Monday, October 27, 2014

Happy Birthday to The Adoring Husband

April 3, 1948
"Peaches and Cream" and "Luscious": pet names Dad called Mom on a regular basis.  I don't ever remember her calling him other than by his name, "Harold".  As children we were tremendously embarrassed when Dad would kiss and put his arms around her after every meal....maybe she was too because her reply was often, "Give me a towel!"  And my husband wonders why I'm sarcastic.....
2000 Cleveland at their first apt.

As with most personal remembrances, perspective changes as we mature.  What embarrassed me 30-40 years ago I now find endearing, even a precious treasure.  We grew up in a small town where folks got married and had children (in that order) and stayed married.  Divorce was unheard of:  or at least my romantic memory does not remember it.  All my friends lived--- by all appearances--happily with both parents in the same home for their entire childhood.  Idyllic? Yes.  By today’s standards? A fairy tale.

2006 Shenandoah Nat'l Park
With my parents, though, it was real.  Devoted.  Respectful. Committed to each other.  They traveled the world to six of seven continents, experiencing things most people only dream of or read about.  We all have dreams.  I have been blessed to live a dream where my parents cherished and adored each other. They didn’t agreed on everything and sometimes they even lost their temper.  But it meant they kept working.  Kept loving.  Kept honoring each other.  Kept caring for each other.  Even when dementia laid final claim to Mom, Dad cared enough for both of them and kept her alive much longer than she would have chosen.  63 incredible, indelible, inconceivable years they remained together. 

In the physical absence of the woman he loved best and misses most, we say, “Happy Birthday, Dad!”  We love you and thank you for the gift you have given us of yourself and especially the example of adoring and honoring your wife, our Mom.  You are one amazing man!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Expiration Dates and going with plan B

Guilty as charged and today was proof of it.  Have you ever purchased multiple cans of something only to arrive home and realize that one of the cans is NOT what you planned to buy?  I did that awhile was a can of soup and I figure for $1 +/- I will find a use for it. eventually.

Mom was not one to be sidetracked, which I could prove with multiple stories....but that is for another day.  If you're making a recipe, find something comparable to use and move on.  There's only two times that has not worked out so well in the past 25ish years of marriage: banana pudding made with pineapple and beef broccoli stir-fry made with hamburger.  Both were burried deep in the garbage and never resurrected to be cooked again.

Today I'm trying a new recipe.  I flat refuse to cook recipes that require more than 10-15 minutes prep time and all recipes must have 6 or less ingredients.  I cook to live, not to my mother.  The new recipe met both of my two stringent and highly selective criteria.  It called for cream of chicken and fiesta nacho cheese condensed soups.  Upon scanning my pantry the chicken soup is non-existant so I substitute cream of onion;  bear with me: it matches 2 out of 3 words on the label with "cream" and "soup".  Next I dig around to find the cheese soup, the one that I mentioned above purchased not so recently.  It's not fiesta nacho, but once again a 2/3 match: "soup" and "cheese" are direct matches on the label.  It's close enough.

First can of soup (the cream of chicken which is now cream of onion) was emptied into the mixing mixing bowl.  Second step, I open the cheese soup and think, "The color of this soup is odd. Reallllly odddddd." As I start to scoop it out of the can, caution lights start going off that  the soup doesn't look right.  It's kind of shrunken and dried looking.  "Hmmmm, where is the expiration date?  Canned stuff never" and before I can finish this sentence I spot the date.  If it had been a month or two past, I would have gone ahead and used it. I hate to waste money or food but that little can went straight to the trash.   Should I really admit the expiration date? April.  2009.  Five years is too long, even for me.

Why does this make me think of my mom?  She NEVER wasted food.  We still talk about the day we went for a picnic at the lake nearly 20 years ago and she brought ketchup/mustard and mayo packets left-over from fast food places.  They never used condiments but brought these extras for us to the picnic.  When we attempted to use the mayo, it came out gloppy and beige.  The was pretty much dried up.  At the time I was flabbergasted that my Mom was trying to "poison" her new son-in-law. Now we laugh about it.

How did the new recipe turn out?  Only I knew that it was not the original recipe.  But my family ate it and there were no complaints. That's about as close to success as I get.  No one left the table hungry.  Then again, it's not really so much about what we're eating as just being together.  And remembering to make the best of every situation.  I am my mother's daughter.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Knowing how vocal Mama could be, I'm absolutely sure that she said it.  "I'M TOO OLD."  If it had been me, I would have said, "JUST SHOOT ME NOW."

At first the signs might have been easy to ignore.  She was already "chasing" four yard apes between the ages of 5-14; I can only imagine her own mixed emotions of having turned 40, the disbelief of family, friends and those in our small community....even when words go unsaid, you can tell what people are thinking. Pregnant with a fifth child? Surely not!  When Don and I announced that we were expecting Christian (I was ONLY 33), a child of about 7 brazenly said directly to me, "Eeeeeewwwww! That means you've had SEX!".

I was always jealous of my older siblings; they got three things I always wanted but never had: braces, glasses and my parents young energy and attention.  At 50, my parenting is much more relaxed than it was at 30! I have come to realize that there are only so many hills you can die on.  If you fight every battle there will be no reserve left when the big things really worth fighting for arrive on the scene.  As a kid, I never had a curfew. They didn't wait up for me.  Don't remember getting spanked more than once.  Always had a car to drive and gas money handed to me.  I remember telling Mom as a college student that I wish I had received more discipline as a child and watched her jaw drop.

I didn't see the positive side, until I reached adulthood.  With the departure of older siblings, Mom was able to pursue some things that she couldn't before. We always had guests in our home because Mom loved people and had a genuine gift for hospitality.  I remember distinctly three women who visited on several occassions from Nashville and led meetings in our little church.  These women were so passionate about God and they prayed over our home and our family.  I never witnessed it firsthand, mind you.  Each time they visited, while Dad was busy at work, I was sent outside to play if I was at home.  The conversation and prayer would ensue.  If I was lucky I would peak in the back door and catch snippets of what was said before being shewed away.  Burned indellibly to my memory: how these women loved Jesus, loved us and made a huge difference in my life, because they befriended my Mama. 

I did not realize until the last few years that they were probably praying for the five very independent Uible kids with large personalities.....Praying for us to know the same Jesus who ever so gradually changed my Mama.  Some kids may have seen an about face in an alcoholic or abusive parent.  One who suddenly went from running away from God ran and u-turned so as to run to Him.  Mine was already going to church every time the doors were open.  Already reading the Bible each morning.  Leading the United Methodist Women.  The hard outer shell and biting sarcasm began to soften......not in hours or days.  It took awhile, but it came ever so slowly, ever so quietly.  She began to hug, smile more and really enjoy life.

By the time I was old enough to appreciate my Mom and her gifts, the dementia had begun gnaw away at the vibrant, active, fighting woman I had come to love.  So, Mama, in your honor I'm trying to become the best of what I saw in you: a warrior who passionately loves God, her family, her church and her community.  May your legacy live on through me!