Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Decade Without Mom on Mother's Day

My mom Stella died in January
2005 at 79-years-old. I don't cry so
much anymore, but I do miss her phone
calls, visits, laughter, and wisdom. 
Here's some of what Mom taught me. 

Work comes before play
Always. Get done what needs to be done. No excuses, get moving, and don't be pokey. Only when tasks were done would we get to watch TV, my favorite childhood pastime. Or we'd watch while we work, but we would not stop. A break is fine, but if the task was not done, we would get back to work shortly. When working and talking, do both. Do not stop to talk. That was one of Mom's pet peeves.

Mom & sister Priscilla work a burn pile on the farm
In her later years when she slowed down, morning and early afternoon were for work.

Our reward came later when we'd play table games like Skip-Bo, Scrabble, or Chinese Checkers. Mom also enjoyed reading magazines (which she did while making me practice pianoread about that here), watching TV, and of course, making lists for the next day. This leads me to the next point.

Plan, plan, and plan some more
Know today what you're wearing tomorrow if you're going out. Always take water along. When driving, change lanes soon enough so you don't have to force your way in. Get your nose out there when making a left turn so oncoming traffic has to let you turn when the light turns redyou're already in the intersection.

One of her pet peeves about planning stems back to the check-writing days. Mom would say, "Write part of the check out before the clerk tells you your amountotherwise you're holding up the entire line."

Mom & I with her new China
When planning trips to Kansas to see my sister Brenda, Mom drove Dad nuts when she'd already be planning we we'd need to do upon our return.

He'd say, "You're just like your mother who gets her purse and jacket ready the night before her appointment." My Grandma Katie did do that. 

And I admit, I usually know when the week starts what I will wear each day. I even write it down, so I don't end up wearing the same thing twice! Mom made me change out of school clothes into everyday clothes the minute I got home. I still do that today. Yes, I wear my clothes more than once before washing them if they're not dirty.

I learned two years that my over planning caused my stress. I took Mom's influence here too far. I didn't like a monkey wrench getting thrown into my plans. I'm learning to be more flexible and enjoy the moment I am in rather than plan for the ones that haven't arrived yet. Reading the minimalist and mindfulness blogs helped. I have a couple of those listed on my blog roll. The Zen Habits guy is incredible.

Write a grocery list

Yes, more planning, but it saves money. Do it throughout the week when you discover you'll need it. Before embarking on your shopping trip, plan your stops in a logical order to not waste time or gas. 

Never be without bread or milk in the house. Mom even froze milk in case we didn't get to town. It was yucky and watery, but it worked when we needed it. A frozen loaf of bread wasn't so bad. We lived 22 miles from town, so her planning ahead saved many a meal.

Mother's Day 2002 when Mom was in the nursing home

Reuse and recycle what is reasonable

Mom did this before it was vogue. Paper milk cartons served as freezer containers for butchered chickens. Just needed markers and masking tape to write down what was in it.

Save boxes. They're needed for gifts. Mom had an entire cabinet of empty boxes inside more empty boxes inside yet more empty boxes. My sister Priscilla and I sure laughed when we were cleaning out that cabinet after Mom passed. Just when we thought there were no more boxes, we'd find another tiny one.

I inherited this box habit and one time yelled, "Look at that nice box!" I'd seen a large appliance box on someone's lawn. My sister Brenda said I sounded just like Mom.

Mom holding me, the late-comer, when she was 41-years-old

Mom would also ask the store keepers if they had any boxes. She'd bring them home and cut out a door for me and turn it upside down, so I'd have a cardboard house. What Mom hasn't done that for her little kid? 

She also stockpiled large pieces of cardboard to put under the sink that Dad just didn't seem to have time to fix.

If brown recluse spiders weren't so prevalent in Kansas, I think you'd find box inside box inside box in my garage. I just might have a couple of those in my classroom at school.

Do not tell people what others say about them

Judy Finstad, mom's hairdresser said, "Your mom's different. She doesn't gossip." I never heard my mom doing that. I don't recall her repeating juicy news to Judy, her sisters, or to a friend on the phone. She might tell Dad or me at supper time, but never really anyone else.

Maybe she had it easy because she was a farm wife and didn't work around a lot of other people, but regardless, I am going to strive to be more like mom in this area.

How about you? What daily living tasks did your mom teach you? How about her personality traits? Any carry over to you? Are there any habits you take too far?


  1. Melody you make me laugh. I have boxes I received wedding gifts in and still have a box of many small boxes on my closet shelf. just cant throw them away. Guess because that is what mom did. It is no wonder it's hard to "down size". hope you see this message. I have tried to reply before and couldn't figure out how. Cynthia

    1. How funny about the boxes. I bet Grandma Elizabeth did it and that's where it all started! Thanks for commenting, Cynthia!

      Blgger sometimes eats people's comments. So I usually copy and paste in case that happens. People on more professional blogs than mine have complained about it, but what you did worked just fine.

      I get email notifications when people comment here, so I will always see it. So even if you wanted to comment on an older post, I get a notification that there's a comment, and I can attend to it.

  2. Melodie ... my favorite post from you so far. I loved this. Made me tear up remembering so much ...

    1. Oh I'm so thankful, Shelli, for your response and that you could relate to the love I had for my mom. Blessings to you as you are mother passing on lessons to your children.