Category Archives: Grandparents

Mother’s Day

I suppose it comes as no surprise that I have a mother. Most people have one, with only a few notable exceptions. Even Joshua, son of Nun, probably had a mother.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I begin to panic. You may wonder at this strong reaction to an otherwise benign, albeit Hallmark-engendered, holiday.

The reason is this: beginning in March, Kathy and I began following a rather Spartan budget, trying to staunch the hemorrhaging of our cash flow, which we recently discovered. Knowing that we would want to celebrate such events, we wisely set aside some money for birthdays and even allocated $40 for Mother’s Day.

Unfortunately, I spent all of the budgeted funds on a gift for Kathy, leaving nothing for either her Mom or my own. In retrospect, I should have split it up a little more equitably — at least we could have bought them a valuable prize from the dollar store. Now, as the day itself looms, I cast about wildly for an idea.

I asked one of my cow-orkers:

Me: “So, got any ideas for me to use for my Mom, for Mother’s Day?”

Cow-orker: “What does she like?”

Me: “Gardening and writing, mostly.”

Cow-orker: “How ’bout a plant, or flowers, or something?”

Me: “Ummm, it’s gotta be pretty cheap.”

Cow-orker: (laughing cruelly) “Maybe a macaroni picture frame?”

I promised to revenge myself on my colleague, but the mists of time closed in, and I found myself reliving a memory …

When I was very young, I attended a pre-school. At the time, I thought it was because of my precocious brilliance and savoir faire. As it turned out, it was because the program ran Monday-Friday and offered three hours each morning that my Mom could have free. My brother was in school and my sister wasn’t yet born — who knows what Mom did in those precious hours? I’m guessing she was consulting for a ring of international fern thieves*, but it is just a guess. Those mists of time are pretty, er, misty.

*There is a story behind this particular suspicion, but not one I am at liberty to talk about so publicly.

As I recall, we preschool students were encouraged to express ourselves artistically in the weeks before Mother’s Day, so that we could present our mothers with a memorable gift. I worked my little fingers to the bone on a rather unique butterfly brooch … some would say that I succeeded a little too well in terms of making it memorable. I remember proudly bestowing it upon my Mom, secure in the knowledge that I was soon to be recognized as a major force in the jewelry design world.

Strangely, the brooch was never seen again. Ever. Coyly, I hinted that it might set off her outfit that Sunday for church, but no brooch. She went out on a date with Dad, but again, no brooch. Finally, I asked her if she was ever going to wear it, and I learned the tragic news: it had been … lost.

I was outraged. I could understand that such a valuable brooch could be stolen. Immediately I began concocting plans to catch the thieves and recapture the brooch … but how could it have been lost? She’d never worn it, not even around the house. Had my incorruptible brother been so overcome with jealousy, that he was driven to commit this heinous crime?

The mists of time lift from my eyes, and I see the world in a new light, although my cow-orker is still sneering evilly. I turn scornfully away, shoulders set with purpose. This wrong that was done so many years ago is crying out to be righted … I must make my Mom another butterfly brooch.

Cow-orker: Hey, Tim, why are walking with your shoulders hunched like that? Are you auditioning for a part in The Hunchback of Notre Dame?

Sometimes I am disappointed by the low grade of intelligence among my cow-orkers.

Later, I sat down to discuss this with my wife, and the tale took a nasty turn. She reminded me of the occasion, some two or three years ago, in which my Mom passed down the brooch to Kathy, as a retiring queen might pass down her tiara to her daughter.

“What luck,” I cried, “the brooch wasn’t lost after all! Mom probably really misses that brooch — could I possibly have it so I could give it back to her?” I implored my wife humbly.

She grimaced, blushing deeply. “Er, I don’t seem to have it anymore … it seems to have been … lost.”

My mind raced, calculating the time since my brother left the country last summer, and whether his movements could be traced the last time he was in my house. Could Mark have stolen the brooch, not once, but twice? Surely my wife must have lost the brooch recently, or she would have reported it to our insurance company already. My brother obviously needs serious therapy … let it go, Mark, let it go!

“When did you last see the brooch? Are there any pictures of you wearing it? What luck that we have taken so many pictures these last few years … it is sure to have been photographed!” I chortled gleefully, until I noticed the uneasy look in my wife’s eyes.

“Um, I don’t remember seeing it after your Mom gave it to me,” she confessed.

No wonder I had no recollection of her wearing it proudly; she isn’t usually very snooty, and it is the kind of thing I would have noticed. Maybe she didn’t put in a claim to our insurance company out of embarrassment that she had failed to secure such a valuable family heirloom in a safe place.

