Tag Archives: Mary Shepherd

CELEBRATE THE LINE

My mom, 1918,  the baby before two more siblings followed.

My mom, Mary Elizabeth, 1918, the baby before two more siblings followed.

 

Mom in 1949, holding their baby daughter, while  Dad holds their son.

Mom in 1949, holding their baby daughter, while Dad holds their son.

Last week’s topic was “Secrets of Success.”

This week’s topic is “How To Turn Disappointments Into Celebrations.”

Many years ago, a college acquaintance had a strange solution for any disappointment she faced: she made herself feel better by finding someone who was more disappointed and miserable than she was. For instance, when her boyfriend back home dumped her, she cheered up when she found someone else whose fiancé made a big deal of publicly ending their engagement on campus. She called this strategy “Being Glad You’re Not THAT Miserable,” and it seemed to work for her.

My birthday is at the end of this month…and it’s a BIG milestone birthday. Although I know my husband, daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren will do something special, I also know my mother will not remember my birthday. Because of her dementia, she rarely remembers who I am any more or sometimes even where she is.  But it’s still sad that for the past seven years she’s had no memory of days that used to mean so much to her, including the day I was born.

Using the technique of my college acquaintance, I found these birthday disappointments of others: Paulina Porizkova was fired by “America’s Next Top Model” on her birthday, and actress Evan Rachel Wood said, “I’ll never forget my 24th birthday when my tooth got punched out…”   But the one that made me choke back tears was by actress/model/singer Amy Weber: “I lost twins at 14 weeks, and I had to have a D&C on my birthday.” 

I’ve never been good at feeling better because someone else felt worse.  The college acquaintance’s strategy didn’t work for me then, and it doesn’t work for me now. 

But I have found a way of creating my own happiness as I celebrate my birthday with my mother. When I drive to Kansas to visit her each month, I take along foods she might enjoy, fresh flowers or a plant. When I visit her each September, I take a cake or cupcakes. And candles. Sometimes ice cream, too.   And I sing “Happy Birthday to US” and light the candles (just a few candles…we don’t want a bon fire.)

Mom still enjoys blowing out candles, and she sometimes wants me to light them again so she can blow them out a second time. It’s our shared celebration—I’m the birthday girl; she’s the mother who gave birth to me—and at some point during my visit I tell her a story from when I was a child and she did something sweet, funny, poignant or wonderful. Usually she’ll smile and say something like, “That’s nice. Do I know her?”   She doesn’t know “her,” but I do.

Dementia prevents Mom from remembering when my birthday is or even who I am. Reality confirms that the woman who wanted so much to be a mother, and who suffered four miscarriages before she had her two children, went on to have three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. All of us are here because she didn’t give up or bury her disappointments by finding other women who had even worse pains and more sadness.

So for my birthday again this year, we’ll celebrate the line of life. We’ll eat cake, blow out candles, smile and celebrate all the lives and loves that dementia cannot erase.   Happy Birth Day To Us.

1978 ~ Marylin holds her daughter Molly, Mary's granddaughter.

1978 ~ Marylin and her daughter Molly, Mary’s granddaughter.

 

2005 ~ Molly holds portrait of Dad's mother as a  toddler for her own toddlers, Mary's great-grandchildren.

2005 ~ Molly holds portrait of her grandpa’s mother as a toddler for her own children, Mary and Ray’s great-grandchildren.

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Filed under birthday celebrations, birthdays, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations, Things to be thankful for

HOPE SMILES

A good daily reminder for the new year. (These two photographs by Marylin Warner)

A good daily reminder for the new year. (These two photographs by Marylin Warner)

Remember: "Good things come to those who work while they're waiting."

Remember: Good things come to those who wait…and especially to those who also keep working while they wait. (Or, to thank Judy Berman for this comment: “Good things come to those who hustle while they wait.” Thank you, Judy!)

Dear Mom,

It’s almost that time again, to sit down with pencil and paper and write a few New Year’s Resolutions. (Always use a pencil, so you can erase and make changes, right?)

