Bless you, Moms everywhere! This day slows downs, steps aside from the rush and the hurry, and celebrates moms everywhere! You are the backbone of our worlds! I’ve never been a mom, but I marvel at how you do it all: the laundry, the meals, the housecleaning and the job! It’s beyond my comprehension!
So, I want to salute my dear mom once more! I never tire of writing about her. I remember her perky personality and giggles that often caused me to giggle. Then a chain reaction of laughter filled the room. As I wrote this, I pondered her as a young mother, the mother I don’t remember!
How Did You Manage?
How did you manage?
My heart beat next to yours
For nine months.
I felt what you felt
Your loves and fears
Ate what you ate
Spicy food often
Loved what you loved
Dancing, dancing and Dad!
My world was you!
I always knew you wanted me!
Never a doubt!
You didn’t know I was a girl
The daughter that would complete
Quickly everything changed
My comfortable world
My birth came
You square danced the night
Before I was born!
Doing what you and Dad loved!
Did you feel any pain
When Dad twirled you that night?
Did your big belly bounce
To the beat of the music?
Is this why I love to dance?
Was my birth hard?
You never spoke of the pain
Only the glory!
You welcomed me into your family
A dad who cherished me,
A brother, thirteen months older than me
A baby himself
Three half-siblings who saw me
As the spoiled baby!
A young mother of twenty-five,
I wonder how you managed,
Me, a new born
My brother, so close to my age!
Really two babies!
How did you manage?
Did you have many sleepless nights?
Did you have arms aching from holding
Two sleeping babies?
Did the mounting heap of diapers
Seem to never end?
You never spoke of the responsibility,
Only the glory!
Like all mothers do!
You did what you had to do,
Filled bottles with milk.
You marveled at my
Small fingers wrapped
And you loved
Yes, you managed!
You managed well!
Writing poetry always puts me in another dimension in thinking about a familiar topic. I thought I had written everything there was to say. I have written several poems about mom, an entire book about losing her, yet here, in a fresh moment, these words came.
Happy Mother’s Day, Moms—how do you manage it all? You just do it and love every minute.
Celebrate your mom today and remember her on this special day!
~Get your FREE Fifty minute audio recording of “Highlights of My Conversations with Flippo.” Learn how he started calling, how he recorded “The Auctioneer,” and a bonus: which caller did he sleep with? Click here for easy access!
What Ties My Six Books Together? As I pondered this question this week, I wondered: three books about my rural childhood in southeastern Colorado, one about my grief in losing my parents, one a biography about a square dance caller and the last one about my reaction to the coronavirus pandemic. Then I saw the tie that binds them: relationships and connection to people. So, here’s how I see the tie that ties my writing together:
My First Book
This Tumbleweed Landed, a memoir written in poetry and prose, focuses on people, places and events in my small rural community during my childhood. I fashioned it after Cynthia Rylant’s children’s book, Waiting to Waltz, who wrote poetry about people, places and events in a fictional town. In my book, I celebrated my childhood relationships with many notorious adults in town—Virgie Firestone and the Warners. Also, what I wrote about many of the places and events, places and times I connected with my family and friends—Branson dances and stories my dad and his school years, told sitting at our round table.
My Second Book
When Will Papa Get Home?, a historical fiction, focuses on a Mexican immigrant family’s perilous times during the 20s in southeastern Colorado. Maria, the daughter, tells the story of her family’s plight. She weaves the tale of those people responsible for her papa’s false accusations.
I centered this book on familial and friend relationships and connection to people. Sadly though, this book also shows the prejudice of the time and the misconnection some people had with certain races. But her deep connection with her family wins in the end.
My Third Book
Let Me Tell You a Story, a nonfiction account of how my granddad put our family ranch together during the depression when many other ranchers lost theirs, focuses on the three generations of my family and our ranch. My dad, mom and I had previously released this booklet in 1992 at my dad’s 75th birthday party. It overflows with the relationship between my dad and his dad and my granddad, and the relationship my dad and granddad had with the ranch they loved. Yes, you can have a relationship and connection with the earth! Even though it focuses on the ranch, the underlying topic is our familial relationships.
My Fourth Book
A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, a memoir about the loss of my parents, shows the foundation of my life and relationships: my parents. Of all my books, this book hurt to write, yet I love it the most! In talking about my loss, I feature the unique relationship I had with each parent. First, I connected with each of them, making it easier to connect with others in the world.
My Fifth Book
Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, a biography of the most famous square dance caller in the world’s, first and foremost highlights relationships and connections with people. Yes, it tells Flippo’s life story from Texas to Japan as a young man and then later in life, but a major part of his life story was his connection with his family and friends. So much so, he required a section in the book telling stories about his square and round dance friends. After fulfilling that request, I connected with callers, cuers and dancers and featured their stories about Flippo. Yes, he truly understood relationships and how to connect with just about anyone.
My Sixth Book
Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, a spiritual self-help book written in poetry and prose, focuses on many of the perils of the coronavirus pandemic with an underlying theme the opposite of my focus: isolation. Yet this theme emphasized the extreme need I had and many others had to connect with people, to be with people, to relate with people. Thankfully, Zoom met some of those needs—a monthly get-together with two women friends I knew in Loveland, Colorado, a Christmas concert with our local caller, and many recovery meetings. But I’ll never forget the first time I went out without a mask and actually hugged someone besides my husband. Something deep inside me healed.
