Archive for the ‘mothers’ Category

Ninety-one years. I’m sorry you didn’t get to celebrate today with those who love you most.

You are terribly missed and frequently thought of. The love you shared with me and all of your beloved family members will never be replaced, but I’ll always remember you for your kind words, thoughtfulness, huge heart and ability to make me forget about my troubles.

Because of you, I better appreciate the little things in life. A tasty meal that I cooked and shared…the smell of fresh-cut grass in the spring…a first snowfall. You taught me to pay attention to the things right in front of me and for that I’m eternally grateful. I’m a better man because of you.

So Happy Birthday, Mom. Know that you’re loved more than ever.



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I am going to tell you a story about a woman who lived her life striving to give what she had to those closest to her – unselfishly and without regard to her own needs. This is a story about each one of us as well.

The story begins — and ends — in Southern, Illinois, where, in 1910, Charles Snedecor married Lena Yates, and began to grow a family. They included Earl, and Phillip, and Mary, and Esther, and Chuck, and Wilma, and Louise, and Dorothy, and Kenneth.

Mary Elizabeth, my Mom, was born in 1919. Her family didn’t have much for material goods, but they had each other and they shared a lot of faith. That faith helped the Snedecor clan get through many events during their lives.  Mom quit school after the eighth grade to care for and help support her family during the Great Depression. She did laundry, cleaned houses and cared for her younger siblings. Then, as a young woman, she moved to Detroit and became a factory worker.

Mom survived the Depression, making ends meet during World War II, and raising two children.  She returned to her roots and her family in Southern Illinois in 1985 because this was the place she was suppose to be – near her family. I was with mom on her birthday about four years ago and Aunt Esther said something so profound as we sat and had lunch together.  After talking about how the Snedecor brothers and sisters migrated from Southern Illinois to Northeast Indiana and finally “back home,” Aunt Esther said, “Brother, let me tell you something.  We Snedecors sure know how to stick together.”

This stickiness lived in my Mom as well. In the ’80s she came to West Frankfort – and to the family she loved – so she could give something back to them. So she could care for them as they lived their golden years of life. And she gave all she had. Through her sheet cakes and refrigerator pickles, through her hugs and her tears, mom spent nearly 25 years giving what little she did have in very big ways – through her love.

She did for others because she could.

And when she faltered, when she couldn’t do the things she knew to do to show her love, it hurt her deeply – she didn’t want to give these things up. And she didn’t give them up easily. Her good deeds gave her significance. Each of you here today were significant in mom’s life.

Throughout my childhood, mom made sure I knew who my immediate family members were. I remember the Saturday morning phone calls she shared with Grandma Snedecor. They would reminisce, pray and plan to see each other. That copper telephone wire kept Mom connected to her family more than 700 miles away. And because they were so important to her, the aunts and uncles and cousins became important to me. They were – YOU are – my family, too. The trips we took to Eldorado, Spillertown, Hammond and Gary — and later Ashley and West Frankfort – left me with many wonderful memories. When mom left Iowa, she and I launched our own weekend phone call ritual.

Hers is fondly called, “The Greatest Generation” because of the great obstacles they lived through. And mom met head on many difficulties in life, but her meaning and joy for hard work, faith in God, and love for family stood strong. There have been many values that connected mom and me as I continue to work my way through life. Most importantly, I learned from her that when you give of yourself you have far less to worry about than if you only think of yourself.

She instilled a sense of pride in me. Pride, from a little woman who scrubbed apartment room floors on her hands and knees until her fingers were raw. Pride in giving of herself to those she loved – family and friends – even when she had very little. These are the values of a woman, a mother, a sister, a friend, an aunt, and a grandma who faced catastrophes in her life and stayed resolved to live a better day. She did her best for her children. She taught me well. She helped me understand the important lessons of love and family.

Of course, this is a story we sons and daughters know from personal experience. We share this story and we share the values passed on by our moms and dads. Look around the room today, or at a Snedecor reunion and it is obvious what we share. Look and you will see people who look like Aunt Esther, but aren’t Esther; people who sound like Uncle Chuck, but aren’t Chuck; people who quietly inspired us like Aunt Wilma, but they aren’t Wilma; people who tell stories like Aunt Dorothy, but aren’t Dorothy; people who grin ear to ear like Uncle Phil and joke like Uncle Earl.

I’m most proud of the Snedecor family because they shared their notions of right and wrong, and good and bad, and faith in the future and in church and in family.

And we also share their stories in life.  Each of those who have passed before us have lived storied, if not humble lives.  As their descendants, we’ve heard these stories many times. It’s these stories that assure us of who they were in life and what they stood for. It’s these stories that, today, along with all of you – my family – that comfort me.

So let me end with a quote by Harold Kushner…Rabbi Laureate of the Temple of Israel.

