot for an unscripted reality show.  Even at the airport, we got lost before finding each other.  From there it went downhill whenever our sub-compact rental car opened it’s doors to us.  Contorted in every-which-way, we felt caged in small can of tin on wheels of four.  Minus an opener.

My youngest sister was the designated driver.  It was only after we made a wrong turn coming out of the airport that I realized she needed glasses for distance.  She couldn’t read a single sign.  “Kim,” she playfully squawked at me, “I’m a great driver when I know where I’m going!”  “Kellie, you don’t know where you’re going because we’re in Phoenix, not Dallas!”  “Yes, but I’m really good when I use your eyes!”  Seriously?  Seriously??!  “That’s fine,” I responded, “but my eyes are not behind the wheel!”

What should have been a 45 minute drive to my father’s house ended up taking two and a half hours.  My GPS helped to re-route us while my younger sister’s did the same from the back of our seats.  Every few seconds or minutes voices were heard guiding us.  “Make a U-turn, proceed to ramp,” or “Merge on to I-10.”  Again and again and again.  Have you ever tried listening to two voices at the same time?  It was very confusing.  Even more so because one of them had a British accent.  No luck in turning it off.  I tried.  Several times.  The British accent was along for the ride!

Finally we called my father.  Five or six times….At least.  I can’t imagine what he was thinking.  It was nearly 11:30 pm.  He had been waiting for our arrival since 9:00.  Like any father, he was worried and scared, wondering what could have happened to his three daughters.

Guiding us into a parking lot of a nearby restaurant, San Tan Flats, his voice crackled in disbelief through the speaker of an I-phone.  “Oh you girls, do you see the stuffed bear to the left?  Turn right.  Drive until you see a For Sale sign at the end of the parking lot.”  We did before somehow ending up at the restaurant’s hulking emerald-green dumpster.  Our bright lights caught a raccoon scampering off in the distance of the desert darkness.

“Dad, what do we do now?” my sister asked, in panic.  I could tell my dad couldn’t believe his ears.  “Back up, back up, turn around and follow the smoke from the campfire.  Go out the nearest drive to the first road.  I’ll stay on the line.”

Bless my father’s heart.  He did stay on the line, hearing a big thud as we drove over a Saguaro that had fallen during a recent storm.  Car lights, bright from our rental car soon shined on the best of him.  Standing in the middle of the dusty desert road he stood wearing baggy jeans and a loose yellow shirt.  On his feet were tennis shoes, glowing in fluorescent white.  His legs were balanced straight, even and wide apart.   His arms of two lifted high towards a clear endless sky with hands swaying back and forth in a frenzy as if to yell, “STOP!  Turn off the engine now, before it’s too late!”

In spite of our trials of lost and found my father together with all of his children had the very best time.  Rare because the five of us were all together with him.  During the weekend we went to the American Legion where he sang Karaoke and danced the night away with his girlfriend.  Yes, she is so kind and they are happy!

My sisters and I woke in early mornings to share coffee under quiet, peaceful canopies of leftover stars.  We walked at dawn to discover horses who neighed, mongrels who barked and flowers that bloomed “Hello” from nothing more than dry cinnamon dust of a desert crust.

Then the inevitable happened.  Such sweet sorrow to say, “Good-by.”  A whisper in my ear from my father. Choking up he said, “Your mother would love to see all of you kids together like this.”  Hugging him tight, I whispered back, “She does, Dad.”

That’s what life is all about.  Love and bonding.  Togetherness.  No matter how far apart, get together again.  Create new memories.  Laughter.  Even the mini-trips of lost and found with my sisters will forever be with me.  I dare say one of my ribs might be broken from laughing so hard.  No matter.  All was worth it.

From every second in the desert dark to each minute of my father’s mark…..All above is in my heart forever.

Memories are made of this.. 1969 Peter Sarstedt, Bad Moon Rising and Moon Landings


Sally’s lovely memories…Thanks to her many of my own have been released from that great year.  What do you remember?

