A Tribute to Mom

IMG_0539Four years ago today, I walked into my mother’s room and said: “Mom, today is your birthday.  Do you know how old you are?”  She thought for a moment and said: “No Stan, I don’t think I do.” “You’re 101,” I said.  My statement revived her spunky and independent spirit, and she informed me that, “I might not know how old I am, but I know I’m not 101!”

Mom died about a month later form the ravages of Alzheimer’s. Since today is her birthday, I’m re-posting this blog as a tribute to her. . .

Times were tough in 1930. The stock market crash in 1929 had knocked the economic wind out of the United States and left it gasping for survival. Some 1,350 banks would fail and close their doors. The newspaper headlines reported on financial failures as well as world leaders like Mussolini, Stalin, and Herbert Hoover.

Times were tough in 1930. The stock market crash in 1929 had knocked the economic wind out of the United States and left it gasping for survival. Some 1,350 banks would fail and close their doors. The newspaper headlines reported on financial failures as well as world leaders like Mussolini, Stalin, and Herbert Hoover.

At this time in our nation’s history bread was 9 cents a loaf, gas was 10 cents a gallon, and a movie ticket was 35 cents.

On Friday, June 20th, about halfway through 1930, Buzz Aldrin was born. At the time of his birth, the idea of space flight was just science fiction; however, Aldrin would join Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969; and, they would be the first two people to walk on the moon.

Buzz Aldrin wasn’t the only person born on June 20, 1930. A baby girl, who would never experience his fame and notoriety, was also born. Her family had little money but a lot of love. Her fragile world was shattered a few years later when her mother died. She quit school in the 8th grade because her dad needed her to help work the fields—the fields of a farm he would later be forced to sell.

As a young lady, she married, but heartache found her again. At the age of 35, she became a widow when her husband was killed on the job, and she was left with three young sons. A short time later she married again. Five children came with her new husband. His 5 and her 3 made for a memorable life that could be as harried as it was happy.

When her second husband died, the truth was exposed: She was weaker than any of her family knew. Her cognitive skills were becoming cobwebs; Her sense of direction failed her; and, she was often lost.

 

On Monday of last week, my siblings and I had to stand toe-to-toe with the toughest woman we’ve ever known to break the news: “Mom, you can’t live by yourself any longer—we’re moving you into assisted living.”

 

Mom’s independent spirit has served her well for most of her life. She kept going and remained positive when she had every right to be negative and quit. It’s that same spirit that keeps saying: “I’m not staying here. I’m going home.” But with the next sentence, it’s evident that Alzheimer’s has a befuddling grip on her once vibrant mind and spirit.

 

Buzz Aldrin may have walked on the moon, but he stands in the shadow of my mother, Evelyn Lou Lacy–the girl who was also born June 20, 1930. She’s been a loving and loyal daughter, a faithful wife to two fortunate men, and a sometimes-fearsome force who molded the life of her children.

Thanks for reading this annual tribute that I share to honor the memory of my mother.

Monumental Moments

timewarpQuintus Horatius Flaccus was a poet who lived during the reign of Caesar Augustus, and he’s credited with saying: Exegi monumentum aere perennius.  This phrase is found after the final poem in Horaces third book, and it means: I have made a monument more lasting than bronze.

Horace seems to have been pleased with his poetic powers and the many lines of lyrics he had written.  Notoriety, however, begins to fade about as quickly as bronze starts to tarnish.

The words of Horace make me wonder:  What in this world enjoys a life of longevity? Are there monumental moments that last beyond the tick of a clock?

The memory of some actions are more lasting than bronze, and I have this on good authority; Jesus confirms it: “By pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she has prepared Me for burial.  I assure you: Wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what Mary has done will also be told in memory of her (Matthew 26:6-13).”

The kind, compassion-filled, and sacrificial act of Mary was a monumental moment that’s been recounted a countless number of times.  Notice what Mary did:

  • She looked for an opportunity to honor Jesus (Mary recognized Jesus as Lord, but Judas saw Him as a ladder to help achieve his selfish ambitions).
  • She gave of herself (To wipe the dusty and dirty feet of Jesus with her hair was an act of devotion and reverence).
  • She paid the price (The ointment she used came from the Himalayan mountains and the cost was equal to the average man’s annual salary).

How do you use your moments in time to build monumental memories? Do the actions of Mary’s suggest why she anointed Jesus?  Could it be that Mary wanted Jesus to know how much she valued Him?

Monumental moments are born when people perceive they are valued.  As Solomon said, “Perfume and incense make the heart glad, but the sweetness of a friend is a fragrant forest (Proverbs 27:9).”

What can you do to sweeten the sense of value among you, your family, and your friends?

 

Thanksgiving: A slice of Americana

macySince it began in 1924, Macy’s gift to New York City has become a time-honored tradition.  Macy’s miracle of 34th street is a festive celebration that runs for 2 ½ miles.  Some 3.5 million people will line the parade route to watch this amazing display of giant balloons and unique floats, and another 50 million will watch it at home.