The lack of connection truly became the hardest part of the pandemic for me, and I see now how that appears throughout this book.
This topic came up because I’m a multi-genre author which makes it difficult to market my books, my brand. Current training I’m attending wrestled with this dilemma. But I have no qualms about this! I love poetry and prose. Also I relish historical fiction. Writing Flippo’s biography was a privilege and an honor. I love the variety!
Relationships and connections with people feed my life and my writing. I did not know when I wrote each book that those themes laced their way through each work, hiding in a poem, a story, or my prose. Actually, taking the time to identify the tie between my six books opened my eyes! I’m so glad I wrote this blog to see the common tie that binds my work together. I have a feeling this meandering around and through my six books will help me in my future writing!
If you’ve read my books, did you see this theme? If not, did you see others? Let me know.
~For me, it’s Christmas all year long!Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A
~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Have you bought your copy yet?Vist my website: laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.
Albuquerque and hot air balloons—synonymous to so many people! Yesterday started the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Do I have memories! It lasts nine days during the first week of October. When October hits, the early morning skies overflow with colors and special shapes. I used to love to drive to work in October, scanning the skies for the hundreds of balloons during the fiesta. Jeremy Aragon, driving down an Albuquerque street yesterday, captured what it feels like:
In July 1991, I moved to Albuquerque, so by the time October hit, I had become used to living here and getting around. In full anticipation of the event, I drove out to the balloon park by myself and found a parking spot. That must have been the Special Shapes Rodeo they used to do on Thursday nights. Co-workers warned me about the size of the crowd, but it still shocked me. Someone got hurt in the mob and the ambulance had a horrible time getting to the injured person. Being amid the balloons inflating and burners roaring, I was hooked!
Over the years, I’ve had many memorable experiences at the Balloon Fiesta. My ex-husband and his family participated as part of a chase crew, so I joined in. The pilot they worked with offered to bring his balloon to my school, tether it and give my students rides. While he inflated it, he let my excited students play around inside the balloon sock-footed. What an experience that was for them!
How exciting it was to be on a chase crew! When our pilot went up, we jumped into his truck with a walkie-talkie and drove to pick him up, following him in the sky. The locals who volunteer to do this part of the fiesta help tremendously because of knowing the area around Albuquerque.
Speaking of volunteers—they provide the backbone of this colorful event. Many of my friends have volunteered over the years and still do. I know of a mother-daughter duo who have been zebras (volunteers dressed in black and white outrageous costumes who direct the mass ascension) for years!
The next year, Mom and Dad joined us at this annual event, but we weren’t on the chase crew. To see the first balloons go up called Dawn Patrol, we had to get up way early (they go up at 6:00 AM), and it’s cold here in Albuquerque in October. Dad went on Saturday morning, but that was enough for him and his cold bones. Mom loved it so much she joined us on Sunday morning, and he stayed in bed.
After I divorced, I went alone some, going early for Dawn Patrol because that’s what you do. I then shopped in the vendors’ booths, enjoying the variety of wares. Several years I went with a girlfriend, Lorraine Hogan, and we went early enough for Dawn Patrol. Then we grabbed a breakfast burrito, cinnamon roll and hot coffee and found a spot on the ground to wait for the mass ascension where over 500 balloons go up in waves! The crowd milled around the balloons, marveling at the equipment and manpower it takes to launch a balloon.
Another ex-husband and I drove our van out to the parking lot near the balloon park late on Saturday night and then had breakfast, watching Dawn Patrol from the comfort and warmth of the van. Then we walked over to the balloon field to witness the mass ascension—not as much fun for sure.
The magic of the balloon fiesta to many visitors is the waves of ascending balloons in the mass ascension. It’s an amazing timed event. The zebras direct the pilots on when to ascend, so no accidents happen.
In 2010, Mom joined me again. We caught the Park ‘n Ride bus near my townhouse, and they dropped us off right at the gate—so much easier than finding a parking spot. Again, we timed it to see Dawn Patrol go up. We just bundled up, set our alarm for 4:00 AM and got up and went!
In advertisements leading up to the balloon fiesta, we had heard a lot about a new special shape balloon, Noah’s Ark. So, on the field, we were looking for it, walking around the balloons as they inflated. We stopped for a moment to figure out where it was—hundreds of balloons laid out, so it was hard to identify them until they became a little inflated. I turned around and there it was—right beside us. And yes, what a treat it was!
The colorful hot air balloons grace the skies and I marveled at the variety—the sky’s the limit on color and patterns. So many people savor the special shapes balloons—a chili pepper ristra, the castle from Disney Land, Disney characters and so many others. I know they are my favorites!
One fun tradition the pilots take part in called “Splash ‘n Dash” gets the gondola, the basket, wet by dunking down into the Rio Grande river west of the balloon park. Here’s what it looks and sounds like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpbgTpY6Qyc
Another great tradition participants enjoy is pin collections—trading, gathering and showing them off in outlandish ways.
Going with Mom in 2010 was my last time of going to the field and experiencing the fun firsthand. I’ve missed it now for ten years, but this year all the memories came rushing back when October hit, so I wanted to share them with you. I know I will return, and if you haven’t been, add it to your bucket list now!
Have you ever been to Albuquerque’s balloon fiesta? Or one somewhere else? What’s your feelings about hot air balloons? (Scroll down and leave your comments below.)
Cars—do you have a favorite one? I say 100% yes! I’ve loved two cars, especially, in my lifetime: my first one and my mom’s last one—two extraordinary adventures.
