CLOSE YOUR EYES. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. OPEN YOUR HEART.

SHADY DEL KNIGHT, ADMINISTRATOR

SHADY DEL KNIGHT, ADMINISTRATOR
High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight
HELLO STRANGER ... IT SEEMS LIKE A MIGHTY LONG TIME!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

From Violets to Visions of Heaven


Tom Anderson with you today as we mark another important date on the Shady Dell calendar, the one year anniversary of the death of our dear, much loved old friend Margaret Schneider. At this time
it is an honor to welcome back Margaret's dedicated daughter,
my great friend, author and guest blogger Kathleen Mae Schneider.




From Violets to

Visions of Heaven 


by 

Kathleen Mae Schneider




"In search of my mother's garden,
I found my own."
- Alice Walker

After our long, cold and seemingly endless winter,
the wild violets are back. Their tiny purple petals
pop up in un-mowed lawns and are soon followed
by Lilies-of-the-Valley. The sight of them, along with
their exquisite perfume, evoke gentle memories of my
Mother and the first bouquets that I picked for her every
spring when I was a very little girl. Judging by her
surprise and delight back then, you would have
thought my tiny offerings to her were
expensive florists' roses.


In reality, they had stems so short and petals
so crushed by my 4-year-old hands, that Mother
had to use medicine bottles for vases.


Mother displayed the blossoms with the shortest
or even missing stems in recycled bottle caps.

Setting the flowers in a place of honor on her
kitchen windowsill, she would always ask me,
"Do you remember why I love violets so much?"
I was so proud to answer, "Because you were
born in the springtime at Violet Hill!”

Although larger, fancier bouquets delivered
on special days always pleased Mother, those
imperfect ones I gave her from her garden
symbolized the simple but profound love
she and I shared for over seventy years.

(above) Mother with birthday flowers from her admirers.


As an adult I continued the ritual begun
in my childhood of cutting flowers for
Mother from her garden, this time
with sweet peas in her favorite color!


Tulips and daffodils graced Mother's sidewalk
in front of her house every spring. Even strangers
passing by our house noticed the crowded and
gloriously-colored flower beds and borders.


Oriental poppies spilled over onto the walk from
their flower bed on the side of Mother's house.

Mother possessed a passion for flowers of all
kinds. Growing up, I found them everywhere -
inside as well as outside the house.


As a little girl, I used to reverently touch
this flower-themed scarf that Mother hand-
embroidered as a young woman for her dresser.

Our gifts to her over the years were
often flower-themed as well.


The image above shows a colored-pencil study
that I drew of Mother's petunias and gave it
to her for Mother's Day one year.

The very old booklet below is one that
I found among Mother's belongings.


It contains helpful information about growing
different kinds of flowers, although I never knew
her to get her knowledge of them from books.


The booklet also contained ads such as
the one above. Some things never change!

Flowers figured prominently in Mother’s
dreams, especially in a vivid one right after
her own mother died. In the dream Mother
saw and spoke with my grandmother in
heaven, and she asked Mother to come
be with her in that beautiful place.
Mother was tempted to go with
her because of all the flowers,
but told my grandmother she
couldn't join her yet because
she had to take care of me!
(I was only eight years old.)

Two and a half generations. My pregnant Mother poses
with Almedia Brown, her mother. I am the baby bump
you see, so I guess this is my first portrait!

That is why it was no surprise to hear Mother
describe heaven at the end of her life, based on
more very realistic dreams that were identical
to that first one. I’ll never forget the times
when she enthusiastically told me what
it was like in great detail.

Mother believed in angels and heaven.
Notice the tiny guardian angel on her vest.)

Mother said, "Heaven is such a wonderful place -
always sunny and like a big park, with beautiful
flowers everywhere I look. Your Daddy is there,
and Mom and Pop, and all of my brothers and
sisters. Your Christopher is there too, and my
friends that we used to have so much fun
with when we were young. Everyone
was so happy to see me!”

Her story then segued into the inevitable petulant
question: "Why doesn't God take me home, Kathy?
All those people that I love are waiting for me!"
I struggled to keep my composure whenever this
conversation came up, but eventually thought of
an answer that worked for both of us: “Perhaps
He's not finished with you here on earth, Mom.
He still has work for you to do”. I added that
she no longer needed to stay back to take
care of me, although she had always
done that and I couldn’t imagine
my life without her.

Three-and-a-half-year-old me at the top of my backyard
sliding board, waiting for Mother to catch me at the bottom.
I wasn’t afraid to let go if she was there -
a metaphor if ever there was one!

