About My Mom

Mom - Model034

Today, I remember…

Jeanne C. Rath (Joan)

February 8, 1927 – October 22, 2011

How could I possibly put into words what my mother means to each of you? No matter what I say, it will not capture the essence of the woman who was your Bridge partner, friend, aunt;  a sister, a daughter, a wife;  Mommy, Grandma Joanie.  All I can do is hope that the Holy Spirit will guide my words so that you will hear in them something that sparks the warmth she shared with all who knew her.

Perhaps I should start in the kitchen.  In our home, all that is warm and wonderful emanated from the kitchen.  And of course, that is often where our mother was found.  She was a cook, extraordinaire.  It is hard to think of Mom without including a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding or some other amazing meal in the picture. My personal favorite was when Mom made goulash. The house would fill with smoke that would ooze through the open windows, past the cool autumn air. If you went out on a goulash night, friends would ease up to you, take a sniff, and then say, “umm, you smell good, what is that?”

But, as good as the food was, the real sustenance was the love and laughter that was part of every meal.  Mealtime was where we learned about words, politics, and integrity.  The dinner table was where conflicts were played out and resolved, laughter was shared, and decisions made.  We learned about democracy and compromise as we each submitted our jack-o-lantern candidacies on the back of a napkin, and voted for the best, and then set out to carve the best Jack-o-lantern ever each year.

Long after dessert was eaten, and coffee cups were cooled off, we’d still be found at the table sharing stories. It was then that Mom would lift the smallest child onto her lap. For those of us who rested our heads on her chest at the end of a long meal, you will remember the comfort of her lap, her resonant voice, her gentle laughter. Like a warm blanket, Mom’s softness would envelop you and make you secure.

Lest you think she was perfect, she did have a flaw. She was often late (or was Dad early?), because she had just a few more things to do. So as she would get ready to go out with Dad, she’d shift laundry from washer to dryer, add “aspirin” to the blackboard grocery list, and read aloud just one more poem from Silver Pennies.[1]  Finally she would descend the stairs elegant, serene, and beautiful, with her soft scent floating behind her.

With six active children, Mom’s time was spent rushing from one place to the next. For just one moment, I want to imagine what it must have been like to be a young mother with six children between the ages of 3 and 16.  In a car.  All of them.  Now, remove the car seats.  Remove the seat belts.  Have one child hanging over the back seat to reach the radio.  Can you see it?  I paraphrase Anne’s words, “I don’t remember being scolded to sit down or be quiet. In a sea of activity, Mom was patient and kind.”

How did Mom do it?  Well….

Have you seen the fairies when the rain is done?[2]

Mom had.

And so she sent us out, Skippy peanut butter jars in hand, to find and collect them from the dew drops.  “Look in the grass! They’re there,” she would encourage us.

In May 2007, my Dad was ready to go to the last, greatest, party.  I can picture him in heaven, waiting for Mom to get ready.  But Dad, Mom had a few more things she needed to get done.  She traveled to Panama with her sister, Teresa, she danced and sang on a cruise ship, she saw the birth of her second great-grandchild, sponsored a grandchild’s confirmation, witnessed the marriage of two grandchildren, and applauded several graduations.  She said so long to Aunt Jeanne, and her sister’s husband Bill; and she loved her family and friends through it all.

Well dad, she was finally ready.  She took a deep breath to leave her cares behind, smoothed her face, and with her gentle smile she reached out to take your hand and join you once again.

[1] Thompson, Blanche J., Silver Pennies a Collection of Modern Poems for Boys and Girls, MacMillan Company (1925).

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Twitter Authors – Jessica Estevao

I’m pleased to share this post announcing the release of Whispers Beyond the Veil by Jessica Estevao. In the world of writing, I have discovered authors that guide and support fledgling writers. Jessica is one of those people. I am certain her wit, grit, and wisdom will make this a not-to-miss read. Congratulations Jessie!

