Category Archives: Family

100th Birthday for Ima!

ON JULY 20, 1917,  beautiful twin girls, Ima Irene and Ina Mabel, were born in West Virginia to James Harrison and Mamie Jane Fox Walkup. (Ina was my mother.)  The twins two brothers, George and Steve, were delighted to be big brothers.  When they were told they had two baby sisters, George said, “Oh good.  Daddy always did get us two of everything.” Other babies born in 1917 who had an impact on the 20th century in various ways were John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Ella Fitzgerald, Indira Gandhi, Andrew Wyeth and Louis Zamperini .

WHEN THE TWINS WERE in their first year of life,  the 1918 Spanish flu hit hard.  Their mother remembers folks pouring lye all around the perimeter of their homes and property in an attempt to protect their families the only way they knew how.  Their family was spared. When the pandemic died down,  1/3 of the world’s population had died, with 500 million infected in most every corner of the world.

THE TWINS were the apple of their father’s eye.  He loved to show off his girls.  They remember him proudly taking them for ice cream.  The first time he bought them a cone of ice cream, the twins quietly ate it out of the cone, and then asked, “Can we keep the cone?”

IMA and INA were inseparable until the day that Ima left home to marry.  They slept together, played together, had the same friends, did chores together and even sat beside one another at the same desk in school.  They always wanted to dress alike and never disagreed about what they were going to wear, as long as it was the same.

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Mamie Jane Walkup and James Harrison Walkup

THEY GREW UP IN WV during the roaring 20’s, although they did not see much of the high life.  Their mother was a talented dressmaker and made all of their clothes. Their home was in a coal mining community.  They lived as well as any family in the community, with always plenty to eat.   James Harrison Walkup was a skilled Master Carpenter who maintained the wooden coal tipple and all the company houses, along with two other carpenters.   They used company script to buy groceries at the company store.

WHEN THE STOCK MARKET CRASHED IN 1929,  the town began emptying out, as work in the mines screeched to a halt.  The Walkup family stayed as long as they could, on promises from the mine owner that “things would turn around soon”.   The Walkup family witnessed hardships in many of their neighbors.  Ima and Irene frequently saw men they called hobos passing through the town begging to work for food, and knew well the story of the “stone soup”.  James was able to find some work for small pay, although he had to walk miles and miles to find it.  He often was away for weeks.  The twins remember he had cardboard and newspaper in his shoes to cover the holes in the worn out soles.

EVENTUALLY, TIMES IMPROVED. The twins rode the train to Gauley Bridge to attend high school.  The school administration in their wisdom of the day, believed it best to separate twins, so Ina and Ima were assigned to different teachers for the first time.  They were not happy about this decision.

THEY WITNESSED so many changes in their lifetimes, two world wars, political and economic changes and scientific and technological advances beyond imagining.  They saw the first “moving picture” the Jazz Singer with Al Jolsen.  Ina attended the inaugural for FDR in Washington with her sister in law Shirley.  They each married and had families, but always stayed in close touch.   And in later years, they still wanted to dress alike.

WE CELEBRATED THE TWINS 90TH BIRTHDAYS with a ride in a limo and a reception at the Hilton.  They were thrilled!  The photo sculpted in icing on the cake was from one taken when they were 18 years old. They lightly swiped their fingers over the likeness to to see if it was really a cake.

 

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                                                                  90th Birthday

INA AND IMA REMAINED CLOSE until Ina’s death in 2008 at the age of 91.   Their mother Mamie lived into her 90’s and their grandfather Fox lived until he was 99.   Our dear Aunt Ima is the first family member to celebrate a century birthday.  

PLEASE JOIN US in wishing her a Happy 100th Birthday!   We will celebrate her 100th birthday on July 20th.  She would be thrilled to receive cards of best wishes during her birthday week (or the month of July)!  Her address is:

Mrs. Ima Whately
4428 Pheasant Ridge Drive
Apt. 20
Roanoke, VA 24014

Sue Marquis Bishop, July 2017

 

 

 

 

When Thank You is Not Enough

“THANK YOU for being there.”   “Thank you for your support.”  But what do you say then when thank you is not enough? 

