Announcing the Birth of Bette Lee

A baby girl was born to Irene and Lee Stapp this beautiful fall morning, October 8, 1939. Bette Lee is welcomed by her grandparents, Edward and Francis Curtis and Guy and Josephine Stapp, Aunt Nelda and Uncle Albert Stapp, and Aunt Elsie and Uncle Ken Dale. She will be the first-born in a close-knit extended family. She will come to have two sisters, Janice Irene and Arvada Carol (Dee), and many cousins including Sharon, Sandra and Shirlee Stapp and Keith Dale.

Bette Lee will take her first steps on the hills of Petrolia and later move to the families ranch in Hetten Valley. The ranch house is one that was built by her great grandparents and will stand as a reminder of years gone by, some good and some good and hard.

Bette Lee will attend a one room school-house in Hetten Valley. Her first teacher will be Hazel Willburn. Hazel will greatly impact Bette’s love of learning and will make a way for her to pursue her education even into her adult years. She will introduce her to literature and with a turn of the page, the world will be hers.

Bette Lee will leave home at age thirteen to attend high school in Red Bluff. Her home only offered school through the eighth grade. She will complete her high school education at Fortuna High School and graduate with a full scholarship to Humboldt State University.

She will meet her husband, John L Elgin at a Ruth dance in the summer of…oh I don’t know the year, but they loved to dance. They will build a home together and make many memories with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to come. Bette Lee and John L will have four children, Tracy Lee, Maxine Renee, Monica Norene and John Charles. They will share their home with many other children throughout the years. Those children will be “children of the heart” and will love her as a mother and she will tend to them as her own.

Bette Lee will have many talents as she will determine at an early age to be “more than just a pretty face.” She will teach herself to play the piano, she will enjoy drawing and painting. Her early years she will make paper dolls and dress them out of the Sears catalogue. This will lead to her interest in sewing clothes and will later serve as a gift to her children. When times are hard she will dig deep and let her imagination guide her. Shopping at the local thrift store for large clothing made of good cloth, she will make her daughters matching dresses and they will never know they were poor. Her sons will have western shirts made just right to fit and they will become a time-honored tradition.

There will be as many good times as bad time and Bette Lee will instill the love of life to her children. She will take an ordinary day and turn it into an extraordinary adventure. One such day will be in Trinidad on a foggy winter afternoon. She will long for her mountain home and the fun of playing in snow.  On such a day, she will let her imagination play and soon she and her children will be crumpling paper and having an all out “snowball fight” laughter and giggling and papers tossed about. Her imagination and mindset will serve her well in raising her flock. There will be giant spider webs taking up the entire living room using a ball of yarn, there will be adventures of camping and swimming and road trips accross country. She will teach them how to live and let live, she will teach them how to go and to let go. But most of all she will teach them that they are valued and a part of something greater in this world.

Bette Lee will struggle and she will find her way. She will seek and she will find her feet on a solid foundation of Christ the redeemer. She will go back to school as an adult and get a doctorates degree in theology.  She will establish Solid Rock Foundation Ministry, Hetten Valley Church, Bethany Garden Home and The Olive Branch Thrift Store. These ministries will fulfill her call to tend the sheep, to make a place in the wilderness for the lost and the abandoned. She will be adored by many and rejected by some. She will love them anyway.

She will live her life by design of The Creator and on November 26, 2017, He will take her home. She will leave, just as she has lived, in her own way and without hesitation.

(My Mom; this is the eulogy I could not write. May I now, once again, find my voice.) 

Traditions of Deception

To the receiving hands of the ripped and torn children of the system, foster care and adoption. I have some advice. It is only my opinion so take it or return it. I write this with full knowledge that many won’t agree and I’m fine with that. These are just my thoughts followed by a powerfully written piece from my daughter when she was only five.

Be careful with the traditions of deception. I am not a Scrooge nor am I a religious one who hates costumes and candy. But I have some thoughts on Santa. The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy too for that matter.

In the past 15 years, children have come to my home with broken foundations of trust. They have been lied to, traumatized and played. Physical and emotionally scared in ways that cause me to evaluate the traditions of deception. Ba-Humbug. I know, It all in fun.

Do you remember the age of discovery, the feeling in your belly when you realized there is no Santa. I do not. My family told the history and story of St Nicolaus and played the role of giving in the tradition of old. We hunted eggs and received gifts for our teeth all in the knowing that someone loved us and was delighted to gift us with surprises.

