The other day I was hoping she'd share some words of wisdom, or write down stories for me to tell her grandkids when they get older. But she's not a writer. She's great at talking on the phone, and she loves to laugh. I'm guessing her sense of humor has gotten her through some very difficult years. One of her best talents is being able to work effortlessly with her hands. She's crocheted dozens of blankets over the years. That's a lot of yarn!
This year's stockpile is almost ready to donate to charity. She loves the Project Linus group, and she'll get all the blankets loaded up and ready to give away before Christmas.
She's given blankets to many different family members. We have blankets from my husband's childhood, blankets for newborn babies, for big kids as they got old enough to have favorite colors. We even have handmade teddy bear sweaters and potholders for my kitchen. Each gift of love has kept us warm and cozy. This legacy of blankets is one of our favorite treasures.
Other treasures are less tangible. One character trait that I hope gets passed down: bravery. She's fought through cancer for nine years now. Each time she's lost her hair after chemo, she's found a reason to smile when it grows back again.
Optimism is another gift. Thank goodness for a sense of humor. Liz explains: "Mom had asked me to come over and buzz her hair off because it was starting to fall out and get itchy. But this time around (2018) she said she wanted to have a little fun with it and post some funny pictures so she also asked Doug to come over after work to take a twin bald picture. They asked me to step between them and put my hair over both of their heads for a funny picture of me providing hair for both of them :-)
Once again my Mom showed me her resilience, strength and faith. In a time when most people are struggling with the effects of chemo, my mom decided to have some fun with it and try to get some laughs.
She and I were talking and she told me that sometimes her strength and faith come from the scriptures and other works from the church. Sometimes it's dreaming about what she can do in the house and the yard & sometimes it comes from crocheting two beautiful receiving blankets for the newest great grandchild. What it always stems from is a future for her with her family!!
As the oldest daughter, Liz has shouldered a heavy burden in this battle as well. Words are inadequate to describe my gratitude for her courage and compassion. I'm pretty sure she'd say her efforts are ordinary, but to me they are heroic. She has been there for her parents and cared for her mom through this very difficult journey.
Two years ago, Grandma and Grandpa drove south and joined us in Utah in the springtime. I'm glad we took a picture that day at Thanksgiving Point. It was the last trip when she was strong enough to travel to visit us.
This year we flew north and managed to see them in the summertime. The family get-together after church was priceless. We spent a few hours with all the cousins and aunts and uncles at the park for a picnic. Serious thanks to my sisters-in-law for their work and preparation to pull that off! I'm realizing now what a precious gift it was, to have a moment in time where everybody could smile together and laugh. Just a few days later, Mary was in the hospital, yet after a few very scary weeks she rallied and got strong enough to come home.
In sickness and in health, she's loved her family. She's loved and accepted me all these years. I can't crochet or make blankets, so her gifts have blessed my family in ways I cannot. It seems like our opposite talents and gifts were meant to be. My kids are lucky to have her as their grandma. For me in this unique relationship as daughter-in-law, it's kind of like a coming of age. I'm finally old enough to see how hard this mommy thing is, to appreciate what she did as she raised children and grandchildren of her own. I'm finally old enough to recognize some of her struggles and sorrows, to see behind the scenes, so to speak.
Mary is also an excellent cook. My favorite recipe from her kitchen has been a classic in our family for many years now. I shared it last week at a fall festival. It was actually a chili cook-off, which I've learned is a Texas thing. You start with small cups so everybody can taste twenty different varieties, then go back and eat more of your favorite. We'd already eaten a few chili dinners during October, so I made cheddar chowder instead. It was a win, as evidenced by the empty crockpot at the end of the night.
Make a roux:
1 cube butter
½ C flour
2 cans evaporated milk
2-4 C shredded sharp cheese
1 large onion
½ stalk of celery
1 lb carrots
Cube the veggies, then boil in salt water for 10 minutes. Drain most of the water. Add a blob of chicken or vegetable boullion.
Combine veggies with cheese sauce.
1 lb cubed ham
2-3 C peas
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp white pepperSalt to taste
Cheddar Chowder is as hearty as it sounds. Serve it with Ritz crackers.
Food has been a thing that's brought us together. In the early years of my marriage, when they'd come to visit, she'd always give us jars of grape juice. This gift of love represents hours and hours of work. Early October in central Washington, they used to glean grapes after the harvest. Some of the farmers would let people come and pick their own, purchasing them at a cut rate. Then Mary would spend a few days making grape juice. It takes about 2.5 lbs of grapes to make a one quart jar. That's a lot of grapes! Mix with an equal amount of water or sprite.
This last photo is with her great granddaughter.