I think our childhood was wonderful. My happiest moments and the most vivid memories still today are because of our mom. There’s just not a single sentence description or even two which would do her justice. She loves us unconditionally. She was committed to helping us have a happy childhood. Not in a material things way (although we always had plenty) but in moments, in time, in a being there way. At a young age I remember her walking us to school. Sometimes I’d be a little embarrassed like “hey, I’m big, I can walk by myself, I don’t need my mommy to walk me”. Then at the end of the day as I would start to walk home, I'd turn the corner and would see her walking towards me to pick me up and feel a little relief and jump of excitement. There was such comfort/safety in seeing her there.
Our childhood friends can attest, also, our house regularly had some sort of fresh baked good and she was quick to feed anyone who came through the door. She especially loves to feed children. She gives them gummy bears (still does). She takes them out of the package first and puts them in their own personalized little cup. Something in this small gesture seems to increase the specialness for the child and for her. I have the most awesome picture of her feeding our nephew, Jeff, as a toddler. He’s sitting on the counter, blue checkered dish towel wrapped around his neck and our mom’s face is awash with joy as she’s putting spoonful after spoonful into his mouth. Even today, there is no doubt, if I woke her up in the middle of the night and said “mom, I’m kinda hungry”, her response would not be “get out of here, I’m sleeping”, it would be “want me to make you a sandwich?”. Her mother, our Oma, was the same way. In my twenties, my mom and I took a trip to Germany. One night we had dinner with her sister, Tante Kathe, and my cousin Anja. There may have been a few drinks and it may have been a little late when we got back to Oma’s house. She was already in bed and as we came in, our mother expressed, a little loudly, “Mamma, Ich habe hunger (Mom, I’m hungry)”. Oma got up, came to the kitchen and while she asked about our night pulled out an assortment of lunch meats, some bread, cheeses and of course pickles, OMG, the German pickles are fantastich. We sat there in the kitchen, snacking, chatting about the evening and giggling, lots of giggling.
But our mom doesn’t show her love only through food, she also makes things fun. If we were home, stuck inside on a rainy day, bored, bored, bored. She would first encourage us to play a game or do something or read to which we respond “boring”. Ultimately, she’d take pity and invent a game for us. One would be an empty shoe box or Kleenex box which she would turn upside down then cut little arch ways into the bottom, have us draw on it and get some marbles which we would have to shoot (flick with your thumb) into the little holes.
Then there were the holidays. Every holiday. At Valentines, she made sure we made cards for everyone. In the evening she drove us to our aunt’s house and our grandma’s house and friend’s houses and cousin’s houses so we could leave the valentine on the door step, wring the door bell and run. Christmas was filled with cookies, Christmas tree decorations, carols (in German), Santa bells, stories and reindeer hoof prints in the snow.
It’s hard to pick a favorite holiday. Christmas seems like the obvious choice, but Easter … well, it might be my personal favorite. We would go camping in the desert (not sure why the desert but I remember it had to be the desert). One year in particular comes to mind at 9 mile canyon. SIDE NOTE: If you’ve never been to 9 mile canyon, you really should go. Another thing I never really appreciated as a child. Check it out at http://www.castlecountry.com/Nine-Mile-Canyon. It’s beautiful. Some have called it the "world's longest art gallery," with tens of thousands of petroglyphs and pictographs, many over a thousand years old. The canyon is about 40 miles, so there is some debate as to why it’s called Nine Mile Canyon. One theory, adopted and documented by many online, is the explorer and surveyor John Wesley Powell may have used a nine-mile transect (a method used by cartographers) to map the area. However, the truth, documented by our dad, Virgil Lamb, answering this exact question to me as a child, is it was named 9 mile canyon because the turn off to the road (9 mile canyon rd) to get to the canyon is 9 miles from the edge of Price City, UT. You decide for yourself which to believe :-)
Anyway one particular year we camped (I don’t think camping is allowed anymore today so please check before going) in 9 mile canyon. Our dad drove the pickup pulling our Prowler trailer off the dirt road, across the bumpy desert floor (this I’m sure is no longer legal to do so don’t do it if you go) (ok, in hindsight, I confess it probably wasn’t legal back then either but … he … well … ah, never mind, I got nuth’n), and behind some boulder type mountains to find a great secluded spot to set up camp.
Mom brought everything with us, hard boiled eggs, PAAS egg coloring stuff, one large carrot and hidden items including Easter baskets, small chocolate eggs, large chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, peeps, and Easter presents which were always a sun hat, a small plastic colorful windmill (she still buys these little windmills for the grand, and great-grandkids), sometimes sunglasses, and swim suits – usually bikinis when we were children. The bikinis were not my favorite but ooh-la-la if you could see pictures (which unfortunately I don’t have right now) back then of us in our Easter attire it is obvious by Katy’s Greta Garbo (movie star) pose she loved and rocked the bikini and glasses. It would only be a better visual if we had video. You’d be able to see her walking, no, strutting with one hand on her right hip, one hand behind her left ear and swinging her bum back and forth. This image is permanently etched in my brain for life. I so admired her self confidence and comfortability with herself in a bathing suit. Come to think of it – still do admire her – Love you Katy J
After coloring eggs, mom would put them with a note and large carrot for the Easter bunny on the camper table in a large ceramic bowl (it was dark green on the outside and white on the inside – I love that bowl, she used it for so many delicious things, like cake batter, cookie dough and orange whip (vanilla ice cream whipped together with Crush Orange Soda) NOTE to self: find bowl on next visit. NOTE 2 to self: Make Orange Whip
In the morning we’d wake up to Easter baskets overflowing, a half eaten carrot with buck teeth marks on it and the eggs gone. Hurriedly we’d dress (shorts, tank tops, sneakers for me, sandals for Katy), eat a piece of Easter candy (something chocolate for me, jelly beans and peeps for Katy), bolt out the door slamming it against the trailer, land on the soft desert sand and start searching for the eggs. Mom would watch us and at times give us hints with the direction she was looking. Once we had found all the eggs, we’d have breakfast but not with those eggs. After breakfast mom would help us look for the best place to roll our eggs. It had to be somewhere where up a slope of with an obviously defined ravine just wide enough for an egg to fit in and long enough for the egg to roll to the bottom. We’d take turns rolling the eggs, watching them go to the bottom, sometimes having to give them a second or third nudge part way down, all cracked and dirty. Mom would clean them up and make egg salad sandwiches for lunch.
For the afternoon she would invent a treasure hunt. Something would be hidden somewhere in the desert. She would draw an intricate treasure map. The map clearly indicated the trailer as the starting point. Dashes leading away from the start represented the number of footsteps to a certain landmark, like a big rock or a sage bush, and then a turn and different number of steps to the next landmark and so on until the final “X” (which was also marked on the ground by either drawing it in the sand with a stick or placing two sticks crossed). To this day, I credit this single exercise for my absolute love of maps and subsequently me getting into the career field I am today.
But the best thing about everything she did for us then and still does for us now is she never asks us to “wait until this show is over (yes, I’m ashamed to say I’ve said that)” or “how about later, I’m tired right now (yes, I’ve said that one too)”, instead she asks “do you want mustard?” or “is something wrong today?” or “what do you need, kid?”. She’s enthusiastic, filled with love, and compassion and empathy for whatever we might need in any given moment.
We love you mom and appreciate all you’ve done to make our childhood wonderful and for instilling in our adulthood the desire to carry on those traditions!
Happy Easter and Passover!