Saturday, April 21, 2018

September, 1942 Lost Postcards from the Road: Chicken & Cake, The Cabin, The Turnpike and The Apartment

My parents left Missouri for Connecticut in a 1936 Chevy with a thermos of coffee and a shoe box my grandmother had packed with fried chicken, chocolate cake, Ritz crackers and hard boiled eggs. The postcards were lost when I began the blog, but recently found by my brother.  As was their habit, they wrote postcards and followed with detailed letters and you will find the one following these cards in the link at the end of the post.  Welcome back!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

July 17, 2016 The Last Post

February 13, 2011
Hi Mom.

We are here with you and I hope you can hear me. When Bob called this morning to tell me that you had another serious stroke, we got here as soon as we could. I just keep thinking of what you said last night about  being the “last one”  and that it is now your turn, since Dad, his siblings, their spouses and yours as well  have already gone.

And thank you for telling me that you’ve been blessed with a wonderful life. Although you always did say that, now I know that it had special meaning when you told me last night.

We will keep our promise and spread your ashes with Dad’s. We’ll wait till spring, your favorite season,    when you and Dad would have been celebrating your birthdays and your 70th wedding anniversary.

Bob B. found a wonderful poem and adapted it  just   for us. He’ll read it when we’re all together.

Not a day goes by that we don’t think of you and Dad with a smile. Thank you for sharing your lives the way you did, for your gentle and steadfast nurturing, for your seemingly infinite patience, for the experiences you provided   for  us and for  so clearly and lovingly  demonstrating what it meant to live a life well-lived.

I hope you are fine. I know you are.

Lots of love,


Note to new readers: If this is your first visit, please begin  here:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

July 16, 2016 A Letter That Might Have Been: The Beach, The Birthday and Hospice

Dear Mom,

The other day I was thinking about how much fun we all had when you decided in 2009 that you would go to Nags Head. I know it wasn’t the same without Dad, but didn’t we have a good time in spite of it.  You told me that someday I'll understand  how good it feels to have your kids with you , no matter what their ages might be. I understand that now.  This picture makes me laugh because you said to Bob B., "Don't you want a comb first?"  He explained gently that this is what hair looks like after a day in the beach wind. Bob K. then said, "I combed mine. Does it look ok?"  You had a good chuckle and never mentioned the comb again.

And by the way, those shells you gathered weighed a lot in my suitcase and I think we must have forgotten about them because the other day I found them, in the basement & still in the bag that you used to collect them!

I know you felt lonely sometimes without Dad, but we were awfully glad that you continued to go out and have some fun. I don’t know who took this shot of you at the Brew Pub, but I think you look amazing for 89 years old!

Your 90th birthday in 2010 was  such fun. Do you remember opening that card and finding  90  one dollar bills?  What else do you get for someone who has everything!  Once you stopped laughing and dried those tears, I loved your comment, "Now I have tip money!"

The months to follow  weren’t as carefree, were they?  After what the doctor told you about your heart, your desire to never return to a hospital was so apparent. And that you agreed to have hospice care so that you could stay in your own apartment was really brave. I don’t think I’ll ever forget overhearing you on the phone telling a friend, “I’ve signed up with Hospice because I probably won’t be living too much longer.” And a few days later another call, "My great-grand children will be here tomorrow and it's the last time I'll be able to see them. They are cute as bugs!" I didn't want to hear that conversation but I knew it was true. During those 8 months, didn’t we have the best conversations! You told me so many wonderful stories and shared so much wisdom. I cherish those times more than you can imagine. 

You were hilarious when you decided you  wanted to see if you could still play a harmonica in spite of using oxygen and you did pretty well considering you hadn't played one in 85 years or so!  That you continued to sew and knit, and paint the things you saw from your sunroom window seemed incredible. You sure enjoyed keeping busy. I love this picture of you on the day that the Hospice nurse first came. You were listening to every word and you two developed the most wonderful relationship.  You   so enjoyed her visits.

Sorry this is such a short letter, but I think  this  will be all for today.  Tomorrow the blog ends.

Hope you are fine.

Lots of love,


Friday, July 15, 2016

July 15, 2016 A Letter That Might Have Been: That Cold November Day and Desiderata

Dear Mom,

I now know how you must have felt when all of a sudden your letters to Grandmother began only with “Dear Mother”. This is not an easy letter to write. We were all so frightened when we learned about Dad's fall on that rainy autumn day, but we weren’t at all surprised when we learned that he was out tinkering with the car at the time. That was something he always loved doing. I don’t think we realized how serious his situation would become.

I’m so grateful that we had such a good visit with him in the hospital the night before he died. Remember how he was as jovial as ever and we laughed when the nurse came in and told us he’d been singing Yale Glee Club songs to them!  I didn’t think our conversation that night would be our last,  but I find comfort that we were with him until the end.