My First Car
In 1971, Dad bought me my first car—a bluish-green 1966 Dodge Coronet 440—to go to college. He bought my brother a light blue 1966 Dodge Coronet 500 at the same time and paid $1000 for both cars. They don’t make cars like them anymore. The sleek lines of that Coronet 440 created a beautiful picture. I was 18 years old and felt like a queen driving that car. I had fun in it at Trinidad State Junior College, but my brother’s roommate borrowed it often for his dates, promising never to leave Trinidad. One night I was twenty miles away in Raton, New Mexico with friends and saw my car sail by. That ended the roommate’s use of my car.
The mechanics at our garage thought my brother and I shared one car because the colors were so similar. They kidded me when I brought my car in to be serviced, saying, “Why don’t you make your brother bring it in?” Repeatedly I had to explain we each had our own car, and what’s funny is Dad bought the two cars from the owner of that garage.
As lovely as that car was, it didn’t have air conditioning, so I used what Dad called “Larada’s air conditioning” in warm weather—rolled down all the windows, especially the wing window and drive like hell.
In 1973, I took that car into my first marriage, still loving everything about it. Because the upholster inside was shot, we redid that, matching the color outside, and it really looked sharp. As newlyweds, we bought a 1974 Dodge Dart off the showroom floor in Trinidad, but that was my husband’s car.
Many years later, driving in Windsor, Colorado, I stopped at a light, and a guy pulled up beside me and offered me a sizeable sum for my striking car. I laughed off the offer—it wasn’t for sale!
Somehow, we inherited a dilapidated Ford from my ex-husband’s grandmother when she passed, and then we had too many vehicles. Without my permission and before I had any gumption to say anything, he sold my car. I was heartsick, but I didn’t stop him. The crushing blow came a few months later when we divorced, and he left me with that lousy Ford.
I have never connected with a car since my first one—maybe the young woman and the mystique of my first can’t be captured again.
Mom’s Last Car
Fast forward to 2004—Mom was coming home from the post office in our small rural town and got hit by a semi-truck, totaling the car she had. It did not hurt her, thank God, but this accident stranded her. Being fifty miles from the nearest grocery store, doctor and everything, she needed transportation, so we went searching.
We found a 2003 Chevrolet Malibu and a Toyota Camry in Raton, New Mexico, fifty miles away. She test-drove the Camry and because of her petite size, she couldn’t see over the steering wheel, so that took the Camry out of the running.
Both of us fell in love with the Malibu and what made it more enticing is the owner lived in Cimarron, New Mexico. I called his niece, and we talked to him to learn about the car—it was a good fit.
So, Mom bought it and we have had no trouble with it at all mechanically. She absolutely loved her car and drove it to Trinidad weekly for her shopping needs. Mom’s driving history fascinated me. She married my dad at twenty-three years old and didn’t know how to drive, so he taught her. While we were at home, she drove very little. As Dad aged, his inability to drive sometimes forced her to drive, but she didn’t enjoy it, especially when she had to take over the wheel in Santa Fe, New Mexico once. After Dad died, she had no choice, so she became proficient, not venturing farther than her safe trips to Trinidad or Raton
Mom and I enjoyed several trips to western destinations, ending up in California to visit my brother and his family. When we were together traveling down the road, I drove and we talked endlessly. On one major trip we took to California in 2009, we had the radio on once for our three-week trip. The rest of the time we spent talking and laughing. That car held so many precious memories of those special times with her.
After Mom died in 2013, I inherited her car and drove it back and forth to our family ranch monthly. After my last trip to Branson, the air conditioning stopped as I pulled into my home in New Mexico—absolutely nothing. A trip to our mechanic cost us a lot. See, we live in the mountains east of Albuquerque and we don’t have a garage to store it in. A squirrel built a nest in the engine and chewed up the cables to the air conditioning, so that costly adventure made us decide to sell it. Because we don’t have a garage, this costly event could happen again and again.
As I cleaned it out preparing for the sale, I choked up several times, reliving the trips, the fun, and the laughter we shared. Yesterday we sold it to the son of a dear lifelong friend. I cried when they drove off.
Yes, I know cars don’t last forever, but their memories do! I will always have the special times Mom looped her left arm over the back of my seat, laughing at whatever our topic was and enjoying our time together in her car.
Do you have cherished memories attached to any cars? Do or did you love a car? Tell me your memories—I’d love to hear them. (Scroll down below to the Comment section to respond.)
Join me at my Zoom Launch Party for my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? on September 22, 2021 at 7:00 pm. Go to my Facebook Event to RSVP, and I will send you the meeting info: https://www.facebook.com/events/596181948062057
~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com
Clothesline and laundry day were a part of my childhood. Mom hung out the clothes weekly on our clothesline until her dying day. She loved the smell of sheets that had blown in the breeze all day, and I inherited the love for that sweet fragrance. Are clotheslines still a viable part of today’s world?
In the past, a walk through a neighborhood on laundry day showed so much about the families living there. Just an inventory of the clothes blowing in the wind told if a family lived in that house or a single, if the children were boys or girls. It depicted what taste in clothes the wife had or what kind of work the husband did. So, those people strolling by could glean much in a scrutiny of the clothes on the line.
In our small country town, jeans and cowboy shirts filled the clotheslines on wash day, which was usually Monday. The women wore dresses and aprons, so they blew freely in the breeze. The boys dressed like their dads and the girls like their moms, so miniature similar outfits identified children lived there. We didn’t have any exotic characters in our town, so the lines didn’t shock any of the passers-by.