The Holiday tradition of casting a magical character that knows everything and will judge you naughty or nice and give you gifts based on merit, upsets my humanitarian mind. These children have no self-worth, often do not know that they are deserving of any good thing and furthermore, love people who have wronged them and society. It’s a heavy burden to carry. How many crying babies have to endure the traditional Santa pictures when they know full well this isn’t right. They are coaxed and encouraged and expected to put aside the naturally inherited protective fact, all for the traditional photo. You set them on a strangers lap and ask them to tell him what they want. He is a stranger, in a red costume! Freaky

I have been asked so many time as to when is it the right time to tell children that they were adopted? Let that sink in…it is their story. Tell the truth from day one. Do you question as to when to tell your biological children about their truth?

My girl told me this christmas story when she was five. She was secure in her attachment and belonging.

“On a dark winter night a man named Santa Clause came down our chimney. He snatched up Traven and Lillie when our parents were sleeping. He took them to make them work as elves. But one night we snuck out and borrowed his reign deer. Traven rode Rudolph and I rode the crazy one, I can’t remember his name…nope, can’t remember his name, but he was craaaazy. We got on in the night and flew home. I held on tight and said hyah-hyah. It was a crazy ride but we got home safe. We let the reign deer go back home but then Santa noticed that we were gone. He came back to get us and I wacked him with a stick when he came down the chimney. Then he went back to his home and left us alone.” Lillian Sayad

I love her courage I love her wit.

Give your children a foundation of wonder and imagination with a strong identity of truth.

 

via Daily Prompt: Torn

Once Had a Mom

My mom passed from this world on November 28th. She lived as she died, with out hesitation and in her own time.

I will reflect on her life later but for today I share something from 2009.

My Dog, Shaw
January 20, 2009
Four days after my pup, Shaw, arrived in California we travel to the high mountain valley that we call home. There was almost 5 feet of snow. We settle into the house where dogs are usually not invited. Shaw, being such a baby has not known this as home, there has been made an acception. I show him his spot on a rug and pray he doesn’t pittle on the floor. My dad is terminal with cancer. He has been a fisherman, a cattle man, and a horse and dog trainer. He wants to know my dog. This is a test for me and mine… There is a young shepard that is well trained and knows the boundaries, she is a good teacher. She shows him the ways and he livens things up for this shepard with an old soul. My dad put out his hand to my dog and to my surprise, he snaps and bites my dads finger. Dads reply, “That little sh*t bit me.” He doesn’t hold it against my dog but I quickly return him to his spot an a rug. Later Shaw returns to my dad, I watch closely while he settles at his feet. As I reflect I am reminded of the cancer, I to wish I could bite at this unknown that is ravishing my dad. Shaw has self corrected and I am pleased. He returns several time to lay at my dads cold and swollen feet. My mom really likes dogs and would like a companion of her own. Shaw shows her no attention and she is trying to make up to him. Later I look around and he is not on his rug nor is he at my dads feet. My mom has had her way. She has been sneaking him meat scraps in the kitchen and now he is laying just out of the way watching her. Not begging, but knowing that this is where the heart of the home is and here he has found the love of his belly. My mom does not look up, she knows I would not approve of my dog in the kitchen, but she also knows I will not correct her ways. She says to me in a soft voice, you have brought us a camp dog… (written 2/08)

Shaw is my walking and hiking companion…he has turned out just fine.

Cloaked In Time

I was sitting at my desk, determined to knock out my “Must Do” list when I received a phone call, “Helloooo”. The soft lift on the drawn out ending is familiar to my ear but even more so to my heart. My Auntie is missing me. She does not demand attention, she does not pout it out. She picks up the phone and gently nudges me in her direction.

A man has passed and she wants to know if I am coming to the service tomorrow. I don’t know this man but I recognize his last name. Auntie is the keeper of the records at Headquarters Cemetery and she is letting me know that Sid will be buried in the family place. Now I am tuned in, Auntie needs something, wants something from me. I know this dance well, she wants me to ride along.

She arrives at my office and gently hands me the keys. I settle into the driver’s seat and take my time, there is no hurry in her step. I lower the window as she would like a little air. She talks softly of the things that matter. She has fallen into a place of remembrance, my age and place in the two generations after her have erased for this moment and I don’t remind her. She references our grandmother as if I knew her and I take her hand and hold the place in her mind that has been vacated by loss, cloaked in time.

(My Great Aunt lives on The Round Valley Indian Reservation. She is 88 years young and  the elder of our extended family. The last of her generation. I am blessed to ride along.)

 

via Daily Prompt: Cloaked

Bonds of Attachment

Attachment, it’s not for the timid or weak of heart. Today we sit in the sunny window of my upper room. My boy is struggling to find his way. His bravery inspires me and scares the life out of me. I will match his bravery because I must.

Often as parents struggling to bond with our restless adolescents, we ask them to join us. I challenge you, join them. We are listening to alternative rock while I paint his drawings. Yes, I set some boundaries, I don’t want derogatory f’words in my house but strong language is part of both our raging emotions. Say That

We are both a work in progress. I will fear no evil.