Category Archives: writing

WHEN TO PLANT…AND WHEN TO WRITE FOR A CONTEST

The FARMER'S ALMANAC is full of interesting information. (All photographs by Marylin Warner)

The FARMER’S ALMANAC is full of interesting information. (All photographs by Marylin Warner)

Colorado weather makes it a good idea to wait until after Mother's Day to plant.

Colorado weather makes it a good idea to wait until after Mother’s Day to plant.

 

If you get impatient for color, you can hand baskets of artificial flowers in your trees.

If you get impatient for color, you can hang baskets of artificial flowers in your trees.

When you spend several days sitting in a hospital room, you look for interesting reading material. I found the 2014 OLD FARMER’S ALMANAC. Talk about an education!

If you’re interested in the weather forecasts for 16 regions of the United States (with apologies to our non-American friends), or information about the sun, moon, stars, and planets, or articles on beeswax candles and natural pest control, The Almanac is your go-to publication.

Here’s some quaint gardening advice reprinted from 1892 folklore.

1)    To make a plant grow, spit into the hole you have dug for it.

2)    Never plant anything on the 31st of any month.

3)    Plant corn after the first woodpecker appears.

4)    Flax will grow tall if you show it your buttocks.

5)    It’s time to plant corn when your wife comes to bed naked.

At our Colorado Springs altitude of 6,100 feet, it’s risky to plant anything before Mother’s Day…even if you show the crop your buttocks or come to bed naked. If you decide you’d rather go fishing, here’s how to know if it’s a good time: watch cows. If they’re up feeding, fishing is good. If they’re down resting, don’t bother.

If the folklore printed in the Almanac isn’t strange enough for you, maybe this writing contest will do the trick. THE WRITER MAGAZINE and Gotham Writers Workshops are sponsoring a “Tell It Strange” Essay & Story Contest.

Annie Proulx won the Pulitzer Prize for THE SHIPPING NEWS, and wrote other highly successful novels, including CLOSE RANGE and BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. Writers should respond to one of Proulx’s quotes, using it as a prompt to get you motivated.

“We’re all strange inside. We learn how to disguise our differences as we grow up.” ~ this is from THE SHIPPING NEWS.   “There’s something wrong with everybody and it’s up to you to know what you can handle.” is from CLOSE RANGE.

If either of these prompts inspires a strange story or essay idea, the contest deadline is May 31, 2014. Prizes are $1,000, $500, $250. You can submit online, and WRITERS FROM EVERYWHERE are invited to submit, as long as you’re not affiliates of THE WRITER or GOTHAM WRITERS. 1,000 words max.   For full details go to

http://www.writingclasses.com/ContestPages/strange.php

Spitting in holes might be great planting practice. Writing contests are definitely great writing practice. You can enter the contest; you can write for the contest but instead of entering it, submit it to an anthology, a magazine, an online publication. Making yourself think, plan, write, edit and meet the deadline is excellent writing discipline. Can’t think of a “strange” writing idea? Really? Go back and read #4 and #5 above. Or just pay attention to what’s going on around you. The world is strange enough to give you plenty of writing ideas.

Cover of my favorite writing journal.

Cover of my favorite writing journal.

Write on a computer, on a tablet, on a typewriter...but write!

Write on a computer, on a tablet, on a typewriter…but write!

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, gardening, writing, writing contest with cash prizes

WEARING YOUR MESSAGE

My daughter Molly's ankle tattoo.  (pictures by Marylin Warner)

My daughter Molly’s ankle tattoo. (picture by Marylin Warner)

Their house and former yard of trees after the tornado of 2008.

Their house and former yard filled with trees ~ after the tornado of 2008. Click on picture to see details.

Dear Mom,

You always understood that there’s something inside us that needs to write our words and create our art. After you wrote your children’s stories, even if they were just going to be filed away in a drawer, you also drew or painted illustrations. And sometimes you added music as well, singing songs and humming melodies as you typed the stories and created watercolor pictures.

