Milestones ~ Part Two

Truly few meet the milestone of reaching 100 years old.
So when one does, that is an event that deserves to be well celebrated.

My mother reached that milestone on May 29, 2016.
As a family, many of us celebrated with her on different occasions for nearly a month.
On June 25, 2016,
all of my mother's children,
and most of her great-grandchildren gathered to throw her a
fabulous festivity
full of
and fun!

Many memories were shared.
And even more precious memories were made.
Stories of family, the fun we had, and the faith we've shared were exchanged.

This milestone of my mother's one hundredth year was a milestone for us all.

I dare say none of us will ever forget the pride we felt for our much loved matriarch as she so graciously greeted friends and family from her chair beneath the shade of the globe willow my father planted so many years ago.

No queen on her throne could have been given more honor or love that she was shown that day.
This space, the home, the yard, have been under her domain for 43 years.
She has planted every tree, vine, rose bush, shrub, and flower that flourished beneath her care.
She nurtured this place of beauty that my father provided for her.
Where tables now stood for birthday guests, she once had a huge vegetable garden.

This place is home to us all.
The grandchildren will always carry a sense of home associated with this place.

What a blessing it was for all of us to gather in this place to honor the one who has shown us how to live life,
one hundred years of life,
in a way that builds community, family, and faith.

She is
the charming gardener who makes our souls bloom. ~ Mareel Proust

Pablo Picasso said,
Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist when he grows up.

In so many ways, my mother remains a young girl at heart.
This was never more evident during the birthday celebration then it was when the firemen with Engine No. 5 showed up with fire engine sirens blaring.
She was like a young child sparked with excitement when she heard her firemen coming.
She literally jumped up with joy.

I couldn't help but think of the irony of their visit when I mused over the events of my mother's life.
Mother's life has been marked by fire on more than one occasion.

When she was only about five years of age,
no firemen came
when she watched her home and all of her family possessions burn to the ground
on a cold winter morning
in 1921
in Woodland Park, Colorado.

Her family lost everything except
their lives,
their determination to build again.

My mother's pioneer spirit that she learned from her homesteader mother lives on in her today.
She just gets up each day and makes do with what she has and lives her life with hard work, ingenuity,  grace, dignity, intelligence, wit, good humor, charm, determination, and independence.
She leans on her God,
and by His Grace she lives by faith.

She says,
"I'm here not because of anything I've done, but because God has kept me here
and provided all that I need."

Here is her story through her own words.
This poem written by my mother was first penned twenty-three years ago.  She's added to it over the years.

Where Can All Those Years Have Gone?

Seventy-seven years I've been on this earth.
It's been a long time since the day of birth.

Where is the girl with dark curls so long?

The days of fun and games and song?
Where can all of those days gone?

Where are the days of school and boys?
I'd put aside all childhood toys.
Where are the days when the jobs came along
To pay for the things for which I did long?
Where can all those days have gone?  

Where are the days of dates and dreams?
Hours spent together in heaven, it seems,
With that special one that came along.
We both worked late, the nights were long.
Where can all those nights have gone?

We had a car but not much money.
We were man and wife and life seemed sunny.

We found then, we'd be three before long.

Mom died that year, but life went on.
Where can all those years have gone? 

We had a blue eyed baby boy, so sweet.
Bill worked two jobs to make ends meet.
Pop lived with us. We bought a house with a lawn.
Pretty soon a little Sally came along.
Where can all those years have gone?

The world was at war and Bill had to go.
Pop died.  I knew I'd miss him so.
Now just Rell, Sally and me.  I had to be strong.
But somehow life had lost its song.
Where can all those years have gone?

The happy day when Bill came home
I knew I'd no longer be alone.

His job was waiting; the children grew strong.
Then, baby Carol came along.
Where can all those years have gone?

There we five of us in that little house.
There wasn't room for even a mouse.
We remodeled the house - never did get it done.
Then, Suzanne is born when I'm forty-one.
Where can all those years have gone?