What brought this topic up for me right now? I had some work done on my house in Branson, Colorado, a couple of weeks ago. The worker called me up and asked if he could take down the clothesline because he needed to get mechanical equipment into the yard. The line was in the way.
“Go ahead,” I responded quickly, but then I have been mulling it over for the last couple of weeks. Yes, it was okay to do, but it’s a part of my history I cherish. The many memories I have came rushing back, a real mixed bag, though!
One of the stories Mom told us growing up worried her as a young mother. She had heard a story about another family who had a newborn and a thirteen-month-old like my brother and me. I was the youngest. The mom was outside hanging out laundry (probably diapers with two little ones like us), and she heard the baby crying. Nearing completion, she finished her chores before going inside. Before she could get there, the thirteen-month-old had grabbed the newborn out of the crib and drug it outside to his mom, killing the baby.
So, Mom told us repeatedly the fear she had anytime she spent time outside hanging up laundry on the clothesline. She said she ran inside every few minutes to check on us and worried about it constantly. As an adult in hearing this tale, I could hear Mom’s anguish and concern still, years later.
As older children, about four and five, we loved to help Mom on laundry day. She had a wringer washing machine which fascinated us. Mom’s didn’t look like the image above—it was porcelain and a newer model. My brother, Bub, liked to help Mom push the clothes through the wringer, and she often cautioned him to be careful. I was young enough to be just his cheerleader and observer.
One summer day, Mom did the laundry outside like so many other days, and Bub neglected to be careful and pushed his hand too far into the wringer with the clothes. His hand got caught in the wringer. He screamed, trying to pull his hand out but he couldn’t; I screamed in unison with him. Mom panicked and ran next door to our neighbor, Edna Fry. They came running over, and Edna immediately hit the release and Bub’s hand fell out. The area around his thumb suffered the most damage, but he didn’t need stitches.
Those early sad memories have stayed with me for years, but the smell of clothes hung out on the line—that’s what I remember, mostly! That luscious fresh air smell of sheets can’t be beat—marketers today can’t bottle that refreshing aroma. Also, white clothes sparkled after being outside bleached white in the sun.
As a young married woman in Denver, Colorado, I continued what I Mom taught me—hang your laundry out on a clothesline. One evening, after making my bed with clean sheets that smelled delicious, I sat down when I finished and got stung by a bee I had wrapped up in the top sheet—ouch!
In 1980, when we moved to a new house in Loveland, Colorado, the covenants didn’t allow clotheslines, so I got away from using one. That has continued for me after that, but Mom continued using hers until she died.
After she finished washing her clothes, Mom hooked her bag of wooden clothespins on the side of her little cart and wheeled it outside. Quite a feat in the dirt! Any passers-by visited with her as she worked and she with them. It was a community time. Often, I came home, welcomed with something waving to me on the clothesline, and it felt inviting.
So, when I return to Branson this next week, Mom’s clothesline has disappeared, so no welcoming committee, but the memories live on.
Did you use a clothesline? Do you have one now? Can you describe the smell? (Scroll below to comment)
Happy Mother’s Day to all today. As I’ve pondered this subject, faces and names of many influential mother figures from my past surfaced this week, so I’d like to offer a thought here. The famous African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” states the importance of a community of loving people to raise a child; therefore, it takes several mothers to raise a child.
Meet the many cheerleaders I had throughout my life who helped me become the woman I am today!
As a child, my other mother was Clara Warner, our next-door neighbor who had three boys. She could fashion long curls so beautifully Shirley Temple’s stylist would have been jealous. My mom could not! So, Clara became my surrogate mother and hair stylist, and we all won. Clara enjoyed playing with me as her “little doll,” I enjoyed the stylish long curls, and Mom loved what Clara did so effortlessly.
Clara lived close and was married to Dad’s best friend, so we spent a lot of time together. During the 50s and 60s, smoking cigarettes had a totally different connotation. I remember watching her smoke cigarettes and thinking she looked so elegant and sophisticated. Mom didn’t smoke. So, I bought candy cigarettes (yes; they had candy cigarettes), and I’d pretend I was Clara smoking! I never became a smoker, but I still remember how I admired Clara!
Another childhood mother came softly to mind this week—Millie Sheldon, our babysitter. Until the day she died, she called me “Laredo,” emphasizing the “O” at the end, and I thought nothing of it. My parents danced often on Saturday nights. Sometimes we went with them when it was appropriate, but other times Mille stayed with my brother and me. She joined us in watching our traditional TV shows for a Saturday night: Lawrence Welk and then the weekly boxing matches. I remember her as strict but loving.
In high school, one of my teachers/mother figures was Margie Miller. She taught typing, journalism and PE. She also was the cheerleading/pep club sponsor, so we spent a lot of our free time with her on long bus trips all over southern Colorado for the sport of the season: baseball in the spring and basketball in the winter.
During my school years, she said nothing about my writing (I was on the staff of our school newspaper for several years and was the editor for two years). Many years after my graduation, Margie and her husband, Lonnie, returned for one of our school reunions during the summer. They came up to our house during a break in activities, and she said she wanted a copy of the first book I published. This comment shocked me because I hadn’t thought of writing during this part of my life. Many years later in 2014, when I published my first book, This Tumbleweed Landed, I sent her an autographed copy.
