ten years

Birthday Candles

Ten years ago today I published my first of 1,047 posts. Crazy!

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bill cathers

I remember when Bill and Irene invited us to their home for dinner. It was too long ago to recall much about it, but I have a clear memory of them offering us a bagful of kiwis from the tree in their yard. They were gracious hosts and conversation came easy.


Bill and Irene were an unassuming couple, eager to hear our story. Eventually their own story came up, and I learned something remarkable—were it not for Irene’s health issues in 1956 keeping him stateside, Bill would have been in Equador with his missionary friends from Wheaton College (Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, and Roger Youderian) as they were martyred by the Auca Indians. It might have been the end of their story! I was 11 years old and lived in Wheaton, IL, when that happened, so that event and its redemptive story have stayed with me all these years. To think Bill’s name might have also been listed with that historic event astonishes me still!

I bring up Bill now because he died two weeks ago, and I feel the loss. Not that he was part of my everyday life, though he had been in Mauri’s. Bill was Mauri’s “elder buddy” when he was on NFC’s pastoral team, and they had continued to meet in friendship at least monthly until recently.

Around ten years ago Bill came to Mauri with a recording project titled: “Some Poems I Wrote to Cure the Pain of Retirement” (1989-2000). Mauri gave me a copy of the project. I socked it away and only recently came across it. Given Bill’s recent departure from this earth, I thought it might be appropriate to share a few of his poems. First, though, let me say I’m not aware of any copyright or privacy infringements I might make by sharing. If a family member happens to see this and feels otherwise, please write a comment and I will remove them post haste.

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They are very short, so I don’t mind sharing several. The intro to the first was on a separate track and Bill said simply: “To my sweetheart, Irene, for Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1989.” It’s titled “More Together.”

Doesn’t he have the most remarkable voice? We always loved when he was asked to read Scripture in worship. Mauri remembers how he would sometimes pause, look out at the congregation, and say, “Isn’t that something?!”

Here’s one titled “Whiskers.”

And now “To Dad.”

Here’s a fun one: “The Nap.”

Uh oh! This one’s titled “The Ticket.”

Finally, and poignantly: “Time’s Up.”

We’re going to miss Bill, but we know where to find him.

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While Quinn was here—and I had her all to myself—I thought it might be the right time to pass along some family jewelry to the next generation. So we sat together on the sofa while I told her what I know about each of the few pieces that were especially precious. Of course I was delighted the next morning to notice her wearing one of my mother’s necklaces as we headed out to church.

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My mother had told me about my dad buying this for her while he toured Europe prior to their engagement. My mother died in 1988, so of course it’s possible that story fuzzed a bit in my memory. Oh well, we’re going with it.

We bid farewell yesterday to Quinn wearing her grandmother’s necklace, and today I looked at my pictures. Reviewing pictures nearly always triggers some need to look back in my files. Wouldn’t it be fun if I could find one of her grandma wearing the necklace Quinn now prizes?


1946-Mother Sharon Carol Dayton OH_Snapseed


I had to take a closer look to be sure it’s the same necklace. It is! That was in 1946; Mother is holding me.

I kept looking at newer pictures, but three-strand pearls seemed to be her necklace of choice.

And then . . . I found this.

1982-Quinn Carlson with grandparents Carl and Winifred Nill_Snapseed

Quinn with her grandparents, and look at my mother’s jewelry!

I can’t wait to show her.

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happy new year . . . again

On January 30 the Macy “kids” celebrated New Years . . . again. Their typically timed celebration had included the proclamation that year 2015 had included enough family moves and family loss to last a decade and that 2016 would bring peace and nothing major. On January 4, Grandma Edna broke her hip, and their 2016 proclamation tanked.

Grandma was 96, but we thought she could easily celebrate her 100th birthday in 2019. Life proved otherwise, and we’ve now celebrated her 96 years with friends and family with a service (Click HERE to hear a podcast of the 45-minute service) and a reception and a meal with all the cousins et al who came.