IT ALWAYS FEELS GOOD to do something to help another person in times of stress or need.   I am not as comfortable, however, being the recipient of caregiving.

Agatha Christie said that “you cannot give to people what they are incapable of receiving”,
(Funerals are Fatal, 1951).

A RECENT EVENT requiring major surgery brought unexpected assistance and loving support to our door…and this big sister learned an important late life lesson to accept my younger siblings generous offerings of presence at a special time of need.

WE DID NOT IMAGINE anyone needed to stay with us during my anticipated hospitalization.  However…, my sister and two brothers and spouses arranged among themselves (a surprise!) to plan a week in our home (at different times) just to be available to do what was needed.

MY HUSBAND AND I thrived on such loving care. I let go of organizing in my mind what needed to be done (meals and this and that),  and accepting the proffered gift that all was taken care of, I focused on my single task to get well.

THEY WERE THERE FOR BOTH OF US when I was in the hospital, and when I returned home. I know the surgeon’s skill and medical care made my recovery possible, but I am confident that my recovery was hastened by the emotional proximity of loving family, great meals, and laughter at stories and happenings that can only be fully appreciated by family who have been together for many years.

THEY HAVE NOW RETURNED to their own busy lives in Georgia and Florida, and we are all back into our normal lives.

“It may be more blessed to give than to receive, but there is more grace in receiving than giving. When you receive, whom do you love and praise? The giver.”   Jessmyn West, The Woman Said Yes, (1976).

Thank you Ed, Sue, Nancy, Milt and Ann! 

EACH OF YOU BRINGS SPECIAL TALENTS to our family , and as a family, we re richer for it (including my sisters by marriage). You are loving and caring individuals who are living productive lives and making a difference in your worlds. I remember well your births and witnessed your growing up years, and  I  still occasionally see your young faces in your adult expressions..

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I couldn’t be prouder to be your sister!

Sue Marquis Bishop
2016

The Dressmaker’s Legacy: A Poem

IMG_0153The Dressmaker’s Legacy

Grandma Mamie’s hands were always busy
creating beauty where there was none –
from threads, potato sacks, fabric scraps and wool,
she designed, tatted, crocheted, knit and sewed.
She had magic in her hands.

She might have been a famous dress designer
in another time – with other opportunities.
She could envision a garment,
make a pattern from newspaper,
cut the fabric and sew the new creation.

When her twins were two, she made
a white cotton dress with crocheted yoke and sleeves.
her daughters kept the yokes all their lives,
as a loving reminder of their mother.

When her twins were 15, they sketched a dress
with a hem longer on one side than the other.
They said it reminded them of a shirt untucked
on one side, so they named it the “shirt-tail dress.
Grandma designed it and made two.
Classmates at Gauley Bridge High School
wanted one too, so grandma made more, and
started a local fad in West Virginia.
The shirt-tail dress, ahead of its time,
a dress with an asymmetrical hem.

Grandma believed clothes for her twins
should be ready to wear at the same time,
(no favoritism here), so she cut out sleeves for one,
then sleeves for the other, bodice for one,
then bodice for the other, and so on.
Cutting and sewing parts in tandem,
both dresses were ready to wear – at the same time.

She crocheted elegant tablecloths,
intricate feminine collars for dresses and suits,
flat doiles for the arms of her chairs;
fancy ones with starched ruffles for her tables,
and bedspreads of pleasing patterns;
tatted delicate lace for trims;
knitted afghans to cuddle under in winter,
soft booties, hats and small quilts for
new grandchildren and great grandchildren.
She used scraps of leftover material and old clothes
to design and sew beautiful quilts by hand.
She worked magic with those hands.