About a week before Mother died, she brought up
the subject again, but clearly found my response
unsatisfactory. Pointing over her shoulder to the
numerals '105' that hung on the wall above
her chair, she said in a disgusted voice,
"Well, maybe God’s got work for me yet,
but isn't it soon time for me to retire?!"

So here we are, marking one year
since God finally took her home.


I visit her grave regularly and place her favorite
pink and red flowers there. Of course I miss her
terribly, but she is still ‘catching' me when I fall
into sadness. I am comforted knowing that the
essence of my Mother is not really there on
that hill in Manchester Union Cemetery.


From her descriptions, this is
how it looks where she is now!


I imagine her with a healthy young body...


...thoroughly enjoying herself as a “retiree”.

1928 Dell Rats Margaret Brown (ctr.) with two of her sisters and their dates.

Mother is in the rumble seat with a tongue-challenged friend of my Dad’s.


Mother is now reunited with the
love of her life, my father Ralph.


My son Chris has his arm around
his dear Grammy once again.

I know Mother is truly happy and surrounded
by love, sunlight, and flowers of all kinds -
and probably lots of violets!


I find solace in the petals, colors and scents of my own
flower garden. As I care for them as she taught me
to do, I feel her gentle presence and I am at peace.

40 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 26, 2018 at 9:39 AM

      Thank you, Kelly! I appreciate your visit today!

      Delete
  2. Kathryn AndersonMay 26, 2018 at 8:17 AM

    This is a fine tribute to your mother, Kathy.

    It is difficult to get over losing a mother. I'm still not over it yet-- 16 years ago this September.

    On a lighter note -- I found the Nervine ad amusing. Actually Nervine was a bromide salt-- similar to chlorine salt which is something found in our cells. Unfortunately, the therapeutic dose of bromide salt is so close to the toxic level of bromide that most people who indulged ended up almost poisoning themselves. You're right. Some things never change.

    I enjoyed seeing those pictures of your mother and her sisters taken in the Roaring Twenties.

    Sending warm wishes for a peaceful if not happy day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 26, 2018 at 10:25 AM

      If you are like many of us, Kathryn, we never get over the passing of those close to us. I am truly sorry for the loss of your mother. The wound heals, but the scars remain, don't they? Hopefully you have comforting memories that assure she lives on in your heart.

      That's really interesting chemical info about Nervine! I wonder how much the placebo effect helped; if nothing else, perhaps to counteract toxicity.

      Other "medicines" advertised in the flower gardening booklet were Dr. Miles' Tonic (contained quinine), Dr. Miles' Cactus Compound (with digitalis), Dr. Miles' Anti-Pain Pills (125 for $1), Dr. Miles' Asper-Mint ("Smile at the Ache") and Dr. Miles' Laxative Tablets ("A purely vegetable cathartic - mild, but thorough in action.") Here's a sample testimonial from a Mr. T.C. Warner:

      "I have been in a nervous state for many years and almost in a condition of collapse. After the second bottle of Nervine I was able to go to work, have gained 15 pounds, and am feeling like a boy."

      I guess that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger!

      Thank you for stopping by and for adding your comment and medical knowledge to the post. I hope your Memorial Day plans aren't totally washed out!

      Delete
    2. Kathryn AndersonMay 26, 2018 at 11:17 AM

      Well, Kathleen, I am just preparing as if the rain is never going to come. I am making pickled beet eggs, potato salad and pickled hot cherry peppers. :)

      Delete
    3. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 26, 2018 at 6:57 PM

      If you want another really great recipe for pickled red beet eggs, I'll send you my mother's. You can buy them at deli counters and at market, but they haven't much of the sweet/sour taste we love. They're just colored pink. Mother's family recipe hails from PA dutch country, so it's the real deal.

      I hope Alberto goes easy on you guys, and you have a great get together, even if it has to go under roof for awhile.

      Delete
  3. Such a sweet post today.
    Wild Violets and Lily of the Valley wonderful spring flowers I only see in photos. I did plant some tiny "wild violets" in my home in Laguna Beach. I was so excited. I can not believe people can see this beauty everyday.

    cheers, parsnip

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 26, 2018 at 10:47 AM

      Thanks, Parsnip!
      You probably have other wonderful flowers that grow wild where you live that don't bloom here in south central PA. Birds-of-Paradise perhaps? My niece
      In Santa Barbara sends spectacular pictures of them to us. Every place on earth has its own special beauty.

      Delete
  4. I appreciate so much what you wrote, friend Shady ... I really do ... and I love you for writing this ... lets leave it at that, hmmm? ... how about sum Tiesto right now, hmmm? Love, cat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 26, 2018 at 11:02 AM

      Actually, I wrote the post today as a guest blogger instead of Shady, because we are honoring my mother.

