Category Archives: birthday traditions

POEMS WRITTEN UPON THE SKY

birdhouse pole in trees

 

Our family home, built in 1954 ~ no trees, but lots of space, and opportunity for planning and hard work.

Our family home, built in 1954 ~ no trees, but lots of space, and opportunity for planning and hard work.

 

In my own home now, this is my favorite tree wall art of semi-precious stones.

In my own home now, this is my favorite tree wall art of semi-precious stones.

My brother and I, posed in front of the shell that would be our family home.

My brother and I, posed in front of the shell that would be our family home.

 

 

 

 

 

When our family moved from a wooded rural area in Missouri to southeastern Kansas, my parents built a house on a double lot that had no trees. My mother planted everything herself. Three gardens, two of them raised above ground; grape vines, flowering bushes, spring bulbs and perennials that blossomed until autumn flowers took over; a long border of regular, lemon and chocolate mint plants, and a total of twenty-seven trees. Four were fruit trees, and the rest were an amazing assortment of pines, blue spruce, maples, ash, oak, and elm trees. They provided shade and beauty, plus a sense of deep roots around the house my parents made their home for more than fifty years, until Alzheimer’s and dementia forced them to move.

Kahlil Gibran wrote, “Trees are the poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” The trees around our house were also my mother’s lasting signature on a barren piece of land.

I inherited my mother’s love of planting trees, signing my signature on Colorado soil that has a much shorter growing season. After Molly was born, one of her special birthday gifts each year was an aspen tree, rose bush or evergreen planted in the yard. Then when she became a wife and mother, a tornado ripped through their Kansas town. Insurance rebuilt and repaired their home, but did not replace the trees that had been destroyed, so our special gift to them was six red maple trees. Our family has a long tradition of investing in trees, and it began with my mother.

The stories she told us at home and shared with the children in the church nursery were often about trees, about planting and caring for them, appreciating their shade, thanking them for the branches that held nests for birds. And her lessons of trees always wove their way back to lessons about life. My mother chose her words as carefully as she chose what she planted in her yard. She knew she was investing in long term growth.

Our daughter, Molly, age 3, in front of one of her birthday aspen trees, with her dog Paige.

Our daughter, Molly, age 3, in front of one of her birthday aspen trees, with her dog Paige.

Our granddaughter, Grace, with our dog Maggie.

Our granddaughter, Grace, with our dog Maggie.

 

Grace and Maggie are both older now; how can you read a book to a dog unless you have the shade of a tree?

Grace and Maggie are both older now; how can you read a book to a dog unless you have the shade of a tree?

60 Comments

Filed under birthday traditions, Dementia/Alzheimer's, Fort Scott Kansas, gardening, lessons for great-grandchildren, making a difference, special quotations

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:

                                                                   

                                         

21 Comments

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

Birthday Sugar

Dear Mom,

When I was with you a few weeks ago, you and I ate cupcakes I’d bought in the bakery section at the grocery store.  You savored each bite, and we laughed as we brushed away crumbs and licked our fingers.  As I wiped your mouth you smiled and asked, “Is it somebody’s birthday?”

I didn’t tell you it was almost my birthday because, actually, it didn’t matter.  I was with my mom, and we were eating cupcakes together and laughing.  When a daughter celebrates like this with her mother, on some level it is a celebration of both their births.

Several days later, two days before Jim and I left to drive back to Colorado, he and Molly planned a special birthday dinner for me at a Japanese restaurant in Salina.  We sat around a big U-shaped table, watching in amazement as our chef flipped vegetables and meats on the sizzling grill in the center.  As a grand finale, in celebration of my birthday he put a big onion (why an onion?) on the center of the grill, squirted it with something very flammable, struck a match, and poof! it flared like a Roman candle.  As everyone sang Happy Birthday, I looked at the precious wide-eyed, amazed faces of my grandchildren (your great-grandchildren, Mom!), and the wonderful, much-loved faces of my husband, our daughter and our son-in-law, and I thought, “It doesn’t get better than this.”  Everyone was together, happy and healthy and hopeful, celebrating life.

It reminded me of the tradition we had for birthdays as I was growing up.  Birthday breakfasts often included something special–maybe Eggs A’la Goldenrod, cinnamon toast, or a donut from the bakery–or it was something simple and fast because it was a school day and we didn’t have time for anything too special.

It was at dinner that night when you fixed our favorite meal.  For David, I remember he liked shrimp for his birthday dinner, which was no small deal in Kansas in the 50s.  My choice was usually your meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and canned mandarin oranges and chunked pineapple, which made it seem like a really big deal.  I always loved your meat loaf, Mom, and while we ate dinner, the dessert waited over on the counter: a birthday cake, my cards and presents.  For a kid growing up in southeast Kansas, having such a birthday celebration on a school day, trimmed with cake and presents and laughter around the table, well, it just didn’t get any better than that.

You started the tradition, Mom.  Birthdays are celebrations of life, and the cake is the sweet reminder to be grateful that we’ve been blessed with another year.

The love and laughter of family and friends around the table, and the memories of others we hold in our hearts, are the icing on the cake, sugary sweet, rich with the reminder that nothing is better than a birthday.

Thanks, Mom, for then and for now.

Love, Marylin

8 Comments

Filed under birthday traditions, Cooking With Mom, memories for grandchildren