Author Sylvia Plath wrote, “Wear your heart on your skin in this life,” but one thing you were never tempted to do was get a tattoo.  The only question I ever heard you ask of someone wearing a tattoo was when you smiled at a young man with a multi-colored dragon tattoo and said, “Did it hurt?” He returned the smile and said, “Yeah, kinda, but it was worth it.”

As a writer, I have many favorite words and quotes, but there’s never been a phrase or a symbol I wanted to wear permanently.  I am, however, fascinated by those who do.  In the spirit of last week’s post—asking WHY?—I admit I want to know both the What and the Why of tattoo choices.

One of my favorites is actress Susan Sarandon’s AND AND tattoo.  It means A New Dawn A New Day, and the way I heard her explain it in an interview, it’s a reminder that whatever happens, tomorrow is a new day and a fresh beginning.

Many athletes wear art and numerous messages and symbols. People of all careers and ages whose professions discourage tattoos, wear them on places they cover with professional attire.  Before the dementia, you would smile pleasantly when you saw a heavily tattooed person, but later you’d shake your head and ask  me, “Do you understand why they do that?”

Actually, Mom, in some cases I do.  And if you were free of the dementia and could see your granddaughter’s most recent tattoo, I think you would understand, too.  The WHAT: four hearts—one green, one orange, one pink, one blue—surviving a whirling tornado.  The WHY: the four hearts represent the favorite colors of the four members of their family, symbolizing their love for each other, and gratitude for surviving the devastating tornado that destroyed much of their little town in 2008.

Yes, Mom, I think you would understand the permanent art your granddaughter wears on her ankle. You’d probably want to know if it hurt to get tattooed, but you’d be grateful that her family survived the tornado, and you’d celebrate with them.

Author Jack London wrote, “Show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past.”

I would add to that: “The same is true of a woman.”

I have some very interesting things in my past, Mom, but I don’t think I’ll get any tattoos. And that’s okay.  I’ll write about them instead, so I can edit, correct and delete…without pain.

Faith tattoo upside down for hope

On People's Court, this 'Faith' tattoo was under attack...

On People’s Court, this ‘Faith’ tattoo was under attack… If you turned it upside down, as in the first picture above, it should read ‘Hope’–but the i and t had a problem. Correcting or erasing a tattoo can be long, hard & expensive.

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Filed under Chapman KS, Dementia/Alzheimer's, making a difference, special quotations, Things to be thankful for, writing

THREADING STORIES FROM MEMORIES

My mother--and her mother and aunts--made towels, aprons and the traditional "days of the week" dish towels. (All pictures by Marylin Warner)

My mother–and her mother and aunts–made towels, aprons and the traditional “days of the week” dish towels. (All pictures by Marylin Warner)

My 1975 hand-stitched "Trees and Daffodils)

My 1975 hand-stitched “Trees and Daffodils”

Dear Mom,

Last week I wrote about needles and thread and how you taught me to sew. I also shared photos of some of the “creations” you, Molly and I made.

Our blog friends enjoyed your sewing (and teaching) talents, and many of them shared their own experiences.  Today, I’m going to share a few of their stories, Mom, because they add another talent that you, Molly and I love: writing.

Listen as I read these seeds of wonderful stories to you, and imagine the characters, the settings and the lessons :

From Jenny Pellett: Those embroidered flowers reminded me of the little tray cloths stitched by my grandmother during the war. She taught my mother and together they would while away the hours in the air-raid shelter. Mum still has them, together with some lace-edged handkerchiefs, the colours of the threads still vibrant. Heirlooms in the making.

From Rod, our Angelican priest friend in Canada: Your post reminded me that my mother taught Mugwump (my brother) and me many practical skills. As boys we learned to cook full meals – including Sunday roast, to iron, do the washing, sew on buttons (mum hated sewing on buttons, so we were on our own once taught). She also taught us leadership and commitment – and of course, love. Later she taught me to drive. So much for which to be thankful.

