August 26, 2008
Today my Mom, Brenda Steunenberg Richards, (pictured left at the Frazier Farmstead in Milton, Oregon c.1924) turns 90 years young. As a reminder for those that are not as familiar with the family chain, her parents were Julian and Francis Steunenberg (Brenda,
Julian, Francis pictured to the right c. 1950's) and Julian was the eldest son of Frank (the Governor) and Belle Steunenberg.
Ninety is a lot of years and time is taking its inevitable toll. We try to value each day as we know the calendar grows short but we take solace in that we have been blessed with four score ten years and counting. We all know others that have been much less fortunate.
Although my Mom is physically frail and the trips to the emergency room and doctor sometimes too frequent, she has avoided the Alzheimer’s that plagued her sister Doris and her mother Francis. Sure, at ninety the short-term memory is slipping but at age fifty-seven I may already have the edge on her in that regard. Mom (and Dad) struggle daily with the sometimes cruel progression of age that brings with it an ever decreasing level of independence. As the sun begins to set on our parents, we experience a range of emotions and thoughts, trying to enjoy today while preparing ourselves for “that” inevitable day. Taking it one day at a time is all we―they―can do.
When I was a young kid, there must have been moments when I frustrated and made Mom mad but the funny thing is I don’t ever remember any raised voice, any pain from a spanking or even having been sent to my room. I certainly was not a perfect child so no doubt such guidance was required from time to time. I do remember there was one of those dime store paddles, the ones we bought as kids that had a ball attached with a rubber band.We had a lot of fun playing paddle ball but when the rubber band finally broke, these toys of joy could suddenly turn against us. They became recycled into a formidable paddle board for use on our backsides―or at least that is what we thought. Our paddle was kept up on top of the refrigerator, out of reach, and served as a reminder of what at least could happen. Maybe Mom already knew that its mere presence would be enough as I don’t recall it ever hitting by rear end like I probably deserved. If it did then the pangs of pain were far too faint to be etched into memory. I guess what determines if a little spanking, or even just the thought of it, is a good thing is if it teaches a lesson in behavior and you don’t remember anything bad about the punishment.
I am still learning from the wisdom of Mom's nine decades and the love and the lessons she teaches me everyday.
Happy 90th Mom. We all love you.
Recently handing off the family silverware
to my 16 year old daughter Caley.