      I looked up Tiësto, and learned that he's a performer. I'll have to check out his music some day.

      Thanks for your visit and comment.

      Delete
    2. Biiig hugs, friend Shady ... Love, cat.

      Delete
    3. ... and new friend Kathleen ... cat.

      Delete
    4. ... still crying tears and amazed how family can be connected like that .. my family is connected but then not ... as we fight all the time ... but we are really good at moving on ... This gypsy girl knows about moving on and I tell you: It is possible ... scars and all ... tears and smiles ... Love you, friend Shady ... Always, cat.

      Delete
  5. There is always a bit of joy to lift some of the sadness away, Kathleen. Even in your sadness, you do find the joy and you share it lovingly with us.

    Your mother's gardens were spectacular. I have never seen so many poppies in a row before...just beautiful. I have found that many of us girls find a lot of warmth and pleasure from raising the same types of flowers we enjoyed as young children. Well, when I was young, I didn't express my joy as much as I did once I had my own gardens. I haven't forgotten the flowers that my mother raised. Mom has always been happy to give me hints, and has even sent seeds and roots for me to plant in my yard. She raised zinnias, roses, tulips and iris. She still tries to maintain a garden at her age of 92.

    Your mother was a beautiful girl, and woman, Kathleen. The photos of the Dell Rats from the late 20's, are so special, showing how much fun teens had during those times. And, not many of us have a picture of our mother carrying us before birth! I love that picture of your Grandmother and mother!

    Isn't it exciting to find old publications and newspapers that were kept by family members. However, I have to say "What Nerve"! They didn't sugarcoat conditions with fancy medical terms in those days, did they?

    Your mother's ideas and visions of heaven were so lovely, and ideal. Even when our loved ones think they are ready to go, we aren't ever ready for them to leave. My father passed away in 1983, and he suffered so much with his illness, we knew it was best for him to go. All these years later, my sister and I want him back so we can talk to him more and tell him what a wonderful father he had been.

    You will always miss your mother, Kathleen, and you will always cherish the time you had with her, the love, laughter and those beautiful flowers!

    This is a wonderful memory of your mother and family that you have shared with us! All of your photos and the flower gardens are just beautiful, and, oh...I love your colored-pencil portrait that you did for your mother. The two of you had a very special relationship, that continues in your heart and hers.

    I'm wishing you peace and happiness, Kathleen. Thank you for this beautiful tribute.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 26, 2018 at 12:29 PM

      There's a saying in Japan that "It is darkest at the foot of the lighthouse". I think it applies here, in that the light of a beautiful life never totally disappears. It goes on even as we mourn a loss. I planned from the beginning to make this a joyful post rather than a dirge, and I'm pleased that you recognized that and responded so beautifully.

      It's also good to know another daughter who also shares a flower connection with her mother. Mother originally planted those glorious poppies years at the back of her side flower bed, but every year they dropped their seeds closer to the front - thus the colorful cascade.

      Appreciation of growing things sometimes escaped me too when I was young. Many times Mother sent me indoors because I got overheated, sunburned or eaten alive by insects while helping her weed or pick green beans. She had olive-toned skin and some kind of natural protection from bugs. Not me! Fair skinned as I was, I looked like a wimp next to her.

      My garden is right next to a dairy pasture, so the cows and mules attract flies as big as bumblebees. Mosquitoes visit every dusk and dawn, and I still burn easily. However, the end justifies the means, so I do what I have to do to cover up while gardening.

      Mother didn't buy flowers from garden centers when I was little. Like your mom, she planted cuttings and seeds that came from her family and friends. I really love that heirloom aspect. When we walked around her yard, she told me, "I got these peonies from your grandmother." or "That iris clump from Mrs. Lehr (a neighbor) is as old as you are." I brought as many samples and seeds from her yard as I could carry and overwintered them. Finally our ground is warm enough to plant them, so I hope to
      continue her flowers for my daughter and myself.

      Some of these photos just appeared in 'treasure trove' mixed boxes from Mother's house. I wrote about my grandmother Allie in previous posts, so I thought it would be fun to see her as an old lady. I also found the woolen knickers Mother sports on the Dell Rats picture. She saved everything!

      The flower booklet with the old medicine ads is a real slice of history, isn't it?! People back then had troubles similar to our postmodern ones, but the "cures" never had to get by the FDA! My dad used to say that doctors bury their failures and as Kathryn wrote above, Dr. Miles probably had a few!

