Micro Memory – Aunt Florence

So I’m not off to the best start with doing this every day. I’d say I’ve got a good excuse, but my whole life I’ve made far too many excuses.

Wednesday night my Aunt Florence passed from this life to the next. She never had children of her own and bought the house right next to my grandmother. In many ways it was like having two grandmothers, especially after my grandfather died when I was five.

In light of her passing, I’ve thought a lot about our trips to Wisconsin so I decided to share some memories from those trips.

Grandma Hayden loved to cook. Whenever we would come in to town, she would serve amazing homemade food for every meal. I helped her often and learned a few of her recipes. To this day I still make her homemade applesauce.

But a few times every trip Grandma would serve these crazy, disjointed meals with just a little of everything. Creamed corn casserole, sat beside pork chops. Fried chicken next to some kind of pasta. Everything tasted good but it was disjointed and never enough of any one thing for us all to eat it.

I learned later that Grandma said “eating with the Barrett’s is like eating with piranhas.” She’d keep all her leftovers and heat them up when we came over because she knew it would all disappear.

Mom wasn’t much of a cook. Pretty much every meal came out of a box of some kind. But she could make pasta and had a dish she’d make called Slop. Basically it was noodles, whatever meat and veggies were left in the refrigerator, and then cream of mushroom / cream of chicken / and some spices.

Since that was one of the only “homemade” things mom made, it was a favorite of mine. We were at Grandma’s house and she asked me what I wanted for dinner. When I responded “Slop” my grandmother, who raised her five children (including my mother) on a farm was horrified.

“What in heavens name are you feeding these children, Dianne?”

My mom’s family was what my dad calls “Dead Dog Democrats” and my dad was an avid Republican. He was Tea Party and a Trump supporter. I used to say under my breath he was a “Dead Dog Republican.”

Dad absolutely loved to talk politics, especially with people who didn’t agree. He took great joy in bringing up politics every time we went to Wisconsin, to many groans and protests.

Grandma, my aunts, mom, everyone would beg him to let us eat a meal without talking politics. But he’d find a way to slip in comments and, if anyone took the bait, he’d launch.

I know now as an adult that it was my father’s passion for America and the values that made us great that drove him to be such an unpleasant dinner guest. But growing up I just enjoyed watching the adults squirm trying to keep the topic away from government.

Aunt Florence made cross stitch and Grandma was a quilter. Both attempted to teach me but I ended up gravitating to cross stitch. The pattern doesn’t lie and the grid is not subjective.

Aunt Florence also made custom cross stitches for each of the 10 grandchildren. At birth she made my name and then around 12 she let me pick out a pattern for my 13th birthday (I chose a cat; that’s too young to do anything all that insightful).

Grandma made me a quilt at some point, I don’t remember the age. I chose one with a pasture in the middle and small cottages around it, choosing to believe they were churches. (It must have been my religious zealot phase when all things had to be faith related.)

I also inherited a quilt when my grandmother passed and chose the one that hung in her basement. I’d lay for hours letting my mind trace the lines and try to connect the colors. Now it hangs on a wall in my bedroom as a reminder of my Grandmother.

I hope you enjoyed these memories. Please share your own memories of my parents in the comments and let’s share a smile together.

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Micro Memory #1

“What’s your favorite memory of your father?”

The question surprised me; this meeting was to talk about my relationship with God, not the loss of my parents.

Immediately my mind went to the memory I most talk about: 5am hot chocolate with my father while the rest of the family slept.

Since dad and I were both morning people (this is pre-college), mornings were the one time I’d have him to myself. He’d drink coffee and I’d have cocoa. What we talked about didn’t matter; it was the time together.

Early in the morning continued to be our special time. Years later, as an adult who prefers sleep to early mornings, I’d drag myself out of bed for IHOP with dad before work if he happened to come into town.

Chris then asked how many people I’d told that story to. Honestly, I couldn’t answer because it was my “favorite memory” for every interview or conversation when everything happened last year.

But I grasped his point: I don’t talk about the sweet memories near enough. And I haven’t had much opportunity to hear sweet memories from others.

He asked me to write 21 blogs about my father, one a day for three weeks, each a sweet memory of the time he was alive.

In the weeks to follow, I’m going to endeavor to fulfill his request, but first, a few disclaimers:

  • I don’t know if all these memories will be about my dad. Some may be my mom and some may be both of them.
  • The speed at which I plan to write 21 blogs means they will have significantly less re-writing. I’ll likely make more typos and or grammatical errors. Just give me some grace.
  • I make no promises that all 21 blogs will be written in the next 21 days. There are some days where my schedule is prohibitively busy and there is a 3 day retreat where I won’t have internet access. I’ll do my best to get all 21 as quickly as possible.
  • This is meant to be a conversation, not a dissertation. Please share your own sweet memories of my parents in the comments.

I’ll call these my “micro-memories” since they will be micro blogs and each will feature just one memory. I hope you enjoy them and collaborate with me by sharing your own stories.

Ownership

This has been a season of change for me but also for my church family. Since January 1st, I’ve started at a new gym, joined a new community group, moved to a new home, purchased a new car, hired a new personal trainer, and even gotten a new desk at work.

Meanwhile, our church has achieved a major goal of moving to a new facility. We’re no longer in our “parent’s” (wells Branch MUD’s) Rec Center and have our own “Apartment” in the facility that used to be the Roost!

It was so amazing to worship together for the first time last Sunday in a space we don’t have to set up and tear down each week.

I’m going to be honest, though, I really took a moment to appreciate the wall. Now it’s not really a big deal, just the wall that leads into the bathrooms, so it’s a little silly I cared to go take a peak.

But that’s the wall I painted when we had the serve day last Saturday. And, at the price of paint on my favorite tennis shoes (no one told me we’d be painting), I guess I kinda feel like it’s “my” wall.

Isn’t there something powerful about ownership? I remember my first computer. I was still in high school but wanted my own computer so I could take it in my room. My parents didn’t pay a cent; all $1200 for the computer, bag, and other accessories came out of my account.

I remember when it came in the mail. I’d purchased a Gateway (yes, I’m 30 now…) and, when the box covered in cow print arrived, I was like a delighted child on Christmas. I relished every moment of pulling out all the “goodies” in the box, even getting excited about the boot CD, of which I had no idea the purpose, because it was mine.

A similar experience came when I bought my first car. My parents agreed to match my investment dollar for dollar so I purchased a used, red Saturn for about $4k. Again, it was my car so I took great care of it and drove it with pride.

Now that our church has a home, I feel that same sense of ownership. I’m not just a member of the church, I’m a part-owner of the mission.

There are three ways I’ve taken ownership.

Six months ago our pastors asked for us to give financially to help make this facility a reality. I prayed and I gave. It made me an owner.

More recently, there have been opportunities to go get our hands dirty actually preparing the space for occupancy. I wasn’t there every time but I went when I could. It made me an owner.

On May 20th, we have our grand opening. I’m telling everyone I know about it and can’t wait to help pack the house. It’s making me an owner.

Every organization consists of two groups. 80% are members; they show up. But 20% are owners. They get involved, make things happen, and take responsibility.

I know I’ll see you on the 20th but are you a member or an owner? Will you show up or will you be bringing people with you?