In this year of celebrating the 75th Anniversary of D-Day and remembering all the years in our past, I have been thinking a lot about my parents. They have both passed on now and I have so many questions I wish I had asked them while they were still able to give me the answers.
My parents knew each other their whole lives. They were born in the same town four days apart. My mom was the youngest of all girls and my dad the youngest of all boys. My two grandmothers were in the hospital together and joked about how they should trade babies so they would have a different-sex child in the family.
And those two babies grew up and got married (I always thought that was a great premise for a movie). So where are all the stories of growing up together? Going to school together? Seeing each other around town? Knowing each other forever? I wish I had asked.
And I don’t know exactly how they got married. They didn’t date in High School, so it must have happened during WWII. I wish I had asked how my dad proposed and how they planned the wedding. Did they have a honeymoon? What did they wear? How did they know they were right for each other? I wish I had asked.
I wish I had asked what prompted them both to enter the service. My dad tried to enlist and found out he was color-blind, which meant he could only go into the Navy Seabees – Construction Battalion. My mother, believe it or not, was a Marine. I think she enlisted because of her sister Irene, who also joined the Marines. But why the Marines? I wish I had asked,
I wish I had asked them how they felt about the war. Were they ever afraid, confused, proud, ashamed or conflicted as an American? Were they glad to be in the Military? Sorry they joined? I wish I had asked.
I wish I had asked them how things were after the war. They were married and started having children right away. My dad was in college on the GI Bill. I think they were living in a mobile home park. Sounds like an “I Love Lucy” segment, doesn’t it? That couldn’t have been easy. But how did they manage? Was being a veteran a proud thing? How did they feel? I wish I had asked.
I wish I had asked them about their thoughts of early parenthood. My mother had three children in three years while my dad was going to school. And she had no family nearby. But I never heard the stories. Were they too horrible? Just forgettable? What? I wish I had asked.
How I wish I could sit down with both of them and ask these and other questions. When I had the chance, I didn’t think of it or it didn’t seem necessary. Now that it’s too late, I’m thinking of so many things only they can answer.
My advice to others – ask the questions NOW!! Don’t wait!! And if you are the elder in your family, write down all the stories for the younger ones. Don’t wait to be asked. Don’t wait until someone else thinks of it. Don’t wait for the perfect time. Just don’t wait. Do it NOW. Because then it will be too late and they will say – I wish I had asked.
I have spent the last week talking to each of my grandchildren for various reasons. I found myself complimenting them for their good work and encouraging them to continue to do well. These words are important to hear whether the grandchild is 22 or 11, as mine are.
I know sometimes words of encouragement don’t easily flow out of our mouths, so here are some suggestions for you. Practice them and use them as often as you can. Kids cannot hear them often enough from their elders.
1–That was so good of you!
2–Great job! I’m so proud of you!
3–Thank you for doing that on your own.
4–That was so kind of you!
5–Fantastic! Thanks for obeying the first time!
6–You know what? You are a great kid!
7–I really appreciate what you did!
8–Look at what you’ve accomplished!
9–Thanks for doing that before I asked!
10–What a great decision you made!
11–Tell me more about that.
12–You figured it out! That’s awesome!
13–One step at a time – you’re doing it!
15–Good for you! You were really listening!
16–I know that was hard, but you kept trying.
17–I love how creative you are!
18–Keep going! You can do it!
19–Thank you for sharing with me.
And don’t forget the all important . . . . . .
20–I love you!
My ten year old granddaughter Marie tells me she wants to be part of the musical play being put on at school. She loves to sing and thinks she would do well in one of the parts.
The problem? Marie is very shy, hates being the center of attention and is not very comfortable with crowds. “I’m scared Granny!” she tells me.
The tryout is a sort of Karaoke style which Marie was not able to do the first time but is going to try to do again.
“How can I do it if I’m so scared?” she asks.
