August 27th is my birthday. I began to think of the Mother who gave me birth. If she were alive today, she would be over 100 years old. That gives you an idea of my age, but why people are hesitant, especially women, of sharing their age is a mystery to me. Every day we live is a gift from God and we should be rejoicing in it.
Nevertheless, I thought about my Mother, Alta, who was 21 years old when she became a mother. How difficult it must have been in an age of fewer pain relievers, saddle blocks (spinal blocks) or epidurals. Many babies were born in the home also rather than in a hospital. Should there be an emergency, the baby or the mother could die.
This led me to question WHY we say “Happy Birthday” to the person celebrating another year older when it might be even more correct that we celebrate the Mother who brought us into the world.
Here she is….my beautiful Mother and me as her baby. The Holy Scriptures tell us to “HONOR” our Mothers. Jesus honored his mother and even while he was dying on the cross, He thought to tell his disciple to take care of His Mother, Mary. How many people think of this today as they may be dying before their own mother.
That is why I want to once again give the proper HONOR to my mother. It is truly HER DAY as much as my own.
My Mother loved to cook, garden and was a business woman. She made other women beautiful as a hair designer, but in my eyes…not as beautiful as she was. She modeled sometimes for a local N.C. photographer and even into her 90’s I watched her apply her lip stick before going to dinner in her assisted living. She cared about being her best and doing her best. I hope that her genes are also strongly implanted as a part of my genes. She went through some difficult times as a single mother, but was strong in her beliefs and caring for her family. This included her concerns and generous spirit toward all her Grandchildren. She loved her son-in-law, Bill Boyer, as well.
The slide show below shows some of the characteristics that she had, but I never understood the hat and heels in the garden. Maybe she just wanted to show off both her happily growing plants that she had worked hard to produce, as well as her style.
She rarely let me in the kitchen to cook with her because she was so good at it, but the whole family enjoyed her creativity from casseroles to her coconut cake that took five days in the refrigerator. We always laughed at the fact that she sent her Grandson, Steve, to the liquor store to buy rum for her famous rum cake because she might be seen by some of her Christian friends who were Baptist teetotalers. She would soak her rum cake for days in that good stuff and never take a sip…at least that I knew of. Mom was a devout Christian and lived a life that everyone admired.
She also loved the Blue Ridge Mountains where she grew up in North Carolina and visited there when she could. I have also written my own memoirs about our years in Carolina that I titled MY STORY. It is a private book for my family, but I would encourage everyone to take the time to write about their lives. After life is over, there will be those who love you and want to remember the things that made life special for you.
“Thank you, Mother, for bringing me into the world. However in this year, 2020, when the World-Wide Coronavirus hit, I was glad that your last days were not spent in the Assisted Living that you were in for only a few months. You would have been more than sad at not being able to have your family visit…like we were able to do. You let your Grandson, Steve, climb up on your bed to play games and talk. Sadly, that is not possible now. We were able to bring our Golden Retriever, Gracie, to see you. Thank God that you were spared this isolation that so many are feeling today. You are with God and that is the most wonderful place that anyone could be. So…I say to you….Happy Birthday! I wish you were here to enjoy my birthday.
Bill, Steve and I will be down to put a flower on your grave at Christmas…as we always do. We miss you. Your loving daughter, Nancy
Slide presentation of MY MOTHER, ALTA.
This blog is in the honor of my Mother, Alta. If she had lived longer than 93, she would be 100 years old on December 6, 2017. We miss her so much, so on her birthday, our son, Steve and husband, Bill, and I will take a red poinsettia to her grave site. It’s also appropriate for Christmas because this was also a holiday that she loved.
What does one say about a life that was lived so long? My Mother was a lovely lady who grew up in North Carolina. She was Alta Ellis West Barker Bishop. Such a long name, but each part of the name was almost a life within a life. As Alta Ellis, she was the daughter of a farmer in N.C. Her Grandfather was a country doctor who ministered and saved lives during the American Civil War. Alta grew up with five siblings. Now there is only one of them with us today… my Uncle John who will soon be 95 and still playing golf. Hopefully I have some of their Ellis genes. My mother’s mind was sharp even until the day she died. So was her ability to laugh and make jokes. Her heart doctor came into her room to check on her and said, “Mrs. Bishop, you are looking great!” As he walked out, she turned to me and said, “Boy, is he a salesman!” Just that week she had consulted with her financial advisor and made her own decisions to enter Hospice for care if it was necessary. She died a few hours later.
There are so many details in remembering the life of my Mother.