You weren’t a big fan of resolutions. If I asked what your resolution was, you would say something like, “Each day I want to make things a little bit better,” or  “Every day I will think good thoughts about —–, or say a prayer for ——,” or “Every day I’ll be thankful for that day.”  The closest thing I found  to a quote about resolutions was when I was cleaning out closets after I moved you and Dad to your assisted living apartment and I came across an index card where you’d written this:  “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier…’ ” ~ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. And below that you’d written Yes, Hope really does smile.”

In addition to the messages under the pictures, here are three of my favorite hopeful messages for the new year.  Our blog friends are welcome to add their resolutions or favorite quotes, too.

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.” ~singer, musician Brad Paisley

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes…Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do It. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” ~ author Neil Gaiman

Ring the bells that still can ring.

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything.

That’s how the light gets in.”   ~Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

This year, tell your own story, leave your own mark. (Canyonlands Natl. Park. Navajo Tse'Hone--"Rock That Tells A Story") Photograph by Jim Warner

This year, tell your own story, leave your own mark. (Canyonlands Natl. Park. ~Navajo Tse’Hone–“Rock That Tells A Story”) Photograph by Jim Warner

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

GEORGE, ROSEY, AND MARY

George Eliot, pseudonym for Mary Ann Evans, was a novelist, journalist and translator in the 1800s

George Eliot, pseudonym for Mary Ann Evans, was a novelist, journalist and translator in the 1800s

Mary, between her sisters Wanda and Ruth LaVonne. Mom is wearing one of the hats she created...and gave up on after awhile.

Mary, between her sisters Wanda and Ruth LaVonne. Mom is wearing one of the hats she created…and quit creating after awhile.  She finally stopped wearing hats.

Dear Mom,

“It is never too late to be what you might have been,” according to George Eliot (pseudonym used by Mary Ann Evans, 1819-1880).  For the last two posts, we’ve been discussing sewing, embroidering, knitting, etc., and quite a few of our blog friends wrote that they wished they’d been taught to do some of those crafts.

The good news is that George Eliot was right: It’s never too late.

For instance, Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier, former football player for the NY Giants and the LA Rams,  later was also a bodyguard for Robert Kennedy.  Rosey is seriously strong and rugged, and he was one of the NY Giants’ original Fearsome Foursome,  so he caught the gender-sewing issue off guard when he added needlepoint and macramé to his talents. Some of his creations became so popular that there was demand for his patterns.

And now, Mom, for my favorite “never too late” story, let’s tell our friends about your freshman year in college. At the last minute you needed a long dress for a formal dance.  When you took your gown out of the clothing bag, there was a loose thread. You pulled it, and–z-i-p!–you unraveled the entire hem.

You’d learned basic embroidery and quilting when you made your bird-pattern quilt, but you’d never learned to hem a skirt or do any practical needle work beyond sewing on buttons.

Ever resourceful, you ended up using safety pins to hold the hem in place. And when you ran out of safety pins, you finished the job with masking tape. You said that when you danced, you made an odd-sounding rustle. After that, you told Grandma you were ready and eager to learn “real” sewing.

By the time you were married and had children, you could make everything from hats (see picture) to underwear (no picture available…) You even dismantled one of your long wool winter coats and created a little coat for me. You made it with a big collar, and I was truthful when I said it made me look like “one of those people who came over on that boat.” (I think I meant the Pilgrims.) You also made a little jacket for David out of the wool, but I don’t remember him ever having to wear it.

Pablo Picasso said, “Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not. ”

I would add this, Mom. You saw what needed to be done and asked someone to teach you the basics. After that, there was no stopping you.

Picasso also said, “The chief enemy of creativity is good sense,” and  you proved this point by creating hats, underwear, and Pilgrim-style coats.  But other than those few examples, you created amazing, beautiful and useful things.               Hats off to George Eliot, Rosey Grier, and Mary Shepherd!

It's Not Too Late!

It’s Not Too Late!

Popular theme of writers and artists: Create Your Own Happiness.

Popular theme of writers and artists: Create Your Own Happiness.

