Category Archives: Values & Stories

When the children I love need some encouragement or a chance to celebrate, I often write brief pieces for them. My purpose is to turn every life event into a learning opportunity. Often, stories provide examples of values, which are critical for growth and learning.

Requesting Comfort and a Reason to Laugh

Today, we go to a wake for a friend I have known since we attended TCU. Following graduation, we became neighbors. Our little girls played together as best friends. My son loved Margie. In fact, who could resist her warm smile and terrific laugh? The following message goes to Dwight, Margie’s husband of many years.
 
I recall a time when my son, David decided it would be a great idea to juggle eggs in your kitchen. Of course, no one doubted David’s talent. When he tossed one egg too high and it stuck on the ceiling, Margie burst out laughing. Many years later, Margie shared that remnants of the egg still clung to the ceiling when you moved away.
 
On another occasion, I napped while Rachel and Joy industriously mixed flour, water, and mud. I awoke to discover mud in the hair of two little girls, mud on the drapes, mud ground into the carpet, mud blobbed on the cabinets, and mud smeared into numerous pots and pans. Unlike Margie, I did not find this scene amusing. (I always claimed that if it had been in Margie’s kitchen, she would have not found it quite so funny!) It took forever to get the little balls of muddy dough out of Joy’s hair.

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Learning Teenage Lessons About Boys

To Our Granddaughter,

Boyfriends — on my goodness! Boys can be tantalizing, terrific, and terrifying. Some of life’s biggest bumps occur when we give our hearts to those sweet — yet ruthless guys. What fun! What misery!

Not only can I not spare you those bumps and bruises. I wouldn’t choose to do so. Everything you learn with regard to boys occurs to prepare you for future relationships. The “how to” book gets written as you live it. You learn how to love. You learn to forgive and to let go. You also learn when you want to disengage. Most important, you learn how to bounce back from upsets by relying on your own inner resilience and strength.

In the end, your ability to return again and again to your own worth and your own faith in yourself turns out to be one of life’s most significant lessons. Boys come and go. Your love affair with yourself lasts forever and determines whether you have a happy life or a somber one.   Continue reading

Beginning of An American Adventure. . .

My husband and I didn’t particularly want an adventure. We felt comfortable living out life in our pleasant home, enjoying grandchildren and engaging in community service from time to time. Two somewhat major floods (totaling 82 inches inside the house) in two years sent our contentedness tumbling. Shaken by questions about the probable need to convert our property into space for a park, we wondered what to do while we waited for a decision from the city. “Let’s buy an RV. We can live in it while we pack and get ready to move. Once we finish our work, we can tour the country.” Thus, an adventure came into our awareness.

Friday, April 1, the adventure began. America — get ready for our visit! Leaving Houston in our recently purchased RV presented a collision of abject horror at driving this monstrosity through Houston traffic mixed with exhilaration. Thankfully, we arrived safely back in Austin around 10:00 p.m. As often happens in life, circumstances did not quite fit our expectations as we realized our driveway would not accommodate this motorhome without some serious tree trimming. Undeterred, we slept in the RV parked on the street (strictly against the rules in our community). This may very well be the first of other “rule-breakers” in our future. We remain undaunted and almost unafraid!

Anyone want to purchase our original RV — a 20-year old clunker, which failed us on our first trip to Marble Falls? Really, you might like it!

Resolving Stubborn Behavior By Being Creatively Destructive

My cousin Patty died this week. In memory of her, I want to share this story, which I recall with loving humor.  

When I was ten and my cousin Patty was five, her mother, Millie, became extremely ill. Feeling a little desperate for a sitter, Darrell (Patty’s dad) and Auntie decided that I seemed old enough for the job. (Maybe so, if Patty had been an ordinary child.) Patty never fit the description of ordinary.

Although Patty and I had strict orders to leave Millie alone, Patty was equally determined to telephone her mother. All afternoon, Patty and I struggled over the telephone. Finally, when Patty picked up the phone, I took some scissors and cut the line. Continue reading

Finding Hidden Surprises As I Wander Through Senior Years

During my senior years, I have noticed some remarkable changes in my attitude. I laugh and have more fun in my mid-seventies than I have ever had. Life evolves in surprising and funny ways, and when unwanted events spring up around me, I no longer take them as seriously as I once did.

I adored being a young mother. The babies mesmerized me. Developmental stages proved fascinating and teen years brought more fun times than sad ones. Life blessed me with children who had good hearts and brains and who survived their often-confused mother with their own wit and laughter. True, I felt sad when the nest emptied. Yes, I missed all those fun times. And yet, how freeing to live quietly and simply. How comforting to know the “children” now live competent and satisfying lives without any assistance or prompting from me. Continue reading

How Much Per Pound Did It Cost?