The moves started coming when Suzanne was two,
to Pueblo, Leadville, and Utah.  Boy that was new.
Our lives are quite changed by the people we've known,
by the places we've lived and the things we have done.
Where can all those year have gone?

Our kids go married.  We had grandkids and great.
We live in Grand Junction, in the west part of the state.

We've grown old together.  Done some right things, some wrong.
But, Lord, we're so thankful that thru the years we've not been alone,
that You've been along.
By Alberta G. French
July 1993

Now, here I am ninety years old
And there's still more story to be told.
The family kept growing with weddings and birth.
All through the years we said to each other
"When can we sit and just recover?"
Finally, we sat on the porch, each in our own chair
And looked at sunsets beyond compare.
One day God said to Bill, "come home."
So now I look at them all alone.
But, I'm not alone.  God is so near.
And friends and family are all so dear.
To God be the Glory is my song.
But where can all the years have gone?

Alberta G. French
May 29, 2006

Today is the 100th year of my birth.
The day I came to this old earth.

The days of fun and dolls and making mud pies,
The days of friends, both girls and guys,
Where can all of those days have gone?
I met Bill and married him.
Had children four.
Didn't want any more.
One day we moved out west.
Those days turned out to be the best.
Then one day God said to Bill "come home."
And some day soon He'll take me by the hand and say,
"Alberta, come along."
And then we'll no more have to wonder,
Where can all those years have gone?
Alberta G. French
May, 2016

No matter how much longer she lives,
I will never be able to think of my mother as old.
I worried about her on the day of her party.
She sat in her chair and visited with friends and family from early in the day until late into the night.

I kept asking,
"Are you drinking enough water?"
She'd look at me with that stop being so nosey look
 and nod at the ice tea she'd been sipping all afternoon.
"That's not enough water, Mother."
I once said, "I think you need to go inside for a bit."
"Why?" was her response.
"It's hot.  You look tired.  It's been a long day."
I got nowhere.
She wasn't leaving her party.

She bid the firemen goodbye with a wave and a smile mid afternoon.

She was moved from her position under the willow to the other side of the yard where we would eat dinner under the apple tree.

I couldn't help but think of a photo from long ago under that same tree.
Who could have known we would gather again so many years later to laugh and dance and play under that apple tree?

The kids were actually decided to reenact a photo they took under another tree many years ago.  Grandpa and Julie are were sadly missed when the new photo was taken, but all the rest were there.

Throughout the evening, we danced, we laughed, we passed a candle to tell of our wishes for mother and for our family.

We made many happy memories.
Mother stood to give us a few words and to thank us for her party.

I must admit that I had eyes filled with tears.
I am sure I was not alone when I listened to her in awe.
I thought to myself how blessed we all are by her life and legacy.
I worried a bit about the party being too much for her, but then I thought,
"There she is with a bit of chocolate on her white pants, 
a smile on her face, 
speaking with wisdom, strength, and competency,
completely cogent,
adding a bit of wit to her words,
surrounded by a loving and adoring family."
 How could anyone ask for more than having a day like this  after living
36,500 days of life?

Wait there is more.
The day ended with a bang.
There were fireworks!

Mother's 100th birthday was celebrated well.
Very well.


a mixture,
a collection,
a mixed bag,
a rag bag.
A blog post
becomes a collection of thoughts and activities when one has been 
away from blogging for over a month.

Where to start?

I had a birthday while I've away from blogging.

Daughter Amy and granddaughter Hannah came to help me celebrate.
We also celebrated Amy's birthday which is usually five days after mine.
Every four years there are six days between our special days.
I was born on February 28.
I gave birth to Amy on March 5.

Amy and Hannah brightened my birthday by being with me to celebrate,
and Amy brightened the house by putting together this vibrant and colorful birthday bouquet
which I enjoyed for days.
My son-in-law had to touch the flowers to see if they were real.
Thanks again, Amy.