      One reason I was blessed to care for Mother until she died was the opportunity to tell her how much I loved and respected her. I told her that I prayed to God many years ago to have her with me a long time, since my father died when I was 33. She remembered that, and just a few weeks before she passed away, while I was massaging lotion into her itchy dry skin, she looked at me with those twinkling, wise eyes of hers and said, "I guess God answered your prayer!"

      Thank you for the compliment on my drawing. I aspire to do more this summer, since flower studies are a favorite. I wonder why?!

      Your comment was SO healing, Suzanne. Today of all days, it is truly balm to the wound!

      Delete
  6. Great post. I just love those two 1920s photographs. Young people stay basically the same, no matter the passing trends.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 26, 2018 at 3:05 PM

      You know, Kirk, I agree with you. When I look at these old black-and-white photographs, it's a Carpe Diem moment.

      The vibrant expressions and spirited poses of my mother and her companions evoke the youth of all times and anywhere in the world. I feel so fortunate to have a great number of pictures like this in my possession.

      Thank you for checking out Mother's tribute post, and letting me know you appreciate the pictures I chose to include.

      Delete
  7. Thank you, Kathleen, for sharing more of your history with your mother. What a wonderful woman! The dreams God gave here were lovely and encouraging. I didn't know you lost a son, although you may have written of that before. I lost my grandson seven years ago and I'm so looking forward to being with him again in heaven.

    I loved reading about all the flowers and seeing the old book about gardens. When my mother moved in with us, I found crochet patters from the 1940s. She also embroidered flowers on table scarfs.

    My mom loved roses and planted them every time we moved. We lived in California and she tried some cactus plants for the first time. My favorites were her purple pansies. I would hold one in my hands and marvel at the velvety smoothness and beautiful color. There were poppy fields near where we lived and my parents drove us there to see them. I won't ever forget that day either. When I was 6, I went around the neighborhood picking people's flowers and brought them to my mom. I found out I wasn't supposed to do that! Lol

    Flowers have a lot to do with life, don't they? I'm sure we will see new kinds of flowers in heaven. God is someone who loves variety and beauty. We are so blessed to have him.

    When my mother had hip surgery, she had a very hard recovery. At that time, she also wanted God to take her home. However, it wasn't in God's plan at the time. She has recovered nicely now and I take care of her as you took care of your mother. It is a privilege to take care of her as she took care of me as a child. She said to me the other day,"I'm sorry to be so much trouble." I said, "Mom, a 4-year-old is trouble. You are no trouble at all." And that is true.

    Thanks again for sharing your story and the photos. I was lifted up to heaven.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 27, 2018 at 8:07 AM

      Hey Belle - you're another flower person - great! It's so good to hear that you also enjoy them so much . Their perfect design appeals to my creative sensibility. It's as if we look over the shoulder of an artist in the midst of inventing those pansies that you love, who says "What if I just use this shade of purple next to splashes of canary yellow and white in the center? Next I'll give the petals thin black radiating lines and a velvety texture for good measure."

      Mother enjoyed pansies too, because they were some of the first flowers she could plant in the spring. She asked me if I could see the cats' faces with whiskers on them. You can imagine what that meant to me when I was a little girl with a pet kitten! I smile whenever I plant my pansies in the spring just thinking of her and seeing so many "whiskers"!

      Gardeners often plan what they'll plant in their gardens with a specific effect in mind. Your mother's roses were no doubt a gift to herself, but also a wonderful one left behind for the next owners of the property.

      The little bit of heaven that is my garden looks more like a Garden of Weed'in right now. With all the recent rain, it's hard to keep ahead of those true perennials! Although there is much work ahead to restore it, I plan to add two new sections.

      The first will have all white flowers in memory of my son. A gorgeous Madonna lily that he gave me on my last Mother's Day with him blooms faithfully every July and will be the color 'anchor' for that space. In the second spot I will plant all pink flowers, in memory of Mother and her favorite color.

      When I see Chris in heaven, the first thing I'll do after hugging him will be to shake him silly for choosing a permanent solution to a temporary problem. His death altered our larger family forever, and for each of our lives individually.

      Caregivers are a real silent majority these days, and aren't frequently noticed or heard. My sister and I took care of Mother for six years in her own home from the time of her hip fractures until her death, so I can empathize. Like us, you won't regret it. One of the hardest parts of was accepting the Greek chorus of advice to "take care of yourself" from the very people who weren't available to help!

      I have a lot of respect for Rosalynn Carter, who said, "There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers." She even began an institute devoted to it. https://www.nextavenue.org/rosalynn-carter-pioneering-caregiving-advocate-says-more-must-be-don

      Mother also said she felt like a burden. I often asked her if getting up during the night to give me a bottle or change my diaper when I was a baby was a burden. She'd reach up and give me a hug then and say, "Of course not".