Grandma’s hands were always busy,
Even when she sat at rest and her sight grew dim,
there was piecework in her lap.
In her 80’s, she was happiest when family visited,
eyes bright with anticipation,
especially when children were coming.
Her wrinkled face with thick glasses greeted us in smiles.
She held both our hands and looked into our eyes when she talked.
I remember staring at her slender hands – with age spots,
blue veins and arthritic joints – tenderly holding mine
and hoping a little of her magic rubbed off on me.

Grandma’s art is in my home now,
fruits of her labor all around.
A favorite quilt pulls at memories
each time I see it, or touch it,
made of fabric swatches from clothes
my mother, sister and I wore in years past.
Sleeping under the warmth of this quilt
brings comfort from the past beyond measure.
I treasure too, my babies quilts,
the kitchen napkins with crocheted edges,
her doiles I have framed, and
the white crocheted bedspread
I drape with care each Summer
on the white bed in the guest room,
as a artist displays a valuable art piece.

Her legacy is greater than treasured items.
Grandma Mamie passed on the value of work,
and the will to create beauty in practical things
that comfort – and make a home.

Sue Marquis Bishop
Copywrite 2013

Reflections on Loss of Loved Ones

A prose poem reflecting on the accelerating pace of losses in the years beyond 50, is shared on the 20th anniversary of April’s National Poetry Month.

Someone Left the Window Open

Someone left the window open and they are slipping through,
One by one, and two by twos –
Loving grandparents – drum majors of a parade –
Uncle Don who drove everywhere looking for little pink pigs like ones in my storybook;
Betty Davis, dear childhood friend, named for a movie star, who survived polio to be felled by its re-awakening in later years;
Uncle Frank, who told scary ghost stories, loved Florida and lived life his way;
Uncle William, who lived a formal life as Presbyterian minister till he retired and put away his suits for blue jeans and bluegrass;
Aunt Ermal, who was dietitian at Cumberland College, loved playing Sorry, and made memories with her fruitcakes;
Aunt Verna, who cared for her town as county public health physician;
Aunt Maggie, who liked brandy alexander’s, managed her own business and parachuted from a plane in her 80’s;
Aunt Shirley, who enjoyed taking care of her home and sang country songs while she washed dishes;
Aunt Fanella, twin sister of my father, who kept kinfolk connected and her faith strong;
Dottie, my 6 foot tall college roommate, who had a big heart, a hearty laugh and was a wonderful nurse;
Sweet Alice, my Indiana University officemate, loyal to her friends, who found love in later life;
Mother-in-law Nora, loving mother and grandmother, who taught first grade for 52 years;
Brother-in-law Don, who went at life in a run, and took good care of my sister;
Dad, a talented and happy man who lived life well, but left under the veil of dementia; and
Mother, who loved Christmas, her family, and her home in Madison, and lived to 91.
Someone left the window open, and we keep slipping through.

Sue Marquis Bishop
Copywrite 2013

THERE ARE MANY BENEFITS to living fully in the years beyond 50.  One of the hard knocks we experience with increasing age, however, is the accelerating pace of loss of significant others in our social networks.

I CONTINUE TO FEEL  the presence and influence of loved ones who are no longer here, in so many ways –  in funny family stories re-told,  sage advice remembered, family talents and traditions passed on. My life has been enriched by knowing them. I feel gratitude and joy, that they were part of my life.

Raising Seafood in the Midwest! What?

“Indiana could become the shrimp capitol of the world”, according to the  Brown family, who raises shrimp in a land-locked farm.  No!  That can’t be!  Can it?

My family moved to the flatlands of southern Indiana from the mountain state of West Virginia when I was a teenager. Neither of these states is situated near the coast for easy access to all kinds of seafood, with the exception of lake fishing.  In the Midwest, corn and soybeans are common crops.  Is Indiana, in the heartland of America, on the way to becoming a major center for farming shrimp? Really?

