Tag Archives: stories

PANDEMIC 2020 VISION: Mother’s Day Addendum

“But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, for hers is where yours begins.”- Mitch Albom

Like most of you, I’ve kept myself busy for the past 55 days doing a lot of things that I was just too busy to do prior to being secluded. Like any of you that have pets – mine have become extremely spoiled and used to having me around 24/7. I love it. They love it. I guess we are both spoiled.

I got to talk to all four of my kidlets today, and took the choc lab girls for a social distance visit to my one daughter that lives near by. We walked on the path through the woods they have created during their time at home. Ate some snacks. Watched the kids play on one of the best tree swings ever. Laughed at 4 dogs adjusting to each other again. Held our breaths to take some pictures. Then I came home, washed my hands, and re-applied my essential oils.

All-in-all, a lull in the storm – a break to breathe – a time to remember who taught me how to breathe in storms. My mom…and dad…and Grandma Mac.

From the earliest bedtime stories to watching them face stormy times in their personal lives to the collective times of facing storms with their nation. I remember not swimming on very hot days in the summer during the polio epidemic. I remember standing in a long line on the cafeteria steps of my soon-to-be elementary school to take the first dose of the polio vaccine. I never felt their fear; I just followed them.

I still am.

I watched them both deal with my father’s heart disease. Listen to news accounts of The Bay of Pigs and continuing wars. Get my mother elected as village clerk with my dad beside her every step of the way. Mourn the murder of a president, a civil rights leader, a senator. Shelter, care, and spend time with their brothers and sisters. Be at the bedside of daughter hospitalized for 7 days for mono. Wash hands a lot during the Hong Kung Flu epidemic. Watch out a darkened window during a once-in-a-lifetime flood that came within feet of their home. Prepare for that once-sick daughter to go off to college amid an epidemic.

Yet – – in all those times, I never felt their fear reaching out to me – even though I’m sure that fear was there. After all, their daughter had a compromised immune system, and her father had already experienced two heart attacks. Instead, this daughter saw them on their knees – saw them hold hands in church – heard their prayers – and watched them from the stairs as they danced together the night before they took her to college.

My mom – and dad – both loved to tell stories about their families. Truth be told, I wish I had paid more attention and written some of them down. Later in life, my mom was able to take her mom on cruise. Grandma Mac’s smiling eyes when she talked about that cruise was beyond special. You can see it in the pictures they brought back just as I see it in my memory.

Stories are the threads that tie families into an expanding tapestry of His creation. A Creation story woven together by individuals, families, nations as His artistic Hand weaves the strong, colorful strands with the weakened, broken strands to create His perfect design from the beginning. His Grace blending them seamlessly together.

Honor thy father and mothers – not just today – but in all days.

“Your eyes saw my body. In your book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there were none of them.” Ps 139:16 

 [personal images]

Advent Peace #4: Stories of Peace

“Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.”~Mitch Albom

Christmas is the time for stories. Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. Frosty the Snowman’s corn cob pipe. Santa Claus coming to town. Amahl’s miracle. Mary’s canticle.

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart..”~Lk 2:19

It is her story that wraps around the centuries and brings them into focus through 2 short chapters in Matthew and Luke. When I was little I could almost see Matthew and Luke making their way to Mary’s tiny home in the dark of night. Like us, even though they knew He was with His Father, they wanted that human connection – to touch a woman that had loved Him as much as they did – a joyous memory to carry with them when the world threatened to break them in everyway – a memory to pass on to the children of their children’s children.

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”~Deut 4:9

Tonight, giggles still circle over our home. Christmas decoration from the bounty of our woods. A little pine. A little ivy. A few berries. Red glitter paint. Stories that the neighbor kids and I shared as old hands worked to show younger hands how to wrap words and nature together.

Tonight, I am treasuring and pondering many thoughts. The short creative non-fiction that my friends share everyday on FB, or the longer blogs that former students share their wisdom in ways that brings tears to my eyes. Two dogs that tell stories with their eyes every hour of the day.

But mostly – tonight I am thankful for the story of a young girl who treasured up all things that were necessary to bring peace to people of good will. Words that overide the snarky political memes and comments. Softens the bad news for those who are ill and weary. Lifts the pieces of hearts broken apart by choices. Brings forgiveness to those who weep in loneliness. Lights the way in the dark of night with its peace-filled song.

Stories of Christmas.

Stories of a Mother.

Stories to be taught to our children that they might teach their children and their children’s children and their children’s children………

Stories of the Peace of Advent. [google image]


1940 billboard painted by A.B. McCaskey (grandpa)It is national grandparents’ day. Hmmm – – – didn’t even know we had one until FB came along. Then again, I didn’t have much first hand knowledge about grandparents. I envied my cousins who had a set of grandparents and often wondered how it felt. When I got to go with them to visit, I felt like I had entered a 3-D grandparent storybook.

“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” Prov 16:21

My grandfathers were only black and white, 2 dimensional faces that would stare back at me when I opened the photo album and traced their faces with my nail- img050bitten finger. My maternal grandfather, Alfred Bernard McCaskey, died before my brother or I was born. As I got older, mom’s stories wrapped around those pictures in my mind. There are too many stories to tell here, some not too wonderful.  But there is one funny story: Grandpa would hit the one closest to him at the dinner table when someone misbehaved. – the problem? It didn’t matter if he/she was guilty – he/she was the closest, hence they got the smack. He was a dark haired sign-painting artist (see the above billboard), a roller skate racer, a Cunack – as my mother often referred to her heritage. His DNA gave my mom her artistic eye and skills as he taught her to draw, do lettering, knit, crochet and tat, after all – that is what Canadian Catholics did in the winter to pass their snowbound days.