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

It is 1969 and Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first humans on the Moon, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on July 20, at 20:18 UTC. Neil Armstrong became the first man to step onto the lunar surface six hours later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC.  “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

That was the year I was 16 and about to take some small steps that were to be a giant leap for womankind… Well me anyway… Still at school but what was to be my final year. My headmistress and my mother had a meeting with me present about my choices. Stay on for A Levels and go to university or to leave school and attend secretarial college.

I was a spectator to the discussion rather than a participant. Given my choice I would have gone to drama school…

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An Analogy of Wind Chimes


I woke with a start in the darkest of the night. Loud winds whirled and whipped around near the moonlight. Listening, I could hear the banging of chimes, their brass pipes sparring against air like a fight, like a war.

Usually, before winter comes my favorite wind chimes are lifted carefully from summer branch homes to be stored away till spring. One had been forgotten somehow. Lonely, it hung in the cold, in this snowy weather now.

While lying in bed, I knew which one sung its mad song to me. It was the last gift my mother sent on my birthday the year she died. It was the one with the red cardinal on top that reminded her of me, of St.  Louis, you see.

The wind swirled, the brass tubes wrestled, furniture tipped, and new snow swept. The war of the chimes against nature created an analogy of the fight my mother had on her last day of life. While laying there, that’s what I thought of, the fight between life force and what lies next.

On my mother’s last day the chimes played the way she would have wanted. A variety of them hung outside the screen door of her home. The winds were blustery. She loved them all, the different sounds and melodies they played, the twinkling of the brass tubes against one another when the breezes blew this way or that.

It was nearing the end, but only God knew exactly when. The winds were especially gusty, blowing and brisk. As though He had a hidden message that soon she would be in heaven to breathe freely. For on earth it was such a fight for her, like the war waging outside my house last night.

My family prayed by my mother’s side while listening to different songs of chimes blowing in the wind. Like messages from God sent from above, each one had a different tune. We listened to lyrical music, there for us to hear by ear. They were signs that Mother would be hearing them forever soon and be at peace.

My mother’s death was several years ago, yet it is still so fresh in my heart and mind.  Today I will take the gift of my cardinal wind chimes from the snowy branch down to be safe.  I will place them inside my home, warm and safe.  Soon spring will come.  The cardinal chimes will be pulled out again to be placed on a waiting branch for the sun to shine down from Heaven above.

My mother will see them there. My mother will know.

Exhart-WindyWings-Cardinal-Wind-Chime

My Mother’s House


Thinking of my mother…a post written long ago in 2013

Yesterday, I said, “Good-Bye,” to my mother’s house. The one she and my father shared for over twenty years. Made of white stucco with a red tile roof, and a lovely front portico hovering over the dual wooden door. To all others, it’s a typical ‘Arizona’ house, but to me, it will forever remain my mother’s house.

My parents moved to this home sometime in 1989. I was a proud realtor back then and sold it to them. It wasn’t far from where I lived, just around the corner. My little family of three lived close enough to see. My parents followed us from their home in Michigan to escape the cold and the poor economy at the time. There were other reasons too. They had relatives who lived there, my mother’s sisters and an aunt, and my younger brother too.

I knew this day would come, and it’s time for it now. My mother’s been gone over three years. My father didn’t rush, he grieved as he should. Sand passed through the hour glass, and things settled down as I knew they would. This is the last step in the order of things. My dad is ready now. He has moved on with his life and has a new place to go. I am happy for him. My siblings are too. He is 81 years old. What a treat it is to see him laugh and play, to sing and dance his early night away!

There is a sign in my mother’s front yard that says, “For Sale.” An offer to buy is being negotiated today. I may never step inside my mother’s house again on any given day. I knew it yesterday. I walked slowly through each and every room, soaking up memories of the past. Glancing up and down, brushing floors with fingers, tenderly touching walls with warm cheeks, and gazing at mirrors with pictures only I can see.  Memories everywhere….  The food she cooked, the holidays we spent, our children who slept on the floor in front of the fireplace. Oh, the fun we had!  The lemon pie she baked from scratch, the bird bath in the back, the wind chimes singing on the patio, and the blooming yellow roses planted everywhere.  They were her favorites flowers you know.  And, if I close my eyes ever so tight, I can almost see her there. She’s bending down to smell a new bloom or nipping a fresh bud to place in her favorite aqua-blue vase. She’s truly beautiful looking this way.  Always smiling at her carefully tended roses with the sun warming her precious porcelain face.

