Tag Archives: mother

The Passing of My Mother-in-Law


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In the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 6, my mother-in-law, Dora Thornton Durham, passed away in her sleep.

She was 84 years old.

Dora was a character in every sense of the word and her larger-than-life personality was in complete and delightful contrast to almost incomprehensibly small frame. Dora suffered from COPD and the disease took its toll on her, to be sure, but the twinkle in her eye and the edge in her wit remained until the end.

Dora and LBC

Dora Thornton Durham and Little Black Cat, April 2015.

Compassionate, intelligent and engaged, Dora had a saying for almost any occasion and many of them were wise, indeed. She was a life-long educator (her most important student being HJ jr who she taught to read) who valued knowledge and character development and she shared many, many stories about the children she had taught throughout her career. Dora married a man whom she first dated because she thought he was Don Meredith, believed in flying saucers and tried to always see the positive in negative situations. She became more liberal in her thought and politics the older she got. She was funny as hell.

There are so many things about my mother-in-law I will miss, but I will always associate Dora with how much she loved animals.

As she lay in our home in during the last days of her life, Dora was not alone. The incredible Cinnamon Girl cared for her night and day, ably assisted by first year nursing student Sous ChefHJ jr and I were around as well, and her son was by her side, too.

But I am not talking about the company she had from any of us. I am talking about our animals. We have cats and a dog and Dora loved them very, very much.

Dora shared many lovely “last words” with us when it was her time to go, but perhaps none were as precious as two directed at our animals.

As she was losing strength one afternoon, Dora saw our dog and lit up with a bright “Hi!” The wagging of the dog’s tail spoke for everyone.

Later that same day, our lovely Siamese cat Lulu crawled onto Dora’s bed. Dora looked down and said to her “soft.”

At that point, these words were an effort for her to form and they must have felt important to her.

I will cherish many memories of Dora, but, in particular, I’ll hold on to these two.

I did not have the luck to know Dora for a very long time , but I am blessed to have had 10 years with her.

I love her and I will miss her.

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Mother To Our Children


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The Cinnamon Girl is a mother to a blended family. I brought two, she brought one. That was ten years ago and I can say having been closer to the situation than anyone, that all three of our children have known The Cinnamon Girl as a mom.

What would a kid want in a mom if they could design her from scratch? Here is what I think:

I think they would want a mom who supports them in all that they do, who lets them know how special they are. I think they would want a mother who encourages them. The Cinnamon Girl has seen our children through freshman football and trumpet playing and softball tryouts and student council and job searches, college searches and homework assignments. And everything in between.

I think they would want a mom with a terrific sense of humor. The Cinnamon Girl does not only know how to laugh, she knows how to make our kids laugh.

I think they would want a mom with shoulders on which to cry. Each of them has had reason to turn to her in sorrow. Each felt better for doing so. The Cinnamon Girl makes the small hurts go away, the big hurts small and the impossible hurts easier to manage.

I think they would want a mom who is smart. I have seen it, time-and-again, seen The Cinnamon Girl give our children wise and wonderful advice. She gives them knowing advice. She gives them the advice they need. And she does not do this unless they ask her to do it.

I think they would want a mother who has their backs. Um, yeah. The Cinnamon Girl Has. Our. Kids’. Backs. Of that, there is no doubt. Do not cross a mother who is a lawyer. Do not do it.

I think they would want a mother who does not take the small stuff too seriously and who knows that the big stuff is not always as serious as it seems at first glance. The Cinnamon Girl has been so wonderful with our kids in these sorts of situations – the kinds that arise when you are a mom. They cannot be avoided. The Cinnamon Girl does not avoid them, she handles them with grace and confidence.

I think they would want a mom who loves them. If my children doubt this about The Cinnamon Girl, they have not been paying attention.

Happy Mother’s Day, my love.

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Mother’s Day 2017


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The Mater is a terrific mother. She has been for my entire life and I know that kind of thing does not just happen. I know that more now that I have been a father for 20 years. Being a good parent means being engaged, working at it, knowing it is a role that does not go away.

It has never gone away with my mother.

When I think of her now and what her legacy is, it is impossible not to think of her grandchildren who love her and adore her. And she loves and adores them.

It seems to me that they can do no wrong in her eyes and, likewise, she can do no wrong in theirs.

They love their grandma, no doubt.

But remember, kids, my sisters and I were here first. She’s our mom before she’s your grandma!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You have been all a kid could ask for…

… and so much more.

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Link’n’Blogs – 5.12.17 – Superhero Moms


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as thought provoking as I have.