I tell her it has nothing to do with being scared. Everyone is scared . . . . . about something . . . . . always. We all are. Big people, little people, shy people, gregarious people, introverts, extroverts, inexperienced, experienced, smart, dumb, all people are afraid at sometime about something. It happens to EVERYONE . . . . . ALL THE TIME.
So what is the solution? I tell her that brave people act even though they are scared. It’s just that simple – Do it anyway, no matter how scared you are!
Then there was a short pause in the conversation. I guess Marie was thinking because she said in a tiny little voice, “Are you saying I’m brave?”
“Absolutely, I’m saying you’re brave! I think you are the bravest ten year old I know. You are scared and you are still going to tryout again. And this time you will do it, because you will imagine me sitting out front in the audience cheering you on and passing strength to you with my smile.”
“Now do you think you can do it?” I ask. “Yes, I can Granny. Yes, I can. I’m going to go right up there and sing my song as best as I can. I know I can do it this time!” says Marie.
I think Marie completely understood the meaning of bravery. She understood the fear was not going to leave or get any less. She understood the attention was all going to be focused on her. She understood there would be a large audience of people listening to her perform. She would face some of her biggest fears head on. But if she really wanted to sing, she would have to act in spite of the fears not flee because of them.
I believe she will. I believe she believes in herself and knows that others believe in her. She’s brave and we know it. Most especially, she knows it!
I expect to hear next week that Marie made it through the tryout successfully and has a part in the play.
My Marie is so brave, she may forget all her fears while she is singing and end up with the lead in the play. It could happen! It’s happened to other brave girls in the past, I’m sure.
She comes from a long line of brave women. Her mother is most wonderfully brave and her Granny is . . . . . well, I try to set the standard for the women in my clan, so yes, I am brave.
And Marie will be too because she will see it in others in the family. She will be taught by others in the family. She will be strengthened by others in the family. And her bravery will be appreciated and enjoyed by others in the family.
Bravery of this sort requires the work of the village. It very seldom can be done by oneself in a vacuum. It requires example, training, support, encouragement and reward.
So I say again, this will work because the village has Marie’s back . . . . and front and sides and insides and outsides. She’s covered. She will be brave and she will succeed.
That’s what a child needs to be brave. 1–See it in others. Have an example to go by. 2–Be taught by someone. Have it explained. Hear words that will be remembered and then passed on to the next generation. 3–Be strengthened by others who help her prepare, listen to her practice, give constructive advice, help her to and from performances, help her get dressed, etc. Others to be in the audience and make it a big deal. 4–Plan for the success. Don’t be surprised and unready to celebrate the good news when it comes. Let the child know you were expecting it.
Any amount of bravery, even one small act, is to be applauded and celebrated. The events will build on one another. Being brave gets easier, but should never be taken for granted.
I can hardly wait to hear the good news next week about Marie’s tryout.
I have complete faith!
Does this book look at all familiar? It sure does to me! It is my mother’s cookbook! She bought it in 1968, the year it was published. I grew up with this wonderful fount of recipes in her kitchen daily.
It was used on the stove, on the counter, on the table and in her hands. Sometimes I held the book while she read the directions and cooked the dish. This pretty red and white number has withstood many a spill, spoon and steam over. It has been dropped, slammed, cut, burned and soaked. But it has survived to be cherished by a second generation, a third and now a fourth.
One of the great things about this cookbook is the basic information it has on the inside covers. I can’t tell you how many times I have used these substitutions in my cooking. Do you see all the rub and wear marks on the page? How many times has this cover been opened and closed over the last 50 years? I cannot even imagine!
The Chapter I remember the best is the one on Pastry and Pies. Mother was the best baker I knew and made the best pies ever. I think about her most often during the Holidays when I am making my pies. While rolling out the dough made with her recipe, I have conversations in my head with her. I tell her all about the happenings of the year, what the kids have been up to, the good, the bad, everything really. I trully believe she hears me up there in Heaven, where she is making angelic pies for the saints.
