Monthly Archives: July 2020


Barbara Irene (Miner) Young
March 16, 1931-July 27, 2020

I’m not going to give a timeline of Mom’s life. I’m just going to share a couple of stories that come to mind when I think of Mom. They were just daily kinds of things that still have an impact on me, all these years later. I’m surprised and honored that I was asked to write something for today, and the things that come to my mind are subtle moments and memories.

Mom read to me. She prayed with me, and those bedtimes taught me how to be calm and present for my kids. Once in a while, she would fall asleep in my room, her back against my bed. Those were good nights. My cat, Minnie on my bed… my brother in the bed next to mine, and my mom, just being present. That is more than a lot of kids get, and I realize that I was very fortunate to have her as my mother.

Jonathan’s dog Pokey had to spend the night at the vet, and that night, Mom prayed for each of us, as she always did. But I remember her praying for Pokey, that he wouldn’t be scared, spending the night in a strange place without us. That told me a lot about Mom’s thoughtfulness and compassion. I didn’t know you could pray for a dog, but I think Mom prayed about everything.

Every school day, Mom made our lunches and put them in brown paper bags. She would write our names on them, which was important, because I liked fluffernutters, and Mark did not. What I remember about this, is loving the look of my name, in her writing on my bag.

Earlier this month, I unpacked a box that I had brought home to Minnesota. It had an envelope of pictures from when my children were little. On the outside of the envelope, Mom had written “Tim (kids)”, and it reminded me of the lunch bags. I love the added word “kids” because my children are so important to me now.

I hope that when I am gone, my kids will feel the way I feel about Mom. I hope I make them feel important to me, the way Mom did.

I remember getting off the bus, coming into the house and hearing the sound of the vacuum coming from a distant room. When you come home to the sound of a vacuum cleaner, you know things are alright in your world.

Most people would probably give a big spiritual lesson, looking back on Mom’s life, and knowing what was important to her. This is what you get when you ask me to deliver a eulogy. That spirituality is not just in being head deaconess, teaching Sunday school classes or even serving as a missionary in Africa, which she did. It’s in inviting the lonely into your home, and comforting those who are going through a hard time.

Your spirituality is apparent in what seem to be the most insignificant details of life.

There are no insignificant details.

Every moment is important. Each of my brothers and I will recall different things when we remember Mom.

We each have 24 hours a day to fill with the things that are most important to us. What I’ve realized in a new way this week is that those days are limited.

Grammy’s House, 1998

This is an excerpt from something I wrote in 1988 when I learned that my mother had cancer:

Gentle Jesus, comfort us all.
Comfort Madeline who doesn’t want to go to sleep
and help us all accept
our inevitable time to sleep.
But wake us again in a happier place,
well rested and full of light and love.

As a child on vacation,
I had to endure many hours at a time on the road.
Mom always told me to lie down and go to sleep,
and when I woke up, maybe we’d be at Grammy’s house.
I wonder if that is what it’s like to die?
When we wake up, we’ll be at Grammy’s.
The journey passes with our father at the wheel.
Our only job is to rest while he takes care of us.


When I was a kid (and early teen), I would not say my own name. It sounded weird to me the way the M of Tim went into the Y of Young.

I also worried about being called Uncle Tim one day. I just could not make it sound right, or even roll off my tongue.

I remember some older guy asking my name, and I just became mute. I knew it was awkward, but somehow less awkward than saying it. I think Patty Faulker told him, but I could be mistaken.

Now I like my name. When I write it, I write Timothy. When I say it, I say Tim.

I think I now like my name for the reasons I disliked it before.

Tim is abrupt. It just ends in pursed lips after one syllable. It starts with a crisp T, and a vowel is just there to bridge to that muffled M.

Timothy, on the other hand, is lyrical, with the flourish of a Y at the end. It has a nice mix of letters that lilt, and you can hold it as long as you like. I give it extra flair with a pen in the looping second T and the Y at the end. So what if it is illegible. I’ve seen worse.

Like other things, I guess I just had to grow into it.

I’ve taken some liberties to make it my own. I used to have a collection of vintage Plymouths, and so I merged Timothy with Plymouth to get Timouth. Yes, there’s an added U, but Timouth is more my name than Tim, at two thirds. It looks better than Timoth, which just looks like a typo.

James is regal. After my uncle Jim. Problematic for others I have known with that name, but it is solid. Traditional. And hidden away, as middle names so often are.

Make it happen

I talk a lot about my kids, because they are the most important thing in my life.

Children don’t come into our lives easily, no matter how they arrive.

It’s that work… that struggle that cements them into our hearts. They become such a part of us that we can’t imagine our lives without them, and we hardly remember our lives before they arrived.

You will not hear me refer to my kids as my stepchildren, my adopted daughter or adopted son or my foster child. Biological parents don’t introduce their kids by describing how they were delivered.

Just as in school these days, the delivery method is not the important thing.

