Simply Splendid


My parents were original thinkers…..really original. When one comes from a large family, the parent you knew may not be the parent another sibling knew. We perceive people differently according to what our own personality is, our birth order, our place in history…. The parents I knew were the best parents I could ever have had.

When I look back on my upbringing I am ever thankful for what I call the ‘Old European’ way of parenting my parents espoused. They espoused this view without even thinking about it;it flowed from them. I don’t remember ever being taught certain values by words, instead, my parents lived them. We last three were the parents of their older years, when they knew what was most important and what need not be considered. The father I knew was a lover of books. My mother was a lover of music.

I learned to value each person when my father made a point of picking up children whom others may not have associated with, for Sunday School and VBS. The big blue van rolled down the road loaded with children —– and yes, this was before the seatbelt law. When my sisters and I rode in that same van to the feed store, propped on top of the feed bags, we learned our father loved to have us around. When he took us to Cumming’s store, gave us 15 cents for penny candy (that was 15 candies!), and waited patiently while the equally patient storeowner let us pick out each candy, we learned that the world was a pleasant place. Grown men took time to care for their daughters and must have some extra pull with storeowners because everything stopped when little girls walked in.

Did my mother ever tell me she wanted music to be a priority in our lives? No. She lived it. She sang, she paid for our voice lessons, she encouraged us to play musical instruments. She was not one to attend sports events during our school years, but anything musical—–Christmas programs, choir, band, school musicals—-she was there.

I remember sitting in a church listening to her as she sang at a wedding, Ave Maria, not the norm for a Baptist church member. Love that woman! For her, it was the music, the beautiful music. It reigned supremely in her life and because it did, it is huge in my life too. I still remember, shortly after her passing, meeting a young mother who, when finding out I was the daughter of THAT nurse, told me how my mother had helped her through a very rough time. This was when I discovered my mother was known as ‘the singing nurse’. She sang her way through her shift and it caused others to ‘sing’ too.

They were adventurers. They bought a farm, started a life in the country and this was almost as foreign as America must have been for their own parents when they emigrated. They knew nothing of country living but they DID it. They were the dreamers, the workers, the explorers, and they poured themselves into our lives unreservedly.

I shall always love them, of course, but I have learned, as the years have passed, how much I respect them and honor them for everything they were. They did not learn these things from a book, a seminar, the latest fad. They simply were what they were, and they lived this with amazing strength and dignity. There is a word my father ( a lover of words) would use to describe them both…….they were simply ‘splendid’.


How did that happen?

Long ago and far away in what seems like another lifetime, I started to teach my children. I remember reading books on child development and feeling like 5 was such a young age to send our daughter off into the big blue world. I remember my older sister’s example of claiming her son for a few more years….of keeping him close. I remember loving that and choosing that path for our family.

And now, here I am, thirty years and six children later. All schooled entirely at home and then taking various paths… to Russia to teach, another to airplane engineering, another to work at various jobs, one to work on raising children of different backgrounds……and then our last two, just finishing and just beginning to ponder where life will take them.

It was THE grand experiment. It was ‘the road less traveled’. It was a path I sometimes boldly traveled and sometimes walked very gingerly. Here I am, looking back, sometimes judging myself for how well I did or didn’t do on this journey. Remembering the work of it all and the love of it all. For I truly loved it. I loved each day with these wonderful people I call my children. I loved them all. I was the mother who cheered when school began, not because my children were going to be away all day, but because it meant we could start again.

Each fall brought boxes of books arriving and happy faces tearing them open to find new treasures. It seemed I was continually looking for THAT book that would find a special place in the heart of each child–books can be our dearest friends if we let them.

So now, I look back. The grand experiment is not over. Their lives will be a continual result of all those years. And what does a mother do when her life’s work is, for the most part finished? A new journey begins……you go from teaching your own to teaching others. Who would have thought? No one could plan this but God.  Me? A principal?

And God says, Yes. I trained you all these years. You thought you were training them, but I was training you. Now, it’s time to use whatever you learned from the grand experiment to love and nurture other children. Your children are grown. They don’t need you in the same way, but THESE children do.

And I stand here a little unsure and not quite certain, sometimes walking boldly and sometimes stepping very gingerly…….