I learned to cook with this cookbook. Basic things and complex things too. I started with cream sauce. This exact recipe seen here was my first dish. I added a can of tuna and poured it over saltine crackers. I loved having pictures to follow. It was mistake proof at the time.
Years later I made this for my family. The kids loved it! My daughter still talks about it being one of her favorite dishes from her childhood. Who would have guessed?
For many years the magazine Better Homes and Gardens printed recipes that were to be used in the cookbook. This recipe was printed in 1972 and was to be filed under Meats. My cookbook is jam-packed with dozens of these stuffed under their proper headings. Most of them are award winning recipes, but very few of them are low calorie.
Most of them are wrinkled and torn but that just adds to the charm for me.
Take a look at these suggested menus! I’m very interested in Crab-artichoke Bake, but who does Hot Fruit Compote anymore? And isn’t that stain at the bottom of the page as sweet as can be? Is that broth or soup or tea? Could it be meat drippings or vegetable stock? What memories are in that little discolored spot on that page in that old book.Have a gander at their idea of the ideal kitchen. I have to say I love all the blue! But where are all the windows! It is way too dark for me. And who needs a rotisserie anymore, really.
Mother’s cookbook symbolizes so many things for me. It is a great repository of recipes, memories, nostalgia, good times. It continues to teach me lessons about cooking, life, sharing, relationships, old math principles and good housekeeping.
My daughter saw me cook with it and now my grandson Mac is getting to use it. Fifty years it has been our family, teaching its many lessons to four generations of cooks.
It is a tough little book with tender ways. No matter how many mistakes we make, it continues to forgive and forget.
It sits patiently on the shelf until needed. It always has the answer to any question asked of it. It never makes demands and only has suggestions for success. It never wears out and seems only to get better with age.
Mother’s cookbook. Ready for another fifty years of devoted service.
It happened on a Monday. It could have just as easily happened on a Tuesday or a Thursday, but yes, it was a Monday.
It happened at 6:30 pm to be specific. Again it could have been anytime but I remember it well and it was definitely 6:30 pm on a Monday.
What am I talking about? Mac’s first band concert, of course.
It seems Mac has decided to play the tuba this year – 6th grade. (Can you believe it? Wasn’t he in kindergarten just last year?)
There were tryouts at the beginning of the year on many different instruments. Mac blew into the tuba mouthpiece and the director announced he was “a natural”. My interpretation– “We are short of tuba players and you look pretty good.”
Anyway, Mac now believes he was born to play tuba, which is a good thing. He is in the beginning band, a very good thing. And they had their first concert last Monday night . . . . . at 6:30 pm, a very, very good thing.
The evening started out with Gramps and me arriving at the school and coming in to the auditorium through the back door. All the kids were nicely seated in the audience section and no parents were anywhere to be seen. Suddenly Mac stood up and said to us, “You can’t be here!” What ever happened to “Hello Granny”?
We smiled and waved to him. “Hi, Mac.” Again, “You can’t be here!” He’s very big on rules and regulations lately.
“OK” we said. “We’re leaving. Where are we supposed to be?”
Mac. “Out in the hall! You can’t be here!”
I’m not sure to this day what we were not supposed to see but obligingly we went to the hallway and there were all the other families waiting patiently.
Finally we were allowed back into the auditorium and all the kids were by then on stage in their performance seats. Of course, we could not see Mac. He was one of the four tubas in the back row.
The concert was great with lots of Christmas music. All the instruments were featured throughout the evening including the four tubas in the back row.
The time passed too quickly and before we knew it we were hugging Mac back out in the hall. “Congratulations” and “Good Job” were heard from everyone. Mac was beaming.
How special for him to have both parents and both sets of grandparents hugging him and telling him how great he did. Even his great uncle, a musician, made an appearance and was very impressed.
Nothing feels better than family hugs. Nothing sounds better than family applause. Nothing feels better than family support. Even if it just happened to be a first time ever band concert on a Monday night at 6:30 pm.