From my good friend Helen Armstrong in Colorado: My mother gathered all 7 of “the club” girls on our street, gave them cigar boxes with material, needles, pins, etc., and showed us how to make clothes for our dolls.  We met every week and sat on the curb in front of our house, all lined up.  After a whole summer of making one outfit, we then put on a doll play in our basement w/ sheets hanging as curtains for the stage over clothes line. The steps to the basement was where the audience sat; we sold tickets for a nickel to our production.  All the siblings were made to come to our show.

From Andrew Hardacre: Well I never learned to sew but my mother did get me to try and knit once. She did however give a love of tennis. In the 1960s she still had the old wooden ‘spoon’ of a tennis racket that she had played with many years before. Still in a press. And I learned to play with that. Parents never stop teaching us and as I frequently say, over the years I think I have turned into my father. Not such a bad thing all things considered.

And from Diana Stevan: My mother was also talented with her hands, crocheting, cross stitching, knitting but those are skills she didn’t pass on. However, I was left with the image of woman, well rounded, one with humor, a love of life, and a generosity of spirit. She was always there for her family in too many ways to enumerate and I was blessed to have her as my mother. I’m now writing a story of her beginnings during World War I in Czarist Russia, her tough childhood, and the arduous and courageous journey she and her family took to Canada. It’s my way of keeping her flame alive.

Aren’t these great stories, Mom?  Can’t you picture each story unfolding?

Today I join Jenny, Rod, Helen, Andrew, Diana, and grateful sons and daughters everywhere whose mothers taught us so many wonderful, helpful and hopeful skills.  (And for Tracy Karner, who has been embroidering a tablecloth for 3 years, keep up the good work, and when it’s finished, share pictures.  And Robyn Graham, who’s asked for a sewing machine for Christmas to do some special creating, we want to see project photographs!)

Teaching children and grandchildren to sew, paint or write is a gift they'll remember. But wait until their little minds--and hands--are ready for the lessons!

Teaching children and grandchildren to sew, paint or write is a gift they’ll remember. But wait until their little minds–and hands–are ready for the lessons!

Pikes Peak, our westside view. Remember: on cold winter days and nights, it's a perfect time to sew, write...create!

Pikes Peak, our westside view. Remember: on cold winter days and nights, it’s a perfect time to sew, write…create!

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Filed under art, art projects, CO, Dementia/Alzheimer's, Fort Scott Kansas, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, sewing, writing

WRITING OUR OWN WORDS

Corn stalks at evening. (All photos by Marylin Warner)

Corn stalks at evening. (All photos by Marylin Warner)

 

 

 

 

Snowy Pikes Peak.  These two photos were chosen to fit with Mary Shepherd's Haikus below.

Snowy Pikes Peak. These two photos were chosen to fit with Mary Shepherd’s Haikus below.

Dear Mom,

Last week’s post—“Dancing In The Dark”—received many comments and emails about sleepwalkers who were understood or misunderstood, who were glad they had sleepwalked or wished they hadn’t.

Several years after I fell and cut my leg while sleepwalking, I asked if you were going to write about it in a poem or a story.  When I asked, I don’t know if I hoped you would write about it…or hoped you wouldn’t.

You were sitting at the table, typing and retyping some of the stories and articles you’d written in long hand in your notebook.  You looked at me, smiled and shook your head. “No,” you said. “You should be the one to write about it. It’s your story.”

It took me many years to finally write about that night of dancing in the dark, and you were right. It was my story to tell, in my own time and my own words.

This week, because you can no longer write—nor even remember—your poems, I’ll post them here for you.  I’m just the typist, copying them from pages in your writing folders. The words are yours.

Two Haikus, Two Seasons    (Mary Shepherd, circa 1980)

Little black birds swoop,

Flitting and dancing near earth,

Swarming on corn stalks.

