Sunday, August 7, 2016

Mum's Birthday Retrospective

It's Mum's birthday today; our first one without her. We are going to Brother Atlasta's after church for a lunch in her honour. Chiro-sis has made trifle, & I've made a BIG salad. John Morgan sent this graphic to me. The picture is from her 80th surprise birthday party:

So I thought I'd re-post all her birthday blog posts that I did for her. Here goes . . . .



When I was little, she used to call me Treasure and make me soft boiled eggs with "soldiers" for dipping. I watch her with my nieces and nephews now and see the love and joy and pride in her face for another generation. She is the glue that holds our family together, the Queen. No really, and with the British accent!

There are so many things that I am grateful for: she taught me to sew and knit and cook for an army. We sibs cook giant pots and casseroles of food--even for two. I don't know how to make single servings. That is why there is a freezer.

More than the overt teachings, I learned by her modeling. Age is never an excuse to stop doing anything: she took up skiing at 41, karate at 46 (she's a black belt), took my brother bundgie jumping for his college graduation, and just for kicks, went to body guard school at 65. We had a lot of fun with that one. We created scenarios where she was security for Sean Connery and he's lying on the ground having been shot and she'd say, "Oh, get up. You're not hurt. Just a minor flesh wound!"
While my dad adjusted us for everything ( Nooooo! Not the toggle recoil!!!), anything to do with bleeding was Mum's territory: the famous butterfly stitch. We all wore a box of bandaids at one time or other. You'll be fine. And we were.

I love her laugh and she has anchors that will set her off, like... SHEPHERDS. Oooh hoo hoo hoo! She sparked in all of us a passion for lifelong learning. She says she's not creative but she sewed our clothes when we were little, does calligraphy, refinishes furniture, and most recently built a harp from scratch. I've never particularly cared for harp music, but now that I've built one I guess I'll learn how to play it. I love how she does things JUST FOR FUN and that learning is fun.

I admire her strength and sense of adventure. She met my dad in the Yukon wilderness where she was working with Eskimos. On my 7th birthday, we left our home in California: 4 kids & another on the way, to the frozen Virginia country. We lived out of our camping trailer until the dome was built and even then, that was still like camping! I had a Marine friend in college who once said, Anyone who likes camping just hasn't done it enough. Amen.

I once asked her about L.A. and the riots in the 60's and she said, "Oh, don't ask me anything about the 60's, I was busy having children." The first 4 of us were 16 months apart. Having raised only 2 children, I don't know how she did it! And that is when you really appreciate your mother: when you're faced with parenting. She gave us chores and bedtimes and limits and consequences. All those things that as a child, make a parent "mean." But really mean, the ultimate love and sacrifice. It's OK to be mad or upset or disappointed, I still love you. And you won't appreciate all this until you're a successful adult--but that's my job: to raise you to get along in this world and be able to take care of yourself. 

She had 6 children she calls her "Blessings" and said that "childbirth was just a bit of pressure." No big deal. As a midwife, she's delivered 2000+ babies, including most of the grandchildren at home. She went with me to my first Hypnobirthing lecture before I became certified, and the instructor said, "Childbirth is really just pressure." My mother wacked my arm and gave me the Mum-I-told-you-so Look. I am so grateful to have grown up with her as a calm alternative to the emergency pregnancy-as-a-disease mentality in our society. Babies come when they're ready,she always says. A lesson in patience, in trusting Nature, in trusting in your body's innate intelligence.

When people see us together, they say they can tell I'm her daughter because we look exactly alike. The funny thing is: we don't. I am my father's daughter: same eyes, bone structure, sense of humour. However, I have her smile and I like to think, her cheerful optimism. Once we were out to breakfast with a family friend, Melody. I said, "Don't they have any proper butter?" as I'm giving an Ick Face toward the fake stuff. Melody laughed and said, "You sound just like your mother!" And so I do. We appreciate proper things: butter, napkins, cleaning supplies, and anything of Quality.

Back in the '80's, it was all the rage to wear men's paisley pajama's with bangles and crucifixes. I hope you don't tell people who you are, she said as she saw me going out into the world in that get-up. I walked out onto the front porch and yelled: "Hey everyone! I'm Anne Holliday's daughter!"

THANK YOU, MUM. My heart SMILES whenever I think of you. And I can't express how much I LOVE YOU I APPRECIATE YOU and how PROUD I AM to be your daughter. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! :-) BNO

It Mum's birthday today.

She is sprinkled throughout this blog with life lessons. She's been mother & wife:

She travels to faraway places & sends hilarious emails.

Hand-stitched with dental floss.