In 1973, I married Dave Prichard and inherited a wonderful mother-in-law, the woman who became my spiritual mother. She worked at their family’s church, St. Philip and St. James Episcopal Church in Denver, Colorado, as a counselor and Sunday school teacher. She took me under her wing and raised me up in the Episcopal church. I quote her still today, forty-eight years later.
I loved her God, a forgiving God, and her view of Jesus. She saw Jesus as a personal friend and spent daily time with Him, reading her Bible and daily devotionals. I have continued that practice to the present.
We spent a lot of time together as a family, and I couldn’t get enough of her. When Dave and I divorced, Mom and I stayed connected for years, but time and distance ended that amazing relationship.
In 1992, another mother-in-law came into my life, Betty Daunt, when I married her son, Mike. We hit it off immediately. She introduced me to the healing power of massage, being a massage therapist. So quickly, I set up a monthly appointment with her and kept it up after Mike and I divorced until just a couple years ago when she had to stop because of health issues.
In 1993, I suffered a horrible virus which attacked all my major organs. The western medical world couldn’t diagnose my problem. They sent me home with a list of diseases it wasn’t, and I think to die. Betty stepped in and scheduled weekly massage appointments for me for free. That coupled with acupuncture and herbs, done by my brother-in-law’s partner, I recovered. I don’t think I would have survived that horrible episode without the massages and the acupuncture.
After Mike and I divorced, Betty and I continued our relationship, and it carries on still to today.
A friend I worked with who went through all my marriages said once, “Larada, you know how to pick out mother-in-laws, not husbands!” And I would agree!
MY THREE AUNTS
Throughout my life, I had aunts who touched me deeply! Dad’s sister, Helen, showed me how a woman could balance family and work. I enjoyed her enthusiastic personality, and my brother and Mom often said I reminded them of her. Helen died way too young in her mid-50s, so I lost many valuable years with her.
Mom’s sister, Willie, played a pivotal role in my life, taking part in all my major life events. I giggled often at her sense of humor and mischievous twinkle in her eyes. After Dad and Uncle Hughie died, Mom and Aunt Willie spent as much time together as possible. After Mom died, I visited Aunt Willie in Pueblo, Colorado monthly and relished her fun story-telling talent. She died at 98 years old—I miss her daily.
Dad’s youngest sister, Joan, is nearing 93 years old. She has been a strong cheerleader of mine my complete life. I grew up near Aunt Joan and spent holidays and much of childhood with her and her family. She stands on the edge of many of my childhood memories.
Teresa Larada Horner-Miller—I carry both of my grandmothers’ names. Dad’s mother, the Larada in my life, lived in the same town as us, so I saw her daily, and she became one constant in the fabric of my life. Mom’s mother, the Teresa in my life, lived away from us during my childhood, so we had the joy of visiting her. They moved close later in my life, so she became another steadfast woman.
Finally, I saved the best for last—my mother! Mom loved to play with my brother and me as children. She celebrated our lives through birthday parties and holiday. Throughout my entire life, we were close and did so much together! After Dad died, I visited her often, and we traveled together enjoying several major trips. I loved her sense of humor and fun-filled attitude towards life. When she died, I felt like I not only lost Mom but my best friend.
So, how many mothers does it take to raise a child? As you can see, many mother figures played an important part in my complete life. Did you have other mother figures in your life? If so, who were they and what did they do? (Scroll down a little farther below to make comments!)
During the coronavirus, how do I safely celebrate my husband’s 80th birthday in a special way? I have wrestled with this problem as soon as the quarantine began. I had thought about an open house, a square dance in his honor, and a variety of other possibilities. Then the pandemic hit, and I realized I couldn’t do any of these.
I had been raised to go all-out for birthdays and have ever since my Mom did that for me repeatedly as a child and an adult. She felt a birthday had to be celebrated, and I have continued that idea, but the pandemic created a major obstacle.
When my husband, Lin, turned 75, I treated us to an Amtrak ride to Winslow, Arizona and two nights at La Posada Hotel, a restored Harvey House. Many people asked us what in the world did you do in Winslow for two days, and we laughed! We toured all the souvenir stores and visited a remarkable museum. Lin and I spent hours on a self-tour of the La Posada, a Harvey House, enjoying its remarkable history. We savored delicious food in the Turquoise Room at La Posada, unique gourmet meals. Also, we basked in our gorgeous room and balcony.
How was I to compete with that memorable birthday celebration? About a month ago, I had the pleasure of attending a family reunion via Zoom, and that gave me an idea—how about a Zoom surprise birthday party for Lin?
So, I had my plan. I emailed, called and messaged friends about two possible ways to join the fun:
Send birthday cards in the mail
Attend the Zoom surprise birthday party
After that, I scoured a variety of email lists I have. I also went through my Contacts looking for people who don’t do email or Facebook. The list kept growing.
Successfully, I kept my secret. Lin started receiving cards several days before his birthday, and he kept saying, “Wow! I don’t normally get a birthday card from. . .” Then the stack of cards grew a couple days, and he eyed me, quizzing, “What did you do?”
I kept smiling, not disclosing the secret—how obvious it was!
During the week before the big day, we planned his birthday dinner: scallops, baked sweet potatoes and a vegetable. Saturday was his birthday, so I went to Pastian’s bakery in Albuquerque for his birthday cake on Friday afternoon, a delicious carrot cake. I had bought Pumpkin Spice Blue Bell ice cream in the morning.
