June 21, 2008

Shirley's Mom Laura

I met Shirley in the summer right before 8th grade when we moved a couple blocks from her. She was the first person I met in the new neighborhood and we were the same age. Our backgrounds were different but we found that we liked each other and began a dear friendship that has continued into each of our retirements and my living in various states and Shirley continuing her education, eventually earning a masters degree. Shirley has maintained a loving, strong marriage to the same man and has shown herself to be a caring and tireless woman to the people who know her.

Her role model was her mother, Laura. I would stay overnight at Shirley's house every chance they would let me. I learned from watching the way Laura would tell each of her children to do something and then expect them to do it. She was a busy mother who was showing by example how to be a wife and mother. One of my earliest memories of staying at their house was joining the family at the table and eating Shepherds Pie. I had never heard of it before and I loved it. I have made it thousands of times over the years and it is one of our favorites now as well as a dish my daughters make for their families. Also I found out about apple butter from Laura, which I would still be eating if I could learn to make it with honey and no sugar. I stopped using sugar and artificial sweeteners over two years ago. But some day I will figure out how to make apple butter using honey as the sweetener, and then I will have to ship some out to Shirley to give to Laura.

But the most important things I remember about my time around Laura was seeing the strength and openness of a good woman. I never thanked her for showing me the goodness and compassion that she bestowed on me. Not only was she teaching her own children qualities that would serve them well as adults, she was showing the rest of us hangers-on some things we would use the rest of our lives. For me it was a blessing to meet Shirley and to have her in my life for most of my life, even if we have not lived near each other most of that time. It has been a privilege to know Laura and hear how she is doing over the years and remember her acceptance of me and how she lovingly taught me so many things.

Laura will be 88 this year and Shirley and her siblings are going to celebrate with Laura on her birthday with an awesome party. For those of us who are unable to attend the celebration, we send loads of love and appreciation to Laura along with our best wishes for a wonderful birthday. I hope you enjoy your birthday party and many more birthdays to come.

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