All the kids sent me a Mother's bracelet that came from Sheridan and Ryan's shop, Hip & Humble.
I just love it!

After Amy and Hannah left for home, Jim and I took advantage of the beautiful weather we were having by taking a walk under beautiful blue skies in the Garden of the Gods.

We had a lot of cake back at the house, so Jim's daughters, their husbands. and children came over to help me celebrate later in the evening.

The next day, Jim drove me to Denver for a doctor's appointment.
After the appointment, we drove out to tour Amy's place of employment, a data storage center.
Once we passed security, we had to go through this gate to get to the front door where Amy met us.

We were very impressed by the entire operation that happens at such a place.
It was all quite interesting.
Amy is the company's human resources generalist.
The girl actually gave in and let me take her picture.
Mom's have to brag on their kids once in a while.

March has been such a busy month.
It seemed I lived at National Jewish Health during March as I was having many tests done.
I won't bore you with details.  I just had a lot of GI testing for chronic problems.
I am doing well at the moment and feeling good.
That is the good news.


I've attended way too many funerals this past month.
One was for the mother of a friend.
One was a heartbreaking one of a young man whom had been a student when my husband was principal.   He was the victim of a senseless act of violence.

I also serve on the funeral committee at our church.
This last month, we've unfortunately been hit by quite a few deaths in our church.
Our committee puts on a reception for the family and other attendees after the funeral service.
This means that we usually work five or six hours putting it together and cleaning up afterwards.
The ladies on the committee have become very close,
and we have a lot of fun together behind the scenes.
At one funeral earlier this month, I was in charge of making the coffee.
The coffee maker malfunctioned.
Actually, the coffee machine was fine,
but the maker of the coffee (that would be me) put the wrong size carafe under the machine.
I had a huge mess on my hands.
Let's just say coffee was going everywhere, and it kept on flowing before I figured out what to do: forget about cleaning  up the mess and get another pot under the machine.
Then I cleaned up the mess.

We serve because we have served by others when we lost loved ones.
Now, we are giving back.
It is good to serve others during their times of bereavement.


Two weeks ago, I hosted for my high school girlfriend get together.
Thank heaven's EH co-hosts with me!
I get so scattered getting everything ready that I am useless.
EH comes in and helps me set things up, get the food served, and she even stays and helps clean up.
She keeps things together while I flit around losing my mind.

The time with the girls is a celebration of fun, friendship, and food.
This time we had fabulous Mexican food.
As is our tradition, we gathered to lift a Margarita toast to those dear friends that are now departed.
Then, we feasted on homemade tamales, green chili, enchilada casserole, and the most amazing flan cake.  There were veggies, and chips and dip, cheese cake, too.
Needless to say, we had quite a feast.

Before we ate, we took our group photo on my front porch.
I used the automatic self timer on my camera for the first time.
Note that I barely got to my spot in the group before the camera took the picture.  
I'm just glad I didn't knock over the tripod.

I love these girls!
We are all so blessed to have each other.
Our friendships become richer and more priceless with each passing year.


Jim and I took a road trip to see my mother last week.
I hadn't been over to see Mother since September.
Since she lives on the other side of the Rocky Mountains, I no longer make the trip in winter.
After checking the weather forecast, we determined the best day to make the trek.
On the day we left, snow started falling in the mountains.
I suggested a more southern route which my husband thought seemed too far out of the way.
In the end, he took my suggestion.
Terrible snow storms that included wind, blizzard like conditions, caused road closures on the route we usually take.
Thankfully, no snow fell on us, and we had very little traffic.

I'd not told mother we were coming until we left home because I didn't want to disappoint her in case weather prevented us from making the trip.
She seemed so happy and quite surprised to learn we were coming.