When I got up Saturday morning, I gave him his cards and gift and looked at the cards he received the day before. He again questioned me about all the cards he received. I almost said, “Well, there’s more to come,” but I didn’t, thank God.
The bad news—I woke up Saturday with a bad stomachache, so I spent most of the day in bed when I wasn’t attending a Zoom Recovery Retreat for the weekend. We enjoyed Lin’s delicious birthday lunch, cake and ice cream. After the afternoon session, I showered and got ready for the evening.
I had put on our shared calendar an evening session for the retreat, so I had a good cover-up, and Lin had the Nascar game to watch. After a light dinner, I went upstairs to my desktop computer to prepare for the party.
I got onto Zoom early, and two people had already signed in. One of the early birds, a Nascar fan too, asked how I was going to pull Lin away from the race. I wheeled his computer chair in front of my desktop computer ready for the birthday boy. Then I waited for a commercial and asked Lin for some help on my computer.
Reluctantly, he came upstairs to our loft to my computer, sat down and truly enjoyed the party. People came and went, and the conversation continued! We had friends from a variety of our interest areas: square dancers, people from a football pool, and travelers we met on our Costa Rica trip. Also several family members joined in the fun.
When the evening ended, I had surprised Lin with a truly wonderful celebration of his special 80th birthday, using the technology available to us today during these crazy times. It was a smashing success, and I continued the Horner tradition of celebrating a birthday!
How have you celebrated birthdays this year during the pandemic?
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Here it is six years after my Mom’s death and Mother’s Day smacks me in the face with fresh grief—I miss buying Mom a card and flowers and calling her up. I miss her infectious laughter and her practical jokes.The pain never goes away.
Many people face grief on this celebratory day—the graphic above shows those affected most. For many years before Mom died, I dreaded this day. Why? Because I am not a mother, and that hole in my heart pulsated to an overwhelming size on this annual day of remembrance.
I remember going to church one Mother’s Day many years ago (not to my present church for sure), and they had all the mothers present stand and gave them a flower. Again, I stifled tears being reminded of my lack.
Today my church gave every woman present a chrysanthemum and said a prayer for “Mothers, Potential Mothers, and Women Who ‘Mother’ in Any Way.” Today I stood, satisfied for sure.
Yes, I have mothered many people’s children. I was a middle
school teacher for twenty years. My brother and his wife knew my deep longing
for a child—I had a miscarriage about the time they got pregnant with the first
of their three children. They share their children with me in a deep meaningful
way, and I am close to them and their children.
After the miscarriage, my first husband and I sought help from a fertility specialist in Denver, Colorado—the famous Dr. Bradley who pioneered a natural child method. We started with fertility tests with my husband and went no further because he had aspermia, a disease of weak sperm.
So we thought about artificial insemination. The thought thrilled me because finally I could get pregnant, but my husband didn’t agree. So we planned to adopt a child and were within six months of getting our baby. I had knitted booties, baby blankets and put together a nursery. We went through Lutheran Social Services in Denver, Colorado, and they did the work-up on the couple a few months before placement instead of at the beginning. They felt if a couple lasted the four year wait; they were a sure bet. We had waited our four years to get our baby, but as the great day drew near, the tension in our marriage increased and he walked out. I later found out he had unsavory skeletons in his closet, and I was heartbroken in my double losses!
My mother especially grieved with me over the loss of a child—I had been raised to get married, live happily ever after and have 2.4 children. The Horner’s celebrated children and grandchildren. After my divorce, Mom talked about artificial insemination—she even offered to help me pay the hefty price of $10,000 for it! (Remember, this was in the early 1980s.)
The battle raged inside me—I could finally have the baby I always wanted, but I labored over the fact of being a single Mom. In the end, I chose not to do it which looking back; I realized was a wise decision for me.
The next few years I drank away, numbing my broken heart and
acting out! God’s mercy won in the choice I made. I would have injured a child with
my crazy lifestyle at that time.
The years have healed that profound ache, and I am satisfied with my childless life today, but I will always be indebted to my Mom and her undying support of the need she knew I had!
Here are two poems I wrote in 1996 and 2005 while I was still lamenting the lack of a child in my life:
Childless – 1996
The pain of being without a child! Eternally alone! No child has burst forth from my womb nor sucked at my breast. Barren cavity deep inside waiting to be filled with life. Waiting, waiting, waiting!
I have no child to pass my stories on to, my history, our history, how Grandad created our ranch, how special Branson Christmas trees are because we cut them down from our ranch, our land, how to do the Jessie polka and waltz, how I was almost named Jessie.
My name, Larada, that should pass on to my granddaughter, like my grandmother passed it on to me, every other generation for 7 generations.
Cheated, robbed, failed!
Not woman, not mom, nothing! Does a child define woman? Does the lack of them define me?
Names and faces dance in circles in my mind— Lael Marie Patrick Lawrence Curly blond hair, blue inquisitive eyes. Bright red hair, changeable hazel eyes. A mixture of him and me.
I have no daughter that has my smile nor a son with my Dad’s red hair. No one to call me, “Mommy.”
The empty cavity waiting to be filled has grown larger no longer just my womb, but now my whole being, my every thought, ME!
Aching, lonely, pulsating to the beat of life missing what never was!
Childless at 51 – 2005
I am childless 51 single! Reality hit yesterday as life in My 50’s sheds light on my life’s fact.
Who will carry on the stories I have – A lifetime full of Traditions?