Kushner says…“If life is a story, we can wish it would go on forever, but we understand that even the best of stories have to end.  It would be a strange story if it did go on forever.  So instead of grieving that it had to end, let’s feel blessed that we were lucky enough to have been a part of it.”


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Bail Out

I’m not a fan of government bailouts. Unless the government is writing a check directly to me, that is.

But the billions our government is opting to spend in order to keep companies like AIG afloat seem like a monsterous waste of money. I’ve written about why these companies should be allowed to go bankrupt before. Seems as though billions could be used to do a lot of good in the world versus spent on risky bets – bets the masses of humanity will never benefit from at all.

For as long as mankind has walked the earth, those who help themselves tend to rise above the fray. It’s just as true today as it’s always been. It’s also all a matter of perspective. My mom grew up as a child during the depression. She rose above the fray by taking on odd jobs when she was only 10 years old. She cleaned houses, did laundry and cooked meals for the families who could afford it, then she went home and helped her mother do the same for their family of 11. What did she gain from that experience? An unflappable work ethic and the knowledge of the value of a dollar.

Mom was never wealthy. She never had the money to travel lavishly, buy the best clothes, own the nicest furnishings, or even remodel her kitchen in the exact way she wanted. But she was happy, just the same. When she earned her own money and bought her own things (with cash) there was a sense of accomplishment on her face.

Few people today grow up in the same way Mom did. The ethic among us today is watered down and soft. The satisfaction that once came with a day’s wage for a day’s work and paying cash for new shoes or a good used car no longer delivers a sense of self-satisfaction. Cash? What’s that? We buy with credit. Buy now. Pay later.

So our country’s economy stumbles because the rich have gotten greedier while the middle class and the poor have stopped worrying about their ethics. We’ve forgotten how our parents and grandparents did things. We’re the “me too” culture chasing after something we’ll never catch, but willing to risk our retirements on the chase just the same. At all costs.

And now, we have yet another target to point our fingers at and cast off all blame. It’s the AIG’s of the world who did this to our economy. Blame them. Protest them. Picket their office complexes and send death threats to their millionaire employees who got rich off the backs of the rest of us.

My Mom would have clucked her tongue at them, too. But she would have said, “Glad I don’t have to walk in their shoes.” And she would have slept well each night in her own satisfied way.


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Elitists feel they have outstanding personal abilities, intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or some other distinctive attributes, and therefore their views and ideas must be taken more seriously or carry more weight. In addition, they may assume special privileges and responsibilities and feel they have earned certain rights that others do not or should not have based on their level or position in society.

The proliferation of elitism has been underway since the dawn of human kind. What’s become worse in the past two decades is how many people automatically place themselves into this elitist category with no basis of reason. As populists in society strive toward breaking down the walls and barriers created by the elite (to ensure everyone has the same human rights and opportunities), elites attempt to further widen and deepen their moat protecting their belief that the privileged few have every right to make and enforce the rules.

What’s more, the new elites stem from recent generations of children who grew up expecting life to be handed to them in perfect order – further widening the gap between the haves and have nots. In fact, the common middle class that most of us grew up in, has now latched firmly on to the orbit of the elite.

The hard work our mothers and fathers once performed – the work that made our nation strong – has been tossed out with the bath water in the past 20 years. The yuppies, Gen-Xers and Millenials feel society owes them the vast rewards of life simply for waking up and putting on their socks.

And since elitism endorses the exclusion of large numbers of people from positions of privilege or power, this class in our society is essentially turning its collective head further and further away from its roots – away from the very parents or grandparents who worked two shifts so the family could enjoy a warm home, a reliable car and new shoes as the kids’ feet grew. Today, the 4,000-square-foot homes, Beemers, Audis and Mercedes are not the exception, they are the rule.

I’m sick and I’m tired of 20-somethings and younger walking around with their hands out – like baby birds waiting to be fed and chirping their beaks off until the mother Robin satiates their demands. These kids, our children, are clueless. They lack responsibility, respect and a fundamental concept of what labor is all about.

How are we suppose to begin fixing the recent economic malaise in the United States and globally, when our “most valuable asset,” our best and brightest, are entering the workforce with no concept of what work is all about? The learnings that once came with earning a decent wage for a decent day’s work are gone.

We’ve created the “gimme” culture of elitists and I’ve never been more personally disgusted and disappointed by a mind set than this one.


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In my bank of childhood memories, the Thanksgiving holiday stands out big time. My very-middle-class roots found me living in a five-bedroom house – we had a formal dining room, a front entry that seemed gynormous, and lots of space to entertain. With grandparents living just three houses away and a Dad who owned a popular business in the little community, our home saw a lot of visitor traffic throughout the year.

Thanksgiving was no different. Mom worked the kitchen all week making pies and dinner rolls, prepping the big bird so it would be just right for roasting on Thursday morning. She did it with the my Grandma’s help, and between the two of them they could make shit on a breadcrumb seem like a five-star restaurant’s main course.

