M is for memories

She is okay. We are still being tossed about in the waves of a grief that is going on 7 years now.

Mama is as okay as anyone with Alzheimer’s dementia can be. She is being cared for. She lives in a safe place meaning the doors have alarms so no one can wander outside without alerting staff.

She is clean because staff sees to her well-being.

She is visited by family and friends and she still smiles and laughs at times though she sleeps more.

She is content and we have come to value that word, that state of being.

The grief is more gentle these days. It’s felt strongest on birthdays and mother’s day. The cards that won’t come and cards sent to her and signed “your daughter” still carry a whisper of a hope the words will have meaning.

Tears come more on these days. Tears for dreams once held of more time spent together with her. Tears for a mama who is more gone than present.

I find myself talking about her in the past tense at times, as though she has passed. The part of life where we knew each other as mother and daughter has passed. And it is sad.

For a moment I will allow myself the sadness of that loss but I want to remember more what she doesn’t. I want to remember the time we met on her side of the country. When we drove a little Nissan from Ft. Lauderdale to Yellowstone National Park packed with two kids in the back seat in the days before electronic entertainment devices.

At her son and daughter-in-law’s ordination
With her kids in 2009
Her ordination photo 1959

Or the other time we met in the middle, them driving from Yakima, WA and us again from Ft. Lauderdale to meet at a house outside Branson, MO.

There would be more cross county trips for us and even more flights for her to be at graduations and weddings and just to be with her kids.

Her sacrifice for us was always there. She is my Proverbs 31 woman. The one who was up before the rest of us to cook breakfast, and serve it and clean up after.

The one who sewed dresses for me and patched many a knee on my brothers jeans.

The woman who made sure the family money was spent wisely, shared generously and saved something when there should have been none left.

She loved people and her life’s work was to help those in need. She was living the calling God had placed on her life to serve and this is what brought her joy.

Mama would be the first to tell you her limitations. She didn’t like being overweight and she could have a harsh tone if warranted. She suffered a broken heart when daddy divorced her but she found love again, much to her surprise I think.

Knowing her imperfections, we still praise her and recognize the depths of her love for God.
What she doesn’t remember we proclaim and celebrate.

These words from Proverbs describe her well. A woman who never set out to charm or to be anything other than “neat and clean”. A woman whose beauty was heard in her laugh and shared with her smile. A woman who loved and served God above all else. Thank you, mama.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
    but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.

Throwback Thursday {moms}

Scan 11

Our kids were born just before the explosion of baby stuff. You know, baby Nike shoes, toilet guards so they didn’t fall in, designer everything?

When our kids were born we laid them on their tummy in the crib and we gave them honey and peanut butter before they were even one!

We had terribly unsafe walkers and baby swings you actually had to crank by hand.

When our nieces were born and we learned the latest in protection, we marveled that we ourselves had managed to make it to first grade.

We wouldn’t think of putting our granddaughter in the car without a car seat and child-proof cabinets are a must but things have changed. Mostly, for the better.

Baby monitors? Not in 1980. Our house was so small we didn’t need an electronic device to alert us to the baby’s crying.

In mama’s day they didn’t even have disposable diapers. It’s no wonder few women worked outside the home. They were busy washing diapers and hanging them on a clothesline to dry. Not to mention sterilizing bottles. The insanity of it all!


There’s a family story about daddy getting up in the night to change my diaper (that part is highly suspect) but I continued to fuss. When mama got up to check me he had put both of my legs in one leg hole of the rubber pants. What are rubber pants? some of you may ask.

You may not believe it, but there was a time when all diapers were cloth and rubber pants had to be put over the diaper to keep wet diapers from making everything else wet. It’s simply archaic!

We used cloth diapers for the first few months. They came with the diaper service.

Mama and Granny would marvel at all the baby gear today. Boppies, monitors, baby bouncers and swings and 10 kinds of bottles. 

The rules have changed too. Don’t ask me because my kids are in their 30’s but I hear they are only to be placed on their backs in the crib and no crib bumpers!

Laughter has been a trademark in our family. And in the words of Erma Bombeck: “If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.”