Who will recall that Grandma Horner demanded I have a set of sheets With yellow roses? Her mark of innocence for me, her namesake.
Who will name their child Larada? Will that meaningful name Die with me?
Who will remember that Dad Called me Shorty? Who will share my travel escapades? My love for the Mayas!
Who will know the story behind Each Christmas decoration Hanging on my tree?
Who will understand the Spiritual voyage I took By looking through my Personal library of life? Will you be able to stitch together The words that formed the Frame that I draped My life over?
That gave me closure to The search through The pages, the beliefs, The heart-wrenching self That examined herself Through various beliefs and concepts.
Who will look at all My belongings And be able to define The complex mystery Of Larada? No one, but me!
Are you sad this Mother’s Day? If so, tell me your pain so I can share it and lessen your burden.
A skein of colorful yarn, two needles and a knitting pattern–life is good! Yes, I’ve been a knitter since I was about 10 or 11 years old. I saw a friend knitting and was mesmerized, so I asked my 4-H leader to teach me and the rest is history!
My Mom and maternal grandmother both crocheted, but I fell
in love with knitting. I’ve made a variety of items. I started with slippers,
and I remember the pride I felt with the first pair I made. Then my whole
family wanted a pair!
I graduated to sweaters, ponchos, vests, socks, afghans, dish rags, dresses, and Christmas stockings. It was my habit to knit when I was watching TV growing up, and I have continued this habit. I loved giving a knitted gift to a family member or friend because spent the whole time I was knitting thinking about that person. I filled it up with good vibes!
Often, my Dad would tease me, saying the sofa bounced with the rhythm of my knitting needles. He used to chide me when I ripped out a huge chunk that had taken hours to complete, thinking I was a perfectionist. In reality, with an intricate knitting pattern, a mistake threw the whole design off, so I had no choice but to rip. This taught me ripping was a part of the process.
When I was in high school, I knitted my dream sweater for my last 4-H project. The project required more than one color and carrying the different colored yarn on the underside of the garment. I made my Dad a sweater with a Hereford bull on the back and his brand on the front. It was the most ambitious project I’d ever done. When I finished his, Mom wanted me.
After high school, my life had gotten complicated—I was off to college and busy with my fun-filled college life, so I played a trick on Mom. The first Christmas, I gave her the back and two fronts because that’s all I had completed. The next Christmas, I gave her the sleeves. We enjoyed the craziness of that, and she loved it when I finished it and wore it proudly.
I took an evening class for advance knitting at Trinidad State Junior College and learned some amazing skills that took my knitting to a new level.
I took a break from knitting for several years after I was diagnosed with arthritis in all three thumb joints of both hands. The doctor put me in hand splints to save the joints, but they limited anything I did with my hands. I gave up on them and returned to knitting, and I have had less thumb pain now than then. The movement has helped my arthritic hands, not hurt them!
In 2013 after my Mom died, I returned to the hobby I love and made dish rags, a simple lovely pattern I could make without thinking. The rhythmic motion of the needles soothed my broken heart, and I ended up making more than 40 dish rags in the year after she died. I know it had a meditative quality for me with the repetition. It quieted in my mind and soothed my soul, and family and friends benefited from work.
Last year I had three family and friends having babies, so I made each one a baby afghan. Then for Christmas, I made them each a Christmas stocking with his name knitted into the stocking.
Recently I heard something that confirmed my belief that knitting has healing qualities. I listen to Dr. Bob Martin’s radio show driving to church each Sunday. On this one Sunday, he listed 10 ways to reduce stress and knitting was on the list. I chuckled as I heard him laud the hobby that had been a part of my life for over 50 years—what confirmation for me!
“According to new research by Knit For Peace, knitting could actually improve your health. The U.K. nonprofit organization published findings on the benefits of knitting based on extensive past research, as well as their own — and there are quite a few reasons to start stitching.
Health benefits were both physical and mental, and included lower blood pressure, reduced depression and anxiety, delayed onset of dementia. Knitting was deemed as relaxing as yoga, the researchers noted.”
My next project will be a rainbow-colored sweater made out of lamb’s wool and a fashionable pattern I’ve already made three times. I’ve had the yarn for a few years, and I’m anxious to get started!
After that—I bought several skeins of beige Aran yarn in Ireland at the Irish Store in Blarney two years ago, so I will be making an Aran sweater with all of its complexity! I love the history I found about the Aran sweater.
“From its origins, the Aran sweater has been intimately linked to clans and their identities. The many combinations of stitches seen on the garment are not incidental, far from it. They can impart vast amounts of information to those who know how to interpret them. Aran sweaters were, and remain, a reflection of the lives of the knitters, and their families. On the Aran islands, sweater patterns were zealously guarded, kept within the same clan throughout generations. These Aran sweaters were often used to help identify bodies of fishermen washed up on the beach following an accident at sea. An official register of these historic patterns has been compiled, and can be seen in the Aran Sweater Market on the Aran Islands.”