This afternoon, beads of sweat formed on my brow as I worked to replace the lost brooch. My stubby fingers screamed their lack of fine motor skills as the mists of time closed in again …

This seemed a lot easier when I was 4.
This seemed a lot easier when I was 4.

My little four-year-old heart was so excited about how beautiful and elegant the brooch would be, at least in my mind’s eye. I remember my preschool teacher pursing her lips in judicious assessment of my artistic ability, and commending me for my effort. Now, as I brushed away the mists from my eyes, I was determined to create a replacement brooch that would dazzle my Mom’s eye, one that she would be proud to wear on every occasion.

Brooch in my mind's eye
I figured it would look something like this, once I was done.

While I was constructing the Butterfly Brooch, Mark II, Rachel sauntered up to see what I was doing.

“What are you doing, Dad?” she asked.

“I’m building a miniature nuclear reactor,” I told her. Sometimes I’m a little short-tempered when working with my hands.

After I explained the history of the project, she asked how old I was when I made the first one.

“Shouldn’t you be able to make a better one, now that you’re 41?”

The mists of time are apparently rather persistent, because they closed in again. I remember that one of my preschool classmates, a young girl not known for excessive tact or discretion, had wandered over to the table as I added the finishing touches to my masterpiece.

“Your butterfly is all wrong — it hasn’t got any antlers,” she jeered, loudly enough so that every head turned to look at me. Red-faced, I mumbled that perhaps not all butterflies had antlers. A sing-song chorus began, “Timmy’s butterfly has no antlers, nyah, nyah, nyah.”

Sometimes the mists of time aren’t all they are cracked up to be.

As I look at my finished product, I am painfully aware that it has not lived up to the image in my mind’s eye. I’m struck by a possible parallel between the brooch and my life, and how my life has probably not lived up to the hopes and dreams that my Mom had for me. And yet, in many ways, I am living out my life as a reflection of who my Mom trained me to be. My sense of humor, my passion for justice, my stubborn tenacity in solving a problem — these are all part of my Mom’s legacy to me.

My new butterfly brooch
I never did get the hang of those butterfly antlers.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you! Come by anytime, and I’ll give you your brooch — I know you can’t wait to wear it to General Council. :)

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P365 – Day 104

In Kathy’s absence, I find myself driven to write a blog to break the silence. Perhaps her recent phone call explains my motivation:

“If you can lay on the couch in good conscience and read your book while there is no blog posting for today or yesterday, then go right ahead,” Kathy suggested. So here I am, taking up the sacred keyboard out of sheer guilt.

Truth be told, I would never dare to take up the actual sacred keyboard, that is, Kathy’s cool wireless keyboard. Somehow, in spite of the fact that I am the resident computer professional, her computer is the best and newest one, with the biggest monitor, and (much to my chagrin) the comfiest chair. I’m writing from a straight-backed chair at my own tiny desk in the corner, having (finally) outlasted the kids and their incessant Webkinz playing. Such idle amusements are not permitted on Kathy’s computer.

Today we celebrated my Mom’s birthday, cheerfully ignoring the fact that her birthday was on Wednesday. In keeping with her own character, and (perhaps) in honor of our recent attempts to reduce our expenses, Mom asked for work instead of presents. We piled into the van at about 7:20 this morning (shudder) and drove out to the Duckabush, where we spent about 2 1/2 hours pulling Oregon Grape fragments out of what seemed like acres of muddy hillside.

Mom and Daniel working on a stubborn root
We had a competition to see who could get the longest root segment — of course, mine was the longest, although Grandma and Daniel made a creditable effort.

We planted 20-some trees (Dad said they were Turkish firs, but I wasn’t fooled) with the help of Chaplain Ted, who has been staying out at the Duckabush and was duped into being part of this project.

David and Sarah hauling trees
David and Sarah were very helpful planting each tree and marking them with little orange flags.

As energies flagged, Grandpa entertained the kids with tractor rides (and promptly ran out of gas). We broke for lunch (hot dogs at the Gazebo) and stalled until the rain settled in. We played games and read stories and enjoyed cake, hoping that the rain would continue so we wouldn’t have to go back out and do more clearing. As is often the case in the Spring, the sun shone brightly while the rain poured down for much of the afternoon.

We couldn't find the elders, so we laid hands on it ourselves.
It turns out that playing with the tractor was a lot more fun than pulling Oregon Grape out of a hillside.

It was a fun day, and Mom seemed to enjoy it. I was very proud of my children, who did very little complaining or whining, at least on a per-capita basis. Joshua, Rachel and Daniel plugged away at the ground-cover removal, and Rachel kept a stiff upper lip about an outbreak of hives (apparently aggravated by the cold temperatures). David and Sarah worked with Chaplain Ted to plant a number of the so-called Turkish firs, and even I managed to keep my whining down to a low mumble.