                                                    Whiter than lamb’s wool

                                                     Snow shimmers on mountain peaks

                                                     Buffeted by winds.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next poem is one of my favorites.  Six lines show your love and appreciation of all children.  In your opinion, the common ground among all people is their children. This poem later grew into more writing about children you had met in China.

Common Ground       (Mary Shepherd, circa 1990)

There is common ground among people,

Wherever they are in this big world,

Who gaze into eyes of the children,

No matter the culture or color,

And see there the love of the parents

Who know that their children are priceless. 

November 10 is Forget-Me-Not Day, Mom.  It was originally set up as a special day to remember family and friends who had grown apart or died during the previous year.  On this day and every day, although you have forgotten much of your life and your writing, your family has not forgotten you.

Mary's great-grandson "planting."

Mary’s great-grandson “planting.”

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Filed under autumn lessons, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, writing

TYPHOID MARY KEEPS WRITING

This came as part of a promotion for a writing course. (All pictures by Marylin Warner)

This came in the mail as part of a promotion for a writing course. (All pictures by Marylin Warner)

And "Oh, The Places Writing Will Take You"!!!

And “Oh, The Places Writing Will Take You”!!!

Dear Mom,

I received another mail offer for a writing course.  On the mail-in sign-up card there was a place to attach the Growing Up by Marylin Warner sticker (see picture above).  This writing gimmick made me laugh because I remember what happened to you.

In 1965, you signed up for a writing course in children’s short story writing. After you mailed the check (and it wasn’t a cheap course), you received the book, workbooks and assignment sheets, and you began working seriously at the dining room table. Weeks later when you mailed off the first completed short story assignment, our family celebrated by having coconut cream pie for dessert after dinner. It was an exciting time!

You waited for a reply.  And waited.  Finally, several months later, you wrote a nice note to your assigned teacher, asking him if there was a problem. The program director answered your note, sadly informing you that your teacher had died in an accident.

You were given the name of a new teacher.  You retyped the story and mailed it in. No special dessert this time, just a quiet, hopeful re-send of an assignment.

Less than a month later, you were informed your second teacher died of a heart attack.

The director promised to find you another teacher, but you wrote back and pleasantly suggested they not push their luck. They refunded your money, and when the check arrived you laughed and said, “At least they didn’t make it out to Typhoid Mary Shepherd.”  You said you hoped the story wasn’t so bad it killed the teachers…or made them want to kill themselves.

You never signed up for another course by mail. But you didn’t give up writing, either. Instead, you worked with local writers and helped form the writing group that each month provided poems, essays and stories to be printed in “The Writers’ Bloc” of THE FORT SCOTT TRIBUNE. You and I attended one- and two-day conferences at Avilla College and Bethel College, and we challenged each other to make submissions and enter contests. (For a brief description of our writing, click on About Us at the top of the blog.) In honor of your many years of encouragement to writers, on this blog I’ve sponsored several no-fee writing contests that paid cash prizes for the winning entries.

With writing setbacks, like everything in your life, Mom, you found a way to make the best of even a bad situation. You refused to give up and encouraged others to keep trying, too. You may not remember any of this from your life, but I do. And so do the many others you’ve encouraged.  Together, we thank you.

Some of my favorite writing references and inspirations.

Some of my favorite writing references and inspirations.

Have fun with the process! Here's the place mat I had made for Mom.

Have fun with the process! Here’s the place mat I had made for Mom. She loved it! (I had one made for my dad that said “World’s Greatest Grandpa”–this was before Jim became the very-best-ever Grandpa!)  Have some fun.