The morning after our arrival, I snapped this photo of Mother.
This photo captures so much about her.
She is enjoying her coffee and the newspaper as she does every morning.
The coffee cup says CSHS on it and has a image of her high school on it:
Colorado Springs High School.
Her green thumb is evidenced by the gorgeous orchids on her table.
I gave her those orchids last year for her birthday.
She'd never grown orchids before, but that didn't stop her from keeping them blooming a year later.
The painting on the wall is one she painted.
The smile shows she is engaged and engaging.

She tells me all the time that she isn't going to let anyone one do for her what she can do for herself.
She often tells me she gets up and cooks herself an egg and bacon every morning.
"I cook a real meal. I don't just pour cereal in a bowl.  I make a meal."
"If I stopped doing for myself I'd be done."

I asked if she needed to go shopping.
She did.
She needed make-up.
So, she got her spring coat on and off we went to the mall.

This woman, my amazing mother, will be 100 years old in May.

She has a new walker that allows her to get around better than when she uses a cane.
She stood up straight and tall and pushed that walker through the mall.
In my mind, I heard her short quickly paced high heel clad steps walking down the sidewalk in front our home when I was child as she came home
from Wednesday evening choir practice at the church in the next block.

Straight and and tall, all 4'10" of her tiny frame stepped out at a pace that amazed me as she pushed that walker.
Again, an image came to my mind.
I saw her pushing a baby buggy down the street towards the bus stop, clad in high heels, walking at a fast clip, she was going to town to do some shopping with my baby sister in the buggy,
and myself at her side.

This day, all those years later, we had lunch at the mall where she commented on hair styles and clothing styles.  She notices such things.  She's up on all the styles.  She doesn't like some of them.  I wonder if anyone even knows what style is these days.

Then we went to buy her makeup.
She said she needed one more thing while we were there.
She was out of Chanel No. 5 perfume and needed to get a new bottle.

Yes, that is my amazing mother.


Today is Good Friday.
It was warm this morning.
I went out dressed in a light sweater and slacks and flats with no stockings as I went to the store.
This evening when we went to dinner, I was dressed in winter pants,  a warm sweater, and boots.
I put on my long wool dress coat that I had not put on all winter to wear to Good Friday services.
It was snowing like crazy all through dinner.
We actually had thunder snow where it was thundering and snowing at the same time.

We missed Good Friday services because of the weather.
It just didn't make sense to go out for night services on a night like this.

On Wednesday, we were snowed in due to a blizzard.
Earlier today, before the snow hit, I went out to buy groceries.
I've leaned to get to the store early when snow is in forecast.
I'm not sure if my daughter and her family will make it down on Easter because of the forecasted storms, but I thought I'd better plan as if she were coming.

I picked up the last of the asparagus at the store.
I picked up one of the last six hams that were left in the store.
I got the last of the daffodils; there weren't even a dozen in the last few I grabbed.
They had plenty of eggs which I needed.
Thank heavens, they also had plenty of jelly beans.
I love jelly beans.
The store manager told me that he'd not gotten shipments in for the end of the week
due to storm early in the week.

As I left the store, the parking lot was filling up fast.
I was glad I made it there relatively early.

I don't think we will have an Easter egg hunt on Sunday.
It would be hard to find eggs in all this snow.

Happy Easter!


My Mother ~ An Inspiration

My mother is a beautiful woman.

Of that there is no doubt. 
I must have been only about four or five years old
when I found myself studying this portrait of her.  
I was struck by her beauty.
I remember placing the framed image back on her dresser, running into the kitchen where she was working.  I then ran back to her bedroom and took the portrait off of the dresser.  
Taking it to her, I said,
 "Momma, did you know how pretty you are?"

Over the years, I come to admire so much more than just her beauty and style.
It has been many years since I was a child  dressing up in her size four and half high heels.  
I never did fit into those shoes.
My feet were much bigger than hers.
Now, I see so much more in her than I once did.