Dad would love that we all walked together to “the glade” as you call it. He chose a wonderful poem to be read, didn’t he?  I know how much he loved that poem and he believed that it provided gentle wisdom in straightforward, uncomplicated terms. I think he was right.

    Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

    Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
    and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.
    Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
    they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain and bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism.
    Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love;
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
    it is as perennial as the grass.
    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.
    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be,
    and whatever your labors and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

    (Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952)

    This is all I want to write today. I’ll write again tomorrow. 

    Lots of love,


Thursday, July 14, 2016

July 14, 2016 A Letter That Might Have Been: The Stroke and Move of 2001

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’ve been reading your journal, Mom, and I guess sharing some of that might be the best way to let readers know about your stroke in 2001.  I am so grateful that you got home safely from As You Like It that night.  You were packing for Hawaii and so looking forward to that trip.

That was a scary time for all of us, but you inspired everyone by your diligence and hard work for recovery. I kept the notebooks where you wrote drafts of letters to your friends in order to write and spell each word correctly.

Even though you didn’t want to have to move, as always you were thinking of us. I will never forget the conversation you had with the Director of Pacific Place who was using your beautiful apartment to show  potential buyers. Do you remember that when she was leaving, she thanked you and said, “I can see that you have really made this your home.” And Mom, you replied, “We really didn’t have a choice so we just do our best and enjoy every day as much as we can! You see, a stroke changes everything.”

And while that may be true, you both certainly took advantage of all the opportunities there were in St. Louis! I’m so glad that you continued to travel and were still able to go to Hawaii and Nags Head.  And you were sure excited that we could all go to San Francisco for Bobby’s wedding. 

You said it was hard to believe that your first grandchild was all grown up and getting married! That was so much fun and we were all thrilled for Bobby  to have brought such a  wonderful person into our family.  I should add that both of you were beyond excited to have  2 energetic  and precious  great-grandchildren in a couple of years.

You thought it was silly, but here's the picture that was in the paper of you two  grilling out, which  I don't recall you ever doing:-)  And Dad,  when you said that you finally got to be the family chef,  did you notice Mom rolling her eyes? I don't think she would ever have relinquished her kitchen!

Mom, you  certainly never lost  your interest in world affairs and politics as I recently discovered when I read this journal entry.  I really wish I'd seen that letter you wrote to Bush.  Maybe there's a copy in a box somewhere.  If you only knew what was going on in this election year, I’m certain you’d be writing many letters.

As you can tell, I’m still trying to figure out how to end the blog, but I’m pretty sure I will finish in a few days.   I’ll write again soon.

Hope you are fine.

Lots of love,


P.S. You claimed you didn’t want to collect recipes anymore, but I found the very last one you ever copied.  It was stuck inside one of your books. Were you planning on having a big party?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

July 13, 2016 A Letter That Might Have Been: The Retirement, Seeing the World and Other Leisurely Pursuits

Dear Mom and Dad,

Today is bright and beautiful and a special one as well because I have finished posting all of your letters to Grandmother and Grandad. As it turned out there were  1767   of them. I haven’t decided yet what to share  with readers about your lives after Grandmother died, but I’m working on it and just hope that they’re willing to come back for a few more days.

Dad, I sure wish that Grandmother B would have saved your letters. The other day I found one she had written to me in 1979 and it ended with “Tomorrow is Monday. I always look for a letter from B. All these years he hasn’t missed any Monday.” But then again, you wrote to her each week for 46 years and I 'm  not sure I could have typed that many  letters!

I do want people to know about your fun retirement years, beginning in 1980.  Didn't we have a grand celebration. You sure didn't waste any time getting to the beach, and who could blame you. Dad, you cranked up the stereo when everyone left and you said,  "I've got all the time in the world now!"  

I found your travel journal, Mom, and really got a kick out of it!  I’m so glad that you two had 25 more years to see the world. Those trips  could take an entire blog to describe.  We still haven't finished looking at your slides, Dad! 

Although you loved your travels, nothing seemed to give you both more pleasure than the grandkids and the addition of two more.

 You sure gave them some fantastic memories and when they were together,  you called it more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

There is one thing for certain that I want to share, and that’s about your ongoing passion for designing and making quilts , Mom.
 I don't think people will be the least bit surprised to learn that you quilted, presented and published your designs well into your 80s.

And I shouldn't forget your jewelry making since that hobby grew exponentially over  2 decades and produced some beautiful gifts for us all.

Well, the 1980s and 1990s were such good and  happy years in so many ways.  And Mom, I remember when you  said, "I think we'll go around again!" Dad, you laughed and said, "Not if you keep on shopping !"

 That’s about all I can think of for now, but I’ll write again when I decide what to share next.  This letter has come easily, but I'm uncertain of what to write about the  years to come.  You both always told me to "Take my time and think about it, then do it right and do it once."  That's good wisdom.

Hope you’re both fine.

Lots of love,