Mum is not sentimental and she loathes nick-knacks. One birthday, I gave her this hideous "What-a-mother-means"plaque:

On the back of it, I taped a Lowe's gift card; v. practical. Like Mum. Here she is with Atlasta, a.k.a. Brother DArea Man:

She is grandmother:

Unspecified grandchild receive GranAnne smooch!

Construction worker. She really does change lives:

Queen Anne in Hungary for Habitat.

Animal Tolerator:

"Yes, you're very sweet. Now go away."

I cherish our not-meaning-to-be-funny conversations, where she ends it with, "Oh, shut up," in that v. proper Queen's English accent:

At Mum's Dinner Dance.

Blow out your candles,

Pioneer Sister's famous chocolate cake!

and Make a WISH

Saturday was Mum's birthday & all the sibs & kids celebrated at her house. Brother D & I picked out Taylor Swift cards together . . . 

Here's Brother D's, which he picked out right away:

When he was getting the card, he rubbed it against other sparkley cards to enhance the sparkliness. Guess you had to be there. I didn't want to take too much time, so I just grabbed this one & revised it. Here's Mum with my card:

Got the laugh I was looking for!

HAPPY Birthday, Mum!

Make a wish! (Pioneer Sister's famous chocolate cake!)

I had my nieces & nephews over Friday night, so we made b-day cards. This one was the cover of a pop-up card.

This is the pop-up part. SO CUTE! 

Abstract mixed media crayon resist with water colour & crayons.

That's GranAnne in the middle of all those hearts, of course.

From the eldest; so cute-smart-funny!
Friends & fam celebrated yesterday at my house, amongst moving boxes & dogs.

Mum looking at her b-day cards.
 Cake time! With Pioneer Sister's famous chocolate truffle ganache deliciousness:

Singing Happy Birthday.

Mum conducting.

Mum's candle blowing was usurped by my niece. "Did you steal GranAnne's wish?" I asked her. No apology from said niece, just a smirk. 

I thought I'd do a pictorial of favourite Mum-related blog moments, in honoUr of Mum's b-day.

She is GranAnne to all her grandkids, except for the youngest, Rowan, who calls her Om-a. He made that up. Last summer Mum had all the grand children for a week. It was called:

Favourite foods are GranAnne's proper porridge & tuna casserole. 

Youngest baby Rowan.

Queen of Cleaning 
Cleaning out gutters; one of her favourite things to do.  She will protest, but there was one year where this is how we spent a good portion of Christmas Eve Day!

Last fall at the River House. I bet those windows are STILL clean!

 Watching Hoarders

Queen of Sewing
Mum whipped up new cushions for all my wicker in less than 5 days. AND she added piping AND zippers to all the pillows. 
Queen of Fearless
Braving the snow for my b-day last year. She parked down by the river and hoofed it up the hill. With all my presents:

Queen of Construction

Habitat build in Hungary. Mixing concrete. Digging ditches. She does it all!
Queen of World Traveling

Queen of Toleration

Birthday Queen

Shirt Ruth gave Mum for her b-day. Something muscley & gym-related.

Mother's Day cards.


May you
Cake(wreck) Mum made with unintentional multi-coloured sperm that SHE called "balloons."
May your day be full of rainbows.
Make a wish!

2013: 80th
Over the years, I've paid homage to Mum on birthdays & holidays. So this year I thought I'd better do something extra-special. Now you know why I absconded with your photo albums, Mum!
Nurse Mum in the centre.

Mum went into midwifery. She didn't like being around sick people, which is kind of funny being a nurse and all. I've bonded with other people whose mothers were nurses. We all share the same experience; "Get up. You're fine. Just a minor flesh wound!" We got it in doubley with the British Stiff Upper Lip. When my brother was 11, he cut his finger & Mum stitched it up at the kitchen table. When he said, "Mum it really hurts." She said, "Oh, just think of England!" I'm sure that's what she heard growing up during the war. Perhaps in the voice of Winston Churchill coming over the wireless.  30 years later, when Mum sliced her hand whilst cutting an avocado, Atlasta was there to tell her to think of England. 

I love Mum's black & white photos and newspaper clippings:
Frolicking in the water with longtime friend Gill.
Mum left England on this in 1961:

She ended up in the Yukon treating "red Indians." Here's a newspaper article:

And eventually met my dad:
I'm quite sure this was after they'd known each other a while. 
And had children:

Speaking of children, here's the photo album of my brother, #3 of 6:
Thus my brother earned the nick name, Atlasta.

