Mom (1960)

#10daysofmom — Day 4


February 1960

In 1960, my mother had four children to keep her busy, and we did. She still made time to write to friends. Here is a Christmas note from that year.

1960 back crop

December 1960

Dear Ilse,

We’re all fine — but these 4 keep me hopping.  Sally’s a very happy baby but she’s learning fast how to play in toilet + pull books + things off shelves.  Stewie’s taking German lessons + I’m learning it slowly. Donabeth takes Ballet lessons + just lives for her lessons.  Peter remains happy but is into everything.  We’d love to have you come visit us. Merry Christmas + Happy New Year.

My mother’s nickname was Hoppy. I wonder if she is referring to that when she says we keep her hopping.

My mother used to hand-write her Christmas letters. Hand. Write. In her beautiful cursive.


December 1960

Her friend, Ilse, at some point gave a pile of these old Christmas letters back — and they are treasures, records of days long gone, logged in blue pen on the back of a Christmas card that always showed a picture of her growing family.

At Laity Lodge in 2014, we were having an informal discussion about I-don’t-know-what when one of the women there spoke of handwriting cards and letters to friends. She said how meaningful it was to receive a handwritten note. She said something like, “Whenever I receive a handwritten note I feel so special because someone took the time to pick up a pen and write to me, and then put it in an envelope and write my name and address, and put a stamp on it, and mail it to me. They gave me the gift of their time and I can hold it in my hand.”

I guess writing an email and clicking “send” isn’t quite the same.

My mother wrote a lot of letters. It was how they communicated fifty years ago. And she was good at it.

I can still learn from her.


Mom (1953)

#10daysofmom — Day 3



She was a lovely bride.

My mom used a book called “The Bride’s Secretary,” a gift from Filene’s Bridal Shop, to keep track of everything for her wedding. Another find among papers. Another treasure.Aviary Photo_130750727519397773

Dave Grohl, the drummer for Nirvana said — “There’s a big difference between falling in love with someone and falling in love with someone and getting married. Usually, after you get married, you fall in love with the person even more.”

That has been most definitely true of my parents — such love, such devotion. Look how she looks at him.


One of my sons is getting married on the same day, June 7, at the same time, 3 PM.

I hope he and his bride follow in my parents’ footsteps.

I wonder if Filene’s still has a bridal shop and if they still give away “The Bride’s Secretary.”

Mom (1947)

#10daysofmom — Day 2

My mother was a nurse. SCN_0370She had to write a “Philosophy of Nursing” while in nursing school. I found the completed handwritten assignment among some papers.

Aviary Photo_130749470845069122Nursing is the ministering to the sick, mentally and physically. It is the act of trying to bring a person back to good health and finding himself again, also helping him to retain good health.

Those who are a part of the nursing profession are very carefully picked. They must rank high in character and in mental ability. Nurses are carefully trained in the sciences, in Psychology to be able to understand herself and her patients, in efficiency and many other things.

Most mothers I would class as nurses in one sense of the word. At least my mother always seemed to be wonderful in taking care of anyone in the family when they were sick and comforted them. Also she did her best to feed and clothe us properly and keep us clean, thus preventing as much illness as possible.

A nurse must be understanding. She should have a sincere, quiet, efficient manner about her work. The nurse must have good control over herself in order to help the patient as much as possible. Above all, the nurse should have her own philosophy of life if she is going to help her patients through dark hours. I f she has all these traits she will probably have a pleasing personality.

My daughter is about to graduate from nursing school.  I don’t know if she ever had to write a Philosophy of Nursing, but she is understanding and caring. I know she will be able to help people through dark hours. She has a pleasing personality.

How blessed I am to be sandwiched between these two generations of nurses!


Mom (1939)


A few years ago, while going through papers at my parents’ house, I found some old school papers, including this poem written by my mother in 1939 —


Fire can cook a turkey
Can you think of anything finer?
Yet fire can burn most anything
Even the finest liner.

So here’s a warning to everyone
Who doesn’t use his brains
Keep fire in the safest place
So it won’t cause any pains.