Buried Treasure
Chaplain Ted shows the proper way to plant a tree.

I took a few minutes to walk around the main lodge of The Refuge, admiring the progress made since my last visit. The kids and I agreed that we disliked the yellow and blue outside wall coloring — funny that Grandma and Grandpa would put so much effort into designing such a beautiful lodge and yet neglect such basic asthetic matters.

Main Refuge Lodge
Grandpa claims that logs will cover up the unsightly blue and yellow, but we’re not fooled.

On the way home we saw the most spectacular rainbow, which, of course, I didn’t capture with my camera. It was a double rainbow, and it was very deep and vibrant with color — so much so, that there seemed to be two nearly complete rainbows mapped out in the bands of the primary half-ring. As we drove along, it seemed the rainbow ended just a few hundred yards away in the marshlands — we were tempted to go hunting for a pot o’ gold, or at least a box of Lucky Charms.

A rainbow on the way home
This is not the rainbow that we saw … it was another rather pathetic one … but I was determined to have SOME kind of picture of a rainbow.

When we arrived home, Joshua made us pancakes while I collapsed on Doughboy (our couch, not a slow-moving family pet). I was very proud of him — he is on dinner dishes duty, which meant that he had to clean up everything as well — he is a very diligent and cheerful boy who we are beginning to rely upon a little too heavily. As I struggled to wake up enough to work on my Sunday School class, he even decorated the downstairs with crepe paper streamers for Daniel’s birthday tomorrow. Truly, a delightful boy.

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Happy Birthday Mamie

happy b day

Happy Birthday Mamie!!! We love you. I’m so sorry we couldn’t be there to celebrate with you. It’s hard living far away. I could go on and on about what a wonderful mother you are (does everyone have a day or two??).

You have taught me how to love my children, support my husband, walk with Jesus, and be a good friend. You shared with me the love of reading and encouraged me to learn all that I could. You have loved me through the ups and downs of life. You give me wise counsel and weave strong bonds in our family even though I live miles away. You continue to teach me how to encourage and affirm people by your example. How often did you tell me I was a wonderful daughter and you were blessed to be my mother? What an amazing gift!

When someone asks me how I am able to be so patient with my children, I will always tell them that I had the most loving and kind mother who laid down her life for the Lord and her family. You challenge me regularly to be more passionate and faithful in my relationship with Jesus. When I think of how tirelessly you serve others, I am convicted to lay aside my selfishness and follow your example. You made raising a family and managing a home look easy, now I realize how hard you worked, without ever seeming to complain or fuss.

On your birthday, I send you my sweetest love and affections!

mamie and kathy

From the children:

Rachel (age 11) – Mamie is so fun. She’s awesome. I love the way she plays with us and watches and listens. I love going to the Inn and swimming with Mamie and Grandad. They stay in the hot tub with their books. Going to Texas was such a blast! It wouldn’t have been fun without Mamie and Grandad there.

rachel tx
Rachel lounges by the pool in Texas.

mamie and the girls

David (age 5 1/2) – Happy Birthday, Mamie! I love you! I hope you have a good birthday. I hope you come over in February. I love you really much. I like it how you play with me. I hope you have a good time with Grandad. Thank you for giving me presents. I miss you so much. I just want to go to the hotel and have a fun time. I’m becoming a really good swimmer. Thank you, Mamie, for letting me spend the night at your house a couple of times. I really like your house.


Daniel (age 9 1/2) – Happy Birthday! Did you get a cake? What kind? How many candles will you put on it? What kind of cake do you like? We ate some of Chandler’s birthday cake at lunch. I liked it. We went to PE today and had fun swimming. I remember when you taught me how to swim.

daniel pool

Sarah (age 4 1/2) – Happy Birthday! I liked it at Texas. I love you. I want to give you a hug. I had fun in the snow.


Joshua (age 13) – What I like best about Mamie is probably her selfless generosity. Nearly every time we visit her, she presents us with a bag filled with small gifts and candy. She also routinely invites us to spend the night with herself and Grandad when they stay at the hotel. This makes us feel very loved. Almost yearly she and Grandad either visit us, or invite us to visit them. I enjoyed every visit with Mamie, but I think my favorite one was the time we went to Maranatha. I love Mamie and I hope to see her soon.

joshua and boys

Joshua with Thom, Chase, Phil and Daniel at Marantha Camp in 2005.

Proverbs 31 describes my mother:

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Happy Birthday!

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