My mother will turn 98 years old at the end of this month.
She lives six hours away from me.
This past week, I was able to spend just a few hours with her
 as we drove home from a trip to see grandchildren.

While I was with her,  I went out into her yard to dig up some
Lily of the Valley.
I wanted to bring them home to plant in my yard.
These plants originally been transplanted by my mother 
after she dug them from my grandmother's yard over forty years ago.
I wanted to return those plants to Colorado Springs.
I wanted them to grow in my yard.
Lily of the Valley were in my mother's wedding bouquet.
Lily of the Valley were in my wedding bouquet.

I was surprised to see those beautiful pearl shaped white flowers in bloom 
when I went to the side of the house.
I decide to pick a bouquet for Mother.

While I was with her earlier this week, I was able to deliver her Mother's Day Card to her in person.
The front of the card said,
Sooner or later, we all quote our mothers.
Inside the card, the message said,
See, I was listening.

I wrote:
I am also watching.  
I continued to write her a note telling her she is an inspiration.

Yes, I'm taking notes on how to age with grace and beauty.

Mother had tears in her eyes after she read my card.
I faced her and put my hands on her shoulders.
She seemed so small.
She seemed so fragile.
Her once bright eyes seemed more cloudy than I want to see.
She said,
"When I gave my life over to the Lord and told Him to take control of my life, that made all the difference.  He has always taken care of me.  
Look how He provides.  
Before I get up every morning, I ask Him to take care of me, 
and He does.  
I don't worry about anything.  I trust Him."

She asked me to trust more and worry less.

She doesn't know how much I worry about her.
I do.

I wish she were not so far away.
I wish I could work in her yard, take her to the store, visit with her,
help her with the daily tasks of living.
She wants to live where she has lived for so long.
Who can fault her for that?
She is stubborn.
She is a woman with whom you cannot argue.
She is a woman determined to keep her independence.

She also is a woman trusting the Lord minute by minute.
He has taken care of her all these 98 years. 
She knows He's going to continue to do so.

Her favorite song is,
Because He Lives, I Can Face Tomorrow.
That is the anthem of her life.

She knows how to age with grace and beauty.
She gives me much to admire.

I love you, Mother. 
Thank you for all of the life lessons you have given me.
Most of all, 
thank you for allowing 
God's grace to shine through you 
as you have modeled for me, and for so many others,
 the walk of faith.  

* Note
My mother will read this post on her computer.  She is up with the times.  She is amazing.

Our Getaway - Part One

Summer is rolling on by with great speed it seems.  One often hears, "It's the 4th of July which means the summer is half over."  Towards the end of June, a decision had been made by my husband that was supported by me to go ahead and have major back surgery on July 18.  I had resisted making this decision  because I felt that we had not really had a very fun filled summer.  I have been ill for most of the early part of summer, and Jim has been struggling with back pain, so no matter how much I wanted a carefree summer, it just looked as if this year was not going to be the year where that was going to happen.  I especially wanted a carefree summer after spending last summer trying to sell a house and find a new home in which to live.

 Looking back on the past year, I see stress added to stress in our lives.  We sold a house and bought a new one.  We moved from one town to another.  Jim had surgery on his parathyroid.  I have had health problems and been hospitalized.  There have been family stresses and great concerns.  No one could deny that we needed a vacation from life, but a long vacation just was not going to happen this year.  So, we went on a short getaway.  That was a good thing and probably the best thing to do also.  Sometimes long vacations can be stressful.  Short ones can be just right.

We started our mini-vacation on Saturday the 29th of June.  We drove the six or so hours to Grand Junction, Colorado to visit my mom.  It had been nearly a year since we had been over to see her.  That is way too long of a time to go between visits when one's mother is 97 years old.

Mother and me
July 2013
Yep, this woman that is standing next to me is my 97 year old mother. Have you seen those commercials that ask, "Who is the oldest person you know?"  My answer is: my mother.  Amazingly, she still is able to care for herself, is very healthy, and has the same personality, humor, and awareness of the world around her she has always had.  Last year, she again only saw her doctor once for her yearly exam.  I'm not so sure I got her genes!  