Aviary Photo_130749679699200104My mom as a girl — sometimes it’s hard to imagine her, practicing penmanship, working on school assignments,  helping her mother around the house.

But my mother was once a little girl, just like her mother was once a little girl, just like I was once a little girl, just like each of my daughters were once little girls.

She dug her toes into the sand at the beach.

She caught snakes in the garden.

She stood up to the neighborhood bully — a boy whose name still gets a rise and a scowl out of my mother.

Her poem, pragmatic and practical, suites her.

I, too, had to write a safety poem in elementary school.  Mine went —

Little Jack Horner
Sat on the corner
And a great big truck came by
It smashed his head
And the blood flowed red
And he said,
“I’m going to die.”

“How is that a safety poem?” one of my siblings asked when I shared it at the dinner table.

“He shouldn’t have sat so close to road,” I said.

My mother’s poem ends with a cautionary word. Mine ends in death.

She wins.


Z is for Zaengle.

As much as I loved my retreat at Laity Lodge, I love even more coming home. I am blessed with a family.

We’ve been looking through old pictures here.  The photographs are needed for slide shows at milestone events. A wedding. A high school graduation.

Sometimes those years feel like a blur. We worked so hard. With so little sleep. It wasn’t always fun, but it was always good.

Here we are with four children. I ran out of hands at two. That’s why God invented backpacks and strollers.SCN_0094Five children. We would go to Myrtle Beach, driving through the night so the kids could sleep and not complain about the drive. It meant that Bud and I started every vacation exhausted. But it was always worth it.SCN_0075Six children. Five boys and one little girl. Family pictures were nearly impossible because of all the squirming.SCN_0001Eight children. Two girls at the end (shown here in the middle) to help even the score. Although it’s still not even. And I don’t believe in keeping score.Family picture 12-10I don’t ever want to take for granted this community of Zaengles.

But I also love that, in Isaiah, God addresses both the childless woman (Isaiah 55:1) and the eunuch (Isaiah 56:3-5), essentially the childless man. He promises them blessing beyond family.

Family is a rich blessing, but it’s not the only blessing. Blessings come in all shapes and sizes.

I’ve considered it a blessing to reach the end of this challenge — the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge.

Mark Twain said, “Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.”

Thoreau said, “An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”

Joseph Addison said, “A contented mind is the greatest blessing that man can enjoy in this world.”

Euripides said, “Man has no blessing like a prudent friend.”

Walt Kelly said, “Every burden is a blessing.”

But then, Lou Gehrig — my favorite baseball player ever, in the greatest baseball speech ever, said, “When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing.”

Which brings me back to family – MY greatest blessing.

What’s yours?


Y is for Yarn.

Jennifer Trafton Peterson taught me to crochet at Laity Lodge.

Every time her husband announced the crocheting time and place, he called it knitting.

This is how I felt.Not really.

It just made me laugh. He was close — it had something to do with yarn.

I once had a friend teach me to knit. I completed one mitten. One very lonely mitten.

IMG_6304[1]Jennifer taught me to crochet and I’ve completed nothing.

It still takes too much focus when I crochet for it to be relaxing.

And that’s what I was going for — relaxing.

But my hands start cramping up.

And my handiwork looks uneven.

And my eyes start complaining.

So I walk the dog instead.

Now that is relaxing.


I like to walk Maggie



X is for , the Roman numeral ten.

Ten sentences from my scribbly notes from Dr. Wood at Laity Lodge.

— The highest work of art will form an echo of the gospel.

— God alone creates. We sub-create — taking what God has created and using it to re-create.

— We are all artists putting together a great work of art called OUR LIVES.

— What is the lie that Satan is telling me that keeps me from fulfilling God’s plan for me as a sub-creator?

— Friendship unites and sustains.

— Alone-ness is both a necessity and a great danger.

— If you adopt the strategies of the enemy, you become the enemy.

— The deepest injuries come out of broken friendships.

— Even the most corrupted heart still longs for God.

— In defeat lies hope.