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June 12, 2011 | Stuff

We’re going to Kansas next weekend to bury my mother’s ashes next to where my father and his parents are buried. We thought about scheduling the burial for today, which would have been my parents’ 51st wedding anniversary, but decided on next weekend because that’s also when a family reunion will be held.

As part of the reunion festivities, we will get to see this house, which is 100 years old this year, and it’s where my grandmother grew up. I took this photo 22 years ago (I think that’s my Great Aunt Lindy off to the right), when I visited my grandmother.

I wrote a story about that visit for a writing class. I always wondered what happened to it, and I finally ran across it when clearing out boxes last year. It’s not brilliant writing, and the details may not be perfect, but I wrote it from what I remember my grandmother telling me.

Nov. 26, 1989 — This summer, I traveled to Kansas to spend a week with my grandmother. I had been working on family history, and I kept Grandma up late every night to tell me story after story. She recalled a bittersweet memory on my last day there.

We had spent the entire day driving around to several cemeteries so I could record headstones for my family tree book. Seeing the churches and the names on the stones brought back many memories for Grandma. We walked through the rows of markers, and as I paused for photographs, she reminisced.

Between stops at cemeteries, we drove past many farms and buildings she had known since she was a young girl. Each place opened a window to her past, and she shared her memories with me.

She told me of hiking across vast fields and encountering snakes and wild animals when going to visit neighbors’ homes. She told me about her parents and how they built a brand new house on the old farm place where she grew up. It was quite impressive at the time, because it was the only house with running water, a bathroom with a toilet and tub, and electricity. She sat up straight as she told me about it.

Our last stop was a church cemetery. In it was one little gravestone with the name Kathleen Suzanne on it. The date was March 21, 1950.

It was the dead of winter, and Edna went into labor. Her parents lived across the state line in Nebraska, and she had been planning to stay with them so she could deliver at the Beatrice hospital. But now the roads were covered with ice and snow, and her husband, George, drove her into town to the brand new Hanover City Hospital. This was her fourth child and quite a surprise. Edna was 39 years old.

A young, new doctor was in charge at the hospital when George and Edna arrived. Edna’s labor was very difficult and wasn’t progressing as well as with her other three children. George and Edna began to worry; the baby should have been here by now. They wondered what was wrong. The doctor decided Edna should stay where she was instead of making the trip to Beatrice for surgery.

The baby finally decided to arrive. Oxygen was needed. The hospital had just celebrated its grand opening, and the oxygen tank had never been used. There wasn’t a wrench to turn on the oxygen.

George scrambled out of the hospital and bolted down the street to the hardware store. Nobody was there, so he scanned the shelf and grabbed a wrench, praying as he raced back to the hospital that it would fit. The wrench fit perfectly, and the baby got the oxygen she needed. Little Kathleen Suzanne died the next day.

Grandma recalled the day when Grandpa was on his deathbed in that same hospital. He raised his hand and pointed at the wrench beside the oxygen tank he was breathing from. He looked at Grandma and nodded. Grandma knew he was telling her that it was the same wrench he had swiped so many years ago on that cold day in March.

Posted by Becky @ 1:56 pm | 4 Comments  


June 4, 2011 | Stuff

My mother loved lilacs. I like the idea of them (and they’re pretty in pictures), but they give me a raging headache if I bring them inside. Still. I knew Mom liked them, so I would put them in the guest room (we called it Gramma’s Room) when she came to visit. Our lilacs are in bloom now. They make me miss her.

Posted by Becky @ 8:00 am | 3 Comments  

Sweet fortune

March 21, 2011 | Family,Food,Stuff

We went to a Chinese restaurant with friends we visited over spring break. The kids loved the food, and they really looked forward to getting fortune cookies. They had lots of questions about where the fortunes come from, who writes them, how do they think of them and how do they know who will get them. We conjured up a table with a bunch of wise, old folks sitting around it and writing fortunes for others they’ll never meet. (Yeah, we’re a bunch of romantics.)

They wondered if the fortunes in cookies were true and meaningful. I said, well, they can be, and I told them about the fortune I’ve carried for almost 10 years.

I’d just had lunch with my youngest brother. I was up visiting from Florida, just a couple of months after moving back to the States from Norway, hoping his second daughter would be born before I returned home. He looked at my fortune and said, of course, we know what that’s about, right? His baby. I said, aw, hell no. We know that one’s coming. This one’s about my baby.

A year later, almost to the day, my son was born. My dear, sweet boy … the child I wanted for so long.

I tend to crank up the superstition when things seem hopeless. So, yeah. That last one up there about hard work paying off? I’m hoping that has significant meaning soon. I think I’ll hold on to that one. We’ll see what happens.

Posted by Becky @ 1:19 pm | 5 Comments  

Be happy

March 1, 2011 | Stuff

Sometimes? The situation is not conducive to happiness.

Thanks for the smile anyway. And, wow. Would you look at Robin Williams? Next time, Bobby, I’ll have a hug, if it’s all the same to you.

Posted by Becky @ 12:10 pm | 1 Comment  


May 7, 2010 | Stuff

Cheers to Friday!

Posted by Becky @ 11:53 am | 2 Comments  


February 26, 2010 | Stuff

I don’t get Wanda Sykes.

I’m surprised at how much I enjoy The Deep End.

Who wouldn’t want an Italian villa?

Best thing about watching OL figure skating? Scott Hamilton.

My kids think I’m cool because I once sat next to a real princess on a plane.

Posted by Becky @ 11:10 am | 2 Comments  


February 24, 2010 | Blogland games,Stuff,Words

Magpie Musing makes me think. She also makes me happy. She’s inspired me (again), this time to think about what makes me happy. Here’s a list.

  • Books

    “Nothing is more human than a book.” ~ Marilynne Robinson, The Paris Review, Issue 186, Fall 2008.

  • Laughter
  • Hugs your body fits right into
  • Lists — making them,¬†crossing them off
  • Brilliant summer greens
  • Blooming azaleas
  • Angel-food cake
  • Making a good meal then sitting down to eat it with people I love (and some wine, of course)
  • Coffee
  • The orange sky that makes my kids say, “Mommy, that’s such a beautiful sunset! I bet you wish you had your camera.” (Yep.)
  • Music, music, music ~ How can you listen to any of these songs and not at least smile? Say Hey (I Love You), Michael Franti; Love Serenade, The Waifs; Sweet Potato Pie, James Taylor; How I do math: Una mas cervesa + Billy Bacon & the Forbidden Pigs + the Zoo Bar = One Mighty Tasty Tex-Mex Bluesbilly Taco
Posted by Becky @ 6:00 am | 3 Comments  

Rocking pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu

January 25, 2010 | Family,Getting sick,Iowa,Medical,Pharmaceuticals,Stuff,Weather,Winter

I just moved my mini-pharmacy from the kitchen back to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. I hope I didn’t jinx anything.

Posted by Becky @ 5:09 pm | Comments  

Sarah, you’re always running here and there

January 5, 2010 | Family,Stuff

This is a rat. Her name is Sarah. (Yes, by the girl who likes to be called Sarah when playing dress-up and pretending with her brother and sister.) It’s just about the cutest darn rat I’ve ever seen.

Posted by Becky @ 3:42 pm | 3 Comments  

I’ve never been frightened of being enlightened

December 29, 2009 | Family,Holidays,Stuff

They’re blooming!

Posted by Becky @ 8:44 pm | 2 Comments  


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