_______________________________________

Darla McDavid’s “Darla Writes” is a superbly helpful writing blog. Her post this week is a must-read for writers of all levels and stages of their writing careers.  UCLA basketball coach John Wooden grew up on a small farm in Indiana, and his father’s 7-point creed applies perfectly to the writing life.  This is an inspiring post!  http://www.darlawrites.com/john-wooden-creed-writing-life/

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Filed under celebrations, Dementia/Alzheimer's, Fort Scott Kansas, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, writing

WHAT BUILDS US UP INSIDE

"Forgetful Jones" Muppets cowboy character

“Forgetful Jones” Muppets cowboy character (photo credit: Muppet Wikia)

My mom’s 95th birthday was July 12, the same birthday as Henry David Thoreau’s. (The same day, not the same year.)

Monday, July 15th, is the birthday of Forgetful Jones, a Sesame Street Character. Forgetful Jones is a cowboy who has two horses ~ Buster, and buster’s brother Whatshisname. Laurent Lin, Muppet workshop builder, said, “Forgetful Jones…brought out more of the simple, sweet side of Richard…” (Richard Hunt was Forgetful Jones’ performer/voice.)

Maybe Forgetful Jones had the same type of dementia my mother has, because she also brings out the simple, sweet sides of many people—myself included—even now when she can’t remember who people are, where she is, or what day it is.

My mother’s memory is confused, but her gentle temperament remains.

By definition, memory is “… a person’s power to remember things; the mind regarded as a store of things remembered.” Lately, I’ve been very interested in what others have to say about memory. Here are some of the quotes I’ve found by writers. (Sorry, no doctor, psychiatrist or nurse quotes. I was not part of the medical profession; I was an English, literature, speech and writing teacher.)

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” ~ Mark Twain

“One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.” ~ Rita Mae Brown

“Touch has a memory.” ~John Keats

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they really are.” ~ Marcel Proust

“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” ~Cormac McCarthy, from his novel, ALL THE PRETTY HORSES

“Memory is a part of the present. It builds us up inside; it knits our bones to our muscles and keeps our hearts pumping.” ~Gregory Maguire, from his book, SON OF A WITCH.

And for my dad, who died of Alzheimer’s, and my mother, who is losing the battle against dementia, this is my favorite quote about memories and life:   “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” ~ Thomas Campbell

Many years ago, before Alzheimer's and dementia ~ me, with my dad, my daughter Molly, and my mom (picture by Jim Warner)

Many years ago, before Alzheimer’s and dementia ~ me, with my dad, my daughter Molly, and my mom (picture by  my husband, Jim Warner)

"We shall be known by the tracks we leave." Dakota proverb. (Picture by Marylin Warner)

“We shall be known by the tracks we leave.” Dakota proverb. (Picture by Marylin Warner)

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Filed under birthdays, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, memories for great-grandchildren, writing

100th Post on “Things I Want To Tell My Mother”

1978 ~ Mary reading to two of her grandchildren

1978 ~ Mary reading to two of her grandchildren

2007 ~ Mary reading to her great-grandchildren

2007 ~ Mary reading to her great-grandchildren

Dear Mom,

Wow, May 4th is ONE HUNDRED posts on our blog!  Amazing.

Our first post was on September 1st of  2011. Since then we’ve shared stories about your life growing up on the farm in Missouri, raising your own family in Kansas, helping children through teaching, volunteering with CASA, and stepping in to help anyone who needed help.  We’ve held writing contests with cash prizes in your name—Mother’s Day Greeting Card Writing, Christmas Memories, and Poetry Writing—and we’ve shared some of your poems, essays and illustrated stories.  We’ve reminded readers of many unusual days on the calendar and posted inspiring quotes, favorite recipes and titles of books we’ve enjoyed.  We’ve featured friends and your great-grandchildren as guest bloggers, and we’ve shared information about Alzheimer’s and dementia.

We never missed a week, and some weeks we posted twice!

In the process, we greeted visitors and made new friends from all over the United States, from the UK, Canada, Australia, India, Israel and sixty-four other countries. These are readers who’ve laughed with us, cried at some of our stories, and cheered us on by sharing their stories. We are very grateful for all of them.

