A Yearning For My Front Steps

This morning I have an inexplicable yearning to go outside and sit on my front steps and breathe in life.

It is the appearance of the sun in what has been a cold and bleak and cloudy Minnesota which brings to mind spring and thoughts of flowers and warm weather. However, I can’t explain my feeling that I need a front step sit. I have a perfectly good outside porch to enjoy but something in me tells me I need steps.

Though the sun is shining today my front steps and porch are crusted with ice. It is still winter and there is still snow on the ground. I like the beauty of winter as long as I don’t have to haul my old body outside. The pull is real to feel the fresh air on my face so I may dash out, raise my face to the sun and dash back inside to the warmth of my fireplace. Still, I feel the call of the front steps or the back steps for a peaceful sit.

Outdoor furniture awaits my porch sitting so why would I abandon that in place of the front steps? I think it has to do with my past and memories.

Living at my grandmothers and then when my family moved, we didn’t have fancy outdoor furniture. We would go outside and sit on the steps and talk and enjoy the evening. The front steps were better than the back steps because you could chat with those passing by or you could wave at the cars going by. Occasionally they would stop and talk.

There were interesting views. At my grandmother’s house I sat on the front steps and watched the trains go by or watched the animals. My mom or uncles would come in from the chores or the garden and we would talk for hours on the front steps. At our house my dad would sit with me as we watched the neighbor kids play or visited with those in the neighborhood, sometimes calling across the street. There were no cell phones or outdoor phones to distract us.

I do sit on my front concrete steps occasionally in this day and age for a quick moment when I am shaking out a rug or waiting for someone to pick me up, but most of the time I sit on my comfy chair on my outdoor porch or my patio. I have to say that for some reason it isn’t the same. Perhaps because of the front step memories.

I have no good explanation for yearning for my front steps unless it is perhaps missing those that used to share my experience. I also shared many front step conversations with my best girlfriends. If those steps could talk they would reveal so much about the past lives of the step sitters.

Perhaps when the ice is gone I will forgo my porch and patio for an occasional step sitting. I have a feeling it will be a good way to breathe and appreciate the simple life of the past,

“A journey to a thousand miles begins with one step.” –John F.Kennedy

The Mother’s Day Gift That Keeps On Giving

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of May 8, 2017

“Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.”  — Sophocles

File May 09, 10 49 34 AMAs a mother, it is hard to let go of my children and let them lead their lives their way. I want to protect them from making the same mistakes I or others have made in the past. I pray for them every day and they are never far from my thoughts. They are always in my heart. Being a mother was the most important career I can have. 

I love to watch my grandchildren grow and see the way they mimic some of their parents’ gestures when their parents were young or how they grow to resemble another family member. I love to see them develop into their own personalities.

I think most mothers feel the same way. I have noticed when talking with other mothers on my writer’s journey there are many lonely mothers out in the world. They are not lonely because their children don’t love them; they are lonely because life for their children has become so busy a phone call or a short visit may only happen occasionally, or on Mother’s Day. But life is busy, perhaps busier than my generation when we were raising our children. Plus, there is also the distance many families now face with children living all over the United States and abroad.

Mother’s Day is next Sunday. The stores are full of flowers, and restaurants are filling the advertising spaces with ideas of gifts for that special mother. While gifts are nice, I have a feeling that what mom wants is to spend quality time with her children, especially if you are a mother whose children no longer live in the area or live at home.

Those of us who have lost our mothers will tell you that perhaps we can give you this advice because of regrets from the past of the things we never did and said while our mothers were alive.

My family wasn’t a hugging family, so I can probably count on my two hands the number of times my mother and I grabbed each other tightly and gave a hug. When we did it always felt awkward because that was not our relationship. But now, I wish I had one more awkward hug I could give her. I wish I listened when she talked about her past. I wish I made it a habit of asking about her day more often.

