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Archive for the ‘Mother’s Day’ Category

Photo:  circa 1937.  How I love the vintage furniture, doors, and carpet!  But most of all, I love the lady pictured there beside the chunky little kid whom I once was.  My mother was a Victorian, born in 1896 and she lived to age 93.  I cherish memories of her, and think of her every day of my life.  As I “mature”, I frequently add new recollections to my treasure câche of nostalgia. 

Lately I’ve been recalling how she had me memorize Psalms 1 and 23, starting when I was about the above pictured age.  Every night at bedtime, I recited these Psalms to her.  What an imprint.  When you consider those Psalms you realize that they beautifully summarize great truths of Scripture.  Psalm 1 speaks of man’s condition—both with and without the Lord in one’s life, and Psalm 23 (the most beloved of all!) speaks of the Lord’s tender care for each of His sheep.

Then Mother taught me a little verse, which was added to my bedtime repertoire: 

“My heart is God’s little garden

And the flowers blooming there each day

Are the things He sees me doing

And the words He hears me say.”

Anonymous

I recited these gems to my mother until I went off to college.

Mother was equanimity personified.  She NEVER raised her voice, NO NEVER.*  She didn’t have to.  She “walked quietly and carried a big stick”.  The big stick was used when necessary, which in my case was fairly often as I was a bit of a rip. 

While I grew up, Mother brushed and braided my hair every morning—with the possible exception of Saturdays.  This was a giant step, in keeping me “under control”.  I was a melodramatic kid who fancied myself a wild Gypsy—and I had the dark, snaggly thick mane to go with my cherished self-image.  Mom was committed to keeping me from looking and acting like the turbulent thing I liked to think I was.

Although she would always take a stand against anyone advocating or doing something that was morally or ethically wrong, my mother NEVER said an unnecessarily unkind word about anyone—NO NEVER.  Her patience with other humans was incredible.  Often, if a derogatory remark was made about someone, Mother would say, “But she means well.”  When she decided that someone definitely did not “mean well”, she would simply sigh and remark, “It takes all kinds of people to make a world”.

Only one contradictory sentence ever shadowed Mother’s attitude of forgiveness and goodwill, and it was a very funny one indeed.  Over and over throughout the years, I heard her say, “God gave us our relatives; thank God we can choose our friends.”

I hesitate to employ that one liner myself, because my relatives are precious—they are my best friends.  But Mom did have some overbearing relations.  When reviewing Mother’s life with her pastor before her memorial service, I mentioned the “Thank God we can choose our friends” statement—and he laughed so hard he nearly fell off his chair.  He wanted to include that in Mother’s eulogy, but I firmly said “NO”.  A couple of remaining, ancient relatives would be at the memorial service and I didn’t want anyone miffed at the eleventh hour of that venerable Victorian generation!

On past Mother’s Day entries, I listed many wonderful things about my mother—how she was proud of her Scottish and Irish heritage, and how she was a hard worker who trained her children to work as well.  Mom loved her family and friends, and her loyalty was peerless. 

I inherited a lot from this amazing woman—either through the genes or from example.  Mother loved all of life, from the largest creature down to the smallest bird or butterfly.  She loved cats and dogs, classical music, classical poetry, tea parties, antique glassware, and dressing up every day

Before my marriage, Mother said, “Don’t ever let your husband come home at night and find you in the old clothes you’ve been wearing for cleaning and gardening.  Always dress up, and remember to re-fix your hair and face at least once during an evening—especially after dinner!”  This advice is branded in my heart and soul, and it’s an integral part of my life. 

Returning to Mother’s spiritual input in my life, I often recall how—when I was around 6 years old—she told me about the early Christian martyrs in Rome.  She told how they were put into the arena with hungry lions, and how they (the Christians, not the lions) sang hymns as they were being carried off. 

Now isn’t that a strange thing to tell a 6 year old kid?  But I’m grateful that she did!  The essence of the story stuck with me throughout the years.  When I became a Christian believer, at age 37, I began to reflect on that account—and I realized that whatever God was going to allow in my life would be undergirded and enabled by His Grace!  Lions are pretty terrifying, but God has conquered fear!