I didn’t know about the rich variety of seafood available when I was young, as there was a limited selection of seafood available at the local Kroger store  in Madison, Indiana where Mom did her weekly shopping. (Changes in distribution and frozen foods have increased seafood choices in the Midwest from the years when I was growing up.)

 I learned to cook a variety of foods from my mother who was a good cook.  Mom prepared a full sit down dinner every night, and our family of six ate together in the dining room. Our plates were stacked in front of Dad who sat at one end of the table, and he dished the plates with food and passed them around.

Our meat entrees included pork chops, roast cooked with vegetables, hamburgers, chicken and turkey.  Mom bought a lot of ground beef each week and we helped her patty them out with a wooden hamburger smasher.  My younger brothers were picky eaters and hamburgers were one thing they would eat without complaining. We had potatoes every meal – usually baked potatoes, mashed potatoes with gravy, or homemade French fries.

We also enjoyed mom’s desserts – pies, baked custard and ice cream most often, and she always baked each of us a birthday cake for our special day.

Our culinary fare in seafood was limited.  We ate our share of tuna salad sandwiches, baked salmon loaf made from canned salmon, and as children we seemed to like the fish sticks that mom heated from a frozen food package.  What did we know?  We were kids.  Grouper? tilapia? Never heard of them or knew what fresh salmon or tuna filets looked like .   Lobster? Never saw a live one up close.  We would have likely said “yuck” when we saw the insect-appearing critter anyway, just like we refused to eat frog legs someone gave our family.

When I moved to Florida, and later North Carolina, as an adult, my love affair with all things seafood began, and I learned to prepare a variety of delicious foods for my family that were harvested from the sea.  How wonderful that they are more healthy than the heavy dose of red meats I grew up eating each week.  In her senior years, my mother enjoyed new seafood dishes in my home that she had not tasted before.CIMG3146

Tonight, I prepared a simple dinner with baked tilapia… seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon, rolled in panko crumbs, baked and topped with sour cream/dill sauce.  We also had baked sweet potatoes, grillled zuchinni and cooked cinnamon apples. Comfort food on a cool September day.

New technology is creating seafood farming options for land-locked areas of the country. The Brown aquaculture farm, one of 11 shrimp farms in Indiana, is becoming a leader in the inland farming of shrimp in the U.S, and is one of 11 shrimp farms in Indiana, seven added just in the past four years. The Browns who previously raised hogs before switching to shrimp, hope to expand to tank farming of oysters, talapia and crawfish (Popular Science, 2015).

 An article in the October Popular Science (2015), entitled “The Midwest is Our New Ocean”, describes the low-tech methods developed by Texas A & M that is enabling land-locked areas to enter seafood farming. Basically, the tanks don’t need to be filtered, as bacteria held in a liquid suspension keep the tanks clean and with no need for antibiotics. The article states that this sustainable method of in-land farming may be critical for our future, as our “ocean is dying unless we change our ways”.

It’s exciting news that research has devised a way for in-land farming of seafood in cost-effective and healthy ways in the Midwest, with other possibilities on the horizon.  This new technology creates jobs and provides healthy food for a growing population.

But, I can’t be so cavalier about the oceans becoming toxic. It will not be so simple to have any quality of life on the planet if we destroy our oceans, even if we increase the farming of seafood in the Midwest. Reducing over-fishing and curbing pollution remain huge environmental concerns.

Sue Marquis Bishop, 2015

It’s Time to Downsize and I’m Not Ready!

I HAVE BEEN ON HIATUS from the internet for several weeks, fully engaged in navigating a life transition that I thought I was ready for… but found more difficult than I anticipated.
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WE WERE TWO EMPTY NESTERS in a three story house that continued to grow larger by the month. My husband and I agreed it made sense to simplify our life by selling our “family home”. We came to that conclusion one day when we realized we were using cell phones to find one another…it’s not easy to “shout out” when we are two floors away from one another…and we didn’t need 4.5 bathrooms.