- After graduating from high school at the age of 16, she left home to pursue a career in hair design and care.
- She married and had her only child at the age of 21. (That was me.)
- Alta was a patriot. During WWII, she worked in a munitions plant to help the war efforts.
- Always beautiful and glamorous, she opened her own hair styling business to give other women the same opportunity.
- During those years as a single parent, she worked hard to support me and better our lives.
- Two of her husbands died from illness and Mother always kept strong when facing adversity. I have tried to learn this value from her in some of my own difficulties.
- As an older woman, she lived with my husband and me for a number of years and was a loving Grandmother to our children and proud to be a great-grandmother. She always expected them to be loving, honest, appreciative and a part of the family.
We only have one birth mom. Alta was the one who gave me life. She saw me through some difficult times… never blaming or demanding…letting me, as an adult, make my choices for good or for bad. Perhaps that is why I have followed the same policy with my own children. In the end, I would never have knowingly hurt her. This is why I honor her today with these few memories for they are too many to count.
Thank you, Mother, for all that you have meant to Bill and me…as well as all of our family. I pray that my soul may be happily united with yours when the time comes. We miss you.
Slide show of Alta : Her love of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia, her garden, the Florida beaches, her time cooking great meals for the family.
These words may describe her best: caring, consistent, giving, genuine. Just before her death, she asked my husband, Bill, to give her Holy Communion for she was ready to meet God. He did this and prayed with her. Her Christian faith was strong. We should all live our lives so that we may have this peaceful transition from this life to the next.
Probably her favorite scripture verse was John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believed in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
My Mother, Alta, wanted others to know the love of Christ that she knew…and the peace and joy knowing Him brings. We lift up her memory and the Cross that she cherished.
(Turn on sound)
Mother’s Day will be here May 12th.
Mothers all over the U.S. will look at that day in different ways. There are so many memories in just the word “MOTHER”….like giving birth…(oh, that was fun!) and taking on a new role in life. There were the adjustments to constant care of this little one. Some face this with better grace than others, but somehow it happens.
We begin to see this little crying, burping person become a personality all his/her own. It has always amazed me how children who had the same parents, fed the same food, given the same of most everything…can be so different. Another thing that amazes me now is when I see a Mother who has a 14 month old toddler and a new-born…juggling both…and yet, that is exactly what I did when I had my two oldest sons. (Talk about “super human”!)
After bringing three children into the world, I remember my neighbor telling me that one of my sons was “up a tree….in the very top! “ He would also be the one who would fly jets after he grew up. He would also be the one to break my heart…but that is another story. Mothers who think they are doing all the right things…or mostly…and find that there are some parts of life that crying is the only way to mend the heart….so that they can once again laugh. I have come to believe that it is a decision we make because life does move on. Who wants to cry all their lives? Even medicine tells us that “laughter” is a cure. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that hearts don’t ache now and then. Control of a situation is one thing that is not built into being a mother’s life. It may be something we want, but we find that “Letting go” is much harder.
My other son ,who was not in the tree with his brother, was sitting quietly in a corner reading a stack of library books we went to get each week. He still reads or listens to books as he travels around the world in his job. I’m proud of the man he has grown to be with patience that astonishes me at times. He has never seen a stranger with friends around the world. My step-son, another fine man, has given us two beautiful twin girls and we have joy in seeing them grow and thrive.
We often hear that Fathers and Sons bond over common interests. I think that is true, if there is a father in the home. If not, they often find a father-figure that they can emulate. Being a mother to a daughter can have the same bonding effect. Learning how to be a female is complicated at best.
We, Mothers, may worry more about our daughters. Why? Because with boys, we feel that they can take care of most things that hit them in the world….like the day the bully on the school bus kept hitting my oldest son on the head. He finally just turned around and gave him a punch. Needless to say, when my school was called (as I was a teacher), I knew that he was suspended off the bus…but the bully would not bother him again.
With a girl, we worry that someone will take advantage of her. She might need more protection but with the right amount of freedom. She will grow up and have her own hard knocks and sorrows in life that we could not protect her from. In most cases, she will learn how to “stand up” for herself!
My daughter is my creative one looking for new ideas to make things better. She will always make her own decisions, whatever they may be, because just as I did not like my mother telling me what to do…neither does she. I think we call that “the chip off the old block”. Yet, I find myself still watching the ceiling some nights …and praying…and trying really hard to give all things to God. That is how we mothers do for all our children. We cry…but as I said it is best when we decide to laugh. Somehow, I think God would have it that way.