That was 30 years ago.

This year, on Thursday, I’ll prepare turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and some kind of green veggie. Heck, I’ll even make pie for the kids and myself. But thanks to the miracle of food science, the job has become a lot easier than when my mom and Grandma made it all from scratch.

Let’s take gravy as one example. While I can make a mean batch of mashed potatoes, I suck at making gravy – probably because I only attempt it once or BM Gravytwice a year. But now I never have to make gravy the old-fashioned way again, because the gravy gods have learned they can become zillionaires by bottling their own recipe.

Get over yourself thinking it’s just WRONG to buy gravy in a bottle. The trick is finding the one that doesn’t taste too salty, won’t spoon gloppy and looks appetizing in your fancy gravy bowl. Boston Market’s Roasted Turkey Gravy is the answer. It tastes like the gravy Grandma made – from real turkey drippings – plus it has a nice oniony flavor that goes great over both the spuds and the carved turkey.Dinner rolls

The Pillsbury Doughboy ain’t got nuttin’ on mom’s homemade dinner rolls. But if mom no longer fusses in the kitchen, or lives 700 miles away, you can still enjoy great tasting rolls. Alexia French Rolls taste just like a bakery’s — crusty on the outside, doughy on the inside. Add a little REAL butter and you’ll think Mom was hiding out in the kitchen.

Many good-intentioned people get caught up in how to fry the turkey on the stove or use the toaster to melt marshmallows for the candied yams. My best advice to you (and you know who you are) is to call your local specialty grocer and inquire about a complete Thanksgiving dinner delivered right to your door.

Here in Minneapolis, Lunds/Byerlys, Kowalskis, and heck, even Cub Foods, offer complete meals to serve up to 12 people for between $59 and $99. It’s cheaper than taking your clan out to Old Country Buffett and the only think you’ll have to do is set the table and wash the dishes.

Sounds like a way to enjoy the holiday and really be thankful!


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Is this a big surprise to anyone? More like “overdue” in my book. She’s been given every chance. However, instead of K-Fed getting custody, these kids should probably be handed to parents or grandparents.

The story from the New York Daily News gives all the details…

LOS ANGELES – Britney has lost her kids!

In a devastating blow to the spiraling-out-of-control songstress, the same judge who two weeks ago found she was partying too hard has ordered Britney Spears to turn over her young boys to her ex-husband.

Kevin Federline, who has shared the two boys 50/50, “is to retain physical custody of the minor children” after noon tomorrow, Judge Scott Gordon said in yesterday’s one-page ruling that didn’t specify why he took the extraordinary action.

There were reports last night that K-Fed may already have little Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, in hand.

Spears was spotted whisking the boys through a Carl’s Jr. drive-through for lunch yesterday before handing them over to K-Fed’s bodyguard, x17on-line.com reported.

It’s not clear whether the scandal-plagued singer knew her precious hours with her sons were numbered.

 And this photo from TMZ.com is just lovely…

Spears Kids

Good luck Spears children. You’re gonna’ need it!


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Like the old oak tree that’s lived a long and healthy life, my Mom turns 87 on Sunday. Since she and Dad divorced in 1984, Mom has lived “down home,” not far from where she grew up as a kid. She’s been surrounded by her brothers and sisters in her senior years. Family means the  most to her and it’s what she needed most of all.

Since my kids were born, we’ve always managed to see Grandma at least once a year even though 700 miles separate us.  I wish it could have been more frequently, but it’s just not been so. My two teenagers know Grandma but they really don’t know her.

In recent years, Mom’s health has steadily declined from the inside out. Small strokes led to clumsy falls and broken bones. Her speech became only thoughts in her mind – unable to spill out coherently. She lost the use of her right arm and other faculties. Things we take for granted became humiliating disabilities to her.

But her heart keeps beating loudly and her will to live each day remains strong.  Like that oak tree, she has shaded and protected her family for the bulk of her life. Her hardest admission with age has been recognizing that she can no longer “do” for those she loves.

In October, Mom will be admitted to a nursing home and my aunt, who has lived with Mom for the past 12 years, fears for the worst. The youngest sister of the siblings, my aunt is 76 and shouldn’t be caring for a woman prone to falling down and who is unable to feed herself. But she has steadfastly been there, refusing to relinquish her concern and desire to take care of her big sister for as long as possible, just as my Mom took care of her little sis back in the 1930s.

That, my friends, is what family is all about. And though my aunt has cried and agonized over this decision that is in all rights overdue, she is doing what is best for my Mom at this late phase in her life.

When I see Mom on her birthday this weekend, I’ll present the usual flowers and birthday card. I’ll open it and read it to her and we’ll smile as her mind slowly pushes the words “Thank you” and “I love you” through her vocal cords. I’ll spend a day or two with her, helping her eat and making her comfortable…doing for her.

She’s touched all of our lives in countless ways, including the unending love she gives us all.


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