For several years, we have enjoyed spending time in our small vacation house in the NC mountains. When I am there, I realize that we don’t need all the “things” we have in our home in Charlotte. Daily choices are fewer: two sets of sheets only for each bed (when clean set goes on, the other set goes into the washer), two tablecloths for each season, three flower vases, fewer dishes and small kitchen appliances. The closets are smaller there, with less clothes, so there are fewer choices of what to wear. An added bonus is the ease in keeping a smaller space clean and tidy…less floor to sweep and mop. Life seems easier somehow. So, we reasoned, although we really loved our family home in Charlotte, we decided we were ready to sell it and move to a smaller house. After all, we didn’t need all that space, did we?

You would think we had come to grips with selling our home, before we put up a “For Sale” sign…and I guess the answer is “yes” and “no”. Yet, we were surprised in December to receive an offer on the house. The buyers wanted possession right away by December 23, but we had the good sense to say no… taking down the Christmas tree two days before Christmas… No Way!
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I WANTED TO HAVE OUR LAST CHRISTMAS with our children in our home of many years. And, we needed at least 60 days to make the move. After all, we weren’t expecting to sell that soon, and we didn’t have a place to move to. We also had over 4,000 square feet of house spread out on three floors, with furniture, accessories and odds and ends accumulated over many years of marriage. A few pieces of furniture were my parents and some were from my husband’s side of the family.

WE CELEBRATED THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS as usual, knowing it was the last holiday in this house. The month of January was an extended time of letting go, as we gave away so many things to friends, family, neighbors, and others who had need of specific items.

There was a flurry of activity for weeks with folks coming and going as items were carted away. We watched the treadmill loaded up and taken away (we will just find a place to walk outside), the barbeque grill, outdoor patio furniture (we don’t need it all), sectional sofa in the family room, tables, bookcases and lamps. The pool table stood as a lonely sentinel in the family room waiting for new owners.
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We donated bags of clothes, books and accessories to Goodwill and Veterans groups. I felt an unexpected loss as I watched my white dresser, with nine drawers, moving out of the house. My sister passed it on to me years ago and I had painted it a shabby chic white. It was my dresser for a few years until it was moved to our guest room. I don’t know why it bothered me so to see it go. I distributed a number of house plants, large and small, to delighted friends.

I WATCHED OUR 12 FOOT CHRISTMAS TREE out of sight as it was carried across the street to the neighbors’ garage. That tree presided over so many happy times in our home. I was comforted by the thought that our tree would reappear in its Christmas finery next December, but this time keeping watch over our house from the window across the street.

AFTER THE INITIAL GIVING AWAY, it occurred to me that there was a life cycle of “things” assigned. My dresser went to a young couple in a new home who didn’t have a dresser… the treadmill to a midlife man who wanted to lose some weight and get healthy…grandpa’s mandolin to our daughter who is the musician in the family and would appreciate it most…dishes to our daughter who is a great cook,…some of my husband’s tools to our son…bookcases to new neighbors who moved in boxes of professional books…our freezer and second refrigerator to a young chef who is developing a catering business… a doll to a 5 year old girl who loved it…and so on. There is a cosmic rightness about it all… passing on… recycling treasured items… and seeing them appreciated all over again.
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A COUPLE WITH A YOUNG FAMILY bought our house. It’s comforting to think that another family will be making new memories there. As we left closing, my husband told the young couple who bought our home, “I hope you’ll love living there as much as we did”. I said, “Take care of our house.”

