We’ve all experienced moments which are truly special in our lives. Some big, some small, some as a nation, though most are personal. Thinking about my small moments, some stand out with such clarity at the strangest times, it literally takes my breath away. Accompanied by tears once in a while, but not always sad.
|Adam and me delivering papers in 1989. Drawing by Jack, a customer…|
One of my first big moments came when I was 7. Minding my own Saturday morning business, watching cartoons when my world was turned upside down. How could such life changing, devastating news be offered by a phone call? I never really thought about that before. My poor Mom, busy doing her Saturday cleaning receiving a phone call informing her my 12 year old brother Larry had been hit by a car while riding his bike and was dead. An unearthly wail that made the hair stand up on my skinny, little arms came from her as she dropped the phone and ran out the door. I honestly didn’t know what to think, since I knew nothing of what had transpired through that phone conversation. Only that something was seriously wrong with Mom. What had just happened in my happy little world? She was running around in circles on 15th Street. All I could do was watch her from the living room window, and cry because I was scared. By the time my Dad got home and learned the gruesome news, our house was packed with friends, elders and the minister from church. Could not have been as bad to hear the news surrounded by family and caring friends as the way Mom got the awful news that day.
|Mona, me, Spitzy and Larry, 1957…|
My grandpa, Lakey Wanningen got stomach cancer soon after Larry died in 1958. He died during the summer of 1960 when I was almost 10. I remember sitting next to my Mom at grandpa’s funeral. Wondering about the wisdom of God who saw fit to take Larry from me before my grandpa passed away. (Chastising Him throughout the service). And grandpa wasn’t even that old. But a lot older than Larry. Not very nice thoughts, but still seemed valid to a young girl struggling with loss and a lot of resentment.
|My grandpa Lakey who had his own plane…|
A sad moment shared by millions the day president Kennedy was shot, November 22, 1963. I was 2 weeks away from my 13th birthday. When I heard the news I was about to open the library door at school. School was dismissed, I walked home. Mom came home from work. We sat glued to the TV and cried all day.
Late December, 1970. My first weeks of motherhood. Just celebrated my 20th birthday. I didn’t know how to mother. We had this awesome huge flat screen TV. No wait, I don’t believe it was quite that big. Try a 13 inch color portable we couldn’t afford. Shannon, my amazing newborn was fascinated with a couple of things. One was a new fangled TV program geared towards teaching children. Maybe not quite as small as Shannon, but I knew exactly how bright she was at that very young age. It was called Sesame Street. I decided this program was a must see for my bright baby. So 3 week old Shannon and mommy watched as Bob ran away from the camera (far), then ran lickety-split back towards the camera (near). About 10 times. Yup, she really got it, I could tell. Forty-five years later she’s never stopped her need to learn.
|Grandpa Jim with Shannon, early 1971…|
We were living in a little 3 room house at the time. It was so close to the railroad tracks across Hiway 75, her crib (which was in the living room) used to scoot a few inches every time a train rumbled past. It was almost Christmas, and 2 week old Shannon loved staring (though sometimes cross eyed) at the lights on our tree. The tree wasn’t very big because we had absolutely no room, but that holiday season, no one enjoyed the lights and tinsel on our tree more than our newborn daughter.
|Shannon waiting for Sesame Street, 1970…|
Jump forward a few years when a second newborn entered our lives. Quiet, contented Joshua. Not quite so quiet one day as I was running behind on his schedule. He was fussing loudly for his next bottle when his cries suddenly stopped. Dead silence. My heart thudded. I zipped in the living room, expecting a catastrophe. Instead, Josh gazed contentedly at his 4-1/2 year old sister sitting next to him while sucking on one of her muddy fingers. I bit my lip and swallowed a reprimand on her mothering techniques, cleaned his mouth, washed her hands, and prayed nothing bad would happen as he digested a small amount of her famous mud pie. I still remember what each of them were wearing the day big sis muted her new baby brothers cries.
|New Vienna, Iowa. Shannon and Joshua, mid 1975…|
Early in 1980. We were living in Spencer, Iowa. Adam was about 8 months old. My third (and last) baby. He was just learning to creep. More pushing, pulling movements than getting up on his knees yet. Kind of sad to say, I seem to remember lots more about his babyhood than Shannon and Joshua. Not because he was my favorite, but because he was my last. I knew this was my last chance to really savor baby moments, no matter how small. Plus I was older (though probably not any more mature). Little stinker Adam was in a predicament. He had gotten off the rug in the middle of the room and had pushed himself backwards. He was literally underneath my antique oak sideboard. His whole body was underneath with only part of his little head showing. He was desperately trying to right his direction and move forward. Each time his hands would try and propel him forward, he’d slide back further under the sideboard. Raised himself up to gain momentum, and bumped his head. Not hard enough to get hurt or cry out. Just hard enough to tick him off. As I watched (selfish mom, I didn’t want this to end) I remember praying to God: “please God, stop time for a little while. I don’t want him to grow one day older than he is right now. I’m never going to get to enjoy little things like this again. Please. Let Adam stay just like this a little while longer.” Of course God was too busy training the United States hockey team so they could annihilate those pesky professionals from Russia in the Olympics, so my little prayer went unanswered. But hey, USA, USA. That’s ok God, I understand. Still one of my happiest mom moments, the day Adam got stuck.
