Mom, 95 today

Reposted from Facebook, for the record.

This woman, my mother, is 95 today. Recently I came across something I’d forgotten, a line in a journal when I was 18 and she 46: “Mom and I went out into the bushes by the ball park to look for lady slippers…” It took me back to the person she was long before her current immobility and cognitive decline, never bound to domestic duty but curious, “let’s go see”, still linked by this delight in nature to her childhood spent on a Manitoba farm with its similar excursions into the woods… So grateful for her!

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Does she need a second word for dress?

Recent visits to see our grandchildren, both east and west, impressed on me again that most miraculous and mysterious of matters: children acquiring language. How in the world do they process vocabulary and grammar and everything else in those little brains of theirs? It’s a delight to watch and participate in, to read aloud to them and hear the nursery rhymes and songs learned so effortlessly, it seems.

The adult reader realizes that the little Miss being read to can’t possibly know all those words yet. Gown, for example, in a story about a girl who delivers a dress through a snow storm. But set into the story, which charms her for any number of reasons, and heard numerous times,  gown, which is another word for dress will probably stick. Does she need a second word for dress? Well, yes of course she does. The two are slightly different, and she will need a lot of words for everything. Differences, nuance, precision, sounds of various kinds enrich our lives. Continue reading

My mother turns 90

Tina Doerksen, now 90.

My mother turned 90 yesterday, and my seven siblings with spouses, as well as several granddaughters and great-granddaughters, travelled to Winnipeg  to mark the milestone. Mom was born in the former USSR, in today’s Ukraine, in 1922, and fled Russia with her parents as a small child. She grew up on a farm near Winkler, Man. She enjoyed school. Her father was somewhat unusual in the Mennonite community of the time in that he insisted his five daughters get an education and profession. Three of them chose nursing, and two, including Mom, chose teaching. Mom left her teaching career when she married, but her teaching gifts continued to be exercised in various ways, not least of all as mother of eight children. Continue reading