It’s how you get through parenting: laughter and prayer. Though not usually at the same time 😉 and I wouldn’t trade a moment for anything. The hardest of times that make you question God in heaven have only made me more thankful for the unconditional love my Heavenly Father has for me. Amazing love, amazing grace. 

What’s you favorite parenting story? I’d love to share some laughs with you today.


I’ll Remember For You

This is my third, or maybe 5th, attempt to write something about Mother’s Day. I’ve started from this way and that and clicked “move to trash” every single time.

No fluff or sweet stories. No whining about the dementia or trips down memory lane. Just words she can’t read and wouldn’t understand but the heart wants to shout to whoever is reading:

Thank you Mama!

Thank you for not being perfect but still being strong. Strong convictions, strong opinions and strong faith. Your faith was the foundation you built your life on and was evidenced in serving others. All kinds of others, not just those who looked like you.

Mom with Basketball_edited-1

Scan 5

You showed us what the bible meant when it said love your neighbors as yourself because you usually took better care of others than you did yourself. You were tireless helping with the annual postal carrier food drive and our Mother’s Day phone calls had you telling me how many pallets of food were collected. (And mama, you’d never believe what they’re doing with pallets these days!)

Thank you for not being about drama but being about kindness. For all those times you clucked your tongue and wagged your finger at me when I said something unkind or snarky, I remember them, mama, and you were right. I’m still working on it. I’m afraid the snarky might be here to stay. Maybe it was from daddy’s DNA 😉

Scan 11

grandma hudson

Mom with our daughter at Heather's wedding 2004

Mom with our daughter, Heather, 2004

Thank you for all the times you flew across the country when I think you really didn’t want to but it was the only way to see us and your grandkids. Ours were the only two for a good long while and because of your sacrifice of time and money they got to know you. They remember your laughter, just like people say they remember mine. Thank you, mama.

And all those phone calls during the long years we’ve lived apart, I miss them so much. We talked about how many families you (through the Salvation Army) were helping at Christmas about how cold it was at the fair grounds that year but it kept the food boxes cold. When I told you we gave gift certificates to the grocery store instead of food boxes you asked why and you laughed when I told you it’s not cold in Florida even in December and those food boxes would spoil faster than they could get them home. Then you’d tell me how many aunts and cousins and kids showed up for the family Christmas dinner. You had to have it at the church because so many came, usually 70 or more. Don’t know how you made it through the noise but you seemed to tolerate family noise a little better. Thanks for keeping me part of the family even though we lived thousands of miles away.

We had so many good times together. I wish you could remember them mama but I’ll remember for you for now. Someday, we both believe in that someday that will come when we’ll be healed and all things will be new and we’ll rejoice together. Maybe you’ll even be able to sing because I think you always would have liked to.

You were a doer and taught by example before your words. Thank you for that mama, because I know what you do matters more than what you  say.



Mostly, thank you for loving God. It was when you got the most quiet, when your voice would crack just a bit, because you were overwhelmed at God’s love for you. I wish we had talked about that more.

I had plans for us, mama. Plans for you to spend more time with us in your retirement but God had something else in mind. I don’t understand his plan for you. I don’t need to understand to know he loves you and all of us who miss you. I know that. I know his love is greater than your dementia and surpasses all the memories we won’t be able to make. It hasn’t come without tears, tears that still form. I think you’re already with Jesus, mama. You aren’t here so you must be with him and I am so thankful, so grateful that he is your resting place.

The posture of motherhood

When I rummage through our photo bins the least photographed is mom. Always. Any mom. She was at the stove, doing laundry, visiting a nursing home, cleaning up our mess and generally staying out of the spotlight.

She is bent over tucking a child in at night or stooped to kiss a forehead.

She is up early to have a few moments of quiet before the house comes alive.

She is standing up teaching Sunday School class.

with a special guest at a church event

with a special guest at a church event

mama (middle) and her sister come for my wedding

mama (middle) and her sister come for my wedding


In the kitchen at my brothers wedding.

In the kitchen at my brothers wedding.