Don and Bonnie (on the Williams side)


Owen and Kathy (on the Lehman side)


Lucy and Darrell (on the Williams side)


Tom and Carolyn (on the Lehman side) with DK


Cousin Kathy (on the Williams side)


Granddaughter Laura Jane traveled all the way down from a remote location in British Columbia (and all the way back!). She stands between her parents Julene and Jim.

Sadly, I don’t have pics of everyone. Isn’t that the way of it?


But here’s John putting together a table of history that illustrates his grandma’s handiwork.


Another grandson (Derin) hangs a photo display.



Judy arranges Rice Krispie treats, prepared by two generations on the family tree.


Grandma was famous her RKTs.


Here’s the little cook loving on his baby brother.


Quite a few honored their grandma by wearing purple.


This dear one flew up from Arizona to lend her support through my final steps as a daughter. Not very many people have known all eight of my parents. Quinn has.

Happy new year!

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I took yesterday and today off work to look after the Macy grandgirls while their daddy goes to work and their mommy enjoys some retreat time at Sabbath by the Sea. The girls are both fun and easy, express themselves well, listen and follow instructions. To top it off, they are both very cute. So while the house is quiet for rest time, I thought I’d share this picture of Brynn matching and sorting the contents of my button box.

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I poured them into a shallow container for easy swishing back and forth. Can you hear it? The sound of the search? It is most satisfying, and I think between the two of us, I enjoyed the hunt a little more than she did. After an hour and a half her attention began to wane, so we poured our “work” back into the red velvet button box and carried it to the closet. Time well spent. I might get the box out later, after she’s gone, and do it some more.

Brynn didn’t know when she picked out her clothes this morning what I had in mind for her entertainment. Some things just happen.

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It took me a couple of days to realize I had — and missed — the perfect opportunity to share one of my favorite photo series. The pictures are framed and hanging in the upstairs hallway. Given my love for pictures, it might surprise you that we have very few “people” photos displayed in our house, so you know these are considered special.

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Here it is, my four sets of parents mentioned in my post about Edna, my eighth and final parent. Yes, it’s a common pose, but I’m still struck that I have four pictures in identical stances. I stare at it for long periods of time, and my heart wells up in gratitude for each parent, stand-up individuals with long histories of love and service and commitment to their God.

I also spent some more time with my beloved pictures and came across this one.

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Makes me happy.

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edna, the eighth

“Is she your mom?” I would have lost track by now if I had tried to count how many times I was asked this question over the past week and a half. My usual response over the years has been yes rather than explain. But there in the local hospital’s short stay ward, waiting for 96-year-old Edna to have surgery to repair the hip she broke early that morning, I thought I needed to be more specific by answering “sort of.”

“Technically, she’s my husband’s first wife’s mother.”

“She’s my eighth and final parent,” I sometimes added to complicate the story.

Not many of us are blessed in a lifetime to be loved and accepted by eight parents. For years now I’ve worn a plain necklace strung with five “letter” beads that spell S-E-N-C-M; it tells my life story. Whenever someone asks about that “word,” I’ll explain that I spent my first 21 years as SEN, my next 28 years as SENC, and my last 21 years as SENCM. I started with two parents, added two more with the letter C, and then four more with the letter M.

Before I married Mauri, he said about Kenneth and Edna: “You know, they come with the package.” I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.


Mom and Dad Williams started showing their acceptance of me as a daughter by flying all the way to Michigan to attend the wedding.

Now that we’ve established who Edna is to me, let’s talk about her.


I don’t have dates or the story behind these family pictures, but somehow they ended up in my computer, which gives me permission to share them, right?



One more grandchild, Derin, came along later.


Four generations of Lehman/Williams/Macy women.


Don’t tell her I included this one. It’s one of my favorites.


One thing you’ll notice about nearly every picture of Edna is that she’s wearing her favorite color—purple.


As I looked through my photo collection of Edna (most from my own camera, though obviously not this one) I couldn’t miss how much we love to celebrate her birthday.



I remember planning this birthday bash for Edna’s 80th. Hats were the designated fashion, and guests were invited to bring 80 somethings for a gift.