      God bless you, Belle! Thank you so much for your comment. May you have many more special, flower-filled days with your dear mother.

      Delete
  8. Kathy,

    I can almost smell the aroma of the flowers just looking at those beautiful pictures. Seeing your mother's property in full bloom and looking so beautiful, brought a huge smile to my face!

    Margaret was truly a blessing and gift from God. She lived a simple and humble life but love was so present with everything she did.

    I so enjoyed all the pictures in this post especially the oldies! But, I the one that made my heart smile (and shed a tear) was the picture of Margaret and your son Chris! That was the first picture I have seen of him, such a handsome young man he was.

    This was such a lovely tribute for a lovely woman! I do miss that sweet woman. I know it must be a tough day for you and your family on this first anniversary of Margaret’s passing. I know this is bittersweet time for you, Kathy. I hope it brings comfort knowing that your mother is in a wonderful place surrounded by people she loves and lots and lots of flowers!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 27, 2018 at 12:39 PM

      I'm so glad the Dell brought you and Mother together, Toni! Her simplicity and humility were certainly central to her charm - which was never deliberate. Her yard in its heyday was so full of flowers and colors, that other homes around us appeared bleak and barren to me by comparison. I do think she radiated a kind of love everyone wishes they had in their lives - accepting, undemanding, unconditional and always authentic.

      Thank you for mentioning Christopher. I almost included an earlier photo of him with Mother, but left it out to save space. In that one, he is about five or six and she perhaps in her late sixties/early seventies. They are posed under her blooming pink and white dogwoods with our Westie, Mr. MacDougal. That picture gets to me as well, because I took the picture and remember the day well. All three are gone now.

      We also think Chris was good-looking - a gentle giant with almost too many talents. He possessed great physical strength, but was also born with superb artistic, athletic, musical and mechanical ability. He embodied the best traits and gifts of his parents.

      All that was was deceptive however. His tender heart and extreme sensitivity that ran parallel to those other gifts contributed to his death. What is especially hard for his father, sister and me is that he had so much to give to our world, but was unable to fulfill it. We miss him so much, even after twelve and a half years.

      Mother's visions of heaven, reading the wonderful comments such as yours here and answering them, did help me focus on good thoughts instead of those that indulge the pain. I know you are familiar with that!

      Thank you so much, Toni, for being here. Mother is also smiling!

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  9. This post is a very beautiful post and an honour to your wonderful mom and your dad and son who was taken too soon from you. It must have been so very hard to her her ask this question and I can feel that lump in your throat trying to come up with an answer. I’m glad the answer was found and that she is now with the people she loves walking in her flower garden. It is tough and, since I lost my mom in January, I miss her because it doesn’t matter what their age is, we love them and miss them. I love reading this post and think you did your mom proud with this post.

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    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 27, 2018 at 6:25 PM

      Thank you, Birgit. So far, I find that the sadness of our loved ones' deaths doesn't go away, it just gets different over time. I am comforted knowing Mother is at peace, as are my dad and son. The hardest part for me is the adjustment to life without them, surrounded as I am by both poignant and happy reminders of their time with me.

      Pears were Chris's favorite fruit. Yesterday when I picked out fresh pears in the market, I was taken back 40 years and saw him as a chubby, blue-eyed one-year-old in my mind's eye. Sitting in his high chair as I spoon fed him his pureed pears, he looked for all the world like a baby bird with his mouth wide open to be filled, as fast as I could spoon them in. When he sneezed with a mouthful, splattering my face and clothes, he had the most adorable surprised look and contagious baby laugh at my reaction. Now that's both a beautiful and a painful recollection - conjured up by supermarket pears all these years later.

      I have 71 years worth of reminders for Mother, as I describe in guest posts here, but only 28 with Chris. You are right to say the time we have with those we love is never enough, whether they live a short or a long life.

      All we can do is not take those we love for granted while we still have them, and be grateful for whatever time we're given to be together. We can treasure the memory of those who have transitioned to another existence, and honor them in any ways we are able. I'm fortunate for this opportunity to do that by writing these guest posts, and I know Mother and Chris would be happy with this one.

      I think if I could talk to my son right now, he would say to me, "It's been over twelve years now, Mom. What else will you do to make me proud?" I wear a tiny silver pendant around my neck that holds some of his ashes, so I literally always have him next to my heart.

      Thank you again for reading and sharing, Birgit. I'll say some prayers for continued healing, certain it will happen for both of us!