Memories everywhere….Sights and scents. The food she cooked, the holidays we spent, my children together with cousins who slept on the floor in front of a roaring holiday fireplace. Oh, the fun we had! The lemon pie she baked from scratch, the bird bath in the back, wind chimes singing on the patio, and the blooming yellow roses planted everywhere. They were her favorites flowers you know.  And, if I close my eyes ever so tight, I can almost see her there. Mother is kneeling down to smell a new bloom or nipping a fresh bud to place in her favorite aqua-blue vase. She’s truly beautiful. Always smiling at her carefully tended roses with the sun warming her precious porcelain face.

The big front door is closing now. As the old bronze lock clicks tight, I  shall forever be at my mother’s house, surrounded by yellow roses, soaking up the smile on her beautiful porcelain face…………

The Perfect Rose

Penny For Your Thoughts?


Long before I knew what growing up ever meant, I had two maternal aunts who were never far from my side, always ready to show me the way. My mother was one of four sisters, one slightly older followed by two younger half-sisters, several years younger. There was never any deviation between the four girls. They loved and fought with the gusto of any sisters, full blood or not.

Upon my birth, my mother’s little sisters, suddenly aunts of mine were only five and seven years of age. Throughout the years, we more or less grew up together, and I often thought of them as big sisters, more friends than relatives. We had a bond, often whispering to each other our innermost secrets and dreams, or wishes for the future which of course changed as the years went by.

When my little brother was three, he needed open heart surgery, one of the first to be performed at U of M Children’s Hospital. I went to stay with my grandparents during this precarious time, including several visits afterward whenever extended follow-up was needed. My aunts made my life magical during a stage in my life that could have easily turned traumatic. They took me under their wings, played with me like a baby doll, and made me feel safe and secure. I remember sharing a room with them, where we slept together in bunks of two while listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks, on their phonograph over and over again. One of my aunts had to climb down the ladder to move the needle over every time the 45 record ended. Up and down, down and up. And, every afternoon, as soon as the two stepped off a giant yellow school bus, another of them would scoop me up before plopping me inside the front of rattan bicycle basket where the three of us rode off into the woods. There, we often sat on the rough of a fallen log where they made up stories while braiding my hair. Sometimes a snack or two was shared while we hunted for woodland treasures, caught frogs or waded in the clear of a bright blue stream among slippery silver minnows. 

The Chipmunks, as seen in the live-action/CGI ...

My aunts, of course, grew older before I did until one day, both of them had boyfriends. By then, I was simply a pest they wanted to swat away. Their sweethearts used to pay me to run across the street where an old neighborhood store sat on the corner. “Buy yourself anything you want,” they said. Suddenly, a shiny silver quarter was stuffed into my pocket, allowing me to purchase handfuls of penny candy. “Take your time.” Far too soon, I was back in front of them carrying a little white paper bag. Smiling bubbles of pink Bazooka gum popped directly in front of their boyfriend’s faces!

Bins of candy on display at Murphy's Candy and...

When my parents traveled for work, one or the other aunt would often babysit, staying for a weekend or more to wrangle me and my four younger siblings. They attended high school by this time, and I thought they were so cool. One day, I wanted to be just like them! We often shared my mom and dad’s king-sized bed, where I listened to whispered worries in the light of the moon. Treasured secrets never to tell….

Years later, when I married, one aunt was a bridesmaid, while the daughter of the other was my flower girl. Tragedy struck on one of the happiest days of my life. The aunt of my little flower girl had a seizure at the reception and was quickly taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. She adored children, especially babies, and rooted me on during my monthly struggle with infertility. Nearing her end, she said, “Come’on, Kimmy. Hurry up and get pregnant! I want to hear the good news before anyone else. Promise me!!”

My aunt passed away in February of 1986 at the age of 34. Three months later, when my EPT tested positive, I dried my tears, hopped into my coveted canary yellow Chevette and drove to the cemetery. There at her gravesite, I bawled my eyes out while sharing my blessing. Yes, she was the first one to hear.

Penny for your thoughts?