When I graduated from nursing school, some of us did it online. Others were in the classroom. On graduation day, we all received the same diploma and then the same license.

It was always my dream to have a large family. I tried many methods to bring this about. It only takes two cells to make a baby.

My children became so by the cells of my heart.

We have to be creative to succeed in realizing our dreams.

Don’t look at the obstacles and give up without trying. Many people tried to discourage me, and they did it because they had my best interest at heart.

My friends and I didn’t have the same dream.

I met every challenge by saying “put the next hoop in front of me, and I will jump through it.”

When you finally make it over the last hurdle, you sprint to the finish line.

I did this when I decided to return to college at age 50. I did it again when my first three kids were adults, and I did not want to be an empty nester.

What is your dream? What do you need to do to make it happen?

If it’s important enough to you, do it. Do whatever it takes.


I got my painting from my dad, and I got my writing from my mom.

These are recent realizations.

My dad started painting little wooden blocks after he retired. When my daughter Heather saw them, she said “Now I see where you get it from.” His blocks looked very much like some of my abstract paintings.

“No!” I said. “I was doing it long before he was.”

But my dad had it inside him the whole time.

I worked hard at developing my writing style. I prefer to call it “finding my voice”.

Today I read a letter that was written by my mom in 2002.

I never knew my mom could write like that.

I got other things from her, too. My self deprecating tendency. My inability to believe that someone would read, let alone enjoy, let alone treasure what I had created.

I wish I had known.

I wish I had known that my father had it in him to appreciate art. I wish I had known the stories that my mother had to tell while she could still tell them.

These are two of the most important things to me. I know this because when I am all alone, and create a still, peaceful atmosphere to fish for the most important catches in my stream of consciousness, these are the things that come out.

Writing and painting are the ways my body records what I want to remain of me when I am gone.

I recently wrote about my family that “they don’t value what is important to me.”

Now I don’t know if that is true.

The months of June and July have brought upheaval to my life.

In my sci-fi autobiography, my alter ego, Flash Meridian, watched the surface of the planet Olo explode into clouds of dust, and settle again, transformed. The material was still the same, but rearranged in such a way as to be unrecognizable as its former self.

The facts we hold onto and repeat about our lives… about ourselves… do not tell the whole story. Our interpretation of facts can be very skewed.

It’s not all about me.

I am literally bits of my parents, incarnate. Physically, I look like them. Mentally, I think like them. Spiritually, I create like them.

I never knew my parents were real people. I didn’t realize that my mother was such a cripplingly shy girl with the kind of struggles, doubts and regrets that girls have. I only knew them as adults. I thought they were perfect. Not at all like ordinary people.

How could I have missed this?

And so my tectonic plates have been shifting, and my entire life is being transformed.

My house is populated with objects that they no longer need. I revisited the rooms where I was a child, secure in their care.

Now I have a new lens to help put my life into focus, and I am grateful.

The letter was not sent for 18 and a half years. I’m glad that my mom wrote it when she did, and that my brother investigated why a drawer didn’t work right, and found it in the back of an old cabinet. I’m glad he took the time to read it, and made the effort to copy it and mail it to its intended recipients.

All of it

What a day.

Birthdays seem to circle around quicker now.

I stayed busy all day… finished June’s curtains, did lots of laundry. Friends stopped by with balloons, cake and ice cream. Tomorrow Luuka will spend the day with me. I keep trying to clear the trip clutter out of the living room, and I’m working on a commission painting. We hauled away the garbage and recycling.

I was awake until 4 am, and then before 8, Liam called to sing Happy Birthday to me (with cha cha chas). Phone calls, phone calls, phone calls. Good stuff.

I’m going to learn to frame walls and install windows. I’ll have good helpers. I believe we can do this.

All of it.


Nobody gets to tell me how to feel, what to think or what to believe.

Not a friend, a family member, a therapist. Certainly not a preacher or politician.

I have the powers of observation and recollection. I have the ability to assimilate information. I can recognize what rings true to me, and I can even tell the difference between fiction and lies.

I am open to new ways of thinking when I find that my approach needs updating.

If we attended the same meeting or party at the same time, our impressions would be different. If we read the same book, or watched the same movie, our reviews would be different.

We don’t have to think the same, and we will not think the same.

Everyone sees the world through their own eyes, through the unique filter of their experiences and perspective.

We don’t need to be convinced or persuaded. Your way is not the only way. A different way is not wrong.

It just IS.

I know a lot of people who think that everything hinges on their very narrow, very specific way of thinking… their definite authoritative tenet.

Christmas in July

When I was about 10, some of my friends and I had a sleepover in the barn for my birthday. John, Kirk, Gabriel. We had found a box of Christmas lights somewhere and strung them up. We made my parents come out for a surprise. We led them up in the dark, and then plugged in the lights yelling “Merry Christmas!”

My birthday is July 20.