Category Archives: Memories

A Mother’s Day Tribute

by Pamela Stephens

It’s that time of year again for telling the one who loved us,

protected us, and nourished us,

that we love them…

and I do.

It’s that time of year again for Mother-Daughter teas

with new floral dresses,

to watch Mother-Daughter fashion shows

and eat petit-fours while we sip lemonade…

and I will.

It’s that time of year again for buying special cards

that reflect those all too often unspoken feelings

for those gracious hands that sent us off,

picked us up, encouraged us, patted us

on the head and told us, ‘You can do it’….

but I won’t.

It’s that time of year again for daughters who have mothers;

for those who have living mothers and daughters;

it’s that time of year again for others….

but not for us.

It’s that time of year again for my girls and for me.

We will go to the Mother-Daughter tea

in our floral dresses and sip lemonade and eat petit-fours,

but it won’t be the same, never again, at this time of year

without you.

But no matter what time of year,

I will always appreciate you for the mother you were for me.

No matter what time of year,

I will always remember your tenderness and love…

And I do.

It’s that time of year for saying, “I love you, Mom.”

And I still do, and I always will….

Happy Mother’s Day Forever!

—-1991—-

(*Mom died of breast cancer at age 62)BG

The Photo in My Mind

It is a photo I can still see in my mind, and in it:

You are standing next to your son, calling him “Sonny” or “Junior”– which he has always hated. Your hair tightly curled; your lips exaggerated red like my dolls. I remember the rosy cheeks—almost perfect rounds and the strong perfume which was overpowering to me. You were loud and laughed when dad seemed embarrassed. Your hands waving in the air—your brightly painted nails interrupting my listening. You were a mystery then, but the answers have come over time to the questions I asked in my mind. I don’t have a copy of that photo, but nevertheless, it is indelibly engraved.

We moved far away from where you were, and so this is my only “in person” memory of you. But I have formed you and filled in the blanks where no one has given answers. Was it something you regretted, not having us close? You had already separated yourself early on in my dad’s life, and in your place he had grandparents. They loved him, but could never replace an absent mother and father. Was it what you wanted for him, or was it what you wanted for yourself, that took over?

All that is left– is to piece together the remembrances for my answers—how would he have answered me about it all? He never spoke of it, but I think I know.get-attachment-3

Today Would be his Birthday…

 

get-attachment-1Today would be my dad’s birthday, April 12th (1927).  These photos are ones that are my favorites of him as a young man.  But, they do tell you much about my dad!  The first one of him on the steps to his grandparent’s home: he was a meticulous dresser; dapper and stylish–yet a slightly mischievous attitude!  His hair was always “just so” and definitely not to be messed with!

 

My dad was raised by his fully Polish grandparents on Altgeld Street in South Bend, Indiana.  Though his mother was alive, she didn’t live with them; she was divorced from my dad’s father when dad was only six months old.  She visited home and brought various friends home to meet her parents and son.  My dad loved his grandparents and had a great relationship with them.  His grandma was always slipping him a few dollars and his grandpa taught him how to maintain a home and yard.

 

Dad, George Wade Lushbaugh, was called Junior by his grandparents, or Georgie, but his mom always called him “sonny” which he never liked.  He was an only child, which he didn’t like but he had a cousin named Jack who was six months younger than dad, and they were probably as close or closer than a brothers would be.  Dad had many stories about Jack and their escapades; he loved hanging out at Jack’s house and riding bikes together.  Jack’s dad, Virgil Marriott, was good to include my dad in family events.

 

My dad wasn’t educated in college, in fact, as an adult I learned that he quit High School to join the navy during WWII.  However, that isn’t to say he wasn’t intelligent.  Eventually, after moving our family to Arizona, and then California–dad went to work for Howard Hughes at Hughes Aircraft in California.  He worked hard, enjoyed what he did, and was proud of the fact that he was part of the Surveyor Program–a satellite system that circled the earth.  He taught himself math, trigonometry and calculus.  He was good at what he did.

 

Perhaps because he was so good at math, when I was learning math in elementary school and wasn’t getting it—that is why he was so frustrated with  why I couldn’t understand it! We spent many an evening going over and over times tables, etc.  My forte was English, spelling and all the other subjects!  Sorry, dad!  (I don’t struggle so much anymore, but it still isn’t my cup of tea!)  Thankfully, my husband is great at figures!

 

My dad loved working in the yard and ours was always the best yard on the block!  Looking back on it now, I am sure it was therapeutic for him after long hours and overtime at work with complex issues involving aerospace!  I loved it when he let me help him in the yard! But dad never wanted anyone to cut the corners where the grass (dichondra) would meet the sidewalk on their bike..so if you were the kid that he saw do it, you were going to get told!  The dichondra was as thick as a carpet, and it was very soft and inviting!  So my friend and I loved to spread a blanket under the tree and page through Teen Magazines while my dad was at work!  I was regrettably amazed that after putting away  the blanket, the impressions of our young teen bodies were still visible on the now “scrunched” dichondra!  Dad wasn’t too pleased about that when he got home either!  But mom pled my case–“George, it’s just grass!”  The next time I wanted to spread a blanket in our yard, I learned that I could use the leaf rake to nearly eliminate the evidence!

 

As a grandfather, my dad loved coming up to our home in the mountains at Christmas time.  It was pretty much a certainty we’d have snow, and he loved to play Santa for my girls!  One year, we Santa left them a cocker spaniel puppy named Cookie!  I remember lying in bed, way before dawn, hearing whispers coming from my kids room (where Grandma was sleeping with both kids in a double bed!)  Just then I and they heard, “Ho, Ho, Ho Merry Christmas!” along with sleighbells!  There was no staying in bed any longer, the girls were up in no time, as were all of us! but it was a terrific Christmas!

