Happy Birthday to Bunn

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The precious baby sister of Mother Goose went and turned fifty today!! She’s so beautiful, isn’t she? Her little hero pup, Dusty, loves to take selfies.

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Happy Birthday to the Auntie of the Goose

Once upon a time, a sweet baby girl was born. She arrived on a cold cold day in 1935 in central Minnesota to the great joy of her parents. Her mother being a literary type named her Ferne, and she grew into her name and the literary prophecy.

Happy birthday to my dear Auntie Ferne.

Ferne is my mother’s big sister. My mother could remember every single event and incident of their childhood…Auntie Ferne has little memory of her childhood because like Mother Goose she kept her nose in her books. When Mom would begin a story of growing up in a railroad town during World War II, Auntie would get a puzzled look on her face. “That really happened?” she would ask.

Mom, Ferne and their brother Warnie, probably taken around 1942.

Mom, Ferne and their brother Warnie, probably taken around 1942.

My mother got so tired of hearing of Ferne’s exquisite behavior, her excellent grades in school and her humble charm. She decided at an early age that she would do everything the opposite of her sister. Like a fish swimming victoriously upstream, Mom achieved her goals and stood out in school as class clown — voted by her graduating class as “Most Likely To Have a Fun Time”.

Because she’s so smart, Auntie graduated early from high school and was immediately drafted into the Minnesota educational system as a full-time teacher. She served for years and years, finally retiring with honors and medals of valor.

Auntie never gets angry or upset. When my mother raged at a personal affront, the whole world heard and cowered. When my auntie is frustrated with a situation, she is likely to fiercely press her thumb down hard on the tabletop. Mom would pound the table with a clenched fist or punish the table with a loud open-palmed slap. Auntie is reserved, quiet and gentle — Mom was always loud and exuberant with the great wide-reaching emotions of her life.

Ferne married at a very young age — a handsome and tall man named Charlie. They moved to Virginia where he served his country as a peace-time soldier and then back to Minneapolis where they raised their family. When his company closed their doors in Minneapolis, the family said “goodbye” to Minnesota and left for the great plains of Oklahoma.

When she retired from teaching, Auntie stayed busy with sewing and quilting projects. Mother Goose is not at all certain why they decided to open a funnel cake business when Uncle Charlie retired. Suddenly Ferne could be found every weekend at the local carnivals and fairs.

When that mysterious phase of their lives ended, they both got their real estate licenses.

From the perspective of Mother Goose, Auntie Ferne has always been the picture of a serving and loving wife and mother. But according to my mother, Ferne never fully bloomed because she’s been forever in her husband’s shadow, just a little too submissive to his career whims and whirls.

Mom always wished her sister would show some backbone, not be such a wilting violet, grab life with a little more gusto and talk back to Uncle Charlie once in awhile.

After their own mother and brother passed away within a week of each other eighteen years ago, Ferne came back to northern Minnesota to stay with Mom for awhile. She stayed and stayed. Mom wanted her to stay forever and never go back to Oklahoma and Charlie and the boring real estate business.

Mom saw a beautiful spark of independence in her sister for the first time and knew that if she returned to her old life, the flame would slowly fade to embers and then go out. Uncle Charlie begged Ferne to come home. He sent her gifts of expensive jewelry and promises. He vowed to never bully her again.

She flew home…

My mom loved her sister more than words can say, and missed her dearly. They talked on the phone several times a week for years and years, but I’m not sure they ever saw each other more than twice after that.

When Mom turned seventy, the Lord called her home, and everybody commented how appropriate that she was wearing the beautifully quilted vest that her sister, my Auntie Ferne, had made for her.

Ferne is a great grandmother several times over now. She’s still selling real estate at the age of 78. She sews lovely baptism banners for the babies in her church and prays for all of us.

She laughed this morning when Mother Goose called her up on the phone and sang “Happy Birthday” to her. She told me lots of stories of her recent adventures, including a Thanksgiving trip where Uncle Charlie had fallen asleep behind the wheel of their car in the mountains of Arkansas. They were traveling to visit their daughter in Atlanta, and they crashed into the back of a semi-trailer truck somewhere in Arkansas.

She’s thankful that they didn’t drive off the mountain road and into eternity…

Here’s what Mother Goose thinks:

It has taken a whole lot of gumption and courage and faith and love for Auntie Ferne to stay with Uncle Charlie all of these years. Marriage is a difficult pathway for some of us, and I do truly admire her commitment and resolve. I consider her one of my lifelong heroes and mentors.

Happy Birthday, Auntie Ferne! I love you, and I wish you many, many more years of good health and great love.

Never a Plain Jane

She was born with a fancy name, Jane Marie Belongea. Though she entered our world in the usual way, she was in Wisconsin. And if she stayed there, she’d never meet Mother Goose. So after many teenage adventures, Jane learned the trade of fashion design, earned the degree of textile delights and moved to Illinois, where I was already waiting for her but she didn’t know it.