I think of Mother every day.  Recent Mother’s Days have been accompanied by a kind of inner aching because I don’t have her here.  But I will be seeing her again, FOREVER!  How fantastic is that!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

*I grew up in such a “rose garden”, that I never heard anyone yell—except in a film, or at an exciting basketball game.  But there was one exception in the rose garden.  I heard my father shout—vehemently!—when my older sister brought home a young Communist whom she was dating at UW, Madison. 

Dad and the young Communist (who was fomenting revolution) had a deep discussion, and Dad SHOUTED!   This was very exciting to me, as it appealed to my sense of melodrama.  The fracas also imprinted some strong political views in my head!

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My Dad and MOM—Ernst and Ruth Longenecker, 1968  ↑

Our children, with Joe and me—2009:  Karl, Debbie, Laura, Joe, Margaret, Judy, Eric, and Martina  ↑

When I was 9 years old I thought I wanted to be a detective like Nancy Drew (with a yellow roadster) and a singer like Hildegarde* (with a swanky long black dress), when I grew up. 

Then at age 16, I met Joe Been and never looked back.  I wanted to be a wife and MOM!  No regrets!  (I did once have a yellow SUBARU, but I hardly ever wear black!)

Happy Mother’s Day!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, 2011

*Hildegarde the 1940s night club singer, not Hildegard the famous circa 1098-1179 nun. 

The singer Hildegarde was born in New Holstein, Wisconsin, 8 miles from my home town of Chilton.  With my parents, I saw and heard her perform at a conference at the Palmer House in Chicago–and decided I wanted to be such a chic, sophisticated lady someday.  🙂

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my-beautiful-mother

When I was very young, she showed me how to feed day-old orphaned kittens from a medicine dropper.  She taught me to walk quietly, watching for wildflowers and listening for birds.

Mother valued integrity over comfort, and never betrayed the confidences of her family members or friends.  She ignored pettiness, and refused to react to crass people skilled in the “art” of dispensing insults.

Her chin was high but not arrogant, chiseled but not cold.  Her pleasantly mild outward appearance caused unthinking observers to believe she was pliable and soft. 

But anyone with discernment realized that her keen, penetrating mind commanded a backbone of unflinching steel.  She despised gushy sentimentality, and reserved her displays of affection for people she loved.

Of Celtic descent, Mother loved most things Scottish:  the diligence, thrift, reserved attitude, and bagpipes–but not the whiskey.  She had no use for that. 

She was a classical musician.  Her piano refrains are emblazoned in my soul, where the magnificence of Mozart and poignancy of Chopin will endure forever.  I cherish my legacy of Mother’s antique poetry books.  I think of her as I gather armloads of lilacs and let their heady fragrance brush my face.

Although some of the people she loved didn’t know a finger bowl from a flower pot, Mother valued social graces and lovely deportment as marks of consideration for others.  She schooled me in walking with a book on my head (to improve my posture), chewing with my mouth closed, and setting dinner plates one inch from the edge of the table with the designs facing the person dining.  She taught me to use my forks from the outside in–salad, main course, dessert.  She tried to teach me not to talk too much, too often, or too fast.

Despite my love for running barefoot in summer, despite my scruffy knees scabbed over from numerous roller skating spills, despite the fact that I spent much of my girlhood climbing trees, Mother managed to infuse me with her passion for elegant frocks, dressy hats, and gloves.

Alzheimer’s notwithstanding, Mother’s last years reflected the poise of her lifetime.  Not given to ranting and shrieking as some older people do, she sat smiling serenely beside the nurses’ station day after day.  She was dearly loved at the nursing home where she was known as “Ruthie”.  It was my privilege to do her laundry, hold her hand, and sing for her, as she had done for me for so many years.

As her time of dying approached, our youngest daughter and I spent her last two days at her bedside singing spirituals that she loved:  “Where, Oh Where Are the Hebrew Children?”, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, and “I’m Going Home on a Cloud”.

At the age of 93, Mother went to live with a King.  Someday I’ll join them for supper!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

NOTE:  My Mother’s Day tribute appeared on this weblog a year ago, and I am repeating it.  I can’t imagine a better mom than the one God gave me!  MLB

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