Many took their assignment seriously. Kathryn, for one.


Rachel helped Grandma open her “80” presents. People can be so creative!


With their hats too! Margi and Howard maxed out their creativity.





This was 1999; we were all just a little bit younger.


So many good sports!







Here she shows her trademark “happy hands.” Watch for them again.


There! See?


One year she did a face plant on a walk through the university and had to wear a purple face to match her purple clothes. Poor dear—and what a sport!


And then it came time to celebrate her 90th. Julene decorated the table with purple flowers.


We ordered a cake all decorated with purple.


And absolutely sure Mom/Grandma would show up in purple, we all came dressed in purple.


You guessed-er, Chester. Pink! She showed up in PINK!


Oh, unpredictable Grandma . . .


I had to include this one, so wonderful that all-in grin!


Twinkling eyes. A trademark table shot by Mauri.


And again, the happy hands.


And the guest of honor wore pink!


Let’s take a break from birthdays and see other sides of Edna. Did you know she loved to read? Add some soft classical background music and she would stay happy for hours. Who needs TV?


She was proficient on her knitting machine. Famous for the personalized Christmas “socks” (stockings) she created, orders would pile up. When not knitting socks, she made many of her own clothes, like what she’s wearing in the picture. Purple, of course.


She would never have thought to be a dancer, but once given the invitation to join the line-dancing team at her retirement community, she never missed a session.


A committed fan of the George Fox women’s basketball team, she wouldn’t miss a home game. She was also a “Foster Friend” and adopted a player each year.


Son Daryl (a.k.a DK) was often her sparring partner and could return a sarcastic word “punch” better than most of us.


She was a great great-grandmother, always interested in each one as they came alone. Nine, all told.


Back to birthdays. 92



Edna Carroll birthday cake

Birthday 94 was especially memorable because Mom’s friend Carroll joined us. Carroll brought much joy into her life. They discovered companionship, enjoying sports and concert events and outings with the retirement community.

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95—Happy Hands!

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Still makin’ her blow out candles. Only two this time.

I was out of town for #96. It was her last birthday. Mom didn’t recover from her fall on January 4. I was the only Macy in town that day, which is the reason I needed to introduce myself as Edna’s “sort of” daughter to the hospital staff and explain why I don’t make decisions about her care. No worries, DK was in constant phone contact with everyone involved. The surgery went well, yet the road to recovery was difficult for a 96-year-old without her sight or much hearing. Five days later she was transferred back to her room in the Friendsview health center. Victoria, are you listening? You are an angel and a saint. I watched you with awe as you so sweetly talked Edna through some of the hard things she had to do. She balked, you soothed. Thank you. And Lillian, too, on the day shift. You are so good to her too. Edna’s family will remember your gentle care in her last days on earth.

Three days later, Edna developed a high fever. Her level of pain indicated the need to call in Hospice. Late that night, I kissed Mom on the forehead and said, “I’m going home to sleep now.” She replied, “OK, good night, sleep tight.”

Late the following night, JohnM came in with his guitar, and I went home. Just half an hour later my phone rang, John saying Grandma was gone. Just like that, listening to her grandson quietly sing, Edna was in the presence of Jesus.

You can visit Attrell’s website to read Edna’s obituary (she wrote it herself).

So much more can be said about Edna and her life on earth. Friend Paula wrote: “What a spunky, capable, and faithful person! I was realizing last night that when I worked in the NFC offices (30 years ago), she was already 66 years old! And very active. What a long, beautiful life she lived.” A celebration of Edna’s life is planned for Friday, January 29, 2 p.m., at Newberg Friends Church, 307 S. College St, Newberg, OR. Please come if you can.


On Monday, Mom’s cremains will be placed in the spot she shows me here—next to Dad, of course. But they do this only for the sake of posterity. They’ve both completed the time portion of their lives and now enjoy the eternity part of their lives. Here is a remarkable illustration of this truth.

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A few bonus pictures just for fun.




Posted in family matters, in the neighborhood, nostalgia | 10 Comments