Mother’s Day is Sunday and there are more than a few famous moms in comic books. Click the photo below and take a look!

Martha

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The Mater Was Born On This Date – Happy Birthday Mom

Traveling in New York this weekend means The Cinnamon Girl and I won’t be home to celebrate The Mater’s birthday today. I know she knows that we wish her the happiest of birthdays and that we’re looking forward to seeing her when we get home.

I was thinking about her yesterday as The Cinnamon Girl and I were walking around Central Park and talking about all sorts of wonderful things from where to find a Starbucks so The Cinnamon Girl could have her first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season to larger, broader topics like the presidential election (we had walked past Trump Tower [insert shiver here]).

One topic, believe it or not, was the unconditional love of God… The Cinnamon Girl mentioned that she was discussing this concept with a friend of hers from work and the friend said: “It would be hard for someone who had never experienced unconditional love from a parent or a husband or wife to really relate to the concept of unconditional love.”

So very true.

I have been blessed throughout my life with many, many things. Today I am most thankful for the blessing of a mother who taught me unconditional love. I cannot think of a time in my life when I didn’t experience unconditional love from my mother. It was her giving of that love which made understand what it meant to love others. I believe her example makes me a better father now, a better husband now, a better person now. My mother has been an incredible and indelible example to me throughout my life and I hope that I’ve also been able to share my unconditional love for her in ways real and tangible.

Happy birthday, Mom. I love you.

Mom and Me

Me and mom in Las Vegas earlier this month.

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Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mother has said to me time-and-again that everyone has their own story – everyone has their own narrative specific to them and their journey. As she is about many things, she is right about this. Today is my mother’s birthday and I hope that she understands the story she’s writing through.

The Mater has spent the majority of her professional life animating Small Church Communities in the Denver area and nationally. Though it has always been fulfilling to her, the work hasn’t always been easy but she remains dedicated to it. An acknowledged expert in the field, mom has written books, served on national boards, consulted with parishes across the country and brought people closer to God and to one another through her work. That’s a pretty significant chapter.

She is a wonderful friend and amazing support to the people in her life. She is a note writer – cards and thank you letters and short missives – and she maintains connections with people easily and readily. She is still in regular correspondence with a former neighbor who moved away over 30 years ago. Her friendship connects with scenes in many others’ stories.

The Mater was a terrific daughter to her very own Pater and Mater and, and loved and cared for my grandmother until the day Grandma died. This part of her story fills more than one chapter.

Growing up, I learned what it means to be in a strong marriage in the lab that was my parents’ house. My parents lived one of the best love stories I’ve ever witnessed and it’s clearly not over, even though Dad is no longer with us. This story doesn’t ever end.

She has three children. She has three children-in-law. She has seven grandchildren. She tries to get us all together as often as she can. I would guess she would call her role as “Mom” the most significant one of her life. As a mother, Mom has shown us, over-and-over, what unconditional love really is. She is interested in whatever my sisters and I are interested in. She wants to know about our lives and our days and our spouses and our work. Her grandchildren love her and she listens to their stories and asks them questions and is often bemused by what they are doing and what they have to say. The Mater would tell you that there is nothing more important in her life than family. This is how she lives.

So, Happy Birthday, Mom. Take some time out today to think about and enjoy your own story. Those of us who are characters in it certainly do!

family

The family circa 1980-Something.

 

Mom and me 2

Me and Mom… I think we’ve both had better looks.

 

Mom CUA

Me and The Mater in one of my college dorm rooms.

 

 

 

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Cinnamon Mother’s Day

The Cinnamon Girl is amazing at a great many things. She is a terrific chef, an incredibly talented teacher, a wonderful partner, my best friend and a really remarkable mother.

She is so sad to see our kids growing up (HJ jr is 17 going on 45, Stretch graduates high school next week and Sous Chef is about to take over the world… er, I mean, the kitchen) but knows exactly how much independence to offer them.

Kateri and Caroline

Sous and Cinnamon

She has a way of allowing the kids to open up to her, to tell her whatever is on their minds. I’ve spent a lot of time observing other parents’ behaviors in my years as a teacher and I’ve not seen many other parents (including me!) with this ability.

The kids know they love her. They know she’s fiercely protective of them, so much so that, when they have an issue or they are in any kind of distress, the go to her first.

She gives our children wise and loving advice.

She makes them laugh.

The kids don’t always know what to make of their Cinnamon Mom, but I do. I know that, in all ways and, very much as a mother, The Cinnamon Girl is truly special.

Oh, and she loves Lulu, too…

sad lulu

 

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