Jessica: In New Hampshire, feeling lucky and grateful Today is launch day for my fifth novel, Whispers Beyond the Veil. Do you hear that world? Fifth novel! I can’t believe it’s true. The surprise and the joy never get old. It’s like magic really, the whole delightful business. I feel like stopping people on the street and telling them […]

via Happy Book Birthday-Whispers Beyond the Veil! — Wicked Cozy Authors

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Ring of Kerry

DSC_0511When we visited the Ring of Kerry, our CIE Tour Guide pointed out the hill in this photo. The greenery is lovely to see, but if you look closely it is like thick molasses poured over a dark bowl. It slowly slips into the Atlantic ocean. According to Nutty Birdwatcher, trees used to cover Ireland from shore-to-shore.

Balancing economics and industry with protecting Ireland’s geological jewels becomes more challenging with each passing year.

Can anybody or provide the name or geological coordinates for this photograph?

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Leaving Killarney

A quick update for those that follow Toss the Typewriter. Please don’t give up on me.  I’ll be back soon. Balancing a full-time job with writing has been a challenge.

DSC_0437I’m mid-way through my first draft of my second novel. It’s a love story set in Ireland. While I won’t reveal the plot, here’s where my protagonist has traveled:

  • November: Software engineer, Carly Blake, works in New York City near Bryant Park. We meet her in May as she finishes off a project and gets ready for a long anticipated vacation with her soon-to-be fiance. It is with great disappointment that my Bryant Park scene is one of ‘my darlings’ I’ve had to cut. Maybe I can fit it in somehow…
  • December: The only snowflakes we’ve had in our area are the ones associated with the Snowflake Method, which I used to outline Carly’s story and for character development. Plus, I wrote a the pivotal scene (a romance within a romance) that happens about two-thirds through, which upends Carly’s plans.

Dublin, Ireland

  • January: It’s touring day one for Carly. She flies to Dublin and joins her tour. She visits Trinity College, sees the Book of Kells, the Famine Memorial, and orders tea (really? tea?) at a Dublin Pub.
  • February: On her second day in Ireland, Carly travels to Glendelough, New Ross and Waterford. She misses the New Ross tour to spend her time up the hill at the newly refurbished New Ross library.
  • March: It’s the third day in Ireland. Carly travels to Cobh and finishes the day with night fishing in Killarney. Again she skips out on the regular attractions to follow her own path. The other tourists wonder why she never joins them.
  • April’s goals: Carly’s fourth and fifth days will be spent in Killarney visiting the Ring of Kerry, Shannon, and Galway. Let’s see whether I can get through two days in one month.

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Distraction Gratitude

Across the earth, folks are feverishly adding words to their novels in order to meet the 50,000 word goal of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). There are many that will make the goal, and others that will go on to sell their novels, hoping that you and I will buy a copy and write a great review on Good Reads.

Then there are the people like me. I entered the month with barely an outline, exhausted from a commitment-crazy October. But I set my NaNoWriMo goals anyway, and am pleased to say, I have met all but one goal.

I wrote short stories from my graduate program, including two, which might be publishable. I exercised (until I sprained my ankle last week), I tweeted daily encouragement for other WriMos, and worked full-time on my critical project at work. Most important, I hung out with my family. I visited with new friends (though I miss my long-time friends), I’ve hung curtains, pictures, transferred old VHS movies to DVDs, watched river otters swim, and turkeys fly.


And I’ve written 28,848 words. Perhaps my words will grow to 30,000 by tomorrow. If they don’t, it’s because I’m spending my day today with my daughter, and my son and I talked on the phone, and I walked in my yard (a feat in itself as I heal from that sprain). If my words don’t grow, it’s because I’ve called a friend, ordered Christmas gifts for my husband, played with my dogs.


Whatever it is that distracts me today and tomorrow; whatever it is that keeps me from making this last 50,000 word NaNoWriMo goal, I am grateful.

For it is the distractions: the people, nature, pets, world events–both wonderful and sad–that enrich a writer’s work.

So today, thank you all for being my distraction!

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