She is driving. Lots and lots of driving. Piano lessons, volleyball games, soccer practice, track meets and field trips. Then she gets back in the car to shop for groceries, school uniforms and doctor visits.

She is bent over her bible, praying, studying.

She is speaking out, an advocate for her children, her family, her God.

At some point you realize the one posture you’ve never seen from your mom is laying down. Ever. This dawns on me only now as I think about my mother. Surely there was time and I simply don’t recall. I have an image of her being wheeled out of the hospital with my baby brother. The only time I recall seeing her not doing something in her own power.

Mama encouraging another with her touch

Mama encouraging another with her touch




At 74 mama’s posture is slowed. She walks most often with a cane. She sits more. Sits in her small efficiency-type room in an assisted living facility. She sits in the common area and watches, smiles. She sits in the dining area laughing and more smiling. She has Alzheimer’s and the word salad that comes with that making it near impossible for her to verbally express her thoughts so another can understand. But she listens. And what could be a better posture than one of listening? She listens to the hymns and scripture and nods her head in assent. This is her posture of worship.

Family says I’m like mama and I am. Not enough in many ways I think. I closely followed her posture of motherhood when the kids were kids even now with them grown I follow her posture of support and encourager.

This posture of worship? I need to work on that.

The best Mother’s Day

Remember asking your mom what she wanted for Mother’s Day and she might answer something like, “Just for you to be home” or some other answer that we ignored or didn’t believe. It sounded trite or a pat “Mom-answer”.

I’ve had many men lament to me about not being able to get their mom what they’d like for Mother’s Day. I have given them the standard “Mom-answer” because we mom’s know, it’s TRUE. A mother wants nothing more than for her child to grow up to be a responsible, caring person who works an honest job. We may add to that as life goes on. A good spouse, children, a heart for God and others……We just want the best for our children and that is present enough. Right?

I assure the men this is true and whether they believe me or not I know there will be mom’s thankful, blessed and happy this year because their sons are clean and sober. Here are a couple who don’t mind me sharing with you:

Jeff M posted this on our ARC Facebook Group:

“For the third Mother’s Day,(consecutively), my living mother will receive a sober son to spend the day with! Thank you ARC for the opportunity to walk with Jesus, sober, today! I may not have a good job, but I am in college. I don’t have much money, but I do have the ‘ Gospel’ to give. Jesus always provides a way out of the ‘bondage’ of addiction. For me, it was the day I walked into the ‘bubble’ and the chains of my sins and addictions were broken!”

He had been living under a bridge. Now he brings AA meetings into our Center and shared his story one month on Awards Night.



Last week Carson, seen above, participated in the Iron Man 73.1 in Utah. He’s been training for this for months. It would start with a mile run in 62* water, then a 58 (I may be off by a couple of miles) mile bike ride finishing with a 13 miles run. It’s the hardest triathlon but he finished!

He’s worked for us over a year and took his week of vacation. His mom and dad flew out to support him and this is the sign he gave his mom to hold at the finish line.

To see lives renewed and restored is nothing short of seeing miracles played out in front of us. God is redeeming. He is reuniting families. He is providing grace and strength. One. Day. At. A. Time.

In the ARC one calls out: God is good

And you reply: All the time.


Mother’s Day without Hallmark

We were taking our 2:00 p.m. mile walk, just the two of us this time. She’s the inspiration behind this walk and the encourager that gets me from behind my desk and out the door. In a few weeks the humidity will be thick but she’ll be ready for the walk anyway.

Since we didn’t have company on this walk She talked more openly about some struggles with those she counsels. Family history follows us all and I told her since being in this work, in the Adult Rehabilitation Center ministry, I’ve found planning a Sunday service on Mother’s Day to be the most challenging.

As a child I remember the prizes that were awarded to the mom with the most children present or the oldest mother in church (that was when age was an honor) or the mother who came the farthest distance. Adults were presented with carnations; white if their mother was deceased and red if still living. Mothers were celebrated and everyone smiled because we all had June Cleaver or Mrs. Cunningham as a mom.