“As a craft, the Aran Sweater continues to fascinate audiences around the world. A finished Aran sweater contains approximately 100,000 carefully constructed stitches, and can take the knitter up to sixty days to complete. It can contain any combination of stitches, depending on the particular clan pattern being followed. Many of the stitches used in the Aran Sweater are reflective of Celtic Art, and comparisons have been drawn between the stitches and patterns found at Neolithic burial sites such as Newgrange in Co. Meath. Each stitch carries its own unique meaning, a historic legacy from the lives of the Island community many years ago. The Cable Stitch is a depiction of the fisherman’s ropes, and represents a wish for a fruitful day at sea. The Diamond Stitch reflects the small fields of the islands. These diamonds are sometimes filled with Irish moss stitch, depicting the seaweed that was used to fertilise the barren fields and produce a good harvest. Hence the diamond stitch is a wish for success and wealth. The Zig Zag Stitch, a half diamond, is often used in the Aran Sweaters, and popularly represents the twisting cliff paths on the islands. The Tree of Life is one of the original stitches, and is unique to the earliest examples of the Aran knitwear. It again reflects the importance of the clan, and is an expression of a desire for clan unity, with long-lived parents and strong children.
I will finish my lamb’s wool sweater first. I have admired the Aran patterns for years but never attempted to make one because I knew it was a complicated pattern to knit. So, as you can see, the Aran sweater will take me a while to make, but I look forward to the day when I get to wear my two new creations!
Are you a knitter? What have you made? How do you feel when
Here’s the stereotype of what retirement looks like for many: an aged couple rocking chairs on the porch, relaxed, watching the world go by–no hustle, no bustle! Lots of people are retired and retiring, thanks to the Baby Boomers.
About 61 million people collect Social Security benefits each month, and they account for about one in five people in the United States.
I’m 65 years old, retired and busier than ever, and I don’t fit that stereotype and many of you don’t either! I retired in 2013, so this is my sixth year of doing exactly what I want to when I want—that’s the luxury of retirement. I’ve always been a busy person and feared that I was a workaholic! I have to be busy. This goes back to my childhood. I started knitting when I was 10 years old and started the habit of knitting and watching TV. To this day, I have a hard time just sitting and watching TV—my hands have to be doing something.
Today my life is full and rich! My husband and my normal weekly dance
schedule looks like this:
Wednesday – Round Dancing & Plus Dancing
Thursday – Advanced Dancing
Friday – Mainstream & Plus
Then, we usually attend an out-of-town square and round dance festival once
a month that begins Friday night and ends Sunday at noon—lots of dancing! The
dancing and friendships across the country feeds my soul!
When I’m home, I do Zumba two mornings a week. I love the movement to high energy Latin music–it feels like dancing to me!
I also am chairperson for two square and round dance festivals in
Duke City Singles & Doubles Spring Fling in
Hot August Nights in August
These festivals keep me busy hiring new callers and cuers for future events and planning the upcoming event. I’m so lucky to work with two great committees that make the work fun and effortless!
I attend Hope in the Desert Episcopal church and recovery meetings regularly
when I’m home.
After my Mom died in 2013, my brother and I inherited our family ranch, so I
visit our ranch and our small ranching community, Branson, once a month to
check on things. I love staying connected to that part of my life and my dear
For the first couple years of retirement, I was busy as the Executor of Mom’s will, and probate kept me hopping.
In 2013, I volunteered to be treasurer of our square dance club, Duke City Singles and Doubles. Now that may not sound like too daunting a task for you, but I’m a “Word Person,” not a “Numbers Person.” I did it because my husband volunteered to be President and I knew his time would be dedicated to the club, so I might as well join him. The first financial statement took me eight hours to resolve, but the last one was about an hour, so I grew as a “Numbers Person.” I did that for four years and helped revived the club and grow it.
Since 2014, I’ve self-published four books and three cookbooks:
2014 – This Tumbleweed Landed
2015 – When Will Papa Get Home?
2016 – Let Me Tell You a Story
2017 – A Time To Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir
I had two really positive experiences with hospice: when my best friend, Kathi Raver died in 2009, and when my Mom died. I knew that I would become a hospice volunteer, but I had to get some time and space from Mom’s death before I could handle it.
Last year, I started volunteering for Presbyterian Hospice, so I see a client once a week and have learned so much about the mission and importance of Hospice. My client is suffering from Alzheimer’s so it’s a roller-coaster ride of mood swings and communication issues, but what an education! My client’s daughter and husband so appreciate my time with her, and I love it. I’ve become part of their family.
I’ve also been a part of the committee that puts on the Branson-Trinchera Reunion every June in Branson. This is a celebration of the small country school I attended.
My husband and I love to travel, and we’ve done several cruises and trips in my retirement. My favorite was to England and Ireland two years ago for three weeks. What an adventure we had! (You can read about it here in my blog!) We have another cruise scheduled for this summer to the British Isle—back to England and Ireland and our first time to Scotland and Wales.
My current writing project has taken over my life! I’m writing the authorized biography of the most famous square dance caller in the world, Marshall Flippo, and I’m stressing out because I want to release it in September. As a self-published author, I’ve set up a timeline of production. Now I have to focus long hours to complete the writing by the end of April, to send it to a professional editor in May, to move the edited copy to a publication software and format it in June and July (our cruise is in July) and to order copies in August ready for distribution in September—WHEW!!!!
Someone said to me a couple weeks ago, “You’re not retired—you have two jobs: your books and your ranch. So, as you can see, I’m busy; I could never spend my days in front of a TV watching mindless TV. I may be retired; I may be 65, but I have energy and enthusiasm for life.
So, you may wonder why I’ve listed all I do in my retirement. I think many people have a skewed view of retirement. Yes, we anticipate the end of the grind—the 40 hours a week demands on our life and now the panacea at the end of the rainbow. I know many do retire and choose a much less active life than I have, but I wanted you to see the possibilities in retirement. You get to choose and the choices are limitless!