birthday, changing, charity, Dad, example, family, father, Father's Day, foster care, foster parents, life, Love, Mother, parenting, parents, sisters, stories, storytelling, teaching, teaching children, the power of a story, the power of stories, tribute
When my sister and I moved to our new foster home, we had no idea how much our lives would change. We came with a lot of problems that stemmed from the destructive home life we had survived. Now we were finally in a stable environment with a family that loved each other and extended that love to us. My foster father spent a lot of time in the evenings telling stories and teaching us principles of life that if followed would make us happy. He seemed to have a limitless amount of these stories, some about his childhood and how he dealt with the problems he had growing up, and some were copies of stories he had read, saved, and filed to share later. Slowly, day by day, week by week, he taught us through these stories, and then he stepped back and watched as we tried to incorporate what he had shared with us into our lives. He had great wisdom when he didn’t expect us to become perfect overnight. He and my foster mother showed us true charity by accepting us as we were and demonstrating the way to improve. For example, my sister and I had fought with each other since we were little. We knew just which buttons to push to make each other mad. This did not change when we moved, even though we progressed in other areas. I’m sure it tried our foster parents’ patience when we quarreled over the stupidest things. But in my last year of high school, I thought, ‘My sister is going to be so happy when I move out and go to college.’ This made me sad. The things my foster father had taught me through stories about patience, tolerance, kindness, and service sank deep into my soul, and I felt ashamed of the way I had treated my sister. So I resolved to change: by the time I left for college, my sister and I would be friends. And so, when we both jumped into bed for the night, and K said, ‘Who’s going to turn off the light?’ I volunteered. I held back the snarky remarks and tried to give her true compliments. Instead of making fun of her or berating her, I listened and was kind. I did small things for her. It was very hard at first, but it worked. By the time I left for college, we were best friends, and we have been ever since. I owe so much to my dear foster parents. I can never repay them for the time and love they poured into us. I am especially thankful for my foster father’s stories. Thank you, Dad, and Happy Birthday.
Mum loved Spring: the warming of the earth, how green crept over the land and daffodils nodded their cheerful heads in the chilly winds. She was the first to point out the return of the robins, and she always had a garden with both flowers and vegetables. Her yard always had a lilac tree growing quietly in a corner, waiting to surprise everyone with its gorgeous purple flowers and lush green leaves. Mum’s poetry reflected her deep appreciation of the beauty she found in the world around her. So this spring, in honor of my mother’s birthday and Mother’s day, I planted a lilac tree in my back yard, and I am posting one of her poems.
The Ghost of the Lilac Path
by Margaret Catherine Maclean Rayfuse Jones
(May 7, 1929 – March 20, 2000)
In springtime, when the frail, grey rain
Mists on the lilac buds again,
And perfumed dimly, gathers and slips
Softly, down from the curled leaf tips
She is still and sleeping underground
Beneath its quiet, quiet sound.
As May grows late, and showers toss
White stars from the lilac cones across
Her grave, and anon the wild wind blanches
The dusky, twisted lilac branches
With moonlight like a sudden laugh
She’s dancing in the pool-gemmed path.
One of the best gifts we received this Christmas was from my husband’s mother. She wrote her life story, inserted photographs, had it printed and bound, and gave it to each of her children and grandchildren. Amid all the wrapping paper, bows, and still-unopened presents, we sat and read her book. I was deeply touched by this gift. It didn’t contain all the details of her life, and she got some of the facts wrong about events that happened to her children, but that didn’t matter. This life story was a collection of her remembrances, the things she thought were important to share with her posterity. I enjoyed reading about her childhood, learning about the events that were significant to her, and seeing the photographs of her when she was young. In the course of her long life, she has seen great joy and deep sorrow. There were times that she made mistakes, but there were sublime moments when she was able to do great good. Her courage, faith, and love shone through her story. I am very grateful that she took the time to write this little history and share it with us. It is a gift beyond compare, for when she is gone, her story will live on, treasured by her family.
aunts, children, daughter-in-law, dedication, example, foster parents, friends, friendship, grandmother, guilt, hard work, Love, mistakes, Mother, Mother's Day, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, sisters, women
Mother’s Day is always a tough day to get through. It’s kind of like going to a funeral, where you talk about all the wonderful qualities this person had but ignore all the bad or negative things about them. People get up in church and talk about the ideal mother and how wonderful their mother is or was. Meanwhile all the mothers in the audience are filled with guilt over all the mistakes they made with their kids. I think about the times I yelled at my kids, or ignored them, or spoiled them, or punished them unjustly. It doesn’t help that my first Mother’s day was met with empty arms and tears, or that my mother had a lot of problems. Also, my heart goes out to those wonderful women who yearn for motherhood but never got to experience it. This a particularly tough day for them. So, should I boycott Mother’s Day? On further reflection, I think I would be very ungrateful if I didn’t pay tribute to the mother-figures in my life. I have had so many women who have touched my life for good. So… Thank you to my mom who gave me creativity. Thank you to my grandmother, for all those letters, books, and love she sent to me. Thank you to my aunts, whose love buoyed us up through tough times. Thank you to the women who cared for us at critical times in our lives. Thank you to my dear foster mother who gave me a wonderful example of the joy that comes from hard work, dedication, and love. Thank you to all the women who have befriended me throughout the years as my husband and I moved from place to place. Thank you to my dear friend, Mary Jane, whose thirteen years of friendship will always be remembered. Thank you to my mother-in-law, who gave me such a wonderful husband. Thank you to my sisters and sisters-in-law, who I love so much, whose friendship is dearer than any treasure. Thank you to my children, who have given me such joy. Lastly, thank you to my daughter-in-law, who is such a good mom to my grandson. Happy Mother’s day to all the women who have shone like stars during my life’s journey. I love you.
Cinderella, classical music, creativity, elves, fairies, fairy tales, Happy Birthday, Happy Mother's Day, Highland Fling, imagination, lightning, Mom stories, Mother, rain, Robert the Bruce, Scottish music, storms, storytelling, thunder, trolls
Thunder and lightning and rain, oh my! Storms like these remind me of the stories Mom used to tell me and my sisters when we were little. Really, the thunder happened because the giants in the sky were bowling, and the lightning was when they got a strike. Rain happened when the old giant emptied out his bathtub. After the storm, we were sent out on expeditions to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Mom read us stories about elves and fairies and wicked trolls. We dressed up, acted out fairy tales, and then made up our own plays. When life was gloomy, we could always count on a good book, a game of make believe, or a song to lift our spirits. Her Classical and Scottish music got equal time with Rock from the radio or Dad’s Country music. She even taught us to do the Highland Fling. Mom enriched our lives with stories passed down in her family. We were descended from Robert the Bruce! Remember Tullymet! Even though her family lived far across Canada, we knew them through the stories she told. Chores became fun when we were really Cinderellas, waiting for the handsome prince. We never just made cookies — We were cooks who worked in the castle, making tarts for the king and queen. In reality, life was hard. We were poor, and Mom suffered from severe health problems, but that didn’t stop us from drawing on a wealth of stories from heritage and literature. We had a childhood rich in imagination and creativity that has carried us forward and sustained us throughout our lives. So, on behalf of me and my sisters, here’s a toast to our mother, gone thirteen years now. Thank you, Mom. Happy Birthday, and Happy Mother’s Day. We miss you.