For many people, this is the image they have of Thanksgiving, and it is what they think of as the start of the holiday season.  My thoughts are a bit different.

While I do think of the Pilgrims, the inaugural feast with the Indians and the giving of thanks.  This year, I find myself thinking of January 6, 1923, the year before Macy’s began their parade.

A record of the event was recorded in the pages of Eureka’s newspaper, The Democratic Messenger on January 11, 1923:  Harold Seymour, age 17 and Berta Hughes, age 18 were married by Probate Judge S.L. Chase in Reece, Kansas.

Harold and Berta would move a little east and a little north to Sallyards, a town that is now barren foundations, railroad tracks, cattle, and the Kansas wind blowing across the Flint Hills and through the Bluestem grass.

The white house where Harold and Berta lived is my slice of Americana.  My first memories of Thanksgiving are framed inside this house.  I can still smell Grandma’s cherry pie and chicken and noodles.  I can still see that big smile that lined the wrinkled face of Grandpa Seymour.

Even though I’ve forgotten the name of the songs, the vivid memory of Grandma sitting at the piano is fresh in my mind.  As she played, the family sang, and the clearest voice was Dad’s—a voice that was silenced by an untimely death 50 years ago.

Even though my grandparents, parents, and all but one uncle and one aunt are gone, I still have my slice of Americana.  Every time I pour myself a cup of coffee and eat a slice of cherry pie or dig into a heaping helping of chicken and noodles, I remember what I can’t forget, and I give thanks.

What are some of your memories and your slice of Americana?

Slipper Slides and Training Wheels

Kutter No Training Wheels 19 (Altered, Crop)Some of my early childhood memories made their home in my mind while I lived on Residence Street.  It was a small house across the street from Jefferson Elementary School.

I remember my kindergarten class that had a large slipper slide inside the classroom and the day an interesting visitor walked into class.  It was Peaches, my Boston Terrier who had come looking for me.

Even when I was in kindergarten, I would think of a hundred different places I would rather be than in class.  One day I poured my milk in my lap, just so I could walk home (across the street) and get a change of clothes.

I guess my favorite memory was Dad teaching me to ride my bike. He would run along behind me and hold on to the back of the bike as I pedaled.  I would take a quick peak to see if Dad was still behind me—it was always comforting to see him and know he was there.

We can know the same thing about our Heavenly Father.  He’s promised to never leave us, and we can also know:

  • God stands guard over us: “God can guard you so that you don’t fall and so that you can be full of joy as you stand in his glorious presence without fault (Jude 24).”
  • God’s strength is available to us: “The Lord is faithful and will strengthen you and protect you against the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3).”
  • God encourages us: “God our Father loved us and by his kindness gave us everlasting encouragement and good hope. Together with our Lord Jesus Christ, may he encourage and strengthen you to do and say everything that is good (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).”
  • God has an inheritance for us: “We have been born into a new life which has an inheritance that can’t be destroyed or corrupted and can’t fade away. That inheritance is kept in heaven for you, since you are guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed at the end of time (I Peter 1:4-5).”

Dad had a great smile, and I only need to close my eyes to see it again and to hear his clear voice shout words of encouragement:  “You can do it son—keep pedaling!

You can do it too.  You may need a little help, but the God who is your guard; your source of strength; and, your source of encouragement is ready to give you a little push as you pedal your way through life.

A Mind Full of Memories

2012-02-26-sandhillsOn Thursday night of this past week, I received a phone call about 10:30.  It was a call from my cousin:  “Hey Stan, I wanted you to know that Mom just died.”

I didn’t sleep much that night.  I kept thinking about my Aunt Ila.  I reminisced about my childhood days at Sallyards, and the Seymour gatherings at that white house bordered by railroad tracks on the South and surrounded by the captivating beauty of the Flint Hills.

My memories were of a time when both Ila and I were much younger.  As I thought of her, I remembered the sound of her joyful laugh, the infectious smile that lined her face, and the sparkle in her eyes.  Most of all, I remembered her kind gentle spirit and the warmth of her ever-present love.

As I thought about her love, I remembered the words of the Apostle Paul:

For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! 

~Romans 8:38-39

I hope this verse convinces you, as it does me, that not even the princes of darkness can separate us from the love of God.

When you are stirred up and trampled down by the tragedy of death and the miles of trials you’ve walked in your life, why not take a peek at things from God’s perspective? God has a hold on you and He isn’t going to let you go.

Jesus said:   My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Are you “persuaded” by the words of Paul and convinced that there is no power on earth or below or heaven above that can separate you from the love of God?

I think Aunt Ila was convinced of this truth.  I think she could say:  “We have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him (I John 4:16).”

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Whenever I look North of Highway 54 and my eyes see an empty and vacant pasture that used to be Sallyards, my mind is still full of memories.

One that remains and will always be cherished is the memory of Aunt Ila’s love.