|Stop smiling and help me mom. Adam, 1980..|
Joshua played high school football. He loved it and was quite good. His team however was not very good and their record showed accordingly. I enjoyed watching him. His position was tight end/receiver. I can’t remember the exact date, maybe 1993, I believe Josh was a senior, and it was a home game. He had pulled a muscle in his butt or thigh during the game, and was limping once in a while. Still Josh was having a terrific game, catching some really great passes. I never needed to see his uniform number (90) when he was in the huddle. I merely looked at everyone’s legs and I recognized Joshua’s calves. We were in the stands sitting with a group of parents. One of the dads noticed Josh limping, and snidely commented, “geez, I wish Josh was hurt every week. He’s really having a good game!” I looked him squarely in the eye and said, “Bruce, you’re such an ass!” Yeah, I still remember that.
|Joshua, 1993. Dude, nice calves …|
I’ve talked about this before. When we moved to Michigan in 1987, Shannon was a sophomore. She was so far ahead of her class in most subjects (kudos to the Iowa educational system) Jackson didn’t have a lot of classes for her to choose from or take. She languished, cruising through some independent studies, finally taking classes at Jackson Community College during her senior (kudos to Jackson or the Michigan department of education cause we paid for none of these classes). As graduation time neared, Shannon told us there were 2 graduations. The regular one with her class of 350, and the Honors Graduation a couple of nights before. The Honors portion was held indoors, the regular outdoors in the football stadium. The Honors students numbered maybe 50 plus, thus was in the school’s theater with a small stage. The event was humbling as a parent, but one of my proudest moments. As they read Shannon’s name, they’d listed her accomplishments. To me, that list seemed to go on for quite a spell. I can still see her standing on stage as they read, and read. Ok, so maybe her PH.D. graduation class of 20 was a bigger deal, but my eldest during Honors High school graduation ranks right up there.
|Shannon nearing graduation, ready for prom, 1988…|
Watching my Dad’s face in 2006. One of the Muskegon Chronicle’s feature writers, Clayton Hardiman wrote a story about my Dad’s work and devotion with the inmates at the prison. And Dad was 89 years old. The day the paper came out I took a copy to his apartment. As I read it, there was a look of almost disbelief on his face. Like he couldn’t really comprehend this large article was about him. I’ll never forget that look. Didn’t last very long, but at that moment I admired his humbleness. Ten minutes later I was running around town buying every Chronicle copy (per Dad’s instructions) so he could literally send a copy to every person on the face of the earth he knew. Humbleness never lasted too long with Dad, but I was witness to it that day.
|Dad in 2007, teaching a bible study at Hillcrest…|
Not long ago, we went to a very fancy restaurant in Ann Arbor. I was perusing the menu (yikes, the prices) when I spotted it. Chef, Adam Van Berkum. Probably wasn’t kosher, but sneakily I slid my iPhone out and snapped a picture of his name on the menu. Best steak I’ve ever had. Not kidding. But it really was all about seeing his name.
|The menu at The Chop House in Ann Arbor…|
Joshua’s had his own business for over 15 years. Grown from 2 guys (him and Tim) doing literally everything, to several employees. They’ve shown huge growth spurt in the last decade. A couple of years ago, I spotted a testimonial clip from some of Motor City Technology’s satisfied customers. I didn’t know any of these folks. Business owners varying from construction companies to law firms. I don’t know why this had such an affect on me. I thought my heart would burst with pride. I know, my sobbing through the whole clip was a bit over the top.
|Motor City Technology’s CEO, Joshua…|
Shannon got her doctorate in 2008. Not many years later, she and 2 other therapists bought 2 houses which they converted into office space. The houses are charming and right next to each other. Now the same 3 gals have purchased another building because they keep expanding. But it was the first open house I remember. CEO Shannon and her partners cutting the ribbon. Which was nice. But it was the sign that remains firmly entrenched in the great moments for this mom. Dr. Shannon Lowder. Wow.
|Shannon’s business, A Healing Place is still expanding…|
So these are some of my biggies. Most are extremely happy memories when I think about them. I’ve completely skipped 4 incredibly important people who have caused more fantastic memories since they’ve come into my life. Don’t even get me started on my grands…
|The super-duper grands clockwise, Ari, Peyton, Graham and Landon, 2014…|