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Filed under art, art projects, Dementia/Alzheimer's, Fort Scott Kansas, lessons about life, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations

THREADING FLOWERS IN WINTER

Mom's Wild Roses stitchery framed in a 36" hoop (circa 1968)(all photos by Marylin Warner)

Mary Shepherd’s Wild Roses stitchery framed in a 36″ hoop (circa 1968)(all photos by Marylin Warner)

Marylin's 20"x26" framed Mixed Wildflowers, 1973

Marylin’s 20″x26″ framed Mixed Wildflowers, 1973

1988--Mary's granddaughter, Molly, age 10, creates Clay Hand with Weaving.

1988–Mary’s granddaughter, Molly, age 10, created Clay Hand with Weaving

Dear Mom,

I remember when you taught me to thread a needle. It was a big darning needle, which assured my first attempt was successful. By the time I was ten I could thread small-eyed, delicate needles with silk thread and do basic stitches on squares of cotton cloth.

During the spring and summer, we planted bulbs and seeds so our yard—and our vases—would blossom with the beauty of flowers.  During the winter, when you created poetry and wove sentences into stories, you also ‘grew’ flowers with colorful threads that adorned pillow cases and wall hangings.  Because of you, I could use your sewing machine to ‘create’ simple shifts and jumpers by the time I was thirteen, which was about the same time I also began to ‘hunt and peck’ the words of my stories on your typewriter.

It’s almost Thanksgiving, Mom, and I am thankful for oh-so-many, many things. But as the snow falls, the temperature drops and the calendar creeps toward the end of another year, I am especially thankful for my love of sewing, growing and writing. And many other skills, too, but those are another story.

______________________________________________________

Judy Berman of http://earth-rider.com/, is a writer, teacher and former reporter whose posts I enjoy and respect immensely. Recently she nominated “Things I Want To Tell My Mother” for The WordPress Family Award.  It has been a long time since I’ve accepted awards for my blog, but several writers helped me understand that the Family Award isn’t for me and my writing…it’s for my mother and the stories of her life.  With that in mind, Judy, I gratefully accept your nomination on behalf of  Mary Shepherd.

Many of the blogs I appreciate deserve this award, and several have already received it.  This is my mother’s award, though, and so I happily nominate these three whose posts and comments I have shared with her, and whose talents and messages reflect her own.

http://robyngrahamphotography.com/

Robyn’s photography of flowers and nature is amazing and inspiring, and she includes perfect quotes like this by Robert Mapplethorpe: “When I work, and in my art, I hold hands with God.”

http://darsba.wordpress.com/

Darla McDavid writes touching and real stories about her own family; she also writes helpful, specific and supportive posts for writers of all levels. This is a combination of topics near and dear to my mother’s life…and her heart.

http://viviankirkfield.com/

Vivian’s blog is a combination of opportunities for writers, ideas for parents, activities and books for children, and recipes for everyone. It’s everything my mother enjoyed before the dementia, and even now she samples Vivian’s delicious recipes.

wordpress-family-award

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Filed under art, art projects, Dementia/Alzheimer's, Fort Scott Kansas, making a difference, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren, The WordPress Family Award

A LICK AND A PROMISE

Am I the only woman who asked for--and received--a DeWalt for her 50th birthday?  (photos by Marylin Warner)

Am I the only woman who asked for–and received–a DeWalt for her 50th birthday? (photos by Marylin Warner)

clippers and saw

Repair basics (plus assorted nails, screws and wires)

Repair basics (plus assorted nails, screws and wire)

Dear Mom,

You always loved to fix things, and since I grew up “helping” with your projects, I learned to love fixing things, too. At a young age I knew the difference between a Philips and a flat screwdriver, and when to use wood cement instead of glue.  When I was twelve, I bought a tiny jeweler’s pliers at a yard sale, and you and I figured out how to tighten the clasps on all our necklaces and bracelets. And there was no rip in a shirt or skirt or coat that we couldn’t mend with your sewing machine.

You had two ways of fixing things around the house and in the yard: step-by-step logical repairs that could take hours or days; and “a lick and a promise” fix.  When one of Grandma’s hand-painted saucers was knocked off the dining room table, you fixed it using the step-by-step technique. When we were late for church and you saw the hem was coming out of my Sunday dress, you did a quick fix, a “lick and a promise” with masking tape and safety pins.

