Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ten things my mother taught me

I’ve made a list of the things my mother taught me. If it had not been for her, I would not have learned these things:

1. How to make do with very little, and not feel sorry for yourself about it.

2. How to make pie crust, spaghetti sauce, roast stuffed turkey, pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, and generally everything, because she made me feel that cooking is easy.

3. How to sew. How to put together a pattern, to set in sleeves, to put in a zipper, and generally to sew anything, because she made me feel that sewing is easy.

4. How to love poetry: all the Pooh poems, and those from the Golden Book of Favorite poems. And how to read poetry out loud.

5. How to love books. Beautifully made books, with hard covers and good paper, and beautiful illustrations.

6. How to appreciate irony and satire.

7. That it was OK to love classical music, even though no one else in my entire family did.

8. That singing is fun, and dancing, too. And that you can do these things without embarrassment.

9. That art is important.

10. That God is your friend, and that’s all the theology you need to know.

These were hard months for my mother -- being disabled by a major stroke, unable to speak, unable to walk or use her hands very much. Being in a foreign country and in a nursing home where the other residents did not speak her language. But even before that -- just coming here from America, leaving her household behind and her beloved country, and losing her beloved son. She lived for almost two years in that room we all created for her, but the amazing thing was that she did not become depressed, she was not angry at God for arranging her life this way. Instead, she painted pictures -- dozens of them. More pictures than I ever saw her make all the years I was living with her when I was young. Beautiful pictures made with great confidence and joy.

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine at church who knew how difficult it was to live with my mother came up to me with tears in her eyes and said, “You will be so glad you’ve done this.” And she was right. I am so glad we did this. Thanks to everybody. We all did this -- Grandma, too.

Nancy Forest-Flier

(read aloud by Nancy at Lorraine Flier’s funeral December 29, 2009; the photo was taken by Jim 23 May 2008; double-click on the image to see it enlarged)

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Truly the funeral was an event filled with joy, gratitude and peace. The setting was beautiful -- a funeral chapel in Schagen, a small town to the north, with a wall of glass looking out over a frozen pond, a few ducks walking on the ice, reeds the color of wheat, leafless trees, fields glistening with frost.

(photo by Caitlan)

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Nicolas, Roberto & Sherri McFerran Russo said...

Dear Jim and Nancy, we send heartfelt condolences to you and your entire family for your recent loss. The photo of Lorraine is beautiful and reflects your thoughtful memories. Amazing that she was still painting so well, notice how wonderfully she painted the heavens ... obviously it was a place she knew well, even before her death! So inspiring and loving, thank you for helping us to get to know her better.

Humble pilgrim said...

Dear Nancy and Jim, a blessing to Lorraine, and to both of you at this sad/joyous time. Loved the list--made me wonder what I could come up with if I wrote a similar list; or (yikes!) what my children would say about me! Thanks also for the great photo.

Blessings as always,
Don Grayston

Larry Culliford said...

God bless you, Nancy & Jim. Thanks for sharing so much. With love, Larry.

Jeff said...


You were very fortunate to have Lorraine as your teacher, as she was to have you as her pupil.

Love, and condolences
from Jeff and Wendy

Eva said...

It often happens that after an older person of the previous generation dies, the survivors lose many of the memories of recent challenging years and are able to focus on happier times. May you have many good memories when you are cooking certain foods of the times when your mother taught you to make them. I hope the coming year will be a good one.
Eva Arnott

Alex Patico said...

That is a lot to have learned -- from life, much less from any single person!