But that’s not true. It wasn’t true then but we were better at pretending. Gather a room full of 100 men living in a Salvation Army program and I don’t want to guess the percentage of men who aren’t celebrating their mom.

Some were introduced to their addiction from being taken into crack houses by their mom. Some abused, physically or emotionally, perhaps sexually but so very hard to tell another.

Others had good mom’s who didn’t live to see their sons break the chains of addiction. They carry deep sorrow.

It has been a tough day for me the past years as mama slips further into dementia/Alzheimer’s. The phone calls have long ended and the distance between us more than miles.

Our walk kept a brisk pace and I realized I wore the wrong shoes and may have slowed Her down a bit. My walking companion reminded me her mother was a good person but not a good mother. BUT, “I have others. They have others. You can be that for them.”

Henry and I had talked about the same issue earlier in the week and how he would present this in his sermon. How to strike that balance for those with loving mothers and those without. Mary, mother of Jesus, has been revered. Motherhood considered sacred and the oft used passage from Proverbs 31 about the ideal wife/mother just won’t work in our setting.

I remember a passage where Jesus’ asks “who is my mother?” I find the reference in Matthew, Mark and Luke. He’s speaking to a crowd when the disciples tell him his mother and brother need to ask him something. It seems an odd verse or two to drop in the middle of stories of more importance but here it is. Jesus is working, teaching, when he’s told your mom needs to talk to you. His answer is surprising to me as he says “who is my mother and who are my brothers?” (Matt. 12) “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.”(Luke 8)  Then He goes back to his business.

That’s it. Interruption over and it would seemed he just brushed off his mom. That thought is a distraction to the real issue of those who don’t know their mom, didn’t know a loving mom. Jesus said “Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3) Our family. A complete family of God. Not born through biology but of the Spirit.

Celebrating Mother’s Day without the Hallmark card but with the words of Jesus reminding us again of His provision. He will give us a new family, His family.


May {my double-header}

My birthday is just far enough from Mother’s Day for the two to never be on the same day. (Like our daughter’s birthday and Thanksgiving.) So I call it my double-header.

This Sunday is my birthday. Cinco de Mayo. You’d think that would make it easier for people to remember but I don’t have the marketing of restaurants nor do I offer two-for-one margaritas. Honestly, I’ve never quite known how to celebrate my birthday. They were simple celebrations growing up, my 13th being a bigger party and my 16th almost non-existent as my parents were divorced by then and living a distance apart. Daddy didn’t know how to celebrate his only daughter’s growing up and maybe that’s what left me in a bit of uncertainty over having a bold declaration of “MY DAY” or a quieter dinner out kind of day.

Me, daughter, granddaughter

Me, daughter, granddaughter




HS graduation

HS graduation

1981 with my kids and daddy (don't judge me, everyone had perms then!)

1981 with my kids and daddy (don’t judge me, everyone had perms then!)

I think I’ll take a bolder approach this year because how can you celebrate with friends if they don’t know the celebration exists? So let’s celebrate the day of my birth a few days early.

I was born in Leominster, MA where my father was in the US Army. He was transferred to Fort Worth, TX six weeks later.

My middle name is Lee. I’m the third generation of first-born girls to have that middle name. Our daughter is the 4th. It ended with her.

The only church I’ve held membership in is The Salvation Army. Yes, it’s a church.

I started wearing glasses in third grade and cried when I “failed” the eye exam at school.

I thought my third grade teacher had dirt on her head because I didn’t know what Ash Wed. was. Third grade was a very formative year.

I got my love for football and general sports knowledge from my dad and my love for making things from my mom.

I also got my love of music from my dad but not his ability to play multiple instruments.

I wanted to be a teacher when I was in grade school and would line my dolls up and teach them.

1977 honeymoon in NC

1977 honeymoon in NC

By high school I had no idea of what I wanted to do and no direction. I did, however, make decent grades.

In 10th grade science there were three other Debby’s in my class and we all spelled our names differently.

The first record I remember owning was the soundtrack of Cinderella. The last new music I listened to was the Fall Out Boys.