When she saw the above photo on facebook, she said she wished I would have let her get her makeup on before I had the photo taken so her age spots wouldn't show.  And, yes, in case you are wondering, she is on facebook.  

It is hard to have her live so far away from all of us.  It is especially hard for my siblings and me as we get older to make that drive over the mountains of Colorado during the winter.  Thankfully, she has a good support system in place where she is.  Truly, I believe that aging in place the best kind of scenario for folks as they grow older.  I am grateful that so far, my mother has been able to have this experience.  

On the morning of July 3rd, my husband I left my mother's to drive to our vacation getaway spot in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  Glenwood is a favorite destination spot for the two of us, and we frequently extend a visit to my mother's by spend a night or two in Glenwood.  Probably the most famous attraction in Glenwood is the huge hot springs pool there.  With the aches and pains that Jim was feeling in his back, it was an easy sell to convince him that we needed to spend a few days soaking in the hot springs.  

I knew the 4th of July weekend would mean that we would not have an easy time finding a room for the holiday weekend since we had not booked months in advance.  Also, we had our dog with us, so that meant a room was even harder to find.  We tried all our favorite places, but they were either booked, or they would not allow pets.  We then found a reasonably priced room for the 3rd and 4th and booked it before we left on our trip.  When we got to the place, as sometimes happens, we just could not see ourselves staying there and being comfortable and happy.  So, we started driving around to see if we could get into another place.  We decided if we couldn't, we would drive the four or five hours it would take us to get home.  That is how much we did not like the place!  

One of our favorite place recommended another place up the road from them.  It was the Starlight Inn.  (Click on the link to see the place.  I recommend it if you are ever in Glenwood.) They called ahead for us and told us a room was available.  We took it.  Actually, we really liked this place and will stay here again.  Our room was small, but it was clean, comfortable, and worked well for us.  Boston was happy.  We were happy.  The host was so friendly and accommodating.  We could walk to breakfast every morning to a great German restaurant.  We could walk to the pool.  We could walk downtown.  And, there was a great little neighborhood behind the Inn that worked well for walking the dog.  

I love Glenwood.  I love the historical old buildings and all the history of this place.  I've never stayed at the Hotel Colorado, but supposedly it is haunted.  My son and his family spent New Year's Eve there one year and watched the fireworks from an upper window while the kids speculated on whether or not they would see the ghosts.
Entrance to Hotel Colorado
As I walked down to take these photos, I excused myself because I was standing in the path of a woman walking by.  She said, "Oh it is so nice to see someone with a camera.  I have only seen phones snapping photos during my trip."

The State of Colorado flag flies over
Hotel Colorado

As I said, I love Glenwood.  I love it in the summer and the winter.  We once spent New Year's Eve here and watched the fireworks on the mountain while we sat in the hot springs with snow flakes falling on your faces.  It was great fun.  This year, we had hoped to watch the fireworks from the pool on the 4th of July.  Unfortunately, that was not to be.  Fireworks were banned due to fire danger.  This was a wise and prudent decision.  

There are actually two pools on this site.  The one pool is smaller and much warmer.  One can sprawl on the steps and soak away aches and pains in this warm, healing mineral water.  I find I can no longer tolerate walking in this smaller, warmer pool.  It is just too warm for me.  Jim loves it though.  I sit on the steps soaking and watching the people while he walks in the water.  We generally go to the pool in the evening when it is cooler outside because the hot water and sun combination no longer works for us.

When we tire of the small pool, and wish to cool off, we walk over to the larger, deeper pool and walk or float in the water. The water in this pool is also warm and comfortable even in the winter, but cooler than the other pool.   I was feeling a bit playful while we were there and surprised Jim's by hopping up onto his back so he could carry me through the water.  It is amazing how we can do such things in the water.  It would be a disaster for both of us if I jumped on his back on dry land!  He said I didn't weigh anything.  He is such a nice guy.  