Today, for our 100th post we’re going to share some interesting details about May, the month of our celebration.

The Roman poet Ovid wrote that the month of May is named for the maiores, Latin for “elders.”  In 1963, President John F. Kennedy established May as Older Americans Month. This is a month to respect seniors and celebrate longevity, which includes you, Mom, at the respectful age of almost 95!

When I was in elementary school, on the last day of April you and I made little holders of rolled construction paper and braided yarn for the handles. On May 1st we picked crocus, daffodils and tulips, or if spring didn’t cooperate we filled the holders with small cookies and candy. I’d hang the little May Day baskets from the front door knobs of older neighbors’ houses, ring the bell, call out “Happy May Day!” and hurry away.

Next week, May 8th is No Socks Day for all ages.  The idea is to set your toes free and give your feet a breath of fresh air. Go barefoot and smile at the comfort of cool grass, warm sand or swishing water.

The next day, May 9th, follow up with Lost Sock Memorial Day. Search through drawers or behind the dryer, but if you can’t find the missing sock, take its lonely mate and give it a solitary use: as a dust cloth, a holder for buttons or coins, or make a hand puppet for a child or a chew toy for a pet. Or just dispose of it (gently, of course).

Next Sunday is the well known and widely celebrated Mothers Day, May 12.

A lesser known day is Saturday, May 11—Birth Mothers Day—which is more private. This day was originally set up for mothers to spend quiet moments thinking about or praying for the children they gave up for adoption…or for adopted children to do the same for their birth mothers.  It is intended as an anonymous tribute, and some houses of worship have special candles or flower vases set up for Birth Mothers to give prayers and thanks for the love and care given by Adoptive Mothers.

And finally, the last week of May is National Simultaneous Storytime, which we wish American parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians would vote to implement for our nation’s children.  In Australia, children’s libraries hold a special event where all public and school librarians read aloud the same book on the agreed upon day, at 11AM EST, to the children everywhere in Australia!

Well, Mom, this has been our 100th post. Let’s thank our reading friends and give them cyber hugs for sharing in our adventure…and then it’s nap time.  Next week is post #101, and we’ll need our rest.

2010 ~ Mary's great-grandchildren on farmer-type playground toys in Kansas (all photos by Marylin Warner)

2010 ~ Mary’s great-grandchildren on farmer-type playground toys in Kansas (all photos by Marylin Warner)

1983 ~ Alien children on Mary's front porch

1983 ~ Alien grandchildren on Mary’s front porch

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Filed under celebrations, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren, neighbors, spending time with kids, Things to be thankful for, writing

WHAT–AND HOW–WE WRITE

I require rescue

Help poster

Dear Mom,

Years ago, for your birthday I took you to a writers’ conference. We were walking around before the first session, checking out the bookstore and getting cold drinks. Posted on a wall was a hand written announcement about an upcoming workshop titled “Comming Soon…How To Improve Your Writting.” Yes, coming and writing were misspelled. And it’s was misused for its, plus some other mistakes.  You were so embarrassed for whoever had made the poster. I agreed, but I also didn’t want to point it out in front of others.  So we waited, standing in front of it and blocking the mistakes. Finally a lady came by and asked if we had questions. When we learned it was her poster, we quietly pointed out the errors so she could correct them. You even offered to help.

She laughed. It had been a prop, and we were the only ones who responded.  We received our choices of journals from the bookstore. The title of her speech later was “Why Are Writers Afraid to Help Each Other?”

You could have given that speech, Mom. One of the many things I learned from you is that helping someone else succeed does not take away from our own success. I watched you help children work on their spelling, teens write essays, peers work on poems and short stories.  You could write beautiful passages, but you were also practical and succinct when that was called for. If you were stranded on an island (see above) you definitely would have used stones to write the short, clear, effective message–HELP–and then gone in search of firewood and food.

