Recently I had a revival in my brain. Having spent so many years mourning my mother, my memories were clouded by a sicker, less vibrant memory of my mother. When I would think of mom, my foremost memories were of my sick mom, my mom riddled with pain, my frail mom, my mother dying before my eyes… painful and less flattering moments with my mom.

Fast forward to my brother sending me old family videos. I watched with amusement the video of my mother performing sign language to “Sunshine of my Shoulders.” She was so serious about her role and the fluidity of her sign language on camera. Her intensity in this video is palpable (the video was her final exam for the sign language class she took). While she considered rehearsals as her time to master her art of performance, my brothers and I painfully recall the countless hours of rehearsals and practice she did with John Denver’s ballad playing at deafening levels ON REPEAT. Over and over and over. To this day, in fact, I cringe when I hear that song. I am pretty sure my brothers do too.

My brother also sent me videos of birthday celebrations of years past. I watched intently, marveling at the woman I had grown up with. The strong, vibrant, thoughtful woman who was devoted to her family and her children. The woman who embraced a gag gift from her oldest child as if it was the crème de la crème of gifts (it was a polka audio tape – we are not polish). This woman had been pushed to the background my memories.

The memories came flooding back… my mother organizing the Parade of Nations (a huge, multi cultural stage celebration on Fort Leavenworth), my mother video taping and attending all of my brothers and my childhood events, my mother celebrating each and every birthday with pomp and circumstance- cake, gifts, food, my mother going to bat for her family time and time again, my mother teaching me how to sew, my mother staying by side hour after hour and day after day when I was in the hospital, my mother being there regardless on my youthful emotional outbursts, my mother holding my first born in her arms… so many beautiful moments forgotten in the cloud of mourning and then remembered because of old home videos.

It is difficult to recall all of the beautiful moments, but I am glad these old video camera moments have caused the revival of memories in my brain. Mom would want to be remembered like that.



FYI- Something to consider when you’re “elfing” is the difference in height between the little spawn and the adult spawners.

When I came downstairs this morning the kids were mad that Elfred had not come back.


I assured them that Elfred would not leave, that he had to be around the house somewhere, and asked them where they had looked.


Thus began the Q&A of hiding places –
Me: the pantry?
Them: Not there.
Me: The curtains?
Them: Not there.
Me: The bathroom?
Them: Not there.


I know he’s in there so I tell them to look again. Still nothing. I tell them look up. Still nothing.

Silly me, in an attempt to ensure he would not accidentally get baptized in the commode, pushed him further back on the cabinet and the kids couldn’t see him at all. And here I thought I was so clever. Lesson learned.

So tonight Elfred is hiding out in the brush on their eye level. The first picture is of the whole tree. You’ll notice some of my mom’s ornaments on the tree. The pink gingham bear was a particular favorite when I was young.



Even an elf has to go…

The kiddos were super excited to see Elfred had returned. The oldest awoke with a start and made the initial discovery (somewhere around 5 am), then quickly awoke the other two. They devoured the extra candy canes and then set to the task of making Elfred his very own Christmas stocking (PSA to parents out there- black sharpie marker does not come out of wood so make sure to leave said markers out of sight).

The rest of the day every time the kids passed by Elfred, they gave him a quick shout out. When I moved my computer to within inches of him, all three kids individually asked me to be careful not to touch him. They are completely into the fantasy of Elfred the Elf.

MY children are getting older, and I am keenly aware that the childhood belief and joy will soon fade. They know that some of their friends do not believe, but they hold tight to their own beliefs, for now. So this year I am soaking up every moment of this with them.

Back to Elfred… He did a lot of fun things last year so I want to try to include some new things this year too. Tonight I decided that even Elfred deserves some time in the bathroom. It certainly will not be the first place they look!



9/11: My Mom In Loving Memory

In September of 2001, I was working in the airline industry: an affiliate of American Airlines–working as a technical writer in the documentation and training department.

I was 27 years-old.

I grew up as an airline brat. My mom worked for AA, so I spent most of my childhood and adulthood traveling on the proverbial shoe string, and I was very lucky to have had the opportunities I had.

That morning started off like any other. I drove to work listening to my Sade tape singing to myself. I wasn’t thinking much.

What I do remember is that I didn’t hear anything until later in the morning. A meeting with a software developer yielded these words: “Did you hear about those American Airlines flights that crashed into the World Trade Center?”

I called my mom immediately. I knew she worked nights, and I remember thinking that I hated to wake her.

Me: Mom? Mommy? I need you to wake up!

Mom: What’s wrong?

Me: I need you turn on the television right now.

Mom: Oh God. Leave from work when you can and go straight home.

In my offices, we waited. As the DFW airspace quieted. As the United flight hit Pennsylvania. We waited. Watched. Hoped.

Talk in our office was desultory.


My mother wasted no time in figuring out what she could do to help, She applied for a position within American working on the CARE team: assisting those families of the victims of the AA flights.

Of that time, she said very little. I knew she could say very little, so I did my best to ask how she was and to be supportive.

I cannot even imagine how hard that must have been. My Mom had a big heart–the biggest. Especially when there were children involved. She gave of herself, and nothing was too big for her heart to handle. Her empathy and her kindness are two of the gifts I hope to have inherited from her.


Over the years, Mom became an avid student of the events of that day documentaries, movies, interviews. Flight 9 really affected her.

And then we had this conversation:

Mom: If something should happen, you call me. I will be there.

Me: I don’t want to think about that.

Mom: Well, just in case (her favorite expression). I would stay with you. You wouldn’t be alone. I would always be with you.


On behalf of the askourmoms family, we offer all of y’all our support and comfort for all of you on this day.

CARE Team-001

(Mom Badge)

With love,

Meme and Bu