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  10. Hi Kathleen,

    What a wonderful one-year tribute to your sweet mother. I loved reading about her love of all things flowers and the photos are beautiful! How awesome to live life surrounded by the natural beauty of colorful fragrant flowers.

    I adored the story about how your Mom cherished the gifts of (mashed) flowers from you at your tender age of four. The picture of the flower resting in the medicine bottle cap is precious! That spoke volumes on how much your Mom cherished YOU and all that you brought into her life.

    My Mom too loves flowers. She's been staying with me most of the time. She moved down here to Austin, from North Carolina, to be closer to me when she finally realized that she needed help and couldn't be on her own anymore, in a place with no family around. (My Dad passed in October of 2016: my folks were actually here visiting me when he died; my Mom wanted to go back to NC to try to do it on her own and after about 6 months she called and said she was ready to sell the house and move down here. She now has an apartment about 12 miles from me but I'm trying to talk her into giving that up because she's here at my house most of the time. I just took her back to her place yesterday: she wanted to spend the weekend there and take care of some things -- she probably needed a break from me and the dogs, truth be told!)

    Anyway, she has always loved flowers too. Just a few weeks ago she planted some marigold and colius seeds in a few pots and we've been watching them grow.

    Your photo of the lovely tulips took me back: I remember fondly from my childhood my Mom coming home with pallets of marigolds, 4 o'clocks, tulips and various other colorful flowers to plant in the beds around our home. Springtime in Niagara Falls is especially sweet and exciting after the long Buffalo winters. Tulips and marigolds are some of my favorite flowers too.

    (continued to next comment post)

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    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 28, 2018 at 12:49 PM

      Hello Michele!

      Growing up with Mother's floral extravaganzas certainly informed who I am today. I wish that every child could be so fortunate.

      Thank you for recognizing the significance of the bottle cap 'vase'. Mother wisely taught that kindness, acceptance of others, and forgiveness of their imperfections led to a happy life. I think that it contributed to her longevity.

      She never heard of John Dewey or Jean Piaget, or read child psychology, but she embodied many of their theories. During my training to be a teacher, I realized those lofty methods with scientific names came naturally to Mother, her sixth-grade education notwithstanding. Growing up, she taught me well, sometimes through flowers, but always by example - the best form of education in the world.

      It sounds like you are at a crossroads with your mother as she ages. I'm very familiar with the role reversals you describe. Our society tends to put our elders in institutional settings rather than care for them ourselves at home, but I fully understand the reasons in a visceral way. It simply isn't possible in some cases.

      Even if we are willing and able, as we ourselves age, it quickly becomes a tricky balancing act between parental caregiving and self-care. Boundaries are hard to both identify and maintain. From what you write though, your sweet mama is mentally alert and a good communicator. That will undoubtedly help both of you.

      Your Mother's marigolds and coleus reminded me of the winter before last, when Mother expressed frustration at missing spring flower planting. I brought sunflower seeds and potting soil into the house, and using a tablespoon as a miniature trowel, she had enough sight left to plant them in paper cups.

      We also watched them sprout and grow, and she even was able to water them. This helped her feel useful and engaged with life, overjoyed to see the eventual gigantic yellow blooms that fairly exploded right below her window. Four o'clocks were another favorite of hers, and as a kid, I made sure they really did open their petals in late afternoon.

      Delete
  11. (comment post 2 of 2)

    What a fabulous keepsake you have in the embroidered scarf. Back in those days, table scarves and doilies were everywhere! Every time I see doilies, they remind me of my grandmothers. And I did my share of dusting around doilies in my house growing up too...

    I loved seeing all the pictures of your Mom too, especially the old black & white ones when she was a young woman. Loved the one with her in the rumble seat --- how cool! And the one with her and her sisters with their dates was adorable too. Those old pictures, to me, are an invitation to time-travel and join in on someone's life, if only for a few moments.

    The picture of her and your Dad standing with arms around each other: so sweet. And how precious is the photo of your son spending quality time with his grandmother?! They both look like they are enjoying each other's company. Chris has such a big smile on his face. He looks happy and so does Margaret.

    Your sharing of your Mom's comments and questions about God's plan and wondering when He was going to take her really hit home. My Mom has expressed that so many times recently. It's so hard to hear! But I can understand. She has a number of health issues and more often than not, she feels awful. I try so hard to keep her positive but she says that it's really hard to be positive when you feel like crap all the time. I get it. I just want the years that she has left to be healthy and happy. My Mom loves to laugh and it kills me not seeing her laugh. She has been doing better lately though. I told her the other day that one of the smartest things she's done lately is agree to physical therapy because it's helping and she's getting stronger. We definitely had some laughs this past week and it was so welcome. Still, even then, those thoughts are on her mind. She often says, when people ask how she's doing: "Well, apparently God doesn't want me and the Devil isn't ready for me yet!" haha

    Thank you Kathleen, for sharing your Mom with us once again. You certainly have a treasure trove of memories with her and it is awesome having you share them with Tom's friends here.

