Tag Archives: Nancy Kiehne

Losing Mom: A Life in the Details

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Nancy Kiehne Miniature Books

In recent years, I’ve wondered: Is life about the big picture or is life in the details?

The big picture is good. It keeps us from wasting time on things that don’t matter. It enables us to step back and analyze problems, trends, and accomplishments. The big picture lets us rise above pettiness.

But details are good too. Your fingers trace the geometric design on a throw pillow. Your eyes catch the wink of a favorite cousin. You hear the clack of the roller coaster the second your feet hit the boardwalk. Details help us mark our days with appreciation and whimsy.

My mother died on Friday after a short bout with cancer. I prayed she would go once the pain became intense.

And so the job, or perhaps I should say the honor, of mourning her begins.

Do I grieve the big things? The loss of a mother. The ending of an era. The last parent.

Or do I grieve the small things, the details? I unpack Easter rabbits she painted and recall how Mom loved holidays. My grandson flies his first kite, and I can’t phone her with the news. I take out a recipe card, and there’s my mother’s handwriting.

Mom was a collector. In the photo above, you see some of her miniatures: books, animal figurines, tiny houses, a doll, and doll house furniture.

And she was an artist. Here are those Easter rabbits.

For collectors and artists, it’s all about the details. And although this grief is new, I’m thinking that’s how it will go for me. Photo by photo, memento by memento, flashback by flashback, I’ll miss my mother. I’ll miss her in the details.

But I’m not complaining! For as the big picture tells me, who would want it any other way?

What about you? Have you lost your mom? Any words of wisdom for those of us fresh to the loss?

Photo Below: My mom, Nancy Kiehne, on her 90th birthday in December

 

Fling Wide the Portals!

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I stood in church two weeks ago singing from our new Presbyterian hymnal, which is PURPLE! 

“We don’t wear purple,” was one of my great-aunt’s credos. Now every week, I hold a purple hymnal. The Frozen Chosen, as the Presbyterians were fondly (?) called years ago, are letting loose.

As we sang “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates,” a line from that purple hymnal landed in my own head and stuck:

 

“Fling wide the portals of your heart.”

 

What a line!  What a challenge!

And that’s my holiday wish for you and for me. Fling wide those portals.

To the new, the daunting, the creative, the unusual, the refreshing, the funny, and the irresistible.

Like the Christmas angel above, stand with outstretched arms.

Happy holidays and here’s to the promise of 2015!

 

Angel Arms

 

My mom, Nancy Kiehne painted the angel. You can see more of her work at http://nancykiehne.tumblr.com/

Menopause and Angel Wings

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Younger--Friend for the Ride--Angel Banner

Angels.

Who wouldn’t want to be one? (Someday, that is.)

Robes that hide stomachs and veiny legs.

Wings that take you wherever you want to go, with no security line hassles.

And you can sing!  (I didn’t make the chorus in fifth grade, which devastated me, and age has done nothing for my vocal tone and range.)

Then of course, there are angels who don’t wear the standard garb. Angels, who appear with invisible halos, to help a girl out.

What’s the kindest thing a stranger ever did for you?

I love this question!

But here’s another one.

What’s the kindest thing you’ve ever done for a stranger?

I’m realizing now, that in the menopause journey, I shrank into myself, some. I became less outgoing and less willing to extend myself to strangers.

Only recently did I, a people lover, figure out this had happened.

But you can’t be an angel, even a sometimes angel, if you hide inside yourself.

But I’m back at it.

I revved up a bit on a flight home from Baltimore yesterday. When the plane landed, the woman next to me thanked me for chatting. She and her mom were flying from Dayton to visit a sister/daughter in North Carolina.

Usually, I barely speak on a plane unless spoken to, as I’m fearful I will lose my reading time.

My seatmate ended her thank you by saying that her mom hadn’t flown since 1968.

Granted I was a tiny angel, but I like to think the mom, who had a long day, found the skies friendly in 2013, in part, because of our conversation.

What about you?

Did your flight into menopause make you more outgoing or did you turn inward?

If you turned inward, any plans to spread your wings again?

Christmas Banner:  My mom, Nancy Kiehne, made the angel banner in 1965 for Divinity Lutheran Church. The rocket is a nod to the space program, which was in full swing.

Birthday:  Happy birthday to loyal blog reader Gail Crane, who owes me another guest post. Her post, “To Be or Not to Be– Grey Hair, That Is”  started a festive conversation.

Falling Off the Roof

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For your viewing pleasure, a painting created exclusively for Friend for the Ride:

Falling Off the Roof

My mom painted this young lady falling off the roof, inspired by a recent conversation with her friends.

During their high school and college days, in the forties and fifties, Mom said they felt oh so sophisticated confiding in one another:  “I fell off the roof.”

Meaning:  “It’s that time of the month.”

We wondered where this expression came from.

I had no luck googling, so I checked with Harry Finley at MUM, the Museum of Menstruation.

Harry doesn’t know either, but he remembers a visitor to the museum in 1994 who was writing a book on expressions.   The writer thought “falling off the roof” came from the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Perhaps, but when I reported this back to Mom, she commented that the  girls in Baltimore and the girls she met at Duke certainly knew it too.

Harry’s MUM site boasts an incredible online archive of materials related to menstruation.

A pamphlet titled As One Girl to Another, is dated 1943.

Produced by Kotex, the page below refers to the “crazy nicknames” girls have for their periods.

Yep, one of those crazy nicknames is “falling off the roof.”

Menstruation Booklet

But I still have no idea where the expression came from.

Any ideas?

Falling Off the Roof

My mom, Nancy Kiehne, paints in acrylics and watercolor. To see more of her work, check out her Tumblr site.