My parents divorce was the single most impacting event of my youth. It continues to impact my life.

latest haircut - longer

latest haircut – longer

I’m still deciding what I want to be when I grow up. It changes. It changes because I’m still learning. I’m learning who I am as God refines some areas and breaks open anew others. Where I fear, He calms and surprises me with deep affection. Where I hesitate, he brings others to pull me along. When I think I know the answers or the illusive “it”, he uses the broken to expose the gaping holes in my knowing.

This life is good. It is weary and challenging and inspiring. It is worth celebrating because I am fearlessly and wonderfully made. Did you hear that? I. Am. Wonderfully Made! Yes. I am!


Lessons Learned

Women have been great teachers in my life. Granny, mama, my first two teachers. My sixth grade teacher stands out in my mind as a woman that loved God and loved her students. So many others who have no idea they’ve shared a lesson with me. Are still sharing…yes, you blogger-women!

Did you hear some of these at your house?

Don’t run in the house. (Apparently brothers don’t comprehend this one)

My brother. I’m sure he was also told not to stand on the dining room chairs

Just try one bite. (mostly for my brother)

On a road trip to visit family in California

No doubt feeding the dog the food he wouldn’t try.

If you’re too sick for school you’re too sick to go outside (or anywhere else.)

We weren’t sick much 🙂 (In Shawnee, Oklahoma, late 60’s)

Don’t pick at that.

Fever blisters and the home permanent always showed up in time for school pictures. First grade.

Be nice.

Mom doing hospital visitation


Do you want your face to freeze that way?

Sit like a lady. (not for my brother)

I’m pretty sure mama wouldn’t approve of me sitting on the arm of the sofa. 1977

Say please and thank you.

My brother and I 1989

With mom in 2001


Don’t let the door slam. (another one for my brother)

Enjoy this 3 minute video of my favorite Momism’s performed to William Tell Overture. And Happy Mother’s Day to all the women out there. You’ve all had an imprint on someone whether you’ve borne children or not. Thank you

Because of These Two

Because of these two I am a mom.

In our backyard pool

Because of my mom, I knew how to care for them. How to rock and soothe them. How to nurture them.

Our firstborn. November 1978

Because of my mom, I knew how to laugh with them.

And cheer for them.

Heather’s piano recital

Music conservatory

Swim lessons

Because of my mom, I knew how to let them grown and let them go. Not far, just on their own.


College years

Alpha Chi Omega Sorority

New roles: Mom and Uncle (summer 2011)


Hold My Hand

We walked across the camp grounds, my daughter and I, when she said “I like it when she wants to hold my hand”. Her daughter, 4, has that way of reaching up onto your hand and into your heart and you want to keep holding on. She says it with words too, not just action and she likes feeling her hand in yours.

There will come a time when independce is preferred and you have to take theirs in your hand. Remember wanting to cross the street by yourself or prove you can keep your hands your pocket or behind your back when your mom took you into a store? Sometimes the safest place is to have their hand in yours.

It’s been a long time since I’ve held mama’s hand. Maybe reaching out to steady her now and again as she ambled across uneven terrain or left her “stick” (cane) at home. When I visited her in March I found myself reaching for her hand and holding on for safety. Security. She needed blood work and other tests done and getting her from the car to the Dr’s office and hospital was best navigated holding her hand. Like a child, I could easier direct her way and keep her from harm of wandering off. Unsure of where she was and what was going on around her to take her hand offered comfort. Made her feel safe and she was.

Me taking her hand. Not mother and child but child and mother. The roles have changed and who could have seen this coming? Not living there I never know what to expect one visit to the next. I try to expect little other than to give and let go. Let go of how I’d like life to be.

I’m glad she took my hand. Welcomed my reach and looked to me for answers when they asked. she never says my name but will call me sis sometimes and that’s okay. Any sign of familiarity or recognition, no matter how slight, is a gift.

The old hymn my dad loved comes to my mind. Its chorus singing
“He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,That shadows a dry, thirsty land;He hideth my life in the depths of His love,And covers me there with His hand,And covers me there with His hand.”

It’s His hand, Gods hand that covers me. Covers us both as we walk hand in hand with His grace.