    Thank you for sharing all these wonderful colorful pictures of the beautiful flowers along with Margaret's colorful spirit.

    She's with you always ... and through your tributes, she's with us too!

    All the best,

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 28, 2018 at 2:57 PM

      Every time I see her antique textiles, I imagine Mother's beautiful hands stitching and crocheting doilies and dresser scarves as a young wife. When I was little, I used to raid the drawers where she kept extras. They made very elegant princess veils and crowns for dress-up, but she never punished me for it. She only laughed at how different they looked on top of my head!

      Those doilies and scarves are as precious to me as the hundreds of old photos that speak eloquently of my parents' rich and fulfilling life and love. If we could change the fashions, hairstyles and cars on some of those pictures, the "kids" would look like any young people today.

      We used to call Mother the Energizer Bunny because she just kept going and going. Two rehabs in nursing homes didn't daunt her resolve to return to her home by working through the pain and learning to walk again. Although she often expressed her readiness to go to her other, eternal home, she was also proud of living so long.

      After Mother came home, she wanted to walk unassisted because she told me she'd already broken both her hips. I had to point out, to her disgust, that her bones were brittle and she still had two arms, two legs, two wrists and two ankles that were accidents waiting to happen. She accepted our help then with grit and grace. My sister and I learned to care for her as we went along, and did what had to be done to keep her in her home.

      We kept her laughing by doing some pretty silly things, like dressing up a teddy bear given her in the hospital in doll clothes she sewed for us as kids. (We called him Teddy in Drag!)

      I read a book about the afterlife in which people who 'visited' the other side in near death events told of their experience. Mother's dream descriptions matches theirs, and if true, I needn't worry about either her, my father or my son. Lots of love and flowers - what could be better?

      I'm so glad you visited and wrote both of your personal and thoughtful comments. As Mother would say, "That was so nice of you to think of us!"

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  12. A touching tribute to one so very loved, Kathleen. I can’t think of a better day to offer such heartfelt thoughts that ease the pain of loss for all, when shared. It’s obvious, in your tender words, that she was with you as you wrote. If she’s anything like my grandma, she wants you to know that she is always near – and joyous that you hold her so dear in your heart. If indeed we are the legacies our loved ones leave behind, you are an inspiration to us all to be the very best!

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    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 28, 2018 at 3:27 PM

      Memorial Day will now always have an added special meaning to me. Mother called it Decoration Day, and aside from getting time off school to finish end of year projects, for me it always meant helping her to cut, arrange and place large bouquets of her fresh-cut peonies (She called them "pinies"!) and irises ("flags" to her) in foil-covered juice cans and deliver them to my ancestors' burial places in three different York County cemeteries.

      When I asked her why we did this messy, labor-intensive job every year, she just simply said, "We should remember them." Then we strolled among the tombstones and she pointed out the chiseled names of my grandparents, her siblings, and my aunts and uncles, telling me small tidbits of their lives. I never saw her shed a tear, but she always said after the last one, "I don't wish any of them back. They're in a much better place than we are."

      Thank you for reading and saying such nice things about this tribute post for Mother, dierdre. I'm so glad you found it inspiring, which I know she would enjoy. I do feel her presence and love every day, and she always said if we are given anything good in life, we should share it with others.

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  13. Kathleen,

    Seeing the lily of the valleys brought me to tears - they were Nan's flowers too. I picked a whole bunch a few weeks ago and they certainly are lovely. Perfect tribute as well.

    Shady and Kathleen, thank you both for the lovely tribute to Margaret. I wish you both lots of love and light during this difficult time. Never forget her spirit and may the violets always remind you of the wonderful times.

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    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 28, 2018 at 3:40 PM

      Gee, Jessica Marie! I hope your tears arose from many happy memories of your dear Nan! It's wonderful to have the beauty of flowers to bring our loved ones close to us again, isn't it? Nature is the best medicine sometimes.

      Your presence here and kind comment help Shady and me navigate this anniversary with much more love and a lot less pain. Thank you!

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    2. Oh yes! Only happy memories. I remember picking Nan's lily of the valleys to give to my elementary school teachers and they absolutely loved them. They really added a heavenly fragrance to the classroom and to our homes.