In conversations with other mothers I have heard the reasons why kids, adult kids, don’t call their moms at least once a week, or if they live close, stop in for a visit. And because we are moms and we love our kids, we accept what is happening with their life because we don’t want to put more pressure on them. We always want to make our kids’ lives easier. We have all heard these words in conversation: “The kids are busy. They run from morning until night between work, household chores and getting their kids to their activities. They say they just get busy and forget to call.”

Every person needs someone in their life to ask them about their day. Every person needs someone to care about how they are feeling. It might take a few minutes for a phone call, but those few minutes may make a difference in the life of a mother, especially if mom is older and less mobile.

I watch as everyone sits in restaurants on their cell phones; I do too. And I wonder if we put away our texting for a few minutes — if we turned off the television or took a five-minute break from the hectic schedule if there would be time for one five-minute phone call to mom.

I am blessed as I already have a Mother’s Day invitation this year. My kids live within two hours, and I visit with them on a regular basis. I hope that continues as I grow older and am less mobile.

Near or far, take the time to give your mother a Mother’s Day gift that lasts all year. Give her a gift certificate with a promise to call her once a week, or if you are close by, stop in occasionally and have a cup of coffee, give her a hug and ask about her day. Let her know that no matter where you are, she is a priority when it comes to keeping in touch. After all, you were a priority of hers from the minute you were born, and she would have it no other way.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.

Alone With Myself

SOMETHING ABOUT NOTHING

by Julie Seedorf

Published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of March 27, 2017

I was home alone last week. Although my adventures weren’t quite as exciting as the “Home Alone” movie, I did have fun. Grandpa was cat sitting with the catkids. He left his cats at home to keep an eye on me. And they did. They stuck to me like glue.

I like to be home alone occasionally for a period of time. Earlier in my life I did not like being alone. I think perhaps I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin, but now I enjoy solitude for small periods of time when I don’t have to worry about meals, dishes, a clean house or doing what might be expected of me. I can be messy. I can be neat. I can turn my music up as loud as I want without worrying about another’s ears. I can clean in the middle of the night without waking anyone or I can sleep all day if I choose. We all need time with ourselves to rejuvenate and be free.

I took my home alone time to make a mess while cleaning closets, cupboards and whatever. When I clean, everything comes out and it is scattered throughout and then I put it back, but when I am alone I can leave it sit and come back to it the next day because I don’t inconvenience anyone.

This past week I found old papers from my mom’s house. I had stuffed them into a closet after she died, intending to read them a later date. I found my grandfather’s last will and testament dated 1923. I never knew my grandfather. He died in 1924.

I read through my mom’s old teaching materials. She taught in country school, and I was told she and my dad dated for 13 years. I found proof of that. It was her old calendar from 1934 where she detailed her day and what the weather was like, what family she stayed with each night when she taught, and the notations about her dates with my dad, where they went and the movies they saw. Yes, they had movies in 1934. I felt close to both of them as I read and I found a little part of my mom’s life before I was born, which gave me insight as to who she used to be when she was younger. They got married in 1946, so they did date for a long time. The problem in that era with getting married was religion. She was Catholic and he was Protestant, and she had a very Catholic Polish mother.

Then I hit the jackpot. I found all my writing papers dating back to high school and beyond. I forgot I took some classes through the mail at the University of Minnesota where I earned credit, and was amazed to find my grades were As. Why didn’t I lock that into my brain to give me confidence that possibly I could be a writer? The most valued paper I found was a speech I wrote about my dad at a time when he was ill. I was a senior in high school, and he died a couple of years later.

Having the house to myself with no interruptions gave me the time to savor the memories. Otherwise I might have tossed and not read this papers because I wanted to get things cleaned up. Like the kid in the “Home Alone” movie, I did have a few missteps. We will save my burned food adventure for another time, and I have instructed all those involved to silence or I may never get left home alone again.

My spouse is now home, and I am glad he is back. I am sure the fur will fly occasionally, although we always have a lot of fur flying because of our cat babies, but taking time for ourselves always leaves us happy to be back together even if he does hang the toilet paper one way and I do it the other. After all I hung it my way for a week. What could be better than that?