Because we were both living incognito lives at a local grocery store, she as a Salad Bar technician and Mother Goose as a Bake Shop clerk, Jane and I immediately recognized in each other the mysterious presence of the Holy Spirit. There is sometimes a wonderful, knowing look in the eyes of a new friend when you just know this is going to be good.

We shared a back room, behind-the-scenes work space at the grocery store. It was a dark and stormy evening outside, but where we worked the air was filled with the sounds of laughter and camaraderie as I prepared the bread and rolls for baking and she assembled hundreds of chef salads.

Suddenly Jane shrieked in horror — I went running to her side. “What is it, Jane dear? Are you OK?” I asked with much concern.

“I’ve lost my heirloom pearl earring,” she exclaimed with great sadness. “I thought I was wearing it when I got here, but now it’s gone. I’ve looked on the floor, but I just can’t find it. Do you suppose it fell into one of the salads?”

Mother Goose looked at her new friend with amazing compassion. “I will help you find it,” she offered.

Jane smiled gratefully.

Together, the two friends opened and perused the hundreds of pre-made chef salads. With our delicate touch, we carefully dug through the cheese, the turkey and ham strips, the hard-boiled egg halves, the lettuces and carrots. For hours we searched for the lost pearl earring — salad after salad — trying not to disturb the artfully arranged beauties in their clear plastic houses. The pearl, the pearl….where can the pearl earring be?

Of course, we never found it….because it was at Jane’s house, lying on her bedroom floor where she had accidentally dropped it!

And so began our sweet, always interesting friendship which has amazingly lasted nearly twenty years.

She was hysterically present at the birth of one of my babies. She designed and stitched my most recent wedding dress as well as several other fancy dresses for me. She has always been a great source of inspiration and good cheer. She has weathered many storms and tragedies. She has redefined and redesigned herself so many times, I have nearly lost count of her many identities. Oh, but she has always remained a true sister in the Lord.

Here are just a few of her many personas — you may begin to think that she is like poor Sybil with all the fascinating characters she has living inside of her:

Bridal and formal wear designer
Salad bar technician
Personal tailor to a well-known midget gentleman
Loving mother
Faithful wife
Wilderness camp director
Missionary to the children of Cabo San Lucas, Baja, Mexico
Professional stylist to Christian recording star, Virginia Hill
Devoted coach of the high school girl’s track team
Stephen’s Ministry counselor
Avid cross country skier and able canoeist
Licensed real estate professional
Amazing and forgiving friend…

We don’t see each other often because of our crazy schedules, but Mother Goose is all in favor of a good texting session. Just last Saturday we brought each other to tears of joy and incontinence with the following text conversation. The cell phone of Mother Goose sometimes predicts what she wants to say — with hilarious results. By the way, we were attempting to encourage one another with some paraphrased thoughts from God’s Word…

Jane: Hey sweet dear Mother Goose…hope u r doing well! Sorry for the late response…..am working 3 jobs lately…LOTS of hours…coming to an end soon! Luv u!
MG: Oh precious friend…let the joy of the Lord be your strength
Jane: Oh ya! He is sew faithful!!! 🙂
MG: His mercies r new every morning!
Jane: Shelter in the time of need!
MG: By his grace I can leap over the wall
Jane: Praise the Lord, I heard His call
MG: He rejoices over us, singing love dongs
MG: Ha ha songs
Jane: wat r love dongs?
MG: I’m laughing so hard, tears
Jane: lol!….ouch!
MG: Kum BA yahoo my lord
MG: OMG hilarious
Jane: Tears…!!!!!! Wetting pants now!
MG: Thx for the laughs honey
Jane: U too!
MG: Love u Jane Marie dear
Jane: 😀

Overjoyed with Jane.

The Most Fun With Bunn

Since my precious sister flew away yesterday morning, I’ve been addressing those work things that have been sitting in the corner sulking for several days whilst we were out having fun. Nonetheless, let me show you some of the fun we had with dear Bunn.

She was nearly grabbed up by a mural at the bakery!

Bunn relished her first Chicago hot dog from Gene and Jude’s.

I wonder why she’s waving her middle finger at Mother Goose?

Jessi, Bunn and Mother Goose with the blue sky and Lake Michigan behind us.

Mother Goose will always love you, sissy!

Sometimes we have to reach our own maturity before we can see how special someone else has been all along. As time goes by, this big sister sees her little sister as more and more special. She’s funny and creative and oh so caring. She’s brave and tenacious and ever sensitive. You’ve always been the best part of me, sissy, but it’s taken me years to recognize that. Precious sister always…

Important Stats for a Goose

  • 64,774 honks to date

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