Family Saints for Friday

Geranium Roots

This week’s Fantastic Friday post comes from way back in March of 2011. Four years later, my geranium slips are rooting in mason jars, and I’m as crazy about them as ever.. The Man of Steel, now four years older after celebrating another birthday on March 8, is as kind and quiet as this post made him out to be.

My husband is a wise man. He has yet to say a word about the four, count ‘em, four mason jars sitting in front of the east windows, hogging daylight.

He hasn’t commented about how the jars are crammed with geranium slips or how the wintered over geraniums, from whence the slips came, now look like skinned rats in their flower pots.

He never complained about the dozens of gallon milk jugs in the basement full of last summer’s rain water, some used to water the potted geraniums through the winter and much it now slowly evaporating from the mason jars chuck full of geranium slips.

Yes, Hiram is a wise man. He knows better than to editorialize when I go on one of my heritage horticultural tears. This month’s tear is all about Grandma Josie Hess’s heritage geranium, the sainted family flower given to Grandma Josie by her mother, Cora Newell. Grandma Josie gave slips to her children (including my mother), who gave them to her three children, one of whom (that would be me) has become slightly obsessed with propagating the sainted plant.

To tell you the truth, I’m pretty pleased with myself for remembering to cut down the wintered-over geraniums this early and setting the slips in water. Usually I think of it in late April when it’s too late for either the old plants to recover from pruning or for the new slips to root before it’s time to plant them outdoors. But this year I thought of it in March. A minor miracle considering how forgetful I’ve been this winter.

Come to think of it, Hiram hasn’t said a word about my minor memory miracle or my more normal forgetfulness. At least I can’t remember if he’s made any comments about either one.

In any case, my husband is a wise man. Almost a saint. Right up there with the sainted family flower.

Quiet.
Lovely.
Hardy.
Enduring.
Patient.
Faithful.

No wonder I love them both so much.

Top Ten Things My Parents Taught Me

Harlan and Dorothy

Mother’s Day was a very special time in my childhood home. Every year we celebrated Mom’s extraordinary efforts to provide for our family. But when Mother’s Day fell on May 11, as it did on the day of his birth in 1929, we celebrated Dad’s birthday, too. Since his birthday again fell on Mother’s Day this year–and because I’m madly editing page proofs for The Caregiver’s Notebook and don’t have time to blog much–today’s top 10 list gleans from two posts from the past: What My Mamma Taught Me and Top Ten Things About My Dad.

10.  Never allowed discussions about politics to become cut throat. Dad’s most barbed political statement referred to his right arm, severely weakened by multiple sclerosis: It’s my Republican arm. Not good for much of anything.

9. The library is an excellent place to hang out. Mom checked out a lot of books and taught her kids to love to read. And go to the library where books can be checked out for FREE!

8.  Birthday and Christmas presents matter. Dad picked Mom’s birthday and Christmas gifts carefully. He looked through the newspaper ads and phoned the store to quiz the clerk for a long time about whatever gift he wanted to buy. Once he made his decision, he arranged to have the gift delivered when Mom was at work.

7.  Every woman should get an education so she can support herself and her family. Mom went back to school to finish her 4 year degree after Dad was diagnosed with MS in the late 1950s. She went on for her Master’s Degree in the mid 1960s. Our lives would have been very different had she not pursued those degrees.

6.  People matter more than winning does. Dad loved to play cards with friends, but he didn’t play to win. He played to talk.

5.  A strong family will be a constant support throughout life. As a teenager, Mom babysat many of her nieces and nephews. Those nieces and nephews open their homes to her whenever we travel back for funerals or reunions. Their love and respect for her is a touching tribute to her influence on their lives.

4.  Proximity matters. Having Dad close by in his wheelchair always made me feel safe.

3.  Teaching Is more than a job. Mom’s passion for her work demonstrated that teaching is not just a way to support your family. It’s a way to inspire a new generation and help them realize their own potential.

2.  No matter what happens, find a reason to laugh. Dad’s constant sense of humor and thousand watt smile taught that lesson time and time again.

1.  True love never fails. Mom cared for Dad at home from 1959 when he was diagnosed with MS until 1983 when he required nursing home care. Once he moved to the nursing home, Mom visited him daily, unless she was visiting her kids and grandkids, from 1983 until his death in 1997. Every time she walked through the door, his face brightened and his eyes shone.

Every now and then someone asks why I drive 45 miles to visit Mom Tuesday after Tuesday. The answer is simple. It’s what my parents taught me.

Love bears all things, hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:7–8

What lessons did your parents teach you? Leave a comment.