April is National Poetry Month. Last week you shared your poem, “In God We Trust,” with our blog friends.  Next week, on April 10th is Encourage A Young Writer Day. If you were still able, you’d be the first one offering to help.  But since you aren’t able, maybe some of the rest of us will step up in your place!

I love you, Mom.

Marylin

Long message posted below a stop sign.

Long message posted below a stop sign.

Gannon makes words.

Gannon makes words.

"So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads."by Dr Seuss (all pictures by Marylin Warner)

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
by Dr Seuss (all pictures by Marylin Warner)

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Filed under art, art projects, Dementia/Alzheimer's, experiments, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, writing, writing exercises

A QUIET, STEADY FAITH

Mary Elizabeth Shepherd, age 94 1/2  (all pictures by Marylin Warner)

Mary Elizabeth Shepherd now, age 94 1/2 (all pictures by Marylin Warner)

The Shepherd family, 1962

The Shepherd family, 1962

Earlier pictures of Mary

Mary, 1938 and 1988

Dear Mom,

In 1980, you wrote “In God We Trust,” typed a final copy on your manual Remington typewriter, and entered it in an Easter contest. It didn’t win. In fact, one judge wrote on your returned entry that the poem was supposed to be about Easter.  I remember you studying the poem and saying you thought that was exactly what it was about.

I agreed then, Mom, and I still do. And deep inside, I think I’m probably not the only one.

Good job, Mom. Now we’ll share it with our friends.   Love, Marylin

"In God We Trust" by Mary Elizabeth Shepherd, 1980

“In God We Trust” by Mary Elizabeth Shepherd, 1980

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren, writing

TWO FACES, BRIGHT EYES, AND LONG TOES

grace eyes

mollys eyegannon eyes

Dear Mom,

When you bought the full set of the WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA, you taught me to be curious about details…all kinds of details about all kinds of things.  I’m pretty sure I was the only third grader who knew January is named after the god Janus. And according to mythology, Janus (Latin word for door) has two faces so he can look backward at the old year and forward into the new year.

I now use another technique for finding and learning information, Mom—the internet!  Oh, if it weren’t for the confusion of your dementia, what fun you could have! For instance, here are more details: January is National Braille Literacy Month, and maybe as a companion concern, it is also Eye Care Month.  January is National Blood Donor Month, and then maybe to give you strength to donate blood, it is also Hot Tea Month and National Oatmeal Month!

And this is your great-grandchildren’s favorite detail: January 23 is Measure Your Feet Day. They loved learning that  since their big toes are the same length or longer than the next toe, they supposedly have a natural advantage in skiing, sprinting, jogging, and other sports!

But this fact I learned from neither the encyclopedia nor the internet, but from you: January is National Thank You Month. When I was growing up, I knew that January was when I wrote notes to grandparents and other relatives and friends, thanking them for Christmas gifts.  I used fancy note paper and colored pens, and each note was more than just a quick Thank You. You had taught me about “writing conversations on paper” and expressing genuine appreciation.

That’s what this blog is, Mom, a  series of 85 posts (so far), Thank You notes I hope are like conversations written on paper. Your life has made such a difference in my life and so many other lives. I’m thankful for you every day of every month, and not just January!

feet frogkids feet

P.S.  Last week’s responses with favorite quotes were amazing—a warm Thank You to everyone who shared. I’m always grateful for the generous responses of blogging friends.

This week I also add a HUGE Thank You to Tom Stronach(@tomstronach), our wonderful UK friend who sent a link for the UK anti-Alzheimer’s/dementia brain drink. For more information:  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/01/14/anti-alzheimers-dementia-brain-shake-sale-_n_2470709.html

The site also has great videos on signs of dementia and caring for those with memory loss.  Thank you so much, Tom, for sharing this.  As William Shakespeare said, “I can no other answer make, but thanks, and thanks.”

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, making a difference, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren, Things to be thankful for, writing