One must not forget the Grandmothers, who so often today raise the children they did not bring into the world. They give the love that a child may be without unless the Grandmother cared.
My mother, who died at 93, was one of those Grandmothers who gave generously to her grandchildren and I will always thank her for that. I hope for all the tears she may have cried that she is in heaven laughing …for she deserves it.
The big, beautiful sunflower at the top of the page is for all Mothers…. new mothers; mothers with teens; empty-nest mothers and grand-mothers. They will need you and they will cling to you….until they don’t. Rejoice in what you were and may their world be a better place because you were their MOTHER.
This Sunday we honor Mothers on a special day. Not all Mothers will be appreciated, but most will be. I am one of the lucky ones for out of four children, I have three that will say nice things and it is so appreciated.
What is it to be a mother?
Not only does a mother wait for the birth, but afterwards her life is never the same. To give a count of all the things that a mother does in one day might be impossible. For instance, how many meals does a mother prepare for hungry mouths in just one year? Does anyone keep track? How many beds has she made or dishes has she washed….maybe even after a long day at work?
Just thinking about the food preparation, for some Mothers it is not easy to feed everyone the way she would like. We know that our food pantries have had many visitors during this recession. “Flying off” to get something to feed the family could be monumental. Ask any robin if you can slow her down long enough in her busy schedule.
Many things that mothers do over the years are largely forgotten, but probably not by her. I remember when I was a single parent with a good education, but barely making ends meet for three children. Sometime around Halloween, I started thinking about Christmas. Yard sales were a good place to find something almost new, like a record player or a doll. Hidden until wrapped, these special gifts were new to my children on Christmas morning. No one was unhappy. Today they are grown and have no idea that this was the way things were then …for times are so much better now.
I also remember the first time that my husband and I realized that we were alone and “our nest” was empty. There had always been so much activity and voices around our house.
I watched a bird prepare a nest outside my window last spring. She flew in and out with a different twig in her bill. Finally, the eggs were there and she sat for hours protecting and warming them. Then one heart breaking moment came, a snake crawled up the tree and ate the eggs. Life is like that. Unpredictable, sad, but we mothers keep on working regardless until the nest is no longer needed. Perhaps the robin in this video below felt as much surprise when she found all her “darlings” were gone! Where did those years go?
Thanks to Fred Margueles, who patiently took this video, we can see a real mother who faithfully did her work even until the day she was no longer needed. (Turn up your sound)
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO MOTHERS EVERYWHERE.
You deserve a special day!
(Note.: ignore highlighted words…Wordpress is trying to advertise)
Women come in all sizes and in a range of intelligence. Sometimes they choose homemaking as their profession. Others reach into the “male world” at their peril. “Can a Woman do that?” one may ask.
Women have moved out in front when no one else would.
- They have led armies (Joan of Arc)
- Led women of mercy to the poorest people on earth (Mother Theresa)
- Heads of governments (Margaret Thacher of England and Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany )
- Built homes and families in challenging places (The Women of the Wild West)
- Kept homes together and children happy. (Single, Widowed, and Divorced Mothers)
- Minority women had to break through barriers.
When I was teaching in Mongolia, I asked the women that were part of my class, what did they want in a man. They mostly talked about wanting someone who was sober, clean and loyal. Women have at times picked up the burden when men had addiction problems, rendering a useless contribution to the family. (I am certain that this has been true of men in the reverse.)
Now, I will have to admit that I depend on my big,6′ 5″ man for many things. He is not only supportive emotionally, but is great at reaching high places that I can not; taking lids off jars, and much more too many to mention. We, of course, are not talking about the physical things that many women also accomplish…but of a woman’s acceptance in this world. Preconceived ideas have not given her credit.
If I had to relive some of my formative years, I think I would have studied architecture rather than education. That is if my math teachers had not been the coach who sat on his desk talking sports instead of teaching math. It was accepted in my youth to think of being a nurse or teacher…not a doctor or scientist.. Nonetheless, I did have someone tell me recently that their daughter was now a teacher because I was her teacher in middle school. That, of course, made my day. My congratulations to a young woman named Erin, who is most talented in music, for heading this Fall to college to study mathematics. Yes, Erin, you can do it!
Congratulations also to women who still hold onto dignity, sobriety, and making life worthwhile for the family around them. Follow your light…never look back or think something is too hard. Where there is a will there is a way, as the old saying goes.
I would like to introduce you to Gail Harris. She hung in there to achieve great things for her gender and her race.