“Even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” Is 46:4

Charles Arthur Ferris still remains a mystery to me. Dad didn’t talk to me about Grandma&pa Ferrishim much except to say I had his eyes and thick hair. When I look at his picture, I can’t tell the color of his eyes. but I can see he has a healthy head of white hair, and I certainly have that. Sadly – since I was 18 my hair started graying – I have had that as well. Even though he died shortly after my big brother was born (big bro is 9 years older than me), my brother knows much more about him. The stories that are too nebulous in mine to repeat because they never became real to me.  In my mind, there just are no warm funny stories attached to his picture, and it makes me sad because I wonder what he taught my father or what he would have taught me. I do know – that whatever he taught my father – it must have been pretty great, because my father was an awesome daddy.

“They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” Ps 92:14-15

Mary Mayme Wachtel Ferris died before I was three. My actual memories ofGrandma Ferris and me her are – none at all. Funny – I have three pictures of her. A fuzzy, black and white picture of a gray-haired lady smiling and holding my newborn self in her arms which is – perhaps – my favorite. Another captures her at a much younger age. It hangs on the wall of our living room. Dark hair, solemn, standing in a long dress with two youngsters standing beside her in front of a little home that looks more like a shack than a house. The little girls were my father’s two older sisters. The third picture is the one of her and grandpa together in front of a store in Lakeville. No warm stories surround any of these pictures either. History is lost for wont of a story sometimes, but I am thankful for the pictures.

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 2 Tim 1:5

It is Grandma Ruth Marie Shoemaker McCaskey, affectionately called img049Grandma Mac, that embodies the grandparent soul to me. A photo album can not contain the stories that fill my mind when I think of her. I can still feel her lap underneath me as I curled into her warm arms. I can smell her home every time I cook something. The garden dirt caked on my fingers is not much different from her dirt where she taught me the value of life’s sustenance and what you could do with it (not to mention dandelion wine). When I am tired, it is her face at the end of a long shift at the Flxi (Flxible Bus Company is where she went work after her husband died) that gets me moving again. She is my story.  She was my 3-D grandparent.

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—” Deut 4:9

Knowledge and wisdom aren’t confined to a book. Knowledge and wisdom can be passed down from generation to generation. If one is lucky, discernment is thrown into that mix as well. I know well that those are traits that my Grandma Mac passed on to my mom. Everytime my mom held my children or sang to them or baked a birthday cake (that she truly never ate), I saw Grandma Mac. Grandma Mac had done the same for me. I’m glad that my Grands have 3-D Grandparents in their lives, and I pray that – someday – my Grands will see us in their own parents.

Children’s children …. seed-heirs….. blessings passed from one generation to another….3-D grandparents….

Grandma mac favorite


feet a“If we could be but children, small children
Blessed is He who could make us forget
the distress of our years.
With a long road yet ahead to our becoming,
Becoming older, sadder, and nostalgic.
But rose-souled children
Plucking joy like wildflowers
Whose world is not yet over,
With the sun laughing in the glint of their tears.”~Rachel Bluwstein Sela, known
as Rachel the Poetess

Ran across this poem today as I was reading devotions, and it touched that special chord that rings of truth within me. Aging does tend to take something out of us. Poets like to use metaphors. Simple stories that remind us of some profound truth that we have somehow forgotten. The stories often touch that small part of us that still identifies with the magical – the mystical – the spiritual – that child-like faith.

“And because Yeshua himself knew The Father had given everything into his hands and that he had gone out from God and he would go to God, He arose from supper and put off his robe and took a towel and tied it around his waist.”~Jn 13:3-4

Did you ever notice all the small stories and metaphors that are used in the Bible? People love stories. It starts when we are children with storybooks and continues throughout our lives: TV’s – movies – books – plays – even our music. God used stories in the Old Testament. Rabbi Yeshua knew a good thing when He saw it and Last often taught using metaphors and small stories when he taught as well.

“He took water in a wash basin and began to wash the feet of his disciples, and he wiped them with a towel which he had tied around his waist….” ~Jn 13:5

It is this part of the story that catches my breath in my throat. Did the discripes truely realize who was kneeling in front of them…..washing their feet? If it was me, would I? I fear that I would not have been so wise. Such symbolism in this simple act – such a strong metaphor that continues to bless the world with its intense visual – the Bridegroom washing away the physical dirt of His bride before His blood spiritually washes away the dirtiness of her soul.

“Do you know what I have done to you?” You call me, ‘our Rabbi’ and ‘Our Lord’, and you say rightly, for I am. If I therefore, your Lord and your Rabbi, have washed your feet for you, how much more ought you to wash one another’s feet? For I have given you this example, that you also should do in the same way as I have done to you.Timeless truth I speak to you: there is no servant greater than his master and no apostle is greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” Jn 13:12-17

A child would have known. A child understands the story better than any adult. A ‘rose-souled [child], plucking joy like wildflowers whose world is not yet over, with the sun laughing in the glint of [her] tears‘. Perhaps…maybe…possibly today, my childish self would recognize my LORD as He kneels at my feet. For today, I have laid another foundational stone. Understanding the LOVE of my LORD, FREEDOM from sin as He washed my feet, KINGDOM comes in its fullness of His righteousness and His PEACE surrounding each stone I have laid .

[google images]maundy thursday