As Jim and I spent time in the larger pool, I recalled that the first time I swam in this pool was during our senior trip when I was a senior in high school fifty years ago this year.  I reminisced about the trip as we walked up to where the section was where people were swimming and diving off the diving board.  I remembered that I had a new swim cap that had flowers on it.  Do you remember those?  They were so uncomfortable!  Back in those days, we were not allowed to swim in the pool in Glenwood without wearing a cap.  Two piece bathing suits were not allowed either.  

Internet photo
While we were on our senior trip many years ago, we ate lunch at the Hotel Denver which can be seen in the photo below located behind the old Denver and Rio Grande Depot.  The Denver and Rio Grande Depot itself also holds many memories for me.  I have traveled through by this depot by train at different times throughout my younger years.  My father, former Superintendent for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad for the Western Slope, purchased the antique oak desk that was used by the station master of this depot when the railroad sold the building.  The desk is now in my mother's home.  It is a magnificent piece of furniture of historical significance.  Unfortunately, I have never photographed it.  I will have to do so on my next trip home.

Denver & Rio Grande Depot
Hotel Denver
Glenwood Springs, Colorado

We spent two nights in Glenwood.  Both evenings we spent several hours in the hot springs.  We slept very well on those nights.  Glenwood Springs again rewarded us with a relaxing and memorable getaway.

Happy Mother's Day to My Mother

Happy Mother's Day to my mother.

She began life as an only child born to parents who were both 40 when she was born.

She grew up in the small mountain town of Woodland Park.
Her mother, a seamstress and a milliner made her beautiful clothes such as this hat and coat all throughout her life.

Mother with her pet hen
She had many adventures with her friends.

Mother and her friends on a camping trip

 When my mother graduated form high school, her mother made this dress and hat for the occasion.
Mother said it was made of dotted swiss.

My Mother on Graduation Day

Mother's Graduation Portrait
After my parents were married,
and after my father came home from World War II,
they bought a home in Colorado Springs.
This was my childhood home.

Easter Sunday
Daddy, Mother, holding Carol
Rell & Sally
Mother taught us much about life.
She taught us how to cook, clean, and sew.
She read to us.
She taught us to see the beauty of the world around us through an artist's eye
She played dolls with us, and I even remember her playing hopscotch with us.
She went fishing with our dad.
She planted gardens.
She even could help our dad remodel houses.
She was the one who did the painting because she was very particular about how a room was painted.
(She made the dress she is wearing below, and of course she made our nightgowns also.)
Mother reading to me and my sister
 My mother is a beautiful woman.
She has never lost her sense of style.
I see in the photo below that she has earrings on that she made one year.
I can faintly see the Christmas tree that she hand painted on ceramic before firing them in her little oven.

She only got more beautiful with age.

She is an expert gardener.  These blooms are nearly bigger than she is.

Mother is an artist.
Here is only one of her wonderful paintings.
It is of the Colorado Monument which you can see from her back porch.
This was my father's favorite view.  She painted this for him.

Mother continues to cook her own meals even to this day.

Six years ago, we as a family all gathered to celebrate her 90th birthday.
Here she is surrounded by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Mother is still going strong.
In the photo below, she and I are standing in a peach orchard near her home.
This photo was taken last summer when mother was 95.
She still lives on her own and is very involved in life.
Her blood pressure, pulse rate, and cholesterol are better than mine!
She will be 96 later this month.

She is a woman of great faith.
Her trust is in the Lord.
She is an inspiration to all who know her.
In the photo below, she is reading a scripture passage to her family on the occasion of her 90th birthday.

Happy Mother's Day, Mother.  
I am so blessed to have you in my life.