      I also remember my mom starting the Nature Center at my school. Unfortunately, it was torn down last year since they are building a new school, but I hope it's started again. Before the Nature Center was torn down, it was so nice seeing families enjoy not only the various lilies, milkweed, and other flowers, but the trees and life that live among us. I like to think nature brings us all together.

      You're very welcome. I hope you had a great Memorial Day and that as you continue to heal, only love, light, and peace visit.

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  14. I read this post last night around midnight so I decided to wait until today to comment. What a lovely, heartfelt tribute to your Mother..such a dear soul! I love all the photos that capture her youth and zest for life along with the ones of you when you were little. I hope her dreams of family and heaven bring you comfort knowing that she so wanted to be with those on the other side and saw such a beautiful, happy place. Her legacy to you is your love of flowers..the very things that remind you of her and also they return each year to make you smile and bring back good memories. Wouldn't it be nice to be so loved in life that you're never forgotten? As I always say, even though I never met your Mother in person you have given us a clear picture of who she was and what an extraordinary life she led. Thanks for sharing that here. Thanks also to Tom bringing you and her to us! Hugs from Ohio to you! I'll take an extra walk in my flower garden tomorrow with Margaret in mind.

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    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 28, 2018 at 6:23 PM

      Hi yaya! Finding those old black-and-white photos were like hitting a vein of gold. I also have the negatives for most of them because my parents didn't throw anything away.

      As you said, the flower connection is part of Mother's legacy to me, and I've already passed it on to my daughter. We all could probably call up many ways our parents influenced us, and could relate wonderful narratives that show how they live on in us.

      The blooming flowers she taught me to love, added to her confidence that there were lots of them in her new "home", makes it seem like a foretaste of heaven to surround myself with them.

      Although nearly blind and deaf, she could read me like a book and knew I worried about her. Even the day before she slipped into a coma at the end and was aware of my concern, she said two things to me: "What's blooming outside?" When I told her that her pink rose's buds were just starting to open, she asked me if it was cloudy because "They want rain." Then she said when I took her hand, "I'm all right, Kathy. God will take care of me." I can rest in that because I believe that's true. I also know that she was, and is so loved that she'll never be forgotten!

      Thanks for taking time to write down your feelings about the post, for thinking of Mother in your garden and for those Ohio hugs!

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  15. I love this post! Such a beautiful and touching remembrance. The flowers are beautiful. I'm sure she's surrounded by lots of them in heaven now.

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    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 29, 2018 at 2:31 AM

      I'm glad you liked this tribute to Mother and enjoyed the photographs of some of favorite flowers. Actually, I knew her to love anything that bloomed, and she considered them all miracles. (So do I!) To her, heaven quite simply couldn't be any reasonable paradise without them!

      Thank you for visiting and for your comment, Sherry!

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  16. Kathleen,

    Time really passes quickly. I can't believe it's been a year since Margaret earned her wings. Your tribute to your mother is emotionally moving. I can't imagine what it's like for someone to live more than a hundred years. Margaret not only saw a lot but she lost a lot, too. It had to be difficult for to see those she loved to leave before her and then painful for you to deal with her questions. I felt the anguish of your dilemma but you handled it well even while your heart ached to find the right words. I know she's in heaven, the reward that wait all of God's children when they leave this world and the beautiful thing is one day, you'll reunite with your mom, dad, your son, and the rest of your family, as I will my own. It'll be joyful day when we all get to heaven but for now we can smile on such beautiful memories as these that you shared. God bless!

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    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 29, 2018 at 3:46 AM

      You know, even my pastor couldn't come up with any other reply to Mother's question, and I don't have a divinity degree!

      I do know that, as Mother's time to leave approached, she sensed that she was finished on earth and increasingly anticipated being "out there on the hill in Manchester with Ralph". She wan't the least bit afraid, which helped me cope with my anticipatory grief. It was typical of her to always be a blessing of hope and serenity to those of us who cared for her, even the Hospice nurses who encountered death every day.

      As it has after my son's death, time seems to speed up. The year since Mother passed away has gone even more quickly; perhaps a gift to teach us to appreciate the time we have left and to do whatever good we can remaining to us.

      What a reunion that will be for us to join our loved ones who await us in that beautiful place Mother described, among all those flowers!

      I so appreciate your visit and comment, Cathy. Thank you!

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  17. Kathleen,

    I think you're right about time speeding by that it's a sign for us to appreciate the moments we're given because they truly are presents. Blessings to you, dear friend!

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    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 31, 2018 at 8:16 AM

      As they say, "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it's called the present."

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