IN JANUARY, we experienced record breaking cold, snow and ice in North Carolina, as we packed and moved in stages. It was a challenge! (But that is another story.)
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AS A FORMER FAMILY THERAPIST, I know it often helps with closing one chapter of life, to take time to say goodbye to spaces and places (as well as people) that have had meaning. In our final visit, my husband and I walked throughout the house and shared some of the memories we had of each room; happy times with our parents when they were still with us, summer cookouts by our Asian rock garden, dinner parties with friends and holiday gatherings with family. Our steps echoed in the empty rooms now filled with the ghosts of remembering…

I WAS REMINDED of the exciting day we bought the house…and I felt a sense of appreciation for this place and pride that we had, in fact, created a home that we loved and that welcomed others. Although we had some sad times over the years, this home had been a happy place…. And then, we walked away.
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WE ARE IN A RENTED 3-BEDROOM TOWNHOME for 6-8 months, to give us time to decide where we want to create a new home. My dining room furniture is incarcerated in storage temporarily. But, we are unpacked and organized here and are developing a routine in a new place.
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WE SPEND OUR LIVES collecting things…ultimately we enter a time of life when acquiring things is no longer a priority. Sorting out treasured items among a myriad of “things” that have become attached to our lives is difficult under the best circumstances… Maybe it ushers in a sense of freedom as well… especially when collections are dispersed with purpose. I will reserve judgment on that until time brings more perspective.

NOW, IN THE MIDST OF our transition in downsizing, we are following new rules of the house:

1. Don’t bring in anything new, unless we get rid of something else.

2. We can do just as well with fewer options (e.g., I don’t really need 25 different flower vases or kitchen gadgets I never use).

3. Unless we need it, really love it, AND have a place for it, don’t bring it home.

I’LL SHARE MY ADVENTURE from time to time, of finding a place to make a new home… and invite your comments about letting go and moving on….

Sue Marquis Bishop 2014

Turkey leftovers? Make Moroccan Turkey Tagine

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Photos on the table are of family from Christmases past

OUR HOME IS DECORATED for the holidays and I have finished grocery shopping. I’m thinking about the turkey we will have for our family meal on December 25th and the dish I will make with turkey leftovers this year – maybe turkey tagine?

IN OUR HOUSE, leftover turkey is enjoyed as much as the roast turkey on Christmas day. So – we make sure to get the largest turkey we can find that will fit in our oven, to be certain we will have plenty of leftovers. Like thousands of others, we look forward to a turkey sandwich on December 26th. I like mine with turkey, cream cheese, greens, cranberry sauce and dressing (stuffing). Sooo good!

OVER THE YEARS I have tried a number of different recipes, trying to create a fabulous meal starring the leftover turkey. There are several dishes that turned out to be a hit at my table – the tagine recipe is one.

THIS AROMATIC RECIPE delivers a warm, exotic dish using leftover turkey. It’s an easy, slow cooker dinner that also is an impressive dish for entertaining – and can serve a large number of family and friends, by adding more to the cooker. It is a wonderful dish to keep warm in the crock pot when you have family arriving at different times to eat.

Moroccan Turkey Tagine

3-4 cups leftover turkey
2 large onions, thinly sliced
4 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
2 cups chicken or turkey broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour
2 cloves minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground if possible)
1 teaspoon garam masala
Kosher salt to taste
1/4 cup medium to dry sherry (optional)

Layer turkey, onions, carrots, raisins and apricots in crock pot (slow cooker). In bowl, whisk broth and remaining ingredients (except sherry) together and pour over turkey mixture in cooker. Cook 3-4 hours to blend flavors or until vegetables are done. Cook on high for 30 minutes and then turn down to low for rest of cooking time. Add sherry last 30 minutes.

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My favorite tureen for Christmas soups and stews

SET THE MOOD by serving the tagine in a soup tureen with bright emerald, ruby and purple colors in the tablecloth, napkins and centerpiece. I served the tagine with couscous sprinkled with toasted pine nuts, tandoor naan bread for dipping and a fresh fruit salad. This recipe is adapted from one I found in Family Circle (Jan 2007).

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

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Sue Marquis Bishop 2013