My husband thinks my blogs have included too many ground up body parts. Maybe he’s right. What can I say? Growing up in the Texas desert had its gruesome moments. Fortunately, this will be the final bloody family story. As a young child, I found it intriguing that my mother’s brother had lost a finger. It seemed totally amazing that my dad’s brother also lost one finger. This story tells how my Uncle Toots (Clevern Miles Farnum) lost a finger while working in his own meat market.

Before joining the Navy to serve in World War II, Uncle Toots had his own meat market. An artist named Ken Holmes created the postcard featured below to advertise the market.

toots city market original

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Getting Angry & Getting Even with a Green Parrot

This story comes from Grandmother Glover’s Voice. In this story, which took place in the 1920’s, Grandmother tells about her grandson’s struggles with my mother’s parrot. As I sat on the floor next to Grandmother’s rocking chair, she said . . .

One of Carrie’s boyfriends gave her the strangest present I ever saw. The young man presented her with a green, talking parrot. Now, this parrot didn’t just say “hello” and “goodbye”. This amazing parrot could mimic almost anyone. If that parrot listened to someone for a few minutes, he could say the same words and speak in almost exactly the same tone of voice.

Unfortunately, the parrot liked to make fun of my grandson, Darrell. The parrot particularly liked to mock the sound of Darrell crying. And Darrell cried often. Tears came because his mother, Lizzie gave him frequent spankings. Continue reading

Saving a Life With a Dirty Rag

 Today, I post a family story about my daddy — my first hero.

Daddy was always a manager. Maybe his 6’4” height caused people to automatically look up to him. Maybe his calm demeanor did the trick. I’m not sure, but I know he always became the manager of whatever he did. When we lived in Odessa, Daddy managed the railway express office. After moving to Barstow, he managed a local cotton gin. When my mother died, Daddy went to Oklahoma to manage a crop dusting crew. In my teen years, he managed the Low Farm, a show place farm in Coyanosa, Texas — the last virgin territory in the US with the exception of Alaska. This story focuses on a tragic experience at the cotton gin in Barstow, Texas.

On a hot summer afternoon, a primal shriek resounded throughout the cotton gin followed by screeching machinery being demanded to shut down in mid-process. Daddy ran from his manager’s office at the gin to the loading zone in time to see a worker fall to the floor clutching a bloody stump that ended just above his elbow. Daddy knew immediately that the machinery, designed to separate raw cotton from its stems, leaves and seeds had chewed the worker’s arm through the bone and ground it into the emerging fluff. Continue reading

Does Living in Fear Help Keep Us Safe?

In 1933, in his inaugural address, Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself —.”

Currently, we fear gangs, terrorists, police, unorthodox marriages, liberals, conservatives, and members of other religious groups. The list goes on and on. Before we can forgive and relinquish judgment, we must first face our paralyzing fear. Renouncing anxiety involves three considerations.

  1. We cannot have it both ways. We trust God or we allow terror to dominate our lives. A story from a circus illustrates this point.

During an amazing circus trick, a performer

walked across the tent on a narrow wire high in the air.

The crowd cheered.

He then took a wheelbarrow and pushed it across the wire.

The crowd cheered even more.

The announcer asked, “Do you believe he can

push the wheelbarrow across with a person sitting in it?”

The crowd roared, “Yes!”

After quieting the commotion, the announcer asked,

“Who will get in the wheelbarrow?” Continue reading

Brimming with Smiles: Beaming with Friendship

Being fourteen has it’s challenges!  This blog is for our granddaughter who is a freshman in high school. 

I recall being rather grim and grumpy as a young teenager. Even though no major problems plagued me beyond straight hair, small boobs, and a few pimples, I felt gloomy much of the time. Let’s face it: teens don’t need a major reason to feel downcast. All those hormonal changes create havoc in anyone’s young life. As I reflected about my younger self, I suddenly recalled hearing the bell ring at school and clamoring into the hall. Hustle and bustle — everyone hurrying to find lockers, change books and get to another class. Mixed into the oncoming crowd, I saw Sally. Beaming with a big smile, Sally greeted everyone she knew — and she knew almost everyone.

Each day, I looked forward to seeing Sally’s big smile. I learned a lot from watching her give pleasure to her peers. Years later, as an adult, Sally shared that despite appearances, not everything was picture perfect in her home. No one would have guessed a hint of pain or stress by meeting young Sally.

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