See? This photo is from the same batch as the one of Mum on Dad's knee. They were well-aquainted. OBvi!
When I was 7, we left California & moved to Virginia:
January 27, 1971. Four kids across country. Actually, four & a HALF; Mum was pregnant! I once asked Mum a question about the 1960's & she said, "Oh don't ahsk me anything about the 60's. I was busy having children!" BTW, the dog in the photo, Susie, belonged to our neighbor Audie Mae. Like we would have a dog. Ha!
We lived out of our camping trailer until we built our dome, featured in the background:
Mum hanging up laundry--which was ENDLESS. One time she went on strike, and the laundry piled to the bathroom ceiling. I'm not making this up. It only took 3 days. It gave me an appreciation for all her hard work--which didn't last all that long because I was a surly teenager. But I digress . . . 
When Mum was 45, after baby #6, she took up karate:
Here she is as a white belt.
Can't tell if that's a green belt or black belt. 
But here is her black belt promotion, 9 years later:

With Arthur Drago, karate instructor & longtime family friend. 
There's much to admire about my mother. She is fearless at any task, and to tell her she can't do something, just fuels her to do it! She's not just strong when it comes to karate:

Digging ditches with longtime friend Prim:
That's right. She traveled all the way to Australia to dig ditches!
You'd think that Mum lives to dig ditches! Here she is in Hungary for Habitat for Humanity:
Actually, in this one she's mixing concrete by hand. "Well of course she is", you'd say if you know my mother.

Queen Anne. She has traveled to Poland, Hungary, the Dominican Republic to build houses. 
Perhaps this is where I got an appreciation for duct tape. Mum fixing the dome. Or perhaps sealing off the window in preparation for winter? The leaves in the background look Autumn-ish. 
"No that's all right. I LIKE the push mower!"

This photo is deceptively serene:
Anyone looking at it would think she's just resting on the steps. Well--anyone who doesn't know Mum! She spent 2 weeks refinishing that entire banister. In fact, she did a lot of work on our friend's Victorian house to restore it to it's proper glory.  

Mum in the kitchen making mince meat pies. I was excited when I first saw this photo; I thought we'd caught her making her famous jam tarts. We were not fans of the mince meat, but her pastry is the BEST!
She has even managed to master gluten free baking, with 2 of us GF. Still the BEST baker!
In 1994, 3 of us got married & she made all the cakes: 
Atlasta's cake, but this is what they all look like. 7 layers of different variations of carrot cake. The BEST! Even before being GF, I couldn't eat anyone else's carrot cake. Nothing compares--& now her GF carrot cake is the BEST!

 She also had time to be active in the Winchester Little Theatre:

In The White Sheep of the Family. Mum knitting--REALLY knitting. When I worked at Wayside Theatre, she helped create a prop of knitting for one of the actresses. She couldn't knit. It was very funny & she ruined Mum's work. When Mum went to see the play, she commented on dropped stitches & lack of technique. Other than that, I think she enjoyed the play. 
 Here's the review of The White Sheep of The Family:

She is also a world traveler. She doesn't just go on Habitat builds, sometimes she goes for fun!

In Florida. 

In Australia with Judy & Prim:

At the helm, steering the boat:
As you do.

Post card to co-workers:

Mum & Dad in Australia.

South Africa:
With longtime friend Nan.

Aloe vera!

Demonstrating that we are British. We love nature & we are NOT afraid of lions!

Mum had a couple photos of seemingly nothing:
It's not nothing!  Look!  Look there! [point-point] That black dot is a dung beetle. 

Another trip with Prim & Judy. Tasmania, perhaps?
 Speaking of Prim & Judy, Mum said, "Judy is the worst back seat driver! I finally told her, 'Oh, do shut up Judy & hold onto the Jesus handle!'"

Auntie Vera, her sister, came for a vizzie visit. The president called so they trucked off to Washington D.C.:
This was right before she conferred with the presidential cabinet on important matters. And then they had tea, after which she did a quick dry wall repair in the Oval Office. "Where's your ute-knife, Mr. President?" The president averted her gaze & stared down at his shoes in discomfort. "You should always be prepared! You can never go wrong with the PROPER tools!" she admonished him, before offering to mend his sagging hem on his jacket.

She is proud mother:

Chiro-sis at her Palmer graduation.
She is midwife:
She delivered MOST of her grandchildren. Here they are weighing #6.
And grandmother:
With Atlasta's eldest. 
And here she is with the youngest, nephew RoRo:

HAPPY Birthday, Mum!!!

Time to CELEBRATE!!!  (This is from Mum's surprise 65th b-day party)

Mum was in Scotland for her last birthday last year & I guess I got lazy for 2014 because I can't seem to find a post. Or perhaps that's when my computer crashed. In any case, today, we celebrate Mum.   


Unknown said...

Thanks so much for this journey to embrace in memory a woman who shaped my life and lives in my heart.

Hali Chambers said...

Thank YOU Paula, for being part of the journey! :-)