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I played with pastel-colored beads and wooden blocks with ridges, babyhood toys. Mother kept these oblong & round beads and animal-themed alphabet blocks for her grandchildren and great-grands. These sturdy toys entertained children of mothers they nurtured in their ministry for New Life for Girls too.

All of Mother's children and many of her grandchildren sat on this highchair and played with these wooden beads and blocks. We never played with plastic toys.

All of Mother’s children and many of her grandchildren sat on this high chair and played with these wooden beads and blocks. We never played with plastic toys.

These blocks are entertaining my sister Jean's grandchildren

These blocks have entertained my sister Jean’s grandchildren

To me, such simple toys bespeak innocence and the charm of a simpler life..

On this Mother’s Day 2016, these artifacts seem an apt metaphor for my mother’s contribution to our heritage.

Beads of Wisdom: Mom’s Mottos

  1. “Outen the light,” meaning turn off the light switch to conserve energy.
  2. “Ach, don’t talk so dumb,” spoken as a way to discourage silly talk.
  3. “You get what you pay for.”
  4. “Be sure your sin will find you out.”
  5. (Someone) “turned up Jack,” meaning disappointed or didn’t pan out
  6. “Be sure to add enough butter: Butter makes it better!”
  7. “Tie your head shut,” admonishing us to wear a bandanna during cold or windy weather, illustrated here with a flash of memory:

I paid attention, of course, and rushed out wearing my blue wool coat and pink and white polka-dotted bandanna on my head, eager to help Grandma set the table. In cool weather, I always had my “head tied shut,” an expression Mother used to keep us from getting a cold, she thought. But looking back, I think having my head tied shut is a metaphor for keeping out the world and all the corruption that can come in through an unlocked door, even a passageway like my ears.

 

Blocks of Faith

  1. Tied a nickel into the corner of a square, white hanky to teach me to give to God.
  2. Read to me from a Bible Story Book, one story for every day of the year.

BibleStoryInside copy  BedtimeBibleStories copy

The date on the flyleaf, MCMXLII, can be translated as 1942. In the years following, my sisters Janice and Jean and my brother Mark must have heard these stories too.

3. Prayed with us at bedtime: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep . . . .”

4. Led us in prayers of gratitude before all our meals. Usually, the prayers were silent.

5. Uplifted arms, palms turned upward, her gesture of acceptance, “Whatever the Good Lord wants.”

 

My mother wasn’t perfect. Whose is? She had moments of impatience, she sometimes complained, yet she did the best she could. I choose to celebrate those attributes of a woman who all her life sought to please God.

An invitation to you: Add words of wisdom or silliness from any source, including your mother.

 

Coming next: Vintage Photo in Need of a Caption, Part II

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