 

Though there were some years when I was in high school that dad and I had a tough time, mostly because he was stressed and drinking, and I was a teenager who wanted to express her opinions, I always knew my dad loved me.  Teenagers pretty much are all about themselves and I am sure I was no different.  I didn’t understand much of my dad’s background (both his parents had basically left him) and I am sure he was lonely much of the time, for companionship, friends and nurturing from other than his grandparents.  Sometimes, when we feel “empty” we try to fill it up with other things to compensate.  It was years later when telling some of these things to a trusted “mentor” that through her eyes, I began to see what may be causing his “drinking” and how I could change my own attitudes, and my unforgiveness of him because of it.  I’ve always been thankful to have had that conversation!  When we can dig into the “facts” and feel the emotions of how they affect people, it gives us compassion and understanding for the other person.

 

When I began to be interested in the history of our family, my great grandmother Lily Lushbaugh, and her daughter Grace made my research much easier!  They had written down many things, many stories, dates, names and even “traditions” about the Lushbaugh family that I have been able to put actual documents to, in order to prove them.  But, because of my asking questions about the family—I was able to find out some background that even my own dad wasn’t aware of.  You see, my great-grandmother, Lily would have my father over for the day and unknown to him, she would also invite her son, George William over (my dad’s father, whom he never saw after the divorce when he was six months old).

 

The picture below of my dad on a pony was just such a day.  Lily paid for the picture to be made of my dad sitting on the pony.  There were many photos like this taken in my dad’s day…my mother has one of herself on a pony…and even I, myself, have the same photo!  This day, Lily’s son was introduced to my dad as a friend of the family—but it was really George William, father to my dad.  He got to enjoy seeing his son and watch the whole day unfold, but my dad had no clue.  Years later, as I said, I began asking some questions about why they were divorced and why didn’t my grandfather want to see his only son?  I asked that of my great Aunt Grace, Lily’s unmarried daughter and High School English teacher.  She told me that he had remarried to a Catholic woman and in those days, if they knew you’d been married before and divorced, they wouldn’t let you marry in the church, you’d be excommunicated.  So, in fear of that, his new wife made him promise never to tell anyone about his first marriage or his son.  Unfortunately, he went along with it–though his family thought it wrong, they stayed out of it.  He evidently regretted having agreed to this almost immediately.  He and his new wife lived an hour or so away in Chicago for many years, and so it wasn’t often that he returned to his mother’s home in South Bend during the early years of his new marriage.    When my own mother would send my great grandmother Lily pictures of me, they would secretly share them with George William.

 

The wallet George William carried all those years before his death, had our pictures in it…mine, my dad’s and my children’s.  When I was able to read the letter I received from a family member related by marriage– about all of this, my dad cried.  It was a very healing thing for him to know that his own father, though he really never knew him, was asking and being made aware of his son’s family, and then my family.  It’s a very sad story, and one that didn’t need to be.

 

My dad, George Wade Lushbaugh would have celebrated his 86th year today, but he passed six years ago.  However, I know I will see him again and he and my mama are together.  Thank you, Lord.  And I love you, Dad–Happy Birthday!get-attachment-3

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The Grand Trunk Western Railroad

get-attachmentOne of my grandmother’s stories about her husband I remember had to do with his hair…he had a “widow’s peak” hairline that he didn’t like, and so one day when shaving, he simply shaved it right off. Several days later, one of his “railroad buddies” said to him, “Hey, Zeke, you’re growing new hair on your head!” My grandfather calmly said, “Yeah, I bought some salve at the drug store, and it’s workin’ pretty good!” The next time they had a day off they all went to look for the new “hair salve” that grew Zeke some new hair!

.1024px-1887_C&GT_map_onlyZeke (bottom L)

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the railroad my grandfather worked on as a Conductor:

From Wikipedia: The Grand Trunk Western Railroad Company (reporting mark GTW) is an important American subsidiary of the Canadian National Railway(reporting mark CN) operating in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Since a corporate restructuring in 1971 the railroad has been under CN’s subsidiary holding company the Grand Trunk Corporation. Grand Trunk Western’s routes are part of CN’s Midwest Division.[1] Its primary mainlinebetween Chicago, Illinois and Port Huron, Michigan serves as a connection between railroad interchanges in Chicago and rail lines in easternCanada and the Northeastern United States. The railroad’s extensive trackage in Detroit, Michigan and across southern lower Michigan has made it an essential link for the automotive industry as a hauler of parts and automobiles from manufacturing plants.

Grandma’s Heavenly Lotion

SellerswomenMy grandma (second in on right) lived with us for many years and because we shared a bedroom and a bed for my formative years.  I remember watching her as she went about her routine before coming to bed for the night; finally she would exhale, and sigh deeply before closing her eyes.
Grandma would sit down on the maple chair, open the doors to her matching vanity-dressing table and turn on the small pull chain light.  Her arthritic fingers would struggle to twist open the Pond’s cold cream and I watched as she dipped her fingertips into the milky white magical cream.  Looking into the mirror, she began rubbing it all onto her face and would then use tissues to wipe it all off, followed by several wet cotton balls full of what I now know, was Witch Hazel, to clean off all remnants of the cream.
How fascinating to a four or five year old little girl to observe this nightly ritual!  And the final step was to take a white bottle from her treasures, (Jergen’s lotion), and squeeze out a quarter size drop and rub it into the palms of her hands and up her arms.  She smelled heavenly!  It always reminded me of the fragrance the cherry pies emitted that she labored over—almond flavoring!  Even today when I smell Pond’s cold cream,  Jergen’s lotion, or cherry pies baking in my oven—I remember Grandma with warm, loving thoughts and much melancholy longing.il_570xN.369768080_9bkg1-22-2010