But when I used the wood-burning instruments to sear my initials and drawings into the wooden fence, along the window casings in the garage, and on my closet shelf, you reined in my enthusiasm for non-essential handiwork. Later, in college I learned Kaplan’s explanation of “Law of the Instrument.” “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

A few days ago, you fell in your apartment, Mom.  You were rushed to the hospital, and doctors determined that you had not broken your hip, but you had dislocated your hip from the socket. In spite of your love for “fixing” things, this is probably one of those times when we won’t complain if your advanced dementia prevents you from remembering what happened next. On that very afternoon, the orthopedic surgeon operated, and with three medical screws he secured your hip bone back in the socket.

There will still be physical therapy and restrictions and adjustments. But you have strong bones, or they would’t have even attempted this surgery.  And you also had excellent, capable doctors, and this was not a “lick and  promise” fix.

My bet is on you, Mom, and your innate appreciation for fixing things.  Nails, hammers, screwdrivers, Super Glue; whatever it takes, you’re a big supporter of doing your best to put things back together.

Mom, 3 1/2, with her older brother on the family farm.

Mom, 3 1/2, with her older brother on the family farm.

Mom at 2 1/2 with her doll baby. See those strong bones on them both?

Mom at 2 1/2 with her doll baby. See those strong bones on them both?

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations, Things to be thankful for

A GRAND CONTAGION

Art wall next to Old Colorado City Library in Colorado Springs.

Art wall next to Old Colorado City Library in Colorado Springs.

Web creativity by grass spiders in Abilene, KS.

Web creativity by grass spiders in Abilene, KS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Mom,

Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.”  But I have a lifetime of experiences that confirm that this is also your philosophy.

You don’t remember, but one of the many ways you passed on the joy of creativity was when we decorated our Christmas tree as I was growing up. If we got it from the tree lot, I usually chose a sad tree with uneven branches and bare sections, much like the Charlie Brown tree that came later. I knew we could make it beautiful, and we always did. Year after year we’d string the lights and hang some special ornaments, but your philosophy was that the best art was homemade. You applauded  when we cut snowflakes out of newspaper, created our own decorations from pine cones gathered in the yard, and tied paper dolls and small toys to the branches with ribbon.  Neighborhood kids sometimes joined in because the trees at their houses were fleeced or specially decorated and delivered from the green house.

In honor of all the individual acts of creativity you applauded, I’ve created a little test on who-said-what to share with our friends who visit this blog. After all, schools will soon be letting out for vacation, and nothing says Merry Christmas like a test!

Here are the choices:   A) Carl Sandburg    B) Mary Shepherd    C) Jack London    D) Henry Ward Beecher    E) Sean Connery   F) Pablo Picasso  G) Maya Angelou  H) Winston Churchill    I) Lou Holtz    J) None of the above

Here are the quotes:

1) “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.”

2) “You write your first draft with your heart, and you re-write with your head.”

3) “To draw, you must close your eyes and sing.”

4) “One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude.”

5) “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

6) “A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”

7) “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”

8) “Why, honey, that’s beautiful. You’re so creative. I love it!”

9) “The stone age didn’t end because it ran out of stones.”

10) “’No comment’ is a splendid expression. I am using it again and again.”

The answers are posted in the first comment box.

If you were asked to comment on creativity, what would you say? Do you have a favorite quote from someone else? Share it with us!

Tree sculpture carved from a dead tree. (All photos by Marylin Warner)

Tree sculpture carved from a dead tree. (All photos by Marylin Warner)

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Filed under "Christmas Memories With Mom", art, art projects, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren

AMAZING BIRTHDAY with Grace and Gannon

Hi, Mom,

Your granddaughter Molly and your great-grandchildren Grace and Gannon came to celebrate an early 94th birthday with you. They had a great time, and now they are the guest bloggers with their story. Here it is:

                                                                   

                                         

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Filed under art projects, birthday traditions, Dementia/Alzheimer's, making a difference, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren, spending time with kids