Aging in Place

Mother and I take time for a photograph
as we visited a peach orchard in Grand Junction

This weekend while I was visiting my mother in Grand Junction, Colorado, I learned a new term when I read an article on aging in a special section of the Daily Sentinel.  The term "aging in place" is one I had somehow missed reading about, or hearing about, before I read this particular article.  "Wow," I think to myself, how did I miss seeing this term before?  Since learning this new term, I learned it is the name of an organization and that there is a web site by the same name.

So what does this term mean?  According to the home page of this term means the following:  "Aging in place” refers to living where you have lived for years, typically not in a health care environment, using products, services, and conveniences which allow you to remain home as circumstances change. In other words, you continue to live in the home of your choice safely and independently as you get older."

Now, just because I hadn't heard the term, it doesn't mean I was well aware of the concept and its implications to all of us as we get older.  My mother is 95 years old and she has been aging in the same place where she currently lives for over 30 years.  She and my father moved to the Western Slope of Colorado in the 70's.  They loved the place and decided it would be where they would stay even after my father retired.  This decision was certainly theirs to make, but the decision has meant that they have never lived near their children and grandchildren.  As my parents aged, and after my father passed away, the decision of aging in place has meant that it is a challenge to visit the place where my parents chose to live so many years ago.

My husband and I also live a distance from all our children.  While I'm not always happy with this fact, I am mostly happy with where we live.  I am not ready or willing to move for a number of reasons.

For the past few years, my daughters in particular have made comments to me such as, "Why do you need this big house?  Why do you need this big yard?  There are only two of you.  You don't need this house anymore.  Why don't you move closer to your kids?  Why do you have to live so far away?"  I find myself feeling a bit entrenched.  I feel that I must go on the defensive.  "Yes, we need this house.  We like to get away from each other.  Its big enough to allow this."  The rebuttal, "Really.  You each need your own office.  Why?  Neither of you are even working anymore.  It is silly that you each have a big office."  I dig in my heels.  "I'm not giving up my office, and I sure as @#)) am not sharing one with Jim."  I realize that I am starting my own argument for "aging in place."  I realize that I am having the same discussions with my children that I wanted to have with my parents.  I come from the generation where we didn't question our parents decisions quite so much as my children seem to do today.

As I said before, my mother is 95.  She doesn't seem that old.  She just still seems like my mom.  I see my own aging.  I see that she is getting shorter and shorter.  I see that she takes a cane when she leaves the house, but she is still just as sharp as she ever was.  She doesn't miss a thing.  She is up on everything.  She takes care of her house and cooks her meals.  She laughs at a good joke.  She even still wear shorts!  (And her legs and feet still look pretty darn good  She is proud to note that she doesn't have old lady feet.)  To me, she seems ageless.  

But on the other hand, she has aged.  She will age again this coming year.  Aging in place means that decisions still must be made so that one has the support need to accomplish this decision well.  

I'm still wrestling with what that means for my mother and her wish to stay where she lives, and what that means for my husband and myself as we choose to live where we do as we age.  I was deeply moved by a post that Jim Burke had on his blog today.  Jim Burke, my guru on how to teach English well, spoke of giving permission today in his blog where he is writing about "senior moments."  

We, my children, my mother, and my husband and I are all moving in a continuum of life.  We are all in different seasons.  We can't make decisions for each other.  We must give each other, and ourselves, permission to listen to each other.  This keeps us from becoming entrenched, alone, stuck in place.    

 "We must give ourselves permission to look for and listen to those who know the territory ahead, whose voices can assure us we will make it through to the other side of this season where the days fall like leaves too many to catch. We must give ourselves permission to still listen to ourselves and to live out all those stories we have told but not yet lived."  Jim Burke

On this, the last day of August, I am very aware of the seasons and passing from one season to the next.  

I recognize that I am moving, have been moving,  into the autumn of my life while I watch my mother in the winter of her life.  I hope we can learn from each other.