Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘Sisters’

Mom Was an Okie


Let me take a break this Mother’s Day weekend from my A-Z series and talk instead about moms. Okay?

How would you describe your mom?

My mom was an Okie.

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Hmmm… How dare I?!

How dare I use such a derogatory term! “Okie” was a term used by those who thought they were better than those Dust Bowl transplants who moved to the west coast from Oklahoma to find a way to make a living when years of drought forced them from their homes there.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is a classic book that told the story of Tom Joad, the father of a migrant family. Tom left the Oklahoma dust bowl for promised land in California, only to face new and daunting challenges. It was made into an award-winning movie starring Henry Fonda.

Wrong Assumption

My father’s sisters erroneously decided Mom was a west-coast migrant from Oklahoma. Unlike those Dust Bowl transplants from Oklahoma, my mother, Elizabeth Totten, had ancestors who migrated in the late 1800s from Ireland and Scotland to Iowa and then to the state of Washington at the turn of the century. Mom’s family owned a farm in Fall City, Washington. Her dad died when she was in her early teens. My grandmother guided her six children to work hard to keep the farm operating without my grandpa to lead the way.

After Elizabeth graduated from high school in 1933, she worked in Fall City at a creamery to help the family survive and retain the farm. She moved to California after she met my dad, Sal DeAngeles, a handsome, suave, dark-haired young man, 4 years her senior.

Early Days in Mom’ & Dad’s Marriage

Elizabeth and Sal eloped to Reno, NV in 1937 and kept their marriage a secret for awhile. They were aware that his family might have trouble accepting her.

Many times Mom told me the story of how Dad’s Italian sisters (he had 5 of ’em) were resentful of her intrusion. She said they called her an Okie. (To her face? I hope not!) She was not Italian. And worse yet, she was not Catholic! And to add insult to injury, Dad’s mother (my Grandma DeAngeles) loved Mom as if she were one of her own daughters. There may have been some jealousy at work there.

Mom thought Dad’s sisters had a friend, a local Italian, Catholic girl picked out for their brother. Mom said she believed they were shocked and rather put-off by his decision to marry this outsider.

Whether her perception of their non-acceptance was true or not, it colored our family’s relationship with my dear aunts forever! It may have been one of the reasons I recall our family going on Sunday afternoons to visit Dad’s sisters at their homes, but rarely inviting them to come to ours. What a shame!

Who was Mom – – – really?

Elizabeth (later nick-named Betty) was the fourth in a family of five children born to Laura & Ralph Valentine (RV) Totten. She was a slightly built, blond, blue-eyed girl with three older sisters, one brother, and a younger sister. She adored her father, whose untimely death (he fell off a barn roof and died of a brain injury), left her devastated.

She was a good student, particularly talented as an “elocutionist” (public speaker), and would have loved to attend college. Financially it just was not an option. She was good at math as well, and eventually became Dad’s secretary/treasurer in his business. In her retirement years, she kept herself busy playing Bridge and participating in the women’s organizations of Eastern Star and Rebekahs.

What do I Remember Fondly About My Mom?

Mom always told me I could do and be whomever I decided I wanted to be. She believed in me. She gave me confidence, and encouraged all my various endeavors. She made sure I got accordion lessons when I showed an interest in that instrument. She helped me get a clarinet when I wanted to join the elementary school band, and she drove me to weekly accordion and clarinet lessons fifty miles away.

Mom helped me develop my writing skills and encouraged my ventures into art and school leadership. She convinced Dad that I should be able to go to college – and made sure they managed to finance my college expenses so that I could concentrate on my studies. “Your school work is your job,” she explained when I was contemplating a job to help with college costs. Unlike most college students today, I graduated with a BA of education in four years – and was debt free. What a gift!

Mirror Images

Mom’s spit-fire personality sometimes caused us to be at odds with one another. I see her in me now and blame her for all the parts of my personality that annoy me. I look in the mirror and see her arms hanging from my shoulders (when did that happen?). I see her impatience in me when I am being less than kind. I look up and shake my finger at her when i am too outspoken.

Thank You, Mom

But at the same time, I thank my mom for all the ways she helped me become the  “Child of God” I am today. She made sure my sister, Sally, and I got to church each Sunday. She was 100% honest and she taught Sally and me to be morally responsible, dependable, hard-working young ladies. I am grateful to my mom for her role modeling, her work ethic, and her unconditional love.

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Family is So Precious!

The picture below is 53 years old!! That’s me on the left, pregnant with our first child. My husband, Bob, is standing next to me. Next is my sister, Sally, with her husband, Dave, holding their eldest daughter, Denise (both of whom are now deceased). I thank God every day for life – and for the life of my children – and count my blessings that they are alive and healthy, productive adults today. I never take that for granted.

My mom and dad (Sal & Betty) are in the foreground. The best gift they gave to me was their love for one another – and their love for our family.

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Happy Mother’s Day
to all those wonderful moms out there
who have impacted their children
in such important ways –
and continue to do so everyday…
some up close and personal,
and others as they lean over the
Heavenly railings and watch over us from above.
***

What do you remember most about your Mom?
And what do you want to thank her for?

 

Family


Family Haiku

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Family’s Blood and Love

Sent to us from God above

We are so grateful

Here’s the Ear to Hear


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The ear to hear
Does not always work
It can change its tune
Take a break and shirk

I took its job for granted
Until one day I found
Sounds came to me distorted
Like vibrations from underground

I couldn’t hear my footsteps
Voices seemed far off
It all began last month
With a cold and nagging cough

I didn’t have the symptoms
Of others with the flu
I had no fever or body ache
Just couldn’t quite hear you

Unless I watched your mouth
Or you spoke up loud and clear,
Your voice seemed all muffled
Especially in my left ear

I kept expecting it to pop
And open up one day
Like it does when you go flying
Then land and yawn and say “Hooray!”

But it has been a month now
And the situation’s worse
The hearing test affirmed the fact
I’m blessed with a hearing curse

Last month my sister stayed with us
She has a hearing problem, too
I let the need to repeat myself
Annoy me more than a time or two

So now I think the Lord above
Is teaching me a lesson
See how it feels in a soundless tunnel
Compassion’s growing, I’m a-guessin’

A hearing aid may be the next
Tool that helps my plight
Just as my seamless bifocals
Improved my failing sight

The audiologist instructed me
To set aside my fears
And open my mind to admit
Aids can help as we add on years

I learned that ignoring it
And thinking I’ll make do
Is not a good alternative
Cuz loss of sound will damage you

It’s not just that it’s annoying
It actually hurts the brain
When sounds decrease and we
Receive the signal with too much strain

Brain cells actually stop working
They shrivel up and die
When they stop getting the stimuli
And scientists know why

They’ve studied this phenomena
There’s evidence to prove
Unused syntax disappear when they don’t
Get the sounds that make them move.

Isolation and depression are
Effects that can set in
And so might dementia start
These facts made my head spin

So here’s my ear that used to hear
I’m ready for it to work again
But just in case it doesn’t mind
I won’t delay; I’ll sport a grin

And listen to my ENT who says
A hearing aid is right for me
I’ll wear the damn thing faithfully
To keep my brains cells working actively.

Jan Beekman
1/24/18

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Sisters


Sisters

We Are Sisters

God made us sisters.
Life made us friends.
It’s been a life-long journey
To bring the months that
Separated us,
The personalities that
Distinquished us,
Into a Medley of Appreciation.
Seventeen months apart,
A life-time of differences,
But an eternity together –
Because, Praise God,
We are Sisters.

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